Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I’m not THAT old, am I?!

I’m a dreamer. I have built my future log cabin in the woods. Built it in my mind, that is. And I know what my little homestead will look like, the amenities it will have, the rooms for my books and crafts, a simple kitchen with a huge pantry. Or maybe a good-sized root cellar. (That’s probably more practical for my life.) Either way, I need to have a space for baking – and a separate area for my knitting and fiber arts, where bits of food can’t bother the wool.

I have dreams for the future and I don’t feel that old. Of course, the surgery last November played with my body a bit. But I’m ok. I need more exercise and sometimes my knees do feel a bit stiff, but that’s the arthritis I’ve had practically since birth. At least I don’t have a lot of pain. Yet. I could stand to loose more than a few pounds, but maybe that will happen this summer when I’m outdoors more often and am more active in general. You all know my feeling towards the rain and blizzards we’ve had in April and so far in May…

I’ve met a portion of my job/career goal – I’ve made it to the seasonal ranger dance with the National Park Service (NPS). It could take decades to get a permanent job. (I have one friend who was a seasonal for 10 years before she got her first permanent position. Another friend, somewhat by choice, is still a seasonal after 22 years – but she’s trying to find a permanent position now.) In other words, I have a long haul before the career is permanent, most likely. The NPS is one of the most beloved and seriously competitive agencies to land a career with, within the entire United States bureaucracy. No matter what you think about our government, Yellowstone is still damn cool. Denali is breathtaking. The National Mall has some great museums and landmarks – including the White House. Yes, the National Park Service may be embroiled in the bureaucracy, but the places we work are just stunning. And those places need us to care. So here I am.

I keep telling myself that when I get one more portion of my current debt load paid off I’ll start looking for a nice little place in the mountains – for that little homestead I mentioned earlier. Some of you know that I’ve been trying to work through the 101 Things in 1001 Days goal program. I’ve met some of those goals…. Most recently, I paid off one portion of my current debt load. It was the smallest of the bills, but still a milestone. The next budget goal involves the final amount due from my surgery. It’s less than $500, and it will be done by August. Hopefully sooner. And I’m closer to my overall debt-reduction goal because of these - even though the surgery temporarily increased my debt.

This is how I think. I see milestones. I try to find a bit of good in things, even though I know I complain way too much. Yes, lately the complaints have been the incessant rain. It's raining again today, by the way.

But back to the goals. I guess I’m like this because I have an eye towards the future. Note, “towards the future” implies I expect there to be a future for me. It isn’t all just in the past.

But since my new roommate moved in about 5 weeks ago, I’ve had to admit that I’m a bit more out of the ‘young’ crowd than I generally think I am. She’s 24 years old. I’ve never heard most of her music – even though it’s always on the radio in the car, so I’m guessing it’s popular. (God, I sound OLD!) I thought NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! was a good show to listen to. I thought it was funny. Apparently, it’s funny for old farts. And I’m one of them.

This past Saturday, I got up in the morning and went through my usual morning routine. Then I drove over to Mika & Tom's house, picked up Mika, and drove into the park to go hiking. Thus the pictures of the blueberry flowers that I posted in my last entry. So we walked, enjoying the sunshine and the birds singing. Even the little froggie. (Toadie? I'm so not a herpatologist.) After our hike, I ran home to get my contribution to our group lunch at Mika & Tom's. My roommate was still in bed. I don't believe she's spent any non-work daylight hours in the park enjoying the trails, animals, etc. It's really kind of sad, at least from my point of view.

Next “old” topic: the internet. Ranger Julia and Ranger Tom got back to Mount Rainier on Sunday afternoon after spending the winter elsewhere (they are seasonal rangers too). I was talking to them about a few projects we’d like to tackle this summer for the park and in our own lives. Julia always has interesting ideas. It was a great conversation. But we didn’t have a computer on at all. We talked while unpacking their apartment stuff. In fact, we talked about spinning (spinning goat hair from the Sunrise area!), weaving, and cooking, among other topics. I mentioned that the roommate spends all her time on the internet. Tom told me it was a factor of age: we grew up in a time before everything was a click away. We had to make our own entertainment. So we had hobbies. We learned skills. And, heaven forbid, we used our imaginations. And I’m only 35!?

My roommate spends every waking moment that she’s at home on her computer. It’s an addiction. If she’s not Skyping, she’s watching videos or chatting – frequently with some of the guys in the next building. (Why doesn’t she just walk the 10 yards to their apartment?) She’s found her way into the lives of a couple of guys in the next building who have satellite TV. I’m glad she’s made friends, but when she’s not online or at the local bar, she’s at the guys’ place watching TV.

She stares at the internet while drinking her breakfast juice – 15 minutes before walking to the office to spend all day on the computer/internet there too. And to think, I’ve lived for the past 14 months without internet at home. (I still don’t have it at home.) I believe she’s good with the kids that visit the park, and she seems to like working with the kids, but outside of those work duties, I can’t imagine how much boredom she must be feeling. If I was in her shoes, I’d be bored.

She teases me about being old. She’s got a very good-natured sense of humor, but I’ve really wanted to tell her that she needs a hobby and maybe a few life skills other than Cloroxing door knobs, drawer pulls and refrigerator handles when she’s got a cold.

Then yesterday, a miracle happened. She asked me how to marinate and cook some cubed chicken to serve over rice. One of the boys was coming over for dinner. The meal turned out well; she said she wanted to learn to cook more things because it tasted so much better than her frozen dinners.

I have yet to tell her she’s growing up. I’ll sit back and enjoy watching this process while I can. It’s cute. Wireless entertainment.


  1. Funny you mention it---there actually was a study on a news show the other night suggesting that young adults are addicted to the internet and other wireless devices (like cell phones, texting, etc). Kinda scary.

  2. Oprah, today, was about a family that was disconnected from each other but were connected to their emails, texting, and video games. They spent a week disconnected from electronics, eating meals together and made up new rules for keeping connected. They seem to be happier and plan to keep up their goal of connecting to each other. Even 5 year olds can grow up.