Shifted Priorities

“Hey babe, I’m not working until 3 this afternoon, The Narrator is at school, and Mini-Me is taking a nap. You know what this means?”

“What’s that?”

“We have some spare time, to…you know…do something we haven’t done in a while.”

“Like what hon?”

“Well, I was thinking….I really need a haircut. Think you could do that for me today?”

“Oh, good idea. it HAS been some time.

…Some things never change. Some do.

On Time is Late

I can’t stand to be late for anything, even by a minute.

My wife is biologically incapable of being on time for anything.

This morning we have errands to run, I told her I’d like to leave for them by quarter of eight- just a few minutes after we put The Narrator on the bus for school.

It is 8am and I am writing a blog post so I don’t pace the floor and get yelled at while I wait.

Side note- if she ever reads this post, if could be my last. It’s been a pleasure knowing you all.

Why Job Hunting is Like Regular Hunting

I’ve been an avid, albeit lousy hunter since I was a teen. Every season I pay up, gear up, and hike up the side of a mountain to look for deer. I haven’t been very successful, but that hasn’t stopped me from learning a lot about hunting as a sport.

When I entered the job market I was quick to realize the similarities between hunting for a job and hunting for game.

1. You might very well miss a sure shot.

One of my first seasons out, I was walking down a path on a windy afternoon. Less than 50 yards in front of me, a buck crossed the path at a brick walk. I bore down and took a shot, but missed him completely. It was an open, broadside shot- the sort practiced on targets all the time…but I missed.

As I hunted for jobs, there have been at least two that I thought I was a damn sure shot for. Both times I lost out. The jobs seemed to have me in mind as I applied and worked for them, but the moment the shot was made, the target was gone, and I was left looking for a new deer. Or job. Which instance am I talking about again?

2. Anticipatory highs, and crushing disappointment abound in both worlds.

Last season, my state enacted an antler restriction- basically stating that bucks needed to have a MINIMUM of three points on one side before they could be harvested- to prevent the young bucks from being thinned out. Opening day, I came to an open field where a massive animal stood with his back to me and head down in the grass. I sighted in on him, waiting to see his head and count the points. When he finally lifted his head, He had one spike on his left, and a measly two on his right. I couldn’t take him.

I’ve come close to a few jobs that I’ve literally dreamed about doing. Jobs that would set get my family on the right track and out of the financial rut we’ve been in since I was laid off. Come close enough as to see the job, only to have the points not be high enough and I need to walk away empty handed.

3. You spend time chasing dead ends.

Another season, I was out looking for deer, and I kept hearing something ahead of me, it sounded all the world like something large walking through the trees. I stalked the sounds for nearly half an hour knowing that there must be a monster buck in those trees somewhere. Yet no matter how close I got, the sound never got any closer. I finally had an acorn fall on my shoulder- and I realized that the entire time, I’d been listening to nuts falling into the dry leaves on the forest floor.

I’ve dedicated time and energy into preparing for jobs that never materialized. An open and exciting prospect turns out to be a mislead, either it dries up, or the company/agency I’ve been looking at had someone else in mind before the job was even posted, and my efforts were completely wasted.

4. My big fat mouth ruins everything.

I went hunting grouse one season. I moved through a stand of hemlocks and had to cough. So I did. The instant I made the sound, a bird flushed ahead of me, out of shot range, but close enough for me to realize that I’d messed up the stalk.

Job hunting, I’ve said the wrong things to or about the wrong people, and have paid for it. I don’t wish to dwell too heavily on that.

5. What you do bag can sometimes be a disappointment.

The very first deer I harvested, it was sunup on opening day. Through the trees I catch a glimpse of a deer with antlers, and I sighted in on him. I couldn’t count his points, but I knew he was a male and therefore legal (this was before the point restrictions) I debated- do I take what I know I can get, or wait for something better to come along this season. What if I don’t see anything else? I took the shot, and when I went to count the points…he was a spike. A total of two points. Two. I got what I wanted- a deer- but he was nothing exciting at all.

I’ve taken jobs strictly because I wanted work, and found myself regretting it at times. I got what I wanted- work- but nothing that I wanted to hitch to forever, or anything I could be proud of when I sat down with friends for a beer.

6. The trophy is elusive.

That massive deer, that perfect job…they’re both out there somewhere. I spend enough time looking, I might even find it…but truth be told, I don’t know where or even how to look anymore.

 

The Wrong Way to Start the Day

Happy Weekend.

