Here we go again

I finally got my school schedule straightened out. No, I didn’t give up.

I decided that quitting isn’t the rational or logical answer to my frustration.

My chem class starts at 10:15 am. I am enrolled in the Honors Program so I have to take at least one class at the campus I originally started at when I was living in another town. Bummer.

If I take the toll road, it’s about a 40 minute drive. If I take the back roads, about 55. Not much of a difference when you consider it’s a cost of 6 bucks a day.

My class is Mon-Thurs from 10:15 am until 2:15 pm (2 hr lecture, 2 hr lab). My current work schedule is 9 pm to 5 am.

Now, factor in drive times, class time, current work schedule and I’m left shaking my head.

If I stay on my current schedule, I’ll get home about 5:30 am. That only gives me about 2 1/2 hours to sleep before class. Then I’d be getting home around 3:30 or 4 which would give me about 4 hours to sleep again.

Splitting my sleep up does not work for me.

Alternative #1. Change my work hours to 11 pm to 7 am. I can come home, shower, eat and then head to class. I’ll have about 1 1/2 hours before I need to start my commute so it gives me time to do my workout before heading to class. Only problem? No time to deal with other stuff like shopping, laundry, etc.

Again, I’d get home (or at least into bed) around 4 pm. That gives me 6 hours straight of sleep.

Scenario #2. Change my work schedule to 7 pm to 3 am. Sleep from 3:30 to 8:30. Head to class. Get home and deal with personal stuff between class and work. I’d get 5 hrs sleep but at a different time when I expect it would be more productive sleep than during the day.

None of these options appeal to me. I’m at the “vampire” stage of working nights and it’s time to flip. I’ll be switching back to days in July so this schedule will only last for 6 weeks. In addition to my chem class, I also have my technical writing that is online. My hope is that I’ll have enough down time at work to tackle it.

Julie is starting to worry that I’m doing too much.

Trying to work full time, go to school full time and maintain my work outs, trips to see her and spend time with friends.

It’s a LOT. This summer will probably be one that I look back on and think, “what the hell did I do?”

I may find myself burnt out and screaming for another vacation away by the end of the term.

Whatever the case, this is where I’m at. I’ve got 3 days to figure it out so I’ll find a way to do just that.

Hell, I’ve worked on less than 4 hours sleep a night before but I was in my 20’s and I didn’t have thousands of dollars in scholarships on the line.

I feel like I’ve come too far. The end is close enough to touch if I just stick with it. I know that it will all be worth the effort but some days…. A beach, a chair and a beer sound sooo much more appealing!

Advertisements

Offers and more offers

Got another job offer today. One of the engineers that was laid off at the same time I was from the first firm I worked for called today.

He is now the VP of quality assurance at a materials and inspection firm.

They just landed a big contract with TxDOT and wants me to lead it.

I’d be doing a lot of what I’m doing now, but with more input and more responsibility.

At first I dismissed the idea. A job that gives me more responsibility could mean me being forced to cut back on the number of hours I’m taking at school. That in turn would throw my timeline out of whack.

After doing some research, I learned that they have offices all over the Midwest. One of the smallest is just 45 miles from where Julie works and where we plan to look at getting an apartment.

So, I did what I always do. I texted my girl and told her I needed her input.

I know the two of us have a plan that we are working towards but any decision that is going to effect either of us needs to be made together.

Julie gets that. It’s one of the things that would irritate the shit out of me about my ex. She had this notion that we could just do whatever and regardless of how it affected our family or the other, no input was needed.

If I oversee this contract I’ll be here for at least 2 more years. I will be an administrator so at least I’ll be able to travel more to see Julie. I’ll also be able to transfer when the project is done.

I explained my goals to my former colleague and he said he’s fairly certain we can work all this out.

Comparable pay, company expense account, benefits, vehicle, etc.

I’m meeting with him and his boss tomorrow for lunch to discuss this.

If they agree and are willing to put it in writing (I learned the hard way that a promise ain’t shit unless the ink has dried) then I’ll fly to Illinois and do a meeting with the staff there.

