Shifting Gears

I have so much news!  In the last two days, we’ve begun to gain the upper hand on this arm wrestling match with the calendar, as our Hawaii deadline approaches.  It’s crazy how much we’re trying to accomplish before then, and even crazier it’s panning out.  

So, two days ago Nick obtained his Class A CDL permit on his first try — what a champ! — and on the same day, the other mobile shower unit came back from Idaho and got parked for the off-season, close enough by that we can drive there in about an hour and use it.  Major, major, major windfall.  I mean, we had no way of knowing that would work out.  

Everyone goes to these CDL schools — with which I have no qualm, but they’re just charging a lot these days — because tractor trailers don’t just grow on trees, nor do instructors.  It’s not just learning how to drive and back, it’s learning this whole MVD way of taking the skills test that drivers much more experienced than myself can and do fail, in the event of lapse due to medical suspension or whatever.  It’s the perfect time for Nick to get his CDL (covid, Hawaii move, starting to think more like an occupational mercenary and less like a worker bee), we have the perfect equipment to train on, (tractor and 53’ trailer), the owners of the equipment trust us and aren’t regulating when or how much we train, AND I used to teach people this stuff for a living.  What a blessing, for all that to come together, and on this short notice.  And, I’m sorry if I’m seeming redundant here, but once again, this is blowing my mind: a truck and trailer, just sitting there, that we can use whenever we want.  That is unheard of.  The whole point of tractor trailers is that they stay on the road, making money.  It’s only because we plugged into this seasonal industry and developed such a good rapport with our management that this windfall fell.  Crazy!  Just crazy.  Our company made that good, good money this season, making up for 2019, and I’m thrilled.  I’ll be expecting a lot of maintenance to occur over the winter if we do come back and work for them lol. 

Julie wants us to go in on some contract equipment of our own, which I get excited thinking about.  It wouldn’t work for me and Nick alone, relocated to a whole other continent, but with the logistical and biz savvy help of her and where she’s at, it could go well.  I wouldn’t want to build an empire or anything, just manageable.  It would be nice to decide my own daily pay based on how much needs to go back into the equipment, not just having it arbitrarily decided for me.  

ANYWAY, whatever, that’s getting ahead of myself.  So, Nick got his permit, we already spent about six hours training, and he did just great.  He got the feel of the shifting, which is the whole project really, and demonstrated increasing accuracy on right hand turns, left hand turns, and negotiating roundabouts.  The little training route we found is a dream come true.  Perfect area.  He did a couple parallel parks and that’s going just fine.  I don’t have a real set of cones anymore, but I do still have my baby cones that are like three inches tall — people were probably wondering what the hell was going on, setting up a ninety-three foot long box with bright green chalk and cones that were three inches tall on the corners lolllll.  I have a toy truck that I demonstrate various things with, and these tiny cones, so whatever, at least they’re bright.  I can tell he’s enjoying himself, or will be when he gets his flow.  

Meanwhile, on the same day he got his permit, our Hawaii Dep’t of Ag permits came for the bugaboos!!  This is almost better news, arguably.  We can go to Hawaii without both having Class A CDL’s, although that would be a shame — we can’t go without our dogs, which is exactly what the worsening issue was with these permits.  Recap: they sent the wrong ones initially and it didn’t seem as if we could get any response from them about it, except finally they did say they would send more wrong ones if we paid them more money.  It’s like we couldn’t make them understand the date we were saying was wrong was because it was wrong, not because we wanted to be charged more for additional wrong date permits.  We could never talk to a human, or receive any email response in less than a week.  Our clock was TOTALLY ticking so this was a big, big stressor.  Anyway, long story short, the correct ones came, overnighted, I have no idea who paid for the additional overnighting but thank god, and we are beaurocratically all set.  What a miracle.  There’s only one more thing, dog-wise: within ten days of the flight, they have to be examined by a vet and receive a health certification and administration of a flea/tick medication, and it can only be one of several brands, and has to be documented on the certification.  We already have that appointment scheduled, around the time of Nick’s CDL skills exam that we’re prepping hard for, and somewhere in there I’m getting my permanent cosmetics freshened up too, dammit.  

It’s amazing how much this post-fire season isn’t about me recouping any aesthetic losses of being simply outside in the elements, for six months, getting wind blown and dried out by the sucking desert aridity and frozen by cold and stung by skeeters and landed on by flies and swarmed by wasps and scraped up and burned by portable pumps and crowbars on trailer doors that don’t wanna close, and internally brutalized by fire camp food and gas station food and haphazard meals over which I have no control, etc etc etc etc.  I did manage to schedule a hair appointment coming up, thank god, and I’ll probably sneak off to get a manicure/pedicure here in a couple days, when the breakneck pace of everything relaxes a bit.  

