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Overacheivements

Feeling a bit over-extended these days.  But oh, it feels good.  I’m making up for five months of being unemployed and purposeless, I guess.  A lot is happening all of a sudden.  I’m going into my third winter in Utah, and I’m reminded of my third year at Clark University: the first two years were rough-ish, but I’m finally hitting my stride, and opportunities are beginning to present themselves.  Suddenly the world feels very small and very possible, a feeling I learned to recognize while riding the wave of serendipity in my past travels.  I met Clint when I first moved to Salt Lake City, at a block party to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama.  It was a chilly night in January, but the party organizers had rented gas heaters and wood scraps were burning in barrels along the street.  I’d chucked my old tennis shoes at a cardboard cutout of G.W. Bush (“Shoe out the old!”), tucked five dollars into the plastic jar at the refreshment table and mixed a hot chocolate and Bailey’s before finding my way indoors and switching to beer.  I thought he was cute, in a round-faced, curly-blonde way.  I didn’t know many people at the party, and was grateful to have someone to talk to.  He mentioned his wife, Linda, and the conversation wound tipsily around his work as an entomologist and hers as a forester-cum-editor.  Almost two years later, I don’t remember how Linda and I eventually met, but we now swap hiking guidebooks over martinis and Mediterranean food.  Her husband and my boyfriend have been friends for longer than we have, but she and I have bonded quickly.  Mutual friends roll their eyes when we meet up at parties, because they know we’re going to monopolize each other for the rest of the night.

Linda works for an environmental consulting firm.  Last spring, knowing that I have a degree in English, she mentioned that the company was looking for a part-time editor.  At the time I was packing to hit the road for the summer, and knew I’d committed to snowmaking in the fall.  Interested, yes, but it felt like poor timing.  A month ago she got in touch to tell me they were still thinking of taking on someone new, so I sent in a resume and cover letter.  It was the most challenging job application I’d completed oh, since college, probably.  I haven’t applied for a serious, “professional” job in five years.  My food service, customer service, and outdoor/physical labor resumes are in tip top shape, but an editing resume?  Um.  Well.  Yes, I have this degree, yes I worked in a publishing house (seven years ago), yes I’ve always been very good at grammar and research, yes I’m a perfectionist and a good reader, but phew, finding solid work experience to back up all of those general acquired skills was challenging.  I spent the better part of a day compiling, wording, and re-wording my resume and writing a cover letter.  I wasn’t sure it would be good enough to get the job, but I told my parents about it, bragged to my boyfriend, and felt a warm, satisfying pride in actually doing it.  I can still complete hard assignments!  I do have some innate talents, five years out of academia!  Kari, Linda’s boss, wrote back immediately to tell me that my resume had been received and was “in the mix”.  Ah well, I thought, at least I tried.  It took another month for her to call me and offer me the job, but she did.  I was sitting in the waiting area in my local Firestone while the mechanics changed the oil in my car, and I accepted.  I started the next day.  That was three days ago, and I’ve been giddy every since.

What is this new job?  Say that Kennecott Copper Mine (the largest open pit copper mine in the world! the website brags.  I can literally see it from my house) wanted to dig another pit.  The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) provides laws and regulations that the mine must follow in order to do any expansion, so Kennecott would hire the company I work for to run tests, inspect the site for archaeological artifacts, and write up an Environmental Impact Statement, which I would then edit.  The writing is technical, but fascinating.  In two days of work, I’ve already learned about the history of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe of Idaho, and that one of the major issues with building a solar panel farm in the Arizona desert is the amount of water the farm would require.  I feel like I’m listening to NPR or reading National Geographic articles while working.  I love it.  I’m getting paid (well) to learn new things and use my college degree!  The best part (or, one of the best parts) is that I’ve been hired on a temporary/part time basis.  I don’t have to commit to working in an office for the next year.  Kari (who’s my boss now, too) told me they could have anywhere from zero to twenty hours of work for me a week.  I’m more or less functioning as a contractor.  And once I get the hang of the company’s style guidelines, I will likely be able to work from home, on my own time.  This is a dream come true for me.  I’m building skills and connections that will ultimately allow me to earn a living from home.  This is just the beginning.

So, a new job!  On top of still making snow at Alta (we should be finished any day now, except the weather won’t cooperate.  Salt Lake is stuck in an inversion: polluted, 35°F air in the valley trapped by high, 45°F air in the mountains.  I scrape frozen pollution off my car windshield every morning.), I’m coming up on the dates when I told Brighton and Solitude Resorts I’d be able to start work.  Weekends at Brighton, weeknights at Solitude (no housekeeping this time, just reception/bellman work at the Inn), and my daytime hours split between skiing and this new, professional editing position.  Plus, I have friends!  GIRL friends, even.  I’ve stuck around long enough to make meaningful connections with women whom I admire and respect.  And strangely, staying put seems to be helping me to achieve some of my greater life goals: writing, adventure, travel, baking… I’m writing more, and more easily, than I have in a long time.  Adventure lurks around every corner (motorcycling in Moab, downhill mountain biking, dating a man with a 10-year-old).  I’m planning my travels purposefully instead of randomly (at least for the moment).  The next trip is slated for mid-March, back to Peru, with a possible two week side trip to Colombia.  And while I still rely on store-bought bread for my own personal use, next weekend at Brighton I’ll be selling all kinds of baked goodies at the 2nd annual craft fair.  Life is moving like a flooded river: fast, and full.  It is good.

4 comments to Overacheivements

  • Brett

    Congrats on the new job, that’s very exciting. Great to hear that things are going well. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  • syreena

    Yay for your new job- and baking too! I don’t think that I knew about the baking. yay for using your degree! If you ever end up working at National Geographic, let me know if you can get free subscriptions for friends. and Yay for friends too. Glad that you’re having fun in SLC.

  • alison

    YAY! congrats! welcome to the world of NEPA and EIS! now you’ll have to teach me more about them. ; )

  • Dennis

    My only response to this is.
    You don’t change your own oil?

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