Lots of dreams last night.  Knocked it outta the park on what was apparently a boundaries test-scenario: a friend (with whom I’ve had a political falling out IRL) was my new roommate, in the dream, but already knowing each other.  It was like in college: a big day when everyone moves into the dorms.  I just got settled in from a bunch of god knows what dream events earlier — something about floating along in a river, talking with a guy in a tiny boat, but then the current became a torrent and I asked if I could wrap my arms around him from behind to survive the rapids.  Ended up moved into this dorm, alllll ready to finally relax on my bed after my big river adventure plus moving, and this friend asks if I can do her dishes and laundry.  She says she’s too busy, which I can see is true, but I can also see she mismanaged her time.  But the main thing was, I just didn’t want to.  I wanted to relax.  But it also seemed inauspicious to start off a new roommate relationship, literally day one, with a refusal to help out on a minor request.  But then again: I plain didn’t want to.  So in the dream, I gave myself a little time to think, before I answered, which I think is almost always the trick IRL.  I realized that 1) I didn’t want to, and 2) I might be more tempted to *help* her do her dishes and laundry, in the form of a fun friend hangout, which would feel less like her taking advantage and more like including me and my best interests.  So I suggested that.  I don’t remember the outcome, I just remember I took a minute to “honor my truth” lol.

Oh, speaking of college, which I enjoyed for the most part but wouldn’t want to be dealing with now: Hillsdale is a conservative college that has a bunch of free online classes, as well as YouTube lectures I stumbled upon.  I listened to a couple of those, hoofing that tractor trailer up to Wyoming most recently, and they were excellent!  One of the online classes is on the Constitution, and Nick and I are interested in taking it — maybe including my brother Abe if he’s receptive — once we’re all settled in Hawaii.  One thing I realized in 2020 is that I, and everyone I know, are completely unprepared to advocate for our own rights as they were established, and that’s probably no accident.

Similarly, in microcosm: I was on my first really busy fire, three years ago, as a fuel tender.  My boss had told me a couple times to read over my copy of the contract in the truck, in my spare time, and of course I hadn’t.  So I get to this new incident, and it’s a complex, meaning they’ve combined the resources for several fires into one centrally located camp.  I’m the only fuel tender and there aren’t a lot of filling stations around so immediately I’m slammed.  I’m slammed all morning for four hours, all evening for four hours, and then in the middle part of the day I have allllll this bullshit to top off around camp — generators, light banks, the copy trailer, the shower; it’s a big job.

So originally ground support has me open from 0500 to 2100 (ie 9pm), which is plenty.  Remember, I have like an hour worth of accounting paperwork to do each night, or else I’ll start the next day not knowing how much fuel I have onboard, and I could unexpectedly run out.  Timing deliveries based on predicting volume is a big deal with this job.

So anyway, this one woman tells ground support that she came at 21:30p and I was closed (true fact) and that 9:30 was as early as she could possibly make it, for fuel, and she needed them to change my hours.  Imagine that!  I can’t because it’s unimaginable.  She was some kind of overhead, obviously.  So ground support comes over and tells me I gotta stay open til 22:00 every night.  I said okay, obviously — those are the people who tell me what to do — but I felt angry, panicked, defeated.  I was already so tired, my sleep deprivation was compounding, and this was gonna totally fuck me.

So I think I’d pulled off this new schedule for about four or five days — just wrecked tired — when a new coworker came and checked on me, since he’d just been ordered up on a comms trailer or something like that.  I complained vigorously about these hours ground support was having me work, and my coworker did some math in his head and then said, “They’re in breach of contract.”

I had frankly forgotten all about the contract — this thing I knew I was supposed to read but it looked so boring.  Holy shit.  “They are??”  These were the sweetest words I’ve ever heard.

“Yeah.  They can have a single resource work up to and including 16 hours.  If they need you on duty beyond that, they have to order a second operator, and pay another $500/day.  It’s right there in the contract.”

I was thrilled, and even more chagrined I hadn’t read the contract prior.  I marched over to ground support and told them they’d either have to let me close at 2100, open at 0600, or order an additional operator.

