Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm so blessed to pass the good times....

Pause whatever is playing on the playlist. Push play on this one.

I've had some kind of intense tones lately. Maybe a little bit self pitying.  I feel it's been a bit negative.  I don't keep negative people in my life, so I should shy away from the downer feel of the blog in the last couple of weeks.  Let's talk about what I'm thankful for. Maybe this will lighten things up.

I'm thankful for my family.  I was adopted at birth, as I explained before. I'm thankful that my birth mother was willing to give up me and my brother, in order to give us more.  My parents gave me a life that most people dream of.  I wasn't indulged, or spoiled.  We were taught to appreciate what we had, and work for it.  They spent lots of quality time with us, teaching us valuable life lessons, and helping us to learn right from wrong, and the importance of faith.
My dad is a bad ass.  When he was part way through high school, they gave him some sort of aptitude test.  He scored pretty low on it, and they told him that he would most likely be a low paid carpenter, or construction worker of sorts.  He didn't listen to those people. He knew that he could achieve anything he put his mind to. Today he owns a successful dental practice. He's a high ranking officer in the United States Army Reserves.  He's a pilot with a couple of small planes.  He's an avid hunter and fisherman. He has some horses, and some land that he enjoys taking care of. Every summer it seems we build a new fence, or a new project for his little 20 acre plot of land. He also still makes lots of time for his family.  It's so fun to watch him play with his granddaughter Ashtynn. If I grow up to be half the man my dad is, I'll be happy. I tried to spend as much time as I could with my dad growing up, and in recent years.  I still try to make time to learn from him as often as I can. He's in Kuwait right now with the army.
Dad quote: "Cotton pickin' [whatever]".

My mom is one of my best friends.  In recent years we've gotten much closer. We relate to each other in special ways.  She has some kind of "spider sense" that lets her know when she needs to worry about me.  I take her to the movies when I'm at home, or to dinner, and we talk about my work, and her 4th grade class, and how the family is doing.  I wish I was closer to home right now, since dad is overseas.  She's tough though, and she'll be okay. Mom quote: "Will you go check the mail?" 
She's gone through a lot in her life, and I'm proud of where she is today.  She helped put my dad through dental school, sometimes working three jobs to make ends meet.  All they had was a mattress on the floor, and an old suitcase to use as a table to eat on.  When we were a bit older, around 10, she went back to school and got her degree in education, and then a Master's degree.  She dragged us kids all over the country when we were little, and showed us some pretty awesome things.  I'm so glad she did that!  She's the best mom ever, and a great grandma too. 

I'm thankful for Anna, Ashtynn, and Zac.  A and Z were a couple of hellions when they met.  Now they're loving parents of the cutest little girl ever.  I'm thankful that they are in my life.  They are such wonderful people.  I don't get to see them nearly enough.
Thankful for my sister Emily.  She's such a sweetheart, and has a really funny sense of humor.  We've all missed her the last few years since she's been living in Texas, but she's now moving back to Utah, and we're all very thankful for that!  Zak is also a pretty cool dude.  He busts his ass working, and I'm sure is very good at what he does. He works in the oilfield (so does Anna's Zac) which puts him up a notch in my book anyway. 
I'm thankful for Reed and Rondee.  They support and encourage me in all my stupidities.  Reed pulls me through when business is killing me, and Rondee always gives me wonderful words of comfort when I really need it.  She's the first girl Reed ever brought home that I thought was worth a damn.  I'm so glad they got married, although at the time I thought they were crazy.  I have the best brother in the whole world, and I don't say it enough.  He puts up with my huge meltdowns. He's probably the only person alive that can handle that.  Kind of a big deal.  He also is as ambitious as I am, networking with important business people, innovating and creating new cool ideas.  He works as hard as I do, he just dresses better.
Reed Quote: "I got 100% on my [whatever] exam!"
Rondee Quote: "Reeeeeeeeed!"

