Moving-Up Day

We’re headed off to The Narrator’s School in a short while. I don’t know when it started, but the school has this traditional ceremony called ‘moving up day’ which is pretty much like graduation for the elementary school. The kids sit with their teachers, then one by one each class stands up and moves back a row to the next grade’s teachers, symbolic of the end of the school year and the completion of the grade.

Today….The Narrator ‘graduates’ from Kindergarten. He and I are already making plans for the summer when we’re both home for the first half of the day. We’ve got fishing and camping and the annual trip to the Monster Truck show….I don’t know which one of us is looking forward to it more, and I hope I don’t screw it up.

Actually, I think my wife is happiest about it. She’s absolutely noted the lack of time I’ve had to spend with our oldest child with him being in school in the morning and me working at night. It isn’t an easy relationship to have.

I miss a lot of what he’s going through, and he’s beginning to see me as the guy who is never around. Nary a day goes by when he utters “I missed you today” during the short window when I do get to see him. He was a little bummed when he asked me “After Tuesday, are you on summer vacation too?” …and my answer wasn’t what he’d hoped.

I’m not going to ruin the summer with extra jobs and side work all over the place either. I’ve got my work which needs to be done and done properly, and if I keep picking up side crap, not only will I be burning myself out to the point where I was a week or so ago before my break, but I’ll be further stressing my relationship with my family.

I have a long way to go to fix everything, but Moving-Up Day is as symbolic for me as it is for The Narrator. He leaves Kindergarten, and I have a chance to leave the screwed up world of an overworked, never-there dad and spend some time with what is really, truly important.

Well….I’m Back From the Mountains.

My hike/camping outing has been completed, and I’m getting ready to get back in action this afternoon.

The trip was a mixture of amazement, pain, humor, and excitement, with a small bit of fear tossed in for good measure.

It started off very well, relaxing even. My brother-in-law and I got to our overnight campground in the Adirondacks Friday evening. We grabbed a quick meal at the Noon Mark Diner, which has some fantastic food. Their mushroom-swiss burger I ate was phenomenal. This was the second time he and I have eaten there, and it won’t be the last. If you’re ever on Route 73 through Keene Valley and skip these guys, we can’t be friends anymore.

After that, we grabbed a six pack of a locally brewed beer, pitched camp in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain, and relaxed. Campfire, beer, and a billion billion stars overhead. I’d not been so relaxed in a long time.

We woke up, packed up, and met my college roommate at 0630 at Chapel Pond. He had planned the trip and the route, and we headed in for a “Short hike to the campsite” where we’d be staying Saturday night.

….Now, before I continue, the plan was to carry full camping packs in for that “Short hike” he mentioned, then switch to day packs and summit 3 or 4 of the High Peaks. So, we packed everything in.

His ‘short hike’ turned into 5.5 miles, with the trail coming to within half a mile of the summit of Lower Wolfjaw mountain. We dropped pack at a trail fork, took water bottles, and summitted the first peak. We went back, picked up the packs and made our way to the lean-to where we’d be staying.

Now, full camping packs are heavy, especially when you don’t own any of that fancy light-weight gear that is pretty much necessary. By the time we reached the campsite, I was done for. We dropped everything, switched to day-packs, and headed to the next three mountains.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wasn’t going to be making three more peaks, so I invited my roommate, who is in much better shape than I, to go on ahead. I’d summit Upper Wolfjaw and wait for him there. My brother-in-law came with me, and we picked our way up and waited for him there.

IMG_1637

I was told to “Look heroic.” I failed.

The second peak had an amazing view, and relaxing up there waiting for my roommate became the best part of the day. We took off our shoes and let them dry in the sun, (Mud season) chatted with some of the other hikers, and simply relaxed.

Summit of Upper Wolfjaw

Summit of Upper Wolfjaw

We headed back to the campsite, only to find that a couple and their dog had occupied the lean-to while we were away. Since we had planned on leaving very early, we opted not to wake the dog, so we traveled into the woods a bit to pitch camp.

Exhausted, by this point, I almost didn’t give a damn if I pitched the tent, or pitched it away. We struggled through setting up camp, cooked canned food over a campstove, and went to bed around 9, all three of us completely tuckered out.

