17/10 - Greetings from the desert.
It's been a long while since I last added to this blog, around the time the Covid-19 pandemic started. Since then, I survived one of the craziest times in San Quentin State Prison's history. At one point there were more than 2,000 inmates infected with the coronavirus, and more than 25 prisoners died from it. I experienced the most toxic of workplaces and observed some eyebrow-raising unprofessionalism, incompetence and rudeness. Outside of Prisneyland, I notched some spurts of personal growth, met some great people and made the Bay Area my home, in particularly San Rafael and Marin County, and watched a spectacular thunderstorm which set California on fire until this day.
I also left San Quentin.
After 12 job interviews in 2020, I accepted a job with Caltrans as a Public Information Officer in Bishop. If you don't know where Bishop is, I was the same way two months ago. Bishop is a small, rural, desert town in Inyo County. Though there are more than 8,000 people who live in this area, the town is little more than a Highway 395 rest stop for travelers between Mammoth Lakes, Reno or Los Angeles.
If you're still unsure about where it is, think of Death Valley National Park. Bishop is on the north end of the area. On my road trip to Death Valley a few years ago, I came within a few hours south of Bishop when I went as far north as Olancha on Highway 395.
It's very different here from Marin County and the Bay Area.
Not only have I moved away from one of my favorite cities in the world in San Francisco, I'm starting over from zero. Again.
I started over from zero in Porterville, Poole, Cherbourg and San Rafael. In all of those places, I didn't know anyone and I was brand new to the job (or country). In all of those cities, I started with zero knowledge of anything around me. In Poole, I was, frankly, terrified but exhilarated. In Cherbourg, I had the language barrier to battle and wasn't sure about my purpose for being there.
In Bishop, I'm starting over yet again. I'm brand new to this part of California and I don't know a soul. I'm brand new to the job and am facing a steep learning curve while working from home. Since it's a small town, one can find political signs and flags in front of every other house. Every Friday evening, a convoy of conservatives cruise Main Street, honking their horns and making as much noise as possible in the hopes of getting a rise out of someone. And since I moved here, the Creek Fire has been steadily burning on the west side of the Sierra Nevada, producing a constant blanket of smoke over Owens Valley.
It's not easy.
This is yet another challenge. I've done it before, several times in fact, and I'll do it again.
But, I've noticed that I'm not as excited to start over again. I'm getting tired of it. And last week I realized, for the first time in my life, I was homesick!
I'm homesick for Marin County. I honestly loved living there; it was paradise. However, it was too expensive for me to live there. I was working too much to truly enjoy and appreciate it. And most of all, the job at San Quentin made me miserable.
28/10 - The air has been clear of wildfire smoke in Owens Valley the past two days. Surprisingly, my mood is a lot better! When the air is clear, the Eastern Sierra towers over the valley with jagged and rough peaks. To the east, the White Mountains seem to glow orange and red during the day and especially in the evening.