Sunday, January 31, 2010

First fieldtrip of 2010

Winter in the high desert is actually quite nice. I'm in Lancaster which is considered in the high Mojave Desert. Joshua Tree's, greasewood, cholla, buckwheat, and creasote abound. The snakes are still underground hibernating so you don't have to worry about venom bites. The fiddleneck and other pokey sharp plants are not so pokey and sharp yet. The grasses are turning green and aren't tall past your knees yet. The poppies aren't out yet so there aren't a lot of stupid tourists around stomping on them all. It is very cold in the mornings and evenings, but it is almost t-shirt weather by noon after you have been walking for a few miles.

I'm here in the desert working on what we call a Road Story Survey. Basically we are walking already existing roads or new proposed roads to be built to access transmission towers that are or will soon be built. This is not my project, which means I am not in charge. I like it. I'm acting more like a field crew chief rather than a supervisor. It is a nice change. I don't have to worry about the money, or plan out the days, who's going where, which vehicles, do we have enough vehicles, so-and-so needs this, so-and-so needs that. No running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off. This job is actually enjoyable for the most part. We were staying in what most people would consider a crappy hotel the first 4 nights, but after being in Taft for 6.5 months where the best hotel had a cockroach problem and a recovering meth addict for a hotel manager, a crappy yet clean hotel is quite nice. I think my standards have been severely lowered. I'm just happy to have clean sheets without unknown stains and cig. burns.

One unfamiliar with the desert may think that there is not a whole lot to see out here and think that people way back when would not chose to live in a place like this. But in reality, even though this is a very harsh environment, life abounds. And in this particular area, not to long ago there was plenty of water. It was only when us genius Californians decided to farm the heck out of the area did the water table drop so far that now it is almost impossible to drill a well deep enough to find water, hence now getting water for agriculture via the California Aqueduct. Human occupation of the area reaches as far back as some of the very first (what we call) paleo-indians. Meaning soon after the little ice-age 15,000-20,000 years ago, people were able to migrate here. That is freakin' old! And just to add icing to this black dirt cake, under this human occupation are fossils from when us primates weren't even primates yet(I'm talking millions upon millions of years old)! How cool is that?

It looks as though I may be spending quite a bit of time down here and farther south into the land known as Los Angeles for much of this year. And although the archaeology is interesting and that I actually enjoy the desert, I don't want to be down here all the time. I would like to actually spend time living in my house and not just visiting it on occasion a few times a month.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Romancing the Nomad

1. a member of a people or tribe that has no permanent abode but moves about from place to place, usually seasonally and often following a traditional route or circuit according to the state of the pasturage or food supply.
2. any wanderer; itinerant.

I’ve always been romanced by the nomadic life, yet I don’t live it nor do I want to. But I find it fascinating. I’ve met quite a few people who do live it in one way or another. I’m not talking about the more traditional sense of the word like the people of Mongolia or the Eurasian steppes. But those living here and there in the more industrial world. Many of them are in the same field as myself. They move from company to company, job to job. Many do not have a home or apartment and live basically on the job and in their vehicle, or couch surf with friends and relatives. They travel all over the U.S. and some travel the world. The other nomads I’ve met are people like the guides I had in New Zealand. They have lived in more countries than I have even visited, done more different jobs than I can count, work a job long enough to save money to go travel somewhere. And even though they may have a home base, they are never there for very long. I'm not making this sound very appealing, am I? It's an adventure.

In a way, I am envious. There is a sense of freedom that the life of a nomad has that someone like myself does not. They meet all sorts of interesting people, see amazing country, see and do things that I never will. I can’t even imagine the knowledge they gain and have. They live in the here and now. It seems care-free. Living in the moment. And although that excites me, it also frightens me. Perhaps it has been ingrained into my very being that only I am responsible for myself and my own well-being when I am old and can no longer work. Save save save because the government will not be able to support you. Save save save because you don’t have a spouse or children to take care of you. Save save save because you may loose that 401k. You get the idea. I’m always thinking about the future. What will I do five years from now when my sister and I sell the house? Will I have enough money to buy a place for myself? Will I be on my own? What about when I can no longer physically do the job I have now? I don’t have a back-up plan. What about when I’m 80 years old and can’t live on my own? Who will take care of me? And quite frankly, I’m scared to death about getting old and dying.

