Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Sunday Post #306

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The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #306

On The Blog Recently

On The Blog Eventually (I Swear I'm Working On These)

  • I share my favorite quotes from the YOU book series.
  • I list fun books to read if you want to be happy.

In My Reading Life

I haven't been reading much because I've been busy! I've recently become a frequent passenger on life's struggle bus.

I managed to finish The Familiars by Stacey Halls. It's historical fiction about a couple who is desperate to have a child and turns to a potential witch for help. As you'd expect, things go wrong.

I'm honestly not sure what to think about this book. Is it well-written? Yes. Is it atmospheric? Yes. Was I entertained? Heck, yeah. I think my issue is that I've read too many historical fiction books that are similar to this one. Woman-accused-of-something-ridiculous is a common theme in historical fiction. As soon as I finished this book, it faded from my mind and blended with all the others I've read. That sucks because it's a thought-provoking novel! I would have adored it if I hadn't read so many others.

I love that the story focuses on female friendship. The main character and her midwife slowly learn to trust each other and build a relationship that goes deeper than employer/employee. It shows that teamwork is the only way to defeat oppression. You won't get far in life if you try to beat an unfair system by yourself.

If you're new to historical fiction, then this is an excellent place to start. The plot is entertaining and not too dense or bogged down in boring historical details. If you love historical fiction as much as I do, then you might feel a bit "meh" about this book. It gets lost in the crowd.

In The Rest Of My Life

This section is going to be honest, self-indulgent, and completely lacking in books. Feel free to skip it. I know you're here for the books! You won't find any down below. I'm warning you now.

In this section, I normally list 5 things that made me happy last week. I thought I'd go with something different today because I've spent the last few weeks training to be a park ranger. I've gotten tons of questions from strangers online. It seems like people want to know more than "I saw wild turkeys and petted a dog!" (Both those things happened and were excellent, btw.) So, let's talk about being a park ranger in vague terms that hopefully won't get me fired because there are rules about what I can put online.

I spent my first two weeks doing job shadowing. I rode along with "real" rangers to learn what they do all day. This was terrifying because you realize how alone you are and how much responsibility you have. Parks have a lot of space, a lot of visitors, and a lot of deadly crap that can suddenly hit the fan. Riding with a coworker was also amazing because I didn't have to do anything except learn. It was like being a tourist with an all-access backstage pass. I felt like I won the job lottery or something.

Then came 4 days of ranger school. Ranger school was . . . intense and humiliating. School is a mixture of classroom training and scenarios. In the scenarios, there are actors who are preforming a potentially deadly wilderness situation. I'm tossed blindly into the situation and have to fix it while my instructors silently judge me from the sidelines. The scenarios went terrible. Not terrible enough to get me fired, but still terrible.

One of the reasons I applied to be a ranger is because I thought I had my anxiety disorder under control for the first time in my life. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie. I was a sweaty, nauseous dumpster fire for most of ranger school. I had panic attacks all night and whenever they gave us breaks. My problems came roaring back with a vengeance. This was completely devastating because I've spent several years and thousands of dollars doing the therapy/medication/self-improvement thing. Yeah . . . all that came crashing down in 4 days. I really thought I was better! I don't know what to do anymore to fix it.

I think I underestimated how morally difficult this job could be. I knew that park ranger is partially a law enforcement job. I knew I was signing up to be a mini cop. I knew I would be given a set of laws and taught how to enforce them. I also knew that I have concerns about the law enforcement and criminal justice systems in the US. I don't feel comfortable talking about my concerns on the blog because this is the internet! It's not a place for nuance and honest questions! I'm sure you've all seen videos of American cops making dubious decisions. I was hoping that park ranger school would take my concerns away. It didn't. Right now, a giant source of anxiety is making sure I can do this job in a way that aligns with my morals, or making sure I have the courage to quit if I can't.

Jobs are temporary, but you have to live with yourself forever, right?

The finale of ranger school was getting pepper sprayed in the face. That was actually the least painful part of the 4 days. My advice for getting pepper sprayed in the face is . . . don't. It sucks. Most of the spray hit my left eyebrow and hands. It burns everything it touches. As soon as it trickled into my eye, my vision broke. I could see the ground in the bottom corner of my eye, but the rest of my eye was just white light. Then I had to do an obstacle course. Luckily, the obstacles weren't too challenging. I had to radio a description of the person who sprayed me, convince the person to drop his weapon, read a sign, unlock a gate, and step over a log. Then my eye swelled shut and my spit tasted like lighter fluid for two days.

Fun times.

Do you want to talk about my after-work shower? Pepper spray is an oil. It doesn't dissolve in water. It just runs everywhere.

