Electrical Anxiety Syndrome

Hold on a minute, no need to run to Google to look this up. It’s not a real thing. At least I don’t think it is. I just invented it, and will now, moving forward in this post, refer to it as EAS because I love acronyms.

Living in a brick apartment building during the summer of 90+ degree days was actually tolerable. I told myself the brick helped to insulate from the heat. Does it? I don’t know, but the idea sounded plausible. Never had an inkling of EAS during August or September. I just kept my blinds closed when not home and never had to even think about turning on any heat.

Living in a brick apartment building during the autumn and coming winter may be another story as it relates to insulation, but again I must look at the idea that if brick insulates well in the heat then conversely it would stand to reason to insulate against the cold… wouldn’t it? If my reasoning here is way off base please excuse me. I leaned much more heavily to biological sciences rather than climate science. Honestly, I’m not really ready to blame the brick for my EAS. I think I need to put the blame squarely on really old single pane windows, two of which don’t seem to make sufficient contact with the aforementioned brick, and god-awful zone heating- aka: individually operated base-board heaters.

What is she talking about, you ask. In lay terms: I think that I’m going to freeze this winter and in the process run up a large electric bill. Thus the creation of my electrical anxiety syndrome (EAS) after a summer of almost non-existent heating bills.

My heaters are designed to be turned on when needed for the room I am occupying at the time. If I leave that room and go to another room, say the bedroom for some reason, I will likely encounter temperatures much, much, much colder. Energy efficiency is not a hallmark of this type of heater, and if you have these heaters in your own home you know that they are typically put in under the windows. Mine sit squarely under my woefully inadequate single pane windows with those blinds that do nothing more than keep the neighbors from glaring at me when they walk down the sidewalk.

As I have no control over changing either the windows or the heaters I have tried to take measures that will help to insulate the inside and prevent losing tons of heat to the outside. I purchased and hung thermal curtains. Pulling them during the day means living in cave-like darkness. I’m having a hard time with this as it’s autumn, the days are sunny, but not warm, and quite frankly I need to SEE OUTSIDE. Cave dwelling isn’t high on my list of fun activities. I also have those door draft snake things stuffed along the windowsills where the cracks are.

As long as I dress warmly during the day when I’m home (that means long sleeves, sometimes even a sweater, heavy-ish socks, or light socks with slippers, then I’m okay. The heaters may be turned on for a time at night, and I heat up my bedroom prior to going to bed.

“So Deb, why don’t you just turn the damn heaters on and live like a normal person?”

Great question.

The reason I am not simply just turning the heaters on and watching my meter wheel turn willy-nilly is that I have no basis for just how much electricity these things use. My local power company, in every newsletter they put online, describes these heaters as energy wasters, or as I think of them- the root cause of my EAS. I have no experience with these things, coming as I did from a natural gas/forced air furnace set-up over the past 24 years.

But I have a plan. I always have a plan. October is my test-out-the-energy-usage-of-these-crappy-old-heaters month. I can run these babies for a time each day while trying to keep the EAS at bay and then see what my bill runs at the end of the month. I can use some not very scientific calculations based on temps now versus expected temps in the coming months plus some hefty algebraic formulas that will allow me to calculate things like HRT (heater run time) / OTV (outside temperature variation) / WPA (weather pattern analysis) against more impractical options such as STSR (sock to slipper ratio) / EB&QC (extra blanket & quilt costs) / and UOOAH (use of oven as heater).

Simple right? I think so.

Or I could just get up, move around to warm up my body and find a better use for my time than filling blog posts with silly acronyms.

*Seriously though, helpful readers- if you have any experience with this type of heating system I am all ears and would love to here what works, suggestions, heartbreak versus triumph over these things…whatever you’ve got. Many thanks!


How we do autumn in my house

The mini pumpkins have taken their place on my outdoor window sill. They get to overlook part of my new garden planter. I have a matching set on the other sill, but I think you get the idea.


