I spent the better part of this weekend working on applying for a federal job in Michigan that would be awesome. I also spent some time working on an essay that I want(ed) to enter in a contest. I put the desire in tentative past tense because I believe I have missed the deadline for submitting (and presumably first completing) it. My work was leavened with a lot of pleasure reading (The Pale King, Year of Yes, and Reality Hunger), a fair amount of child transport, and an unconscionable amount of clicking back and forth between Facebook and Twitter as though something important were going to happen there.
It is now 2:30 AM on Monday. I have to be awake in four hours. I have given up on weaving phrases from the job announcement into narrative descriptions of my professional experience and abilities. I have not yet had the heart to find my copy of The New Philosopher to see if the deadline has been influenced by the Leap Year. I ought to go to sleep and yet I am awake. It is quiet and no one wants anything from me!
This is not the first time I’ve done this to myself in the past week. On Tuesday night I actually pulled an all-nighter, initially for the joy of being conscious and alone in a quiet living room (Dino Spouse having driven to South Carolina for an in-person farewell to Soldatik before the latter’s departure for Korea) and then out of professional frustration at the backlog of work I’ve been piling up. Wednesday did not work out terrifically well, though I did enjoy my afternoon nap after I fled the office early for fear of conking out at my desk.
Speaking of which, now I am ready to sleep.
Podrostok (or maybe I should start calling him Soldatik in honor of his new adult station in life) came home for the holidays. It was fun having him around and having an excuse to visit a friend of mine who lives near Soldatik‘s base during the pick-up and drop-off trips. (Always life-affirming to see people whose ambient chaos levels resemble or exceed one’s own, plus I got slept on by some dachshunds. This last fact almost makes up for the fact that he introduced the film “Love, Actually” into my life, but only almost. It’s the cinematic equivalent of eating an entire bag of Starburst jellybeans in one sitting, and it makes me regret the loss of my gag reflex in much the same manner. If I had won the Powerball last week I would have paid for a sequel in which Emma Thompson’s character teamed up with Laura Linney’s character to wreak havoc on all the smug happy people in the film. It would end with Laura Linney and Liam Neeson living happily ever after, Emma Thompson bonking the dude who plays Rick on “Walking Dead,” and the chick who seduced Alan Rickman subjugating and blackmailing Hugh Grant while performing feminist consciousness-raising intervention on his girlfriend. Colin Firth and his girl friend can stay together, though.)
No Dinosaurovs (or Protosaurs) were harmed in the making of this Christmas, for what that’s worth, nor were the police summoned to my belle-mere‘s apartment. I couldn’t summon the holiday spirit to decorate the house in earnest, but I did at least trim up a table festively and make some cookies, and my sister had a lovely Christmas dinner for the lot of us.
I went another round with the nightstand last week, but this time I pushed it out of the way as I was rolling on to the floor (diving to the floor of a metro car to avoid gun fire in my dream). Dino Spouse was startled by the noise but neither of us was wounded. I guess that means the nightstand and I are even now? I’ve gotten a referral to a neurologist and a sleep specialist.
Mouse discovered the musical “Hamilton” at some point during the holiday and it took over our brains completely. Unfortunately, anxiety and despoir also took over Mouse’s brain during the school break, with the result that my girl has attended four of the last ten days of school. We have logged a lot of quality time with mental health professionals in the past two weeks. I am grateful that I will be seeing mine on Monday, because dang.
Happy fiscal new year to all of my fellow federal public servants! The worst thing about the fiscal year cliffhanger this year was that Dino Spouse switched from his usual true crime TV fare to watching Congressional debate on C-SPAN. I never thought I would miss “Snapped,” but such is the power of Ted Cruz’s oration.
Fall seems to have arrived in Washington with the fiscal new year. Unpleasant discovery #1 of the fall: my cherished leather jacket, the $300 buttery black delight I found at a local Salvation Army two years ago for $20, has gone all stinky. I believe it may have been saturated with rain and snow a few too many times, and now it emanates a smell reminiscent of wet dog or wet wool. I can handle looking shabby (and probably the jacket is looking a little rough, since I patched a rip in one of the pockets last year), but I cannot abide stank.
