“If you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it.”
But what if you remember the past – very well, in a lot of cases – but continue to repeat it…?

In Stephen King’s massive series The Dark Tower, The Horn of Eld was a sigul or symbol of the law-enforcing groups known as The Gunslingers. It shows up a few times throughout the series; without giving away a major spoiler, the Horn plays a part involving “repetition”.

Well, somewhere in my life, on “this level of the Tower” or another, I must have lost a version of said Horn, some time around the summer of 2010. It seems like I’ve been firmly stuck in nearly the same situations, at about the same time, each summer since 2010:

– In 2010, I was working a limited scheduled at a major retailer (I don’t know the rules on naming companies in blog posts, so I’ll refrain for the time being). Money had pretty much dried up while I recovering from heart surgery earlier in the year, leaving me to play a serious game of ‘tread water’ until either the hours picked up or I found a better (or 2nd) job. At the time, I was living on my own in a pretty roomy apartment in the “Old Louisville” neighborhood. I had become so frustrated with hours and with some policies at my job that I left for a potential job at an auto parts company. That job never materialized; the company announced its closure before my 1st interview.

– In 2011, I was working at the above retail again (went back in January), having come to terms with the ‘policy issues’ that I had problems with, including lack of hours. I was in a much more enjoyable department, with a better availability, but still facing short hours for whatever reasons. Rent payments were getting later and later (but still being made) as the summer progressed, as well as utility payments, resulting in times where there was no gas in the apartment (electricity was still on, however). I eventually went to court and got evicted from my apartment in January 2012.

– 2012 was a near carbon copy of 2011, except that the hours had somehow gotten worse, despite training for, and working on, 3 new teams in about a 10 month’s span. I moved in with my Dad, a little south and west of Churchill Downs. At this point, I was debating on quitting my job for good: I could not come in before 6:30 AM or stay past 9:30 PM due to some local bus routes, yet my availability was nearly as open as it could be; I was taken out of the department that I was in, back in 2011 to make room for newer team members (one, who pushed the store Credit Card better than I, and most others, could, but did little else, department-wise); I was suffering from a bad case of retail burnout. I eventually put my 2 weeks notice in about 4 1/2 weeks before I quit in January 2013. Before then, I could barely afford to help my dad with utilities and rent with the hours I was working, much less look for my own apartment; on a 30-35 hour/week availability, I ended up averaging about 16 hours worked weekly during that summer.

– The start of the summer of 2013 saw me working at 2 new jobs: the one that I’m currently at plus wrapping up a summer job at a home improvement chain. I was also attempting to rehearse and perform with the Minnesota Brass. However, a huge planning mistake made by me, concerning one job, and the other job being a month into a near-4-month slowdown, put me right back into familiar territory by the early parts of September. Regarding the ‘mistake’: once Minnesota’s touring schedule was close to starting, I took a LOA from the home improvement job. I had to be free on weekends for traveling and competing; with me only working Friday nights and weekend afternoons, it made sense to leave that job. However, I either took the LOA a month too soon or I didn’t return soon enough, in perfect 20/20 hindsight. The other job’s workload never picked up. As a result, the trips up to Minnesota had to stop (bringing my 2013 season to a screeching halt before I ever got to march in competition). It also put a temporary end to my phone contract (for about a month), internet, and nearly every utility that I was paying for, minus water; Dad had to cover them and I paid when I could. The late June to late-August period was the low point of an otherwise great year.

– Take away one job, the Minnesota Brass season, and shorten the work down to a few weeks, and you have the summer of 2014. I managed to keep my phone on but everything else was hit-and-miss. I was making more than I was during the 2011 and 2012 summers, yet I was averaging fewer hours…. leaving basically treading water for the 5th straight summer. The good thing about that summer is that the hours worked more than doubled when the work flow flooded the office in mid-August (as opposed to trickling in until late September in 2013, then getting back to normal levels afterwards)

That brings me to May and June of 2015. After another slowdown, work returned to near normal levels at my current job in early May. I have spent most of the last 7 weeks trying to catch up with bills (including re-activating my phone, making payment arrangements for my water to not get cut off (which was finally taken care of), and keeping my internet on so that I can take 3 of my upcoming 4 classes). During that time, I didn’t schedule myself on a handful of days because I knew that I would be short on bus fare getting to and from work before the pay days (this was mainly in late May and early June). I don’t know when it happened but I must have lost the Horn of Eld sometime around June 2010. I keep having most, if not all, of the same struggles, irritations, and deficiencies happen throughout the summer months. I like this job more than the ones in 2010-2012 and, other than some self-frustrations with my job performances lately, I’m not at all burned out. I cannot explain everything else. It is an annoying, draining feeling as a person, less than 4 weeks from turning 37 years old, to still be treading water like this, 5 years later.