Monday, November 29, 2010

A Greyer Shade of Pale

Since I’ve been here, the weather has usually looked like this:

Here’s Yellowstone Corner in my apartment:

I need a name for my new pet if you have any suggestions.

I may be 1000 miles away but I don’t think a day has gone by without some sort of Yellowstone related activity, from email and checking weather (three feet of snow in Mammoth where people told me they don’t get much snow) to news and forums to reading about or planning hikes. I have a nice 12 mile loop planned from the dorm, evenly split between trails I’ve done before and trails new to me. I also read a mystery set in the park, looked at lots of photos, and requested the two related dvds the library has.

A couple I knew in the park is now teaching in Honduras. In Yellowstone, they complained they’d brought too much stuff with them; now they’ve reduced their possessions to two suitcases and two carry-ons. I think there’s going to be a lot more of this going on in the near future; at least we’re doing it voluntarily. Although in my case, that’s voluntarily due to circumstances—despite the fact that I’ve always been drawn to a life of extreme simplicity, I would have lazily gone on as usual if it had been possible. But now that I’ve been forced into the situation, I find it more of a relief than a hardship. I finally get to start being who I wanted to be anyway. I’m not quite ready to give up everything I can’t carry at once, but maybe I will be by the time that day gets here.

There have been a few times I’ve planned to go out hiking in the morning despite my aching feet (bad shoes and I suspect also walking on all this cement after five months away from it) but when I wake up and see the latest grey day, it seems unappealing. I was going to photograph a series of Lake sunrises, but there haven’t been any. So other than using the library’s wifi, I spend most of my time in or on my sleeping bag, reading or listening, getting rid of more stuff. Time has become largely irrelevant to me except for library hours. I’m often up in the middle of the night, or asleep in the middle of the day. Because the apartment never really gets dark due to outside lighting and often not very bright because of the weather, I sometimes wake up unsure of what time it is. Groggily reaching my watch, I see it’s 5:00. Now, is that AM or PM?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Job Opening

In case anyone would like to come live by Yellowstone: Wyoming Director

I'm in Duluth, slowly getting settled in, already working on reducing my possessions inventory (although I had to buy some new temporary ones so I can cook), had some weekend snow, there are ships on the Lake, nice brief views of sunset upper skies from my third floor apartment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Here I Come, Lake!

Tomorrow morning I'll be turning my seven boxes over to UPS. That's down from the ten I had in storage--threw out my concert cdrs, sold 75% of my remaining cds for $96.25 (I still have all the music on the computer), unsuccessfully tried to sell four Eastern field guides (I'll miss the species, but not the books), crammed more clothes into my duffel bag. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be heading for Duluth so I can get there before the boxes. I'm about 1/5 through The Fool's Progress and this is probably the perfect book to read for this trip and this point in my life. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it's quite a parallel mix of laughter, disgust, rage, and melancholia.

I need to go on a shopping spree when I get to Duluth--a phone (because that's the only way I'll know when UPS comes), and restocking a kitchen from scratch. I'm really looking forward to being able to cook again for the first time in over a year, even though I'm hoping to lose up to thirty pounds by spring. There won't be any furniture; I'm basically just setting up camp for a few months in an apartment--maybe I'll even set up the tent!

I don't expect to post very often from Duluth because I'm not planning on having internet access in the apartment. I'll be spending a lot of time on the computer though--one of those seven boxes is filled mostly with my journals and I plan to copy what I want to keep onto the computer so I can eliminate another box. I'll also be rereading the books in other boxes and getting rid of most of them along with reading a couple dozen new books from the library--I've already gotten in the request line for the most popular. (Maybe I'll also rejoin Netflix for a few months also to see what movies I've missed over the past year.) And I expect I'll be selling the few remaining cds and dvds before leaving Duluth--no market for them in Yellowstone. In December, I'll probably find out the date for returning to Yellowstone--I'm hoping for early March. I might be down to three or four boxes by then.

Unfortunately, the angry whitenecks have largely taken over the upper midwest in the recent election but I'll just be passing through for a few months, and it's probably unlikely I'll ever live there again either. I try not to think about the fact that I'll now live mostly in Wyoming. I just live in a big open space with lots of critters. Better to live in a state of mind than a state anyway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hounds of Hell

Chicago is hell. An example is the undersized overcrowded bus station, but we'll get back to that. Let's start with the traffic jams. Probably just elk, I figured. But damn, I didn't even see any elk--just a whole bunch of cars stopped for no reason--not even pulled over to the side, and no one even taking photographs. Weird.

