Wednesday, May 24, 2023

How did you get your first job?

 My wife continues to ask me questions for StoryWorth. This is my response to her question.

My first paid job was actually as an operator at a traveling carnival. My friends and I had attended the West-Fest in West Valley City, Utah when we were 15, a big weekend carnival at the recreation park. The company that operated it had a bunch of workers at the end of the night cleaning up. They offered us some cash to help pick up trash and we agreed. Afterwards, they offered Robert and I a job to work at their next carnival in Riverton Utah for a week during the summer.

So Robert and I talked ot our parents and figured out a way to get to and from the job site. We couldn’t drive, so had to rely on our parents to make the 30 minute driver to and from our house. The hours were long, we started work around 7 am and stayed for 12 hours. Being 15, there were limited things we could do, but we ended up helping out with setting up and tearing down the equipment, operating some of the chair swings, and picking up refuse.

The folks who worked at the carnival were interesting characters. I remember the main guy as a big guy, who had a reputation as a person who had many love interests. A few of the carnys took us under their wing and joked and teased us. I think I had a crush on one of the older teenage girls that worked there, but nothing ever came of it.

At the time, we didn’t think much of it, but looking back; the labor was strenuous and seasonal. I enjoyed the experience, and we finished the week with $275.00 in cash; a lot of money for us back then. It gave us a sense of what money could do and we spent that summer buying junkfood from our fleeting labor. We found better employment the following year and never went back to being a carny.


Aaron Ashton, May 24, 2023

Sunday, January 1, 2023

What qualities do you most value in your friends?

 What qualities do you most value in your friends?

             I want to start with this answer by establishing the premise that there are different tiers to friendships ranging from acquaintances to life-long buddies. As such, I’ll focus on friendships that last more than a year and well into adulthood. I find these friendships to be more meaningful than fleeting and worth the time to nurture and maintain. While I could list the various friends I’ve had over the years and then break down each of their inherent qualities I value, I would like to talk about how I make friends and then discuss the friend archetype that I welcome into my life.

As some people know, making friends isn’t easy; you must make an initial investment of time, conversation, and activity. For the unnaturally sociable, that can be a struggle. While I’ve tended to be outgoing most of my life, I didn’t decide to adopt that as part of my personality until I started college. I wanted to avoid the feeling of social angst and understood that making friends was necessary for my own mental health. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed being the center of attention, but I wasn’t unafraid to either. Overcoming that anxiety of striking up a conversation with a stranger has been a net positive, resulting in lasting friendships years later. By investing in that social bank if you will, I’ve been able to maintain a healthy balance that I can withdraw from time to time.

It's one thing to say you have friends, but it’s another to spend time with them.1 For me, making plans with someone and having them realized is something I value. Rearranging one’s schedule to spend time together when you can do so many other things is a strong indication that the other party is putting in a similar effort to be friendly.  If someone isn’t willing to make plans to spend time together, reschedules multiple times, or is non-committal, then it’s not worth the investment. When we’re spending time together, I value the depth of conversation and find meaning in discussing a range of topics. It shows me that my friends have hobbies, goals in life, and aren’t afraid to follow their passions. I want to be in a setting where I can discuss the positives and negatives in life and appreciate their contributions to the discussion.

My ideal friend archetype is a person who is honest and trustworthy; knowing I can share information in confidence while receiving unfiltered feedback is important to me. I wouldn’t like to befriend someone who gossips and is more vested in what other people are doing than their own life goals. I like friends who are active and have multiple interests; someone who wants to do the same thing is boring to me. They have interests and are willing to go outside their comfort zone to try new things. I’ve parted ways with folks who just want to play video games or have a singular topic they revert to when we chat.

In summary, my ideal friend archetype is a person who cares about others and is willing to make time for me and my family. They find joy in life and enjoy learning new things and helping teach others as well. They are involved in their community, educated, and engaged with the world around them. These friends can speak their minds and are open and honest with their critiques. When you miss seeing them for long periods of time, the friendship picks up where it left off. You find out who your friends are when they feel the same about you and aren’t afraid to show it.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Staying connected after high school

 My wife subscribed me to a weekly writing prompt where I can write about things that my audience prompts me with. This week’s question is:

Are you still friends with any of your friends from high school? How have they changed since then?

I stay in touch with a few friends from High School and in this day and age of social media, I’m “friends” with others online, but we haven’t talked in years. Of those I stay in touch with the most, we acknowledge each other as brothers and check in at least monthly with a video call for a few hours. I’ve known the two of them since I was 8 and 10 years old respectively. Before I get into explaining my relationship with them, I’ll provide a bit of a backstory to the high school education I received before I migrated and settled in Vermont.

I attended two high schools in Utah, the 1st for 9th and 10th grade was AMES (Academy of Math, Engineering, and Science) and for 11th and 12th grade, Hunter High School. AMES is a private charter school that was miles away and accessible via a 45 minute bus ride to and from our bus-stop at my local middle-school Kennedy Jr. High School. It was a college preparatory high school that accepted students from throughout the Salt Lake Valley and taught AP classes, University of Utah classes, and was located within the Cottonwood High School building. Labeled a school for nerds/geeks, I was admitted through a blind lottery and left most of the kids that I knew from my jr. high school to attend. It was adjustment as I had relied heavily on my base intelligence and at AMES I was challenged by teachers and other students to apply myself and learned that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room. 

