Why I Have These Two Posters

These are 2 bear posters I have.

The first one looks the most like, let’s call him “My Bear,” of the images I’ve seen, and I’ve looked at many looking for as close a facsimile I could find. The water on the whiskers does it. Weighs them down just right.

The second poster is for its “close-up” value. Of the bear pictures I’ve sorted through, it’s the closest to replicating the proximity, the frame in which I saw him when I first saw him. Sometimes the poster catches my eye and a voice in my head reflexively says, “I know, I know, I know.”

I had to keep the second covered for awhile last summer and fall.

Together, they give me the face and the distance from which we met.

Here’s a close-up of the bear who looked the most like mine.

This Video

I saw it for the first time on a tv screen in a bar in Amsterdam. I loved the man I was with. I had called off my wedding to be with him. 

Decades and lives ago.

 

More Bear Aftermath

As a fiction writer, I've spent most of my life in a split world. There's the moment I'm in and experiencing and there's a perceiving mechanism apart from the external world mulching the experience into material. 

Since the Bear, the split is rare. Sometimes, I think it's a problem, a problem for the writing. Other times, it seems like "writer" was an identity that has served its purpose.  

My Process

I was asked about my writing process yesterday. Dictaphone? Journals? 

My answer: On-screen composing mixed in with random jotted notes and messages on stray pieces of paper, envelopes, and sometimes journals. Non-linear, then ordered, and re-ordered, several times over. Then cleaned up and too pleased with itself, I pull it apart again, put it back together, and declare it done a typo too early discovered too late. 

Generally speaking, that's how it goes. 

Birthday Card

I usually don't discuss my birthday on the Internet. I know the algorithms will grab it and go look at my astrological chart and manipulate me into buying pocketbooks. 

But I got this early birthday card from my cousin, the only family member to have seen my scene out in Emigrant. He and his wife spent time right in the area where I was jumped by the bear.  

This is the birthday card. 

 

Three Books and Lobbying Medpot

The three books I travel with if I'm going to be working and temporarily living in a location are Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, The Structure of ScientificRevolution by Thomas Kuhn, and Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows.

How systems work, how to build them, and how things change - dynamics that are relevant to anything I'm working on, any task before me.

Right now, that location is the capital of Montana where I'm lobbying a slate of provisions to further develop the medical marijuana regulatory statute. The goal is to move the program/system towards being Transparent, Contained, Safe, and Functional. As part of the team that authored and passed in November the citizens' initiative laying down the foundation of a medical marijuana regulatory system, we are now looking to build upon this foundation. The initiative created licenses and mandatory inspections for medical marijuana providers in Montana and allowed the cannabis testing labs to re-open. The initiative also made PTSD an allowable condition for a medical marijuana referral. The initiative generated this foundation for regulation while restoring access in Montana which was lost by a court decision in February 2016 that went into effect September 30, 2016. The program was all but shut down until the initiative passed in November.

The initiative was the foundation. The basics. During the 2017 Legislative Session, we will forward the next layer of provisions in order to develop Montana's medical marijuana regulatory rubric, including tracking systems, shifting to the canopy-model for production management, defining concentrates, residency requirements, and mandatory testing once a standardized, available, affordable testing network is in place. 

This will be my 13th legislative session as a lobbyist. I am proud to be lobbying in 2017 for one of the fastest growing industries in the United States and serving as Lobbyist and Government Relations for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA).

Regulatory statutes create systems. The functioning of the legislature itself is a system. There are nodes and hubs, islands, feedback loops, and both static and dynamic variables. There are goals, players, and rules - basics in all complex adaptive ("living") systems. I believe taking a systems approach to both to building regulatory models and politics is like learning about electricity, and not just how to fix the toaster. 

(Text is also available at my LInkedIn page.)

Snow Day

sounds good on this snowy, snowy, snowy, snowy, still coming down day. snow. chunky, lumpy snow. christmas tree lights. and the ever-presence of cat politics.one cat likes to drink from the Christmas tree stand. it's so refreshing, he thinks, this holiday beverage. it's been snowing and snowing and the birds are back and forth from the hedge to the feeder across the street. eat all you can! 