Around 11, it started to rain. I realized this when the tent started to leak and the Chinese water torture began on my forehead. The rest of the night was spent rearranging gear around the wet spots and still capture a few moments of rest.

By the way, you don’t know what darkness is until you’ve gone camping in the middle of the Adirondack mountains and the clouds roll in to cover the moon and stars. It was one of those “Are my eyes open or closed?” sort of situations. Or:

We awoke the next morning at 4:30, sore, wet, and still exhausted. My roommate poured over his map with a headlamp. Our plan was to take the 5.5 mile hike back to where we had parked, a walk with wet and now heavier camping gear that none of us were looking forward to.

“You know, if we take a different route out, it’ll be flatter and probably safer. It’ll put us four miles away from where we parked, but it’ll be road walking and easy from there.”

We agreed to take the unknown path out in the budding light. The mud and soreness as constant companions.

This is where things got interesting.

“We should take the yellow trail to the blue trail.”

….except there WAS no blue trail. The path turned where his map said it would, but not only were there no blaze markings, there was a couple of “Trail abandoned” signs as well as a “There is no bridge when you get the end” sign. Still, we went on.

….and got lost.

Have you been lost in the mountains at 6am?

No?

It isn’t a spectacular feeling.

We had a rough estimate of where we were GEOGRAPHICALLY, but that was all. Unmarked trails, trails that vanished completely, forks in the path that nobody could explain, and not another living soul in sight, we pressed on hoping to find something that we could relate to on the map. It was to the point where we decided that if we kept a river to our left and headed downstream with the trail, it would have to come out SOMEWHERE….trouble was, we couldn’t even identify what river it was. At one point, while we were crossing a small stream, I slipped and banged my knee on a rock. It hurt like hell- and still does.

Onward.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we find a sign. “The Garden” – the parking lot we’d been aiming for. Quite by accident it seems we had found what we wanted. Then we got to the river crossing, and were quickly reminded of the “No Bridge” sign we’d seen. We began looking for a place to rock-hop, but by this time, I was so beaten, wet, muddy, and tired, I said “Screw it” and waded across the swift water to the other side.

20150621_072707We crossed the river, and promptly lost the trail. Well….no, not exactly.
Erik’s map said that we should be going right, but the trail went left. Nothing went right. He insisted that something had to be there, so we brush-beat for ten minutes looking for the trail that didn’t exist. Eventually, we took the one to the left, which- lo and behold…..bent back to the right. There MIGHT have been some grumbling from the troops at this point.

A single sign said “The Garden, .5 Miles.” We headed down the trail, it being now just before 8am. We were soaked. We were sore, we were unrested, we were surly….AND we had a 4 mile walk on the road before we got back to the cars. Erik told us “There’s sometimes a shuttle that runs from The Garden” but we discounted this as a possibility, simply because of the way the rest of the trip had gone.

Eriks’s pace is a lot faster than ours, so we were still slogging down the trail when I hear him yell. He’d made the parking lot. Huzzah.

Not ONLY that…but there was a friggin shuttle bus there!

The bus didn’t usually go back to where we were parked, but after we offered the driver an extra $20 atop of the ticket fees, his tune changed, and he happily trucked us the 4 miles, dropping us off within a hundred feet of where our cars were gloriously parked.

I got back into cell range and checked my FitBit:

IMG_20150621_164417The above numbers are for Saturday. My trepidation regarding FitBit’s accuracy has been quelled, since we roughly estimated exactly the same distance based on maps and trail markers.

I got home around noon and spent the rest of Father’s Day playing with the boys and fighting off the urge to nap. I racked out around 9PM and woke once with Mini-Me at 4:40 when he started calling “Hello? Hello!” into his monitor, thinking it was morning.

I got up for good at 7:30, and start the usual schedule all over again this afternoon. I go to work tonight still not knowing what the future holds for me, but better equipped to deal with it, since I spent nearly two days worrying about the physical torment I was putting myself through, not slipping and dying on wet mud and rocks, grumbling about the constant assurance that the next leg of our trip was “Only about a mile” up the trail, and not work. The trip was stressful as well as painful, but nothing like work and real life has been. The distraction of the trail I think are what I needed, and I think I’ll be able to take what comes next, or at least keep my head in the game while at work and not make any bonehead mistakes or decisions.