Anyway: we got the last items of the storage shed cleaned out yesterday (it had been wall to wall and floor to ceiling, previously), and let me tell you: we are fucking Goodwill UP.  They’re like, staggering around processing our donations.  We tried to monetize as much of it as we could, and I’m going to list some high end items and also my car here today, and — yeah, it’s just a bunch of stuff that can’t go with us, not that we wouldn’t keep it otherwise, and we only have so much time or energy to be trying to get some cash for it.  

I’ve got each of the professionals I need for the minor home repairs/cleaning lined up or line up-able, so that’s going well, and the real estate agent seems like a rockstar.  We still need to submit some paperwork to the airline for our emotional support animals status on the flight, and gosh I hope my car sells.  That’s a big variable right now.  We’re taking the other two vehicles out to LA to be shipped next week, and retaining my car.  There’s still a sense of big question marks around some things, but not nearly as much as six or even three weeks ago.  What a project!  

Nick is hoping we’ll be able to get tested for CV and avoid quarantine, but honestly I don’t give a fuck.  Our new house has a saltwater pool that I will be splashing around in like it’s my full time job and we’ll have two family members who can go get food.  My poor brother!!  He really took the brunt of this quarantine thing.  He got there on August first and had no logistical support for his quarantine.  He had to eat shelf stable foods for two weeks, and even those were hard to get.  The meal delivery service in Kona is apparently just a non-thing, like not happening, and so he got pretty tired of Tasty Bites oily ass curry or whatever it was.  Anyway, thanks to his monumental sacrifice, none of the rest of us need to suffer like that.  

Ooh — it just occurred to me that helping people prepare for their CDL permit tests could be a reasonably viable freelance gig, even with no equipment of my own per se.  Hmmmm.  I’d love to have access to a truck in HI so I could take people through the whole thing and help them get going.  The CDL manual itself is incredibly non-intuitive for the uninitiated.  I would love that.  

I’m having so much fun teaching Nick, and I’m finally enjoying the freedom to teach it the way I think works best, rather than being held to an arbitrary approach by an employer subject to the kind of inertia that always arises at the organizational level.  

Like, on the pre-trip, I’m going to absolutely wale on the brake checks and the components at each axle, for Nick, because there are simply so many repetitive points there (so many axles), and I’ve seen people miss those easy points for no reason, over and over, because it simply wasn’t emphasized enough to them, and got lost in the mess of verbiage and overwhelming, poorly written study materials.  Agh — I’ve been so frustrated by this in years past.  I just want it to be straightforward for students, and I want to be able to create materials and approaches that make it easy, instead of all this confusing garbage generated by both the MVD and, frankly, CDL schools.  

Nick and I got a burrito last night, after training, and he was pretty wiped out.  It’s exhausting, learning to shift and manage such a long trailer at the same time, with traffic etc.  I guess I had clicked into instructor mode pretty hard, and he was like, “Are you okay?  You seem kind of distant.”  I was like, “I’m fine!  I just wish that…”. He goes, “What?”  “I just wish that I could show you one more thing, here, and I’m going to use these napkins and stuff to demonstrate.  Like, let’s say we’re trying to parallel park this fork right here into this menu.  What happens if your angle is too steep, is…”.  Lol!  It’s so fun.  It’s so fun to teach people truck things.  It’s so fun to help people get a credential that pays for itself in no time flat, only takes a couple weeks, never expires per se, is very low maintenance and incredibly high yield in terms of a monetizable skill. 

The best part, yesterday, was the moment when Nick got the feel of the low range shifts.  Those are the hardest ones, and he was fighting it, like everyone fights it, and trust me — the truck fights back, and always wins.  But then there was this point where he got it, in his body.  It’s a very physical, very body-feeling skill, and once you integrate it, shifting becomes infinitely fun.  I enjoyed myself all summer, relative to that, going from fire to fire.  Driving truck is a physical pleasure that it’s really hard to explain.  

So anyway, today — after I blog myself to satisfaction of course — we’re making final, final, final decisions about what’s going in the U-Box, and dropping it off for transport.  Anything that doesn’t make it in there will have to go in checked baggage or we’ll say goodbye to it forever.  I’m just looking at my boxes of dresses right now; I’m thinking I’d rather pay extra to take them all in checked baggage with me.  That way we’ll all live or die together.  Lol.  

