Monday, November 28, 2011

Decisions and holiday festivities

Killing multiple birds with one stone here. First off, it is major decision time for me. Can’t put it off much longer. I no longer have unemployment benefits. Apparently I worked too much in October. It was going to expire in January anyway. So I went and applied for school. Well, I didn’t actually go anywhere. I did it online while sitting on this very bed. I register for classes the week of December 14th. I will be taking Horticulture Landscaping classes. If anyone needs any work done, I’m available. (nudge nudge) Don’t have a part-time job yet to sustain this yet, but there is still time. This of course means that once school starts in February I will not be able to take archaeology jobs. Mostly because field jobs take me away from home for weeks at a time, and the whole point of going to school is actually physically going to school.

Which brings us to point number two. Archaeology. I will miss it. I love it, but it also almost destroyed me. I will miss my fellow archaeologists. They are very intelligent, gifted, loyal, down right raunchy people. It takes a special quality person to do the job, and I will miss them. I will miss the places I got to see and the places I will never get to. I was able to see and go places that most people never get to. Drive on roads that are locked, climb mountains where there are no trails, find artifacts that no one has touched in hundreds of years. I got to go to such a variety of places. I will miss exploring. I will however not miss the stress of report deadlines and client demands and expectations, the fear of angry and sometimes armed landowners who hate you just because you are an archaeologist. I will not miss the bureaucracy and blame being thrown at whomever is closest.* I was relieved when I got laid-off. A large burden that I never wanted in the first place was lifted. There were some responsibilities I hated, like having to deal with angry property owners, and clients who didn’t even understand what our job is and what it entails. Lets just face it, I hate confrontation. It makes me very uneasy whether it be clients or co-workers who don’t get along. Since being laid-off, all of those responsibilities no longer applied. I was essentially demoted. I am no longer a project manager/supervisor. I work now as just a field technician. I miss putting together site records, the artistry of drawing maps and features, manipulating photographs in the office. I have enjoyed the field work I have been able to do since that time. I enjoyed just being a member of the crew. I will miss it. I hope that perhaps during school breaks and over the summer I will have the opportunity to come back and do some field work. I’m not sure I can completely let it go. There is a part of me that will always crave it. The need to explore and find and see things for the very first time. Archaeology gave me access to feed that craving and paid me, to boot.

And thirdly, I’ll keep this one short. It is holiday season. I don’t tend to get excited about it. I don’t hang Christmas decorations, I only buy gifts for immediate family and don’t spend much on them (especially this year). It’s just not a big deal to me. I enjoy spending time with my family, don’t get me wrong. But I am like my father and his father before him. We like to be there. We want to be around everybody, but we don’t want to necessarily do anything. We just want to sit there and just be. When I think of this holiday time, it is for sappy hallmark movies and card commercials that make you cry. It is for movie marathons that last for days. It is time to watch Star Wars (episodes IV-VI only, I-III sucked ass) and Lord of the Rings (extended version), and old but good tv shows like Farscape and Firefly. And then watch them again with commentary. (Yes I do that, I admit it) It is for 1000+ piece puzzles. When I think of this time of year, that is what makes me happy. Oh and the BBC America channel always runs a Dr. Who marathon on New Years!!!! I have watched it 2 years in a row now. It is a great way to spend my birthday. Yes New Years Day is my birthday, you may be hung-over, but I will be in my comfy PJ’s gorging myself with food I shouldn't eat and watching Dr. Who for 12 hours straight. Bow Ties are cool!

*This is not necessarily individuals. Archaeological companies are usually the lowest on the totem pole of large projects that involve many agencies and companies, and often get the blame for running projects over budget.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Permanent temp

I’ve gotten some steady work recently. The last two weeks I have been monitoring and digging out at the Monterey Presidio with the ole company. It was fun to get out and actually dig a bit, especially there. There is such a long history there. The next two weeks I will be with the same ole company, surveying and updating/recording sites out near Lone Pine, on the east side of the Sierra Mountains. Should be fun. I have not been able to get out there before, so it will be exciting... I hope. I will be with some good people, so all should go pretty well.

I like that I have gotten some steady work recently, but I am not one of those people who can live like this. What I mean is that, I’m a person who functions best when the job is permanent, in that I show up everyday at 8am and go home at 5pm. Or some variation of that. Or as my dad says, a lunch bucket person. Constantly networking to find the next job and living week to week is not my forte.

So it is nice that I am working at the moment, but it will not last, and the search is still on for the permanent solution.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's that time again: and no it isn't my moon cycle!

It’s time to write another blog post. Life is still in limbo. I have now been unemployed for over 8 months now. It is starting to get scary. I’m starting to get anxious about the whole thing. The longer I am unemployed the harder it becomes to find permanent work. I haven’t been a complete lazy ass. I worked off and on (1 or 2 days a week) for 2 to 3 of those months for my former employer as a construction monitor. I did a week long survey with a former co-worker at his company. And I spent about 2 months landscaping my parents backyard. I changed my diet (got mostly healthy) and lost 20 pounds. I also installed hardwood floors in my house! That seems so long ago now.

I’ll be working the next 2 weeks for my former employer again. I’ve just been out for so long now that I find that I just don’t want to do anything. It is getting harder to get out of bed in the morning... or more like noon. It is hard to even get motivated to mow my own lawn, do laundry, or even get dressed.