We have yet to hear from our Soldier in Training at length, but he is in the second week of boot camp. We’ve seen pictures of him thanks to the big-hearted spouses of the soldiers running basic training and the regimental Facebook pages. The first two or three action shots of Podrostok showed him looking stressed and/or confused, but last night’s feed included an excellent picture of him running and looking, well, army strong.
Today my first-born will be sworn in as an Army recruit at a Military Entry Processing Station and ship off to basic training. We dropped him off a few hours ago at the hotel where they gather, and in the morning we’ll go en famille to see the swearing-in and hug him again before seeing him off on the bus.
Dino Spouse is bereft. Podrostok is his boy through and through. It will be a rough day.
I really ought to go to bed now.
Odd, isn’t it? I can contemplate Podrostok‘s impending enlistment (your US Army, ladies and gentlemen) with complete equanimity. I got through his high school graduation without shredding a tear or even misting up. He turned 18 recently and I was totally calm. But the sight of the SF-1199 (a venerable federal government direct deposit form, for non-initiates) struck a chill into my heart when it appeared on our kitchen table after his induction. Now the act of opening savings and checking accounts for him online feels like farewell, the kind you know will hurt for a long time but in the moment you only want to throw up and your mouth won’t sit right. My little boy is an adult and he’s leaving soon.
I guess I’ll go clean something now.
Podrostok graduated from high school today. His graduating class was huge (around 650 kids) but the ceremony was really quite nice. They managed to get all those kids across the stage and have the band and choir do their things and let all the usual suspects say a few words in under 150 minutes. Someone should put the school administration team in charge of the Academy Awards. My lone complaint is that they mispronounced my poor baby’s name when it was finally his turn to walk across the stage. Probably other names were mangled as well, given that the other 649 kids come from all over the world, but his was the only one that got conspicuously butchered.
Podrostok and Mouse and I all got haircuts Friday night. They look awesome. I look like the kind of person who calls the cops to complain about skateboarders.
(Claire Kirkconnell was the actress who played Rita Harriman in the HBO series version of “The Paper Chase” in the 1980’s. I wanted to be her so bad when I was 15. Maybe I should be thinking about law school after all instead of pouring my mental energy into learning more science. Does anyone out there think this is a good idea? I mean, I wouldn’t need to take any preparatory coursework to apply, and I am good at the things real lawyers really do, as opposed to the things most aspiring lawyers actually want to do. On the other hand, what about my quest for life skills that will support me in the Zombie Apocalypse?)
Establishing a payment plan with the IRS has not gotten easier since the last time I had to do it, back in 2007 or so. I suppose I should just give up on trying to do it online and just mail in the paper form that says “I would like to establish a payment plan, please.” But according to the website, the IRS seems to really want people like me to request payment through one of its automated services. If only their phone service would stop hanging up on me and their online system for establishing payment plans would quit crapping out! As a Public Service Announcement, Muppet Labs Financial has asked me to let you know: it’s always easier to pay the fine for over-withholding on your federal taxes than it is to pay back Uncle Sam for under-withholding.
The automated systems at NoVA, on the other hand, are perfectly happy to siphon my cash away. So I did sign up for the second semester of Biology. It appears that the final exam date may be during a business trip I already have scheduled, but said business trip involves a visit to Casa Bonita as well as the continued payment of my salary. So I’m sure the professor (the same one I have this semester) will understand. It looks like I will be getting a B for this semester if I do not significantly mess up on the final.
In other paper-related news, Podrostok is trying to enlist in the Army after high school. This is quite a surprise. I am nervous for him but I am also thrilled at the prospect of him having a plan that could significantly broaden his career prospects and earn him some decent money and benefits at the same time. The recruiter came by this weekend to get our signatures on the papers authorizing Uncle Sam to take him away overnight next week and conduct his pre-induction physical. He was somewhat taken back that I did not also sign the portions for the form transferring custody of my minor child to the U.S. Army for the purpose of his immediate enlistment, but he recovered. (Every Army veteran I’ve talked to has been totally enthusiastic about Tim signing up but has also said “SIGN NOTHING UNLESS YOU HAVE READ IT VERY, VERY CAREFULLY. BEWARE OF FINE PRINT.” Even people who don’t normally talk in upper case.)