So after getting an email from an SEB member who was cool enough to look up instructions on how to replace a washer fluid pump on my Grand Prix I went out to Auto Zone and bought a new one to slap in there for about $25. Got home, popped the hood, and started looking around for anything that matched the illustrations included with the instructions. Based on the instructions the washer reservoir should have been easily accessible and the swap of the pump wouldn’t require any tools at all. Except that the reservoir is not easily accessible without tools and, in fact, I couldn’t begin to fathom how the hell I was supposed to reach it. So I went back inside and did a couple of searches online and found two different sets of instructions one of which suggested removing part of the fender guard until you could reach it from underneath and the other suggesting you haul the battery out and reach down from that side. Nether prospect seemed like the sort of thing someone who has no mechanical aptitude at all should be undertaking especially when he doesn’t have access to a garage. Had this been summer time I might have attempted it out there in the driveway, but I opted instead to call a shop today and see if they’d be willing to slap the part in for me for the cost of labor. There’s one not far from home that said sure thing and told me to swing on by immediately after work which I will do.
Speaking of work, they’ve decided to change my location once again. Next week I’ll be working at a site in Ypsilanti Michigan and who knows where the hell I’ll be after that. The week of Christmas I’ll have off though I’ll only be getting paid for Christmas, New Years, and possibly the Eve’s of both though I have to double check on that point. I have no idea what kind of access I’ll have to a terminal in Ypsi so posting may slow down again for a bit, but I’ll try to squeeze more of it in when I get home as per usual. The two weeks here in Milford have been nice because not only have I had access to a terminal, but it’s been somewhat busy with minimal downtime so the day’s have just flown by. There were a couple of days where we didn’t do much as all deployments were on hold while they worked out some nasty bug with one of the builds that was eating user’s data (always a bummer), but otherwise it’s been steady enough that I go home at night feeling like I’ve at least accomplished a thing or two during the day.
The past few mornings I’ve been waking up and feeling like I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. As a kid I always thought that by the time you reached middle age you’d have figured out what you’re supposed to be doing as though someone handed you a Life Instruction Manual at some point in your late 20’s and pointed you in the right direction, but every day I’m faced with new problems that I haven’t a friggin’ clue how to solve. I’m not talking about my job either, but relationships and career choices and father/husband stuff. For example: Anne and I had a bit of a blow up last night because I managed to hurt her feelings without realizing it. It involved a mistake Courtney made, one that she’s made more than once in the past, that had irritated Anne and I managed to open my mouth and put my foot fully in up to the ankle with a passing comment about it. Anne tried to let it slide, but she eventually came downstairs to confront me about it and I felt totally blindsided by it because I had completely failed to recognize the taste of my own shoe leather at the time I made the comment. This, of course, made me defensive and that, of course, led to a bigger argument which drudged up a lot of stuff we’ve argued about before not the least of which is the fact that I can be an amazingly clueless and insensitive jerk at times. This is a fact I do not deny, but it’s not for lack of trying to improve.
I’ve always been a little obtuse when it came to being able to pick up on subtle emotional cues from other people. It’s a fact I’ve lived with my entire life and probably explains why I went through so many relationships before I found someone who could put up with me enough to actually marry me. By the time I started dating Anne I had completely given up on ever finding anyone to settle down with because I was apparently either too stupid or just plain incapable of holding a relationship together and I was resigned to the idea that I’d be a bachelor for life. Some of it is just the nature of being ADHD, but I’ve managed to improve a bit at a time over the years by learning to think twice before I say things around most people especially if they’re not overly familiar with me. I’m much less blunt with the average person than I once was so I’ve developed a little tact and it has served me pretty well in my career, but around family members I tend to relax and let my guard down which inevitably means I’ll end up pissing someone off sooner or later. It’s not intentional nor is the fact that I often fail to pick up on the fact that I’ve just stepped on someone’s toes, but it appears to the folks I’ve harmed that I just don’t care enough to watch where I’m stomping my feet. It’s a problem I keep working on but am far from having overcome and it’s incredibly frustrating. Inevitably people accuse me of not caring and I can’t get across that that’s not the issue. I do care and I’m not happy that I’m hurting feelings unintentionally, but it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix.