I'm thankful for Chett Wills.  Chett has been running around with Reed and I since we were about 11 years old.  We've done so many shenanigans in the last 12 or so years, that it's fun to think back and reminisce. We've worked together for the past year, and he's busted his butt to help us be successful. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay his hard work and friendship.  He's been a great friend to me and Reed, and we see him as a brother. From Denver, to Dickenson, and Vernal to Vegas, we've done some running around, and have a few good stories. 
Chett quote: "You're the weird one!"

Jason Stroud.  One day, when I was living in Denver, the missionaries asked me to go with them to teach a lesson to an investigator named Jason.  He was pretty solid.  We became fast friends.  He got baptized, and a few months later, we moved to Vernal to start my first business doing ultrasonic pipeline inspection. He's now helping Reed cultivate some new business ideas over in Utah. I knew that they would hit it off as well. He's like the big brother I never had. He is one of the few people in my life who I listen to for advice.  He's pulled me through some pretty hard times, I'm glad the universe let us cross paths. 
 Jason Quote: "Zang-za-dam!"

"I'm so blessed to pass the good times,
with my family, and the friends I love,
in my short life I have met
                       so many people I deeply care for."   - Yeasayer

The Oilfield Romantic

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 20: Deep Breaths.

Start at the very beginning, if you're new to the story. Otherwise, you're wasting your time.

I miss the sound of your voice.

4:30 AM.

Alarm goes off. Snooze. Shove the phone in pocket. Rub my eyes. The alarm doesn't need to go off, because I would have woken up anyway, within ten minutes.   Somehow my brain just knows when to turn itself on. I only went to sleep about three or four hours before, but that's normal.  Other alarm goes off.  Much louder, more annoying. Snooze. Put in pocket.

Throw on some clothes. Brush teeth. Step outside. It's chilly, and you can really feel the moisture in the air here.  There's condensed water on everything. This isn't Utah.

Start truck. Drive down the hill. The alarms from both cell phones keep going off every five minutes. For some reason, it takes me until about the fifth time to actually turn the alarms off instead of just pushing snooze. By that time, I'm well outside of town. I have no idea why I do that.

Right turn onto 11th street. Left turn onto Broadway.  Right turn on to Burdick.  Follow until it intersects interstate 2.  West on 2 for approximately 80 miles.

At five in the morning, it's still pitch black.  by six, when I get to Tioga, it hasn't even gotten to that dark blue color, when you can just make out the horizon.

I'm at my desk before that time.

On the road, the same familiar landmarks tell me exactly where I am.  Even in a dense fog, I know exactly where I am.  I see the fog lit up orange/red from the H2S flares.  Some of them are pretty big.  10 or 20 foot flames shooting up into the sky, burning off poisonous gases.

I know where I am. I always know exactly where I am.

On the drive home at the end of the day, I always have to stop somewhere between Stanley and Blaisedell and crash out for ten minutes, or an hour. I wake up unsure of where I am, or how long I've been there.  I'm done trying to drive while nodding off. Just doesn't seem smart.

But then I get home at six, or seven, depending on how many little detours I take to look at train yards, or truck yards, or whatever.

3 hours of sleep daily can't be the healthiest lifestyle.  But that's not the point.

I'm on the edge of going from Romantic, to cynic.  I don't know how driving to work somehow helps me arrive to this conclusion, but it's the truth.

I think that being a cynic is more convenient in my neck of the woods.

I feel like I've done too much. I worry too much. What do normal 23 year old guys do with themselves? Could I ever be normal?

Some of the previous posts have gone in really strange directions.  I don't think I had any idea where I wanted them to go, I just wanted to cut myself open and see who would want to see inside.  I don't know if anyone is still reading these, or if the novelty has worn off.

The shine always wears off.

I'm expecting it. I'm embracing it. It's been fun, but everything has an end.

People ask me how I'm doing all the time. What do I say? I say the exact thing every time.

I'm a total mess.

