For some reason I’m feeling the need to express myself over my current situation.  It doesn’t really matter if anyone reads it; it’s cheaper and more time effective than therapy I suppose.  

For the past 5 weeks or so, I’ve been working night shift at my IT day job.  There was a need, specifically we couldn’t find anyone decent to work it and as I am on call 24-7, I was getting all of the calls the absent night shift person would have gotten, so in my infinite wisdom I said that I would take on the night shift until we were able to hire and train new nuggets for the shift.  That was 5 weeks ago, but it feels like a lifetime.

I arrive at work around midnight.  I perform some housekeeping tasks: check any alerts that might have popped up since the last person left, make sure the generator isn’t alarming, etc.  Then I sit down at my station and wait…for something…anything…to happen.  Occasionally there is some worthwhile, interesting, important work.  A network outage, a server crashing, a needy user who decided to forget their password at 3:30 am.  Sometimes I get a special project, like prepping a bunch of PCs or building a server.  For the most part however, I sit here and wait.

As a writer, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for some massive amounts of freelance work/time to work on the book I’m halfway through writing.  I essentially have between 6 and 8 hours of a 12 hour work day to myself, with very little to do.  Unfortunately, fatigue has reared it’s ugly head, and I can’t seem to shake it.  

I’ve worked night shift before, but of course, the situation was a completely different one.  I spent almost 3 years working overnights for NPR.  The big difference is about 10 years, 3 kids and 2 careers.  It also helped that there were generally things to do at NPR overnight, people to talk to etc.  Now I come into an empty office and bide my time until something happens, and it’s slowly killing me.

Exhaustion has led to a either a complete lack of motivation or worse, the output of beyond substandard work.  In the time I’ve worked nights, I’ve completed two articles: one which has yet to be published, and another so lacking in the basics that I had over a page of edits given to me by my editor…very basic edits…mistakes I haven’t made since high school.  It’s downright embarrassing, and it’s only a small part of what is going on.

My wife is without a doubt a saint.  We lead a rather odd life, with me working weekdays, her weekends.  It’s great for the kids for they are never lacking for a parent, but it’s rough on us.  Our time with each other is pretty limited, and we were exhausted to begin with.  Add to that the fact that my poor wife gets little to no assistance from me with the munchkins during the week just makes it worse.  Granted, we now have a single day of the week where we actually can be a complete family, but so much of that time is spent recovering, it’s still nowhere ideal.  

Working overnight as a single man is pretty simple.  You do your shift, come home, have a drink (or 2, or 3), go to bed, wash rinse repeat.  Adding kids to the mix is a whole new ballgame.  First, kids will be kids.  That means that sleep time will often be interrupted by them letting the puppy in my room (but Petunia WANTED to sleep with you), needing help with something technological (Daddy, Netflix won’t work!), needing help getting past a certain spot in a video game (but this part is so hard and you promised you would help me!), needing help with personal hygiene (Daddy, come wipe my butt!!!!), etc.  I can’t fault them for this, they’re children, and I’ve often had to bite my tongue before lashing out at them (sometimes not fast enough), because they are just being kids.  They don’t disturb me out of spite or malice, but out of love.  It’s great to feel wanted, just not always at my equivalent of 3am.  

But then you have what happened tonight…I remember my exhausted wife climbing in bed around 9:30pm, only to get up a short while later.  Two hours later when my alarm goes off, I come downstairs to find her making me dinner at almost midnight.  It’s these little things that both keep me going and make me miss home at night so much more.  

I have to figure out how I am going to keep up my writing career during this period.  I have about 8 weeks left or so of the night shift, and while I’ve mentioned to my editor that I need to take a break, it’s the last thing I want to do, especially going out on such a poor note.  All I know is, I haven’t been productive.  Aside from the two articles and about 3000 words in my book, I’ve done nothing.  It’s so much easier to sit here at night and rewatch Battlestar Galactica again or try to get past whatever immeasurably high level of Candy Crush I am on (at last check I was in the 500’s).  I wish I had the motivation and the energy to press on, but the night shift is like the weight of an elephant sitting on my shoulders, and it doesn’t particularly feel good.  I suppose that’s why I’ve picked up the blog again; there’s no pressure.  The odds of anyone reading it are slim, and I can just ignore criticism.  

I’m going to see if I can write here occasionally in the meantime.  I was told I needed to put something down on “paper” every day, no matter if it was useful, so if I can produce anything it can’t hurt.