I seem to go through a few weeks of deep depression, then a few weeks getting out of it, and a few days of motivated work looking for jobs or fixing things around the house, and then I slip right back into the depression.

I think I am more frustrated with myself than I am with the economy and my lack of a fulltime job. I can’t seem to make any decisions about my future. I have a feeling that for me to successfully transition out of archaeology and into something else will take a lot longer than I want it to. I want it to be instantaneous. It will, in reality, take going back to school and/or several jobs over the course of years to acquire the necessary skills needed. That thought just makes me want to curl up in a ball and never leave my bed again. It is like starting over. It is starting over. To become an archaeologist, it took going to 4 different colleges over the course of 4 years. We can add the 6 years it took to get my BA in English when I thought I was going to be a famous and wealthy author, if you want. Will it take that long again? I have greater responsibility now. I was living rent free then, and only worried about paying school loans and tuition.

Oh to be young and free again. I’m not old yet, I know. Unless you’re talking to a teenager. I know I am complaining. I certainly don’t have it that bad. I have unemployment benefits, a healthy body, a working car, a roof over my head, and food. I am not in danger of loosing any of these things. And if I did, I have the support of my family to help me. There are many people worse off. Now I feel guilty for complaining! Ugh, the perils of being the offspring of my parents (the guilt is strong in our blood).

Tomorrow’s goal is to get out of bed before noon, and spend some time outside in the sunshine. The sun is good for my melancholy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trekking: Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park

A few weeks ago now I decided I needed out of the house but didn’t want to go far so I went to a trail head that I knew. But decided that I should try to get to the lake from this entrance. I have hiked around this area before a few times but have never done more than a few miles or more than the Mendoza Trail loop. The entrance I park at is the Mendoza Ranch Entrance which has free parking, but the only restroom is a port-a-potty. The Mendoza loop is great for a short 1 hour hike during a lunch break or just as a quick getaway.

This trip I did the Coyote Ridge Trail and looped back on the Valley Oak Trail. It is about 5.5 miles total. No major elevation gains, and once at the lake you can refill your water if you’re low. Also once at the lake there are picnic grounds and bathroom facilities as well as a fish cleaning station, if you are so inclined to fish there.

I was expecting the lake to be blue and beautiful. It was more a green-brown color and not so appealing. It is used mostly by people wanting to fish or jet ski or take their motorized boats for a spin. Not for sun bathing or swimming. It is not the cleanest reservoir due to the motor boats and that most of the park is a working cattle ranch.

Part of the hike I did is part of the larger Bay Area Ridge Trail system (Coyote Ridge Trail). The Bay Area Ridge Trail system is a large loop of trails through many parks that basically does a loop around the entire bay area. Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear is also the newest park in the Santa Clara County Park system, made in 2005.

The trails are moderate and are great for families who are not wilderness back country mountaineers. If you want exercise and don’t want to travel far from home to “get away”, this is a perfect place. Or if you are a novice camper... a great place to try out your camping skills. If you get scared of the squirrels and bugs, you can always drive home in minutes.

I enjoyed the hike. I am however used to the views by now so it is not breathtaking for me anymore, but don’t get me wrong, the views are gorgeous, it’s just that I have seen them a lot now. From the ridge trail you can see the southern Santa Clara Valley and the coastal range. Walking along the Valley Oak trail you are immersed in the oak woodlands walking under the canopies of Black Oaks, Valley Oaks, Blue Oaks, and Bay Laurels. In the spring there are wildflowers. On my hike, I passed one lady on her mountain bike and saw one boat and one jet skier on the lake. I saw plenty of wildlife: Deer, wild turkeys, hawks, quail, turkey vultures, and of coarse squirrels and lizards. The trails I took are well maintained, no risk of poison oak if you stay on the trails.

I did the 5.5 miles in about 2.5 hours and my camelback backpack held enough water for my trip. My only warning would be this: it is a working cattle range which means there are cows about. So when you cross a gate on the trails, please close it afterward. I’m sure the ranchers have their cows separated just the way they like them. And watch where you step. Squishing into a fresh pie may not be to your liking.
Some of my friends seem to think I'm crazy to hike by myself. When I do hike on my own, I choose places that I feel safe in. Sure bad things could happen. I could get mauled by a mountain lion or break an ankle in a hole, but those things could happen with a hiking buddy as well. I choose places that if such things do happen, help is not far away. And I don't go hiking at dawn or dusk when mountain lions are about. I'm not stupid. And I never stick earbuds in and listen to music when I'm out there. The natural world sends out messages, and I need to hear them and so do you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trekking: Henry W. Coe State Park

A while back a friend of mine Facebook-ed me one night and asked if I wanted to go hiking the next day. Sure! Don't have to ask me twice. She drove down from Milpitas and I drove up from Gilroy and we met in the Parking lot of Trader Joe's in Morgan Hill. We drove up to the main entrance to Henry Coe. We were the only car, heck looked like we were the only visitors. We figured out the parking fee (on the honor system) and we set off on our first hike of the day (after my friend spotted a snake of course). We did a loop of the Monument Trail and the Ponderosa Trail. I had read in a little hiking guide book I have that this is a great trail for sweeping views and good for a short hike. It was about 2.4 miles. We did it pretty quickly. The views were pretty awesome. There is a steep section right at the beginning, we stopped once or twice to catch our breathe (but really it was to take in the views). We came back to the Coe Ranch Headquarters and had lunch, and decided to do another trail. We did a another loop that entailed the Corral Trail, Forest Trail, and the Springs Trail.