In 9th grade, myself and Robert Siale (one of the two friends I stay in touch with the most) started together. Robert lasted for a semester and then went back to the local jr. high school. I stayed through the 9th grade and wrestled for the local CottonWood High School. This was tough to manage as I wanted to stay active in sports, but found myself walking to school at 7:30 am and then not getting home from school and practice until 6 pm. Luckily a neighbor down the street worked closely and was offering me some rides instead of having to take the public bus and then walking home. 

In 10th grade, things were difficult at home with the constant travel and schoolwork and while I was committed to staying through the school year, I made the decision to transfer to my local high school for my junior and senior year. Before I left AMES however, I made some lasting friendships with folks that I still stay in touch with occasionally online. I sometimes regret not having stayed at the school for all 4 years as I have fond memories of my time spent there. Before I left, I lettered as a varsity wrestler in the 5a division (schools of 2000+ students) as a 10th grader and looked forward to reconnecting with kids that lived close by. 

So entering my 11th grade year, I spent time reconnecting with folks that I had been distant from the previous  2 years. Robert had moved into playing football and had his own friend groups. Juan Aguilar had joined the swim team and was practicing almost 20 hours a week. I didn’t feel like wrestling anymore having wrestled for 4 years so I ended up joining the literary magazine group, dated Talysha Tingey, and started thinking about what I was going to do when I graduated. Junior year was up and down, but after settling back in with some AP classes and making some new friends, I refocused on getting my grades back up and was adamant about going to college.

During my senior year, Robert and I reconnected, went to prom together with our girlfriends and celebrated graduation. Juan and I reconnected with our AP Psychology class and I spent some nights at Juan’s home when things were too rough to handle at my house. As we navigated what to do after graduation, I ended up enrolling at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT while Juan decided to attend Whittier College in California. Robert stayed in Utah and enrolled at the University of Utah and continued to date his girlfriend Alyssa (now his wife). 

Juan met his now wife Ragna while at school and followed her back home to Iceland. They live in the capital Reykjavik and have two children. Robert lives in Layton, UT with Alyssa and their two children. We still have a group chat going and try to video chat monthly so we’re kept apprised how how each other is doing. It’s been years since we’ve been together physically all at the same time, but hopefully will get together within the next few years and introduce our children to one another.

As far as how they have changed since high school, I think all three of us have adjusted well into adulthood and parenthood. We have close ties to our families and seek advice from one another and see ourselves as brothers from different mothers. I value their friendship and will nurture those relationships as I grow older, hopefully reciprocating the love and kindness they’ve shown me. As our lives take different paths, I hope that we can reach those crossroads together and share our experiences to make easier for ourselves and our families. I look forward to our conversations and times where we can reminisce about yesteryear.


Alyssa, Robert, Aaron, and Talysha: 2007/2008 Prom

Juan Aguilar: 2008 prom

Aaron Ashton: Senior photo 2008.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Cooperative Garden in Arlington, VT

A few houses down and across the street of 313 W, the Yellow Barn hosts the victory garden and cooperative garden. Our family joined this and we helped grow produce for the community. It was a great experience for myself and our soon-to-be adopted 13 year old son. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Green Up Day 05/07/22

The four main areas of interest I plan to write about are Parent, Engineer, Vermonter, Volunteer. 

Reposted from my personal FaceBook page:

Yesterday was the annual Green Up Vermont day where folks throughout the state volunteer to pick up refuse along the roadways, parking lots, hills, gullies, and hollows. 

Our local Arlington Vermont Lions Club partnered with the Arlington BSA Troop 334 and we went out along Laver and Dunham Rd., all the while filling our green bags. Our local Lions President and I each filled five bags as we traversed the hillside and climbed up and down slopes to grab the many empty beer cans, water bottles, food containers, and the occasional couch.

We found some odd items and waterfront property that took some force to dislodge. We had more than 80 people around the Town of Arlington, Vermont, picking up litter in an effort to keep our area clean to locals and visitors alike. It was a nice day and I hope more people will come out next year!


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Inaugural Beginnings

Hi there,

I'm Aaron Ashton, and you may refer to me with my alliteration in either order, my meme nickname Ay-aron, or as double AA. I'm 32, a parent, an engineer, Vermonter, and volunteer. 

Aaron and Ila the Newfoundland enjoying life in South Windsor CT (2019). Ila was Aaron's Newfoundland dog and passed away in November 2021.

A few months ago, it was mentioned by a member of the Arlington, VT community that I should start blogging. I've toiled with the idea since then and after meeting Nancy at the Wayside Country Store in West Arlington, VT this morning, (where she excitedly shared her own writing experience) I was encouraged to create a blog and share my insights with you, the reader. Whether you're a close friend or distant observer, welcome to my blogging journey.

I hope you enjoy your stay and find this to be engaging and insightful. While I'm a novice to blogging, I enjoy writing prose and think this will be a helpful way for me to practice my craft of story telling.

For reference:

How did you get your first job?

 My wife continues to ask me questions for StoryWorth. This is my response to her question. My first paid job was actually as an operator at...