Fingers crossed. If this works out, I’ll be assigned to the Illinois office, living on per diem during the days of Monday-Friday for work and school and flying home to Illinois on weekends until this project is over.

I pushed myself to follow an impossible, difficult, complicated schedule in order to save a relationship that was losing steam by the minute… Hopefully, I can do this in order to build the life I’ve long to have with a woman I adore.

Where did the month go?

Today I received a text from a friend that is visiting Florida. “Happy May 1st!!”

As I looked at it I thought, “she’s lost her mind!” Then I checked my phone and noticed she was absolutely correct!

Holy Crap on a cracker!! What happened to April?? Where did the month go to? It slipped out in the middle of the night, never to be seen again!!

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve lost entire weeks. I swear, in my mind it’s been around April 18th for about two weeks now. With studying for finals, writing my final paper for Comp/Rhetoric, working on my Algebra online, looking for a job in Illinois, dealing with minor drama from Louie, working on Julie’s house, the drama that our anonymous Nutbird created, planning a vacation, and still keeping up with work, I’m surprised I haven’t lost an even bigger chunk of time!

Tomorrow I have a phone interview with a firm that’s looking for a Senior Structural Infrastructure Construction Manager. That’s a very long title for the job I had at my last firm.

The job is located about 45 minutes from where Julie works but 1 1/2 hour from where she lives. The pay is commensurate with what I’m making now but the firm is much, much smaller.

We’ve looked at areas between her job and mine and think we’ve found a town that would suit all our needs should I get this job. Or any of the others that I’m looking at, in fact.

The problem I’m running into is that what I do is focused primarily in the Chicago area. Towns like Downers Grove, Chicago, etc are where the bulk of steady, long term work is at.

Since neither of us relish the idea of having to commute over an hour each way to work, we’ve decided that splitting the difference makes more sense.

I seem to have strayed off topic but trust me, it’s relevant…

Because we have found ourselves in a really good place with regards to our relationship, we’ve decide to put her house on the market, lease an apartment in the town where she works, and I’ll move when the right job opportunity arises. This will mean me having to commute for several months until the lease is up, but it sure beats only seeing her once a month.

Our plans were to put the house up in June. Start applying at apartments for a July 1 move in date and even begin researching (seriously) houses in the towns we like.

In my mind I was thinking this was ages away. It’s next month!! Again… Holy Crap on a cracker!!

I’ve managed to get the deck built, the cabinets replaced, new appliances installed (a dishwasher is a pain in the ass, btw!!), the basement re painted and new flooring installed and even put in flower beds and a few punches of color.

It’s not as if I’ve sat around just drawing a paycheck and not done anything. I just didn’t realize how fast time had slipped away from us.

I’ve always tried to remind myself that time will go by faster than I think, with regards to me and Julie being together. I guess this proves I’m more right than I first thought.

Now, I do still have finals to study for so I’m off to lose another large chunk of my day!!

I can feel the rat race coming on

Today was one of many future, crazy, hectic days.

I had to take Louie to get her drivers license. Little did we know what an ordeal this would be.

Here in Texas, for a person receiving their license for the first time, they are required to take a driving test. That’s probably pretty standard in most states.

Here, you are now required to make an appointment. The days of showing up and testing are long gone.

Well, tomorrow I have to take her to her school to get her laptop, schedule, and parking permit. Obviously, in order to get a permit, she has to have a current license.

I get online to schedule an appointment and discover that no appointments are available in the entire Houston area until mid October.

Her testing then would mean no permit, missing a day of school, me or Jenny missing a day of work and her having to get another verification of enrollment. (in order to get or keep a license, they have to be enrolled in school until their 18th birthday)

When I say none, I mean NONE. I checked all of Houston, Sugarland, Missouri City, Conroe, Humble, Huntsville, Hempstead, even College Station.

Why so booked? A rush for students to get the DL? You’d think so. But no. As I discovered today, it’s because the Houston district of the TxDOT (the governing body of the TxDPS) will not staff or update their offices.

How did I discover this info? I asked. I called the main branch of the DPS in Austin, TX. They had an appointment available for today. Actually, they had 22 available for today.