At least the calendar says its the weekend. I work a half shift this afternoon, then a C line (4-12) tomorrow, so it isn’t really much of a break. Still, there’s a little time off, so it counts.

Last night I was on call, and went running out the door shortly before midnight for a Charlie Priority (Priorities run Alpha-Echo. Alpha isn’t a huge deal, Echo means Get there. Now.) Patient was suffering a severe allergic reaction, unknown breathing or consciousness. Uh oh….gotta go! Two miles down the road, they cancelled us.

So I went home and the wife and I continued to binge-watch the latest season of Parks and Recreation to have been posted to Netflix. We rolled into bed around 12:30, and I promised my wife she could sleep in a bit this morning, and as I write this, she thankfully is.

I was up at 5:15 with Mini-Me and I put him back to bed where he slept until 7.

The Narrator was up at 7:30 and the fun begins.

Before my first cup of coffee this was the action:

TN: “I don’t want to watch this, please can I watch something else?”
Me: “There isn’t anything else on, its early, you’ll need to watch this.”
TN: “Okay. I’m thirsty, please can I have a drink please?”
Me: “Sure. What do you want? Juice or milk?”
TN: “Milk”
Me: “Okay. Mini-Me do you want a drink?”
MM: “Ummmm…No.”
Me: “Okay.”

I poured milk for the oldest and proceeded to set up the Keurig for my coffee. As I was doing that, Mini-Me came around holding a bowl.

“Cheeees.”
Me: “Do you want cheerios?”
MM: “Yah, Yah, Yah.”
Me: “Okay, give me the bowl.”
He does, and I put some cheerios in it. He eats 6, then dumps the rest on the floor.
MM: “Juice.”
Me: “Fine. Juice. Or do you want Milk?”
MM: “Juice”
Me: “Okay.” I take out the apple juice.
MM: “Noooooo!”
Me: “Milk?”
MM: “Yah, Yah, Yah.”

I pour his milk, slap the button on the coffee maker and take a half second to sit down and wait for it to brew. Mini-Me comes over, and since nobody is allowed to sit peacefully in our house, he climbs into my lap at the kitchen table. I hear the coffee maker brewing, but can do nothing about it since I am busy removing a myriad of sharpie pens, a leatherman, and a bottle of contact solution from the tiny little imp’s hands. He gets bored, or annoyed with my denial of the fun and exciting things, and climbs down.

I seize the chance to grab my coffee.

Only….I don’t.

Damn it.

I had forgotten to put one of the two mugs under the spout. See the mugs? They’re right there. I took two out, used none.

Here’s where you ask “AD, as a dedicated and fellow coffee addict, I know that those things have drip trays, what happened there?”

Well observant reader, the drip tray had been removed for cleaning- and since in our house with our schedules, “cleaning” often means “Sit in the sink for 24 hours until we get to it” – it is still being cleaned.

Between conversing with the kids, setting up their drinks, picking up the dumped cheerios (which at this very second, he dumped out AGAIN) and making coffee, something had to go wrong.

Multi-tasking before coffee is a bad idea, and multitasking while GETTING coffee sees you using half a roll of paper-towels to sop up that which you need to survive.

If this is how I started the day, I need to go right back to bed and try again in a few hours.

Hello, Technical Support?

Fast second update from me today:

Three things about dealing with your friendly neighborhood technical support:

  1. If you call me and tell me an issue, do not reiterate the issue seven times. Tell me once, then do what I tell you to resolve it. Using brand new words to tell me the same thing a dozen times isn’t going to help you. Or me. Shaddup and click the buttons I tell you to click, in the order I tell you to click them in.
  2. If it takes me less time to resolve your problem than it did for you to call or email me ABOUT the problem…you absolutely should feel silly, don’t expect me to argue with you when you say something to that effect as I leave your room. If you don’t want to be embarrased about how simple the problem actually was…Google it next time.
  3. “My computer is broke” “My computer isn’t working” “It has a mind of its own” – These and phrases like them are to be avoided. Details on the problem please, and don’t try to be funny with the old “my computer hates me” routine. The more information you provide on the problem- as succinctly as possible…the swifter your solution, and the more personable your helper will be.

That is all.

/disgruntled

 

Open House, Open Chaos

Last night was the K-6 grade open house at The Narrator’s school. He was excited all day about us going to see his school, classroom, and teacher- never mind that both my wife and I used to work there and know his teacher quite well already. We couldn’t seem to get that through to him.

