Backyard Feeder

Backyard Feeder
photo taken through porch screen

Saturday, April 28, 2012


If I take nothing more away from the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop that I attended last week it is that I am a writer, a real writer, because I write. This is both thrilling and terrifying since it implies a level of responsibility for what I write. And yet, I write.

I quit my day job on March 16, 2012 and on March 17,2012 I became a professional writer--which really means that I am working without a net. Yikes. I am trusting my bipolar husband who has been working as a truck driver since September to provide for our family enough to pay the bills until I start making money on my writing.

Oh, I'm already making money on my writing. It just isn't enough money to pay even one of our bills. But I went to a real writers' workshop and had real writers tell me that I am a writer and I'm praying that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, it will somehow miraculously be true. It took me most of the next week to get back to reality and I am finally getting back to being able to work on my stuff and now I feel even more like a fraud.

Who am I trying to kid? I'm not a real writer. I'm a housewife who went through some interesting experiences and wrote down what I learned from them. A writer goes out and finds stuff to write about, right? Having an interesting life with lots of drama doesn't make you a writer. But maybe writing stuff that people actually want to read about it does. Maybe?

Sometimes I worry that bipolar is contagious. I seem to have higher highs and lower lows in fast succession these days. Maybe it's just the stress of suddenly being in a position where I don't have a regular paycheck and where I am fully responsible for everything. The writing life is a bit bipolar, unless you're JK Rowling or Stephen King and I'm sure it was the same when they were starting out.

So here I am, watching for the checks to roll in. Hoping that I'll get this all figured out before we starve to death or I give up and get a real job. I am a writer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Road to Happily Ever After?

If anyone thinks that this is going to be a story where the bipolar becomes just another pill to take and life will be normal, you're missing the point. This isn't about that kind of happily ever after,. This is about the struggle to live happily in spite of the obstacles by working together and making the best of things.

It's been three weeks since I quit my day job to write and I'm still working out the kinks. I know that this is stressful for Troy but I still believe that quitting the job was the right thing for me and for us and that I will be able to thrive whether my income increases or I learn to live on less.

Troy finally got in to the doctor about his heartburn and is going to be checked for ulcers next week. Getting in to see a doctor isn't hard, but the test he needs could not be scheduled immediately. Waiting isn't easy when you aren't feeling well.

Troy decided he'd like to train in someone new. Usually the company uses drivers who have been with the company for at least a year, but Troy is a quick learner and since he'd shown an interest he was assigned a trainee during the time he is waiting to take this test. I'm not sure that was a good idea, since the experience he had with this trainee was enough to cause ulcers.

He was assigned an older man who had some experience with other trucking companies, but who was having trouble keeping on schedule and using the equipment the company provides: a text tranceiver for communicating with dispatch, the forms used for keeping records, and the truck itself--which is a little different from what he'd driven in the past. Since the man came with the attitude that he knew what he was doing and wasn't going to learn anything from this young guy with less experience than he had--and since Troy is mostly stable, but not really capable of dealing with what he perceived as disrespect, things got interesting.

I got regular phone calls as Troy worked to keep himself calm and knew that he could count on me to help talk him down. I got a play-by-play of every behavior that seemed inappropriate--this man was nearly 20 years older than Troy, from New Jersey, and black. Troy is from German ancestry, grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in the midwest all his life. I try to explain that some of it might just be cultural differences and reminded him that this is a temporary situation.

Troy finally blew up, told the guy that he had been assigned to train him and that if he wanted to work with the company he'd have to pay attention and learn the ways this company works and that he could screw up as much as he wanted when he gets his own truck, but he's going to do things right during this training session or he'd just report to human resources that he wasn't co-operating. Funny how a guy doesn't just quit on the spot when you're out in the middle of nowhere with no way home but the one truck. When the air cleared the trainee had decided to play along--good choice.

Troy goes in for his medical testing next week Monday and is already looking into getting a new trainee. The man in charge of assigning trainers agrees that this was not an easy situation and that the next trainee should be more open to instruction, so Troy is looking forward to an easier situation.
I am happy to see that he is dealing with his own issues and finding ways to make things work. I am glad the company can see that he knows what he is doing and trusts him to train others. It makes me a little less nervous about his ability to keep this job.

This past week Troy was given a stop inside a cave. These are huge caves, but for someone with claustrophobia the fact that you are driving under tons of mountain can be more than a little difficult. The loading docks were built when smaller trucks were running and between the tight space and the claustrophobia, Troy had a hard time getting his truck exactly where it needed to be. I'm sure he was stressed out, but he managed to get the trailer lined up in the loading dock and get in and out of there.
That was Thursday.

He got home Friday evening and slept all day Saturday. I was a bit nervous that he might be sinking into depression, but he got up Saturday evening with a list of things he wanted to accomplish before leaving Sunday night. We managed to get everyone to church--it was Easter Sunday so our son came from across town--and we did a bit of shopping before our family dinner. We didn't get everything done that he had hoped, but we did get the stuff we'll need to do things and I can do some of it myself.

Sometimes I wonder why we set ourselves up for so much stress when we know what it does to us, but I think we need to stretch a little just to feel alive. So far he has pushed through every obstacle. I know that no matter what happens, we can survive and we will get through it.