So…..here we go. Monday. The morning is quiet as I sip coffee and watch Mini-Me disassemble his breakfast. In a few hours, I’ll gear up and get back into the swing of things, hopefully refreshed, reset, and ready.

Fifteen Hours Until Reboot

Or you’re in massive trouble.

It’s come to my attention that the last few weeks in terms of my work and jobs, I’ve been half-assing several things instead of whole-assing one thing, and it looks like it’s come round to bite me in the bottom rather seriously. Don’t expect clarification on that, I truly don’t care to talk about it.

As a result, my little getaway planned for this weekend will serve as a mental reset, a reboot of the system if you will. Three days where I don’t have to do anything but relax a bit. Then, when I come back on Monday, I can face the problems I’ve created from overworking myself head-on, and deal with the consequences.

Those of you familiar with the nature of my work can relax a little- I didn’t hurt anyone.

But yeah, as of right now, I’m 15 hours away from rebooting. Actually, fourteen hours, forty-five minutes…..and counting.

Changing the subject-

Anyone who has been reading my work here since I’ve started might have noticed a shift in content material.

I started this as another parenting blog, and slowly, as my work grew, it began to morph into a career-oriented page, with sprinkles of family related material here and there. Truly, it has become an indicator of what my life has become of late. My family life and experiences have become scattered in between the cracks of my work.

I don’t like that. Not at all.

So while my life has dictated the direction of this blog, I’m going to try to use this blog as a way to refocus myself. If I start to hack out the work stuff and focus on family, parenting, and kids- as I’d intended when I started this, maybe I’ll be starting to force myself back into some semblance of a life that doesn’t revolve around my work.

I hate to say it, but over the last few months, and specifically weeks, “AdequateDad” ……hasn’t been.

Both of the boys are starting to miss me as I jump from one job to the next, The Narrator asked my wife the other day “When will daddy be home for the whole day?” And last week, he broke a lego project we’d been working on, and when he couldn’t get it back together on his own, he broke down and sobbed “I wish daddy was here….I wish daddy was here.”

If that’s not a kick in the face from the universe to remind you of what is actually important, I don’t honestly know what is.

Point is, I need my reboot this weekend, and when I come back, I’d damn well better have my family and work life sorted out, or I may end up losing both of them.

Fourteen hours, thirty minutes……

Toddler Logic

We came back from the grocery store this morning, and I parked the car in front of the house. I let Mini-Me out of his car seat and set him in the grass. He took off towards the house. He got 3/4 of the way there, stopped, and ran back to my wife and I. He held up his hands.

“Carry me?”

Stressin’ and Decompressin’

It’s been a rough week, and its only Tuesday.
When I went through training for this job, my academy was incredibly thorough in teaching us how to handle the physical aspects of the job. They also spent a lot of time talking to us about the mechanics of it- as in what each facet of it would require from us procedurally. We spent six months running, taking notes, doing pushups, and going over practical exercises.

What we were never prepared for, because it is impossible to train someone for- is how to handle stress. Of course we were warned about it, but since everyone is different, and each one of us internalizes things in our own ways, there isn’t a classroom curriculum to help deal with it.

Each agency and location presents its own set of challenges. My workload isn’t nearly the same as some of the guys in the bigger towns and cities, but there are still plenty of things that make it difficult. Without getting specific, in a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business. When I was a kid in school and got in trouble, my parents usually knew about it…almost as soon as I left the classroom where the problem occurred. Things haven’t changed now that I’m grown and working in town.

The last week or two have been tough ones. I’ve tripped up a few times and am worrying about that on top of the regular concerns I have doing the work. This normally wouldn’t be too big a deal, but those two weeks have also been non-stop work between three jobs and ambulance shifts. I haven’t rested, taken a break for more than a few hours, or stopped moving since the month of June started. I thought I’d be able to handle it, but I couldn’t. I’ve burnt myself out, as everyone said I would- and I’m nothing but a ball of stress right now, fueled by caffeine and crappy diet, rejuvenated by a handful of hours of fitful sleep each night. The timing has just been poor. A stressful set of shifts managed to fall right in line with a few days where I’ve been pushing entirely too hard.

