When I Grow Up

When I was little my father was a carpenter. If you know my father this is hard to believe, mainly because I (or anyone else) never saw him do anything handy. Ever. I don’t actually remember him being a carpenter. But I know he was one, because at some point I came across a drawing that I did when I was young. It was of my father holding a hammer, and it said “When I grow up I want to be a carpenter like my Daddy.” Being a child it’s easy to know what you want to be when you grow up. You want to be whatever your mother or father is. After I wanted to be a carpenter, whenever someone would ask what I wanted to be when I grow up I would tell them “A lawyer, because they make lots of money.”

This changed again in high school. I went to a vocational high school, and decided to take robotics / pre-engineering courses. I had a great teacher there, and loved the program. I decided to go to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Mass to pursue a degree in engineering. This quickly changed to computer science after I failed my first engineering course. I really enjoyed the logic and problem solving in programming, but within two years I came to dread the actual code writing and debugging. One misplaced comma in twelve pages of code and your program wouldn’t work. Looking for that comma was miserable. I almost dropped out of school or transferred, but my parents convinced me not to (read: wouldn’t let me).

Dispensing advice

I switched my major once again to business management. It was mainly because I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated, and it was broad enough to allow me to do any number of things. I really enjoyed operations management courses and personal finances, because I felt like they applied that same logic and problem solving I found so appealing in computer science, but dealt with people instead of computers. When I graduated, as most of you know, I spent eight years working as a financial planner. But now I’m back to trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

I want to do something I’m passionate about. Something that’s physical, and when I’m done I have something to show for it. I don’t want to sell something that I didn’t make. I don’t want to sell anything imaginary (i.e. advice, services, etc). I really enjoyed the time I spent farming at D Acres. It was physically exhausting work. But it was also really satisfying. And we ate what we grew, which makes the work immediately rewarding (well not quite immediately, we did have to wait for things to grow). But the idea of living at D Acres indefinitely isn’t very appealing to me. I would certainly do it for an extended period of time, but not forever.

Right now, “when I grow up” I want to buy a parcel of land. Originally my thoughts were that it would be in New Hampshire near Rumney. But Chattanooga has really appealed to me, and the idea of staying here has been creeping into our minds. On that land I want to build a house that is super “eco-friendly.” Wow, that term has really been turned into a marketing slogan and sounds like bullshit, but in order to simplify I’m just going to use it for now. Think composting toilets, a combination of geothermal and wood burning heat, solar panels, wind turbine, rain water barrels, greywater system, etc. And the house may or may not be made out of cob. I would grow a good amount of my own food, make furniture, and allow climbers to camp on the property cheaply.

I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get there. I need to start saving, which I’m not doing currently. I could get a shitty part-time job here in Chatt and start socking away that money for a few years. Or I could go back to D Acres for a year and live on next to nothing. I’m not really sure what I’ll do. But in the meantime I’m keeping myself busy with climbing (obviously). I’ve also decided to start a non-profit called vegChattanooga which will be a resource for the veg curious. I’m currently working on the site and actions and will let everyone know as soon as it’s ready. I’ve also decided to start a balcony garden. With the limited space and sunlight I have I will grow spinach, kale, mesclun greens, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, chives, basil, parsley, and some flowers. Tomorrow the remaining materials I need will come in and I’ll start planting.

My climbing has improved and I’ve been meeting and climbing with even more people. While I’m sad some of my friends will be heading back to West Virginia soon, others will still be here. Earlier this week I climbed my first v5, a heady high-ball named “Country Redneck Bitch.” It starts on a good crimp and micro footholds. You make a big move to a right-handed side-pull and then with your feet basically just straddling the weak arete, reach for a minimal crimp and tenuously work your way up into the scoop. From there it’s jugs to the top, but it’s pretty tall. Below are some new climbing pictures. The first is me getting ready to top out The Big Much (v4) with Ruth spotting me. It has a really difficult start but then moves into easier climbing. That photo was taken by Stella. Next is a pretty cool sequence of me on Dragon Lady (v4) taken by a friend of Sean. This was my first v4 and is really fun. Lastly is another v4 classic in the Dragon Boulder corridor named Tristar. It gives me fits, and I still haven’t finished it. But I’m getting closer.  Photo by Donald.

Leave me some comments. Tell me if you’re where you wanted to be when you were young, or even in college. Or better yet, what you still want to be when you “grow up.”


Posted on March 13, 2012, in Climbing, Farming. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Cool pics bro! When I was a kid, I wanted to be an accountant, because that’s what my dad was and he had his own accounting business. I still sometimes think about going back to school and taking accounting classes. Other times, I think about what it would take to work in the financial industry trading stocks; In the meantime, I stick to investing on Zecco.com and working on computer networks. Working with computers feels natural to me, but I’m interested in so many other things. I can’t imagine that it’s easy to change your “career” once you’re 8 years in. Maybe for you it was, because you weren’t truly happy? Fortunately, I work at a good company that offers a lot of opportunity to work with bleeding edge technology and that’s rewarding for me.

    P.S. I’m still hoping that you’ll help me with a garden set up when I finally find a house with a yard! 😉

  2. When I was younger my parents had me ‘convinced’ that I was going to be a doctor when I grew up. I understand where they were coming from now that I am older. They just wanted me to be successful and not have to struggle with money like they had to. I never really understood what a doctor did, and once I did I had no interest in it.

    In high school I was the only person in advanced AP classes that wasn’t applying for colleges. I had no interest in it. I was so lost at that time I had no idea what to do in life and so I didn’t immediately go to college. After my father passed away I wanted to do what he would have wanted so I went to college. Balancing college full time, work full time and grieving his death was too much. I came to school hungover, missed class alot, and when I was there I couldn’t focus. It was a rocky road for a while and I eventually dropped out.

    After becoming obsessed with makeup I went to Paul Mitchell and became a licensed esthetician. I wanted to be a makeup artist. After interviewing the MAC and hating their attitudes and the people that work there (along with some not so pleasant feedback) I lost all desire to do makeup.

    Now here I am, working at a plastic surgeon’s office as a receptionist. I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. I like working in this type of atmosphere though. I’m just as lost as I was at 17. The difference between now and then though is that I have goals. I want a house, I want children. I have things I want and I’m not sure how to get there. I think that is life though, nothing worth having comes easy.

    I do have to say though Eric, I am proud of you for moving on with your life. It’s hard to walk away from something you were doing for so long blindly. It’s an inspiration that you live life the way you want to and doing what makes you happy when so many choose to be miserable to stay in their comfort zones.

  3. Lovely post my dear friend. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Mostly because I wanted to work with animals. My parents convinced me otherwise because they told me it was a lot of schooling, and I didn’t like public school so much. I still want to do something with animals. Something rewarding. Something more than just letting dogs out to go pee. I have no idea what it is, but I haven’t given it much thought since I’m never really around animals. You’ve reminded me to meditate on this. Thanks so much.

  4. Thanks guys! Lots of kind words from all of you. Chris I’m always up for getting a garden started! And Cami it’s great to have goals, just don’t get frustrated if things don’t work out exactly as you plan. Alexis have you ever thought of a farm animal sanctuary? I forgot to write about that in this post, but that might be part of the whole plan for me as well. I miss you guys!

  1. Pingback: Superman Does Good. You’re Doing Well « eric s marshall

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