The school isn’t very big, a few hundred students in K-12 all in one building, and not by any means did all of the kids and their parents show up. I imagine the parents of 5th and 6th graders who had done this a few times before opted to stay home and not lug their kids BACK to school at 6PM on a school night.

For those of us with the younger ones- especially the first timers, eager to be involved with things, it was an opportunity to get inside the building and see things and check them out.

We gathered in the gymnasium, immediately after the PTA took ten of my dollars so I could sign a paper and say I was a member, and listened to a brief introduction from some of the school officials who gave us a rundown of the evening’s events.

We were to go to our kid’s classrooms, where we would pick up a ‘passport’ which listed all the other rooms we were encouraged to visit throughout the course of the night. At each room we would get a stamp on the passport, and at the end of the night we would gather back in the gymnasium where some door prizes would be awarded. The rooms to visit? The gym, the art room, the music room, the computer lab, the library with the book fair, and the counselor.

Oh, be back in 45 minutes, that’s when the door prizes will be announced.

Ready? Go!

….and that was literally it. A few hundred people crammed the hallways looking for various classrooms and collecting stamps on a piece of paper that amounted to literally nothing. Our son’s classroom was jammed with his classmates and parents, and the poor teacher had no more time than to say “Great to see you, please feel free to sign up for field trips or to volunteer to read to the class” before she turned, haggard, to another set of parents to repeat. Our son had no interest whatsoever in showing us around his classroom, when we asked him to point things out, he LITERALLY stuck his finger out and pointed to a bottle of paint on the shelf and said “that’s paint. I don’t use it.”

We knew it was time to bug out of there, so we went back into the slammed hallway and slowly made our way through the rooms on the list, having no more time than to go in, circle around once, day “this is nice” and leave. Although the librarian, whom I have known for ages, did manage to tell me that our son was “her best customer.” She said he LOVED reading and story time, and his excited facial expressions as she reads to them are simply amazing. – This was the high point if the night.

Come 6:45, we were herded back into the gymnasium where we sat and waited for the handful of stragglers who apparently couldn’t tell time to wander in and put their tickets into the door prize bags.

While we waited, the kids lost all sense of decorum and began charging around the gym floor. A few crashes happened, and handful of five year old kids were able to wiggle out from under the not-so-watchful eyes of their parents and utilize the bleachers as a playground. Jumping up and down them, climbing under them, and spreading general discord and confusion through the place as the handful of school administrators alternated between talking to parents and pleading with the late-comers to hurry up and take their seats.

I told The Narrator he could go run around, but to please stay away from the bleachers. He complied until he crashed headlong into a little girl, and I pulled the plug.

Somewhere around 7:15- a full half an hour after the appointed time, the clock-challenged parents managed to get finished with the difficult task of putting paper in a bag, the dozen names of the winners were read, and….that was it.

We herded out of the building and into the parking lot.

As of right now, I honestly can’t imagine what the hell the point of that was. Instead of doing a peaceful dinner, bath, and bedtime routine on a Thursday night, we took a five year old into complete bedlam for an hour, rushed him through all of his classrooms, disappointed the hell out of him when he didn’t win a door prize, then took him home and sent him to bed.

We gained nothing from the experience, except for a wound up, cranky five-year old, and I really have no clue what we were supposed to have accomplished.

That being said, I have no doubt in my mind that the school is gauging the event as a success, based strictly on the number of people there. Never mind the bottle necking in the hallway, piss poor timing, lack of structure or direction, or the general pandemonium of the whole thing.

I do realize that an open house is not by nature a strictly structured event, and maybe I’m just looking for something to complain about. I just feel like the first impression given to me by the school as a parent of a rookie student was not that great. I’m not uncomfortable about the place, since I know it and I know the teachers, but if that was their opening act, the musical numbers and finale had better be spectacular.

 

The Art World- From the Outside Looking In.

 

I am fortunate in my life to be surrounded by people who have a firm grasp on the creative arts.

My brother-in-law is a spectacular singer/songwriter. My wife can play the violin and can turn piles of felt and ribbon into beautiful stuffed toys or pillows that people love to buy.

My father can pick up any instrument with strings, noodle around for a few hours, and teach himself how to play it. Cello, banjo, guitar, he can do it- as well as sight read music.

Even the little community I live and work in is teeming with creative minds. An old resort was recently purchased by the art community who breathed new life into it by turning its buildings into galleries and studios for everyone to enjoy.

The restaurants proudly showcase photographs and paintings from local artists.

People flock to the area, especially this time of year to photograph and paint the foliage that the Catskills has to offer.