The bugaboos hung out in the sleeper berth yesterday, while we lurched and lugged and revved around our little shifting route.  Buffy was like ‘whatever’ and Milo was trying to climb inside Nick’s skin, so we actually leashed him far enough back that he had to figure out some way to feel okay, which he did.  At one point Nick actually said, “Hannah!”  I said, “What??”  He said, “Look at Milo!  He’s self-soothing!”  It was an amazing moment.  

Nick’s working on having Milo be other places besides, like, in Nick’s skin, and it’s going pretty well.  It started with being willing to ride in the passenger seat, and has now progressed to being willing to stay behind the front seats.  Milo, like all conscious beings, is tricksy, and will willfully misinterpret anything and everything as a reason why he should wrap himself around Nick’s head again, but the gentle, firm consistency is paying off.  

Oh, here’s a nice thing: I didn’t actually ruin my body with fire season food.  It always feels that way, by the end of the season.  I’ll be like, “I know I recovered from this before, but this time it seems permanent.”  And then, in about a week of eating even semi-normally — and with all this moving, we haven’t been eating even close to ideally, every day is just a contest of inconvenient physical needs versus a mountain of urgent shit that needs to get done — but in about a week, I start to feel more normal.  That last California fire, particularly — I was there a month, and the food is always shite, but this time it was shite on steroids.  You just feel bloated all day, and you swear to god you’re never eating again, but then you get hungry and eat again, and feel even more bloated, and pretty soon you’re like, “Was I ever not bloated?  Did I just imagine that?”

But yes, I didn’t get as fat as I thought I did — I didn’t see myself in a full length mirror for a really long time, so I didn’t know, I just felt mostly graceless and food-victimized.  It’s so not even about being vegan.  I think a lot of people probably don’t even understand how good they could feel, just eating fresh whole foods; or more importantly, they don’t understand how shitty they feel, eating the way they do.  It’s not about dietary ethics per se, it’s not about weight, it’s not about fitness, it’s just this dramatic difference between eating dead food all the time vs alive, fresh, full of light food, and one you’ve made that connection, you never want to feel the other way.  I mean, it’s fun to go eat out and have something awful, a caramelized fried whole cauliflower with tahini sauce and Sriracha or whatever, fine, but I mean as a baseline.  

And to be honest with you, I don’t know how they make food that feels so dead.  Like at the California fire.  It wasn’t just that it had no flavor, it wasn’t just that it seemed low quality, it wasn’t just uninspired from concept to execution…I don’t know.  I don’t think I could take any ingredients and produce any result, myself, in a kitchen, that would hit that hard.  Anyway, I’ve been really enjoying salads and smoothies and sushi and as many things as possible, on the go as it were, and I’m feeling much better in my skin.  

Speaking of skin, Nick and I are sort of, you know, cataloguing the various things we’ll never have to experience again, post-November first, and chronically desiccated skin and organs and bodies is one, for sure.  I’ve lived in AZ or the general climate-area for a long time, and I swear to god, I don’t remember the sun being this blinding, or the air being this dry.  I drink and drink and drink water, and never feel hydrated.  After the shower, my skin goes from being literally wet to pulling tight on my skull and bones; it could be measured in fucking psi.  Lotion just sits there like a bandaid, not doing much.  I can’t wait to be dewy, plumped up like a sponge in water, in and out of the ocean, in and out of the saltwater pool, in and out of the sun.  

The drivers in Hawaii seem way more mellow, too.  They always go the speed limit, no one seems stressed on the road.  Nick and I were driving down Butler yesterday, enjoying the autumn colors, and the indoctrinated marxist students out walking with their masks on, and the panhandlers on every corner who appear to be about 30 years old and perfectly able-bodied, and I said to Nick, “When we get to Hawaii, we should vibrationally rehab our relationship to Flagstaff.  I mean, let’s get in touch with all the good things about it, since we don’t have to live here anymore.  It’s to our benefit to have the best emotional relationship possible with not only things in our present, but also things in our past —“

Right then, a fancy SUV full of ragamuffins swerved halfway into our lane for no reason, and would have struck the front of Nick’s truck if he hadn’t braked.  He beeped his horn, and all of the ragamuffins violently flipped us the bird, holding their middle fingers as far out the windows as they could, like it was our fault.  “Oh, FUCK YOU!” I yelled, mostly to myself.  “Oh my god.  Fuck this place.  Nevermind.”

