Time marched on. Allen flew to California at least every other week. He kept telling me he was trying to go as little as possible, but every time I checked our email I saw another "Ticketless Travel Passenger Itinerary". I was recovering from a c-section, had a refluxing, food allerging, colicing newborn, a really pissed off 16 month old and a 4 year old who was practically raising herself. To use the word "basketcase" is an understatement.
Working in California, he wasn't happy. He wasn't doing what he wanted to be doing at work. He wasn't working with the people he expected to be working with. His dream job was at the Z Machine. He was excited to be on the project and his team members. In New Mexico.
You see, Allen had just been hired to work on the Z Machine when this whole NIF project emergency came to a head. He had been working at Z for about a month, maybe 6 weeks tops, when his boss took him aside and explained the situation:
NIF (National Ignition Facility) was hurting. Congress could see that the big plan wasn't achieving much. Congress would cut the budget if NIF didn't hurry up and produce some results. Why does this matter to a little ol' vacuum engineer in New Mexico? Because NIF and the Z Machine are different projects working to achieve the same result. On good days, they are friendly (or not so friendly depending on the labby you ask) competitors. Of the two, NIF is, nationally and politically, more visible. NIF fails. Z fails. The best hands on deck were being pulled from Z and sent to NIF.
He would come home frustrated. He was becoming short with the kids. He wasn't able to focus on any task or project at home any more. I could see this whole arrangement was taking a toll on him.
Combine the stress of a new baby, a new job, another new job in a different state, working with a bunch of jerks all of the time, and a spazzed out wife and you're looking at one mess of a man. We talked seriously of looking for different employment. We talked about trying to ease out of the NIF scene all together. If it was a possibility, we were open to discussion. At the end of each talk, we both knew he could not walk away. It would destroy his career. He spoke candidly with his managers and they told him the same thing. We were married to this, for better or worse.