This blog has been kind of like the scene of a terrible car accident, blood everywhere, mangled body parts strewn about.  Broken glass and twisted metal all around.  Some people are in shock, some watching calmly.  Some people even get some kind of rush out of seeing the disaster.

You don't want to look, but you can't stop yourself.  You can't even blink.  There's some part of you that has to see all of the carnage.  

That's my blog. That's my life. That's sort of me.  It's a mess. A disaster. Maybe kind of tragic.  But you can't blink, you can't close your eyes, you can't look away.  It's awful. 

The girl I write about is not blogging about me.  She's writing about her boyfriend. How lucky she is to have him.

Sometimes I wake up thinking, "what have I done?"
Then I go to bed, thinking the same thing.

Sometimes I go through my days thinking about could have, would have, should have.


Rumble. Rumble. Rumble. 

I'm going off the road, on the left side. I hit the rumble strips, startling me, and getting me back to consciousness.  Why am I still driving? Will I never arrive at my destination? Is this some kind of metaphor for my whole life? Always on my way, but never arriving?

Turn on the heat. It's getting chilly.  Only the highest fan level works on my heater/air conditioner. I need to get that fixed.  I end up having to turn it on and off intermittently. Annoying. 

My dashboard lights aren't working, so I have to gauge my speed by the sound of the engine. It's dark in the truck, mind you.  When I turn my phone on and shine the light on the dash, I'm going about 90. Not a wonder I made it to Stanley so quickly. Maybe if I drive fast enough, I'll get to work before I fall asleep at the wheel. That's a winning strategy.

We think we want someone who will take our breath away. I see it differently.

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Don't let it go until I tell you to.

Think of that dream you have, where you're deep underwater, swimming towards the surface.

I want you to really visualize it in your mind. Make it real.

You don't know why you're so far underwater, but it doesn't matter. You're there.    

You're holding your breath, kicking your feet, pushing yourself up, and up with your arms.  Your mind and body are starting to fight each other.  This is when you panic. You need to breathe.

You panic. Frantically swimming and pulling yourself towards the surface. You've been holding your breath long enough, and your mind is spinning and reeling. Is the surface getting closer? It doesn't seem to be.  You're terrified.  Don't let your body betray your mind. Don't breath in until you're out of the water. 

Forget the past. Forget the future. Forget everything you've ever experienced. All you can think about, if you can call it thought, is air.  But you're still holding your breath.

You're not there yet.  There are no sounds in the water, except the gulp gulp noise of you swallowing over and over. You're distracting yourself from instinctively inhaling water.

3 feet away. 2 feet away. 1 foot. 6 inches.  The first thing out of the water, your head.

That first gulping breath. You know that sound you make. Gasp. Inhale. Take a few deep breaths. 

That deep breath is what it should be like when you meet him/her.  You breath all your life, from the moment you're born.  You take it for granted.  You never even give it a thought.  It just happens.

That is, until you can't breath.  

That special someone should be like that first breath out of the water.  Something like:

When I'm with her, I feel like I can breathe. Like I've been living my whole life underwater, just holding my breath.  I didn't even fully realize it until we met. Now I can breath. It's natural. It's amazing. It's perfect. I'll never take it for granted.

Right here, right now, I'm holding my breath.  I have been, for a long time. I don't know when I'll get to breath again. 

Until then, I'm kicking, and pushing, and trying to distract myself from the fact that I am afraid I'll die alone, somewhere deep underwater, where no one can hear me, or help me, or breath life into my body. 


I'm still driving. A semi slows way down to take a turn ahead. I notice just in time, and turn sharply in to the left lane, narrowly missing a serious accident.  It's such a beautiful day.

I think I'll go pick a fight. A fist fight. I think I want to bleed out of my face. It's been far too long and I want to feel alive.

How long can I keep doing this? How long can I hold my breath? 
Am I going to make it to the surface?


The Oilfield Romantic

This is raw, stupid honesty.

Erica Simm won the first mini contest.  She gets a special prize.  