House of Dogs

On one side downstairs was a guy with a lab who just had 14 puppies. On the other side were two guys who had a bulldog with a 'Sir" before his name and a pitball who went by Raven. I lived in the attic apartment with my lab/setter mutt and a newt who would get on her rock when I played The Who. I also playing REM at the time, and this song. 

 

I Read "Mark of the Grizzly" by Scott McMillion

"Go to the ground with a grizzly bear and the experience changes life." - Scott McMillion, Mark of the Grizzly

I read Scott McMillion’s book, Mark of the Grizzly, over three days coming back to Montana from Cuba. I started it on the flight from Havana to Fort Lauderdale. I read two chapters and put it aside for a little while. I wasn’t sure reading it was such a good idea because I was attacked by a bear last October along the Yellowstone River. I came out of it pretty well. Some of the stories in the book are gruesome. Harrowing.

I saw the threads running through the accounts. For example, it’s clear that looking a grizzly in the eye doesn’t usually lead to the best outcomes. It’s the click. Boom! Grizzly speed. Many cite that moment. When I saw the bear’s eyes from two feet away, I had no question about what was coming next. 

I kept reading, pausing between every two chapters or so, unsure whether this was going to disturb me in a generally un-useful way.  I believe myself to have been on the fine side of fine when it comes to PTSD-like matters. Why mess with it?  Then, as I kept reading one account after another I found myself almost feeling like it wasn't that unusual to get jumped by a bear.    

Getting attacked by a grizzly bear. It happens.

Each essay in the collection is sharp. It lays out the story best we know it, best someone can report.  Scott’s book took me into the woods, the brush, and meadow. The bear is there. The beast arrives.  Big males. Uncertain teens. Sows with cubs who are learning, following their mother through the thickets and brush. Or campgrounds. Some have radio collars. Others don’t. I wondered what one bear thought of another bear’s radio collar. They seem intelligent enough to notice and assess.

In many of the accounts, the people fight the grizzlies. It didn’t read to me like that was the best decision, and yet sometimes one just can’t know how it would have gone down if one hadn’t. Fighting seems to work best if you’ve got two people working as a team, both getting their asses kicked, but fighting for each other.

I did not fight. I was part of a team. My dog was there.

 Whoomp! Under a bear.

Fighting did not occur to me. I was going to die.

In the sky between Fort Lauderdale and Denver, I continued to question whether reading Scott’s book would make me scared when I’ve been okay. It got squirrelly sometimes crammed in by a window above the clouds. Each account was vividly written. I was in each scene. I could see clearly the spotting of the bear down the slope munching on a leg stump that was wearing a tennis shoe.

I read the book over three flights and then finished up the next day after landing back in Montana.

I loved it. Tom Cahill’s quote on the cover is no exaggeration. He says: “This deft and gracefully written book is more terrifying than a shelf full of Stephen King novels.”

I’m going to give Mark of the Grizzly "riveting.” I couldn’t look away, except for breathers, and reflection.  Even though it can give me the shivers to “go back,” I want to stay close to it.  Mark of the Grizzly surely gave me that.

 

The Day Of

The day of the bear attack, I had started a new discipline. I had been concerned I hadn't been using my time productively enough so decided to document went I did with my time, half hour by half hour, to get real about my time management, just as some dieters document their food intake to get clear about what they are really eating. 

The page goes right up to 1 pm when I left to go to the river with the dog. 

I think I'll save that piece of paper forever. 

Passive Voice

As I write about the bear, I notice the natural tendency is to say "attacked by the bear," as opposed to "the bear attacked me." 

It seems this is common in communicating acts of assault. "Hit by the car." "She was raped." "Forty people were killed in the bombing." 

The word "attack" also implies a malice I don't ascribe to the bear. I use the word, sometimes, but I feel like "jumped" is the better word. The bear caught me, like a cat might "catch" something.  I think he considered eating me. But the dog made it all too unpleasant. "Check, please. No, I don't want it to go." 

This is a picture of some of the staples that were in my head. I'm blonde. It looks red because of the dried blood. The emergency room doc said not to wash my hair until the next day.