I know that some book reviewers on TikTok enjoy a spicy shower scene, but they probably don't mean that kind of spice!

I just spent 8 paragraphs whining about being a ranger, but there honestly have been great moments. My coworker and I drove our patrol truck in a creek to find a herd of elk in a remote-ish area of the park. We found the elk! It was a cool experience that park visitors would never get to do (legally).

Lately, my mood has been swinging between extreme depression and extreme excitement. I'm really hoping it levels out to "mostly sane." I feel like I'm losing my mind.

If you're visiting a park this summer, be nice to the rangers and don't do stupid stuff. You don't want my incompetent ass coming to save your life. Trust me.

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Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. I am so impressed that you are becoming a Ranger! The training sounds intense and I can imagine it bringing anxieties to the fore and hope you get them sorted, not just so that the job goes well, but because panic attacks are just so damn scary. I look forward to hearing your adventures, at least the ones you can tell us about!

  2. They SPRAYED you in the FACE?!?!? Like OMG! That sounds horrible! There's no way I could take that!

    Sorry to hear about your anxiety, I'm right there with you in the struggle bus. The advice I give myself is just to not let it win. Even after the panic attack ends or my brain grabs ahold of reality for a moment, I just tell myself to keep pushing through.

  3. I have never thought much about what park rangers have to do or how they are trained to do it. Very interesting post even though there are lots of things you can’t tell us.

    Best… mae at

  4. That potty training picture made me laugh out loud! Maybe your cat is potty training too. Sorry to hear about your anxiety. Congrats on making it through, and finding the elk sounds awesome! Being out in nature can also be stress relieving so I hope you find more of those moments along the way.

  5. Wow! What a challenging job you have, and I do hope you are able to deal with it. I know I couldn't, but that's me.

    Have a great week! Here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

  6. AJ I think that your anxiety is high because it's a enw job and I think they also ran you through what are probably worst case scenarios. So your brain is wired "for the worst" right now. But once you'll see you don't get these cases every day it will settle. Also I am certain you will "enforce the law" according to your moral compass.

  7. Kudos to you for sticking with the training at Ranger School - even though it triggered your panic attacks. I've endured those and they leave you drained and shaky so I'm enormously impressed that you managed to keep going despite those difficulties. I think you'll make a really good Ranger because of your concerns - it seems to me the folks that don't do a good job are those who feel smugly certain they have the right of it, no matter what! I hope the coming week is a better one, AJ:)).

  8. We visited quite a few National Parks the last couple years before covid and I was always impressed by the rangers. But clearly, I underestimated just how much they're responsible for. Best of luck moving forward!

  9. Sorry to hear your anxiety attacks have flared up, but I can understand why. Training to be a park ranger sounds intense. I think most people would have struggled under that much pressure. The pepper spray sounds awful! I have no great advice as I suffer from GAD myself and I'm still trying to figure it all out. But please don't be too hard on yourself and try to get some rest in if you can. I hope you feel more balanced soon.

  10. Thank you for telling us about the Park Ranger job! I never thought about the difficult PEOPLE you guys have to deal with from time to time. Yikes. I'd be too busy running, screaming from bugs to be any good dealing with anything else out in the wilderness. Congrats on getting through the first days of training and so sorry you're having to deal with anxiety and trauma!!! Hang in there!

  11. Hi AJ!! As always, I laughed out loud while reading your post. Ag man... you are going to be fine. I am sure your anxiety is just flaring up because it's totally new circumstances. BUT all those years of therapy and meds will kick in as soon as being a park ranger will become your new "normal". And that will happen.

    I have never been sprayed with pepper spray, but I can imagine it wasn't fun!!

    I will take a look at The Familiars, it does seem like my kind of read!

    Take care and just remember to enjoy the experience for what it is!

    Elza Reads

  12. O love the image with the cat. :)

    That would be intense. And honestly, I've found the same thing- you think you have something under control and then a stressful situation makes you realize issues are still there. It's a lifelong (or long term anywys) thing I guess...? And I think your comment on the law enforcement here is spot on. I have those concerns too, but I'm glad there's people like you who HAVE those concerns but are doing law enforcement. We need people with a clear moral compass...

    They sprayed you in the face? I'm with Carrie... I would not have imagined THAT would be a part of training. Wow.

    Anyway good luck and I hope it goes well. and that you share what you can when you feel like it. It sounds fascinating and I think you'll do fine. :)

    As an aside, your post reminded me of this park here in Michigan where there's a 450 foot dune drop, signs are posted NOT to attempt it, and people do... anyway. Requiring rescue. I feel for rangers...

  13. It's very brave of you to share your feelings! I hope that the good, exciting times start to outweigh the anxiety-inducing ones.

