Chickadoodle’s Life is Average

The boyfriend recently went in for a patch test. The whys and wherefores are a long story, and not a particularly pleasant one at that, so I’ll skip that bit.

If you’ve never had one, patch tests aren’t pleasant things in and of themselves. You get large strips with various patches of common allergens (not food allergens, by and large, because this is more of a contact-allergy thing) stuck on your back. For two days, you can’t shower—sponge bathing is allowed, though—twist your torso, or even really bend over or backward all that much. It’s a good way to practice your posture. And end up with sore shoulders. All of this and more, the boyfriend bore with much fortitude. He’s cool like that.

But the fun doesn’t stop there; no sir! For another 5 days after the patches are removed, you need to make sure the outlines of the patches stay well-drawn, and you need to monitor your back for any changes. As we kinda only live together, the task fell to me. I accepted it with much dignity, probably rather more than it was due, but it was kind of fun to have something to take so seriously.

Now, something else one is not supposed to do is get very sweaty, especially while the patches are applied, but this holds true somewhat even after the patches are removed. Sweat has a funny way of eating through permanent marker and ruining adhesive and carrying allergens around on skin. Being that it’s been rather warmer than we’re used to lately, and our apartment very much lacks for air conditioning, this one’s been a little tricky.

The first night, after a day when it hit roughly 10 degrees above the norm (I admit it, I’m a wimp. Temperature hits about 80, and I just want to shut down.), it was the first time to see what sort of damage had been done. The boyfriend readied himself, and a lesser girlfriend might have been overcome with passion by the loveliness that is the boyfriend’s torso, but I would not be so easily swayed. (Okay, I may have looked longer than strictly necessary. But are you really going to tell me I’m not allowed?) First things first: make back less sweaty. Thankfully, I do have a fan.

After cooling him down for a few minutes, I re-drew the markings to indicate where the tests had been, careful to stay as on the lines as possible. The fact that he (unfortunately) seems to be reacting to a few things was helpful. He asked me to take pictures (my pleasure, really!), and to diagram the spots so that we both knew where things might be reacting. While there is really only one orientation to the diagram that makes sense, I am known for a bit of a wicked sense of humor, and labeled down with “your arse” juuuuust to be sure.

It’s a few days in, and so far, things look okay. No nasty, oozing, itching, burning reactions yet, which is a pretty good sign, I’d say. Though it does leave me to wonder what caused this in the first place…

Well, we shall see in another few days. If nothing else, this is one of those moments in a relationship—whether it’s a romantic one or not—that you realize just how accustomed you are to having that person around and how relaxed you are around them.

In other news, I’m finally not breaking stuff at work! Well, at least, it’s not totally my fault… It took my mentor and 2 other SDEs (and a lot of laughing) to figure out where I was going wrong. At one point, my mentor saw the issue and said, “Why did you put that? It’s supposed to be this!”

I came back with a “That’s what you told me to use!”

He actually had to go check his computer to see the ping he’d sent me. I was right. The other two SDEs couldn’t hold back their laughter, and neither could we for that matter.

Now that work’s going much better, I’m almost excited at the beginning of the day. Almost.

What can I say? My life is average.

I think that’s why I love it.

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Chickadoodle’s guide to communication

Long about a year into my relationship with the boyfriend, I started getting the comments.

“Chickadoodle, your relationship is perfect!” (Me, thinking: It’s pretty damn good, but I wouldn’t say perfect. Perfection is boring, anyway.)

“Chickadoodle, you and the boyfriend get along so well!” (I’d hope so. Kinda hard to have a good relationship when you don’t get along with the person you’re in it with…)

“Chickadoodle, how can I make my relationship more like yours?”

Okay, not really on that last one.

But really, I’ve gotten “How do you do it?” quite a lot.

The answer is, like most good relationships, communication.

We communicate frequently, and we communicate well.

So, here’s a how-to. It’s not hard and fast, but it’s worked well so far.

0. Let’s start from the beginning.

1. Do you talk at all? (Yes—proceed to 2. No—Repeat the question until Yes.)

2. Do you talk about things that make each other happy? (Yes—proceed to 3. No—Go back to 0.)

3. Do you talk about things that might potentially upset the other person? (Yes—proceed to 4. No—Go back to 2.)

4. Do you handle upset well? (Yes—proceed to 7. No—Proceed to 5.)

5. Does not handling it result in all-out screaming matches or violence? (Yes—Rethink your relationship! No—Proceed to 6.)

6. Does not handling it well result in the silent treatment? (Yes—Go back to 1. No—Proceed to 7.)

7. So, you probably handle upset well enough. Same with actual conflict? (Yes—Proceed to 8. No—Go back to 5.)

8. Good! This is good! Do you talk about deep things, like your feelings, dreams, desires, etc.? (Yes—Proceed to 9. No—Repeat until Yes.)

9. I have nothing left to tell you.

Well, it’s really not that simple. There are nuances. But you get the idea. If you can’t get the basic stuff down though—and treating anyone, but especially your partner with respect should be quite the no-brainer—well, maybe you want to work on that. Humans are social animals, communicative ones, even.