Or, maybe the shifts have been stressful BECAUSE I’ve been pushing? Who knows.

Essentially, if I don’t stop- legitimately stop soon…I’m gonna lose it.

Thankfully….there’s a respite on the horizon. A real one.

At the time I write this, I have 60 hours before I take a legitimate break. I took friday off from IT and Ambulance, and Sunday off from the PD. A buddy from college, my brother in law, and I are going hiking and camping in the Adirondacks for a few days. We’ll go up Friday night, camp, hike Saturday, Camp Saturday night, and come home early Sunday, in time to spend most of our day home with families for fathers’ day.

The woods have always been a relaxant for me. The mountains have a way of soaking up everything bugging me and spreading it over the miles that I hike. This is the MAIN reason I hunt. To get out. To leave everything behind me.
The upcoming three days are close. We’ve been planning this trip for a few weeks now, and the closer it gets, the more anxious for it I get. I’m thirsting for this mini-vacation, and my wife is wholeheartedly on board with me getting the hell out.

I just need to survive the next 60 hours. There are three PD shifts and a half a day at the IT job wrapped up in that time. I need to get the lawn mowed and a bunch of domestic stuff done before I take off on the wife….

I think I can make it.

It’s so close. And so, so necessary.

Wish me luck.

Woah. Time Out.

I lucked out and managed to wrangle a little time off this morning. Originally, I’d taken off next friday from my IT job so I could wile away the hours in the morning packing for my 3 day hiking trip that is upcoming. Then, my wife reminded me that The Narrator’s Kindergarten class has its end of year picnic and grandparent’s day celebration today.

I called my boss and asked to switch the days off. I apologized for messing things up. To which he said: “I’ve already planned coverage for next week, and I’ll make this week work. Plan on taking them both off if you want.” You simply don’t find too many bosses like that.

So. I get out of IT this morning and get to go to the kid’s picnic. I’m not completely off the hook, I still have a 3-11 security shift at an event that promises to be a giant, insane affair. Simply look at the lineup for the weekend:

http://tasteofcountryfestival.com/lineup123/

Toby Kieth, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Sara Evans…..our rural little town is going to be overrun with country music fans. Plus, since most of them are camping at or near the venue, once the music ends, that isn’t a signal for everyone to go to bed and relax. Oh no. It’s going to be interesting.

I work there tonight and tomorrow night with my mornings off. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see any of the acts or even hob-nob with them in a security capacity, since I’ll most likely be working in a parking lot for my shifts. Those shifts by the way, are 8 hours on my feet with maybe a 10 minute break to wolf down what is usually a cold dinner served up by a supervisor on a golf cart who says “When you get a chance, here’s dinner.” Last year I remember myself and my partner splitting a twelve inch sub while we worked. There was no actual break. Not that the company we work for didn’t want us to take one, but because the nature of the job didn’t allow for it.
In spite of the incredibly hard work and very moderate pay….it’s a few extra bucks and its a ton of fun, so I don’t really mind any of it.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be up early, hopefully with The Narrator so we can go fishing again. He doesn’t seem too keen to go out, so I’ll have to prod him a bit. I think his tune will change once we’re out on the water. It’s either fish, or yard work.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to July. The Narrator will be home on summer break, and my schedule returns to normal, which means my number of hours with him each day will skyrocket. I hope to make the most of it.

I’ve got a real break planned for next weekend. Myself and a few other guys are heading into the Adirondacks for a long weekend of hiking, camping, and unwinding. I’ve taken a day off from the PD, banged in on my Friday night ambulance shift, and am amped to spend some time decompressing.