  14. Well hopefully the training is an intense immersion into the worst stuff and mostly won't be the daily stuff you do. But yes it's a position with some responsibility. I hope it goes well.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  15. Thanks for sharing about Park Rangers, it was very fascinating and intense. I hate that it triggered your anxiety, but in real life situations you won't have the "experts" sitting there judging you...and hopefully you won't be sprayed again with pepper spray! Goodness. Thank you for taking it on and I hope you do enjoy it.

  16. Oh AJ, I am so sorry you have had a rough week. That sounds incredibly intense, and it makes perfect sense that your anxiety would be acting a fool because of it. That is a LOT- even putting aside all the physical stuff (which- OUCH, btw), the mental and emotional toll is huge. And I think the fact that you know it may conflict with your moral ground is actually really positive- I think that gives you a real leg up when deciding what you can and can't do. The thing is, law enforcement at all levels needs more people like YOU, frankly, which is why it is so extra awesome that you are trying. And if it ends up not working out, at least you know you did everything you could. Incidentally, I really hope you always feel comfortable sharing with us (as much as you can, anyway, per job rules) because I think it helps to know people are cheering you on- and it's just plain cathartic. Sending you ALL the love, and I do hope that now that you're out of such an on-display part of the training, your anxiety will behave a bit better for you ♥♥♥

  17. Oh, I'm so sorry you're having such a tough time becoming a ranger. It's a very tough job, and not always rewarding. I think Park Rangers have a very tough job also because they have a conflicting mission. They have to protect the resources and at the same time make a great visitor experience and these two goals don't always mesh well. Plus, I don't think Park Rangers are paid enough for what they do, and the danger they are in. Most of our National Parks are overcrowded and understaffed and that makes for a troublesome situation too. Hopefully the Parks can get staffed up, but it's unlikely to happen soon.

    I'm very impressed that you are moving ahead and doing the best you can to manage the training. I do think being a Park Ranger can be one of the best jobs in the world, so I hope you are able to find the good in your job, and hope that the bad isn't too overwhelming. But, only you can decide what is best for you.

    And I'm so very sorry about your anxiety, and how it's reared up during your training. I don't have any advice for you, but I hope you can find the help you need and get yourself settled as best you can.

  18. Sounds like rough training but also a good experience. I hope you grow into your job!

  19. I worked for a few years when my kids were young for the government. I had to go to people's houses and interview them, asking them very personal questions, and I had to take out an oath that all the information I collected would remain confidential. The training was very stressful, and, at times, I came up against some awful people, but 90% of the folks were at least nice and many of them were amazing. I learned so much about human beings that has remained with me...and, gosh, so many stories. I hope that your experiences as a park ranger will be work out for you, but if it doesn't, at least you should have some great stories!

  20. Wow! That training does sound intense. I'm sorry it is triggering your anxiety. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  21. I love your five things, but I am also here to read all your stories. Hang in there, AJ. I am sure you are doing better than you think.

  22. I know you think we come here "only for the books" but technically, I only come here for you and your life. Lol. Like, I skim the books and go straight to your 5 things. I've always connected with people online so this doesn't seem weird to me. I met a good friend through our knitting blogs (that was almost 20 years ago for me!) and then we met up in Japan and had a blast together. :) Anyway, I love hearing about what you're doing! The job sounds stressful. I hope you can find a good compromise with it soon.

  23. It took me a minute to find the cat in the potty training pic but then I laughed out loud. Could you talk to your doctor about adjusting your meds at least temporarily? I know that helped me a ton when we were going through a really difficult time and I was able to step it back down when I had my footing a bit more. The training sounds like an absolute nightmare and I completely sympathize with not being able to do anything with someone watching. I kind of accidentally sprayed myself in the face with pepper spray once (sprayed to test it out and there was some blowback) and it was NOT fun so I can't imagine a full force spray! I hope you're able to get some unwind time. Starting a new job is stressful at the best of times and this sounds over the top more so.

  24. Wow maybe it just takes some time being a Ranger ... and doing the Ranger school. You need to give yourself some credit for what you're doing & have already accomplished. I'm totally floored that they really pepper sprayed you in Ranger school. That's awful. I can't seem to agree with that at all. Make sure the job's morals are aligned with yours if things like that continue. I just hope things improve for you on the job.

  25. I wonder if books becoming less memorable is a common problem for bookworms. Cuz I'm finding that most books I read anymore are good, but not memorable. When you've read so many books, esp in a specific genre, it's harder for them to stand out.

    Sorry the ranger stuff isn't going so great. The pepper spray sounds AWFUL. And that's rough with the anxiety. Hopefully this is the hardest part (it seems like the beginning of new things usually is) and it'll get more leveled out from here!