We're assuming that you've read all of the previous chapters.  Write a page or two about which post you related to most, and why.  Be detailed, and be honest.  It can be as long as necessary for you to write the truth, your truth.

Send your little mini blog post to
The winner will be posted on the blog as a "guest" blog post, and can remain anonymous if preferred.

The winner gets dinner with the Oilfield Romantic at the restaurant of his choice, as well as a professional massage.

Not many will actually take the challenge, so the odds are really in your favor, should you choose to accept.

The winner will be posted Friday, April 6th at 8:00 PM my time. 

Start reading. Start writing.
Don't forget to breathe.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chapter 19: Sharks. Failure. Sharkfailure.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

I'm conquering my fears every single day. I was a afraid of so much.

It's only after you've lost everything that you are free to do anything.

What is your greatest fear?
Maybe we have something in common. 
You've seen do some dumb things before now. You've seen some big mistakes. 
You've wanted to slap me in the face from time to time. 
You've even wanted to give me a hug and say "everything will be okay".
I think every one of those dumb things was a direct result of one of my greatest fears. I won't say which one, but. Here's something.
Fear of intimacy; the fear of getting close to someone physically, emotionally, or mentally in order to prevent getting hurt.


I think we've passed the point of just casually skimming through posts. You relate to something you read around here. No more passive reading.

You may not be in a situation for allows for some of these...but try. 

Look into someone's eyes (for as long as you can) - let them look into yours
Reveal your deepest thoughts to another (no matter the consequence)
Feel deep love for someone, and stay with it fully (rather than 'shut down' a little for 'safety's sake') 
Know yourself - know who you are as much as you can
Share yourself - share who you are as much as you can

I want you to think about this. I mean it, and I mean it to everyone who reads this. I want you to take one minute, or five, to tell me about which of these challenges you chose. Most will only be able to mess with the first two. Tell what happened, and how you felt.

You can message me on facebook with it, or send me an email. I'll choose the most honest one.

The winner gets a very special prize, not just a card or letter. But I'll need your mailing address. gotta be a registered follower. Read on, Romantic.

Acknowledge your fears. Face your fears. Conquer your fears.

The Oilfield Romantic

Update: Today, work was great. Finalized the deal with Western Petroleum.  This is a huge weight off of my shoulders. 

We're also getting closer to the vacation/massage/dinner contest. Don't go anywhere.

One of my all time favorite songs, the video that is posted above.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chapter 18: Cutting Deeper.

People have asked me how I can keep doing this.
I ask myself the same question.
This is me bleeding on my computer.

This and the next post are the “psych posts”.  These are articles in which I’ve found psychological explanations for my typical behavior.
Pay attention to the details. In the previous thirty or so posts, there are examples of the explained behaviors within each piece of the psych posts.
This will be important for the upcoming writing contest.
Pay attention to the words in red.

