“Funny Words. Like Daddy.”

Thomas! What the eff did you do this time?

Since I’m home at night now, my wife doesn’t have to do bedtime for both boys anymore. Lately, we’ve been alternating who does what. Last night it was my turn to put down Mini-Me. My strategy for that is simple. I’ll read him a few stories, then lay with him on the futon in his room until he falls asleep, or gets too fidgety for me to deal with anymore and I put him down. He’s a light sleeper at first, so when I put him down, I usually lay for a while on the futon myself and either doze or watch something on Netflix on my phone while I’m waiting for him to be completely out.

I had just settled down on the futon after dumping Mini-Me in his bed when my wife comes in.

“Apparently, I’m not good enough to read to the other one tonight.” She laughed. “He wants ‘funny words’, like daddy.” Apparently, The Narrator rather politely informed my wife that he’d like to wait for me to be done with his brother so I could read to him again last night.

You see, The Narrator is in very bad need of some new books. We’ve gone though his existing collection over and over, and he’s grown a little bored of them. So, the other night, I told him we’d jazz up one of his Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

Basically, as I read along, I’d edit the story slightly. I’d inject narrative or change words in the tale, just enough that he’d get a charge out of it. Since Thomas the Tank Engine seems to spend a lot of time messing things up in the stories, he gives me a lot to work with, and we usually got something like this:

“Slow down Thomas, you’re going to get us all killed!”

Or:

“For some stupid reason, Diesel tried to move the logs by himself and screwed up big time.”

Sometimes it was as simple as changing names. Instead of Bash, Dash, and Ferdinand, I called the Logging Locos from Misty Island Rescue ‘Smash, Crash, and Balderdash.’

He’d laugh like an absolute loon and correct me each time. Story time was perhaps not as much a wind-down as it should have been, but it wasn’t the drudgery of the same old books again and again.

I realized a long time ago that I’d never be winning any parenting awards, so I’ll admit, that SOME of my editorializing wasn’t exactly appropriate.

“See Thomas?” Sir Toppham Hatt said, “Isn’t it fun to go slow sometimes?”
“Hell No!”

Or:

“Percy! What the hell is wrong with you?”

He’d laugh the hardest at those, mostly because he is old enough to recognize the absurdity of it.

Mother doesn’t seem to mind my somewhat unorthodox approach to story time either- especially when she’s off the hook for bedtime. And since she got stuck doing it for five months while I worked nights, I sure don’t mind having a bit of fun before sleep time.

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Applying for College

When I was in high school, I went through the hoops of applying for different colleges in the hopes of continuing my academic career. I was accepted by my first choice, but remember applying for several others.

Here I am, fifteen years later (had to double check the math, that’s a tad depressing) applying to colleges AGAIN in the hopes of continuing my professional career.

Weirdly, my first choice now is the same as it was then. I spent a great few years there when I was learning, made lifelong friends, met my wife, and thoroughly enjoyed myself there. I’d love nothing more than to go back and spend the remainder of my career there, it would be like coming home. But that doesn’t seem like it’s happening, since I applied there and never head back.

No huge deal, because my second choice is rapidly climbing the ladder and closing the gap.

I interviewed there yesterday and walked away from the interview feeling really good about it.
Firstly, the area is absolutely beautiful. Nestled in the top corner of New York, tucked in the cook between the Canadian and Vermont borders, it is minutes from the Adirondacks, a place where I derive a great sense of peace simply by driving through. The campus itself is beautiful too.

The other selling point for me is that it is over 200 miles from the town I live in now. After leaving my most recent job my little town is awash with rumors surrounding my departure. Even though I left of my own accord, that doesn’t seem to matter, we know how the rumor mill works. If I can vanish from here, awesome.

Not only that, but as much as I absolutely adore my little town, it’s time to leave. The boys are getting older, and as soon as the little one is in school, my wife is looking to go back to work. Around here, there aren’t many opportunities to do that beyond waiting tables or working in the school. If she desires any sort of career or gainful employment, here ain’t the place for it.

So I’m obviously looking to leave, but the school I interviewed at yesterday is really one of my front runners for my ‘forever home.’

The interview itself was both very tough, as I needed to explain the circumstances of my departure from the last job, and relaxed. The gentlemen who interviewed me didn’t beat around the bush with anything. They were straight forward and professional, while at the same time being human. In spite of the obvious challenges of doing my first interview since leaving a job, this wasn’t a high-stress meeting.

