Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's Amore?



Leaves have turned a paler yellow-green and more dramatic colors and have begun falling, mountain ash berries are a brighter orange verging on red, and waves were high on the breezy day with a high in the low 50s. In a couple places I’ve seen the remains of a cone where a squirrel has been gathering nuts. 

I finished reading an advance copy of Amore: An American Father’s Roman Holiday by Roger Friedland. It’s a very personal book of reflections on two years in Rome with his wife and two young daughters, comparing and contrasting that culture with the United States with particular emphasis on love and sex, which will spur a lot of personal reactions and interpretations based on the reader’s biases. Along with individual motivations, he looks at the effects of religion and feminism.

I’m a few years younger than the author, sharing a similar romantic view of love, and negative feelings about the casual hookup sex prevalent in this country. “In the wake of feminism’s third wave, a new kind of female sexual player emerged: a guiltless, apparently dispassionate huntress out for a good time, a woman indifferent to, even contemptuous, of love.” More like a man, many would say, so I’ll be clear that I never respected that kind of man either, and have always been sad to see equality defined as identical, whether it was in the corporate offices where I spent time in the eighties or in sexuality.

I met that female player who was avoiding romance, even fell in love with her. Elsewhere in the book, mention is made of studies showing that even those trying to avoid love are secretly hoping to find it, and I saw that too, which made it even more painful that we couldn’t overcome our barriers. I even saw and heard two of her friends warning an interested woman to stay far away from me based on the version they’d been told about how I got that player to fall for me then ignored her. It was easier to not bother correcting anyone, but I got very tired of moments like that.

Lola was the root cause but not the only reason I left Yellowstone, and the main but not only reason I’m planning to work in a different part of the park in the future. She’s not why I won’t be going back in December though—I didn’t get offered a job. It didn’t come as a surprise and at first I didn’t care much, but then started feeling bad that it meant an extra few months before I’d see that part of the country again, and at my age a few months could be crucial.

I started looking into a winter job at a couple of the ski resorts in the area, and while I think at least one of them would be feasible for me without a car, Yellowstone’s wildlife remains the priority and I’m not sure about when I might be able to begin a new job there in the spring and thus was unsure about how long I wanted to stay at a winter job. Since all these jobs involve an advance contract with specific dates, the resorts are something I’ll consider again next year with more advance knowledge and research.

So it’s another winter in Duluth, feeling fairly confident that it won’t be as severe as last year. I’m still thinking about what if any change that will bring in terms of employment, but I know there’ll be no more amore here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Still Waiting



Since I heard that a call was made to a former YNP supervisor asking about me, I’ve been eagerly checking the mail, hoping for a contract to start in December, but nothing yet. On the other hand, I also haven’t gotten the rejection email which comes if you’re not hired. If I’m not hired, it will give me more time to research and make a decision about a medical issue before I wind up isolated and uninsured. One good thing about this stretching out is that it’s now only about five weeks until I’ll fill out the application for next summer and I’ll know about that by the end of the year.

So far, there have been four book worthy Deaths in Yellowstone this summer—hit by falling tree, fell into canyon, drowned after illegally tubing, and suicide. The last two were employees. I would choose the falling tree, having just climbed the hill for a better view of glorious Grand Prismatic. With my fear of heights and frequency of falling dreams, my last choice would be falling into the canyon. I’ve walked the paved trail the girl stepped off before falling—on the day I hiked it, the trail was wet with loose gravel and I never felt confident of not slipping until I was back on level ground. The other two deaths were self-induced, one deliberately and one by deliberately choosing an unsafe illegal activity.

NPS has a Yellowstone Facebook page which had posts about all of these along with the usual subjects. The page is a fairly good source of information but maybe I should train myself to not read the comments, often filled with ignorance about Yellowstone, ecology, depression, and every other subject. Even worse are the people using it as a platform for their issues.

The search for the drowning victim led to a complaint about it being illegal to ride the rivers, the vague preliminary post about the suicide led to assumptions about toxic gases and murderers including the cover-up of the killing because it was done by a government employee. Another was sure the presumed murder would have been prevented if the park had better cell phone coverage even though the part of the park where it happened has fine coverage. Others don’t understand why all the dead trees weren’t cut down or why there aren’t fences built all along the canyon. Somewhere in there was a complaint that the wolves had eaten all the wildlife. And another guy wasn’t going to come back if he couldn’t use his drone.

Happily and surprisingly, there were far more responses applauding the banning of drones, and not wanting more cell phone towers, and trying to explain what wild and risk mean. One day, I saw a comment from someone I used to work with—we can quit anytime we like, but we can never leave.

My former roommate and another friend were among the winners of this year's YNP employee photo contest. You can see the photos here.

While I’m waiting to see my future, I’ve been constructively using my barely working time to sample some of the most highly rated craft beers and look forward to trying several from Founders Brewing from Michigan. With beer names like Dirty Bastard, Backwoods Bastard, and Curmudgeon, this could be the right brewery for me! And I’m really hoping to enjoy Deschutes’ The Dissident, which gets released this month, because I like the t-shirt so much that I ordered one without ever having tasted the beer.