Slow Learners

I didn’t sleep great last night, in spite of how exhausted I was from the trials of the day. I woke up a little after eight and laid around in bed until Eaddie called to see if I would pick her up later in the day to take her out on the Grom. I took my time getting around, and eventually got a shower before stopping by McDonald’s to burn up some rewards points before they expired. Somehow, I think the Spicy McChicken ends up being the best value per point.

Summer had to work a bit today, and took Autumn with her. Eaddie was watching TV when I got to the house, so I ate my sandwich with some leftover fries from Popeye’s. Then we went back to my house to get the Grom. We rode to the high school, and even after it was her idea to ride, I still had to endure lots of griping from Eaddie for being out in the “heat” with an aching butt and hands. I pressed her on, though, and we made it to second gear along with a ride around the building out of my line of sight. As kids started showing up for the play at the arts center, Eaddie and I decided to pack it up and head home. She wanted to ride her bicycle to her father’s restaurant, so I just hung out at home until she got back.

Mom and Dad were grilling pork chops and shrimp, but Eaddie was tired and full from eating with her father, and wanted to nap after she got back to my house. I went outside to pick some mint, then ran to the Neighborhood Market for some lettuce before meeting Summer and Autumn at my parents’ house for dinner. Autumn seemed on good behavior, though she surprised us by giving Dad some selective information about our visit from DHS yesterday. After the girls left, I expanded upon what really happened.

Evidently Autumn talked Summer into letting her go to church with my dad in the morning. I thought she said she was going with her own father, so I didn’t think anything of it. Upon further reflection and learning more details myself, we decided not to let her go, and had a talk about consequences when I got to their house. She spent all evening in her room, watching shows and talking on Facebook Messenger on her school laptop. Summer still hasn’t learned how important thoroughness is when following through with punishments, but I let her sleep through her headache. We’ll talk about it in the morning.

Everything means everything.


I hardly slept at all last night from the dread of impending doom looming over me. I made it in to work, but drove rather than rode so that I would have better options in case something came up. We had a relatively short meeting, and then went to the graveyard to hunt for old devices that would have to be returned at the end of their lease this summer. On the subject of an entirely different Summer: she was having a very rough morning as well, so I invited her to come spend the morning with me. She spent some time in the graveyard with us as we continued enrolling devices. Then we went down and she spent some time in my office on her own.

She left around the time we were thinking about lunch. I suggested Sam’s, and commented that it was a little messed up that Zach overrode me for Morellos for my “last meal” before going to the bad jail. I did enjoy my fajitas, but I ate too much, especially for how I was feeling all day.

The afternoon went by quickly as well, as my 3:30 meeting with someone from child services at Summer’s house drew near. Summer texted to let me know she was running behind due to an actual case, but she did eventually show up. I talked to Melinda on the drive over, and then we dove right in.

Autumn had dropped Eaddie off at home, and she was in the living room talking to the case worker for a bit with Summer. Shortly after I arrived, Eaddie went to her room and Licia continued to talk to us about the multiple accusations that had been made. Summer and I were of course furious, but fortunately Licia could tell from her interview with Autumn that this was utter nonsense.

Eventually Autumn was summoned home, but before our visitor left. We confirmed that we could continue with punishment without fear of backlash or repercussions from Autumn. She stuck around as we talked to Autumn to try and produce any evidence of neglect or abuse, and ultimately revoked her technology, automobile, and employment permissions. We were also advised that it would be fine to remove the door from her room as long as she had privacy by way of the bathroom for changing clothes and the like. I haven’t spent as many evenings over there lately anyway, so none of this was of any real concern. Autumn did get slightly aggressive as Summer collected her things, but quickly broke down as she felt her life being ripped away from her. We explained that accusing others of crimes, especially felonies, had real life consequences for everyone involved. Nobody believed anything about any of her stories, though we would still have to meet again with someone from the state police regarding a criminal investigation as a formality.

After the investigator gave us plenty of advice and applauded our swift movement to get Autumn some help with her mental health, she left us and pleaded for Autumn not to wreck anything in the house. It wasn’t a real concern of mine, but I was glad she solidified the fact that Autumn had undeniably lost. Summer removed her door from its hinges, and Autumn either opened up honestly or continued to play us by the way that she broke down. From now on, we are both fully aware of our need to tread cautiously. There’s no going back for her though. If she’s not compliant, we’ll get the state involved for help with holding her accountable.

