The Parent Trap

Today was our first day of our three week “summer hours” nonsense, and it turned out worse than it had any right to be. I actually went to bed super early, so I didn’t have much trouble getting out of bed. It was cool outside for the drive in, but I knew it was going to heat up to an uncomfortable high on the bike. I kind of assumed I would be left alone again, but instead I was sent with a group to the high school. We had to possibly relocate some network lines to move the student computers in the library, and then remove the old journalism computers from the lab. Beyond that, we had to start inventory at that building, and there’s no mistaking how I felt about that.

Kyle and I rode with Brody, and I convinced them to work on inventory while I did all the network and computer pulling by myself. We ran into Al on his last day there, and I chatted with him for a minute before we started. From that point, the morning actually went really well by myself. Lunch time was an about-face.

Brody and Kyle were slow coming up to the office, and Kyle didn’t want La Chiquita, so I took the opportunity to skip as well while Brody caught up with the others. Instead, I ate an apple and chatted with Tammy at the shop until people started showing back up. Gary was the only one to ever come back, and it took me a while to find anyone else. I had to go back to the high school anyway, so I could unload the old computers from the cart I borrowed.

I finally found Brody, Jacob, and Kyle trying to pull a bunch of network lines to the old journalism room, and I caught them just as they discovered that three of their eight boxes of cable were not long enough for the run. The excuse was that they checked the length of available cable in the boxes, but not the actual length of the physical run. Frustration mounted as we finished that run, and then tried to wrangle up more boxes of cable to make another run. In the end, we decided to wait for a new delivery of cable, and I sent everyone to work on inventory for the rest of the day.

I went back to the shop and just announced very loudly outside the offices of the holy trinity that I needed a safe space where the republicans couldn’t get to me. Thomas jokingly called out to me, and I took his leave to cry exasperatedly at him about my experience with the crew. Zach came around the corner and joined in on the conversation, and we set forth a plan to grow from the experience. I spent the rest of the day hooking up a new-to-me desktop in place of my frustrating laptop.

Summer said Autumn was cooking dinner, so I went home to change before heading up. I was already emotional from the day, on top of being ignored as a parental figure yesterday, so I fell apart once I got there. I took Summer aside to talk to her, and found no comfort. I finally came out to the dinner table and started the uncomfortable conversation about whether I improved any of their lives. I knew what Autumn’s answer would be, but as usual she fell silent when confronted. Eaddie wasn’t any comfort either, but at least backed me up when I called them out for bad vibes. It took a couple of hours of talking, but we finally dug deep enough to find the root of some of the issues, and hopefully the growing and learning will continue with some action.

Obvious Protip: Don’t vent to the children.

Dentology

I knew I had to take the girls to the orthodontist this afternoon, but I nearly spaced and took the bike to work this morning. I caught myself on the way out and took the Murano instead, but it wouldn’t have been a bad day for a ride. We had a short meeting, and then I was mostly left alone to do my own thing. Gary had me update SCCM, which was a relatively easy, but long process that took me all morning to complete.

The guys went to Taco John’s and invited me along, but I was on the fence anyway, and then traffic didn’t allow me into the right lane to make the turn, so I headed on up to Summer’s instead. The girls were up but sedentary. I warmed up some leftover Mexican chicken casserole for lunch, and then we left for Dr. K’s.

When we got there, the doors were locked for lunch time, so we waited under the shade of a nearby bushy tree. It seemed a little silly to see so many people waiting outside the door in the heat, but I guess they’ve gotta eat too. Autumn filled out some paperwork while Eaddie went back. Then she wanted me to go back with her for the consult. Autumn really wants braces, but Invisalign is about 400 bucks cheaper. Evidently they don’t have insurance to cover anything, so I don’t know why Summer’s trying so hard to spend money on the kid that’s giving us so much trouble.

After the girls finished, we went to my house so I could change out of my work jeans into some shorts, then headed back up to their house until Eaddie’s flute lesson. They watched Stranger Things for a little while, and I baked the Surfer Boy branded pizza we got for them. Then Autumn took a nap while Eaddie painted. When it was time to leave again, Autumn pitched an absolute fit about being woken up, and was super bitchy for about two hours.