And that's where things went bad. Not super bad, to me anyway, because they all happened to my friend. We saw a little detour though some rocks and I went in front. And right when I said, "don't fall in the poison oak", she slipped and landed butt first into the poison oak. In the process tweaking her ankle. She said she would be fine so we continued on. Then she ran out of water on our way back. I gave her the last bit of my gatoraid. About 5 minutes or so from completing the loop she got overheated and we stopped and rested for a good 5 to 10 minutes. We made it back to the Headquarters and she puked. Ew. Luckily the Ranger decided to fix the photocopier machine so the visitor center/ gift shop was open. I went in and got her a cold water and me a soda. But of course I had to talk to the Ranger, but I'll tell you about that later. My friend sipped the water, and when we thought it was safe to get in my car to leave she puked again, but not in my car thankfully. I puked in someone else's car before and I have not lived it down yet. I then drive slowly back down the mountain and to her car. I ask if she will make it home ok. She assured me that she was going to be fine. I heard later that she didn't quite make it home before she puked again.

Question: How come every time someone pukes all conversation turns to "there was one time when I puked..." like this subject is suppose to make the person upchucking feel any better?

We were making fun of it all the whole time. The "oh my god, i killed Kenny" thing. In actuality we didn't bring enough water with us. At the headquarters there were water fountains and we should have restocked before we left for the second hike after lunch.

Also, I have puked horribly after ingesting gatoraid before. Most of them are too sweet and my body will react to that. And apparently so does my friend. She was also wearing shorts. I don't recommend shorts on these trails because of the poison oak and that some of the trails are narrow and through high grasses, so if one is sensitive to varying types of grasses brushing against your legs, then shorts should not be worn.

We had a great time except for her twisting her ankle, falling in poison oak, and upchucking. We didn't even scratch the surface of this parks network of trails. Henry Coe is the largest State Park in California. It is over 87,000 acres! Besides day hiking like we did, you can backpack, camp, fish, ride horses, etc. If you are backpacking, you better be serious and know what you are doing. 23,000 of that 87,000 is designated wilderness. You really can get lost... for many many days.

Also, this is one of the parks slated to close in July 2012. This lovely state decided to cut the State Parks budget in half and close over 70 state parks. I think this was one of the stupidest ways the state thought it could save money. And the Ranger I talked to agreed with me. When the park is closed and the trails and campgrounds are overgrown and the water system is turned off, who is going to find the idiot who decides to go on a backpacking adventure to prove he is all that, when he gets lost?? Who is going to patrol 87,000 acres to make sure nobody is growing pot in it or hunting illegally? And where is the state going to get the revenue the parks brought in? They may have a budget from the state but they also made money for the state. I don't understand why you would cut something that makes you money.

Anyway, you can see I have issues. Henry Coe Park is trying to fight its closure. If you'd like to help by donating money the Coe Park Preservation Fund is the place or if you are the letter writing type, write to your congress person.

Henry Coe has been my backyard my entire life, yet I have only been in it once. Strange that sometimes you don't see the value of a place, especially one so close, until it is threatened or gone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trekking: Sprig Day Use Area

Thinking of a new segment here since I don't really have any stories about work right now. (still not gainfully employed) I enjoy hiking. I don't get out there nearly enough mostly because I find it hard to motivate myself to actually leave the house. But when I do strap on the boots and fill up my camel back, I enjoy the experience, and wonder why I don't do it more often.

This trip was to the Sprig Day Use Area of the Santa Clara County Park system. This day use area is mostly used by picnic-ers and equestrians. No bikes and dogs (off leash) allowed. There are only a few trails here, but for the enthusiasts it does connect to Mt. Madonna County Park.

I did a loop of the two main trails: The Merry Go Round and Ridge Trails, with a jaunt down the Old Mine Trail to a surprise and the Tie Camp Trail which connects the Merry Go Round to the Ridge Trail.

This little park in situated 5 miles west of Gilroy in the east side of the Coast Range (Santa Cruz) Mountains on Hwy 152. Blink and you miss the entrance. The trail starts out in the Oak woodlands. The typical rolling hills you see around the south bay. Big oak trees and bay laurels with thigh high grasses and wild flowers, and of course the icky stuff like thistle and poison oak. As you climb though, the view gets prettier. Ever once in a while you need to turn around on your way up to see the valley open up beneath you.

Also, because this place is in the coast range... Redwoods!! The higher you climb, the more little pockets of redwood trees. It is very cool to go from open space with oak trees to being engulfed in a redwood forest canopy, and then back again.

On this trip, I passed only one other hiker. So if you want to feel alone, this may be the place.

When I got to my intersection to start back down the mountain, there was a side trail called The Old Mine Trail. A short there and back again of 0.4 miles, so I decided, what the hey. My map said there is a scenic lookout, might as well go see what it is. This trail was not very maintained and is overgrown at the end, but if you are taller than me, you can get better pictures. And when I got to the end, I saw this.

a cool little lake!

