Idle Minds Are the Devil’s Playthings

First of all, bear with me. My hard drive crashed yesterday, so I downloaded the WordPress mobile software and am writing this with my thumbs. How’s that for dedication? Forgive me if it’s ripe with typos.

As soon as my plane landed in Frankfurt better than two long weeks ago, I decided that I needed to make a conscious, balls-out effort to not be a miserable piece of shit this trip. Those of you that follow my misadventures know that my last trip out here took a serious toll on me. I lost 10 pounds (which I didn’t have to lose), a fair amount of hair, and a good deal of my sanity. I was miserable. Life’s too short to be that guy.

But, once I fall into the cycle of negativity out here it’s quite difficult to claw my way out. There aren’t many external stimuli to take my mind off the bad shit. In fact to the contrary, there’s plenty of stressors involved in trying to manage a million dollar construction project in a foreign country. For instance, trying to explain to a Polish electrician 30 years my senior that our equipment needs two separate and isolated 220v AC power circuits, and they only ran me one, when dude doesn’t speak a lick of English and my German is limited to ‘eins bier bitte.’ That shit’ll make your hair fall out and fast.

So it has to be an internal effort. I have to keep myself busy, work hard at eating three legitimate meals a day (harder than it sounds with my work schedule, not to mention the power plant cafeteria lunch options are often less than appetizing), stealing some exercise when I can (push-ups and sit-ups in the hotel room), and taking an annoyingly Bob Ross-esque attitude towards damn near everything. Everything has to be happy. I truly can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.

That said, I can feel myself starting to slip. I’ve now worked 16 out of 17 days including the travel, and I’m on another level of tired. The once-in-a-lifetime experiences of this trip seem like they were months ago. The motivations and aspirations that keep me going are hard to summon. And as I mentioned, my hard drive crashed, meaning no netflix (watching a movie, in English, while I’m going to sleep is priceless), no facebook except on the crackberry, I probably lost about 400 pictures of Brussles, Cologne and Nuremberg that’ll be about impossible to replace (luckily I backed up before this trip), and last but not least, I can’t really work on the blog.

We’re also getting into what we call the NTR work. No thinking required. Strip the brown wire, put it in the connector, close the connector. Strip the black wire, put it in the connector, close the connector. Rinse and repeat about 600 times. The benefits of the mentally strenuous aspects of this job I mentioned before are that they keep me focused on the job at hand and I’m completely spent when I get home in the evening. Sleep comes pretty easily.

During the NTR work, I spend 12 or so hours a day stuck in my own head, and then come home totally drained physically, but craving stimulation mentally. And like I said, that can be hard to come by. After a while I don’t even hear people out here. The constant bombardment of German makes it tough. I guess it’s sort of like having the TV on in the other room for like 2 weeks straight. After a while it’s just white noise; it doesn’t really even register anymore. The blog is nice, either writing or sifting through pictures gives me something constructive to do with my few hours of personal time a night while I’m tucked away at the hotel bar in the Best Western Leverkusen.

Without something to keep my mind occupied it’s pretty easy to fall into the old bad habits. With hours upon hours to think and nothing but, it’s not long before I start wondering about shit that isn’t horribly healthy to wonder about. I wonder what the weather’s like in Colorado. I wonder how so and so are doing now that they just got engaged. I wonder how my dad, and my mom, and my little dog are doing. I wonder what the girl’s up to, I wonder if she’s wondering about me…

Seems harmless enough. I don’t know if it’s just me, as I’ve never had the opportunity to be anyone else, but after a few days of this relentless introversion these thoughts have a tendency to degenerate into jealousy of people who get to see their families, their pets, and their significant others. Then it turns to spite, and not long after, the full blown I-hate-my-fucking-life-right-now bullshit.

So far this trip has been infinitely better than the last one. The work has gone somewhat smoother, I’m taking better care of myself mentally and physically, and the whole Bob Ross mantra has definitely been working. Like I said Life’s too short to be the dude I was last time I was here.

The next week or so are gonna be a challenge, but with each passing day and each terminated wire I’m a little closer to being done. Not to mention every paycheck I get with 40+ hours of OT puts my ‘quit this job’ fund a little closer to where it needs to be. Let’s accentuate the positive. So here’s to silver linings.

-B. Littleton

1 Comment

Filed under The Road, The Work

One response to “Idle Minds Are the Devil’s Playthings

  1. Marilyn

    Let the countdown begin…

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