The only thing is….I’m going to need YOUR help when I get back. I’ll need to figure something nice to do for my wife, who is not only being incredibly patient while I’m off at these security shifts, but had happily green-lighted my trip to the mountains….all the while shouldering the kids while I’m off. So, yeah. I know a lot of my readers are fellow parents, including a number of mothers, so I’m going to be actively seeking suggestions for something I can do to show her that I appreciate her patience, and I’m not always an insensitive boob. Mull it over for a while, come up with a few ideas, and let me know what you come up with when I come begging for help in saving my marriage.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. Make the most of it. After all, you’ll never get it back once its over.

See You on the 19th.

AD is taking a small break.
Actually, it isn’t a break so much as it is “He ain’t gonna have time for a while.”

In the two weeks between now and June 19th, I’ll be working somewhere around 135 hours, or roughly two back-to-back 65 hour work weeks with no days off.

It’s festival time here in the mountains again, and I’ve been asked to work security for two events on consecutive weekends.

This is a good thing, and a terrible thing. Good, because the added coin that will be coming in is always nice. Bad because virtually all of my time between now and the 19th has been monopolized. If I’m not working, I’m sleeping. Or maybe eating. If I’m lucky.

My lovely and beautiful wife is not happy. Not only am I not going to be home very much, but she’s of the opinion that I’m pushing myself too hard.

She’s probably right, and I promised that when these two weeks are over, I will not be picking up any extra work, and I may even be eliminating the ambulance shifts all together in the near future.

Anyway. The point is, I’m going on a short hiatus born out of necessity. I may find a spare moment or two to duck in, but if I don’t, please don’t think I’ve abandoned this little corner of the web.

That isn’t to say that I’ll be completely out of the loop. One of the benefits of this world we live in is that the wordpress app on my phone gives me perfect access to my reader, even if the ‘update’ function is a pain in the neck to use, since I detest typing on that tiny sliver of a screen more than I have to.

So, until I get back, keep writing, keep the coffee warm, and keep in mind the dumb sap who doesn’t seem to know when ‘enough’ blossoms into ‘too much.’

See you when I see you.

~AD

Coffee and Beer, A Love Triangle Broken.

Not so very long ago, I was like many other young men. Any given day could be split into times where coffee was appropriate, and when beer was appropriate.

Too late for coffee was perfect for beer. Too early for beer was coffee time.

Now, I’ve never been a huge consumer of alcohol, but this was a convenient way to break the day down into manageable pieces.

Older now, and having six of my seven nights a week locked up with work that makes beer not only inadvisable, but illegal, I have all but forsaken the beer half of the day.

In fact, now that I work nights, I have learned that ‘coffee time’ is…well…any time.

And its wonderful.

I feel like I have stopped cheating on coffee with beer, and have started to devote all of my time and love to her, and she’s making me so very happy. Not only is she there for me when I wake up in the morning, but she’s there all through the day and deep into the night. She’s there to support me on 3am ambulance calls and warms me on cold winter nights.

My old ex, beer, is still around and we see each other from time to time. Our meetings are sparse and brief. She’s usually very cold when we bump into each other, but warms by the time we part ways again, almost as if she would like to have me back. But it can’t work. She can’t be there for me first thing in the morning, and if she was with me on a 3am ambulance call….she’d really only complicate things. As sexy and alluring as she is, with her curved bottles and exotic tastes, I can only want her, never need her. She’s always been a plaything, never a companion.

Coffee though, Rich and warm, and as equally beautiful as beer, she wakes me gently in the mornings and helps me through the toughest of nights. Nobody stares at us when we’re out in public together. We can talk down the street together in broad daylight and aren’t judged by people who see us. We don’t get thrown out of stores when we’re together, and can even take a drive without a problem.
I am comfortable with Coffee, and happy.

I can’t live without her.

…..actually, that’s not a joke. Caffeine withdrawal can ruin an entire day.

Coffee has always been understanding too. Even after being hurt by beer, she’s been there to help pick up the pieces. Always faithful and loving, I’ve never once regretted spending a night with her as I have with beer.

So while it is true that I’ll backslide from time to time and have a short tryst with beer, it is never anything serious. Simple, one-time things that never last, and never effect me for more than a moment.
I’ve moved on, and Coffee has been by my side, promising to never leave, even if she catches me side-eyeing an old flame once or twice a month.

…….

This got weird. Sorry.

It’s a good thing my wife doesn’t read this blog.