The loop I did was about 4 miles and took me a little over 2 hours. I saw butterflies and quail and lizards and of course flies. You aren't hiking outdoors unless there are flies. One can easily spend the entire day here and hike into Mt. Madonna and back, and parking is free!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I’m getting frustrated with myself. The feeling of guilt and laziness, whether warranted or not, of being jobless for five months is getting to me. I’m trying to figure out what kind of job I want. I’ve thought about going back to school for construction or horticulture, but would require 1 to 2 years of full time schooling and finding a job in the meantime to pay for the schooling and mortgage. I actually find it somewhat humorous that someone with a BA and an MA would consider going back to school for a technical certification from a Community College.

I don’t know if I want to go back to school. I already spent 9 years in college, do I really want to make it 11? Some days I think I want to, other days I don’t. Then I start thinking too much. To change careers, how much new stuff will I need to learn? When I started in archaeology, I knew practically nothing about the field. I went to school and started reading on my own because it was interesting to me. I don’t do that anymore. I feel now like an uneducated, out of the loop unemployed archaeologist.

I’m someone who has many interests. Who will learn enough of something to be competent. I learned to play many musical instruments. I was good, but not great at any of them. I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m not an expert at anything.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Have you ever

Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m once again listening to Pearl Jams, Just Breathe. Have you ever cupped your hands over your headphones (back in the day) or pushed your earbuds into your ears so that you could listen to music? I used to do that to pick up the bass line of a song I wanted to learn. If you have never done this, try it. The volume does not need to be loud, actually if it is too loud, it doesn’t work. I do it to pull out all the other layers you don’t usually hear in a normal listen via speakers or earbuds. It is like having the music re-verb in you head instead of off the walls or the interior of your car. It bounces around in your skull. Again, don’t do it with a loud volume. I don’t want to be responsible for your hearing loss.

I can pick out the lyrics and melody of course when I do this, but I can also pull the bass line and all the other intricacies of the piece easier. Examples would be like how many guitars are used. I can pull the lead guitar away from the accomplement, which is usually more intricate. I can pick out the many layers. Such as this Pearl Jam song. Vedder is the only singer. There is no harmony with a voice until the bridge and later incarnations of the chorus. But there is an acoustic guitar, synthesized wind instrument like a wooden flute or that old airy pipe organ sound... oh what is that thing... (google-ing)... ok google has failed me., bass guitar, strings, and an electric guitar. Back in the day I used to be able to tell if it was real or synthesized strings and if it was a violin or viola, trumpet or french horn, and so on.

Pushing my headphones into my head was how I used to learn how to play something. I would have one headphone plugged into my cd player (before the invention of ipods) and the other headphone plugged into my bass amp. I didn’t want to be too loud and annoy everyone else in the house. But I would spend hours plunking it out until I got it. This was also before tabs and chord sheets were readily available on the web.

My nephews process is similar in some ways. He gets the tabs to something off the web and plugs in everything to his amps and plays along. Only he likes playing everything so loud that the bathroom toilet is vibrating.

Even if you don’t play instruments and aren’t interested in dissecting how a song is put together, listening to something with your headphones or earbuds with your hands or fingers pushing them into your head is a very interesting way to experience the song in a new way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Breathe

When a particular song pops into my head, I usually have to do something about it. Sometimes it is a song that is annoying and I have to get it unstuck by listening to something else or watch some tv or read a book. It then goes away because my mind is now thinking about something else. Other times I take it as a sign that I need to listen to it for a reason. I can usually tell which it will be. In this case, a song came into my head and I knew, “I need to listen to this... right now!”. I have it on a loop on my ipod as I write this. I was getting ready for bed and stopped to listen... and write.

The song? Just Breathe by Pearl Jam

Here are the lyrics:

Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..

Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they've got none, huh-uh

Stay with me,..
Let's just breathe.

Practiced are my sins,
never gonna let me win, aw-huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh,..
Yeah, I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world
to make me bleed.

Stay with me,..
You're all I see.

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see,..

No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.

I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw-huh,..
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave...

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean, ah-ah...

Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.
Love you till I die,..

Meet you on the other side.

So what does it mean? Not sure. I first heard this song on the trailer for the documentary movie called Buck, and I sought it out. Found it and downloaded it. Vedder (as in Eddie Vedder, lead singer for the band, if you didn’t know that already) wrote it back in 2009 so it isn’t very old. Usually when I find a song and I say, “wow, what a cool new song” it is usually pretty old... by modern rock standards. I guess I lucked out this time.

Is it a great piece of poetry? Maybe not. Is it a masterpiece of music? Probably not. But I like it. And really that’s all I need. It fits. It is mild... for Pearl Jam, if you know their music.

So why did it pop into my head now? Maybe only to get me to write. Maybe to speak to me about love, mortality, or something else. Whatever it is, I’ll figure it out sooner or later... or not.

I know two things. One: I really like this song. Two: I want to go see the documentary Buck where I heard this song on the trailer. Go watch it on youtube or hulu. You will most likely want to go see it as well.

Another thing: the reason for the song popping into my head... I can’t figure it out and it is in there, somewhere, the reason, and it is aggravating me that I don’t know what it is. I guess I will keep listening to it for a while.