The very first pan of vegetables is ready to roast. I’ve been waiting all summer to get back into the roast veggie routine. This tray was supposed to include some red skin potatoes as well, but I let them go a bit too long. They now have a place at the bottom of the garbage pail.


There was spicy, Market Spice tea a bit earlier, but I missed taking a photo of that so you have to settle for the generic view.


and, finally…

I have pulled out the first of the pumpkin scented candles. This one is Pumpkin Cider


We’ve had on and off rain showers today as well. That’s a sure sign of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.

What about you? How are you doing autumn around your home?

What does a “day off” mean?

An interesting call just came in from the coordinator of the hearing screen program. With no fanfare, just a simple and direct, “Tell me again your commitment during the week with your other job. Maranda just gave her notice.”

Maranda is the hearing screener who works during the week at my weekend location. It’s just the two of us, with my boss spending Mondays there, screening and doing administrative work. Five of the remaining six days per week she (the boss/coordinator) is at the larger facility about 10 miles away, screening and overseeing one crisis after another.

There was a moment, before I answered, where I wanted to say, “Why of course she quit. Everyone does in this rather low paying, increasingly stressful job.” But I didn’t, My boss already knows this. It doesn’t take any new hire long to realize that the time and energy involved in this work is likely never going to pay many bills. In this system, as a new hire, you have to have a firm idea when you begin that this job is likely going to be more part-time in nature, even if you work four days per week. It’s simply not a job you can support yourself, or a family, on. Maranda is apparently leaving for that very reason. Maranda lasted about four months.

So a new screener was about to be hired, but she can only work weekends. She’s a student during the week. My boss had hoped that I could move into Maranda’s work schedule and the new person could take my weekends. That can’t happen, although if it was a few years into the future I would have jumped at the opportunity. Team player that I am (?) I made the offer to cover on the two days I am free during the week: Monday and Thursday. Plus I will continue with my weekend schedule. Let’s do the math shall we–

Granddaughters Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Hearing screening Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

I believe that equals seven full work days per week. This new arrangement begins the second week of October. It isn’t forever, but, as this system moves at the speed of a very slow mud flow, it will likely be three, or even four months before someone new is fully functional to take Maranda’s place. That’s if the boss can hire someone yesterday.

It was rather ironic that this call came today. I was sitting here, reading a book on my day off and actually feeling rather like I was wasting time. I had these vague thoughts of how much more productive I could be; of how I really didn’t need a full two days off, because I really don’t have all that much to do…

And you know what, it will be okay. Two more days per week will certainly boost my paycheck a bit. My days screening are almost never full days anyway, especially on the weekends. Sitting here on these open days makes me feel pressured to clean my house, over and over, and I barely need to clean it now. I am not a messy person. Fortunately I have a good number of scrubs so I won’t have to do laundry every other day. Both of my jobs are a fairly easy commute and I will likely miss peak traffic times anyway…

I can do this, right?

Will someone, about mid November, just take a moment to remind me what it’s like in the real world where you get a day or two off on occasion. I’m not so sure that I’ll remember what a “day off” means by then.


I want to get my weather whining over right away, because I really have no reason to whine given what others are facing both across my state as well as to the south. It is too hot, too humid, and smoke is blanketing this area like a winter quilt. My eyes hurt, my nose itches, and I’m coughing. Plus I break out into a sweat if I walk from the kitchen to my living room. I don’t like it.

Okay, I’m done with that part.

Do you remember some of my brief mentions of Sam, the neighbor in Apt. 2? The crusty old curmudgeon. The guy who has had some sort of monopoly over the laundry room electric meter for ages. The guy who cared for his mother for years after her stroke until she died. The man who has taken over 4 months to move out of here and back to his own apartment.

