I have the most vague idea of the kind of life I want to be living and it’s starting to get silly. It would be one thing if I was perfectly happy to bumble along, into whatever job, house, adventure comes along. I’ve been pretty good at that so far. Actually, when I consider it, I’ve been amazing at that so far. And for most of my existence, I’m really enjoying myself. It would be insane for me to suggest that the who knows what I’m going to be doing/kind of house I’m going to be living in/i’ll be working as/colour legwarmers I’ll wear today (right this second, they are red) perspective has not been working for me because it really has.
I’ve had great jobs, working for awesome people.
I’ve lived in tiny cabins and buses and big houses and apartments in Paris and the beach.
I’ve been places and seen things and experienced music and laughter and joy regularly.
I have a delightful and extensive collection of leg warmers and long socks.
That’s great. But perspective is a super interesting thing. Depending on where you’re standing, it looks way different. And lately, I’m craving something a little different. Which is exciting. But I’ve suddenly been overcome with fear.
My fear is that I’m experiencing that thing that happens every few years or so, where I decide it’s time to be responsible, without having a clear understanding of what I’d like to be responsible for. This is not a new thing for me. Typically, I decide I’m going to go to school and I enroll, I get excited, I start planning accordingly and then I get a job or an offer to go hang out in Paris or move to the kootenays suddenly. That’s the pattern.
I get freaked out that I don’t have money or something creative or interesting going on, I decide I’m going to improve my situation and the most likely option to do that is schooling. So I enroll, but find last minute reprieve with a delightful distraction and bam! No follow through, at least on the school thing. And thankful for it because I’ve spent years convincing myself I do not have the temperament for school. Which might not be true but more on that in a second.
I lived on the coast and planned to go to school. I moved to Paris. I came back and had nothing going on so I put myself on the list for an electrician course. I got a job with my uncle fixing boats and when my name came up I opted out. I started to burn out a bit fixing boats for rich people and started to look at schooling for marine foundations, tickets, certificates to work anywhere in the world. I moved to the kootenays for a time. Feeling as though I didn’t have enough going on work-wise, I started to think about school. And almost immediately moved back to the coast.
Dang, old habits, hey?
So guess what I’m doing right now? I’m in a 6 week intro to trades course, which ideally helps one focus on whatever trajectory they’d like their life to be headed and facilitates this with the acquisition of various certificates that make one more attractive to potential employers, assertiveness training (which, holy wow, I could use a whole damn semester of just that!) how to make resumes, goal setting, etc. But the main focus is on where do you want to be? And since there are only 5 trades offered at the campus here, I had pretty much settled on automotive. Mostly because engines make sense, I have some background. I think since there are so many cars, there will always be some work.
But then they sent me on a work placement, as part of the course. I spent a couple of days with some awesome mechanics, at the city and LaFarge, the mine on Texada Island. Heavy duty mechanics. We’re not messing around here. Working on trucks that have wheels that are about 3 feet taller than I am. The biggest tonka toys I’ve ever seen. So. goddamn. awesome. But still just a happy little v8, not rocket surgery by any means. Totally graspable reality. Ok, maybe not technically a little v8, but you get it.
Without exception, everyone I talked to told me that to start with automotive would be a good first step on an uphill climb. Whereas to start with heavy duty mechanical, I’m already at the top of the rainbow and can then slide down it into whatever grease soaked whirling machinery pot of golden diesel fueled joy I like, whether it be transport trucks, buses, boats, cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, chainsaws, angry cats.
There may have been no official mention of rainbows or angry cats. But I understand subtext.
So, being faced with the end of the course I’m in and as part of the deal on completion, I did an assessment test today not for automotive service tech, which they offer in Powell River, but for heavy duty mechanic, which they do not. The closest places for such things are Campbell River, Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.
I passed. With flying colours. (rainbow colours, perhaps?)
So now comes the swirling vortex of mind fuck anxiety as I struggle with the knowledge that I have what it takes to get into school to be a heavy duty mechanic. Which, to be honest, I kinda already had. But confirmation is nice. Plus there are all kinds of grants for women going into trades that the government has deemed important (such as any that would benefit the oil and gas industry) so the cost of schooling isn’t even as intimidating as it could be. There is no guarantee that I would be eligible for such things, but hope keeps the dream alive.