I’ve been thinking about getting back into music again. I miss playing. Why I stopped is a mystery to me. I miss playing my guitars, (even the bass) and the piano. I think I want to learn to play the mandolin. I guess I need to go buy one. Those of you who have known me for a very long time know that I have a severe case of performance anxiety. To a point where I can make myself sick and unable to function. However, that is only the case when I am the solo performer. Which is why I never “solo-ed” while in the Lumberjacks. As part of a group ensemble, I am fine. I am in the moment and enjoy the camaraderie of the group performing as one. When I play by myself... completely different story. When I play alone.... I want to be alone. It is for me, and me only. If I want to share it with others, I will. But when I used to play my guitar or piano, it was for my own enjoyment, pleasure, release.

I miss that. And I think I need that back in my life, especially now when my live is in flux/ transition.

And there you go. This is why this song came to me when it did. Well, I feel better now, and now I am going to enjoy this song a few more times before bed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Set back or celebration?

I have been hesitant to write this one (and post). But you can’t just celebrate the good stuff and goals achieved. You also have to admit the failures and plateaues. I got on the scale for my monthly weigh in on the “step two” and didn’t loose any weight. I didn’t gain any either. I was bummed. This isn’t the “maintaining” stage. That is step three. What this means to me is that I cannot rely on diet alone. Just monitoring my food intake and eating properly will not help me loose weight. It is depressing to think about it. To know that for the rest of my life I have to exercise A LOT to loose weight and to maintain that goal weight... when I reach it.

I am still determined to reach my goal. I lost 18 pounds in the first 8 weeks. My goal is 14 more pounds. It is not going to be easy. And I think it requires a new reward system for the final goal. My original goal was that every 5 pounds lost, I would allow myself to buy a DVD. Which has worked. I have only bought 2 DVD’s even though I have lost 18 pounds. I was waiting to get those last 2 pounds and hit 20 to buy the next 2 DVD’s. But for that ultimate final goal, it needs to be big. Really big.

What should it be? I want it to be a vacation, even someplace on my list of “things to do before I die”. It may need to be a new stamp in my passport. The first three places that pop into my head are: Australia, Machu Pichu, and Chaco Canyon - Mesa Verde. Hesitant about Machu Pichu because I don’t want to do that one by myself and the fact that I have never regained 100% of my lung strength from when I got Valley Fever. I have difficulty breathing at 7,000 feet, let alone 15,000! And I won’t take the train to it. That’s cheating. If it is chosen, I will hike it. I would also love to go back to Hawaii and not hide behind a surf shirt and extra large board shorts and take surfing lessons!

Any other suggestions? I’m open for some ideas.

Ultimately I chose to sort of celebrate by having an In-N-Out burger and fries.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Feel the Fear

Feel the fear, and do it anyway. This is a quote from the TV series Roadtrip Nation on PBS. I love watching this show. It is a small group of young people usually around 20 or 21 and about to graduate college. They travel around the country in a green RV interviewing interesting people about how they came to be who they are. It is suppose to help these young people figure out what path they should take next in their lives. Mostly the people they interview say to find what makes you happy, find what gives you passion, find something that makes you wake up in the morning happy to go to work. The show is geared to people in their early 20’s. However, after watching episodes I feel inspired to figure myself out and find what makes me happy. I’m not in my early 20’s, but I feel that I am standing at the next crossroads in my life. Do I go left? Do I go right? Do I turn around? And I think, it is never to late to try something new. Only thing is, I don’t know what that new thing is.

I know now that I lost my enthusiasm, passion, and whatnot for my current profession. I think, I’ll give it till the end of the season. (Field season - which usually runs till the weather turns rainy and snowy) My former employer which is my somewhat current employer at the moment will never take me back in the capacity that was. I will only be working for them as a field person. Right now I work for them on a very part time basis on a temporary job as a construction monitor. The work itself is very boring. But the crew is very nice and fun and I can’t argue with the view. I have a view of the pacific ocean and the Monterey Bay.

The plan is, for now anyway, is that I will work for whom ever in the field doing surveys and excavations till the weather puts a stop to it. So I should be somewhat employed till say... November-ish. But I don’t have a plan for after that. What do I do then? I have to make money somehow.

But that is just it. I feel like I have to make money. I have to because I need to support myself. No one else can, nor should they. I know that I cannot work in a cube. I think it would slowly suck the soul right out of me. I also know that I can’t just sit on my ass and wait for “it” to drop into my lap.