Even here- WordPress- The blogging community is awash with people who amaze me every day. There’s one guy who takes the same model airplane kits that I used to ruin with too much glue and the wrong paint as a kid and turns them into showcase pieces. There are other people who can take the exact same words that I know how to use, and spin them into mind-bending poetry or thought provoking wisdom.

…And then there’s me.

I mentioned in my last post that I helped a stranded motorist the other day After we failed to get her car started, I gave her a lift to her destination, and on the way we chatted. She told me she was a painter, and we discussed art for a while. I confessed that I have no creativity whatsoever. My hands and mind were not designed to create.

The woman’s response was beautiful. She shrugged. “We don’t all have the same gifts” she said. “I can paint, you’re a people person. Me, I don’t like people, but you go out of your way to help them. God gave everyone different talents. If we were all the same, nothing would be great.”

I was impressed on two levels. First, by the simple wisdom of what she had to say, but mostly because she didn’t feed me the classic bullshit line of “Everyone’s an artist, you just need to find your niche.”

I’m not joking either when I say I am not creative. In school, when everyone was moving their mediums to ceramics and paints, I was struggling to master crayola. My painting skills never materialized, nor did my sculpting. I was seventeen and still making lopsided coil pots and drawing stick figures.

I can’t even take a photograph without it being fuzzy, out of focus, or otherwise wonky.

Forget music. All of it. I can’t create it or perform it, and have no desire to attempt anymore.

….The thing is though, that I am perfectly comfortable with my lot in the art world.

What is a symphony without an audience? What is an art gallery without patrons? What is a photograph or a painting without an eye to behold it? Or a poem without a reader?

For the longest time I considered myself a non-affiliate of the art world. The more I think about it though, the gifts that all of you have to offer wouldn’t BE gifts if there weren’t people like me who can’t create such things to enjoy them.

This is one of the reasons that WordPress has attracted my attention to thoroughly. The people here post photographs of things that I’ve never seen, or things I HAVE seen in ways that I CAN’T see them. The words that some of you pour out can make me think, laugh….or even cry.

And the outside world too- The photos, music, crafts, paintings, sculptures- that I am surrounded by…All of it captivates me, and I love it.

That lady I gave a lift to the other day has had me thinking about art and artists since then…she MIGHT have been a bit off in labeling me a people person, but nobody’s perfect.

I used to lament my lack of skill in the arts, but no longer. I am content to take my place in the audience, sit back, and appreciate.

So art world, keep doing what you do, and show me what you’ve got.

 

 

“You Can’t Slow Down Can You?” – Using Work as an Escape

My seven day whirlwind is coming to an end. Tomorrow I’ll have a day off where nothing is scheduled. I just need to get through tonight’s on-call shift.

In the past week, I’ve gone full-throttle working all three of my jobs, pulling 17 hour days and fill-in shifts for people. I’m getting sick, since I’m not sleeping, and I’m CERTAINLY not eating properly. My diet for a week has been  coffee, green tea, and whatever I’ve managed to wolf down at dinner time. True, a few times that’s been a good, home cooked meal, but a few other nights it’s been a pre-made gas station sandwich or something equally hair-raising- I’ve been literally at one meal a day for nearly a week.

Last night, around midnight, while I was still awake, my wife told me to go to bed and get some sleep. I told her I wasn’t yet sleepy- exhausted, yes, but not sleepy. She asked me “You can’t slow down can you?”

Truth be told, I don’t really want to slow down. I’m NOT looking forward to my day off tomorrow. Since bombing the interview for the job I very badly wanted, and getting the subsequent rejection letter in the mail a few days ago, I don’t WANT the time to stop and think about the ramifications of this failure. Staying slammed busy, or even actively battling the onset of my new cold, or taking care of Mini-Me in the middle of the night is all distraction. I’m not ready to face my newest failure yet, since this one has the potential to be crippling.

Not only that, but there are a host of other issues with the other jobs too. The IT job is getting harder to do the more I spent time in my chosen field, but my chosen field has problems too, which I can’t discuss in depth on a public blog, even with the steps I’ve tried to take for anonymity. But it has become a source of stress and frustration over the last few months, even though I LOVE the work and the people I work with, it is a brand new headache with each shift.
…I have nothing negative to say about the Ambulance though, even with the 6pm-6am shifts, that job is no source of stress for me at all. The people I work for are not only friendly and professional, but they have absolutely no qualms about giving me all the shifts I can handle. I don’t feel held back in any fashion there, and I genuinely feel useful and appreciated there…but they’re the exception, not the rule.

