Things I Can't Say

Last week I was on a fire as a Public Information Officer, trying to juggle all of those duties AND get my writing done for my two other jobs - it was a push, but I’ve discovered I definitely prefer having TOO much to do to having NOTHING I can do, except read. And eat. And read. And eat some more. Oh yeah, and write… sounds like heaven, right? Except I find the lack of external stimulus unmotivating for the same reason that I never want to fold the laundry at home during the boring winter months… There’s always tomorrow. And the tomorrows here are very long. Only five more tomorrows til they let me come back in to civilization and be human again.

Last night the Branch Director informed us that a certain Hotsprings Resort (where we are all camped) is hosting their annual “Fairy Fest” this weekend. I got pretty excited because this terrain out here with shoulder high ferns and deep, pillowy moss reminds me of the woods along the Columbia River Gorge where my Grandma Schiffman used to tell me that the fairies lived near the waterfalls. My excitement was shot down pretty fast when Branch explained that the clothing-optional celebration is predominantly adult males. The Task Force Leader sitting next to me started giggling uncontrollably and leaned over to tell me that he had been sitting at a drop point all day applying body paint for the festival, and as soon as we were done briefing, all that would be left of him was a pile of discarded nomex. I think he was kidding… I just hope that none of the revelling “fairies” come flopping through my campsite in their glitter encrusted wings at 2 AM - it might be the first time I didn’t do the whole “do believe in fairies” chant or clap my hands to save a fairy life. Just saying.

Today they ran out of lunches before I got mine which means I will have to avail myself of the 375lbs of snack foods that I have been hoarding. Or eat the Frosted Mini Wheats that I stole from the breakfast line (don’t worry, I stole milk too). It’s only 10:00 and I am already thinking about lunch which is good indicator of a bad day.

BUT - Good news! I found a scratchy FM radio station today that plays nothing but classic rock. George Thoroughgood, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd - all the greats. If you know me, you know how excited I am about this. There aren’t even news updates on this station. I keep checking to make sure and for the off chance that I might hear another human voice over the airwaves.

I didn’t sleep well since I forgot to turn my radio off and it was ALL THE WAY up in the front console of the Expedition that I am sleeping/working in and it was too far away to crawl forward to shut off. So every hour I was awakened by the crackle-hiss of “NONAMEFIRE COMMUNICATIONS HOTSPRINGS ROAD GUARD STATUS CHECK OPERATIONS NORMAL.” from at least fifteen overnight road guards. That was pretty rad.  I really can’t complain since I could’ve turned the damn thing off at any time but I just kept hoping they would go away and leave me alone. My 31st day on fire this season is starting to exhibit itself mentally, I guess. I must have slept some though, because I woke up with a knot the size of a softball directly underneath my right shoulder blade. I keep rolling it against the center console of the car to try to loosen it up, but no dice.

I was so bored today that after I finished a book, two movies, three naps and wrote most of this blog post, I rearranged my rig so that I can’t reach the cooler from the driver’s seat and I am required to get out of the vehicle and walk around to the passenger side for cold water, or more importantly, cheese. Because you know, exercise. But I outsmarted myself and started pulling non-cold water bottles from the case on the floor behind my seat. Until that became to much work, then I just quit drinking water. The cheese posed a bigger problem, however, so my solution was to just eat it ALL in one sitting and not have to face the dilemma any more. That worked out pretty well.

All of this joy was enhanced by a young kid from one of the contract crews who needed me to trim down an overgrown, torn toenail from a foot that hasn’t been showered in many, many days. He could probably tell by my cheerful demeanor and the unrepressed gagging how thrilled I was to take care of him. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. Five more sleeps.

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