So, at 10:00 am, Louie and I made the 2 hour trek to “A Town”

When we got there, we were met by a kiosk. The screen prompted you to touch the various buttons that resulted in you being checked in accordingly.

I figured that since my license is due for renewal next month, I might as well kill two birds with one stone.

We got out tickets, with our numbers (I was given the one document I needed to fill out without having to search through endless forms) and sat down in the air conditioned comfort of a building that would easily accommodate 100 people.

We checked in at 1:38 pm. There were at least 59 people ahead of us. That meant a long and boring wait, right? Nope, by 1:50 pm Louie and I were both standing at a clerk, having our photos taken and paying our pound of flesh.

Next, I had to take Louie and the car to the “drive lane” to wait for an instructor to meet us, inspect the vehicle, check the insurance, and take her for her drive.

When we pulled in line, there were 9 cars ahead of us. Wow! Here’s where we’d have to wait, right?

By 2:15pm, Louie was sitting at the front of the line and the instructor was climbing in.

By 2:45, she was done and we were finalizing all her paperwork. By 3:00 pm, we were on our way back to Houston, both with new drivers licenses.

For some folks, 1 1/2 hours may seem like an eternity. But considering that we stood outside, in the rain for 3 hours, just to get to the door where we were then given the paperwork to fill out and then directed to wait another 2 hours in a building that could only “legally” hold 30, when we got her permit, I’m impressed.

I talked to the clerk and she explained the whole “Houston District” philosophy to me. Today was Tuesday. And my daughter was the 8th student to be tested that drove up from this area.

They had 16 clerks. A far cry from the 3 at the ofc here. They had an automated system. Not a woman with a clipboard flipping through various worksheets. They have an information desk. Not a security guard telling you to get to the back of the line and wait your turn.

It was fast, efficient and they were very friendly.

It went so smoothly, I actually felt like we were doing something wrong. So I went to the information desk and asked, “is this all we need to do?”

“yes ma’am. The screen will flash your number and it will be announced over the speaker”

If a system is in place. And a good system, at that, why on earth wouldn’t every office use it?

Oh, that’s right. Because we don’t have any money.

Well, let me tell you this. For my daughter to go to Austin, it only cost her $11 and me only $25. If we’d done it here, it would have been $16 and $36.

That may not seem like a lot, but consider the 9 of us that were there in these two days.

If you come up with an average of $8 per person. Multiply that by 20 days in a month and figure in only 2 offices (we have 7) that’s almost $1500 a month the Houston District looses due to outdated system management. A penny saved, my ass!

Well, by 5:00pm, we got back to town. I dropped Louie off at choir rehearsal, paid a few bills, put gas in Jenny’s van, went to the bank, picked Louie back up, came home and noticed it was after 9:00.

This is just a small glimpse of what life is going to be like in a month.

Jenny will be back at school, I’ll be working up in Hays county building a new bridge system, kids will be in school, Louie will be raising her pigs and working (she got a job at the same supermarket as Huey) and this lazy life we’ve been living for several months will be a memory.

Welcome back to the real world!!

A mundane Monday.

Well folks, my extended “vacation” is about to end.

After my grueling 2 hour physical and drug screen, which mainly consisted of me being shuffled from one room to wait until I was shuffled to another, I’m now in the wait for the results to get back stage.

As anyone who’s ever dealt with a government agency knows, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. Luckily, since I’m a former employee, I qualify for rapid hire.

My old friends from TxDot in various offices have texted and called to say, “Yay! You’re back!!” while Jenny and I are saying, “Yay, it’s a job!”

Yesterday I was busy. Jenny had a spell of mild vertigo which kept her on the couch for most of the day. Everytime she’d try to lay down or move around, she would get dizzy and feel nauseous. So, I handled some of the chores and took care of lunch and dinner.

My intentions for today were to go to my new office and turn in some paperwork and come home to knock out a few more things on my “to do” list.

But as I’m sitting here, I’m thinking a nap would be the best course of action.

Jenny is meeting with her dad. Apparently he sent her a “cryptic” text that just said, “I need to meet with you this morning.” No real explanation, but she went.

All the kids are still asleep. The boys haven’t been up yet, and the two oldest girls got home from a sleepover around 7 am and went back to bed.

Even the cats are conked out in their respective sleeping spots. (Toula on our bed, Thumbelina on the dogs bed)

The only stirring around the house is me and my bestie, Riley.

So, while I’m waiting for my Jenny to get home, I think I’m going to enjoy the last afternoon nap I’ll get for a while.

It feels so good to be back at the game after being gone so long!

Realization

One thing I’ve noticed about being unemployed is the feeling of helplessness.

As a 39 y/o who has never been without a job for more than a month since I was 14, being out of work for almost 7 months really took its toll on me.

I have always been busy. I always had a “purpose”.

I’d get up, go to work, do my job, come home, take care of my family and start it all over again.

I had a routine. I had a means to provide for my family.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been getting a check ever since I got laid off. There hasn’t been a time when Jenny and I couldn’t pay a bill. But not knowing how long I’d be able to “pull my weight” had started to wear on me.

So much so, that I’d learned to dread the mundane. Things that I took for granted before.

Mowing the lawn, maintaining a garden, cooking breakfast on Saturday morning, cleaning the cars and my truck.

Things that I used to enjoy doing because I had a sense of pride in taking care of the things I could call mine.

As time went on, I’d come to hate doing those things. Not because I didn’t feel that same sense of pride, but because I started to see those as chores to simply keep me busy.

I love our house. It’s roomy and comfortable. It’s clean and usually tidy. A place for everyone and everything.

I love my lawn. It’s well manicured and nice. Yes, I’d venture to say its one of the nicest on the block. We have Jenny’s roses, a big magnolia tree, several smaller trees, a neat and conservative flower bed and a small garden.

In my old life, I could be found on any given Saturday or Sunday morning working diligently to keep all of it looking it’s best.

This time of year, I’d be plotting out the best way to decorate for Halloween and be in full swing getting ready for school to start.

This year, though, it seemed like everything was something to dread instead of look forward to. Halloween decorations cost money, FFA meetings cost money, school clothes and supplies, yes, they cost money.

Again, I have money coming in. It’s not as much as I was getting, but it’s enough to get us by and be comfortable. But I almost felt like I hadn’t earned it so it wasn’t the same.

Is this silly? Of course it is. But I was raised by a woman who instilled upon me the notion that “if you are healthy, educated and able bodied, you get up and go to work everyday.”

I wasn’t able to do that. I wanted to. I longed to. I hoped and prayed everyday to be given that opportunity.

Today I woke up at 7:30. Got dressed, made my coffee, fed the dog, and walked outside to begin working on my lawn.

In my mind I started to make my mental to do list.

1. Weed the flower bed
2. Plant the second crop of squash
3. Clean out the truck and van
4. Water the back yard

Yesterday Jenny and I sat down to make our grocery list. Something we haven’t done in a long time.

It too had become one of those busy work chores and I think I almost resented doing it.

Finally getting a job after all this time has made me realize that those little chores were something I actually looked forward to doing. They gave me the validation that I was contributing to the comfort of my family.

I’m renewed and excited.

Yes, this job is less money than I’d hoped for. But as my oldest daughter, Dewey, stated “Mom, when you were at TxDot before, you were miserable. You worked nights, your phone rang every 5 minutes and you always had someone expecting you to make the right call.”

This time I’m starting out a few steps below where I was. I’m ok with that.

I’ll be doing the job that I used to train others to do. I’ve been calling it a no brainer position.

And I’m looking forward to it.

I look forward to being that “new guy” that my boss doesn’t have to train. The one that he can send on site, knowing that I’ll do the job right and without any guidance. And I won’t have to shoulder the responsibility of being the boss.

I’m not naive enough to think that this will resolve all our problems. But the knowledge that I’m out there again. Being productive and useful. Doing what I do best and getting paid to do it, made getting up this morning a whole lot easier!

I hate

I hate that this blog is censored.

I hate that I sometimes need to vent, bitch, whine, scream and I’m not allowed to because of what others might think.

I hate that I’m forced to stuff my frustration and anger down so deep inside me that I think I’m going to explode.

Is hate a strong word? Yes. But very appropriate right now.