I was almost part of all that once, engaged to a Chicago suburb college girl. We didn't know what the hell we were doing--it just seemed like the next required step on the way to living like everyone else. We finally came to our senses, she realizing I was too much like her father who spent his life careerless, working jobs as available and needed; me realizing the life of commuter trains, suburban houses, and city jobs was no life for me. So she traded me in for one of our best friends from college and they had the life I wanted to avoid. So I recalled as the trains passed the bearless jams.

On the way to hell, I had seen some wildlife but almost all of it was dead. And yet there seemed to be plenty of potential bison, grizzly, wolf habitat all going to waste. What an odd country.

I saw the towers in the sky, filled with rectangles of light, all the self-imprisoned. I used to live that way in another circle of hell, until I found I'd had the key all along.

Lines of luggage at the doors staked out our places in our various migration routes, all hellish, all the wrong way. A local demon with a sense of humor called me Jerry Garcia. When I was younger, it was Harrison or Lennon. I guess it doesn't matter when they're all equally dead.

I was scheduled to suffer 3 1/2 hours in this circle but it turned into five with no explanation. Which then led to spending six hours sitting in the Cleveland circle with no locker large enough for my duffel bag and thus no visit to an internet spot. Oddly, in this circle of hell, I seemed to be surrounded by God freaks chanting gospel songs.

And then heading for the New York City circle where I'd spend three hours in the middle of the night surrounded by people sitting with their coats stretched over their heads, others having conversations with vending machines, and someone who gave an angry speech from a movie but then reassured those staring at him that he was just giving an angry speech from a movie, not trying to be a tough guy.

But before all that, riding the hound, came the cell phone circle of hell, heavily populated by those loudly not speaking English, probably for one reason or the other not comprehending the driver's instructions about cell phones. I had my usual fantasy of ripping the thing from a hand and stomping on it, and thought about how nice it had been to live in a place where, although it's unfortunately changing, the damn things didn't even work.

Somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, I woke up with the bus stopped on the side of the highway, with the driver standing in the aisle yelling about cell phones. He looked at one guy wearing headphones and holding a little black rectangle, who then said, "Why are you looking at me?" which turned into the two of them standing in the aisle with thrust out chests yelling at each other. What stupid apes humans are! The driver said if people kept talking on their cell phones and distracting him, he'd stop driving and we'd be sitting there a long time until a new driver got there (apparently the one sitting in the front seat who'd driven the previous four hour leg didn't count--one woman suggested that if he was so distracted, he should let the other guy drive). I laughed at the notion that a bus full of people going to New York City in the middle of the night would sit there waiting for a new driver; more likely they'd throw him off the bus and drive themselves to New York. When we finally did get to New York, the two apes started in on each other again beside the bus.

One week from now, I'll be living Part 2, and I doubt I'll ever return to this area. I no longer care about visiting my old neighborhoods, I have no possessions or important relationships left here, and it's too far from where I'll be living and too populated. I'll have to learn to love the Pacific and its whales instead. I did enjoy the Boston Veggie Fest yesterday. Know how much actual meat is in a fast food burger? 2-14% according to analysis.

A Yellowstone coworker is visiting national parks on his roundabout way home and has sent links to his photos from Glacier, Banff, and Jasper which was especially stunning in its snow-covered beauty. I want to visit them all, and expect to see photos from parks in the Northwest I'll also want to visit. Banff would take a little effort, but Glacier and Jasper are easily accessible by train.

I've started researching my list of parks other than Yellowstone as potential workplaces, but haven't found any strong contenders yet. Different companies operate in different parks with different rules--no beards in one, no transportation to another, no meals in a third, office jobs not in the park at another. At Yosemite, new employees live in tents--warm sleeping bags advised. Even though it's the North I love, what I probably really need to find is a southern park for the late fall/winter season when Yellowstone and the other snowy parks have the fewest jobs.

For the first time since starting this blog, I've changed the quote up top. I found that Abbey sentence early in The Fool's Progress which I pulled to reread during Hell Part 2. It seems very appropriate both to how I'm living these days and to how the blog has changed from an emphasis on the opinions mentioned in the Turner quote to more of a personal lifestyle journal.