Back to Work Blues

Can my vacation truly be almost over? I was supposed to have like ten days of nothing to do! Now, on day nine, I find myself thinking about work, starting to go over in my mind all the things that will need to be done when I return. That overdue Biological Opinion for the park, the conservation easement review for the development, the amendment request for those grading phases, yada yada yada.It really helped me to have something to work towards – you know, having this cruise – saving vacation time, planning what I would do, looking forward to this vacation. And now that it’s over, I’ve got nothing to look forward to.So Tuesday I’ll be back at work, vacation gone in a flash, another few hundred dollars deeper in debt, all the stress of my job still there. What can I do? Sigh…I guess there’s nothing left I can do but…

…start planning my next vacation (although it seems so far away…)!!!

There ARE some good things about my job…

It’s good that I can get outside every once in a while. You know, away from my desk, my computer, my office without a window…

Today I got to hike around Lake Calavera in reviewing the City’s trails program. It was such a nice day out – sunny, not too hot, a nice breeze. There were about ten of us on the hike and about eight of us walked over this poor little guy without realizing that he was even there (and to tell you the truth, there were so many dog and coyote turds all over the trail, my eye probably dismissed this baby rattler as a dog dump. But don’t tell him that!).

Hhhiiiisssssssssssssssss!!! (Translation: don’t tread on me!)

There’s no fish in the desert…

It’s true. There are no fish in the desert, especially here in Southern California. I know this because I’ve looked. Well, there are desert pupfish, but not in the area that I was in.

I have a lot to catch up on! I’ve been very busy, with training in Sacramento and Denver and moving and field work, but back to the desert. In late May, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend three days out in the desert near Palm Springs searching for the endangered Coachella Fringe-Toed Lizard. I didn’t see any of those, but I did see a ton of zebra-tailed lizards, desert iguana, desert horned lizards, and even a long-nosed leopard lizard (which was absolutely gorgeous, by the way). We were surveying in a few areas, including the valley that has hundreds of windmills. There’s a reason why they chose that area for windmills, too. You know why? Because it’s frickin’ windy! I think I saw a few lizards fly by, but I mostly just found abandoned shoes and rubber hoses in those plots. And it was global safety day – I was busted by some workers for not having a hard-hat and safety goggles, who warned me that propellers fall off the windmills all the time (my response: “gee – if one of those huge blades fall off and hit me on the head, do you really think a hard-hat will help me out?”).

I sure do miss the desert – it wasn’t as beautiful as Utah or Arizona, but it was still good being out there in the dry air and hot hot temperatures. Good times! Here are a few pictures I took – there’s the horned lizard and desert iguana, in case you were wondering (alas, the leopard lizard ran away before I could get my camera out – boo hoo!).

Job update: it’s all about…Acting!

Remember Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live? He did a sketch about Acting, and it was so true. The first couple of weeks of my new job were pretty crazy because I was (and still am) intimidated by all these smart biologist types. And even though I’m supposed to be one of them, I’m still scared of making a complete ass of myself. So, I’ve told myself it’s all about Acting. Oddly enough, I’ve been having some success with this little mind trick: pretend you’re a smart biologist – how would a smart biologist react in this situation? What would a smart biologist do in this situation? And it’s great because I can become another person, one with a little more confidence and moxie. So far so good.

The job has been getting a little better. I realize that the learning curve there is pretty darn steep, and I’ve absorbed a lot in the past 2 1/2 weeks. Stuff I’d never thought I’d know before. I can see where this job would be very cool once you kind of figure things out, but for now, I’m still baffled and apparently I will be for a while (at least that’s what everyone says). However, I still believe that it is an important job, a necessary job, and one that I can learn to do. Don’t know how long I’ll want to do it, but for now, I’m happy with…Acting!

Wow – I even have my own cave…er, I mean, office!

Yesterday I started my job as a Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Woo hoo! At this point, I’m a little overwhelmed by everything – there will be a lot to learn, and I’m not just talking about the names of the 53,000 people I met yesterday. The lingo, the acronyms, the inside jokes, the important serious regulatory stuff…

But, everyone seems very nice, and I even have my own office. Ok, so it doesn’t have any windows, which makes it more like a cave, but it is my own space. Yesterday I spent some time moving furniture around in an effort to not have my office configured “totally evil” according to Feng Shui standards. I’m slowly but surely bringing in odd little fun objects (e.g., my leopard-spotted devil ducky from my CLC job), but am trying to go about this process in a way that won’t scare my co-workers. And I’m scouring the internet for free wildlife posters to put up on my white white white walls (with some success – the EPA is a great source!). When I get a check from my consulting job I’ll be going to Target to pick out some spiffy office supply things and maybe a plant or something three-dimensional to break up the cube-like feeling of my cave (I mean office).

Today they had me accompany another biologist on a trip to a local site that currently contains an endangered plant species. The site had been mowed and disced which had damaged a lot of the plants, so everyone is trying to figure out what to do in terms of righting the situation (I can’t really say anything more about this). Anyway, it feels really great knowing that I’ll be contributing to preserving endangered species – I have a feeling that this will be a really rewarding, fulfilling job! It will also be challenging – I have A LOT to learn, and I’ll admit I’m kind of intimidated by all the smart biologists working in the department. Perhaps eventually I’ll be one of them though! Something to shoot for, I guess…

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, today is my birthday, but I’ll tell you that the last few days have all been good. This post will concern the events of Thursday, which was the day…

…insert drumroll here, please…

…that will be marked as…

…the day when…

…are you ready yet?…

…the U.S. government decided I was worthy of being put on their payroll!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!

Yes, I have finally been offered my first real job, as a Fish and Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based right here in Carlsbad, CA. I interviewed with them about a week ago and they called me Thursday to offer me the position, and you can bet I snatched that right up. I’m happy to report that I will have a comfortable salary, complete with the satisfaction of knowing that I’m doing something that will utilize my education AND allow me to contribute to a good cause. In a nutshell, my position will be mostly regulatory – I’ll be reviewing development proposals and making sure that they are in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. I start my job on March 20, which gives me some free time to do a small consulting project and then kick back for a couple of weeks (and serve jury duty, but that will be another blog entry). I’m going to probably start apartment hunting during that time, and maybe even go to Mexico (or at least somewhere) for a little fun. Sound good? I’m pretty excited about the whole thing!

Anyway, I have some pictures to post but that will have to happen tomorrow (at the earliest). I’m off to play with my Sims, who have been neglected for the past few months. Cheers!