2015 Retrospective

2015 was full of awesome artwork. My favorite moment was finally finishing The Adventures of Horatio the Sea Angel.

I felt weird just glazing over this past year in my last post. It was an epic year and it certainly deserves to be documented. I started this blog because I wanted something that’ll capture my life’s journey. I wanted to be able to look back and read my story when I’m no longer able to remember it. And although I may have outgrown many things, I haven’t outgrown that desire. So here I am, back in the saddle again. Sit back and relax because here was my year…

First let’s start with work. If you read my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been in work limbo for many years, basically just living hand-to-mouth and barely managing that. Well, after returning from Yellowstone in August of 2014, I gracefully tucked my tail between my legs and moved back in with my mother. As it would happen, my 46-year old brother did the same. So we Hazards were once again living under one roof, which hadn’t been done since I was a wee one, many centuries ago. The arrangement made for a fantastic Christmas (we celebrate Festivus) holiday but that’s about all of the good I can say about it. Let’s just say, Hazards don’t live well with others, even if it’s family.

Ling Ling and me picking some lavender and being goofy.

Cornell came to my rescue in November of 2014 with the promise of a temporary job for at least a year in their Receiving Department. I gladly took it and soon after moved into a motel room/converted apartment close to my work. My job was crazy! I don’t know karate but I know crazy and I landed in the epicenter of it. Me and about twelve other people were responsible for opening animal diagnostic samples (think blood, guts, poop, urine and bodies) from every known animal in every known location on this here planet, entering laboratory testing data into the computer and then labeling and delivering the samples to the correct labs in a timely fashion. These samples are as run-of-the-mill as canine lyme testing from a local small animal vet hospital to as oddball as running fecals on lemurs in Madagascar. It was extremely exciting stuff because you never knew what you were going to get when you sliced open each box. It certainly takes the piss out of Christmas or your birthday because opening presents loses it’s luster when you’re accustomed to receiving dead bodies or even live bats (the sender thought it was dead when in fact it was just stunned…these things happen).

The Receiving work environment was as close to running air traffic control or working at the stock market as you could get. Basically, all the lab sections relied on you, completely, and it was common to feel their wrath bearing down on you if you were late delivering samples or made a mistake. If one thing went wrong, it was like a domino effect or a house of cards coming down to crush your paltry soul… A million dollar horse could be waiting on the tarmac to be exported to Saudi Arabia and its testing depends on you. A freakin’ white rhino could be dying in a zoo somewhere and they need a diagnosis STAT.

I know this sounds crazy but somewhere amidst this chaos I learned how to make mistakes. I learned that is was okay to royally fuck up. It seems like this should be the last place on earth where making mistakes would be okay but it was honestly considered a part of the job description. (Human error is real. We all mess up, all the time, we just suck at being okay with it.) Whenever I beat myself up for something stupid I’d done, my supervisors would just tell me that they’ve done it a million times (which they most certainly have) and then say something completely low-brow and juvenile that would crack me up.  Problem solved, move on, do better next time and I did.

My workdays basically consisted of running around, screaming at coworkers, getting screamed at by coworkers, non-stop. The language was foul and the joking was relentless. It was my idea of home. I found a new family with new people to spend my days and nights with. I had been missing this for so long. I never realized how lonely I was until I found my new friends. Not that I don’t love my old friends, I do. It’s just that life, lovers and babies happened without me and I was somehow left alone still wanting to party. Shallow but true.

Since my job was soon ending, one of the labs decided to scoop me up and it was the lab that I had my eye on (just one eye, my other eye was on the necropsy lab) since I first started: Parasitology. Ironically, when I worked at Planned Parenthood millennia ago, me and a coworker would daydream about how cool it would be to study parasites, which those around us found disturbing. Now here I am! I’m over the moon to be learning about parasites while simultaneously saving animals from being consumed alive by them. (I’m still shocked and horrified that it’s considered an elective in vet school. How is this not necessary info?)

The lab has its challenges, as with any job. There are people issues and I miss my old job. However, I was able to hybridize my new job with the old so I get to enjoy both worlds. Instead of relying on folks from Receiving to enter specimen data and deliver our samples, I do it. It’s a win/win because we get our samples hours earlier and some of the pressure is taken off of Receiving. I’m hoping that this model catches on with other labs.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses though. I completely fell head over heels for one of my coworkers and got my heart crushed in the process. We tried. I’ll leave it at that. The experience reinforced my feelings about dating and I even had my very own Oprah Ah Ha! moment. For years I’ve been beating myself up about dating: “Why don’t you want to date?”, “Why don’t you try online dating?”, “Only a monster wants to be alone and single.”, “You’re going to die alone, unloved and eaten by your cat.” This is the kind of dialog I’ve been having with myself over the years.

This past year I tried online dating and I absolutely hated everything about it. It’s just not for me. And of course I beat myself up about that. “You can’t even manage to get strangers to like you.”, “Oh, maybe that guy isn’t as creepy as he seems and you should give him a chance.”, “So many of my friends found love this way, so what’s my problem?” And I was getting emails from interested internet suitors and I honestly didn’t even have time to read them. I was too busy enjoying life with my new group of friends or working on Sweet Pea’s. It only took a minute of getting real with myself to realize that I’m having a good time, right now, and I’m simultaneously alone. My life is gloriously uncomplicated and that’s exactly what I’ve always wished for myself. I was just too busy striving to find something that I already had. Thus, I’ve chilled the heck out and the pressure is off. The whole marriage and 2.5 kids thing is a mold that I always knew I wasn’t going to fit in to so it’s nice to finally see it begin to break. I’m also surround by great role models at work who are near retirement and have never married AND they will more than likely not be eaten by their cats (nothing is certain though).

Speaking of cats…GOMEZ! Satan’s helper is the new addition to my family. I thought Petunia could use someone to keep her on her toes. She was getting a little to complacent when it comes to life. Not anymore though! Gomez has certainly shaken things up around here.

And speaking of here. This past June I moved into a super sweet one bedroom apartment near my work. This is the first time ever where I didn’t have a 30+ minute commute. I’m getting spoiled. Plus, my landlord is my mother’s boyfriend of 18 or so years so I’m basically living near family. I love my little place and it pains me to leave sometimes because I’m such a darn nester.

So what does next year have in store? Well Yellowstone looks like a possibility, which I’m so excited about because I was really disappointed that I couldn’t make it last summer. And I made the following 2016 “to do” list which I’ll share with you. Hopefully, you’ll hold me accountable.

  1. Go to clown college. Nope, I’m not kidding.
  2. Take aerial classes. Still not kidding.
  3. Have my own art show.
  4. Learn a Barry White set on guitar or bass and play out.
  5. Start blogging again.
  6. Finally solve my Sweet Pea’s Groceries label conundrum. Product labels are my nemesis.
  7. Learn a martial art.
  8. Get my products into a store.
  9. Hike with Petunia at least once a week. Not just our regular mini-hikes either.
  10. Sew all my own clothes.
  11. Brew a batch of beer.
  12. Work on my fecal art idea. Don’t ask.
  13. Travel, darn it!

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