Sugar Soup

My sister and I used to be picky eaters. I like to think about what we would say now if we saw former versions of ourselves sitting at the dinner table for seemingly endless hours finically picking at and complaining about the food we had to eat.

We would be scolded for being so ungrateful. My mother always took matters of food and nourishment very seriously, a passion both my sister and I have come to share with her.

On one occasion, mom had made a soup. My sister and I sat at the table on a hunger strike, pleading for better food.

“I hate this food!” Sister and I would cry.

Though offended on several levels, mother was patient and explained, “You can not say you hate the food. Food is a blessing from God’.” She would leave us to sit and finish. The only way to escape was to literally eat our way out of the kitchen table prison.

“This is the devil’s blessing…” My sister said softly once mom was out of earshot. I snickered. We really were brats. These brats decided to take the soup into their own hands. What can we put in this to make it edible? After about 2 seconds of intense brainstorming, we came up with a brilliant solution. What makes everything taste good? SUGAR.

Stealthily moving from the kitchen table to the pantry, my sister reached into the giant bin of sugar kept on the floor. In the bin was a cup used for scooping out sugar. We looked at each other and signaled with our eyes the common thought: Perfect. With a healthy several lumps of sugar added to our bowls, we decided to spare other poor souls by dumping some sugar into the main pot, still being heated on the stove. Grinning silently, we proudly picked up our spoons and eagerly sampled the new and improved soup.

 

 

The soup was now actually nasty. Sister and I made faces across the table as we suddenly became aware of what a horrible deed we committed. We called it Sugar Soup, and we decided to dispose of our portions and never tell….. Maybe we put them back into the main pot… I don’t remember. 

I wish the story ends here, with us ruining my mother’s soup and our dinner, as mom and dad had eaten already. However, a guest came to the house a short while later. This was a red haired man who worked as a soccer coach with my father. I don’t remember his nationality, perhaps he was Irish. I remember he had an accent. Mom insisted he eat.

Sister and I sat at a distance, hiding in the hallway behind the dining room table. “Oh no!” we whispered to each other in terror, “He’s going to eat the sugar soup!!!” We felt awful for three reasons. First, PossiblyIrishMan made a face as soon as he put the soup to his lips. We saw him. We caused this man serious discomfort. He tried to be polite, but the soup was really, really bad. Secondly, my mother is a great cook. We did her a disservice, compromising her reputation. Lastly, we were so embarrassed and ashamed, we never told. We were not that embarrassed at the time. I remember giggling uncontrollably throughout the entire operation. I’m dying now reliving the night of sugar soup.

 

I’m sorry mom for ruining your soup. I’m also sorry for possibly contaminating it by pouring back my portion after eating from it. I realize how disgusting that is. I’m sorry sister, for telling this secret. I’m sure you had forgotten anyway.

 

Keep On Keepin On

At it’s pinnacle, life as a wireline engineer for Whataberger is grueling. On a less than average day, the small details of the job and heavy responsibilities can wipe you out, much like a fly being swatted totally unaware. Keeping up the pace is exhausting. Keeping up your energy is even harder. I have a few simple tricks.

 

I’ve been making jobs in the desert. The town is owned by Qatar Petroleum. There’s a market, and a few restaurants. We go to McDonalds in the morning before heading to the rig. This is the breakfast menu. Please note the options are: Sausage McMuffin, Egg McMuffin, Sausage Egg McMuffin, and pancakes. For drinks, there is coffee and orange juice.

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While I get to indulge in the pork free meats served here in Qatar, I have to miss out on iced coffee. I ask the man to fill a cup with ice, and pour the coffee over it. He does his best, but I usually get a soggy soda cup full of tepid coffee, sans ice.

Instead of being groggy and pissed off at the lack of a chicken McGriddle, fruit and oatmeal, or iced coffee, I pretend I am at McDonalds 25 years ago. McDonalds is the newest diner opening up in this desert oilfiled town. It was opened by a man name “Makhmoud McDonald”. No one has heard of it. Not only that, no one has heard of iced coffee. I take a picture with Ronald McDonald and think I can’t wait to tell me friends about this new place I just discovered. It’s going to revolutionize fast food. Just WAIT until the American’s hear about this!!

 

I enjoy the moments I have to myself. Today, my three operators and I rode back to Doha in the little pickup truck. The drive is roughly 1.5 hours on bumpy roads. I stare out the window at the desert while the buzz of the Filipino’s speaking to each other in their language provides a backdrop to my thoughts. It’s desolate. It’s lonely outside. Little life scatters the arid scorching sand. Everything here is covered in dirt. The dust in the air actually causes you to have more boogers. I did extensive research on this, as I felt I have more boogers than usual. I wonder how this country looked before they discovered oil and all the foreigners flocked to find work in the growing economy. I wonder if there are any critters hiding in plain sight in the desert. I wonder if I really just wondered that and if I am becoming my mother. I eat a whole bag of carrots and stare out the window. I even eat this one that looks like Gonzo the Muppet Baby…

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The truck bounces over the road and I think about going to my grandparents house. We used to beg my mom to take a short cut by using the “bumpy road”. We used to chant, BUMP-EE ROAD! BUMP-EE ROAD!! I close my eyes and pretend I’m in east Texas. The vast desert disappears as I paint tall pine trees and red dirt on my eyelids. Every place is what you make of it. Small moments driving to and from the field keep me going.

