Saturday, February 16, 2013

A belated second hello

Well, it's been almost two years since my last post. Hello again! I still think that perhaps writing about my day-to-day is a little superfluous, but if I had the money to see a therapist I'm quite sure he or she would tell me that writing is a good way for me to express myself since I do it so poorly amongst others. Please excuse my stream-of-conscious-style of writing here.

There's a quarter of a black ring smudged onto the side my nose from pressing my face against a scope for several hours today. Welcome back to the breeding season! The beginning of my fourth here on San Clemente Island, studying the endangered San Clemente loggerhead shrike. The average lifespan for biologists on this island is roughly two years, so the fact that I'm starting my fourth year is somewhat of an accomplishment. When I came out here I did not have an exit strategy.

The generalization part of my brain is starting to tire of doing the same thing day in and day out. Hike to site, watch shrikes or watch nothing, hike out. But I'm also laser-focused and completely changed from who I was when I began out here in January 2010. I can pick up a shrike call from several hundred meters away. I can navigate through cactus like a champ, and only get nailed once every month or so (when I began I got nailed almost every day, leaving ugly bruises and tiny red dots where the spines had broken off in my skin. My legs looked diseased.). I have quads and calves of steel from hiking gnarly slopes, even if the rest of my body has somewhat gone to mush. My hands look 10 years older than the rest of my body from sun exposure, despite vigilant sunscreen use. I have made excellent decisions and made tragic mistakes. I have gotten hurt, emotionally and physically.

I have also learned patience. Hence the smudge on my face. It's a double-edged sword, however, because it gives me way too much time to think. Lord help me when I get inside my head too much.

Part of me is much more discplined than 2010 me, but another part is much less disciplined. This island, with all it's harshness, has really made me quite soft. There was a time in my life when everything I owned was in my car, and the thought of living in the woods in my tent was so much more inviting than getting fat in front of a TV.

One of my favorite times in my life was the break I took from the island in 2010 when I went to New Mexico. I like to refer to that experience as "The Best and Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Me." I think I'll write a separate blog entry for it, because surely a story with that kind of loaded title deserves it's own space.

For now I'm going to soak my sorry shoulder in a hot shower (tore it last fall... it's about time to see a doctor about it, I think), then kick back and catch up on Walking Dead (separate post about my love of zombie culture to come as well). I hope your evening is as lovely as mine is sure to be.