4.1 – Humidity, Desert, Flood.

May 31, 2015

Dear Darkened Rose,

I’m going to ramble off like a journal entry for a bit. Today, I need to express that I am quite achy and struggling a bit.

Happy belated Mother’s Day, on this last day of May (I promised you a second letter, so here it is).

I increased my medication the other day. I did this partially due to my confusion with the Walgreen’s website, and also because I found myself frightened that I might dig myself deeper in a hole if I didn’t take the opportunity to increase it when possible. It was necessary, and I’m almost thankful for the mishap.

Work has been hellish these past few weeks. After coming back from the spike I told you about, we had a break and were in town for a week. Following that, things picked up a bit. We spent 5 days in Bastrop, where I formed some sort of a rash (quite possibly poison ivy, but maybe chiggers or a heat rash). I, also, only found out on Thursday of that week that I’d be leaving the following Sunday instead of Monday for Presidio for 9 days. Aside from those two problem-initiating situations, Bastrop was a pretty good trip.

Presidio spike was just grueling.

The hosts and project partners were incredibly kind, but the desert wasn’t.

I had had only one day to break prior to the change of vastly different climates. On that occasion, I spent a lot of time either soaking in a bathtub or wishing I was. Then, we left on Mother’s Day. In and of itself, Mother’s Day could have started me off on the wrong foot. I had zero family time; just time with a reduced crew. There were only 5 of us, so it was an intimate trip. We had one crew leader versus the normal two. He was forced to drive the entire trip. The music was hardly relaxing. I wanted to listen to Journey and Bonnie Raitt with a Coors Light in hand and remember you by doing so. Instead, I was stuck in a van for 8 hours listening to constant noise and trying not to get car sick.

I battled the growing, itchy skin rash on my arms and belly, dealt with a shitty tent in fickle weather (combinations of extremes–windy, rainy, chilly, dry, and hot), and tried to keep up with the younger, more fit crew members. Their hard work, heat withstanding capabilities, healthy dinners (relatively), unhealthy snacks, long nights, and constant ability to socialize made me a bit shameful. I had a strong desire for milked and sugared coffee in the mornings, cashews and Topo Chicos throughout the day, Torchy’s for dinner, deep meditative yoga before bed, and my dog and boyfriend by me while I dozed off at 9:15ish. Tent-camping for work sounds great in theory, but it’s work for work after work. Working isn’t fun.

When I finally got home, I switched back and forth from scrubbing with the shower running, to soaking in a tub. I did this for about an hour and a half. I still didn’t feel clean. I went to bed, woke up, and spent the next morning crying quite a bit in order to try to completely purge myself of all that still resided in me from that whole Presidio trip.

I’m not sure what got to me the most flustered. It could have been the influx of alcohol, heat, long hours, having a small crew, my increasing negative judgements of my leader, my questioning of my own capabilities within myself to ever want to be a leader, a missed day of medication, or the fact that I was hardcore PMSing. Presidio was partially a nightmare for me. It had breathtaking views, but hideous days.

My vision of what a personal hell would be is coming together. It is created from one big ball of pieces of the experiences I’ve had while working this job. Yet, somewhere within me (maybe buried deep within me for some of these trips) I am finding a bounce-back security. I am forming a full puzzle with these lost pieces of me that I am finding with this job, and I appreciate it. A week ago (while in Presidio) I would not be saying this, but today—I’m finding resolution.

I’ll let you know about my trip that I am on now next time. It’s not completed, and it’s a very different story. I’m on a disaster relief assignment right now, and I’m unaware of when it will be over. We are scheduled to be out here for at least 10 days, but we could easily be out here longer with the amount of work they have for us. Hopefully by my next letter I’m not still deployed, but we’ll see.

Word of advice: Please do not donate old clothes or small things that are not requested for disaster relief. Despite what you may believe–money, warm food, love, hard-working hands, and appliance/grocery store gift cards are the ONLY resources that can be undoubtedly utilized for disaster relief (unless you can go all out and start sending appliances for people). People need one refrigerator, and hands for debris clean-up more than rooms full of just batteries, dish soap, and sandpaper-like toilet tissue. I am working right next to a donation center, and the people are overwhelmed with work and far from a welcoming fashion anymore. In passing I heard someone mention, “normally, half of the disaster relief is having to find what to do with unwanted, overloaded donated goods.” It’s unnecessary.

I love you. I miss you.


Enclosed are cool things.

The Song: A Horse With No Name

The Pictures: