April 17, 2018

15-hour work days.

Tracey reinjuring her surgically-repaired shoulder and is going to be on the shelf again for six weeks, maybe more.

The pool desperately needing a backwash and a good cleaning.

Patrick Reed winning the Masters.

A mourning dove has made a nest in a planter next to the gated entrance to our back yard.

It’s the middle of April and the year has passed by in a blur of work and wasted days and wasted nights.

And there’s no end in sight.

Last night the wind came up out of nowhere. It was around three AM and Tam’s rabbits (they’re staying with us so Tam can play house nurse to Tracey’s needs), all of a sudden started tearing around the bedroom. I could hear the royal palms next door being stirred in all directions, and a dream I was having about being fired from a company I used to work for back when we lived in Kentucky started to recede into my brain.

I went into the kitchen and steadied myself with a small glass of wine and stepped out onto the back patio. The wind had turned into the west and was blowing hard. One of the large branches on the queen palm tossed lifelessly in the breeze above me, its stalk broken by the winds.

I looked up and said to it, “I know how you feel, and I’m sorry.”

It has been an incredibly dry and windy year thus far here in the Valley of the Sun; more wind than we typically get this time of year, for sure. The local weather folks say we’re likely to have more dust storms than usual this year because everything is so damned dry.

I sat in a patio chair for a few minutes and allowed the night to clear my head. I’ve been having a lot of dreams lately about employment; they always seem to center around me being in the wrong place and either not having work to do, getting fired, or worrying about getting fired. No golf dreams. Unlike most folks, I’m guessing, I’ve never dreamt about things in the past. I’ve never dreamt about growing up or being a kid living in Tewksbury, or re-living past events. I do have one other recurring dream – that I’m in college and have to take a final exam but hadn’t known about the class to begin with, so I’m faced with taking an exam I know nothing about.

It’s all very strange.

But even in my waking hours, I no longer think about the past, don’t think about the future, don’t really think about anything. The days just stretch on one after another, like miles on a long, straight interstate westward across the Texas Panhandle, every day’s sunrise and blazing-red sunset no different from the previous day’s, just as they’ve been for the past 4 1/2 months. I wake, grab a cup of coffee, handle the inevitable incoming related to the “Client Who Shall Remain Nameless”, then twelve hours later either veg out for a few hours to take a bubble bath and/or read a James Lee Burke or (most recently) a Wayne Stinnett paperback, before an hour’s worth of e-mailing and calling it a night. There are no sleepless nights – I’m usually asleep in ten minutes’ time, only to dream once again about being soon-to-be unemployed and wake up as the birds are just starting to chirp to do it all over again.

Two weeks ago, I had started working on my golf game again and was really looking forward to becoming a “Ranger Rick” ahead of this year’s Goodboys Invitational; now it’s pretty much a given that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

You might be saying to yourselves, it’s not much of an existence for The Great White Shank. But that’s the way life has become. I oftentimes see myself laying in a hospital bed, dying of something, and regretting all this time not being put to better use, but honestly, I’m not sure what else I could be doing that’s so much different. I have to work, there’s no other choice. Find another job? I could, I suppose, but here I have the luxury of working from home, and who’s to say that any job I might take would be any better and any less stressful, with the prospect of having to travel or at the very least having to commute. No thanks.

…not to mention the fact that I’d never make as much dough-re-mi as I do now.

…and the idea of this 62-year old staring down a job market is a worse nightmare than the ones I’m already having.

By this time in the project I truly thought things would be getting better, but this past weekend’s results were pretty dispiriting, and today we discovered yet another problem that’s likely to set the project back weeks, if not a month or more. I can’t help but wonder how much longer our management or the “Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” will put up with this. Everyone’s tired and burnt out, and we’re making mistakes we shouldn’t be making. Another guy on this project was told in no uncertain terms by one of the VPs that he needed to get him some numbers by end of business. Like me, he had just come off working three fifteen-hour days on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and made the mistake of just wanting to rest his eyes for a couple of minutes. He slept for over four hours. When I suggested to him the VP wasn’t going to like that, he just said, “Good, then they can fire me. At least that way I’ll be off this damned project.”

And that’s the way I feel. We’re all serving life sentences on a chain-gang on the Brazos with little hope of parole…

Ain’t no more cane on this Brazos, my boy
Oh, oh, oh…

Where we been ground down all to molasses
Oh, oh, oh…

When I come down here had a number for my name
Oh, oh, oh…

Well they chained us together and we started chopping cane
Oh, oh, oh…

I wish you was here in nineteen and ten
Oh, oh, oh…

They was driving the women just like they was men
Oh, oh, oh…

I wish you was here when the storm winds came
Oh, oh, oh…

With that man lyin’ dead and we cut him off the chain
Oh, oh, oh…

If I had a sentence like ninety-nine and nine
Oh, oh, oh…

Ain’t no dogs on this Brazos could keep me on a line
Oh, oh, oh…

…Why dontcha go down Old Hannah, dontcha rise up no more
Oh, oh, oh…

Well they worked me so hard that I can’t work no more
Oh, oh, oh…

Ain’t no more cane on this Brazos, my boy
Oh, oh, oh…

Where we been ground down all to molasses
Oh, oh, oh…

..with the end coming only with execution or exile to the Sunnyvale Nursing Home after you’re all broken down and incapable of creating Gantt charts for dickhead VPs who couldn’t even fart without written instructions after a plate of enchiladas and beans.

There’s another high wind warning up for Thursday.

Meaning more debris in the pool, sure hope I don’t lose any more palm tree branches.

Hoping that mourning dove has her babies soon.

Don’t know where or how all of this will end.

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