January 6, 2007

Where do I go from here?

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a geologist. When I was young and doe-eyed and looking for the right fit academically everyone went on with the old cliche that if you do what you love, the money will follow. I'm here to call bullshit on that old myth. At least in the case of geology. Which brings me to my dilemma today: What the fuck should I do about my career?

When I first started college, (at Santa Barbara City College because when I was in high school, there was no glimmer of a chance that I would be hauling my party-girl ass out of bed at 7 am on a Saturday to take the freaking SATs, so 4 year institution from the get-go was O-U-T out!) I had no idea what academic path I would pursue, but I knew it would be something in the sciences.

In high school, biology and marine biology really spoke to me so I expected I'd go down that road on some level. On the good advice of my dear friend Lulu (rip sista) I took an introductory geology class. Within two weeks, my major was declared. I must give credit to the professor (Karl Hallbach) who romanced me into a life of dirt and rocks. He was an inspiring teacher who opened my eyes to a discipline that incorporated everything that the world is made of and the way all aspects of the physical and life sciences work in concert in this fascinating world.

Half way through the semester, we had our first field trip to Death Valley and however much I'd become enamored with geology was exponentially increased. Perhaps it was the desert sunsets and breezes, perhaps it was sitting around a fire drinking liquor and telling lies. It certainly wasn't the nimrod fuck hole playing Tangerine and various freaking Eagles "hits" (yeah, hits like vicious blows to the gut) on guitar and stinky stoned white-girls with dreadlocks singing along. But I was over the desert moon drunk on cheap liquor and geology.

An aside... Have I mentioned my misanthropic tendencies? This might be why life sciences of the biology type was patently out of the question on my academic path. Hence my mantra: If it lives or ever lived, I don't really care that much.

Anyhow, I wasn't one of the folks whose parent's teats were flowing freely. Dad had died already and Mom was not a woman of great means, though very proud and supportive of me. The means to the end of my education fell down upon my own cunning to finance. So I worked and it took for-freaking-ever to finally get my bachelors degree. Which, for the record, came to pass at the tender age of 30. In the meantime, ironically, I had a career for seven years in the mental health profession (see previous paragraph).

After college, I had the incredible opportunity to work in mining, which is the holy grail for any geologist who isn't an eco-Nazi, which I am not at all one small bit. And on top of it all, mining is lucrative, fun and exciting with really bitchen heavy equipment. You can't imagine how cool it is to climb a 12 foot ladder to get into the cab of a 250 ton dump truck. As things tend to go in the mining industry, the mine closed and I was laid off. So in a desperate fit to get a job in Santa Barbara where my mother was living and dying at the time, I took a job in environmental consulting after swearing that I would never get stained green and ruin what was shaping up to be a lovely career in resource exploitation. Dammit dammit dammit!!!

Fast forwarding past a whole litany of stories from the past 5 1/2 years that are fodder for future blog submittals...

I abandoned the west coast a year and a half ago for fear that my soul wouldn't survive one more minute of California life, and transferred to an office here in beautiful Boston.

Now, professionally, I'm not so sure that I am in the right position and I have been questioning my career path for about as long as I've been in environmental consulting. And for the past year, I've felt at a crossroads. You see, as much as I still love geology, environmental consulting has little to nothing to do with pure geology and it's not even a fraction of as interesting as geology is. I'm in the unfortunate position of having to continue to pay for my education, but I've got some big harebrained ideas about what step to take next. There are a few paths that I can pursue and I can't seem to get my head around which is the right one to take.

- I can embrace the profession that I've fallen into and go to graduate school and be all I can be in environmental consulting.
- I can chuck it and go to nursing school and reduce my stress load exponentially and not have that pesky working 7 days a week situation, yet make a pretty similar salary
- I can pursue a super-fantastic business idea I've come up with and risk failing miserably and going ever deeper in debt.
- I can stay the course and tread water at my current station in life.

After this exercise of putting these thoughts out for all the world to see, I'm no closer to resolved than I was when I started writing this. But on the other hand, I'm inspired to write more entries for this fresh hell. Stay tuned kitty cats. I'll let you know what comes to pass.


Eddie Waring said...

I am absolutely the last person in the world to be giving career advice to anyone(35 and just starting working towards a degree!)But I do live by the rule that if what you are doing isn't working you have to change it. Much more opportunity in the mental health area, never ending supply of work there mate. Fuck! Don't listen to me, you would be better off with a magic 8 ball. Like I said, last person in the world....

Fresh Hell said...

Thanks Eddie. You might very well be on to something. Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to keep the bills paid as I change careers... there's the trick, amigo! I needs me a suga daddy!

AliBlahBlah said...

Hello Stranger!!!

I spent 3 months as an environmental consultant and loathed it - reports that had to be seen to be written rather than written to be seen. The ONLY worthwhile thing I got out of that jaunt was LK, which isn't saying much. Oh, and your fabulous friendship of course.

I can't believe you started a blog w/in days of me. Bizarre. I love it too, you should definitely give your business idea a shot I think, especially if it involves the web or writing at all.

Time to feed the creature. Just you wait til I give LK the link to your blog. Be warned!!!

Fresh Hell said...

Thanks for the feedback Wrigs! The general consensus is that I ought to look into starting my own business. However, that would really defeat my efforts to be a supreme lazy ass. We'll see.

I'm not afraid of LK. I've always been able to take that overgrown whiteboy down. I'd actually love to hear from him.

Keep that animal of yours fed!