I had five measly walls to frame inside a basement today, three energy walls in an addition and two partition walls for a laundry room. Somehow, in eight hours, Barnabas and I only managed to finish four, and it turned out I made mistakes in two of them. Yes, the lighting was bad, and yes, we had to spend time moving things around because space was tight; but when my stressed-out boss arrived late in the day, I could see the disappointment in his face, and I hated myself more than I have in a long time. Where does time go? Why can’t I do better than this? I can’t figure it out and I can’t stop thinking about it. Whether roofing, trimming, framing, or siding, it’s all the same story: I can never get as much done as I think I ought.

A year ago in Michigan, Mr. N. informed me that in his opinion I would never be a framer. At the time I admitted to myself he was probably right. So why have I spent the past year trying to prove him wrong? And my back muscles screaming bloody murder at me every night—is that normal too? I know I must be missing something. Maybe I’m one of those gifted people who fails at everything he tries.