Sometimes I take the high road to a fault, and I think the message from the universe here is, “It doesn’t matter how you get out; just get out.”  You have no idea how many times I’ve escaped from Flagstaff.  Something has always forced me to come back — I don’t mean some mysterious internal impulse, I mean something legitimate, like my dad going temporarily blind, that kind of thing.  That’s why I’m so, so, so glad we’re selling the house.  Let someone else buy it, and come here, and live the dream of the changing autumn colors, the numerous breweries and bars and music venues and cafes that are closed, or not, depending on the evolution of the new normal, and the rich ragamuffins, and the panhandlers, and the way everyone is stoned all the time.  Let this be firmly in the rearview mirror, finally, for the love of god.  

You know, here’s the thing; the level of pretension.  I think there’s lots of places in the country where people vibe the way they vibe, and they’re frankly pretty honest about that.  We rubbed elbows with some of our company’s Kentucky boys (HQ is Kentucky), during our short stint at that cold Wyoming fire, and man I tell you what: they really are who they really are.  They’re great.  They don’t think they’re better than anybody.  They don’t think they’re worse than anybody.  They’re really really good at what they do, and they just kind of amble around having Kentucky accents and tinkering with things.  They’re highly effective people and they’re extremely laid back — my favorite combo.  And it’s certainly not just red-state people; I loved being in Baltimore, in May.  You just walk along the sidewalk and everyone’s hanging out on their front porch stoop and axing us howdy as we stroll by and everyone’s nice, and real.  

I’ve been to so many places and I’ve enjoyed the regional distinctions, all the different little ways that people are.  Their accents, their attitudes, their outlook, their friendliness.  I mean, even Colorado can kind of be a hotbed of stupid but, gosh, such nice people.  

Maybe it’s just me, here.  I don’t know.  It just feels fake as fuck, some kind of pseudo crunchy ethic that stays safely blind to anything that might be an inconvenient truth, let alone a personal inconvenience.  It’s all earnest chagrin at global warming while posting on Facebook about fifty new ways to eat bacon.  Like, pick one.  You know?  Either swerve into people’s lane or flip them off, but not both.  Either stop being so offended about illegal immigrants and their situation here, or stop being so stoned all the time, as a workforce, that local business owners have no choice but to hire illegal immigrants if they want any job to actually be done right.  Either accept the science that 70% of people who’ve contracted COVID self-report having worn a mask “always”, versus 3.9% who’ve contracted COVID reporting wearing a mask “never”, or stop accusing people who don’t wear masks all the time of being science deniers.  There’s just no end to it, here.  Just be how you’re gonna be, that’s fine, but stop acting like you’re better than everyone else, because you’re not.

I didn’t meet many native Hawaiians, in our 2.5 week stint there in March which kicked off this whole idea, but the ones I did meet felt to me like sea-Hopis.  Not really sea-Navajos, with whom I’m more familiar because of my upbringing.  Yeah, definitely sea-Hopis, with an intact culture.  It’s a good vibe, I’ll tell you that.  And the non-native Hawaiians, or caucasian Hawaiians — not sure of the right term, here — felt really good to me too.  We made more friends in Hawaii in a week than we did in Albuquerque in a year.  Speaking of which, I think Albuquerque’s gone downhill even more.  I talked to my CDL-instructor, fire season truckdriver friend Cary on the phone last night, and four of his friends’ and/or family’s vehicles were broken into *in one night*, in “good” neighborhoods too.  The crime there is just rampant.  It’s the kind of place where the police find rival gang leaders nailed, literally nailed, to trees, courtesy of the other gang leader.  Nick and I just chanced into a great place, with a high wall and a locked gate, and I had frankly a phenomenal job there, but — all these spikes in crime that have swept the nation, post George Floyd, didn’t even touch Albuquerque because the whole place is just one chronic spike.  It was like a drop in the bucket.  I’ll always remember our house there fondly.  What a house.  I mean, we just rented, but it was so lovely, so just right for us.  

I’m really reconciling myself, more seriously, to the fact that we create our scenarios forward.  You don’t have to be scared to leave a good situation like it’s the last apple in the barrel — I’ve had good jobs and they predispose me to experience even better ones, forward.  I’ve had lovely homes and they predispose me to experience even lovelier ones, forward.  I’ve had good friends and they predispose me to experience even better ones, forward.  I’m happy to let this house go, to let my car go, to let a lot, and I mean a lot, of nice domestic possessions go.  I think this is gonna be a no-regrets move for me, and not because I haven’t had nice things and a nice situation prior.  