Codependency (or codependenceco-narcissism or inverted narcissism) is unhealthy love and a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that harm one's relationships and quality of life. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one's own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.[1] Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.  Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.[1] Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.
Historically, the concept of codependence "comes directly out of Alcoholics Anonymous, part of a dawning realization that the problem was not solely the addict, but also the family and friends who constitute a network for the alcoholic."[2] It was subsequently broadened to cover the way "that the codependent person is fixated on another person for approval, sustenance, and so on."[2] As such, the concept overlaps with, but developed in the main independently from, the older psychoanalytic concept of the 'passive dependent personality' ... attaching himself to a stronger personality."[3]
Some would retain the stricter, narrower dictionary definition of codependency, which requires one person to be physically or psychologically addicted, such as to heroin, and the second person to be psychologically dependent on that behavior.[4]
Codependency describes behaviors, thoughts and feelings that go beyond normal kinds of self-sacrifice or caretaking. For example parenting is a role that requires a certain amount of self-sacrifice and giving a child's needs a high priority, although a parent could nevertheless still be codependent towards their own children if the caretaking or parental sacrifice reached unhealthy or destructive levels.[1] Generally a parent who takes care of their own needs (emotional and physical) in a healthy way will be a better caretaker, whereas a codependent parent may be less effective, or may even do harm to a child.[1]
People who are codependent often take on the role as a martyr; they constantly put other's needs before their own and in doing so forget to take care of themselves. This creates a sense that they are "needed"; they cannot stand the thought of being alone and no one needing them. Codependent people are constantly in search of acceptance. When it comes to arguments, codependent people also tend to set themselves up as the "victim". When they do stand up for themselves, they feel guilty.
Codependency does not refer to all caring behavior or feelings, but only those that are excessive to an unhealthy degree.[5] Indeed, from the standpoint of Attachment theory or Object relations theory, "to risk becoming dependent"[6] may be for the compulsively self-reliant a psychological advance, and "depending on a source outside oneself ... successful, or tolerable, dependence" [7] may be valorized accordingly.
Co-Dependents Anonymous offers these patterns and characteristics as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.[1]
Denial patterns:
  • I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
  • minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
  • I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
  • I lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
  • I label others with my negative traits.
  • I can take care of myself without any help from others.
  • I mask my pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
  • I express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
  • I do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom I am attracted.
Low self-esteem patterns:
  • I have difficulty making decisions.
  • I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never "good enough."
  • I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
  • I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
  • I value others' approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
  • I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
  • I constantly seek recognition that I think I deserve.
  • I am jealous of the relationships between others I would like to have as my own.
  • I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake.
  • I need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and will even lie to look good.
  • I perceive myself as superior to others.
  • I look to others to provide my sense of safety.
  • I have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
  • I have trouble setting healthy priorities.

Avoidance patterns:
  • I act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward me.
  • I judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
  • I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a means of maintaining distance.
  • I allow my addictions to people, places, and things to distract me from achieving intimacy in relationships.
  • I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
  • I diminish my capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use all the tools of recovery.
  • I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
  • I pull people toward me, but when they get close, I push them away.
  • I refuse to give up my self-will to avoid surrendering to a power that is greater than myself.
  • I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
  • I withhold expressions of appreciation.
Compliance patterns:
  • I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others' anger.
  • I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
  • I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
  • I value others' opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
  • I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
  • I accept sex and/or sexual attention when I want love.
  • I am afraid to express my beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
  • I make decisions without regard to the consequences.
  • I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.
Control patterns:
  • I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
  • I attempt to convince others of what they "should" think and how they "truly" feel.
  • I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
  • I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
  • I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
  • I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
  • I have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.
  • I demand that my needs be met by others.
  • I use charm and charisma to convince others of my capacity to be caring and compassionate.
  • I use blame and shame to emotionally exploit others.
  • I refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
  • I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
  • I have obsessive, compulsive thinking patterns and cannot focus on daily activities.
  • I use terms of recovery in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
  • I pretend to agree with others to get what I want.
Not all of this is me. But some of it.
It's you too. The next one will be very interesting.

The Oilfield Romantic

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chapter 17: The Magic City - The top of the hill.

The Magic City

We drove all night long. We got to Minot, and stayed the for 3 or 4 days in the basement of Ramanda and Michael Nash. Ramanda is Rondee's older sister.  They were kind enough to let us stay with them.

I struck up a deal with RNI trucking in Williston to wash their trucks, as well as Western Petroleum in Tioga.  Once we got the business, we needed to find somewhere to live.  This was not going to be an easy task in Minot, North Dakota.

In 2011, there was a massive flood here. 10,000 people lost their homes.  During that time, the oil boom in western ND continued to push east, arriving in Minot as well.

There are 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom shacks around here that are renting for 2,000 dollars per month.  And even those are hard to find. You have to know somebody, or kill somebody usually.