My brain is always pushing itself out to the future, trying to prepare me for what lies ahead. And this causes anxiety. But the future is not written. I worry and fret and put money away for an unknown life that may or may not need anything.

One could argue that I am a part-time nomad. 50% of the year, I am away from home traveling for work. Although six and a half months in Taft is not my idea of a nomadic lifestyle. But I do tend to travel to places in California, that many regular joe folk don't get to. My path is usually pretty set though. I get my assignment, I go do the job, and I come back. I always come back. But because it is my job, I don't really have much choice in where I get sent, and it is limited to central and southern California. See the six and a half months in Taft reference. The nomad however can pick and choose where to go, what to do.

Now I know I'm making this very simple. It's the "idea" of the nomad remember? So although the nomad gets my blood pumping and makes me giddy, I will not quit my job to walk the Pacific Crest Trail or take a road trip on Route 66 and stop at every weird sign, object, art, or motel. But those are things I would like to do. I think the nomads are a dying breed. Most are all very young, in their 20's, and are still able to rely on their parents for support (money and room and board). They will only be nomads for a short time and then will "grow up" and get steady jobs with retirement plans and medical benefits. Others are getting on in years and worry about what will become of themselves. One of my NZ guides said that while he enjoys what he does, he cannot physically do the job for very much longer and is uncertain about what the next stage of life and employment will be.

I cannot and don't want to be a 100% nomad, but a 50% one is okay. I am in a hotel room in the desert writing this, so that counts. But even this gets old after a time. And living with one would be just fine because I'm gone half the time anyway, so that there isn't time to get seriously annoyed by their strange habits and tics. Or by the time either gets a stick up their rear, one or both are packing and heading out for work out in the world. Sounds great to me.

Well, I am not all that happy about how this entry ended up. It didn't come out the way I had wanted, but I want it out of the draft box so I can move on to all the other junk in my head needing release.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There comes a time…

When you just have to suck it up and make change happen.

Apparently to some, my latest posts have been a bit dreary. I will try to be a bit more… peppy and enthusiastic. And so to start it off: new favorite not really a swear word is… lint licker! Almost as good as hotard. So I guess my imaginary badass kiwi boyfriend isn’t going to spontaneously materialize in front of me. No “poof” there he is. Quite frankly, why would anyone from that little island country want to live in Gilroy? There are hardly any sheep, if any to keep you comfy at all, and it stinks of garlic and manure. I’m putting this part of my life on the back shelf for now and will concentrate on other things. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do with him anyway.

I put my mii character into the wii fit. It told me I’m overweight, and should weigh 17 pounds less than I do now. Um, yeah. I’m 5’3” and built like a rugby player. I understand that I should loose about 10 pounds, which for me is a healthy fit weight. But 17? I did weigh that once… in college when I had mono and couldn’t eat for three weeks. Unless you really want to see a jaundiced sunken-eyed freak, it ain’t going to happen. That whole height/weight ratio thing just doesn’t work on me, it never has. The body/mass index is antiquated at best. But I guess it is still used because it is an easy calculation. Lord knows, I don’t do math well. The majority of people in this world do not look like Barbie. Actually she would most likely have severe back problems due to her, uh, top-heavy-ness. Or those scary supermodels that look like they just walked out of Auschwitz and beaten by their boyfriends. *shudders*

Because it is winter and I don’t get home till after the sun goes down, I’ve been occupying my time at home by reading a book called Living Abroad in New Zealand. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere unfortunately. Ironic that I choose to learn about the country only after I have returned home. It is quite interesting though. I’ve learned that it would be a very difficult process for me, if I ever did try to immigrate. I would need an actual legitimate reason for one, and I don’t have one. They use a point system to even review your application. I would have a pretty darn good score there because I have two degrees and am under 55 years of age. The only thing is, I don’t have the income. Even with these two degrees and being in a supervisory position at work (and sometimes I even have minions), I am still just at the poverty line. Because I live in California, I think I am actually under the line, but don’t quote me on that. Of course if I lived elsewhere in the U.S., it would be the same situation because my pay would be modified to the standard of living of whatever state I’d move to. And remember in an earlier post here I said that NZ pays their archaeologists better? Well, I lied. Sorry. I typed in my salary to a currency converter today, and it turns out that I’m right at the same pay scale.