But does hope keep the monsters living under my bedhead at bay?
Here I am, freshly moved to a new place, open to whatever adventure and delight might be in store for this firegypsy and her black fox princess friend, having found some work and some friends and a tiny house at the end of the road. The reclusive writers’ dream. A small blue cabin to write a rock opera, some novels, plot and scheme my summertime festival pathway lighting path, hula hoop in the living room, listen to the sound of the stars whirling overhead in a dance so cosmic even stars call it that.
But no matter where I move to, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not enough, I just keep bringing it with me, like a sign on my back I can just see out of the corner of my eye. A sign that says, what are you doing with your life? And how long can floating sustain you before you start to sink, or get tired of treading water? Some days I feel like a ghost, haunting my own existence. I don’t want it to take something drastic or dire to shift my sensibilities from one of restless inactivity to engaged proactivity.
I’m also tired of being in a position where I’m on the verge of selling my lasers or whatever I can in order to make rent. I’m tired of not being able to go to the dentist because I can’t afford it. I’m scared of getting really sick and having no financial backup because I never learned how to save money.
At this point, regardless of
a) how much it sucks to even consider leaving here when I’ve only just found it, or
b) how much I know myself and understand my track record when it comes to enrolling in school, or
c) my puzzlement at choosing to be good at something that might result in my working where it can get cold, cramped, bloody, uncomfortable, awkward, hard, wet, smelly, toxic, dangerous, etc.
d) my brain insisting that there are far better warmer, drier, cleaner occupations we would be equally good at
e) being unsure of how my being a heavy duty mechanic would benefit the world at large
I’m seriously considering it.
Which suggests two things. Either I’m determined to challenge the habit of schooling and bailing, end up with some skills and a broadening of the knowledge of engines I already have to put myself into a position where I could find an apprenticeship and earn some money to enable dentist visits and healthy teeth to last the next 73 years(because when I’m 111, I likely won’t care as much about my teeth) or I’m setting myself up for the next great adventure curveball life seems to send along whenever I try to school myself.
However, there could be many benefits to my starting a heavy duty mechanic education. (I say starting because at this point, since I’m not already working for someone who would sponsor and apprentice me, I’ll start with the foundation course somewhere. It’s kind of the equivalent of a first year apprenticeship, slightly fewer bankable hours because it’s all school with a little bit of work placement maybe.)
Having a basic education in mechanics is never a bad thing. Understanding engines and mechanical systems could work for me anywhere in the world. Comprehending how engines run with various fuels might enable me to tweak those systems to run on less conventional fuels (“she drives an electric campervan? How is that possible? She did it herself? How fucking sexy is that? So sexy. And she can play the ukulele? Damn.” It’s true, I’m all about the she’s so sexy fine accolades.) . I know the government has created incentives to get people into trades because they want pipeline workers and I struggle with, where would I end up working if I got into a trade such as this? But sea shepherds need boat mechanics just as readily as yacht owners do.
Ok, this is a crazy moment. This is almost exactly the plot of the movie I sketched in death by never. Was it called that? I think so. It was. Holy fuck.
I wrote my own story 2 months ago, before I enrolled in the course, forgot I wrote my own story, started living it, started to write it again, remembered I wrote it, now I don’t know what to do. I’m caught in a self-referential loop.
Have I manifested the potential future I wrote about because it’s a path that’s right for me? (does that mean I’ve also manifested a sweet love interest who plans to save the world from a more human perspective? I will befriend the robots, he will aid the humans, we could bridge the skynet gap!!! I’M LIVING IN A SCI-FI ROMANCE!!!! MY LIFE IS AWESOME!! Playing out this story suddenly seems like the best idea ever.) Am I going to keep coming back to this school and bail reality until I break the pattern? If that’s so, I should make sure this is actually the thing I want to go to school for. Because while it’s all hunky and dory to get an education for the sake of learning, if I don’t have at least some semblance of a focused plan for what I’d like it to look like on the other side, it’s kinda pointless. Even if it’s moving to Tasmania and building small sheds with solar powered ac to keep tasmanian devils cool so they wouldn’t be so angry all the time.
Come to think of it, I’d really like to visit New Zealand and Tasmania. Hear that random adventure travel gods? I’m thinking about school…