One of the ongoing sources of tension in my life is my lack of a college degree. This is another area where I often feel overwhelmed because of a number of issues. First off I recognize that it was a mistake to have dropped out of college after only a year and a half back in my 20’s and I recognize that I really need to go back and get at least a bachelors degree in… something. By the same token I also recognize that I should really lose some weight, but I’m not exactly busting my ass to do that, or go back to school. I know what my problem is. Namely I try to avoid things I find unpleasant and I find both attending school and exercising to be unpleasant. I don’t recall what kind of a student I was prior to high school, but my memories of high school are that I struggled with it. Courses I had an interest in, computers for example, I tended to do very well in and I had a hard time with everything else. The weird part is that it’s not an issue of being incapable of doing some of the work, but the fact that even when I do it right I often don’t understand how I managed to accomplish it. Math was a killer for me and the only math class in high school I got an A in was Geometry and I can’t even begin to tell you how the hell I managed to do that other than I’d been programming for awhile at that point and it made a weird sort of sense to me despite the fact that I had to take Algebra twice to get a passing grade. History was another subject I did horribly in which is bizarre because I enjoy reading and watching historical documentaries all the time as an adult.
I think a lot of it has to do with the regimented structure of school leaving me overwhelmed. I’m expected to learn X things by Y date and demonstrate said knowledge on a test at Z time whereas when I’m learning on my own I can take a week or several months to digest the material and absorb it. This isn’t a criticism of how school works so much as an admission that I suck at it. So that’s one thing I worry about. When you add in the fact that I have to figure out what school to attend, what degree I want to pursue, and the fact that I need to do well because it’s costing me money this time around then, well, in all complete honesty, I’d rather not think about it and I end up doing nothing. Maybe it’s laziness—I’ve had plenty of people tell me that’s what my problem is over the years—but I’m not inclined to think so because when I have tasks that I enjoy or have a deep interest in I can work at them all day long. I told Anne last night that going back to school is like a dark storm cloud on the horizon that I’m headed towards. I know I’m going to have to deal with it sooner or later, but I keep trying not to think about it because I don’t know what to do about it. When I get to it I’ll plow through it as best I can because that’s all I really know how to do. Even when I try to plan things I usually end up having to scrap them and just plow through it once push comes to shove. My thoughts are only on doing everything I can to get to the other side of the storm and put it behind me before I get zapped by lightning. I can’t get excited about it because I dread it and I have to really psyche myself up to try and tackle it.
I know why it takes me so long to tackle unpleasant tasks: because I’m trying to find a way around it. I can be a fairly clever guy and I often come up with creative solutions to problems that surprise even me. To go with the storm analogy once more, it’s like I’m biding my time trying to see if there’s a path available that would lead me around the storm rather than straight through the middle of it. I am, indeed, a path of least resistance type of person. I know a lot of folks think that’s a kind of personal failing and I admit it has its drawbacks, but there are also advantages to this approach. Which is not to offer excuses for it, it’s just the way I am and it works for me. For the most part anyway. There are times, however, when I have to roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and come to grips with the fact that there’s no way around the problem and that I’ll have to plow right through it. The anxiety that realization brings is only amplified when I feel like I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing. Going back to college is one of those sorts of problems.
So, yeah, too often I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or, for that matter, am supposed to be doing. I think this is part of why I have a hard time reconciling the fact that I’m a 40 year old guy at the moment. I feel like I should have my shit together a lot better than I do at this point in my life. Like I shouldn’t be so overwhelmed by things other people seem to manage just fine like swapping out a stupid washer pump or going back to school. I’d like to be more like normal people in that regard and I am trying, but so far to little effect. Overall I’m fine with who I am, but I’m trying to improve the rough edges where I can. I don’t know if I’m doing a very good job of it, but I’ll keep trying just the same. I feel like a bit of a fuck up at times, but at least that means I’ve got room to improve.