Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Face the Day With My Head Caved In

Here is the pool at my aunt's house, cold and in terrible disrepair.

On my way to work this morning, I was in a mood. It was cold and I was tired and I was feeling a little sorry for myself for being broke and not being able to find a guy who lives anywhere near my town, anywhere near my age who I could actually date. I was whiny about having to walk a mile just to sit in a cubicle and answer stupid questions over the phone all day. Those people who say there are no stupid questions, need to sit at my desk for an hour or two. They will definitely change their minds and then instantly develop an extremely unhealthy alcohol addiction. When I almost slipped on the ice for the 18th time and actually said, "Whoa!" out loud, just like Joey Lawrence, I started to ponder the bad decisions that had brought me to this point. What if I had stayed in California that last time instead of moving back to Iowa? Would I be somewhere fun, like I was when I worked at the ski resort, or would I have a more interesting and important job to go to like I did when I was working on the Salmon Restoration Project?

The ski resort was called Snow Summit and it was in the San Bernadino Mountains, East of Los Angeles. I had to walk to work when I lived there too. Of course, the walk was beautiful, but I had to be at work by six in the morning. My boyfriend didn't have to work until eight. I hiked up the hill in the dark. Usually, I could hear the coyotes following me and I was okay with that, because they didn't bother me - they just tagged along. The dogs were the big problem. Everybody had dogs and none of them ever seemed to be on leashes. My boyfriend found a big stick that he left outside for me to take with in case I was attacked. It wasn't the least bit comforting.

One morning, I saw a black German shepard in its yard. I walked to the other side of the road in hopes that it wouldn't see me, but it didn't work. Its owners were nowhere in sight, and it came charging for me. I really didn't want to have to beat it with a stick, but I also didn't want it to bite holes in my face either. Finally, I scolded it like I was its owner. "Bad dog. Go on! Git." I tried to sound authoritative, while masking that scared hitch in my voice. Oddly enough, it worked. The dog stopped running, but still barked and growled. I yelled at it to go home and eventually it did. I walked the rest of the way to work so spazzed out, I didn't even notice the coyotes following behind me.

It rained every day this time of year in Northern California where I worked during my stint with the Salmon Restoration Project. We also raised 10,000 steelhead trout in pools during the Winter months. Since we were in the California Conservation Corps., it all had to be eco-friendly. We used rain water brought down in PVC pipes from where we collected it in order to create a current for the fish to swim around and around in the pools. The only problem, is that it would rain so hard over night that rocks and silt would clog the pipes. We took turns during the week, waking up every two hours at night to check them. If it was your turn, you messed up your sleep schedule, never dried off and you were miserable the entire time. I remember dreading my turn.

Thinking about the jobs I could be working and the scary walks I could be taking, made the twenty minute trek in the cold to sit in a warm office answering annoying questions seem almost pleasant. Even feeling the cubicle walls slowly sucking my soul all day, was comforting.


Anonymous said...

I think we have all those moment where we have to ask if we made the right decisions. I have a few of my own and maybe I'l share them one day. I do hope you remove yourself from this funk you're in.

fringes said...

Great post. You must have been taking your salary at those jobs into consideration as you made the decision to leave them because they sound like great, adventurous gigs. I'd leave office life in a heartbeat if I could afford it.

Hope you feel better very very soon.

Susan said...

I like your usage of "Git". :)

Tara said...

It's true, there are stupid questions out there. I get them here at the school I work at, but since usually the students are the ones asking the questions, I have to pretend that their questions aren't stupid.

That conservation corps work sounds so interesting, but I don't think I'd enjoy that night shift you were talking about.

DJSassafrass said...

You nailed it. There's always something worse, right? I had one of those days on Monday--er, night rather! Sometimes, things just seem to be too much...at those times I try to have a beer.

Leo said...

Having thoughts about the path not travelled, or rather, the path you left, is pretty common--we all do it at times.

If you're looking for a (sort of) objective opinion, it appears to me that you are doing just fine.

You have a good, stable job with the state, you have great kids, an active social life with lots of friends and may creature comforts.

And while I can't help you with the dating thing (happily hitched), I can say that if I were eligible, I'd ask you out. Hang in there, there are some nice guys out there.

I also like the 'git'. Good midwestern word there.

Danny said...

You are a beautiful writer. I hope that fact helps you through those times when you are questioning your decisions. I so admire your ability to write with such stark eloquence about such real topics. Don't ever stop!

P.S. So what ARE some of those stupid questions?

NoRegrets said...

I so love your blog.

Poptart said...

Yeah, I have that crap in my head in winter, and this winter a little bit too. I hope yours only lasted that short of a time. I don't quite believe in some plan - the whole "everything happens for a reason" - but I do think there are some great things that have happened (namely stinky and coadster) from the path you did take...

Churlita said...


It wasn't really a funk, it was more like being cranky and cold in the morning. I was over it before I got to work. Thanks.


No money and very temporary. The kind of stuff you can do when you're young and don't have kids or a home.




Most of our work was very strenuous, but interesting and I felt good about doing it.


Yeah. And the past always looks so much better until you're honest that it had its own shit too.


I know it. There are so many people losing their jobs right now I can't really complain about anything.


Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from you.

They're mostly things where they are looking right at the answer and can answer it themselves. OR they want you to do their research paper about college admissions for them.


Thanks and right back atcha.


Exactly. It was just me being crabby and half asleep on my way to work. It wasn't a general feeling of malaise or anything.

I wouldn't go back and change anything if it meant not having my girls.

laura b. said...

No romanticizing the past here!

I am more than a little afraid of strange dogs...that would have freaked me right out.

I appreciate this post as it reminded me that it is all about getting some perspective.

booda baby said...

I get little pinchy headaches when someone says there are no stupid questions. Some lazy ass idiot invented that one.

I wish you worked at Snow Summit again, just for the season. This one. We could drink hot cocktails. Oh, and ski a little.

Churlita said...


It's all about perspective for me for sure. It's so easy to romanticize shit from the past, but the reality is that I was just as cranky walking to and being at work back then too.

Booda Baby,

Wouldn't that be great? Does it still exist?