Words Trickle, Friends

I’ve been quiet. I know. I can’t even say that writing has been a chore lately, because for it to have been a chore I’d have to have applied an appreciable amount of time toward it.

So? What’s the hold up?

July killed me. Well, technically it killed one of our cats. (Ok, strictly speaking, that was the vet, but we’ve already been over that.) August glanced down at my prone form, giggled a little, and soft-served out a steaming pile of life on top of my head. September hasn’t been terrible; it’s just sort of crouched beside me and smudged the mess ar—sorry, what?

It’s October? Fuck off…

It is not.

Shitsakes…it is.

Anyway.

My employer, [organization name redacted], moved from the campus where it had been—in one iteration or another—for nearly ninety years to a temporary facility, allowing for extensive renovations. The process of culling out all the shit we didn’t want to move (a lot), packing the remainder (still a lot), getting it moved over, getting our systems up, and unpacking everything happened right in the middle of us gearing up for a quarterly business process which involves a hell of a lot of work. Since the move, we’ve been swamped with people excited by our new place. Translation: I haven’t been able to sneak little bits of writing in here and there during the work day since August, and lunch breaks have involved a lot of staring into the middle distance with the look of a man tormented.

Around the same time as the move, the sapling started high school. Shit went south with that pretty much immediately. She’s got attention deficit and anxiety issues, for which we’ve had a set of educational accommodations drawn up with her last couple of schools. The new school’s overzealous teachers ignored the accommodations on file and the result was a series of severe anxiety attacks and a straight-A student suddenly falling short of Cs. Picture a school that grades students on their ability to walk backward up stairs, and a faculty who refuse to acknowledge that some students’ legs either don’t function properly or are wholly absent.

It was stressful on the sapling and on the wife and I. Added to this was a culture of some of the shittiest communication we have experienced with any school she’s been in. We decided to pull the sapling from the school and finally grant a long-time wish of hers: homeschooling (public school curriculum delivered online, technically). She’s done well enough with it. For the wife and I, though, it wasn’t a smooth transition.

My wife telecommutes. She also holds the financial reins. (This was more or less a mutual decision years and years ago, based upon my own unreliability. No, doing it jointly hasn’t worked. The way our processes work is too different. Frustrations mount, yelling happens. Reins. Hers. Better.) The process of getting the sapling set up for homeschool was kind of a clusterfuck. I had to be at work, because of the whole job mess I already addressed. Wife was juggling too many balls at home. She felt like she was alone in handling everything. Frustrations mounted. Yelling happened. :pine_shrug: Sometimes it be that way. Things fell into place after bit and we more or less know what we’re all doing now. Sapling’s happier. Grade books are happier. We’re happier.

Then there’s the surgery.

Sorry! I didn’t mean to cockblock the sunshine-and-daisies ending there, but Life is sloppy and endings aren’t happy—when there are endings at all.

My wife’s got a host of medical issues. Fuck, she’s got medical volumes. You’ll hear about the main one soon enough. There’s a week dedicated to it. One of the less primary problems is that her foot bones hate her. She’s had multiple surgeries, reconstructive and otherwise. Most recently, she had a bone spur pressing on a nerve and strong pain that turned out to be a fracture that she got while doing really extreme shit…like walking and standing. Surgery was scheduled and we showed up for the fun stuff. Cue up brakes_screeching.wav and fade it into record_scratch.wma: she had a mosquito bite above the ankle of the foot where the slicing and dicing was supposed to happen. Doc postponed the operation until the bite could heal. (Redness around the site suggested a chance of infection. No reason to take chances.)

I’ll step away from the narrative for a moment to note: the reason she had a mosquito bite is because she still insisted on taking the dog for evening walks…in summer…near swamps…and bayous…and recently flooded parks. Her prerogative. We’ve been married long enough that I know better than to argue.

The new date rolled around, there were no mosquito bites (thank you, bug spray), and for ten non-weight-bearing weeks she’d be rolling around, too. The post-surgical paperwork seemed to indicate that the doc had installed eight anchors/screws or such hardware. Let’s just say that there was a lot of realignment…and a re-fracture and bone graft…and “shaving” of the bone spur…and cleanup of some arthritic damage. It was involved.

She started in a splint, which she was to be in until her follow-up appointment to have her stitches out and the alignment of her foot innards checked by x-ray. If that sounds a little like a plan that didn’t quite pan out, that’s because our paddle-free trip down Feces River as not been without incident. The configuration of the splint and the bandaging beneath it was such that it exacerbated the aforementioned main medical issue. We had to go back to have the bandaging replaced with thicker stuff and a new splint slapped on over that.

We live in a small house. Not one of those dumbass, middle class, culturewank tiny houses, mind you. We rent a house that dates back to the 1920s, whose rooms average 11’ x 11’ and the back rooms are a full step down from the rest of the house. With furniture in place it’s hard enough to walk through the fucker, much less navigate it with a standing walker or knee walker. (Crutches are a no-go, thanks to the thing that I keep referencing without naming it: it’s name is Epidermolysis Bullosa and it is some shit. More on that soon, it’s almost awareness week. The oversimplified version is: the dermis and the epidermis have a real off-again-on-again relationship.) The sapling and I are doing a lot of waiting hand-and-foot. My housework load and chauffeuring have seen a big increase as well.

The follow-up came and went. She’s out of the splint and into a cast. The eight bits of titanium resolved themselves on x-ray as more like four bits of titanium—really big bits of titanium. The poor woman is getting fed the hell up with sitting. Unfortunately, she’s got several weeks of that still.

When I say that I haven’t had a lot of time for writing—or for the Inktober sketches I thought I’d try to keep up with—all of the above and more (cooking, dog-walking, general depressive moods, exhaustion, etc.) ought to account for that pretty well. Updating Recovery Efforts and Through Fire, setting up Quiction prompts and working on related exercises, and just generally behaving like a person a casual observer might identify as a writer have all been far outside of my abilities lately. It taxes my patience and tests my resolve. The former I fortunately possess in relative abundance. The latter might as well be cottonwood fluff upon the wind.

It leaves us in a bit of a bind. Her income has suffered, due to the surgery. She only had so much PTO available, after all. Usually she’d supplement our beleaguered coffers via rideshare. However, it’s hard to do that with your right foot hacked to pieces and put back together. I can’t do the rideshare thing, myself. The thought of having a complete stranger in my car gives me the fucking anxiety trembles. Part time jobs are out, because I need to be close at hand. I’d love to offer some light writing commissions, but with no way to guarantee time for writing…that would be ridiculous. Fortunately, we aren’t at the point of absolute despair. We’ll make it.

Now, would I turn down a Ko-Fi or two from folks who have enjoyed my bullshit? No. No, I would not. (Not you, dear once-brother. *waggles finger* You and I have unfin—ok, I have unfinished business. But, you know what I mean.)

I appreciate y’all’s patience as much as I appreciate y’all’s readership, which is a hell of a lot. I’d like to encourage you to keep in contact with me. On Twitter and Telegram I am @old_pines and am always open to conversation. You can also throw questions of any sort at my Curious Cat account. They give me the opportunity to at least keep the otherwise inevitable atrophy of my writer muscles at bay.

Thank you all. Stay wonderful.

~Old Pines

Feedback encouraged, critique appreciated!