Friday, November 11, 2016

3 months

I have indeed been busy.

3 months without a post here.  And I have too much to say.

But by way of an outline I ended my work at Crater Lake around mid September.  That gave me two weeks and change to work on the cabin project.  I threw myself into it all day everyday and at the very last minute, at sundown on the very last day that I could remain in Oregon I succeeded in buttoning the cabin up.  A roof, 4 walls, 2 windows and a door.

And then onwards I rolled to Moab, with my newly purchased 6x12 cargo trailer in tow with all my belongings.  1000 miles and two days of driving later I started my new job.  Bounced between government housing spots for a few weeks then found a very nice but costly apartment and signed a one year lease, not without a certain amount of apprehension.  Since then I've been working on getting settled in.  I bought a new sofa for the first time in my life.  And I've built from scratch some shelves and a bed.  And in between I've been getting paid to explore the ruins of ancient civilization in the stunning Canyonlands of South Eastern Utah.

My allergies have at times been horrendous (Sage pollen).  But the season for that seems to be coming to an end.  And thank all goodness for that, as it casts me in some of my shittiest lights as a person...  Cats, dust, pollen + me  = Shit-head.

But the stress of the move is unwinding, and the histamine, and the new job.  And I'm quite grateful to be where I am.  I'd like to just savor this situation for a bit before things get messy in life again.  So now, the theme is slow down, relax and start saving money again.  The cabin was expensive, the trailer and the move was expensive, and the new place and furniture and appliances...  expensive.  So I am in recovery mode.  But I can see redrock and snow capped peaks both from exactly where I am sitting, and that ain't half bad, not half bad at all.  Living in a place where more than a lifetime's worth of exploring is all close within reach.

There's much more to say, of course, but for now that's where I've been.  And where I am, recovering from an epic scramble.

Friday, August 05, 2016

The Winding Trail

I've recently accepted an offer to go build and maintain trails in Utah's Canyonlands, and a few other National Parks and Monuments in the area starting in a few months.  It's a year-round job on a "term" appointment which means up to four years of steady work and full federal benefits.

I'm not sure what to think yet, the offer sort of came out of the blue.  It was something I had applied to quite some time ago as a backup plan in case my current employer persisted with an ugly and demeaning piece of politics.  But at the time I didn't realize that it was a year-round + benefits sort of job, just something that paid about the same as my current gig, (slightly less, actually) that I could potentially go to as a contingency if the shit hit the fan here.  And as the months rolled by and the issue I had here faded away I sort of forgot about it.

And now this, the real deal.  Still kind of shell shocked, and going through various phases of cognitive dissonance, and worry about this decision.  But also feeling a little better about it each day as I come up with strategies to deal with the obstacles it presents for me.

The Canyonlands are one of the hardest, wildest, most remote and wildly, mystically stunning pieces of desert in the country, or the world for that matter.  It's big, harsh, empty, and seriously intimidating, and it's going to set the stage for my next massive series of professional and personal challenges.

And yet, I'm not sure that I'm done with Oregon altogether just yet, but only time will tell how this place will weave with The Canyonlands in the continuation of my story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

To Notice the Sunshine

Typically when I have had nothing to say here it is a good thing.  And I suppose that has been true of the last 7 weeks absence.  I'm now back up at the lake, settled in, and leading a large crew on the trails.

It bears mentioning that I think creativity requires either emotional pain or time for playfulness and in either case solitude.  Lately, I have had none of these things.  And that is OK, although busyness often runs counter to presence.

But even so I'm thinking that I need to arrange my life more carefully right now so that I can capture those quiet moments and use them to keep going with this, ...the written word.

No pen in hand
and an occupied mind
no insight to be had
no truth to find

the sun shines warmly
on the crest of the rim
where the snow falls below

and I'm not noticing
not really

because I have walls to build
to what end
to what end?
I really don't know

perhaps I should fly a flag
maybe yellow

on the wall below
where the snow falls
and I don't notice the sunshine

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Know Thyself - or - Time to buy squat shoes

So that's me on the red machine...  Yeah, that's about all I've got on that one.  Definitely an interesting part of my winter work, and by interesting I mean somewhat painful and often terrifying.  Mainly I just wanted to share the photo as I forgot to earlier.  I think my posts were suffering from a bit of seasonal affective.  heh.  And so now the snow is mostly gone, at least below 9,000 ft, and the job ends this week.

Definitely glad to have had the work, particularly considering the death of Ole Bessie, and my need to finance getting my shit together fitness-wise this winter.

It's been slow going, but quite the journey, and though I have grown significantly stronger, (and heavier), I'm a good 20 lbs bigger than I was around this time a year ago.  It has, much more, been a journey of learning about all the crap that is wrong with my body in terms of structure, imbalance, and mobility. 

I took these two photos yesterday doing 3 sets of 5 reps.  That's 200 lbs on my back, not much in the grand scheme of things, but easily double what I could do when I started this.  Can you guess what part of me is in pain today?  My brachioradialis muscles (top of the forearm).  Jokes aside, it illustrates the supreme interconnectedness of all things in the human body, and that's what I mean about this being a seriously educational journey.  Why does ...whatever... hurt?  Is something too weak? Is something else too strong?  Is something too tight?  Is something too loose?  Is it because my right leg is 3/4 of an inch shorter than my left?  Is it because I have bad dorsiflexion in my ankles?  Is it my damned hip-flexors again? 

Point is, I've been learning a lot about physiology, and taking care of myself as a corporeal being.  We probably all should.  Particularly if we move heavy objects for a living.

As they say in the Delphic Maxims.  Know Thyself.

...also, don't squat heavy on carpet

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Stillness and Healing Anxiety... and a warning

So the Winter work season is drawing to an end for me.  It definitely got easier as the time passed.  Though I wonder if the reason it started out being so difficult was just the stillness, the environment that leaks. And by that I mean that when one is not occupied and must be still with himself all sorts of old pains that have remained suspended in the turbulent waters of a busy life start to settle out and leak. And there you are covered with an anxiety you dont understand and cant wash off.

Shake, rattle, and roll has been my go to strategy for as long as I can remember.  Dont let it settle, dont let it leak.  Keep walking, keep driving, do. not. rest.

Therein lies the value of freedom.

And a parking lot can be a particularly brutal kind of cage.

So I suppose this winter has forced me to simmer in the residual pain from 2012... that I had thought was long gone. And sometimes stuck in that truck by the roadside I would wonder if it will ever end.  I dont know.  I just know that before that year I wasn't ever struck with anxiety that didnt clearly point to anything, and now I have been whenever I pause ever since.

Get too still and you start to think, about what could be a lie, about what will go wrong, about how there might be a nook in events, in the data, some place some time some story that isnt perfect, some way that you might be being betrayed, setup, gaslighted, embarrassed and readied for the psychological grinder... again. be owned and abused and degraded and have your dignity and your wealth and your friends and your ability to feel sane, or to trust or to sleep soundly through the night all stripped from your hands ... again.

Sometimes I'm not sure one can ever recover from something that heinous.  But it has gotten easier ...over a very long winter.

And that is not to say that much, much more of the time I don't feel gratitude, for all the other things that have gotten better and easier. Their side is winning.  But I also have to say it.  Fuck You.  You never apologized for any of it.

And to everyone else, learn this from me, if nothing else.  Beware the person who cannot apologize.  It marks them for what they are, a beast without empathy.  And they will maul you for sport.

...incidentally a popular presidential candidate whose name rhymes with Chump, also cannot apologize, its like swallowing the 6th saltine for him; he just can't do it. 'Nuff said?  ...not that I would vote for any of his rivals.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

End of an Era

Two Hundred Seventy Thousand Miles...

The last two weeks have been tumultuous ones.  Ol' Bessie gave up the ghost on February 28.  Her engine seized in the middle of a busy intersection during rush hour.  She was 23 years old.  

I perhaps could have prevented it had I a little more daylight to work with.  She had been suffering from a vaccuum leak for a couple of weeks.  I had it narrowed down to the gasket that sits between the throttle body and the intake manifold.  And I was on my way to O'Reilly Auto Parts to purchase this very inexpensive part to replace 2 days later on my day off.  But I think perhaps she sucked a piece of that decayed gasket or maybe some other debris or liquid into the intake and then it was all over...   A squealing death rattle and a stall, then nothing.

I've sent her off to a good home, a very eager buyer at a very good price.  He talked about maybe dropping in a newer motor and keeping her running.  It's none of my concern.

