Recent Notoriety and Reminiscences

Me and my Vending Machine
Me and my Vending Machine

One of the odd consequences of living in Yosemite, and also of being part of the marketing department, is that my face seems to keep showing up in funny places. I get a chuckle out of it, usually. Part of me is certainly flattered at the attention, but it’s also hard not to be self-critical.

As part of a photoshoot I participated in while I was working at the Mountaineering School, my picture was taken while I was hiking – or pretending to hike, rather – out on Old Big Oak Flat Road with El Capitan in the background. That image, for a short time, graced the cover of the activity brochure, and is now on the front of several Pepsi vending machines. My Pepsi machines, my friends tell me, are in the Village Garage, at Housekeeping Camp and maybe some other locations. Unfortunately, I’ve never really liked that picture of myself, and it’s a little disconcerting to run into such a big image of myself. I’m glad that the two machines in front of our offices have pictures of other people.

While at YMS, I also had a chance to go snowshoeing with Tom Stienstra, an outdoor columnist for the SF Chronicle, TV personality and guidebook author. Between that and his continued close relationship with Kenny, who now works only 15 feet from me, he recently decided to publish a story about me in the Chronicle. It is a story about the accident I was in nearly 3 years ago, and my subsequent recovery. It was interesting to work with an experienced journalist and storyteller, and to see the process that he went through in terms of preparing for an interview and then writing a story. Unfortunately, the online article generated a bunch of pretty negative comments, which I thought were either petty, immature, uninformed or a combination of the three, but they still left a bad taste in my mouth.

Some nice things have happened as a consequence of that story too. One was that another writer, Bill Katovsky, who is working on a book entitled Return to Fitness, contacted me about putting a short sidebar about me in his upcoming book. Again, I had the opportunity to witness the writing process of a professional author. The methods and styles of the two men are very different, but each time I was amazed to see the sometimes subtle, sometimes sweeping influence on the story I would have told, making it more dramatic and/or fleshing out details.

Another thing that surprised me was that someone who had recently been in an accident and had injuries similar to mine contacted me to find out about my experience with recovery. I was happy to report to him that so many of my issues have gotten better over the years. But most interestingly, to me, was the number of old friends who got back in touch with me after reading the article. Reconnecting with them gets me thinking about other phases of my life, and the cool people I’ve met.

I’ve gotten back in touch with some friends over the last year, since my sister-in-law, nieces and nephew convinced Tom and I to get Facebook accounts. Facebook is kind of a strange service. On Facebook, I am friends with old High School classmates that I hadn’t been that close to, even then, and co-workers that I rarely interact with in real life. And when it comes to HS friends, the day-to-day updates don’t seem to come close to filling in 20 years of radio silence. Still, I love it. I love getting little messages about what people are doing – just random news and noise from their days.

And then there are the actual conversations! I just got back in touch with my orchestra teacher from high school and she reminded me that at one point I was upset that my dad wouldn’t let me get a job. “School is your job”. I don’t remember that at all. School is an awesome job. Getting to hang out and learn things all day – I wish I’d been more appreciative when I was younger. I wonder what else I’ve forgotten.

I wonder if some day I’ll stumble back across this post and think back. Oh yeah, remember those silly Pepsi machines with my picture on them? Those were the grand old days in Yosemite.