About Settling Down

I hate to be that stereotypical person, you know, "my life iz sooooOOoo CRAZY lulz" but...haha, it kind of is.

I bought this mug at Ross once.  It has a flamingo on it.  It's this mug, actually. I LOVE flamingos (sidenote, not because I'm into pinup stuff, I actually have loved them because I'm a Benny Siegel fan) but when I noticed this big huge coffee mug, I couldn't get past the big "welcome" banner.  Welcome? Like, you're welcome because this cup is full of coffee?  Welcome to your morning? And I almost didn't get the mug because I was put off by the weird Engrish-reminiscent banner.  But then I thought of this:

And I thought, "oh man, this mug is talking about my life." So I bought it.  And every time I get me a cup o Johan in that mug, I welcome myself to the fuckin' show. 


I've talked years ago on this blog about how I was veering toward a career in earth science or geology.  At the time I was a new EMT and though I love the field, I wasn't sure if I had a future in it.  The truth about EMS is that it doesn't pay, and if I were thinking of committing further--paramedic or firefighter, say--you pretty much have to mow down competition and/or travel extensively to find a position.  I've met many a man in my career field who's so hell bent on getting a spot with a fire station he'd set you on fire.  There are people with a passion for it.  I have many passions.  I don't want to stand in the way of someone who wants and deserves a career as a fire chief.  I am very ambitious, but it just didn't feel right.  So I stalled, waiting.  

However, in my work as an EMT, especially now, where I work around chemicals and dangerous substances, I talk to and network with a lot of people who have been in this field a long time.  I also have the opportunity to do work that I feel is important and meaningful, while thinking about the long term of this field, and getting feedback on my questions and ideals.  These people have made careers at it and they come from a variety of backgrounds.  Some of the people I work with are chemists.  Some have hazmat or wildland firefighting experience.  It's a whole world of chemistry, explosions, reactions, burns, concoctions, ...good stuff.  Fun stuff.  I have been mulling over my options as I learn. 

I never thought I'd say it, but my son is another factor in what I plan on doing for the rest of my life.  Honestly, I could be content forever with a fulfilling and mediocre-paying career, I truly could.  If I'm a good EMT, why not be satisfied?  But that changed this year.  Wanting the best for his future blah blah blah--I won't get redundant, every smug parent ever says the same crap, but it really does make a difference in where I see myself going and work I want to do.  I need something sustainable, and something that will ensure he doesn't end up in Farner eating food bank rations (not that I don't have pride in where I come from.  I just want him to have better.)

Whenever I talked about living in Salt Lake to county dwellers, the response is "oh I couldn't live in the city."  "I hate the city."  "The city drives me nuts."  My reply was always the same "I'll move when I'm older."  I wasn't disagreeing with them, but made sense as a young adult to stay somewhere close to networking.  You can find events and meet people.  There's always some shitty concert or bar or party or gallery or festival to get dressed up for.  The shopping is better, the restaurants are better, the extra-curriculars are better.  Being a young adult is about learning what the world has to offer and I learned.

Turns out the "when I'm older" has come, though.  Living in the city is chipping away at my sanity every day.  I don't care about shopping and festivals.  I am not interested in meeting people; I've met all I want to meet.  Driving bumper to bumper and cursing at red lights is pretty much my idea of hell.  I always had this dream of being in a comfortable house in a small community--maybe not as isolated as where I grew up, which is pretty much the jungle--I didn't imagine the handsome lumberjack husband but I'm so glad he's here.  I imagined having foster kids (never imagined my own, but I'm SO glad he's here) and cats (check) spending some place I like working in a home I love managing.  No more farmer's markets, just my own garden.  No more downtown restaurants, just learning my own recipes.  A place where I can pick and choose important events and travel farther to them instead of screaming at the Maverick Center every time there's some dumbass country music artist blocking traffic all night long.  I've outgrown the city and want to go back to my roots.

Every time I envision raising Ender in the city I get massive anxiety.  I was thrown from a backwoods Appalachian school into a city when I was fifteen and it was an obscene culture shock.  I'm not saying it's better or worse.  I feel that school and its effectiveness is based on parental input as well as the teachers, and rural versus urban isn't really an issue in a city the size of Salt Lake.  Allyn was born and raised in Salt Lake and he is the smartest and kindest human I've ever met, so I know it's possible to be a city slicker and turn out okay, but there are parts of my childhood that I want my son to know and not wonder about.  Things like lightning bugs and snakes and the occasional bear in your backyard.  Exploring in the woods with no restrictions, just imagination.  Riding horses and raising animals, survival skills.  The quietness of reading books for hours while it rains.  Being so bored you make up your own games and force your parents to play along.  Grabbing a toy and going outside and letting time pass until the sun is completely gone.  Even in my poverty and knowing, then and now, all of the things I didn't have, those days seemed so completely full to me.  That may be why I go back and try to recapture the magic of places like Cherokee and Ghost Town.

Combining the Two
So, with all of these heavy topics at hand, what am I to do?  I've decided that I'm not yet ready to fully settle down and that's no surprise.  I'm only 30 and there are many more states and maybe countries that I want to live in.  Utah will always be the place I return to, but luckily for me it will be there whenever I am ready.  I am drawn to places, unsurprisingly, with beautiful forests and landscapes.  Before I was ever in foster care, my parents and aunt Doris both pitched the idea to me to become a game warden or work in forestry.

Living and working here has taught me that I really am at my best, and happiest, when my work interacts with nature.  Not just in the way that a park ranger might interact with nature, but the actual science of things; biology, especially chemistry, ecology, geology.  That I have dilly-dallied around and still after years feel strongly about these topics means something to me.  I've moved so much that I'm comfortable with the idea of moving for work, moving my family.  Ender already had his first flight to Tennessee and back.  I used to be a wild woman fluttering around wherever on my Crocodile-Dundee-esque "walkabouts" but I have no problem doing that with my boys either.

I don't know what kind of forestry jobs exist for environmental science graduates, but I know that the career field is open and varied.  I honestly would love the experience; anything from a game warden to a wildland firefighter to a ranger to instructor and on down the line.  The time has finally come to finish my education and I'm doing it without having a set, black and white career in mind.  But I feel great about it.

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