Sam is out, but Sam left with a bang. Literally. Sam and his friend Eve left (we assumed) for good on Saturday. I won’t lie, Apt. 1 tenant Nancy and I had a little happy dance outside when we believed him to be gone. She has her reasons, and my reasons developed quickly as I learned just after moving in that curmudgeon or not, Sam is a controlling abuser. His control and his verbal and emotional abuse were always directed toward Eve. I don’t have to go into detail regarding the things I heard in the last month. You are all intelligent enough to figure it out. There is a backstory there, concerning Eve, but I have no idea how or why she came into the picture, nor do I know anything about her or her life. While I fear for this woman, and grieve for her in her choice to stay around this man, I also selfishly rejoiced on Saturday that he had moved on.

Then Sunday night happened.

Their car drove in and they began to haul the remaining crap from the apartment. The landlord had come over early that day. I assumed, after seeing what was left, that he had contacted Sam and told him to get the crap out, but no, Sam still had his keys and still had intentions to linger and take his time removing the leftover junk.

Eve was set to work, hauling and dumping and removing while Sam, in his typical manner, sat back, or wandered around checking for what I can only assume to be things he deems to be out of place or not meeting his demands. About 1 hour into this return visit the loud, hateful words began toward Eve. I was just beginning to text the landlord, when I heard the laundry room door open. Sam was checking (as he always had) to see if laundry had been done in the 24 hours that he had been absent. Apt. 1 Nancy, who finally felt as if she was free to use our own laundry room and not the local coin-op facility had done laundry Saturday night, after they left. She never does laundry here…ever.

Sam immediately assumed that it was me. I know because he stood outside my open kitchen window and loudly announced, “You did laundry again and DIDN’T PAY!” He moved on to call the landlord and scream the same thing to him, again outside my window. As my fingers hovered over 911 on my phone the laundry room door slammed shut and there were bellows for Eve to “come now!” The apartment door was slammed so hard I expected to see glass on the sidewalk. The car roared off around the corner and we haven’t seen Sam since.

The landlord has been back, changing locks just in case, and apologizing more than is necessary. He has a major job ahead to get that apartment ready for someone new. Sam has been threatened with police action should he appear here again. I have been told to call 911 immediately if I see him. Nancy feels bad because the use of her own laundry room led to some of this chaos. I’ve tried to assure her that Sam could and would be able to create chaos regardless of the laundry situation. I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like for Eve should she continue to stay with Sam, and I believe she will.

Apartment life in what I believed to be a small, quaint, community…


Too early

It’s about 4:30 AM here right now. I was awake at 4:00. Awake about the same time yesterday morning as well. I don’t have to be up for my new job until about 5:30, but something has me up way before the alarm goes off.

My first day alone yesterday, and even though, at the very last minute, I actually received access to the electronic medical record, there were still issues. Nothing major mind you, but still I think this system needs some improvements when it comes to new employees. I had to wait on a baby anyway and that gave me time to chat with a great tech at the login help desk, Sam or Sebastian…or some S name. He got me access to the EMR that I needed. My fingers are crossed that I can still access it this morning when I go in.

A few observations:

Trendy, young, great couples who want to know everything. I enjoy catching snippets of a couples conversations about parenting,  when they are awake and alert enough to have those anyway. It’s difficult to go into these rooms and not play the role of established expert parent, especially when the couples are young, and you know that for all of their good reasoning now, much of what they feel strongly about doing or not doing with their new child will likely go out the window once they are home and reality sets in.

Babies are really hairy these days. I don’t mean just the peach fuzz lanugo that typically covers much of a newborn. I mean hair, long hair on so many babies. I only remember one of my kids having hair at birth. The little pumpkins that I have screened all have come out needing a haircut. Hair makes for challenging screening so I will always be partial to the bald babies.

Nurses. You know that nurses run the hospital right? Everyone, including the doctors who pop in and pop back out, is lost if a nurse is not visible at all times.

Pico pumps--a new and interesting gadget with claims to be beneficial after surgery (cesareans in this case) but that interferes with my job if mom is holding baby. Medically inclined readers…any comments on this device?