Eaddie came out of her room groaning of hunger pains, so I took her to Popeye’s for dinner. We just got a box of tenders and came back to the house to eat. Autumn had brought some chicken strips from Denny’s when she came home, so I assume they tasted about as good as her failure to ruin my life. Things calmed down quite a bit for the rest of the evening though. She changed her tune about me a bit, and then watched TV with Summer until I got ready to leave. Summer went to bed and I headed home for the night.

Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe, but this … does put a smile on my face.

Parenting 301: Intermediate-Advanced Teenage Childhood Development

I rode the Shadow to work this morning since it was still nice out, and I figured it would be good for a ride out to Center Valley. I ended up being commandeered in the afternoon and never made it out that far, though. The morning was actually pretty quiet in the shop because the big three were out walking the new maintenance building on North South Oswego. I don’t know why so many people keep getting that address wrong, but at this point it’s just pure comedy.

I spent the morning doing some laptop repairs for Center Valley, which I’m pretty sure were more repairs than I’ve done all year for Oakland. A group of us went to Arby’s for lunch, and I rode with Thomas and the rest of the gang because I had somehow gotten a curved piece of metal in my back tire. When we got back to the shop after lunch, I managed to pull it out and confirm that it was less deep than the remaining tread on the tire, so all was well.

Zach had a big group of us out in the graveyard enrolling Chromebooks for the rest of the day. I, of course, was an efficiency monster and dominated with four complete carts by the end of the day. Summer left Conway and wanted me to call her, but didn’t answer her phone. Then Eaddie needed a ride home from her father’s restaurant.

I ran home to get a helmet for Eaddie, but as soon as I got there, Summer rang in with some disturbing news. Eaddie and I got on the bike and met her back at my house for a chat. We ended up calling Kevin for a bit of advice, and then we wound up at Chili’s for dinner.

I didn’t even order anything for myself, and instead split a full rack of ribs with Summer. Somehow I still ended up eating the most, long after they had finished. I went home stuffed, and ended up on a Discord call with Mitch for quite a while. He offered what advice and comfort he could, and we shared some laughs about the past. Things have changed a lot since January 9th, 2002, but we’re keeping it real.


Dear Summer,

I envy that in all of your own troubles and pain and suffering, you managed to hold on to what I had lost so long ago in my own years-long wars. You seemed to earnestly believe that you could fall in love with prince charming and have everything fall into place so perfectly, and you fawned over me more than any person ever should. In that fantasy, you sometimes had trouble making things work in a practical sense, but your struggles appeared to be my strengths. For years upon years when all I wanted to do was die, focusing on practicality and making the day-to-day work was what kept me alive. Ultimately I felt like your emotional strength and devotion met with my practicality and wit, allowing us to grow stronger together, into a proper, functional family. What you felt was weakness in our differences, I perceived as strength in the breadth of our combined skillset.

It’s no secret that cynicism and sarcasm are my strongest and most prevalent defense mechanisms. I’m not so bad, after all, if everything else is awful too. I seldom speak those things as true and honest feelings, though I understand how someone could take them to heart. I doth joke too hard and too negatively, but it keeps me sane, I think. There are three truths to every situation: your truth, my truth, and the actual truth. Neither of us can ever truly know the truth apart from our own without some trust in the other, so I’m afraid I’ll never really understand the causality. Did my cynicism truly drive you away from me? Or were we never meant to last, and my darkened heart proved itself yet again in protecting me from further harm? After years of struggling with a very real addiction to Sarah and her emotional manipulation, I was left broken in so many ways. Not all of those wounds healed completely, and even if they did heal, you might not recognize them for all the calluses. I knew that I would never survive another trip through that level of darkness, and so in order to protect myself and my own family from what I understood as my own ultimate demise, I found strength where I could. I survived tonight because of how jaded my relationship with Sarah made me. And just like that, somehow I’ve credited that wretch for saving my life.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, unless you’re just left paralyzed, in which case everything pretty much just sucks. I would rather the end of our relationship be an inevitability, and credit my dark humor for saving me, than accept the thought that I drove you away with my own misgivings. I couldn’t let you into my heart quickly enough because I was terrified of exactly what happened tonight. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I wholly trusted a “completely innocent” interaction and later learned it to be the complete opposite. It’s literally my greatest fear in a relationship, and you knew this. Finding you having dinner at Umami with that guy brought me right back to ground zero, and I have to say I handled it like a goddamn champ. I didn’t want to revert back to that suspicious, jealous me that I had given up eight years ago, but there we were. Even if it was completely innocent to you, and you just needed a friend, it should absolutely NEVER have been some random guy you know through work that I’ve never even heard of. If it had been a male friend like Alex that you had known for years, I would have 1,000% understood. As it was, I knew that you had already made up your mind that I was old news, and it was obvious because that motherfucker ghosted you AS SOON AS HE SAW MY FACE. Even if you play naive again, he knew exactly what he was getting into, and for that, shame on him.

