The last post I published was just after thanksgiving. That’s almost a 2 months ago, and it didn’t include anything that had to do with my podcast(s). I have a few episodes that are in the state of ‘almost done,’ but I’ve decided to keep my hiatus going until some things have been finished.
First off, to set the stage: I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to start an I.T. career. After a dozen disjointed jobs that I never really cared about, I figured I would start studying for the Comptia A+ certification. So I got a few books from the library and started working my way through them.
If you don’t want to read 100%, there’s a TL;DR at the bottom.
BEGIN WEEK #1:
Shortly after I decide to get A+ certified, starting about 3-ish weeks before Thanksgiving, my wife found a small colony of bedbugs on our bed’s box spring. It was a very small colony, with only 3 or 4 live adults and a small amount of eggs. But if you’ve ever had bedbugs before, or even known someone who has had them, you know that this is one of the more stressful things that can happen to you, outside of a major life event or major surgery (NO REALLY, HERE’S A LINK).
We discovered them on Thursday November 3, about 11:30 pm. We didn’t get to sleep until about 3 am. In that time we stripped our bed and all our clothes and started ‘heat-treating’ them. Which in this case is code for “stick ’em in the dryer for the longest, hottest setting.” We also inspected the crib and mattress that our toddler sleeps on. We slept on the couches that night. I awoke early that morning for work, and Amanda had to call off work because taking a toddler to daycare from a bedbug infested home with other children is considered impolite.
Friday after I was home from work, we decided to temporarily move in to my in-law’s house. I thought we might spend a week there. I was wrong about the time frame, but I cannot thank them enough for their support.
BEGIN WEEK #2:
This week was interesting and horrible. I was still working, only now I was 20 more minutes from my office, so I had to wake up even earlier. Every day after work I would head to the apartment and bag up clothes, make terrible jokes while I baked my novels on a low setting (Heh. “cooking my books” – get it?), and generally set everything in any room in one weird tower of crap in the middle of that room. We came up with a system to ensure that we wouldn’t bring bugs from our apartment to anywhere else – it had to do with a package of clothes in the entryway to the in-law’s house, carrying a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol wherever we go, and generally being paranoid.
This is the first full week that we are at the in-laws, and I don’t have access to my normal computer, normal video games, or generally speaking, my normal life. I decide that I am going to take whatever toddler-free time that I have and read this A+ book. So I am usually the last person awake, reading alone at the dining room table, with the dogs and the fireplace for company. It’s pretty nice, and a perfect study atmosphere for me.
Amanda and I love to host for our friends, so we have a lot of furniture. Getting every single piece of furniture 2+ feet way from the apartment’s walls was impossible, but we came close, without even destroying anything. Before we didn’t want to be in our apartment because we didn’t want to be around the bugs. Now we didn’t want to because it was totally uninhabitable. No seating, all the food moved or thrown away, the bedding all piled up, and so forth. Even my books were in a jenga tower of boxes.
BEGIN WEEK #3
We left the goddamned country.
No – really, we had a cruise scheduled for the last full week before thanksgiving. My dad paid for it as a 5th anniversary gift. My brother and his wife also came. The week previous was hell because we were trying to get our home ready for the bedbug treatment before we left. So we got it all done, and we headed to my dad’s place in Pennsylvania before heading to Baltimore to catch the ship.
(By the way, I recommend going on a cruise. They are cheaper than you might think, and are a really good way of going somewhere new without needing to think about things like making food for yourself or deciding what to do during the day.)
On the cruise we went to Port Canaveral (including NASA), and then Nassau and Freeport – both of which are in The Bahamas.
It was weird, going on a trip like this when my home was being held hostage by a parasite. It was also weird being away from my daughter for so long (we had already arranged to have the in-laws watching her). It was weird knowing that the landlord had arranged to have the exterminators there when we were going to be 1100 miles south. It was weird going to a country that was recovering from a hurricane that hit them so hard that they still weren’t done cleaning up after a month. It was weird that I was worried about insects when some of these people were worried about what to eat tomorrow.
My brain was in a weird place. In my free time (which was like 90% of your time on a cruise) I read up on A+ stuff.
BEGIN WEEK #4:
We got back to Columbus.
My job was cutting hours, since no one wants to work outside in freezing temperatures (I am a traffic control flagger for road construction sites). I had a lot of free time and the only things to do was slowly unpack our house from the middle of every room, and wait for the exterminator to do the final spray. Oh, and read A+ stuff.
I worked when I could, but otherwise, I was not in my own home, and couldn’t do my normal things. I played with the toddler, and read A+ stuff. I finished my first read-through of the book on Friday.
Oh yeah. Thanksgiving also happened in there somewhere.
BEGIN WEEK #5:
We move back home.
We are still trying to get the house put back together. It’s going slowly. Nerd Fort #1 had been mostly dismantled, since it is a blanket fort, and bed bugs like cloth. We keep being paranoid about the chances that the treatments missed a bug or two. It’s stressful – like moving, only with horrible little blood goblins that are rumored to have the ability to just not die.
BEGIN WEEK #6:
It is now the first full week of December. We start finishing up the details of our Christmas trip to South Dakota, because it doesn’t matter how broke or parasite-stricken you are – when it’s time for someone’s 60th wedding anniversary, you are going to it.
We are continuing to get our house back in order, and we start getting bills that we were expecting – urgent care visit for me when a stomach virus made me not eat for three days, emergency room visit for Amanda when belly pain woke her up from a dead sleep, the first notice of how much the bedbug treatment will cost, etc.
Otherwise, I worked when I could, took care of the toddler when I couldn’t, and studied A+ stuff in between.
