May 20 2015

To the Mountains and Back

How do I get my iPad to stop barking whenever I receive a phone call? Why does it bark instead of, say, whine? Why does it make a peep at all when I can’t answer the call via the iPad anyway? It really is very annoying, and mysterious.

Eleni made a classic remark the other day: “I’m good at organizing. It’s just a matter of following through.” It’s good to know yourself.

Speaking of knowing yourself, aging is weird. I realize I’m not young, but when I’m around people I don’t know, I’m a little confused about how old I actually am. An attractive contractor was here yesterday to do some lead-abatement painting (it was free, with a grant from the county) and I looked at him and thought, “I wonder if he’s single.” What I should have wondered, if I had an accurate self-concept, is if he has an attraction to people twenty years his senior. And then there was the time I took a singing class at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), which offers enrichment classes to senior citizens. I took my seat at the first session and looked around me. What I saw was a sea of old people. I coped as best I could: by dropping the class. I’m going to try again, though. I enrolled in another OLLI class, this one about the quirks of baseball, and this time I’m going to try hard to understand that my classmates are my age-peers. It’ll be hard. By that time I’ll have just turned 61, so maybe I’ll be over myself by then.

I went camping last week because I needed to get away from everyday life, which consists largely of pacing and worrying about my continued unemployment. All attempts at finding a job—from Internet searches to prowling up and down the street looking for “help wanted” signs—have ended up in the trash heap. I got turned down at Trader Joe’s. The toy store didn’t want me because I’m overqualified. Well, they didn’t say that. Actually, I never heard a peep from them after submitting my four-page application. Four pages for a toy store. Jeez. They wanted to know things like, “Identify five qualities that make you right for this job.” I’m not going to tell you how I answered because it’s embarrassing, but “broad life experience” was one.

Either I’m overqualified or I’m underqualified. So many of the jobs out there are for really techie people like Molly, who grew up with computers. Further, employers seem to prefer hiring young people to older ones.

Ever since getting my car back after my January accident, it has been making a horrific rattling howl when I reach speeds over 60. I’m not going to take it back to the auto body shop that “fixed” because they kept it for over a month last time and it sure seems they didn’t do a great job. And since it doesn’t happen every time I hit 60, it’ll be hard for my mechanic to diagnose. I think something’s loose up front, like the bumper. I hope it’s not the engine. It’s very unnerving, since I worry that at any second something’s gonna fall off or go kablooey. Actually, a six-foot long plastic piece fell off while I was backing out of my driveway last week and I thought that would solve the problem, but it wasn’t the culprit. The right-front of the car still howled all the way to and from my camping trip.

The trip was pleasant. I stayed outside of Yosemite’s high country for two nights. One day I drove into the park and took a hike up toward a lake only about a mile from the road. It was lovely, but the trail wasn’t well-marked, especially this early in the season, and I am notorious for getting lost. It was quite chilly (in the 40s) and windy, and all I had with me was a rain slicker and an apple. Usually I carry a space blanket, matches, and all manner of proper outdoor supplies. So when the trail vanished under snow, I turned back shy of my destination. An hour later I tried another hike toward a waterfall, but there were two creepy guys on the trail and I’d forgotten my chapstick, so once again I headed back toward the car prematurely.

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Back at the campsite I made a nice fire and read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (about the Appalachian Trail) and did crossword puzzles, retiring early when a group of young men made camp at the site about six inches away from me, diminishing my pleasure at being in the Great Outdoors.

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I think obsessively about what I’m going to do about work and money, and I keep coming up empty. I think about moving to some other part of the country where expenses are lower than in the Bay Area. But leaving my friends and family would likely be catastrophic. I had signed a contract with an energy consulting company to do some copyediting for them, but haven’t heard a word since. Actually, that’s not true. I wrote to them to let them know I’d be out of town for a few days and they replied saying, “We wanted you to begin tomorrow.” Give me a break. I contacted them immediately upon my return and do you think they’re ready for me yet? Nope.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “To the Mountains and Back”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t you apply to Five Little Monkeys earlier, as well, before you got the animal job? They’re fools, mama, fools. There are tons of cashiering/barista-ing/fish-mongering jobs at Market Hall on College Ave., I learned today. Did you ever follow-up on the opening at the gift-y shop up the street from you or the Mediterranean place down the street from you or the Ecology Center jobs I forwarded? It’s so discouraging, and reminds me a lot of our house search: every time I send you a link to a new job posting I envision some arrogant young upstart strolling in and getting hired on-site, which is exactly what I imagine happens with the remotely affordable houses I find. Make one of your sons-in-law look at the car, please. No, scratch that: I insist. Did I tell you before how totally admirable your solo camping is? I’m very glad you were out of Chapstick on that trail, though, and decided to turn back. I am equally as pleased you came home two days early!

  2. Molly says:

    I will teach you how to stop your iPad from barking. I am experienced in iPad debarking, never fear.

    I quite like my Albany car guy if you’d like to ask him to look at your car. Let me know if you want that info.

    I am still so glad you went on your solo adventure – very brave of you no matter what, and good to get your little footsies out into the dirt for a while.

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