I’m glad I’m getting my perm freshened up, though, and permanent makeup.  I told Nick yesterday, “I know my hair looks best naturally straight, and heat styled [true fact], but there will be no styling in Hawaii.  I’m going to be constantly immersing myself in water and drying in the sun, and however I look is however I look.  I can’t wait.”  

I’m going to slow my roll on surfing, at first.  I tried to surf with Nick in March and got scraped up on some really sharp lava rocks, in a nasty current.  I should note: this didn’t even bother me; what bothered me was, as I paddled ineffectually and heard people yell to Nick and I about the current, I assumed they were yelling about sharks and just mentally prepared myself to die.  When it turns out it was only lava rocks at 20mph, I almost laughed.  I’m definitely going to be surfing, probably within the year, but I’m going to start out paddle boarding first.  I don’t have a lifetime of ocean familiarity like Nick does, and I’m gonna give myself longer to get the feel of it.  

I hope my brother will go out paddle boarding with me, and I hope my dad will at least put his feet in the ocean.  He has coped with so much occupational, environmental, and domestic (my mom) hardship in his life, it’s like he’s predisposed to coping with hard things and has absolutely no skill set for enjoying nice things.  I think he’s still wearing overalls and complaining about the heat and humidity, last I heard.  He needs to put on some shorts and live a little.  I don’t think I’ve seen my dad’s legs since he was going through his unfortunate nudist phase and I was forced by circumstances to help him change out two toilets in the house in Kansas without the benefit of him wearing clothing.  I think we’re out of the nudist phase now.  Although, Hawaii would be the place for it, for sure.  I think there’s a nude beach, on one of the other islands?  I’d love to go there with Nick.  Being naked on a beach just sounds epic, like possibly the most human experience of all human experiences.

Relative to my dad maybe putting his feet in the ocean, I did try to sell him on sand as quartz, and quartz as a powerful conductor, and a powerful conductor being an excellent grounding for bare feet on the earth’s healing, magnificent, antioxidant-infused negative electron field, with which we’re supposed to be connected like all other animals are, but in reality we’ve insulated our homes and shoes and towns so much that we’re all magnetically out of whack.  This was during a long phone call the night I was absolutely *eating up* interstate 80 in my truck with no governor.  That thing was janky in some respects, but boy did it have an engine.  My dad got excited about this, which is so funny.  He has to be circuitously sold on the idea of going to the beach, in Hawaii — a prospect most other people find naturally appealing in its own right.  Lol my dad.  

The surf there is quite powerful (as I well know), so we’re gonna have to tempt him, over time, with maybe a nice shallow, gentle, protected cove, and like some hiking poles or a boogie board to stabilize himself.  I think it will take time, and he’ll have to sit and eventually become jealous of us frolicking.  His main thing he says about the ocean is, “NO.  Nope.  Nooooooo.”  We’ll see.  My dad apparently told all our neighbors his kids were “hauling him off” to Hawaii.  They’ve come up to say hi, as Nick and I have been out in the carport carrying boxes etc.  “I heard you guys are hauling Frank off to Hawaii.”  Good lord.  Well, semantics aside, I guess that’s true.  When you’re 77 and 100% of your kids move to Hawaii, that means you’re moving to Hawaii, if your kids are worth a shit, and we are.  

Nick will of course be strength training my dad, once we get there, because everyone within a certain blast zone of Nick ends up getting strength trained, so I think his balance and stability will improve quite a lot.  And hey — there’s always the sand-quartz to conduct healing negative electrons to my dad’s bare feet, in the meantime.

Welp — bae boo bear and the little bugaboos are up and shuffling around, now, so I’ll post this and get the day underway.  We’re so on track, and I feel so good about our progress.  By the time we go to bed tonight, this house will look even emptier than it does now.  I’m keeping the blogging chair until the last moment 🙂                              

One thought on “Shifting Gears

  1. The overall vibe is anxiety. I heard a term for a syndrome that really made it all make sense in a terrible kinda way. Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome on an industrial scale is what’s going on. Our caregivers, the politicos who rule us, are taking advantage of their populations through the disease of Fear (covid 19 is just a convenient vehicle to carry it) and our disability is that we’ve lost the survival skill of pattern recognition and critical thinking. Thus, we are able to be controlled by the hysterical plague pied pipers for a disease with a survivability rate of 99.9 percent. The mass masking is a necessary ingredient to keep the fear forever in sight, a continuous feedback loop that reminds us that we’re sick and diseased forevermore. It’s a perfect diabolical plan.

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