Now I've purchased a 2005 Sierra.  Can you fault me for buying the same make and model after so many miles of loyal service?  Or after having learned so much about its maintenance and repair?

But I have to tell you, it was liquid stress saying goodbye and being without my wheels for those long, long few days between finding the new one.  And I am very grateful to Jesse for her help driving me around like a deadbeat boyfriend to find and haggle over my new ride.  And for putting up with the chaos as I withdrew masses of gear and detritus from behind Bessie's old bench seat that defied Euclidean possibilities.  As well I'm grateful to Shane and his family, the random guy who I met in traffic who helped me tow Bessie out of the intersection to safety in a parking lot, and who helped scream back at the enraged commuters who honked and yelled things to the effect of "get the fuck off the road!"... while that was obviously what I was already trying to do.  And then for tracking me down after I accidentally left my backpack in the back of his pickup...  Grateful indeed.  And maybe a bit ashamed that other people are better humans than I am.

270,000 miles...

I knew it was time...  But I wonder, how long might she have lasted, had I the time to drop in that gasket a few days earlier?

...It was time.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Boats and Turncoats, when our emotions don't match our values

Careful what you wish for.  Immediately following my last post some sort of intra-el niƱo indian summer event decided to sweep in and just linger indefinitely, and perhaps even smoothly transition into a very early spring.  The snow is all melting and ... well, that's not what I meant when I said I was just ready for summer to be here.  Heh.  Of course it did afford the opportunity to go rafting on a 75 degree day in mid-February, and as well, at least the opportunity to open the windows and air out the winter stagnant house, so again, not complaining.

Mainly I've been delaying posts here because...  Well, because I think I've bitten off more than I can chew in terms of thinking.  Several things I've witnessed and felt and experienced, etc that on the surface would seem completely unrelated have been bugging me, because, of course, I sense a link.  What is it that former sexual partners on Facebook, trans-gender people publicly coming out of the closet, possessiveness and feelings of embarassment and shame have in common?  And how does that relate to ethics and morality?

I think I have an answer, an answer that speaks to some of the new challenges of life in the digital age that we're wholly unprepared to cope with.  But I'm hesitant to put it into words, because my mind hasn't been right.  All this time behind the wheel and the handlebars and dodging traffic and assholes is crushing my focus.  But I really need to get these thoughts out there, even at the risk of having to rescind them.  So please bear in mind as you read this attempt that this should all be taken in the realm of highly experimental thought, as wild, but hopefully resonant hypothesis.

Let me start with a story.

A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend this last summer.  The reasons why aren't important, it's the tangential details that matter here.  Initially by her descriptions I just thought he was a weak and innocuous character, a kind idiot, wandering in the paradox of choice his white male upper-middle class privilege affords like so many other Portlandia Millenial Dipshitster types.  And I pretty much dismissed the story as unimportant despite sensing that there was something deeper, something beyond the guilt one could expect for dumping a meek idiot.  And it wasn't just the desire we all often have, to make out an ex to be "the bad guy" so we can absolve ourselves of this guilt.  There was something ugly in there.  But I had heard nothing out loud to indicate its presence.  Then one day months later at a diner outside the park I heard the story of a tattoo.

Apparently in the midst of the time they had still been dating he went out and got himself a tattoo, and not just any tattoo, but one depicting a symbol of great importance to her, one that she herself had thought of having inscribed into flesh.  And he told his parents of the reason for the tattoo, without ever having mentioned this reason to her, that he got this tattoo to symbolize and commemorate that he was on the right track in life and "with the right person".

And when I heard this story, I knew this was one sick manipulative motherfucker.  You see I'm something of an expert on the matter, having grown up in the sometimes heinous circumstances that I did and having taken (and I certainly would like to think also having eventually mostly broken) the imprint that I did, and given the shit self esteem coming from that upbringing, as well having dated some of the twisted and awful women that I have.  Point is, I know fucked up and manipulative, and that is fucked up and manipulative.

Now I knew that he had been posting things on Facebook, and Instagram and whatnot, things to gain her attention.  That's pretty normal.  I had dismissed it as just another one of the sad things we do in the realm of social media when we're going through a breakup.  But this revelation changed the story completely.