So, do I go back to school... again? Take some classes that interest me? Apply to Home Depot? I don’t know. My father asked once a while back as a conversation starter at a small gathering of friends what our favorite job was. And I think my answer surprised everyone... who actually know me. It wasn’t archaeology. It was the stock room at Borders Book Store. I started out at Borders as a barista in their cafe. Then I became manager of the cafe, a supervisor. I worked at the info desks, cash registers, helped customers find books, opened the store, closed the store, etc. But when I got accepted to field school, and then grad school, I couldn’t be a supervisor anymore because I couldn’t work certain days and enough hours. So I transferred to stock. I unloaded pallets of books and stocked the shelves in the wee hours of the morning. I loved it. I got to organize stuff. I didn’t have to deal with people who would say, “I’m looking for that book, you know the one with the green cover? It was on that show.” Or “this doesn’t taste like Starbucks, why doesn’t it taste like Starbucks? Make it taste like Starbucks!” Seriously, if you love crappy Starbucks that much... then go to Starbucks!! Does it say Starbucks anywhere in here? I always wanted to say that to people. I did tell someone once who was really rude about the drink I made him. I told him that Starbucks was just at the end of the shopping center and that he should go there, I’m not Starbucks. Anyway, I got off subject. I liked making coffee and espressos, and I liked stocking shelves. There was some stress to the job, in that we had to get the pallets of books out on the shelves as fast as possible because the next pallet was always coming, but it was a manageable stress. The actually organizing and stocking was calming to me. I know, I’m strange.

I think this is why I’ve given thought to opening a new and used book store. But I want someone else to do that part. I want to stock it’s shelves and run the little cafe inside, not worry about the money or the crazy people that will inevitably come in, or the furious community group that doesn’t like the color of our store front.

I remember being told, do what you’re good at. But just because I am good at certain things, doesn’t mean I enjoy them.

So I will stand here at my crossroad for a while longer and continue to scratch my head and study my map. I feel the fear, only the fear is that I don't know or may never know what job will make me happy or at least happy to go to work most days.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The first eight

It is finally time. I was a bit scared to step on the scale this morning. What if I didn’t loose very much? I know I lost at least 5, and a friend said I look like I lost 10. Well today was the day. The first eight weeks are up. It was time to measure up and move on. I will go ahead and say it, when I started this I didn’t want to say how much I did weigh. So, two months ago to the day, I was 162. Today, eight weeks later, I am 144. I have lost 2 inches off my chest and 2 ¼ inches off my waist. I was actually shocked when I actually did step on that scale. I’ve never lost 18 pounds before. Well, I’ve never had to before either.

Today I start step two of the diet. It is all about reintroducing carbohydrates back into my system slowly and doing it with the right carbs. So still no potatoes, chips, and sugar related carbs. However, I can now eat fruit!!!!! Which is good because strawberries are in season and living in a place that grows strawberries and cherries and sells them at every fruit stand and not be able to eat them would be torture. I can now introduce whole grain breads, pastas, and rices back in. and sweet potatoes!!! Of course everything in moderation. In step one I was allowed only 5 grams of carbs every five hours, besides the carbs I don’t have to count that was in cheeses, meats, and allowed veggies. Now that is up to 11-20 grams and I have to eat them at every meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed snack. So I guess I get to go shopping for whole grain breads and cereals. I have to make sure that what I eat in carbs also has at least 2 grams of fiber. Gotta keep me regular.

I’m excited. It means I will most likely be on this step for another 8 weeks (ugh), but I will get to eat a more varried diet. It was getting hard on step one to keep things going when I was limited. But I did learn that I like brussel sprouts, and ricotta cheese pudding, and that I cannot cook pork chops, but cauliflower is tasty.

The first week of step one was really hard. The book said I would loose the cravings I had for potato chips, french fries, and all around battered and deep fried goodness. I still crave those things, but I can handle it now. I haven’t gone on a binge feeding of an entire can of Pringles and box of Red Vines yet. I also didn’t notice any physical change in my body until well into the 3rd week or so. The first 4 weeks I did pretty good. I had an off plan meal maybe twice, but I was exercising 4 to 5 days a week with 30 minutes of cardio (on the treadmill) and 30 minutes with weights. Weeks 5 and 6 were spent installing the new hardwood floors in my house. I count that as extreme work-out. (I think I still have bruises from that) My lunch and dinners weren’t always great during that time, but I tried to keep the fast food consumption down to a minimum. Very hard when every night the family was bringing over fast, easy, comfort food. After the floors, I took week 7 off, from exercise only... sort of. I went for walks or rode my bike or pulled weeds in the yard. And the last week, I spent gardening (major weed pulling and landscaping). The treadmill is still burried in the garage behind living room furniture that hasn’t made it back into the house yet.

I am amazed and thrilled with myself for actually completing the first 8 weeks of this new lifestyle. I didn’t think I would finish it, to be honest. But I was and still am dammed determained to do this. Nothing else was working. And this is!! 18 pounds lighter is proof!! I do feel better. I have more energy, not depressed, no anxiety (we will see if that changes when I go back to work), and I fit into most of my clothes again. My wardrobe was limited to 2 pairs of “fat” pants, and a handful of shirts. I refused to buy another pair of bigger “fat” pants. Those “fat” pants are now work pants covered in paint splotches and grass stains. I am back down to where almost everything (almost) fits again.

I still have some weight to loose. And now on Step Two, I will continue to loose weight, work-out and eat right. I will weigh-in again in a month (4 weeks), and I will let you all know the continued progress. Today, I celebrate with a meal at In-N-Out Burger. Hey, I’m allowed!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

She's guilty!

I have been unemployed for almost two months now. I have been looking for work, granted not every hour of the day. I have been enjoying the time off. If it wasn’t raining so much the backyard would look amazing! However, I have only been able to start many backyard projects and then a week of rain happens.