I’ve been in interviews that were straight-up grill sessions. Panels of people from numerous departments of a particular agency which makes things confusing because questions come from a hundred directions at once, and remembering names is impossible. I’ve also done interviews where the vibe was “We have no intention of hiring you unless you can convince us otherwise right now.”

This school though, wasn’t like that. I did a brief session with HR, the assistant chief, and an investigator. After a while the HR rep left and I sat with the officers.

When I left there, I got a handshake from the assistant chief who told me “You did well.”

I drove home feeling more confident than I did on the way up. There are still hurdles to clear, background investigations, followups with the old job I’m sure- which worries me the most since I have no idea what sort of thing the old job will say. They could very easily say “Yeah, that guy was an asshole” – then I’m sunk.

All I know is, that while I’m not expecting an acceptance letter from these people, if it DOES happen, don’t stand near me, because I’ll be gone so fast, that as Lou Costello (google him kids) used to say, “The suction will carry you with me.” It all lines up. The area is a hell of a place to raise a family, the college community seems to be very friendly, the department itself is extremely likable from what I’ve seen, the opportunity for my wife to work later on in life is spectacular, and the surrounding area appeals to the outdoorsman in me very, very much.

I still very much covet my old alma mater, but I think landing this second school wouldn’t be so much of a loss as to even consider it ‘second place.’ In fact, I’m starting to call it “Choice 1A”

I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m excited and nervous. I could be sunk by any number of things, but I could also still win. And by ‘I’ I mean ‘we.’

I am a few pieces of paper, a couple of phone calls, and a decision away from landing in the job I can finally see myself retiring from.

This is a Monday?

I’m having a grass-fed beef burger on the deck of one of my favorite restaurants in the world. The weather is a beautiful summer-warm, and I’m in the shadows of the high peaks of the Adirondacks. 
An hour or so ago I left a job interview that I feel really great about, and I’m on my way home to spend the afternoon with my wife and the boys.

I am comfortable and happy. I am relaxed.

Even if I dont get this job, right now I feel like It’ll all be okay anyway.

And it will.

Why Job Hunting is Like Actual Hunting

As I job hunt again, I’ve come to realize that the process is very similar to the time I spend in the woods hunting game.
Not….quite the same, but there are some interesting similarities. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, and can be clear to even those who wouldn’t hunt.

  1. First and foremost, how you’re equipped matters.
    Your resume and experiences are similar to your rifle, bow, or kit that you use when you take the woods. As one would not apply for a job as an aviation mechanic with a professional background in education- neither would one go hunting a grizzly bear equipped for rabbit hunting. The odds for success are slim. Very slim. Equip yourself appropriately, and hunt the game you are prepared to hunt.
  2. How you’re dressed matters.
    Go deer hunting in November while wearing a suit, or a job interview while wearing blaze orange and see how you make out. Without the proper attire, you’ll fair poorly.
    Now, beyond the physical aspects of how you’re dressed and what you’re carrying, there are some serious mental similarities too.
  3. Where you hunt can often be based on small leads or hints from friends or even strangers.
    Right now I’m in the process of applying for a police department two counties away based on one of their part-timers whom I’ve met once telling me that they MIGHT be looking to hire. Same, I’ve trekked over mountains where someone told me they’d seen a ‘massive 8-pointer there a few weeks ago.’ I have no idea if they’re actually hiring, or if the deer had actually been seen. Likewise I can’t tell if the job’s been filled or the animal harvested…Any lead is a lead.
  4. Hot trails can end in cold dead ends which frustrate you the most.
    My very first deer encounter when I started hunting was with a six-pointer that crossed the path perpendicular to me while I headed up a trail. I took a shot at him and he went down on his front legs before getting up and running. At that range I was sure I’d hit him, and I scoured the woods for well over an hour looking for him or a blood trail…and found, nothing. At all. I’d missed. What should have been a cinch shot was completely blown and my quarry was gone. I’ve also seen deer and stalked them trying to get a shot, only to have them vanish completely.
    With jobs, I thought I was a lock for a position a year or so back, and it fell through. I’ve done interviews I thought I’d nailed….only to get no calls back from the agencies. What should have been sure things completely vaporized in front of me. These losses hit hard and can lead to extreme frustration.
  5. Sometimes, nothing happens for very long periods of time.
    Nobody seems to be hiring, or nothing that looks like game moves about in the forest. There have been hunts where I didn’t see chipmunks or songbirds much less deer. Nothing. The woods were completely silent. I’ve gone weeks at a time while looking for job leads and nothing seems to exist. These instances are exhausting more than frustrating. You KNOW there’s a deer out there, you KNOW someone’s looking to hire….but you’re just not crossing paths.
  6. Sometimes, targets are there, but out of reach.
    A deer out of range. A doe while you don’t hold a doe permit. A bear, out of season. A job that you ‘have to know someone to land.’ or a job that you need to be on the right list to even be considered for. They’re there, right in front of you, that can’t be harvested.
  7. At some point, you may give up looking for the trophy, and just take something to put meat on the table.
    A few years back, I harvested a very young buck. He was by no means a wall-hanger, but it was a legal harvest and his venison was just as edible. I didn’t care that his antlers weren’t going to inspire stories around a campfire, I wanted the harvest.
    Job hunting….similar. Sooner or later, you’ll not care that the dream job hasn’t come along yet, and you’ll snap at something, anything that comes along as you stare at a dwindling bank account or into the faces of two kids you have to feed. Pride gives way to necessity. I once took a job that required an hour and a half drive each way just because I needed the work.
  8. Sometimes, it all pays off.
    Frozen, dark mornings to get out into the woods before sunup. Endless resumes submitted and interviews done. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, everything lines up. The deer are moving, your timing is right, and your aim is true. Or, the employer is what you’re looking for, you nail the interview, and you get it all right. Someone’s lead pays off, and the trophy buck is where it was foretold to be. The rumor told to you about a job opening was exactly that and you “start on Monday.”
    Sometimes….just sometimes….the hard work and preparation mix with luck and your dream job is earned, or that harvest will be talked about for years by a couple of good ‘ole boys at a bar for seasons to come.