You see, a tattoo is permanent.  It will be there forever.  Forever.  And so that symbol that is sacred to her, will be tainted with his memory forever.  She will always be reminded when she sees her sacred symbol that it sets inscribed on his womanly flesh.  It was a theft of the most enormous magnitude.  And it doesn't just affect her.  Its taint extends into anyone else who hears her story and then sees her symbol.  And worse, if she decides to take the strong view, throw a fuck you in his face and get the tattoo anyway it becomes a brand.  It puts his stink on her forever, to remind her forever, and to remind those with whom she is intimate, of him, at the most inappropriate of times.  It was a trap.  What we would call a Fork in chess.  To mark her as his possession.... in the most cowardly of ways and attempt to diminish her value to others by usurping and sullying her symbol with his memory.

Now try to stay with me for the leap.

This is what I really fucking hate about Facebook when it comes to dating in this era.  In the past, if you weren't all in a tight community, a previous boyfriend, girlfriend, sexual partner, whatever, is gone.  There was no intermediate level of "friendship".  Either you stayed actual friends or you cut ties.  But now we play this Pokemon "collect them all" game with people.  And why we do it I just couldn't say.  Perhaps the reasons are too many, perhaps I just haven't had the focus to drill into it, but one thing is clear and that is that one of the primary elements to Facebook's social dynamic is sexual possessiveness and it has a million shades of shady ranging from "Well I'm dating someone now, but I'll add this attractive person as a "friend", you know, just in case." to "We boned that one time, and I like to check in from time to time to either pat myself on the back with a 'yeah I had that' or on the flip side to simply be glad I didn't pursue that wreck that they've become."  This building of a collection, or some imaginary social currency feels to us as if we're collecting something of value by collecting these "friends".  There are a million other forms of this collection and marking and keeping ourselves relevant in the lives of people we don't really want around anymore, some are benign, some are quite ugly, but the part I really don't like about it is when somebody pops in to comment on something they truly don't care about just to announce their presence, just to be a reminder of that thing that happened, that thing that they both know, and you, the one with this person now has at least a pretty strong suspicion of.  And what they're doing is NOT being friendly.  It's being possessive, territorial, and most of us I think, if we don't see through it outright, we at least feel it.

Now I know, we're all adults here, and having it be convenient to delude ourselves into thinking these things, these people, in our partners' past didn't happen isn't our right.  It's not our right to not be exposed to the less desirable parts of a partner's past.  We are adults, we have to suck it up and make that calculation, does the good outweigh the bad, and live in the present with the person as they are in the present.   But on the other hand we might also have a moral and ethical obligation to leave people the fuck alone.  Don't drop in to leave your mark.  Don't try to drag their focus back to you.  It's not just possessive bullshit, it is theft.  You are stealing from that person's presence.  And you are stealing from those who are attempting to live in the present with that person when their partner's mind is taxed with reprocessing the past.

I know, that all sounds a bit weak, like maybe I'm just trying to explain away the fact that when I date someone who keeps "friends" on Facebook with whom they've had sexual encounters or a relationship that it makes me uncomfortable, a little jealous and maybe even slightly ashamed despite the fact that it is against my values to think of sex between consenting adults as in any way shameful.  But really, who wants to see their partner's trophy wall of various idiots shirtless-selfie-mug-shots.  Anyway... So that necessary admission aside, what I'm actually trying to point to is that I consider presence to be one of the most virtuous of qualities, and one which is absolutely essential for happiness in any form.  The practice of Being Here Now has a downright magical ability to solve almost every damned problem we encounter in life shy of waterboarding.  And Facebook in general runs almost completely counter to that in so many ways, and IMO the worst of which is through these sexually possessive behaviors dropping in with comments on things you don't care about, "liking" things you don't really like, making posts designed to get a certain kind of attention.  In their own little way these things are like little temporary versions of that tattoo.  And when you do it to someone dropping reminders of the past and showing your stink to their present partner you steal from both their abilities to be present and thus to be happy.  Moreover, I think keeping people like this on your roster of "friends", keeping your old conquests and interests and exes runs a potentially serious moral hazard.  You are as much to blame as they are, because you know they're liable to do it.  You know they are liable to steal from your presence, even if only occasionally.  And as grown up as your partner may know he or she ought to be about these things, they will feel it and they won't like it.  And I would even go as far as to say that in a way it is harmful.  Because as much as we know we shouldn't be bothered by this stuff, we are.