So… yeah. Not really that talkative tonight, strangely enough. There you have it. Chickadoodle’s guide to communication.

State of the Chickadoodle #2

Last post was my 100th post. I was hoping I’d have something hugely monumental to write about. I did, but in the middle of everything going on, it felt more monumentally bad than good.

Things are okay now, but Friday night, everything went to, as my grandma coined a few years ago, ka-shit. After basically running on empty for nigh on two weeks, I melted down, and quite spectacularly. I distinctly said, “I feel like I’m never going to be happy again”, and at the moment, I honestly did feel that way. Some small part of my brain was protesting that things wouldn’t be this way forever, but it was drowned out by how tired and upset I was.

Thankfully, things got back in shape for a small apartment-warming with a few friends last night. Mostly, anyway. The boyfriend and I were making pasta carbonara, but the cheese sauce turned out a bit more clumpy than we wanted because we didn’t want to double the eggs when we doubled everything else. Still, it turned out perfectly edible. Tasty, even. And we have enough leftovers to feed us for a few days; that doesn’t hurt.

If all goes well today, I’ll be seeing an old friend at a street fair. She’s lived across the country for a few years, but we were kinda tight back in the day. And by kinda tight, I actually mean something a little closer to inseparable. I have also been told by the boyfriend that I should get funnel cake. I know; it’s unthinkable that a college grad hasn’t had funnel cake before, but there are just too many good sweet things out there, am I right?!

As I adjust to the pace of work (not so bad now; we’ll see how that changes when I enter the on-call rotation in October), I probably will be posting maybe once a week. Twice if something big happens, or I find something cute or awesome that I want to share. Like a mini pig eating ice cream. Or the wild hairy haggis that my friend bought me on a recent trip to the UK.

But today, my ducks (OH! DUCKS!), I’m going to relax.

How I spent my summer “vacation”

a.k.a. Moving really sucks. So does starting a job just after said moving.

So, I’ve been more or less radio silent for the better part of… a week now, I think? Then again, most of the people who read this have seen me in that time, so they know I’m alive and that I love them. Which is, y’know, cool.

Long story short, a lot (we are talking imperial shit tonnes—yes, “tonnes”) has changed in that time.

Like, I have a car. A lovely car. It’s less than 10 years old, runs like it’s new, and needs only a 90k mile tuneup, which is so much better than the first two cars I looked at.

Let me start from the beginning on this one, actually.

My mom wanted me to have a car. Paying for one builds character (and a credit score). I wanted to have a car. Life is just much easier with one. So, we went to [REDACTED], about 10 minutes south of my parents’, because I’d seen cars that might be a good deal.

I knew I’d made a mistake when I could smell the cologne before I hit the lot. My mistake was confirmed when the first salesguy to greet us had on a somewhat silky looking purple shirt, buttoned down to show more of his “manly” chest than I was comfortable with. The first car we looked at… No way. Not in a million years. You tap the gas pedal and go flying forward, and the back hatch needed greasing in order to close. In other words, no bueno.

The second car we looked at, I liked a lot better. It handled fairly well, and looked safe enough, but when we took it to our mechanic for a second opinion, though it passed their inspection (barely, but many cars from that lot didn’t because they are mostly trade-ins and auction cars), it needed about $1000 worth of work. Not bad on the whole, but not great. Still, we Kelley Blue Book’d it, only to find that their asking price was less than half of the dealer’s asking price, even before you take out all the work that would have to be done. Negotiation was worth a try, but when the dealer tries to tell you that they’re never more than $2000 under KBB value when you have direct proof to the contrary, and that they’re *ahem* only making less than $4000 off of it, you kind of want to laugh hysterically. We settled for walking away.

The next business day after that, we went to the way less shady dealership where my mom got her most recent car. I tried out the one that I got, and it was love. It totally checked out mechanically, and, like I said, looks and feels quite like new, and we thought, all told, that we were getting an excellent deal, so we went for it.

The day after that, we moved, the boyfriend and I. Packing and unpacking hell was basically that entire day. I got almost all of my unpacking done, and a lot of the kitchen (my parents had more or less set up the basics of my room, though, so I had more than a fair head start). The boyfriend got the smaller room, and it’s too tiny to hold his desk and bed, sadly, so we’re still working on setting him up however works for him.

The next day, we went to IKEA with the boyfriend’s mom. It’s only the second time I’ve been, and I’ve gotta say, it’s a pretty cool place. They even sell elk-shaped pasta! Show me a person who doesn’t want elk-shaped pasta, and I’ll show you a liar. Or someone who’s gluten or wheat intolerant.

Anyway, we got lots of useful things. Like kitchen chairs. And a 5-quart pot. And kitchen trash and recycling bins. Useful things. After that, there was a late lunch at Wendy’s. (First time ever going there. I gotta say, it’s pretty good!) We also went to the grocery store for, well, groceries, and the office supply store for a router.

