Welp, I booked my flight to Europe. September 20th, Seattle to Dublin, layover in San Fransisco. I had absolutely no intention of going to Ireland, but it was the day before I was set to go on an 8-day project at Petrified Forest National Park, and I wanted to buy a ticket before I got back and prices had gone up. Panicking about whether or not to buy from Getawayasap.com, I was about to buy a ticket from them when I came across a line in the fine print saying that unspecified “booking fee” charges might be applied to one’s credit/debit card and was like NOPE and bailed. Remembering that I have a Jetblue frequent flier account, I tried looking up flights via them, and then via their partners, which is what took me to Aer Lingus, which had a flight for $660 out of Seattle on a Saturday but only to Dublin. The train from Seattle to Portland is $26, and I’ve always wanted to go to Washington (state), so this kills two birds with one stone. I did all this about 2 minutes before I was supposed to get in the van for work, and had to lay back and fan myself after spending an amount of money over $50 at once, but I felt much relieved after having done it.
I thought I could get Jetblue points by booking with Aer Lingus, but apparently I can only get points for Aer Lingus by joining their frequent flier program? In any case, I’m not terribly upset because a flight from Portland to Manchester via a legit airline site would have been about the same price on a Wednesday, which would have cut very short my week in Oregon. Plus I’ve booked via an airline website and not a fare searching site, and hey, what’s not to like about landing in a city with a Guinness factory, eh? Also leaving later allows me to work another project, and subsequently get another paycheck I wasn’t expecting at all. Despite only getting a living stipend I’ve managed to save back the money I spent on my Central/South America trip this winter, so I’m happy about that. The rest is just gravy for my two weeks in Capitol Reef National Park and the Northwest.
What the hell am I going to do exactly while in Europe? Wander around and do whatever takes my fancy at any given moment, I suppose. Either be in non-Schengen Area Eastern Europe after 90 days, or just go to Africa when it gets too cold (provided the Ebola virus doesn’t suddenly take over the entire continent, which I don’t suppose it will but you never know). I’m going to attempt to spend 6 months with what I can fit into my trusty 35-litre backpack, that’s going to deserve another post. I scribbled a list on a post-it note while at the bar a couple weeks ago, but I need to see if it’ll make the 7kg weight limit for discount airline carry-ons or not!
It’ll be a little strange not having a return flight or a real itinerary and end date for this voyage (unless I get a job with the Park Service or Forest Service for the summer, but I’ll be applying on USAjobs in the fall and won’t know for awhile), but I think that’s the fun of it. I think it would be fuckin’ awesome if I got a seasonal job at a national park in Alaska- would definitely come back to the U.S. for that. But if that doesn’t pan out- well, I’ll see where the road takes me.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
actively work against this
I think it’s time to admit that I have some not-insignificant control issues and that they play a pretty major role in my constant traveling. It’s not so much a romantic, “ah, I love seeing new places and get bored easily staying in one location”, and more “whenever I feel like I’m losing control of (every little detail) of my life I go on an extended journey where I can be totally in control of where I go, when I go, and how I go about it”. I’ve always been good at saving money so I’ve never had a problem just up and quitting a job (from retail slave to the hagwon teacher) and then taking a trip to relax and gather myself back together.
I realized just how bad it had gotten when I saw that, at the very last minute, my project had been changed from Petrified Forest National Park to the Grand Canyon National Park, which leaves tomorrow instead of Wednesday. I was slightly enraged: I had been looking forward to going to Petrified, had even talked to the crew leader about what kind of work we’d be doing, was going to be with a friend I wanted to hang out with, and had needed that extra day to meet up with someone who was leaving, do laundry, and generally prepare myself. I jumped into action, found someone who wanted to switch projects with me, emailed the stand-in scheduler, and then when he got back to me had my prospective project-swapper call him and confirm the change. Then I sat back and looked at what I had done and felt kind of stupid- how could I feel so entitled after how accommodating the office had been for me these past 6 months, keeping me in Flagstaff so I could see a therapist regularly, taking me off projects that threatened my sanity, giving me a week off after I. died, putting me on a different schedule so I could see my family, taking me off another project I couldn’t stand? I asked a friend if I had overreacted and was going off the deep end. She said yes, it was a little much to expect to leave a project without a serious reason (she’s dealing with a family issue that requires her to be on local projects in case she needs to fly home at short notice), and she hasn’t heard me actually enjoy a project in months, so while I’m still touching bottom, I have definitely paddled my way out of the kiddie pool. To be brutally honest, she thinks I need to get out of this job and out of Flagstaff. I agree completely. My term is up on the 30th, so I just keep counting down the days and trying not to snap before I get to that point.
I need to either figure out how to deal with things I can’t control (I realize that this issue stems from something in my past that isn’t lightly overcome, but I still need to work on it) or find a way to be self-employed so that I never have to deal with someone else making my schedule for me (among other things). It seems my current tactic is to take a trip that lasts as long as the time I’ve been employed prior to it. Maybe if I just listen to “Let it Go” enough times something will sink in?
I find there are few things more satisfying than splitting a 16-ft log by oneself. (Okay, quartering logs is pretty great too). Although I do wonder about the quality of NPS chainsaw training. The trainer at my conservation corps had a stick and would whack our hands if we didn’t wrap our thumbs or put the chain brake on while walking around.
My mum asked me recently if I was “tired of doing hard labor yet,” as if perhaps I had seen sense and would take a shower and go back to civilization, preferably to pursue a master’s degree. Nope. Swinging a sledgehammer is 100% more fulfilling for me than any indoor job ever has been. I just have to convince myself not to go back to school for Wildland Firefighting.