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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jaded in the Field

I'm laying in a random bed eating day old pizza which I heated up in my rooms only cooking appliance, a microwave, while listening to some indie rock music and reflecting about happier times. I do this knowing that I'll have to wake up in 8 hours from now and brave the cold weather to go look at some core pulled out of the Earth. I'm in Milford, Utah and I have been for the last 12 out of 13 days. Is this what being a geologist is?

Today was a relatively easy day. My partner and I worked for 8 hours, far shorter than our typical 12 hour shift. We worked together expediting the process of things and only drilled two holes. Most days I've been the lone geologist on my crew of 4-5 people and we've done anywhere from 4-7 holes. Afterward we drove into the city (Beaver - population 4000) to get some Mexican food and check our cell phone messages.

That was pleasant I guess. It's something to look forward to, but to be honest these past couple days have been quite miserable. I can do field work, it's not a huge deal. Having a room, whatever I want to eat, gas, rental truck and any supplies I need for the job all paid for by the project is great. Then on top of that getting paid more than I ever dreamed of making at this point in my life is amazing. There are so many perks to this job, especially the field work aspect, that I couldn't leave even if I wanted. I just get so lonely.

My only connection with the outside world is whoever I can talk to on facebook. I find myself messaging random people who I've not talked to in years just in the hopes of starting a conversation. It doesn't normally happen. Occasionally old roommates will have a conversation with me or various girls that I used to date will chat for a while with me, but that's about it. I can't talk to any of my family because my motel has an absurd long distance charge that I would feel bad charging my company for and my cell phone doesn't get service here.

Around town I've tried talking to various people and making friends, but most people here seem content with not getting to know outsiders. I don't blame them. It's a small town, maybe 1000 people. Everyone knows everyone and when someone comes in with a new $40,000 pickup truck wearing clothes purchased at the mall and traipsing around their modest town eating out every day. It's probably a little annoying. Then I try asking questions like what living in Milford is like and they look at me weird. I understand I guess. If someone asked me what living in Salt Lake was like I would be happy to answer, but I'm proud of Salt Lake. I can't imagine many people are proud of Milford. It probably sounds condescending though I don't mean it that way. I really want to know what the lives of people here are like.

On any given day I have about 2-3 hours to myself where I'm not working, doing post-work paperwork, showering or sleeping. I have those 3ish hours to get dinner, read, watch TV, play on facebook and anything else I might want to do. I guess that's what being an adult is like. I can't imagine things are much different for most of my married friends, but I'm single. I should have plenty of time to myself still, right? Oh well.

It's just hard. It's hard being with drillers for 10-12 hours hearing about nothing but raunchy sex stories, of which 95% are more than likely completely made up, and cursing over dropped pipes, slippery work conditions or crushed liners and then making an hour long commute back to a motel room over mostly unpaved roads. It's strange to think that I went to college for four years to live this life. Would I have gone for it if I knew this is what I was getting myself into?

Don't get me wrong, there are good parts to my job as well. I love sitting in the office with geologists and engineers and building models and even building databases (though databases can get monotonous at times I still do enjoy it.) I love the pay and the ability I have to help people out when they need money or to just be able to say "I got this one," when I go out to eat with someone and not have to worry about how that's going to fit into my budget. Certain things about life right now are amazing. Field work is just so hard. I don't know how long I can sanely do field work at this frequency for an extended period of time. I hope once the Sevier Lake project is completed that I get to spend a few months doing desktop geology.

I guess overall this is a wonderful experience for me and is really helping me become a more well-rounded person. I'm learning so much. I'm doing a great thing for the surrounding community should a mine develop here bringing employment and commerce. It's just that being cut off from friends, family and anything that I care about for 12 of the last 13 days isn't something I dreamed of doing shortly after college, but I guess this is the life right here; a lonely motel room and a laptop and day old pizza. Staying up late, past 10pm, for the sake of writing a blog that I can someday reflect back on and hopefully remember these times as being a pretty good experience.

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