BEGIN WEEK #7:
I actually work this week. Like real, actual hours. at least 3 days. Get more bills. Get paranoid some more. Try to figure out what to get people for Christmas on a budget (hint – a lot of it was knitting).
We have our first Christmas get-together as my father comes in to town on Saturday the 17th. The kids (Lily and the 2 children of my older brother) get most of the presents, which is the way it should be.
We finish the plans for flying out to South Dakota, and start getting packed up.
BEGIN WEEK #8:
On Sunday, Amanda’s phone deletes most of her pictures and videos, including some videos of Lily that were never sent to anyone else. The next day we get the best phone for under $100 that we can find. We can barely afford this, but I have worked recently.
On Tuesday, we fly out to South Dakota. Did you know that if your child is under 2 years old, you can register them as “babe in arms,” and they fly for free? I do now, but here’s the kicker – the child has to share your seat. We decided that flying was better than driving because a long flight out with a toddler is a WAY shorter stress-period than a 24-driving-hours car trip.
Pro-tip #1: bring something that can play their favorite movie, but only break out the movie when they can’t keep themselves still any longer. Pro-tip #2: have a brother that wants to bring their vehicle, so you can just give them the luggage that you would otherwise check with the airline. Pro-tip #3: don’t get a stomach bug while on the airplane, especially with a toddler.
We get out to South Dakota and it’s pretty cool. We have wonderful bacon from a small-town-butcher with eggs and toast Every. Single. Morning. It was great. We also learn that my brother and I (and our families) are the surprise for the anniversary party. So we spend time driving around the Black Hills seeing really cool things. Went to Wind Cave. Nifty stuff. Somehow we didn’t go see Mount Rushmore.
My maternal grandparent’s wedding shared it’s decorations with their church’s Christmas service in 1956. The anniversary party 60 years later did the same thing, at the same church. That was pretty cool. When my grandfather came in and realized who he was looking at, I was worried that he was going to have a heart attack right there at the church. He hasn’t seen us since my younger brother’s wedding, and they had no idea we were coming. They very much appreciated our presence.
BEGIN WEEK #9:
Christmas Sunday! Wake up and do presents and stuff, which makes this Christmas Celebration #2. Start to hear about a blizzard coming. Go to my Mom’s church around noonish for their Christmas service. It was cheesy and Christmas-y, just like they always are, no matter what church you go to.
Blizzard happens, 2-3 feet of snow with 6 foot drifts. The entire town was cleaned up before dawn the very next day, because people from South Dakota don’t screw around with winters that last for maybe half the year. The next day we go to the spot where my Stepdad proposed to my mom – Bridal Veil Falls.
Fly back to Columbus on Tuesday. Realize on the way back that I didn’t study A+ at all when I was in South Dakota.
Tuesday night, as we are getting ready for bed – find a bedbug. OGODDAMITTSONOFABITCH.
Call the landlord again. Call the exterminators again. Check every inch of the bed. Break out the DE (diatemaceous earth) in full force, dusting the entire bedroom.
Start a study group for like-minded A+ people. Sundays and Wednesdays. No one shows, but I keep going and maintain my study time.
BEGIN WEEK #10
New Years Day! Time to fight some bedbugs. We are sleeping on an air mattress in our living room, because the bugs seem to be centralized in our bedroom. I put a ring of DE around the air mattress at night. Lily loves helping deflate the air mattress in the morning. Capture a bedbug in the bedroom so we can show it to the exterminator.
Exterminator comes out, and says “yeah. That’s live activity,” when looking at our bug-in-a-ziploc. This apparently means something special and he basically tells us to get out because he’s going to “make it pretty toxic in here.” (don’t worry, the poison is harmless to humans after it dries – just have to keep the toddler from eating it too much).
We start sleeping in the bedroom again after the spray.
Work when I can. Study when I can’t.
BEGIN WEEK #11
Find another 2 bedbugs, capture them. Pay a few bills. Start to realize exactly how crazy we are going because of these little blood-sucking shits. Work 3 days this week (yay money) immediately pay some bills.
This time we take what we’ve learned and use alcohol to kill anything alive that we didn’t catch and can’t see (like eggs and stuff), DE to kill anything that might crawl up on the bed, and duct tape to patch up the holes that are in the bedbug-proof mattress cover.
Another spray: the exterminator looks at the 2 bugs and says “yeah that one is probably 7 weeks old, and that one is probably 3 weeks. I’m going to straight up soak your apartment in poison. Also, all the crazy things you are doing are very good. Keep it up.”
Also keep up the study group. No one comes. I still study.
BEGIN WEEK #12
This is the week that I am posting this.
Holy crap it’s been nearly 3 months. We are a little crazy, which I think Lily is picking up on – she is acting out more. We have a bit of money because Ohio weather has an on-again-off-again relationship with winter, so I work more (today is 60 degrees!). The in-laws keep doing their incredibly supportive thing.
I have a day off that Amanda is working and Lily spends with the great-grandparents. So I sit down and write this. I’m going to pay more bills and do more paperwork and get caught up on dishes.
END OF THE STORY.
-Bedbugs are a horrific blight on the health and sanity of the world.
-We are fighting them while traveling, while trying to maintain a clean and financially-sound household, while trying to work, and while raising a toddler.
-We are slowly winning the bedbug battle, but it is not yet won.
-I have decided that getting my A+ certification is more important than keeping up with the podcast, but some podcast stuff will be ready the moment I feel I am qualified for the A+.
CONCLUSION: I am still on hiatus, but I am getting closer to being done with that.