They told me to go ahead and get a second operator, because they were keeping it at 0500 to 2200.  Somewhat deflated, I called my boss, and he didn’t have a single other soul available — everyone was out on fires.  So I just kept working 0500-2200, all by myself, for another week or so.  Then I told ground support I hadn’t seen that bitch one single time, in all my staying-open-late time, and they said I could close at 2100 again.  She literally showed up for fuel, once, at a crazy hour, went out of her way to demand I stay open an hour later for her, and then was never heard from again.

Anyway: if I’d been more familiar with the contract from the get-go, I could have steered the whole encounter much more forcefully, and probably protected myself from the extreme fatigue that resulted from working that fire.

So, the analogy is obvious, right?  I get it now.  Oh, how I get it.  2020 has been the year of me realizing we’re all a bunch of contractors on a fire with extortionist management, and none of us have read our contract.  Is it illegal to force us all to wear masks, everywhere, all the time, in the face of data that is not supporting a credible threat, even despite high levels of info manipulation?  And THEN making some forms of gathering illegal but allowing, even encouraging, other forms of gathering to occur?  On and on for months?  Keeping some businesses open but closing others?  Allowing the businesses that are open to sell some kinds of things but not other kinds of things?  And by that, I mean those other items are right there, I could take it to the register, but it’s roped off with police tape and has a sign saying I can’t buy it?  Making me wear a mask to get seated at a restaurant but then I can take it off, to eat at a table four feet away from where I stood to get seated, and then I don’t have to wear it anymore on my way out?

I don’t know, because guess what: I didn’t read my contract.  I’ve had the same feeling on this that I had on that fire: hey, this seems unreasonable, possibly illegal, but y’all are the ones who tell me what to do, so…

In a previous incarnation I might have rolled my eyes at the genre of people who, you know, fap about the Constitution, 2A rights, the Founding Fathers, all that.  But now, in late October 2020?  Oh hell no I’m not rolling my eyes.  I’m gonna get me some of that.  This country can go right off the rails faster than I would have believed.  And here I am, without even a functional vocabulary to talk about it, beyond constant refrains of, “idk, that seems messed up…okay that seems messed up too…”. I’m a product of a mushroom farm populace that’s been raised in the dark and fed bullshit.  Facebook flagged the Declaration of Independence as “hate speech” in July.  That’s where things are at.  I might be a skinny white female vegan who drinks iced soy lattes and would rather hug a tree than log it — I actually get legit upset watching the feller-bunchers work, it’s traumatizing — but I am enraged to have my freedoms, my rights, my opportunities, and the autonomous negotiation of my individual safety and wellbeing diluted down to the level of the most cowardly, gullible, sly, and extortionist among us.  And then THEY virtue signal ME?  Fuckkkkkkk youuuuuuu.

The thing the press is doing in Arizona right now, and has been doing, is telling us the sky is falling about Coronavirus.  The golden rule is, never report anything positive.  So if deaths are down, they say cases are up.  If cases are down, they say it’s “surging”.  If it’s not surging, they say it could surge.  If it still doesn’t surge, they say the fact that it’s not surging is evidence that it’s going to definitely surge.  If all else fails, they just recite past instances of deaths, cases, surging.  Their bias, their agenda, their shit eating weasel insufferability is beyond belief, beyond forgiveness.

Oh, which reminds me: I voted yesterday.  Orange, obviously.  It’s interesting to reflect on my emotional journey about becoming a Trump supporter, these last six months or thereabouts.  I don’t think it’s my imagination that I had to approach this whole thing from a rhetorically and socially *loaded* uneven playing field.  It’s not like I was just out in the world and felt I had the freedom to think and say whatever occurred to me about partisan politics and national players, specifically Trump.  Going Trump in 2020 has been every bit as bizarrely controversial as going vegan was, in grad school — and I was already life-long veg, so you’d think it would just be in the vicinity, but no.