How Far Into Memphis, Son?

I’m finally back in Houma, after two months of vacation, training, and personal time. Today, I received my official transfer letter to Doha, Qatar. I sat in Dennis the Menace’s office, holding the stack of papers and staring blankly at the wall. I’ve had over a month to process this, but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.

“Are you nervous?” Dennis asks me. I nod my head. I am beyond nervous. I think back on just the last two months and how completely splendid they have been. The night before I came back to Houma sums it all up:

I had the chance to meet one of my heroes. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin (LOOK THEM UP!!) were playing a show in Lafayette, LA. My dad used to make me copies of his Mary Chapin cassette tapes, to eliminate risk of me destroying his. I memorized all her songs, and as I get older I am finding new meaning in them all the time. This was an important show to attend. I decided not only that I had to go, but I had to take my dad. Not only did I have to take my dad, we had to get VIP tickets and meet them backstage. I let the compulsion consume me. Work be damned; I have dreams to fulfil!

A Celebration of Friendship and Music

A Celebration of Friendship and Music

I tactfully played hookey from work for three days, prolonging my training in Oklahoma so that I could drive back to Louisiana on Wednesday, instead of Monday. My dad and I drove south all day Wednesday, sharing funny stories and new perspectives. We stopped for a crawfish pie on the way.

The meeting backstage was simply magical. A few years ago, I waited in line pissed off for 4 hours to meet the Disney princesses at Disneyland and left giggling and smiling. This experience was nothing like that. I drove 6 hours happy as a clam, did not wait in a line, and left a ball of floating energy, with not a care in the world. Shawn Colvin introduced herself and asked my name. My dad introduced himself by saying “I’m her father”, which makes me laugh. Mary Chapin Carpenter held out her hand and asked my name. I then asked “May I give you a hug?” I then found myself being embraced by her. WOW!

Dad and I then had our picture taken, watched the concert, and drove to New Orleans, where we stayed the night before he had to leave and I had to come back to work. We walked down Bourbon Street to eat some classic New Orleans dishes. Walking back to our hotel, my dad said “We should get a hot dog too.”

One of many New Orleans traditions

One of many New Orleans traditions

I split a lucky dog with my dad on Bourbon, after meeting Mary Chapin Carpenter and watching a PHENOMENAL live acoustic performance with her and Shawn Colvin. The world stopped for that moment. Dad and I stood on this filthy street, in the cool dark night, eating a hot dog. THIS is living, I think to myself.

Today I sat in Dennis’s office, gripping a stack of pages detailing my near future (which I will, in turn, detail in a post soon). I stare blankly at the wall and think about all the amazing people in my life.

MCC and Shawn sang a cover of this song. It’s been in my head.

Why I Love My Job

DISCLAIMER: I actually really do love my job, and this trip off$hore has proven to be rewarding in more than one way. (This must be noted, as my mother reads this blog and can become very concerned if the posts seem too negative.)

 

This is the first post in what will surly become a series inspired by Fergie. He constantly asks me “Did I tell you I love my job?”, or he will declare “I love my job”. It is usually a sign that he is miserable and actually hates this job. It is a feeling with which everyone can identify. I have since starting playing up this scenario and asking Fergie how much he loves his job. When texting him that we have to be at work at 04:30 am, in the morning, I include the phrase, “I’ll see you’re smiling face then.” In short, we f*$%ing love our jobs…. here’s why:

1. Today, we finished the wireline operation and proceeded to “rig down”. Rigging down entails unhooking all the tools from the wireline, putting the tools away, wrapping the cable back up, putting the sheaves away, putting all boxes and lifts back where they go, cleaning up, and taking the cable drum off the skid so that the cable can be transported back to base. This final task requires a crane. A crane requires a crane operator. We rigged down our selves and waited from 10 am to 2 pm for a crane operator.

“Did you know that I love my job?” -Fergie

2. Not only did we sit outside and wait for 4 hours after having been awake for days, but after taking the cable off the skid, I was informed that more wireline work is in the coming weeks, and the cable will be left out here. We waited and worked for no reason.

“I love my job” -Fergie

3. Three choppers left the rig today. First flight was full. Second flight was full. Third was empty. It left with only two passengers. No one told the wireline crew or thought to put them on this flight. There are three choppers tomorrow. The first two are full. We could have left today, and will be leaving tomorrow later afternoon instead.

“Most people don’t know this, but I really love my job” -Fergie

4. I can not stop eating. Walking up the stairs gets harder and harder everyday. The food is not even good, but I still eat it. I can feel the gluton claiming the best years of my life.

“Man, I love my job”- Fergie

5. After being here for a week, someone finally tells me that I am not allowed to wear boots with covers over them in the meal room….. why aren’t these things addressed earlier….and….. if your dispatcher would pay attention to the flight schedule, I wouldn’t be on this stupid rig eating your stupid food wearing my stupid boot covers.

“It is times like these, I really love my job.” -Fergie