I started sending email updates to my family and friends when Ilived in South America for about a year in 2009/10. I’ve continued sending them to an ever-growing list of people I feel very fortunate to have in my life. This was the most recent update from late March 2012 entitled The Real World:
I have a dream, and I’m living it. I sought a job that would include health insurance and last more than 4 months, ideally in a place where the water doesn’t taste like chlorine. Now I’ve been working for a wonderful non-profit with a laminated Anthem card in my wallet since February.
The baby steps to enter the post-collegiate “real world” began in late January when I met the 26 other Patagonia-sporting, socially conscious people that make up our Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP).
Our team is scattered throughout the range to volunteer for 10 months with 17 organizations dedicated to stewarding the land and educating the local communities. Our week of staff training included many hours of power point presentations and a trip into Yosemite where a bobcat strolled down the trail 10 feet away from our group. We dispersed as a giant cinnamon roll of friends who probably wear less deodorant than you. Most members live with or near each other, but my host site in Bishop, CA is 4 hours from the nearest SNAPper.
Bishop is only an hour downstream from Mammoth Mountain, but the high desert landscape and prevalence of cowboy boots in the 3,000-person town suggested that I might be entering a solitary world with a population quite different from myself.
I am so glad I was wrong. The most surprising aspect of Bishop has been the vibrant social community. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by a fantastic group of environmental outdoor enthusiasts, many who are in their 20s-30s. Every night of the week has been filled with themed family dinners, Ultimate Frisbee, Capoiera classes, free movies and lectures, and even a Big Lebowski party. My weekends have been blurs of skiing Saturdays and climbing Sundays. I had my two-bedroom apartment to myself for the first month, but between hosting friends and weekend trips I was hardly ever alone. I put up 4 French couch surfers who call themselves Solidream who are halfway through their 3-year world bike tour. They spent 8 days at my place recovering from a year and a half of biking across four continents. We had plenty of stories to share while they weren’t updating their solidream.net website or climbing a local 14,000 ft. peak… such under-achievers.
My flat-mate Elsbeth moved in last week and will be living with me until the end of November. She loves to run, cook and travel and has spent the last couple years as an AmeriCorps member for The Nature Conservancy. E-harmony could not have done a better job of matching like-minded roommates.
During the week I can be found at the quaint Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) office on Home Street, an appropriate location considering how incredibly at home I feel as their Education Coordinator. My supervisor threw me a welcome party and my business outfits include jeans and a beanie. I can see the Sierra range from my desk, and am within chair rolling distance of the kitchen. I arrange their community connections, which include organizing volunteers, field trips, events, educational programs, restoration projects, and media outreach. The ESLT staff and members have been phenomenal and I look forward to biking the 5 minutes to work in the morning. The most challenging aspect of the position has been sitting behind a computer. To offset my overdose of energy I’ve been going on morning runs along the canals, surrounded by two gorgeous mountain ranges. We may not have the culinary diversity of San Francisco, but I am so grateful to be a citizen of this town where dirt bag climbers, conservative ranchers, and a plethora of government agency folk seamlessly mix into the dramatic landscape.
My most compelling news is the brand new release of my blog, The Mona Visa (www.monavisa.wordpress.com). I hope you can tune in to my blogs about life on the East side and exciting plans for the future. I’d love for you to post comments and share it with your friends too. I look forward to hearing what’s going on in your neck of the desert and I hope that everyone is living their own version of the proverbial dream.