I could probably come up with a few more that might end up being stretches, but you get the idea. A hunt seems to be a hunt, no matter the end game. A mixture of aggravation, frustration, and exhaustion, all in the hopes that triumph and success are just over the next hill.

As for me, I’m looking at a number of hills right now. Any one of them could see me land my trophy job, but they’re just as likely to lead to empty woods and cold trails. Then all I can do is move on and look again. Eventually, I’ll be in the right place at the right time.

….right?

An Astounding Coincidence

It’s 3:15am here, but I wanted to share a quick story before I go to bed, it’s too cool not to share.

The security company I do work for on the side had asked me to work a shift at a party on the waterfront tonight. The hours were from 5PM to 2AM. The supervisor is from the same town I am, and he told me we could carpool to the event, he would drive.

I got to our meeting point ahead of him and sat in my car waiting. As I did, I noticed a bobby pin sitting on the floor near the floor mat. I have no idea how it got there, or when. My wife doesn’t ride in my car. The only thing I could think of is that it had belonged to my brother-in-law’s wife, he used to own that car and I haven’t been that great about cleaning it out, it’s my work car, our banger.

I digress.

I picked up the bobby pin and looked at it. Rather than toss it away, I slid it into my pocket, laughably saying “Eh, you never know when you’ll have to pick a lock.”

….fast forward to about 11PM tonight as the party is winding down, and I get called to handle a guy who had locked himself in the bathroom, and passed out drunk.

I got there and a couple of other drunk guys are contemplating kicking in the door to rescue the guy inside. I told them that wasn’t necessary, we would get the door open….holy crap….my bobby pin!

In seconds I had picked the lock with it, and had the door open. I shook awake the drunk on the floor and got him out of there.

I had never noticed that pin there, I have NEVER needed to pick a lock before, and have no idea why I picked it up at all…but it’s a good thing I did, as it makes a cool little story.

…aaaaand goodnight.

Answer Not Valid. Try Again.

Mini-Me has developed a habit that could drive someone about  to be canonized straight into the arms of excommunication.

He’ll ask a question, and if he doesn’t like the answer, he’ll ask it again….and again. And again, as if repeating the question will change the reality of the situation to something more favorable.

“Daddy? are those my socks?”
“No, those are pants.”
“Are those my socks?”
“No.”
“Are those my socks?”
“No.”
“Are those my socks?”

“Can we go to another store?”
“No, we’re going home now.”
“Can we go to another store?”
“No.”
“Can we go to another store?”
“No, what did I just say?”
“I don’t know. Can we go to another store?”