Emotionally, the experience has been following my own thinking and evidence forward, as obviously we all have to do, but punctuated with these outbursts — these rabid, raving outbursts — from previously mild-mannered people, all along the way.  They lose their shit and then say it’s Trump’s fault.  I mean, I’ve documented my fucking journey.  If you wanna know how much of a political animal I wasn’t, how much of a Trump fan I wasn’t, all you have to do is go back and read.  I’ve been blogging like every morning — it’s not like I just woke up one day with a brain injury.  Whether you agree with my perspective and process or not, no one can deny it IS a perspective, a process.

So, imagine how bizarre, for me, to accidentally step on these land mines that I thought were, you know, people, with brains, with names, with processes and perspectives of their own, PRESUMABLY, right??, and here I am just going about my inquisitive business and they fucking *detonate*.  Believe it or not, this does not dissuade me, or add to their credibility in my mind.  It is upsetting; it is off-putting.  I am, like, yikes.  I’m not a person who thrives on conflict and I don’t create it on purpose.  So this is by no means a thrill for me, but when it happens again and again; and the dust settles again and again; it’s like…

Well, here’s exactly what it’s like: okay, so back to the Miller Complex fire, where ground support had me working illegally long hours.  My boss did scramble around, to the best of his ability, and sent me a helper, sort of — it was a guy named Tony, on another piece of equipment, and my boss told him to just minimally hold that down but to make it a priority to come help me, because I was swamped.  Good idea, bad outcome.  Tony did more harm than good — he offended the customers, put diesel numbers in the gas column and gas numbers in the diesel column and generally cost me hours of my life that I’ll never have back, reconciling bad accounting.

But more pertinently, he was a big fan of some homemade venison jerky he’d brought.  That’s fine, but he really wanted me to eat some of it.  He offered, I declined, he offered more strongly, I said I don’t eat meat, he said ‘but no this is GOOD VENISON JERKY and literally tried to put it in my mouth.  That’s right; he extended his hand and attempted to insert a piece of venison jerky into my mouth.  With no forethought — because how could I have predicted something so crazy — I snatched the piece of jerky from his hand and chucked it into the dirt.

Tony *blew up*.  What are you DOOOOEEEEENNNG?  That’s GOOD VENISON JERKY!  His face…!  He looked so wounded!

I said, Well I don’t want it!

And the next thing that happened — I know you’re not gonna believe this, because I can’t even believe it, and it happened to me — is, he tried again!!  He tried to put another piece of jerky in my mouth!  It was surreal.  Obviously I chucked it into the dirt again, and — shocker — he blew up again.  Same proclamation.  Same wounded face.  I just stood there like that shrugging emoji, but the real life version.  It’s just inconceivable.  How are you going to try, twice, to force something into someone’s mouth and then get triggered when they throw it into the dirt instead?  Twice?

He never did fully process the fact that I don’t eat meat, not even GOOD VENISON JERKY he hunted himself, but he was able to concede that it would get thrown in the dirt if he put it in the vicinity of my mouth.  That’s all you can hope for with some people, I guess.

So in a general sense, that’s been how my emotional journey from Lib to Voting Orange has felt, this year.  It started out as me sensing I was being manipulated, corralled, sheep-dipped into a perspective, and simply poking around a little bit.  Is this true?  Besides all the rhetoric — Trump is a narcissistic sociopathic misogynistic racist fascist — all the real bad “ists” — what’s he actually done, up in there?  Oh, dang — he’s done this, that, and the other?  Why haven’t I heard about that?  That seems like kind of a good thing.

Early on, the social detonations around not even supporting Trump but failing to wholeheartedly decry him as the single worst human being in the history of the world were so violent, I tended to keep a low profile.  I was like, yikes!  This is scary!  Maybe I’ll keep this to myself but now I’m more curious, and more skeptical.  Pretty soon — and this is the shift that a lot of us have made, for sure — the question of Trump’s policies, persona, and the media’s misinformation campaign around all of that, although entirely riveting, actually began to pale in comparison to the much more immediate phenomenon of the liberal triggering all around me.  And it was always the same thing: a normally mild-mannered person losing their goddamn mind and then saying it’s Trump’s fault.  The guy’s not perfect, but Jesus Christ, get ahold of yourself.