The morning after I struck up a little deal at Western Petroleum, I went to work on finding a place for us to live. I found a phone list of property owners and managers at a local housing authority. I started going down the list. We were at Starbucks, making all these phone calls, getting shut down.  I think it was only about the 5th or 6th number I called, the lady who answered had 3 available units for rent, one for 800, one for 1200, and one for 1400. I told her I'd see the one for 800.

No one was available to show the house until the following Monday, but she gave us the address so we could drive by it.  It was the smallest house I'd ever seen (in the United States).  It was right across the street from the college, right in town, at the end of a dead end street on a hill.

I jimmied open a window and crawled in. Chett didn't really like it at first. I really liked it. It was a roof over our heads.

Saturday came, we toured the house officially. I gave him a deposit right then and there. We got a place to live. We moved our sleeping bags and cots that night from Ramanda's to our new place. We all crashed in the living room of our empty house.

We washed some trucks at Western for the next two days, then drove back to Utah in another one shot trip.

Sometime during that week, my girlfriend decided to break up with me over a text.  She didn't even have the decency to call. She texted it to me.  On top of all I was dealing with already, she dumps me with a text.  I was busy enough that I tried not to worry about it until I got home.  Getting home was just as hectic though. I had to get a truck going to bring back with us, and get another powerwash trailer ordered. It was also thanksgiving, so family was out, and that was adding to stress.

It was amazing. Perfect. It felt like we were 17 again, best friends, laughing and talking about everything and nothing. She was so beautiful. A sight for sore eyes, would be a fitting description.  I didn't want her to leave.  But like all good things, it ended.

I couldn't get a hold of Nyckie for an explanation. She kept avoiding me, or making excuses not to meet me.  The night before I was to drive back up to ND again was when the whole ordeal went down, when she threatened to call the police on me. That didn't make me feel much better.

We made it back to Minot again.  It was getting colder. We kept powering through the cold, washing trucks here and there, trying to get by on pennies.  I was trying to find more work, trying to keep things from freezing, fixing things that did freeze or break. In the mornings when the guys were asleep, I'd be out driving around town looking for parts or tools, or places to get things fixed.

It was getting dark every day at 4:30 in the afternoon, and it was very depressing. I had no money, as I had put everything I had into this crazy idea.  I didn't know how I would pay rent, or pay for fuel, or sometimes eat real food. My girlfriend had just left me, and I had received no explanation.  I was falling apart emotionally.  I'm not sure how I made it through December.

Christmas came.  We drove back to Utah, again.  Christmas was even more hectic than thanksgiving.  Rondee had had some serious medical problems which some people may have heard about, so she was at home in Neola being taken care of by Reed.  I was trying to set up new deals, trying to find more equipment and another truck for ND.

The one plus side of going home, apart from seeing my family. I did get to see Lee. We hadn't seen each other in maybe 8 months.  We decided to meet up for a milkshake at Marion's. I think we were both equally as nervous and apprehensive about how it would be.

The one plus side of going home, apart from seeing my family. I did get to see Lee. We hadn't seen each other in maybe 8 months.  We decided to meet up for a milkshake at Marion's. I think we were both equally as nervous and apprehensive about how it would be.

We hit it out again, in one shot. I was driving a new Dodge Dually diesel. Reed followed in his car.  I walked in the door to the house here in Minot, and passed out on the floor for a few hours. Didn't make it to my bed.

It was an unusually warm January.  We had some very warm days, and it helped us out a lot.  We did some work at Western and RNI.  It got us through.  But half way through the month, the temperatures tanked.  There were a few days that we were out spraying and it was -5 degrees outside.  We couldn't feel our feet, or our hands, or our faces.  The machines would freeze up within minutes if we shut them down.  It was stressful. Cold. Painful. Miserable. Expensive.

Again, barely making rent. Behind on personal bills. Stress beyond belief.

I flew into Salt Lake towards the end of February. I had to pick up another truck in SLC, and pick up another wash trailer in Roosevelt.  I drove through Denver on the way back to ND to get a couple days of rest and relaxation.  It ended up being almost a whole week.  It was sorely needed.