We dropped Eaddie off for her lesson and then went to my parents’ house for half an hour. Eaddie finished up after about 45 minutes, and I took them straight to karate. They had both started to get moody, so I decided to go in to watch them for the hour. They begrudgingly worked out together, and flailed their limbs around loosely the entire time. On the way home, Autumn wanted to get some sour cream for barbecue nachos, but then went straight to the Takis and Dr. Pepper. I didn’t have the energy to fight her there, so I got the corn chips we really needed, and we continued home.

It was a little late, but I wanted to eat a little bit for dinner. Then I had to threaten to take her snacks before Autumn made herself the tiniest plate of smoked pork and shredded cheese I had ever seen. She didn’t even open the sour cream she begged for. After she ate, I made her clean the kitchen while Eaddie cleaned her room. Then I killed time until Summer got home super late. She went straight to bed, and I played Puzzle Quest on my phone all night.

…but I’m a creep…

Just for Kicks

I got up and made some fancy bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits from leftovers this morning. Then I went home to clean up and pack a bunch of camp chairs for Summer’s company picnic in Little Rock. We left early so we could spend a little extra time there. I got us last-minute tickets to see Jurassic World: Dominion at the IMAX, but the kids weren’t super excited for it. They argued that they hadn’t seen any of the others, but we actually saw the last one at an IMAX in Illinois.

We stopped in Conway first for some lunch because they were hungry. We tried going to Raising Cain’s, but that place was absolutely packed without an open seat in the house. From there, we drove across the street to Chipotle. Eaddie seemed most confused by their ordering process for some reason, but we made it through. Summer and I just split a burrito.

The last stretch of the drive was uneventful, and we made it to the theater and through the concessions line just in time to catch the trailers. They were super busy, and I didn’t realize it was opening weekend. I was pretty annoyed by all the chatter and noise around us, but the speakers were cranked up so high that you couldn’t hear much else. I was a bit disappointed in the movie myself, but I think all of them after the first one were kind of campy. The girls enjoyed it though, and it clearly wasn’t an issue that they hadn’t seen all of the prior films.

After the movie, we had just enough time to make it across to North Little Rock for the Splash company picnic at the Lakewood Properties park. It was nice and windy there, and the tree cover made the heat and humidity bearable. We found a box turtle, and Autumn immediately pulled it out of its hiding spot and carried it around the park while Summer and Eaddie played cornhole. I brought a biplane kite and put it together, but nobody else was really interested in that.

The girls got food, but I was still stuffed from lunch. I didn’t even eat any popcorn during the movie. Afterward, Eaddie said she wanted to fly the kite, but then didn’t follow me out into the opening. She and Summer took off in the opposite direction, leaving me standing there alone on the hill. My aggravations grew when I found them alone at some swings, way away from everyone else. I was happy to make an appearance with Summer, but it was hot and they kept leaving me alone. I felt like we were only there because she had to make an appearance as a part of the management team, but then she wasn’t even mingling.

Fortunately, they started a big kickball game going, which drew everyone together. I was surprised that Eaddie didn’t play, but Autumn did. I was proud of her for jumping in though. I sat at the top of the bleachers because I was sweating enough just sitting there. After a while, Eaddie came up and wanted to get a snowcone, so we walked back up the hill for that. I was sat weird on the bleachers, and also super dehydrated from the heat, so my legs cramped up immediately.

I didn’t even make it back down the hill by the time the game was over, so the girls came back up and played a little basketball before we headed home. On the way out, we took pans of smoked pork, potato salad, and coleslaw for later. The drive home was quiet and felt a little tense, as Summer had been quiet all day. We made it home, I played Tetris to get everything into the refrigerator, and the usual suspects made it to bed. I got there eventually.

It’s always work if you’re a leader.

How to Tell if You’re in a Cult

A bunch of water had collected in the trunk of my car this morning, and sloshed around on my way to work. Fortunately it didn’t damage my headliner, or seemingly get on it at all. I couldn’t tell where it was actually coming in though, so I guess I’ll have to pour water on it with a hose.

Jacob and I continued with inventory today, which made the day go by quickly, if nothing else. He didn’t want to reset iPads, and I didn’t want to do inventory, so we just split up this time, and I slowly went room to room with earbuds in. We made it back to the shop just a bit before lunch, and Tammy started talking about everyone having to clean out their work spaces to create more separation between our work life and home life. I was absolutely triggered at the thought of having to take all of my shit home, so I was riled up the rest of the day.