I never thought I’d be saying, “goodbye,” forever, but I think that is because I am an idiot. They told me actions speak louder than words, so I physically put myself into your home to make it our home, and my own house became a very strange place for me. Regardless of what idiocies came from my mouth, I continually tried to put myself where it really counted. It was hard and overwhelming a lot of the time, but I kept coming back because I thought it was worth the steep learning curve. Ultimately I guess you had bigger fish to fry. At least I was honest from the beginning when I asked if you were looking for Mr. Third-Time’s-a-Charm. I don’t need superficial symbols because I show my devotion with actual honesty, presence, and inclusion in family, and I expect my partner to respect me and mine well enough to verbally decline unwanted advances. It’s a pity you didn’t really want to be a part of mine, because they’re a pretty great family most of the time.

You can’t expect your boiled-over, emotional diatribes to function as productive adult conversations. I was very honest in that I knew I had a lot of growing to do. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle for me, and I thought that I had adequately expressed that to you as well. I suppose I could have done more to initiate the conversations, but who has the time when you’re busy parenting teenagers. Blame whatever you want, but at the end of the day you have to learn how to express what you’re feeling in some kind of meaningful way. You can’t outwardly express that everything is perfect and expect your partner to accept that with eager arms, then get upset over all of the combined little things. You literally went from “I would marry you tomorrow” to “dinner with schmuck” in a week’s time, and so for that reason, I’m out.

I just want someone to scratch my head for a while and tell me I’m not so irrevocably broken that I can’t maintain a real, adult relationship ever again.

Busy Start to a Busy Weekend

Amanda and I coordinated our Weird Al shirts for today’s meeting. Allen and I were going to team up for the day, but before we could do that we had a conference room meeting about job expectations. It was a little foreboding, but I was hopeful.

Allen and I first went to the high school with the trailer to pick up the cart that had mysteriously appeared in my office the day before. We took it back to the shop, then took a touch panel to Crawford to be installed in the afternoon. Since we were on that side of town, I offered to ride up to Center Valley with him to check out their sign. I pulled the truck right up to it, which worked perfectly for climbing up to the raised panels. We couldn’t get any video out, so we pulled the computer and headed back to the shop for lunch.

I had been thinking of Fat Daddy’s, and I guess that psychically rubbed off onto everyone else, because a huge group of six of us went to the one downtown. I got the nachos since they were presented so much better than the one in London. Then it was back to the shop to get ready for Allen’s touch panel install.

When we finished with that, we ran by the high school so I could check on Ethan and his robotics tournament setup. We got him squared away, then stopped in to see Al, who had accidentally hidden all of his desktop icons. Jason called us all back to the shop at the end of the day, which was predictably bad. It’s upsetting to see that happen to a friend, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to do the things if you’re going to have a job. I really love Ben as a boss, but I hate how easy it is for people to take advantage of his want to see the best in everyone.

With that done, they let us out a bit early and I headed home to bring in the day’s shipments. It wasn’t too long before I had to head to Walmart for some drinks for dinner with Ronda and Steven. Inside wasn’t too bad, but traffic outside was an absolute zoo. I was running behind and still had to swing by to pick up the girls. We ran on up the mountain and had a great time and an incredible feast of M-E-A-T! Steven grilled marinated pork chops and ribeyes to go with some asparagus and tomatoes, twice-baked potatoes, and more. Every time I turned around, he was making something else for us. He really pulled out all the stops for us, and I hate that I don’t think I could ever top that, but I think he and I just really enjoy hosting like that.

We all ate so much, and the girls had fun with Maleea, but we had to get everyone home for all region band in the morning. I had to give up programming their DirecTV remote, and we got everyone to bed with a medium amount of fighting. Looks like we’re going to be running all weekend.

What an extravaganza.

They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be.

