Starting Anew with Punk

30 06 2019

The crash changed everything in our lives. Slowly we are putting the pieces back together.

The response from the community to our needs has been great. I remain grateful for each day and understand complaining does little good. That’s not to say there are no difficulties, but dwelling on the bad is not where I want to be.

It’s been a year now in the city.

Since coming to Portland I have learned a great deal about new cultures. Take for instance the punk, grunge rockers — a species of humans that never seemed to exist when we were in south Florida.

Some are millennials and some are still standing from the often overlooked Gen X.

And then there’s a whole new batch just outta high school that I’m not sure what to make of.

What I do know is I have fallen under another obsession spell. Not sure who cast it but they are obviously strong and worthy. The spell’s hold, I am finding, is harder to break with each passing day.

I’ve been infatuated before — notably Alabama ballet dancers & Miami bad boys — but this is entirely different ground. This one plays in a band. A petit transgender chick. MTF. She’s a Jewish girl from the South, who like me, is living on the west coast for the first time. She wears glasses thick as coke bottles, has pierced nostrils and tattoos on her thighs.

Far from the shallow

We work together which makes things complicated. I sought her help early when confronted by street harassment and rude customers. She was supportive. Intrigued I went to a couple of her band’s shows and discovered she played the bass and had a partner. David, seeing me fall under this trance before, warned me to keep my distance.

And I have, respecting the professional boundaries of our workplace and our relationships. The last thing in the world I want is to make someone I admire uncomfortable, particularly when that someone is doing remarkable things.

Rebuilding a life is no small task. Going through the process of transitioning genders, in my humble opinion, must be a super challenging thing to do. I’m not certain what it has been like for them, quite frankly I have been too scared to ask. I wonder about their moral core. I wonder if the doom music and denim jackets is a cover for a deeper spiritual awakening that is taking place.

I wonder if they are good kissers.

As we enter our second year in the Pacific Northwest — with a Presidential campaign on the horizon — I hope my muse can lead to more discoveries of what this community stands for & against. What do they care about? What is important in their lives and how do they make it happen?

For me it’s baby steps. I am striving to put the trauma of the wreck and to a lesser extent our cross country move behind me. Life is different now. It’s not easy starting over again.

Before friends come allies.

I sure hope Madeline is one of them.








Finishing Strong

21 09 2014

A long, hard and arduous summer has come to an end.

There were times when I felt that I had bitten off more than I could chew. The entire experience at Lake McDonald Lodge reminded me of the summer of 2010 and my ill-fated campaign for public office. Too many people were watching and depending on me and no matter how hard the going was, I simply could not quit.

I quit an important position before and vowed never to do that again.

So this summer was indeed a journey of perseverance, but I leave Montana with a new skill set and a hardened exterior.

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake

Much like that race for the Florida House, I began this Glacier project cautiously, scared, intimidated at times and trying to please all while maintaining that “nice guy” image.

But some people take advantage of kindness. Others do not know the meaning of the word. This I have learned the hard way.

Saying “No” is hard. Getting people to accept “No” as your final answer is harder. And perhaps the hardest of all is understanding why we — as human beings — cannot do certain things.

There is no doubt I have changed because of my five months in Glacier National Park — enforcing federal regulations, interpreting nature’s wonders and, above all, keeping my cool during day-to-day operations at the lodge. As much as I would have enjoyed going out with guys and gals and drinking the night away, responsibility prevented that. Someone had to rise at 6 a.m. to get this show on the road.

And, make no mistake, this show was a profitable one.

The park experienced record numbers in visitation, prompting our superintendent to remark how “intense” a summer season it was. At the lodge, revenue exceeded projections and as I type tourists are still streaming in to see the changing colors of autumn.

The change in me is obvious. My first foray into project management has led to a great deal of personal growth. In September, I commanded our bus fleet with an authority that was no where to be found when I stepped off the plane last May in Missoula. I came here in search of answers to my station in life. What I found was a mountain’s worth of confidence.

“What happened to that cheerful guy?,” one of our drivers commented after he observed me forcefully explaining, once again, the Going-To-The-Sun Road was closed due to a snow and ice storm.

“He adapted,” I replied.

I certainly realize what I am capable of after this summer. I am on another level career-wise and, perhaps, future employers will recognize such as I return to my home state in hopes of putting these new skills to good use. We’ll see what offers come my way, but already I am feeling nostaglic for what I went through.

All of the drivers and their quirks, demanding and often dehumanizing tourists, the isolation, the shitty food — it all makes me laugh now even though, privately, in July, I would drive across the park and suddenly burst into tears of stress for what the day had brought.

Above all, it is important to remember the majestic beauty of our national parks. It is, first and foremost, why I am here. And to that end, I think I did a damn good job of preserving and protecting Glacier National Park.

Check that … I know I did.