Nobody had any idea what to eat, so I suggested Chick O’Fish, since it was something new. When we got there, the menu TVs weren’t quite working right. I hate that places are starting to use more animated menus that flip to a different screen while I’m reading them. The next thing I noticed was that they appeared to have the same menu as Sam’s Southern Eatery, down to Sam’s Special. That’s when one of the girls behind the counter piped up and said that they were identical, with the same owners and everything. What made even less sense was that they were also trying to have table service in that tiny building, rather than let people order from the counter. That would have made it much easier.

After lunch, Jacob and I finished at Oakland. We got done about an hour before quitting time and made it back to the shop, but then Thomas cut us loose. I went home and tried to investigate my leaky car, but got nowhere. I fought sleep for a while, and cleaned up a couple aquarium hoods before Summer told me we no longer had a buyer for the 55 gallon tank.

Eventually I headed up to their house for the evening. I stopped at McDonald’s to spend some expiring rewards points on some fries, got gas, and then made it up in time for everyone to already be in their bedrooms. I was concerned about the water in the succulent pots, so I repotted everything and then wound down for bed.

Somebody drank all of the Kool-Aid…

Idiot Wrangler

I made myself an iced coffee this morning, and then I was sent with Kyle and Brody to strip out the computer lab at Sequoyah. It was a short run to the closet, so pulling the cable out was a relative piece of cake. They were both working with earbuds in, so I went along with it and listened to Weird Al all morning. By the time we finished up, it had sprinkled a bit on the stuff in the truck bed, but it was likely all going to scrap anyway.

We finished unloading the truck in time for lunch, so Kyle drove me over to central office to see what the guys there wanted to eat. Someone suggested Stoby’s, and then we all volunteered Kyle to drive us. Somehow we made it to and from the restaurant without incident. I went light with tuna on a toasted croissant, and then took my chips for later.

We spent the afternoon finishing up termination at central office. It felt at times that we were underprepared, but Zach was happy to make trips back for parts we needed. It certainly could have been done more efficiently, but it wasn’t too embarrassing with all of the admins out at their retreat. As we finished up, I learned that one of the girls over there was married to Jackson, our old family friend from years ago.

I was the last one out of the admin building, and as I was walking into the shop, Kyle was walking back from the truck pen with a shit-eating grin, and said he may or may not have wrecked the truck trying to back it into the pen. I never made it over to look at the damage, but evidently it ran the length of the truck and left a pretty good dent. That frustrated basically everyone there with any goddamn sense. Zach let us go home early, but I think all but two of us actually stayed until Thomas showed back up from the retreat, and then they went to inspect the truck and damaged fence post.

I left and went to my parents’ house to clean up some leftovers for dinner. Mom wasn’t home from work yet, so Dad and I chatted until she showed up. Then we ate and I sat around for a bit before heading home. Summer hit the gym before going home, so I took her some Taco Bell, and we called it an early night.

“At least nobody died,” is not as comforting to hear as you may think.

Basic White Mexican

Gary had Jacob and me go upstairs to swap out some lab computers this morning. We knocked that out pretty quickly, but then Gary had to leave the two of us to install the Pearson VUE software The instructions were both Dale-level documentation, and printed. I could have probably deciphered them well enough, except that some of the instructions were out of order, or completely wrong. It took us the entire day to get everything running.

We had to give up at lunch time, and Gary and I met Zach, Greg, and his wife at the new La Chiqita, or as the menu said, “L C I L A C H I Q U I T A” in all capital, equally-spaced letters. The restaurant itself was a small, open dining area with relatively tightly-placed tables. The décor could be perfectly described as “basic white bitch,” down to the grassy wall and cursive name in the entryway. Just when it feels like we’ve reached peak Mexican restaurant saturation, another one pops up with the exact same menu. It was novel 20 years ago. Now I’m just annoyed that no other ethnicity appears to even be trying.

I finished up the lab in the afternoon, and then tried to trace down a dead line with Gary at the end of the day. Things got pretty quiet around the office, and I appeared to be the last one out the door right at quitting time. I went home until Mom called me over to finish up some rice soup.