I had to go to the shop this morning to pick up some stuff to reroute lines for Ethan this afternoon. It was a relatively quick stop, and then I dove right back into work orders. I really feel like I crushed it for being the start of the year, but then another part of me knows that the laptop returns are about to start rolling in. I’m both surprised and not surprised by the amount of specialty software I’ve had to install. It’s been almost exclusively the math department, which is convenient because that’s where my office is located. I did get stuck on a couple of more difficult tasks, but all in all I was pretty pleased with myself. It’s been nice not feeling so stressed about things, and getting to spend a little more time building rapport with my new staff. I’m still getting emails and personal requests from my old staff too though, which I don’t mind because I do miss them.

I worked right through lunch today, finishing off a bottle of Soylent along with a really gross chocolate sea salt RXBAR. I cannot express enough how not good it was. The whole thing just wanted to gum up my mouth and stick to my teeth everywhere. It was like chewing tar, except it tasted bad too. I didn’t read the label until after I ate it, and I never would have pegged it for chocolate. If anything, it reminded me of the homemade dehydrated bananas that Mom and Bâc Ván used to make. They weren’t chips like you get in the store. They were whole, but peeled bananas, dehydrated to look like shriveled up fingers. The outsides got dark, but not as dark and brown as the insides. I actually kind of liked the bananas though.

Ethan was a bit late, so I finished up some other stuff while I waited. I wasn’t about to do anything without him after he destroyed his own lab infrastructure. Even getting lucky and only needing to rearrange the lines that were already in his room, we burned about five hours getting it all set up again. I got to mess around with the switch configuration again too, which is making me feel a bit more comfortable with that aspect of the job. I actually had a pretty good time chatting with him too, which was nice. I stayed pretty late finishing everything up, but he was there too. It’s nice to see someone else with a similar dedication.

When I finally left, I stopped by the house to change really quick, and then ran straight up to Summer’s to start cooking some chicken for tacos. I feel like the tacos are relatively easy and healthy, but I still have a quantity issue. It’s like I just eat them too fast and don’t realize I should’ve stopped 12 tacos ago.

Hey Google, play my back to school playlist.

Like a Damn Circus

Jason had me drive him to the field house this morning so he could show me where we were putting equipment back into the building. He hadn’t mentioned the part where he was going to have to go back to the shop immediately after while I went back to the field house to run the lines for this equipment. We ended up with three personal vehicles on site, and then I think we had at least two more show up not very long into our exploratory mission.

We ended up having to pull a fiber line back to its entry point into the building, and then re-run it to the new switch location. Having a bunch of hands on deck helped the line runs go faster, but did leave the end product a bit less organized, which required some extra finishing work to make things really nice. We all went to Brangus for lunch, but luckily we finished running all the cable before we left. When we got back, all we had to do was terminate and mount wall plates.

By the time we got back to the shop, everyone was so exhausted that we mostly just sat around the shop for the last hour and a half. I would have liked to resolve a printer issue at Oakland with Ben, but it just didn’t work out. Hopefully I can try tomorrow.

I went by my parents’ house to chat with Dad about air conditioners after work until I had to leave to get Eaddie from karate. I could tell immediately that it was going to be a challenging evening with very little compliance from her. We ran by my house so I could change, and then stopped by Sonic for 99 cent cheese sticks on the way to their house. I fried up some chicken strips, but Summer never got around to making salads. Everyone just kind of picked at what food was already made while she struggled to get the kids to complete chores before their trip to Texas.

I know I was a whiny kid, but I just can’t remember being this completely insubordinate. The stern talkings, screaming, and eventual spankings seem to only last for so long.

It’s feeling real Lord of the Flies over here.

No Spring in This Step

I woke myself up this morning with a cough, and decided to just stay up so I wouldn’t have trouble sleeping tonight. I didn’t feel it until much later, but only having a couple hours of sleep really sapped me.

Autumn beat us all up and was watching Criminal Minds when I got out of bed. Summer got up and around just a little bit later, and then she had to drag Eaddie out of bed in order to get them all home. I had a bit of a stomach ache that kept me from being too active, but I did get my bills paid, and I arranged a meeting for Clint to taxi some fish from Fayetteville for me.

Summer came and got me after she finished at the gym, and we went to Walmart to get dinner. We ran into Bác Vân and Doug there and only stopped for a moment in the busy aisle before we were off. I tried finding some more wet food for Grey, but she’s so picky that I even got a bag of treats to see if she would eat those.