I went to dinner with old friends. I went on several dates.  I slept in til 9. I got a massage with my homegirl Chantal. It was the best week of vacation I can remember having.

I hit out the drive from Denver to Minot again in one shot.  I'm getting pretty good at that.

Home Saturday night, out spraying on Monday.  We're slowly getting things caught up, bills, invoices we owe to other people.  I landed a new client out at Cascade Tanks, which has lately been keeping everyone busy.  In January, I was forced to get a personal loan, just to keep my head above water, pay the rent, and all my personal bills.  I didn't want to do it, but it really saved my neck.  Just recently, we had several thousand extra dollars. I was going to use it to pay the guys, pay myself, and catch up on a few other debts.  For the first time, I was going to pay myself money for the last 4 months of blood, sweat and tears. All those sleepless nights, wounds, tears, and heartaches would finally be paid for a little bit. I was so excited. It was a perfect day.  Everything was going to be caught up. Are rent would be covered. Trailer leases paid.

Or so I thought.

I checked the account after getting home that night. Uncle Sam had stepped in and taken all of it. Some kind of tax deal from another business account.

 Long story short, everything was gone.  I just started laughing. I told Chett what happened. It was one of those weird laughs, half insane, as if you can't be sure if the person laughing is about to flip out and shoot people, or if they really think something is funny.

I stepped outside, sat down on the ground at the edge of the backyard, overlooking the city. The hill drops off right there steeply, giving a great view of Broadway and the MSU campus.

I sat at the top of that hill, and cried my eyes out.  It's all I could do. 

If you had been sitting on that hill next to me, what would you have said to me? Would you have put an arm around me? Would you have left me alone?

Oil Field Romantics, this is your question of the day. Answer it well.

With all my love,

The Oilfield Romantic

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chapter 16: All I could Do - The Long road to the Magic City.

As I'm writing this, it's about four A.M. in Utah.

Before anything, I just want to let it be known that i could never have made it this far without Chett Wills, Freddy Ogden, Reed Page, and Jason Stroud.  I'll never be able to thank you enough for believing in me.

The Long Road

Ten o'clock. Spring night.. About fifty five degrees. It's humid, and a bit chilly, but I can't quite see my breath.  I will soon. It's been a long day. Long, but good.

I just got back to the house. Chett and Fred are watching Mad Men on a netflix account they bummed off of someone.

I had gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, as I had for the previous 8 days straight, and getting home every day between six and seven in the afternoon.

The day had been long. Half way to Tioga in the morning, I kept nodding off at the wheel. I leave my house long before the sun peeks over the horizon. It's dark, and today, especially foggy.   I can't see very far past the hood of my truck.

I'm tired.  I generally don't go to bed before midnight, and the early mornings/long days are taking their toll. I'm having a hard time staying awake.

Due to the nodding off every two minutes, and the fog, I decide to take a quick nap in Stanley. I parked at the truck stop.

When I wake up thirty minutes later, it's still dark.  Still foggy.  I drive back towards the highway to hop on it, can't see a thing. I cruised right through all 4 lanes of traffic, narrowly missed getting slammed by a big truck. That woke me up.

I continue driving and make it to work safely.

It's about an hour and a half drive to Tioga.  I've been making the drive pretty regularly every week for the last four months. This gives me about 3 hours every day of good thinking time.  At this point, I'm very used to driving a lot.

I reflect daily on my life, on where I've been, and where I might be going.  I think of what it's taken to get me here, what I've given, and the struggles I've faced. I think of the times I've been hurt, and I appreciate those people for helping me grow.

Some of this story might have been told already, but it all ties together.

Christmas break, 2010.  I was at home with family.  This was the week of the big break up.  I went to church with my parents, and said hello to a lot of old friends from the ward. One of them is my neighbor Kim.