So if I step back, relax, and try to enjoy myself outside of a work environment, the host of personal and professional problems, none of which are paltry- come flooding back to me, and I’m worried about becoming damn near incapacitated by them all when they strike en masse.

Lots of people take vacations to escape from work and their troubles.

I can’t afford a vacation, so I use work to get away from the troubles. As far as getting away from work though, I don’t see it happening. Not now, not any time soon. None of the three jobs I work offer me anything that looks like sick, personal, or vacation time, so any day not worked is a day not paid, and that simply isn’t practical right now.

So I need to turn away from the idea that work needs to be escaped from, and that is something to escape TO for a while.

Things may change. There may be a full-time job lined up somewhere that would let me shed the extra weight of three part time gigs that don’t pay me enough to make ends meet…someday. Right now, nothing is on the horizon, and I’m stuck. Every time a ship comes in, rather than board it and sail away happily, I torpedo it.

So I’m  pouring everything I have into what I’m doing now to keep from being washed up in the anxiety and possibly depression that will undoubtedly set in if I focus too fully on my spinning wheels and continuous professional failures.

Being stressed, frustrated, and exhausted is a far cry better than being confronted with the reality of the situation right now.

It just is.

____________________

It isn’t all bad news though- I bought a bulk order of foam swords for the boys the other day, and our house has been transformed into what I can only imagine the deck of a pirate ship must have looked  like after a boarding party makes a raid. Apparently, with every thrust, parry, and swipe of the swords, one absolutely yell “HI-EYAH!”

Even Mini-Me has joined the action and runs in circles with his sword screaming “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
…ultimately though, the two of them just end up wailing on me with these flimsy and completely harmless foam weapons, and it is nothing short of hilarious.

Family. If that’s all I’ve got, I’ve still got it all.

 

The Kindhearted, But Not-So-Bright Balloon Lady

Yesterday was the “Back to School” Picnic that the school hosts every year. The Narrator’s teacher mentioned it to him, so he was all excited. It was a pretty neat little event, all free of charge, there was food, a rock climbing wall, a massive inflatable obstacle course, cotton candy, a DJ, and the police department doing fingerprinting and handing out free bike helmets.

The Narrator loved the inflatable obstacle course, and would probably still be there if we let him run of his own accord.

We got some food, he tried the rock wall, and he got a temporary tattoo from his teacher. Mini-Me hung out in the sling on my back and was as good as gold the whole time. He smiled and waved to people who talked to him, and only once tried to claw the back of my neck when I wasn’t feeding him watermelon fast enough.

At one point, we came across a lady making balloon animals and shapes. She had a list of things that she could do- but the most popular was the simple sword. There was a crowd of kids around the woman, some already waving their inflatable weapons.

The Narrator timidly took his place in the crowd and kept getting muscled out of his place in line by a couple of boys who were trying to get their hands on a second sword. We tried telling him to keep his place in line, but he’s a nice boy, and doesn’t yet realize that there are people who will take advantage of his being nice. While he strained to be polite and wait, the lady noticed him and says “This boy doesn’t have one yet, he’s next.” The Narrator was given a green balloon sword, which he raised aloft like King Arthur might have lifted Excalibur from the stone.

The balloon lady looks at me and says “He’ll need someone to sword fight with, what color does daddy want?” I declined politely, and was almost free until she spotted Mini-Me strapped to my back. Faster than she’d ever made a balloon shape before, she twisted another balloon into a second sword and handed it to the gremlin attached to me.

We thanked her and left, knowing full well that she had unleashed certain hell on us.

For the remainder of the time we were there, the feisty two year old attempted to ninja me and kept drawing his new toy across my throat like some sort of shadow-assassin. My wife thought it was funny and took a few pictures, which I need to figure out how to take from my private inbox on instagram if I’m to share.

When we got home, it was the chaos I’d expected.

Only worse.

Rather than fight each other with their new-found weapons of rubber and breath…they ganged up on me.

Laughing like maniacs, they immediately surrounded me and attacked.

Now, there was no pain involved of course. But anyone who has been in a similar situation knows full well that if you’re being ganged up on by two small creatures excitedly wailing on you with balloons, you need to react accordingly.

The problem was their exuberance. It went on for hours, and every time I attempted to gracefully remove myself from the entanglement, the wails from the little one were too much to bear, and I ended up back on the floor.

Eventually, they went to bed.

They were, however….up at the crack of dawn again, and neither of the cursed balloons had lost any air or popped in the night, so we’re back at it.

Thanks balloon lady.