Air conditioning. I refuse to complain about working on the Labor Day weekend when I can be around air conditioning. We are on another hot streak here, with temps over 90 degrees day after day. My shift can go on and on…


Front, back or sideways

Whirling dervish…


That description came to mind with all changes that have happened in just 24 hours and now I feel a little bit like I don’t know what side is up, or down.

I think I shared that I was hired back with the company who employed me about 5 years ago–the medical group that contracts with hospital systems to provide Newborn Hearing Screenings prior to discharge. I became an employee of the local practice on June 30th. I have been waiting ever since to get official clearance by the hospital facility where I will actually be doing the screening. My coordinator, who has been short staffed for months, has been pulling her hair out, waiting to get this onboarding process completed.

She went out on a limb yesterday and had me come into the site to observe, even though technically I was not supposed to be in patient rooms without my official badge. I could only take notes and watch, but at least it was something. Much of the process came back to me rather quickly, although this facility takes a bit of a different approach than my previous position.

Overall, it was great to be back with the babies, even though I couldn’t touch them. It was also a little difficult because this facility still uses the LDRP approach with their moms. Once admitted, moms labor, deliver, recover and spend their postpartum 24-36 hours in the same room. Passing rooms and hearing moms in active labor had my educator/doula motor running on high gear. I wanted to dump the screening machine and offer them labor support. I can imagine that it’s going to be a challenge to have to pass those room in the future.

Anyway, I left there with no news and no idea of how much longer it might be before I could actually begin this job. Being in limbo for 2-3 months is not unheard of I was told early on.

Out of the blue, as I was eating lunch today, my coordinator called. “We can get your badge!” she said into the phone. “They still haven’t assigned you an official ID, but with the badge you can start screening and we will work around using the electronic health record.”

While extremely glad, and also excited that I was finally given the okay to do my job, I knew that much of the stress the other screeners had been facing was now going to be transferred to me. They are/were sick of filling in and covering the holes in scheduling. My coordinator especially has worked 30+ days straight, no time off.

I was rather taken aback though, when she began rattling off day after day this week and early next to do some “hurry up training” with the intention of my taking off on my own by the Labor Day weekend. Ironically, I had been reviewing my notes from yesterday when she called. I had no idea what I wrote or why I wrote what I did on quite a few pages as I was trying to watch, listen, and write at the same time. I think I used to be able to do that…when I was 18. She was talking, making plans, and I was half listening, wondering how I was going to make sense of things with 3 or 4 days training and ongoing restricted access to some vital areas that proved to be a part of those unreadable or illogical notes.

Long story short: I threw on some scrubs, drove to my facility, did part of a hearing screen, again without my badge, to get a little hands-on experience. I then drove to the main facility 40 minutes away in (almost) rush hour traffic to get my badge. I was being prodded to screen a few babies while I was there, for more “training.” I think, perhaps by the look on my face, that it was clear that I wasn’t keen on that idea.

Fortunately, my coordinator stopped, took a breath, and allowed me to give some input. Just that short hands-on time today allowed me to see that I really haven’t forgotten everything, even after 5 years. I know that I’ll be slow again, at first and while being watched, but I can already anticipate being on my own. The autonomy of this job is one of the things that I love. Until I have full access to every process, I’m taking the viewpoint that I just have to roll with what comes, do the parts that I already know and can do with just a little practice, and ask questions when I need to.

We parted with the plan that I will co-screen with two different screeners this coming Saturday and Sunday. I will be shadowed by my coordinator next Monday. If all goes well from both our points of view then I will be on my own September 2nd. I have the option as well to seek more training time, somehow working around my days watching the granddaughters.

The frenetic spinning in my head has slowed. I am remembering to breathe. I am reminding myself that this will all work out. I am reminding myself that I was a competent screener once before, and that I will be again. I am hoping that if the whirling begins again, it will take me to a deep, meditative state where I will lie in an open field and let the sun wash over me and calm will prevail.

I am refusing to think just how close September 2nd is…