I’ve also picked out a new paint color for my room. I’ve decided that it is too dark and depressing in there, so I will lighten things up a bit. Perhaps that will help. And I have hardly turned on the TV since I got back from vacation. I have no real desire to watch anything. And I quit Netflix. I had a dvd sitting here for three weeks, never watched. So why pay for something you aren’t using. We still don’t have phone or internet at the house. So I haven’t been able to occupy my time surfing and geeking out. And I like geeking out! Plus it is how I talk with my friends who live so far far away. I was going to go explore/walk in one of the parks I have not been to before over the past weekend but it’s winter and an inversion layer came in and well, it was cold and overcast. Will definitely get outside this weekend!..... unless it’s raining. Then I just might get motivated to paint the room.

Change is definitely needed in my life. Loose those 10 pounds so I can wear a bathing suit in Hawaii and not feel self-conscious. Wow I’ll have to buy a bathing suit. Haven’t had one or worn one since my roommate in college needed people in her aquatic class. It’s just that I am a lazy couch potato by nature. Motivation is needed. Now, where to find that. Do I have to get up off the couch? Really? Fine, ugh. Ok.

Was that peppy and enthusiastic enough? No? I just can’t help it. The winter months tend to be a bit depressing to me. Thank god I don’t live where it snows or freezes. And I’m having a pimple break-out a la high school. And I am envious/jealous of those who seem to have what they want already or know what they want in life. How do they do that? I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. What’s that? I am a grown-up? Shut-up!

**A friend told me today that she loves my new attitude toward work since I got back from NZ.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What to do...

Guess what? It's raining. Oh, it's done now. I am here at the office on a Friday all by myself. Everyone else, all two of them, are in the field or meetings today. So what have I done? I fixed all the spelling errors on most of these blog posts. I didn't bother with the grammatical errors. That's just a waste of my time. I have done some work though too.

My hike the other day was nice. I did a loop trail at Coyote Lake (a Santa Clara County Park). I had never been there before. It is beautiful, and there is a nice community there as well of small ranches. The trail was closed, but I did it anyway. The sign said the trail was closed to equestrians and bicyclists. It said nothing about people on foot. So I had it all to myself. The only wildlife I encountered, if you even want to call it wildlife were turkeys. I picked up some books at the book store the other day. One is a small book on easy trails in the San Jose East Bay region. I think I will go through and walk all of them.

And now for something completely different:

I've been emailing a friend of mine recently and she said some interesting things that got me thinking. We were discussing the fact of why we are both still single and in our 30's. The two of us live very different lives but we are similar. We are both strong, opinionated, independent women. I had a boyfriend in college, but it wasn't until that relationship ended, that I realized what I had become and I didn't like it. That put me off relationships for quite a while. Two things came to mind when I realized I will be the crazy lady with cats. (I'm already crazy, just don't have any cats yet)
1. I have no social life. You need one to actually meet people and get friends. But I don't like going out. And I'm an anxious nervous freak when I have to meet new people, so I try to avoid it as much as possible.
2. Like I said earlier, I'm very independent. I've been "alone" as it were for a long time. I can and have lived just fine all by myself. I don't need a "man" to do anything, because I can do it. I can build a bookcase, mow the lawn, lay a brick patio, take out the trash, and even get rid of a partially decapitated mouse in a trap, all by myself. I can even change a light bulb! And I do a job that most Americans think as a male profession. Although in reality there are more female archaeologists than male these days.

And so we have decided (my friend and I) that because of this fierce independent nature, men are usually put off by it. The ones we are attracted to are not attracted to us. And those who are interested tend to be, how should I say, a bit on the girly side, which for me is not an attractive trait. It is kind of off-putting when I'm more of a man than he is. They either want to "take care of you" or want to be "taken care of". And we don't need either. I am capable of wearing the shiny armor and riding a white horse, I don't need to be "rescued". And I sure ain't going to "rescue" you. Just get up off your damn ass and "get it done".