Back at Summer’s, she fried up some veggies that Tammy brought me to go along with some grilled cheese brats and corn. The girls had a bit of trouble getting along, but also suffered from their own negativity or inability to focus. It’s tough to discipline them at this age because they’ve already grown into habits and personalities. Conversations work sometimes, but I feel like I really missed out on the belt phase of the child rearing.

I tried having some fun with New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which is frankly just a stupid and ridiculous name for anything. I don’t think anyone was prepared for the amount of cooperation that was needed, and the fact that the whole screen froze when someone took damage made it that much more difficult to control things. Eaddie was eventually sent to bed for having an attitude, and after finishing the second level, Autumn left Summer and me to watch a couple episodes of Parks and Recreation.

I started falling asleep in Summer’s lap, and headed home to try and feed Grey one more time. She ate the treats, but not much of the gravy. She doesn’t act sick, but she’s just a fuzzy skeleton at this point. It won’t be much longer.


Coach Cow

It was storming pretty hard this morning, but we got just enough of a break and cared just little enough that we still managed to truck a touch panel to Oakland first thing in the morning. Together, Zach, Gary, and I got the panel hung with only a little unnecessary help from John. It would have helped if we had started with the correct size drill bit, but the important thing is that we got it done.

Afterward, we got the rumor mill going pretty hard, and there were a lot of things left up in the air. Jason’s still going to be out for a while, and apparently they’re letting him use sick bank days for what any reasonable person would feel are seriously inappropriate reasons. I was going to get 50 cent corn dogs with Summer and Ronda, but Ronda backed out, and then Zach wanted to continue our conversation over lunch. The three of us went to Zona K-tracha for lunch, and all ended up getting the same mixed lunch fajitas. The waitress seemed to be new at literally everything she did for us, down to asking if we wanted ice in our waters. The food was good, but inconsistent with our previous experiences. Overall good, but not worth the difference over a closer restaurant to the shop. Previously it had been pretty amazing.

I took care of work orders after lunch, and spent some time setting up an account with PlayVS. Matt and Ben officially gave me the go-ahead to be the coach for the district’s first Esports league team. PlayVS tripled the number of games to three: League of LegendsRocket League, and Smite. None of us had any real idea how we would start the whole process, so I started by firing off an email to Gabriel, who I had helped pitch Esports to Matt in the first place. My main concern right now is how we will pay to enter the league, and whether we even should for this season with so little time to prepare.

As the day ended, Summer and I were going to meet at my place over some corn dogs while the girls were in karate. Kevin was still in his office working super late, so I thought I’d swing by and bring him a couple, but he had disappeared by the time I got there. I headed home and ate with Summer, then finally ran by the junior high basketball game to feed him there. He was super duper appreciative of that, and we chatted for a while before I headed out. I talked to Ronda and Jennifer at the concession stand for a little bit and ran into Charlie there because his daughter wanted to watch the game. I guess it’s something social to do. I didn’t used to see the appeal, but at least it looked better than an outdoor sport.

When I got back home, I spent some time in the living room with Grey. I think her tumors are getting worse pretty quickly, but she’s not acting totally worthless, so it’s going to be hard deciding when to end it. We’ll just have to take it day by day. Johnny and Aaron got online after a little while and I chatted with Johnny until bedtime.

Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.

The Crimes of Grindelteen

Autumn woke us up a little early this morning saying she needed to go home to shower and change. Summer wasn’t too happy about it after how she had already been acting last night, so she packed the girls up and headed home. I showered and headed to pick them up to go to the movies. We dropped Autumn off with her grandparents first as punishment, then went to Wendy’s for lunch.

We got to the theater plenty early, but it was unnecessary. The three of us nearly doubled the number of people in the auditorium. I was aggravated at how dim the picture was, and dark scenes were nearly indiscernible. I’m convinced that crappy theaters are responsible for killing 3D. The movie itself was alright, but seemed unnecessarily confusing at times. Whimsical flashes of fantastic magical creatures were interrupted by boring and convoluted conversations about the plot that was happening in the background. It all seemed mostly uninteresting in the end.

After the movie, we went to the Neighborhood Market to pick up a few things for Thanksgiving, then dropped them off at Summer’s. While we were there, we unpacked the things we got at Kmart the day before. Mom made chow mein, so after we finished putting everything together and away, we went to my parents’ house for dinner. I called Julie to try and plan Thanksgiving, and I think we’re relatively prepared.

When we finished there, we came back to my house to finish season one of Stranger Things before bed.

Should things at some point go terribly wrong, it’s good to have a place to go, you know, for a cup of tea.