And I began to become someone who, in keeping space open for my own inquiry, by necessity felt alienated from *that*.  It’s almost as if I had to put Trump sleuthing on the back burner because the actual insanity was so much closer to home.  And I was like, look: I don’t know what’s wrong with you but you are definitely not my tribe.  We can agree to disagree all the way up to the point where you try to force your venison jerky into my mouth, and then, like any reasonable human being, I’m gonna chuck it in the dirt.

So it stopped even being about Trump, just like it stopped being about venison jerky.  It started being about my basic autonomy, to think and believe and investigate as I see fit.  What it really came down to, point-blank, is that there’s a bunch of stuff I know and a bunch of stuff I don’t know, but I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna be socially regulated by you, because you’re a disaster, and you demonstrate no ability to regulate yourself.

And of course, there’s always he-said, she-said on these things.  They’re only exploding because I’m refusing to denounce x y z thing they’ve been brainwashed into assuming that guy represents — okay.  It’s not true, but let’s say it is.  My refusal to denounce x y z brainwashed association you have is just like me refusing to try your homemake venison jerky.  You say it’s good, I don’t want it, let’s call it a draw.  But no — the minute you attempt to force your jerky into my mouth, I am obligated to throw it in the dirt, because I’m a free person and you don’t control me.  And craziest thing you could do is then blow up at me, but that’s what you do.  That’s what they do, over and over, 100% reliably.

And that, THAT, is what decided it for me.  At the end of the day, we are not the same species.  There is something wrong with your medulla oblongata, and it’s not my job to diagnose what, but your level of emotion is absolutely not my problem.

So yeah, I just had to grow a thicker skin, I guess.  Like so many of us, this year.  For sure I used to care about people’s opinions, I used to second guess my own motives and conclusions when faced with revulsion, repulsion, anger, hysteria, in response to something I’ve said or done.  I mean, I’m not a sociopath, or not a real bad one anyway.  I prefer positive social feedback and good vibes, just like everyone else.  So, I’ve come a long way, because I’ve had to.  If y’all can’t figure out how to calm down when someone throws the piece of jerky you forced on them into the dirt, then you’re the one with the problem, not me.  The last thing I’m gonna do is stand here and try to get back in your good graces.  I’m realizing: you don’t have any.

That’s a pretty big bandaid to rip off for a nice, polite gal like me, but damn.  There comes a point.

So anyway, Hillsdale free online courses, and free YouTube lectures.  Pretty cool.  In hindsight, this whole year would have gone a lot smoother for me if I’d been more educated, because a clash of opinions can and does devolve to a point where, if you can’t Constitutionally cover your own ass in an argument, it just becomes endless chucking of people’s jerky into the dirt.

I had to come to this same realization with veganism.  Believe it or not, I didn’t know and didn’t care where I get my protein and all this other bullshit.  Stupid arguments with other people forced me into it.  I feel fine, I’ve always felt fine, I’m healthy, they’re sick, I’m skinny, they’re puffy, how is this my problem, but okay fine: I’ll look into it.

So I did.  I spent six months and $500 on Amazon accumulating a library and a self-education about human dietary needs, experiments, RDA’s, and the politicization around all that, over the years.  I had to do that for myself in order to leave it behind, honestly.  Now, if someone wants to roll around in the dirt with me on human dietary requirements, AND if I’m in the mood, I can totally do that.  Somebody hold my beer: let’s rumble.

But honestly, I really don’t get into that mode very often.  The fact is, if someone “needs” that many facts and that much data to support something that is staring you right in the face, fully sentient and obviously not wanting to die, then they have some more spiritual work to do.  Maybe I can help, maybe not.  It’s not really my problem — I’ve come to my decision point and there’s peace in that.  You can see it however you want, and call me whatever you want, be as tacky as you want.  Or you could be classy!  That’s your deal.

That’s how I’m feeling about Trump, politics in 2020, and my emotional journey along the way.  I lost some friends over veganism too, believe it or not.  Some of them came back.  Some of them didn’t, nor would I allow them to, because they suck.  It’s, still, a free country.