We ate and chatted for a little bit, and then I went back home to meet Summer after she got in from work. She ate my leftover lunch in the floor, then got ready for bed. Eaddie called, citing boredom, but seemed to have a lot going on in the background. As I suspected, Autumn has been terrible, and has continued to steal technology to circumvent her punishment. The lack of action against her is beyond frustrating, and I’m ready to lash out.

Beat it, just beat it.

That’s How We Roll

We got up this morning and went out back to continue burning brush. The coals were still hot under all the ash, but everything was still too wet to really catch, so I had to get the leaf blower out to really get things cooking. We made a really good dent in the pile of branches, but there’s still a lot of green to cut through, and it’s just too wet to really do easily.

Mom was making beef spring rolls for lunch, so after a quick shower, we headed over there. Dad called Julie over as well, so she joined us to eat for the first time in months after wanting to be left alone. It didn’t take terribly long before Summer had to excuse herself, and went to the gym to decompress. Then she came back to pick me up later.

When we left, we went straight up to her house so she could start some laundry. I hung out for a little while, but then decided to head home when she said her laundry was going to take a while after the kids left a load in the machine before leaving on vacation.

I ended up stopping by Walmart to just briefly run through the clearance section. There, I casually chatted with another lady that I vaguely recognized as a teacher from somewhere. Her husband came around, and reminded me of myself with the goofy, yet analytical things he would say to her about the deals she was finding. It would have reminded me more of Summer and myself if she would ever be the one to shop like that.

I made it home, but had another anxiety attack as I stared down into a bag of chips. It was the second one of the day, after having one coming out of the shower. I couldn’t figure out any triggers, but the way I got really flush and dizzy made me think it was something oxygen-related. Summer ended up coming over for the night, just as I was trying to chat with Google support about my Nest Hub that wouldn’t boot. Once that was out of the way, it was off to bed.

Circle the drain.

Watching Paint Dry

We had a meeting this morning to learn about our new ticketing system, but after a couple hours, I realized that I didn’t even have access to most of the things that were demoed to us. Thomas is annoyingly restrictive of permissions. By the time the conference call was over, I had synced my mental clock with the lady’s Eastern timeclock, and thought it was lunch time.

An hour later, five of us went to La Chiquita. They talked about a new one, but I wasn’t even aware they were building one. Evidently I’ve been passing it on the way to and from Summer’s, but still had no idea it existed. The service wasn’t great, but the food was alright. It felt a little like they had just sent half of their staff to the new place, so the original place was slow to do anything.

The afternoon was mostly quiet. I spent most of it to myself, changing settings on hotspots for Thomas to take to the admin retreat that’s on a farm in the middle of nowhere with no technology.

After work, I went home to switch for the Shadow and then rode up north to Sandy’s to help set up their printer. We never reset the computer she got from her brother, and I had a hunch it was having trouble just with everything that was already loaded on the computer. It took a couple hours, but we had a great conversation, and it was really nice to visit.

On the way home, I stopped by to see Summer. She was having a really hard time with getting Autumn to mow, but I think that was mostly frustration with the mower itself. They’ve always just left everything out in the open to get rained on, and their gas always goes bad. She finally dumped her fuel can out onto the lawn and went to get some fresh, and Autumn was able to finish up as I left.

At home, I just tried to finish up for the evening as quickly as possible. My Google Nest Hub in the kitchen appeared to lock up, but I didn’t have time to contact support. Between it and Google Fi not giving me the bill credit for the SIM that I activated last week, I’m not having a great time with Google.

Dust ’em.

Insanity

The shop was quiet when I got to work today. Zach had other things to do, so I spent the morning running around with Greg. I had him take me to The UPS Store to pick up our boxes, and then we went to the middle school to give them to Josh. Jacob was there helping him sort devices, and we walked out with several boxes of good devices to ship. From there, we went back to the shop to load up some more, and took them all to The UPS Store.

When we finished with that running around, we continued to check devices in the graveyard for any that we could ship back. Jacob came out to help for a bit until lunch, when the three of us and Thomas went to Slim Chickens. My wrap took a while to come out because the fries were fresh, and they were delicious because of it.

When we got back, Greg and I went to Oakland to check on an intercom issue, and then went to look at the new jumbotron at the high school. They angled it poorly, so it’s basically impossible to see from the visitors side. I’d love to see who at Ace Signs is connected to someone in the district, because we’ve literally never been happy with anything they’ve ever done for us.