And so according to my friend we will be crazy single ladies the rest of our lives. And there is nothing wrong with that. The world needs crazy cat ladies. And she may be right, I don't know. I've gotten this far on my own, and it ain't too shabby. Only that the single life can be, at times, a lonely life. But that's why we get CATS!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Same ole, same ole

So I won’t be moving out of the dungeon any time soon. I won’t go into details but it’s a freakin’ mess. So those of us left in the office are staying put for the foreseeable future. I’ve only been back to work for a few days and I am not motivated at all. I hate getting up in the morning. If the scenery on my commute to work weren’t as pretty as it is, I’d go nuts. And driving home in the dark sucks. Maybe I just don’t like winter. Let’s go back to New Zealand where it is summer and the sun doesn’t set till 9:30pm. I like that idea. It’d be perfect. I could spend California winters in the New Zealand summer and New Zealand winters in sunny California. I would never have to suffer through winters again. Although, I would probably shrivel up into a brown prune and look twice my age, but I could live with that. Now if only I could win the lottery…

I was suppose to go monitor construction today in Monterey. So I didn’t go into the office. I would call the gal in charge of the project in the morning, and she would give me a time to be there. So then I would call again before I left home and she would give me a new start time. By noon, today was called off completely. I will most likely have to be there tomorrow morning at 7am. Ugh, that’s early. So I decided to take the day off. I’m at the coffee shop posting this. We will be getting cable internet at the house this Friday. And then I thought I'd go for a hike at Coyote Lake and contemplate.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Things: they are a changing

Hello and welcome to the first post of 2010, from me anyway. I don't know if this year will be good or bad, but one thing I do know is that it will be different. For starters the work office has shrunk from 6 to 4 people (including me). The boss-man and our business admin have moved the "business" part of the office to what I assume to be the boss-man's place of retirement. Yet I don't believe he will retire in the next few years. So when I go back to work Monday morning, I am assuming that I will get to move my desk and all my stuff out of the dungeon (the lab) away from the dust, dirt, bones, and everything else you can think of to an actual office with... wait for it... a real window! It looks out to the lovely asphalt parking lot, but a real window with blinds and it *gasp* opens! Wow.

My sister, whom I live with, will be getting married in October... in Hawaii. So I will finally be able to visit Hawaii, Maui to be exact. And then we will be adding yet another boy to the household. heh heh. He's 40 something, but in reality he is an adolescent boy trapped in a man's body.

I will try to only work a 40 hour work week. While in the office anyway. When I'm in the field running a project it is near impossible. I'm lucky if I can keep it down to a 10-11 hour day while out and about. Perhaps this 40 hour a week thing will help in my lack of enthusiasm about the job. Don't get me wrong, I love archaeology and I like digging holes and walking around looking at stuff. I just don't like the, how should I say, the bureaucracy and how we are treated.

In other news: On my birthday while you all were either nursing a hangover or lounging on the couch stuffing your face with junk food watching college bowl games, I was lounging on the couch eating junk food watching a Dr. Who marathon on BBC America. Then went to Home Depot and bought some pine boards and cut them and fixed my bed so that the mattress will not fall down through the frame. Then I watched more Dr. Who. Ate more food, watched Dr. Who. You get the idea. So I guess this birthday was better than the last one. I didn't want a party or anything. And so I got to sit on my ass. Perfect.

My sis bought me a tree for my birthday. We went and picked him out today. We found him at Home Depot. The nursery was closed, sucks for them. We picked out a young magnolia. I think he will do great. His name is Brisco. We planted Brisco in our infamous tree killer spot. We first planted Bruce the spruce there last spring. We got Bruce in the mail with our Wall-E DVD. Bruce died soon after. We then planted Sam the walnut. Sam we found in our backyard. A squirrel left a nut and it sprouted. So we thought, why not? Sam died soon after. And so Brisco here is our third try. Brisco is young but not so little. I think he will survive. And if you get the link with the names, you are perhaps an even bigger dork than me, and I salute you!

By only working 40 hours a week, I hope to gain more actual home time. I want to explore and see my town and the surrounding parks, trails, and whatnot. I hate running and so to get in shape I want to hike. Sounds like a good idea to me.

I did a bit of research on NZ archaeology. The country and the environment/cultural laws are younger than any U.S. ones. Yet they seem to be much better off. And it looks like they pay better too. But it also is a very competitive market to get into. There just aren't very many jobs. One can hope, I suppose.

So here's to 2010. It will definitely be different than last year. And I'm hoping better.