If you don’t yell at him to stop, it can continue for hours. There is no reasoning with a two and a half year old child, and you cannot ignore them, for their willpower for inane undertakings is far stronger than yours.

My wife and I counted thirty “Where are we” inquiries when we tried to ignore the question after three attempts to answer it. Since he didn’t like the answer, he kept asking. Over. And over. And over.

When he gets stuck in one of these loops, there is never a positive ending. Either I’ll have to firmly ask him to stop- and he cries, he continues for a week and a half…and I cry, his brother yells at him for his continuous inquiries, and they both end up in tears, or everyone ends up sad or angry somehow.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Parenting is the pinnacle of glamour.

The Blossoming Art Critic

I am not an artistic person, which I discussed a while back in a post. My ability to create is limited to ‘messes’ and ‘grilled cheese.’

I just don’t have it in me. My muse never materialized, and my hands are more comfortable gripping a firearm or a fishing pole than a pencil or paintbrush. In grade school, when the rest of my classmates had graduated to clay or other more advanced mediums, I was still struggling with the concept that the crayons did not in fact taste like fruits of their corresponding colors.

Even the simple act of writing takes a toll on me. If you had any idea of how many times I have to go back over each one of these posts and remove redundancies, spelling errors, excessive commas, and redundancies, you’d be alarmed…especially considering that so many still make their way into the final product.

Moving on…

It appears that The Narrator has inherited my artistic sensibilities. In spite of my no longer being gainfully employed, I cobbled together the funds necessary for he and I to make our annual trip to a Monster Truck show that comes to our area every summer. I took him for the first time two years ago when I got out of the police academy. After six months of spending very little time with him, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out, just he and I- for a few hours. He enjoyed himself so much we went back last year, and as soon as summer rolled around again this year, he asked if we were going.

On the way up, we drove through a small town that had an art gallery. Outside of it was someone’s sculpture- a large piece of twisted metal, painted a uniform orange, and bearing no semblance to anything that I could recognize or associate it with.

It did not escape The Narrator’s eye.

“Daddy? What’s that?”
“That’s a sculpture. Someone made it, it’s art.”
“Art?” – At this moment, I know his mind is going back to his Kindergarten art class with glue, macaroni, and construction paper.
“Yeah. People make art out of all kinds of things. The artist here used metal, and it means something special to them.”
“Oh. Well, it looks like a pile of junk to me.”
Maybe sports will be his thing.

Blowing Off The Dust

I’ve been busier now that I’m out of work than I was when I was working. The thing about working full-time is having a predictable schedule. When that goes away, you’re at the mercy of whatever comes up. I still have two days a week working IT, and I’m doing two days a week with a friend of mine who works landscaping and property maintenance, leaving one day open for interpretation and job hunting.

Mix in the family stuff and you’ve got a recipe for hectic.

Aside from me mewling about work, there wouldn’t be a lot that’s been worth mentioning here. Lack of content and time has seen this blog take a seat for a while. Once I start interviewing again, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about, but right now, all I’m doing is spinning my wheels in a world that bears no interest to anyone actually involved, and would be even less interesting to anyone on the outside looking in.

I’m on the ‘downs’ ride of “Life’s ups and downs,” but I’ve been here before and know that these rides don’t last forever. At least not if you’re willing to bust your ass to climb back up.

Here’s to ass-busting.

Thanks for dropping in.

Sigh.

I’ve spent the last three days working working with a buddy of mine who does some landscaping and contracting. The bulk of my work has been laboring.  You know, cleaning leaf litter, digging holes for planting, raking stone, that sort of thing.

I came home this afternoon to find my wife had finally had enough with the two massive rhotodendron plants that flank our front porch. The plants have been sprawling unchecked for some time and were starting to encroach on the porch itself. She took a pair of shears and was in the midst of hacking them to more manageable size when I came in. On the ground were two massive piles of leaf litter. Sheared branches, demolished leaves, and for good measure, a lot of the decomposing undergrowth.

“Looks good hon. But what are you going to do with the leaf litter?” I asked, curious…and not for no reason either. She’s got a habit of raking leaves, grass clippings, pine cones, etc….into piles, then leaving them there, so that when I get around to finally picking it all up, the grass is good and dead.

“Oh you’re taking care of that. Where are you dumping it?”

Damn it.