Now here's the interesting part.

You'll notice that at the beginning of this mess I said something about transgender people publicly coming out of the closet.  No, I wasn't just going to leave that there.  There is another part to the story of tattoo boy.  Tattoo boy recently declared that he is now Tattoo Woman.

Heh.  Heh.

No really.

Did I not just say something to the effect that there is a moral hazard to remaining in digital contact with exes, etc?

This poor girl.  My friend, not the tranny.

What a violating thing to find out.  And I feel terrible for her, for more than one reason.  First off I feel bad for her because she's a rather feminist person, and well coached by standard progressive dogma into holding the values that support people expressing the gender they wish, or whatever shade of gray or none-of-the-above.  Now, I pretty much support this too.  Pretty much.  And the reason I feel bad for her is that what she is experiencing is very much akin to the way I often feel shitty and conflicted for being off-put when exposed to a partner's sexual history despite being wholly committed to the idea that sex isn't shameful.

You see when Tattoo boy decided to declare very publicly that he was now Tattoo Woman he laid waste to her past.  A critical premise of their relationship, gone though it was, had now been revealed as a lie.  He had allowed her to assume, and one could reasonably assume I think given various anatomical clues and lacking information to the contrary, that she was dating a man.  But in Tattoo boy's heart of hearts he was a woman.  Which makes him a dirty fucking liar.  And one of the worst sort, the kind that knowingly just lets someone believe something important that is untrue.  It's a cowardly lie.  At least lying to someone's face takes a modicum of courage.  This, this is foul.  It's foul in the way that that tattoo was foul, it was profound and spineless.

Now hold on for a second.  I know what you're thinking, Bruce Jenner person of the year and all, that it takes courage to come out in this way, blah, blah, blah.  But I'm seeing this from a different perspective.  Remember this is a person who was aimless in life, a victim ~cough~ of the paradox of choice afforded by his(her?) privilege.  In these circles, in Portland Oregon of all places, it's actually kind of an en vogue thing to do.  And with all the hashtag cutie makeup pics on ...Its... Instagram account, it just kind of looks like a really lost person looking for meaning.  Just like those lost souls that join the likes of ISIS and get a ready made raison d'etre, being trans-gender in Portland comes with a thousand pats on the back all lined up and ready.  In his/her case It's more like joining a movement than making an heroic revelation.

But again, calm down here, I only say this because this reeks of fraud.  I would put good money, even not knowing the person that he/she will become a He again when his friends tire of patting him on the back for this faux courage.  And I won't even get into how I feel it is bullshit to force everyone to give you the rights and respect of a woman without having sacrificed any of your privilege as a man or having to endure any of the rights of passage and challenges that a woman has to endure in our society or through the laws of nature.  Or that you are deciding what it means to be a woman in the most shallow, objectifying (makeup, heels and dresses, REALLY? Is that what makes you a woman?) and idiotic sense.  It's the most classic of stupid, chauvinist, clueless, selfish, dipshit behaviors.  Not even getting into it....


So back to the point.  Even though my friend supports transgender rights and doesn't think transgender revelations should be shameful in any way, she is embarrassed.  And you know, it's her goddamned right to be.  Even if her tranny ex wasn't being a reckless fraud, it is her right.  These things are not in conflict, just as it is not in conflict when I feel uncomfortable in the light of a partner's sexual past being publicly exhibited on Facebook when I don't think sexuality is shameful.  The value and the emotion seem conflicted but they are not.  Do I have the answer why?  I'm not sure, but I have an answer why.  Our emotions don't come from our values, well, excepting for rage perhaps, that one seems exceptional in its ability to come from anywhere including and especially ideology.  But our emotions stem from things old and deep inside of us.  We work around them, we try to control them, we try not to let them do harm, because they are not what we have chosen, they are what was chosen for us.  But even still we owe them some respect.  Because they are real and for the most part we are stuck enduring them.  Our emotions are real and they are valid even when they don't match our values.  And until we acknowledge that fact in ourselves and in others and work that into our sense of morality and our code of ethics, we will never be decent and moral people.

...even if all the crime we ever commit are nothing but a string of tiny thefts of presence on fucking Facebook.