Kim Blanchard is a tough old cowboy.  He's probably about 55 years old, still can do some serious physical work.  He owns and manages Straightshot Oilfield Services.  They do welding, roustabout, and hotshot. Right out of high school, he went to work for El Paso. He had been with the company for probably twenty years or so before starting his own business.  His main client is still El Paso. He's done very well for himself.

He looks a lot like the King off of Tangled. I look up to him very  much.

Five years ago, he asked Reed and I to do that ultrasonic inspection job. We did it under him, made ourselves some money, and made him some too.  He paid for our training, and off we went. It was a great job.

Flashforward, December 2010.  I wanted to talk to Kim about an idea I had recently.  He got called out of church after the first meeting to get a frozen oil well un-stuck.  I volunteered to jump in with him so we could talk.

My idea was to do the ultrasound contract again (as 2011 would be the next round of testing) only this time, we would do it for ourselves, and not underneath him. I wanted to know if what he thought about the idea, and if it would be okay with him.

He thought it was a great idea.  He was very supportive.  We didn't have a master service agreement with El Paso. An MSA is basically a contract between a large company, and a smaller contractor or service company.  You can't do any work or get paid unless you have the MSA.  Because we didn't have an MSA, we formed our own corporation, Straightshot Testing and Inspection, and subcontracted underneath Straightshot Oilfield Services.  This is kind of how we got around it. We would invoice El Paso, and the checks would flow through Kim's company to us.  This is how we got started.  It only cost the incorporation fees, and some other legal/financial paperwork fees, from what I understand.  Jason Stroud took care of all of that.

A different aspect that is important to note, is that in the service industry, you have to wait between 30 and 90 days or more to get paid on an invoice.  Because Kim had such a long standing relationship with El Paso, we only had to wait 30 days to get paid.

I moved back to Vernal into a new apartment with Jason and Chett around the first of April of last year. I still had a lease on a place in Denver, and most of my stuff was still there, including my bed.  For some reason I didn't take it with me out to Vernal. I can't remember why.

But I was broke, and when I got to Vernal, every one of my few dollars went into fuel to drive to El Paso every day.  For that whole month before we got paid, I slept on the floor. I couldn't afford to do anything else.  I even borrowed 100 dollars from my sister Anna, who herself didn't have much money. It was embarrassing, and difficult to borrow money from people to get by.

The month came and went, and I turned the whole operation over to Reed.  Friends moved home for summer to work for us; Eric Domgaard, Bruce Niebergall, Moises Mendez, Chett of course.

I moved to Grand Junction before I got to really see anyone.  I had nailed an engineering internship with Halliburton.  That was pretty exciting. That meant I would be traveling around between Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico all summer. They even flew me to Dallas and Houston a few times.

Well, Straightshot Testing and Inspection had a rough start, at least for me.  I had started an ended a whole new relationship during that time. I had gone to Philidelphia, Phoenix, and Delaware for business related trips. It was a busy time.

We didn't make millions on inspection, but we came out with enough to play with some new ideas at the end of the year.   We even might have another contract for this year. Cross your fingers, everyone.

By November, we were completely finished with the El Paso contract. We were just Chett, Fred, and I left, and we needed something new to do.  We played with the idea of moving to Denver to find jobs, or maybe even Salt Lake.  I met a kid from Layton named Tyson in Vernal.  He took time off of school to make some money driving a truck in the oilfield. We talked  all the time and played with ideas for future businesses.  We talked about how a truck wash would make a killing up in North Dakota. We didn't have the couple hundred grand to get that started, so I had an idea to do a mobile truck wash.  Basically, a trailer with a heavy duty pressure washer and a big water tank.

He happened to have one of those.

I hooked it up to the back of my little truck , and the week before Thanksgiving of 2011, I was on the road with Chett and Freddy. We grabbed some duffel bags, some sleeping bags, and took off. I had not much more than what I was wearing. I had barely enough money to live a week or two.

The Oil Field Romantic

Posting on Sunday at 6:00 PM CST.  Chapter 17: The Magic City- The top of the hill.
This chapter will be about what it takes to make me fall apart.