I was a little scattered for the remainder of the afternoon. Thomas came back for a minute just to hide, and I spent some time working on a few different things for others. I ended the day mostly in spreadsheets.

Summer called to let me know that she had let Autumn go into the high school by herself to drop something off, and of course Autumn had to show off the minor bruising she had after last night’s showdown. DHS called while they were all at the gym, so Summer took her right over to close out the case again. Another day; nothing learned.

I got roped into picking up Eaddie and Zane from the arcade and brought them up to Summer’s for dinner. I hadn’t really eaten much, but still felt full. I wanted to make Autumn skip a meal, but that didn’t happen. We just sat there, and I ate after everyone was done.

Eaddie had a meeting at the junior high about a band trip to Hawaii. It felt like I was in a timeshare meeting, and very little useful information was provided until we got the final handout at the end of the meeting. At $3k per person in a room of four, I’m not sure how bad of a deal it is. They’re certainly not making up for it in meals, and most of the excursions were an extra fee on top of that. As we left, Autumn was acting like she would be with us for some goddamn reason.

We dropped Zane off at home, and then I took the girls home. As I started to leave, Summer wanted to talk, so I stood there a while with her before heading home. There, I fought with a Fi rep about a promotion I’m not receiving for a SIM card that I purchased with real money. It seems like disappointment is all I know in nearly every aspect right now.

This is not the grail you’re looking for.

uBreakiFix

After last night’s back and forth, I still wasn’t really ready for what today would bring. Eaddie was supposed to go out on her bicycle, but evidently went out with Autumn and their grandparents for most of the day instead. I took the Shadow to work since it was a lot cooler out. Fortunately I never saw any rain, though the forecast was pretty wishy-washy about it anyway.

When I first got settled in, I didn’t think I had much to do, but that changed quickly. The morning flew by as I prepared for the lease return for the big project of the day. Lunch time even snuck up on me, and I went to La Huerta with the holy trinity.

After lunch, we had to go back through all of our lease returns and check for damage and power, and then scan them one last time onto a return list to take to The UPS Store. We sent Brody and Kyle to deliver our first truckload, and they failed to bring the boxes back to us as I explicitly instructed. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because Brody also took an unscanned box of laptops along with the rest, so we ended up having to go back to The UPS Store to hunt those down.

At the end of the day, I noticed Autumn had looked up information on fixing a phone, so I had a suspicion that a friend had given her an old one to use. I rode home and then called Summer to discuss options. She went home to await her parents, who were bringing the girls back home. Autumn wanted to stay with them while Summer took Eaddie to the gym.

Summer was supposed to come by my house first to return Autumn’s sneakily-kept school laptop, but forgot after picking up Zane, so she dropped the two of them off to work out and then came over. There, I was able to get in to see a live conversation between Autumn and one of the boys she’s been talking to. That got her heated, and she was ready to throw down. I sent her to the gym so I could snoop some more, and eventually I headed up to their house to await their return home.

They were super late getting home, but Summer dropped Zane off, got Autumn from the grandparents’ house, and finally made it in. She immediately confronted Autumn about the phone, which was actually Eaddie’s old iPhone with a broken screen. That turned into a standoff, with Autumn basically taunting us because I guess she didn’t think we could break her.

Summer’s never really had to be hard on the girls. Eaddie’s always been relatively good, but Autumn has been going down a really bad path for a while now, and this required hard action that she just wasn’t fully prepared to take. We got through it though, between wall squats and kneeling with her arms out. Autumn continued to backtalk for a stupidly long time, to the point that even Eaddie was able to perfectly articulate something really inspiring. I was super proud of her for coming into the conversation in a truly meaningful way.

At the end of it all, I think we found a few honest ones among the crocodile tears. Autumn actually ran a hot bubble bath for Eaddie, and then went to bed. Then she came out in tears and said she needed a hug, and fell right into my arms, crying into my shoulder. She apologized in a way that I hadn’t heard from her before, and asked again that I continue with strict structure. Summer got her hug and apologies too, but there’s no telling how long it will last. She went to bed feeling terrible, but I was proud of her for sticking up to the bully in the house.

The Captain’s Log is the log that I use to beat you if you talk back to me again.