For some reason though, I feel guilty. I feel guilty about staying up late and sleeping in. I have always been a night owl. I hate mornings! There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to enjoy this freedom while I have it. Who knows when I will get the chance again? When I retire? Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Also feel a bit guilty because I am not working. I am getting unemployment checks and staying up late and sleeping in and pulling weeds in my backyard. How is this productive? And gee wiz, why do I feel like I need to be productive? I feel like I have to do something... anything. Why? Is it so ingrained into me to be a productive member of society?

I just want to sleep in and watch movies and TV all day. Is that so bad? And when that new job comes along, I go back to being a productive member of society. Right now though... I’m going to hulu to watch some old TV shows.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The loss of Jack the Cat

The loss of a great one

Today is a sad day indeed. Last night our most awesomest cat ever was hit by a car. Somehow he made it home and curled up as best he could in his basket and tried to sleep. My sister and I found him this morning. He didn’t look right, and he could hardly purr. Those of you who have met Jack know that the instant he sees you, he starts to purr. I pet him and lifted his tail and it went limp. I went in to tell sis that something was wrong. Something has happened to Jack. She came back out to the garage and I lifted him out of his basket and sat him on the floor. He wouldn’t or couldn't move his back legs, they just sort of slumped to the side of his lower body. I said, “we need to take him to the vet.” I got his carrier ready while sis called the vet and then the emergency vet hospital. Jack never complained when I placed him in the carrier, and never made a sound on the long journey to the emergency hospital.

He was seen immediately. Got some much needed pain killers and had x-rays done. Sure enough, he had been hit by a car. Most likely got his tail ran over and he kept going. Basically pulling the tail away from the rest of his body. He couldn't poop or pee on his own, and had lost the movement of his tail and majority of his hind legs. We decided it was best to put him down. He was a cat that loved being outside and with other cats and people. We just couldn’t see Jack confined to a box unable to walk or jump for the rest of his life. He was euthanized shortly after 3:30 pm. And we brought him back home and buried him in the front yard where he will be surrounded by roses.

Jack was a great cat. He came to us and claimed us as his own only 5 or so months ago. He was seven months old when he came to live with us. He purred like the devil. Even at the vet where he got his first check up. The doctor couldn’t listen to his heart because he purred so loud. He made friends easily. He had a little fan club of kindergartners who would call for him on their way to school in the mornings and he would come out and let them pet him. All the neighbors knew him. He was smart. We showed him how to use his little kitty door in the garage only once. He got it. He loved to play, but most of all he loved being loved. He loved getting his belly scratched. He’d run up to you and roll over on the ground in front of your feet so you had to either trip over him or stop and give him some love. He loved “loosing” his collars! We finally after the sixth loss, got him micro chipped. He much prefered roaming naked anyway.

He will be sorely missed. His life was much too short. You were one of the best, Jack. Simply, the best!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weight loss 2.0

I’ve always been able to loose a few extra pounds when I’ve needed or wanted too... until now. After 2 months of steady and increasing exercise workouts and watching what I eat with absolutely no results I’ve decided to try something completely different.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

sorry. After the last blog I looked into the South Beach Diet and decided it wasn’t for me. I looked into a few others, and then went to the book store and started reading several books on weight loss and dieting. I found one that fit me.

It’s called the Metabolism Miracle. Basically what it says is that people have either a normal metabolism or an abnormal metabolism. Apparently I show almost all of the signs of the abnormal metabolism. No matter how much I work out, I will not loose weight because my body overreacts to carbohydrates by releasing excess insulin, which is a fat storage hormone.

Usually this abnormal metabolism is triggered by something. For some it is menopause, a tragic death of someone close, or even pregnancy. For me it was stress two years ago that didn’t stop until I got laid-off last month. Since the project in Taft started, I have steadily gained a total of 30 pounds. It has taken about two years. You may not think that is a lot, and in reality it isn’t, but the fact that I can’t get rid of it now... is just frightening.

So there are 3 steps to this thing. Step 1 lasts for 8 weeks. I am almost 1 week in so far. For the first 8 weeks my carbohydrates are severely limited. I am allowed 5 grams ever 5 hours. I’m still getting used to it. I am not starving though, there are plenty of things I can eat. I can eat most meats (lean chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo, and fish). Other proteins like eggs, tofu, cheeses, soy, edamame, nut butters like peanut butter. Fats I can have butter, margarine, mayo, oils, nuts, seeds, and salad dressings. Veggies, I can have almost all veggies except carrots, parsnips, beets (which I don’t like anyway), potatoes, a few squashes, and pumpkin.

You will notice that there are no breads, pastas, rices, crackers, grains, and the things I am missing most at the moment: milk and fruit.

After the first 8 weeks are over, I will start step 2. I will then be able to slowly reintroduce some of my favorites. I will go from 5 grams ever 5 hours to up to 20 grams of carbs. I will be able to have some breads, rice, oatmeal and CEREAL!!! And FRUIT!! And milk, yogurt, and ice cream! Step 2 lasts as long as it needs to for me to get to a healthy maintainable weight.

Step 3 is all about maintaining that healthy weight for the rest of life. It changes from the grams consumed of carbs to servings per day depending on the amount of exercise one does, plus height and weight. There’s a bit more to it than that, but basically after steps 1 (letting the liver and pancreas rest and reset) and step 2 (reprogramming to a normal metabolism), that by step 3 I have learned how to eat and exercise for the rest of my life.