After a bit of a tumultuous start, we got the router working for wireless, though it doesn’t seem to like wired connections so much. We’ll see where that goes. (I wrote this before last night, when we actually seem to have gotten it working. Fingers crossed!)

Now, the other fun thing is this: the company that I’m working for doesn’t acknowledge my existence. Or rather, some parts of it do, but other parts don’t.

Let me start at the beginning of this one.

Last year, in going through security checks to get an internship (at the same company I now ostensibly work for), I mis-keyed my social security number. I was off by 1 digit, but, as you can imagine, when they tried to run background checks, this caused a minor catastrophe. The HR department called me and got it fixed (or so I thought), and we all went on our merry way.

About a month ago, in trying to make sure I was good to go, I was contacted a few more times by phone and email, because apparently, my SSN hadn’t made its way through the system. I corrected it each time, and thought that would be the end of it.

Then, I showed up to orientation.

Though I’d been given a time (the wrong one—mine started an hour later than the one I was told to go to), and I was obviously on some list of new hires, I wasn’t in the system except for last year’s intern records, which couldn’t be re-activated. My offer letter wasn’t printed, and I couldn’t get my badge or any of the other supplies the company gives out. No badge = no entry.

My acting manager, God bless ‘im, tried to figure out what he could do to help. The short answer: nothing, other than file a trouble ticket that says, “You guys hired this chick; make it so she can work!” (Which he did do, just so we’re all on the same page.)

So, I’ve had about 2 half-days of non-work so far. It happens. Just not usually to me, and I’m pretty frustrated that this continues to be an issue, but what can I do? I’ve already provided proof of my own existence other than my SSN, and I’ve provided my SSN. The rest really is up to HR—not like I can march in (no badge, remember?) and sit down and rearrange the entire system. Would that I could, but, well, from here, it’s a waiting game. Hopefully, it ends today.

Book Review 4: Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn

I am a sucker for historical novels, especially ones that take place between about 1880 and 1930. It should come as no surprise that Victorian-era romance novels are a particular favorite.

I’m not talking bodice rippers. Tried one of those once. I decided that if sex—and quite literal, totally unnecessary bodice ripping—was the only thing that was going to move the plot (which I wasn’t even sure existed) along, it wasn’t for me.

Last summer, I was trying to find books at the library to read on the bus rides to and from my internship. I happened across Deanna Raybourn’s The Dark Enquiry. The cover blurb made no mention of being part of a series, so I went ahead and read it. There were hints that it was part of a larger series, and that this was not the first book throughout, but it stood very well on its own, and I was not disappointed. Rather, I was intrigued, and wound up looking up the rest of the books from the library, reading them in this order: fifth, first, fourth, third, second.

So, there’s that. They stand on their own.

But what are these books really about, you ask?

Well, Lady Julia Grey, for one. Julia Grey, née March, is the daughter (5th daughter, 9th child of 10) of the extremely progressive, somewhat eccentric 12th Earl March (whose Christian name currently escapes me, though I swear it’s mentioned more than once in the books) and his late wife. The March children themselves all range anywhere from party-line-toeing Tory to flamboyantly… March, as only Marches can be. (And yes, there is at least one play on March hares in the books.) Julia starts off as rather demure, or at least leashed, but it is clear that this is a bit of a strain for her, and that her true nature is far more inquisitive and just generally bold, especially for a woman in the pre-suffrage era.

The series commences with her husband’s murder—not that Julia kills him, though she soon finds out she has more than enough reason to have done so. Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper mystery/romance if this event didn’t bring Nicholas Brisbane, an enigmatic and aloof private investigator, into Julia’s life. Hell, you’re introduced to the man in the first sentence, in conjunction with the death of Julia’s husband. No, he didn’t do it. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that much. Just as it’s not a spoiler to say we all know where things are headed for Julia and Brisbane in the end… even if it takes 3 books to get there.

Raybourn writes with an eye for detail. I don’t know how well her research is actually founded, but she presents an incredibly romantic version of the Victorian era, especially pertaining to its aristocracy. Given that this is in the interest of mood-setting, though, it’s perfectly acceptable in my book. After all, if I’m going to read a ridiculously fun romance, I want it to be just a little over the top.

However, things do get repetitive after a while, I’ll admit. Julia has a bad habit of putting herself into trouble, and not always with the best of intentions. I think she does it sometimes just to piss off (or at least worry) Brisbane, even though she does it under the guise of proving she can handle herself. In a strange twist of irony, this seems to be when people start recognizing her most as a March, with their dual mottos of “Quod habeo habeo” (What I have, I hold) and “Audeo” (I dare—the unofficial March family motto).

Still, it’s a romp, and quite worth it. It will ring true for a lot of people who have large, somewhat meddlesome, very eclectic families. As a series, I give it a 4 (and probably dropping bit by bit). Books 1, 2, and 3 (in chronological order, not in the order I read them) earn about a 5 each, and books 4 and 5 each get about a 4.