And so this journey begins. I will update you all in about a month with any results or utter failures.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

weight loss 101

It has been well over a month now in my quest for weight loss. And I have lost... wait for it... one whole pound. Grrrrrrrrrr. This is not where I thought I’d be, to say the least. I started out with the wii fit. I realized after a few weeks that just using the wii fit for 20 to 30 minutes a day was not enough. So I started jogging on the treadmill in the garage. I started out at 15 minutes with a 3% incline. I am now up to 20 minutes at a 6% incline. Also I do about 10 minutes of free weights and crunches. I do this 30 minute work out 4 to 5 times a week.

I’ve cut down on how much I eat at every meal. I think I have finally nipped the binge eating on weekends thing in the bud. I have cut out soda... well almost. I still have one or two a week. I cut out fast food... except when my sister brought home Taco Bell once last week.

I think I have finally stopped the gaining and loosing of water weight. I think my regimen as it is will “maintain” my current weight. Now I have to step it up more so that I can start to actually loose this extra weight.

I’ve been doing some research. I need to speed up my metabolism and gain some muscle which will help burn fat. All this work with little to no improvement has been really hard. Keeping myself motivated is difficult. The only thing that seems to be helping is the fact that I do feel better after a workout and the thought that one day I will be able to wear most of my clothes again. It is going to take a while till I get to buy that first DVD. I better make it a good one!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Um, career change?

During this time of uncertainty in my job and life in general, many people have asked what my future plans will be. Will I quit my job*, find another company to work for, stay in archaeology, or get out of the field all together, and many other questions like now that your sister got married, will you move out? Like she doesn’t need me, or me her anymore or something along those lines. And a few people who have known me for well, since birth practically have asked me if I will pursue writing... professionally. It has crossed my mind, but I always push that thought back to the recesses of the back of my brain where other thoughts live that I don’t want to think about like I’m scared about getting old and dying and what if everyone I know dies before me and things like that.

Many people have told me that I’m a good writer. That was one of the reasons or the only reason perhaps that I chose to be an English major in college. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a good writer too, then I stop myself for fear that others will see that I’m really just full of bologna. Seriously, I’ve written some really bad stuff. I’ll even use my Masters Thesis as an example. It is one piece of work that I don’t want people to read. One, it’s really boring, and two, it is a piece of crap plain and simple. On the other hand, I have written some stuff that’s really good. Even I read over things that I’ve written and forgot about and say wow, I really wrote that.

I’ve had delusions of grandeur before of me writing some great piece of work and I end up on the Oprah show as one of her book club selections. You know you’ve made it when you get interviewed by Oprah. But now she doesn’t have a show anymore so that dream is over. I still haven’t decided if I write for me or for the admiration from others. And if it is for the admiration from others, is that a bad thing?

I’ve never ever finished anything I’ve written. These blogs only end because I don’t know what else to say, not that I’ve finished. Even now, I’ve sat here for 15 minutes and still don’t know what to write next. And now it has sat on my desktop for over a month now. So what does that say?

*I got laid-off two weeks ago now, so that answered that lingering question.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another one bites the dust

Another year gone, a new year coming whether I like it or not. The beginning of this year is much like the last. Full of job uncertainty, job frustration, and instead of 10 pounds overweight it’s now 20. But 33 is a lucky number, right? I’ve decided that I need incentive to loose weight. After every 5 pounds I get to buy a DVD. I love movies and I love buying movies. So perhaps this will work. Then when I get to my goal, it’s about maintaining and not gaining it all back so then I will have to work out for every month I maintain, I get to buy another one. I have thought about blogging about the weightloss/getting off my lazy ass experience, thinking it would help motivate me, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

I think part of the frustration I am finding with my job besides all that has happened in the last 6 months is that no matter what I do, nothing changes. Here is what I mean: I go survey and record an archaeological site. The PTB (powers that be) decide to build their strip mall/freeway/seven sacred pools in their backyard anyway. I can’t stop them. I can recommend, but that is all. In many ways by having me survey and document whatever has fulfilled their permit requirements. Now they can go bulldoze all they want. Much of this is because the laws about cultural heritage have no teeth. There is no task force out there making sure that these construction companies and agencies are following my recommendations. No one is going to jail for looting and selling their contraband on ebay.

I’m tired of explaining what a CRM archaeologist is and does, for that matter I’m tired of explaining what an archaeologist is, let alone a CRM one. I’m tired of being un-liked just because of my job title. I’m tired of the confidentiality and secrecy involved. I can’t just tell people I come across while working who I am or what I’m doing. I’m tired of the ignorance. I think a big part of why there is a huge empty space in the collective head of the general U.S. citizen is the institution that is archaeology in general is to blame. We archaeologists get all bent out of shape when people think all we do is dig up dinosaurs (which we don’t do by the way), but we shroud ourselves in such secrecy that of course nobody knows that we even exist. Is it possible that if people in general knew what pothunting/looting/bottle hunting or even just the casual find does to the archaeological record, they would then decide not to dig it up/take it home/ sell on the black market? People say knowledge is power. If people were educated about it would they stop hunting for arrowheads or upgrade their search methods?