23 May 2017

Where am I now, you say?

Well, as was the inspiration to start this blog back in 2007 to begin with, I've started a new chapter in life. Prematurely at that. When I left Utah in August of 2009, it felt like a part of me died. My life was steeped with adventure between my work with Raytheon Polar Services Company and Colour Country Bureau of Land Management while working with Zion Helitack. Whether for work or play, I was constantly on the move and it satisfied my taste for adventure in the interim. However, throughout the 2008-2009 austral summer, the desire to want more out of my career slowly crept its way to the forefront of my mind. So I chose not to renew my contract for the following austral summer with Raytheon, chose to inform the BLM that I would not be returning for a GS-04 Range Technician position again, and decided to lay temporary roots back in Northern VA while I pursued becoming a Paramedic.
My last fire of the 2009 fire season on the UT/NV border.

I applied to work for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in July of 2009 while I was still in Utah. When I moved back to VA, I started working for Physicians Transport Services as an EMT-Basic.....a job that I both loved and hated for the 6 1/2 years that I worked there. My interview, written exam, and physical agility test for MWAA were conducted in October and on Christmas Eve I was given a job offer. I slowly started working my way to becoming a Paramedic while working with MWAA. At some point early in my time with MWAA, I vowed to work at minimum 5 years for MWAA before I even thought about leaving Northern VA. I became an EMT-Intermediate (in Virginia at the time, the scope of practice between EMT-Intermediates and Paramedics weren't really that different. Most of the DC metro area was using Intermediates and Paramedics interchangeably to staff "medic units") in 2012 and continued working towards becoming a Paramedic while gaining more experience on MWAA, Loudoun County, and PTS ambulances. 

My office for the first half of this decade.
So I became a Paramedic in 2013 and started thinking towards the future. I applied to work for a middle-east sub contractor (who will remain nameless until I'm done with this contract in order to avoid the OPSEC mafia) in spring of 2015 with the hopes of quickly saving up some cash to buy a house in Boise. I made a personal promise earlier in the year to be living in Boise before Maleigha turned 10 which gave me 5 years to make it happen. . Thanks to a group of unscrupulous assholes, a hack into the OPM significantly delayed my security clearance being granted. I finally got the ball rolling in October of 2016, finished my hiring process, and was giving a start date of late December. A lot of my friends and family knew this was coming but I waited until I had an actual departure date and travel itinerary before I gave my notice of resignation to MWAA.

Last shift at MWAA with C-Shift at Dulles/IAD
So a week after my resignation, I was driving to Boise and was somewhere in Kansas on I-70 when I decided, fuck it, I'll move to Boise right then and there and rent a place versus put stuff in storage. So I found a pretty cool rental in the North End of the city not too far from down town, and began the process of changing my home base [hopefully] for the next 10 years. I drove back to VA and was on a plane to Kabul, Afghanistan a couple days later. 

Flying over a rugged corner of Iran

So here I sit in a dusty corner of Kabul dodging stray cats while living the expat life with a vacation back to the states every couple of months. The job is utterly mundane and repetitive but the money is good and we're reasonably spoiled. My contract is up at the end of the year at which point I'll be looking for work in Boise while starting part 2 of this chapter in my life. I applied to work for National Outdoor Leadership School's (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine Institute as an instructor...a dream of mine since I took the EMT program in Midpines, CA back in 2008. Other than that, the immediate future involving 2017 is a mystery...

19 June 2015

"What are you doing out of the city?"

I often attempt to find the verbiage to describe the inevitable union of racial ambiguity and my hobbies. I find myself facing the same comments and questions in regards to black participation in outdoor recreation: "Isn't [random outdoor sport] a white sport?" "I though brothas didn't like [camping/cold/water/anything not involving a ball]". My standard chuckle/witty retort usually staves off an awkward lecture that I usually do not have the emotional energy to deliver. The repeated barrage of ignorant questions, however, collectively take their toll. As if by guilt of participation, I'm loosing the privilege and membership to the exclusive club that is being black. Whenever someone feels the need to validate my blackness (or lack thereof) by comparing my lifestyle to that of the stereotypical blacks they're exposed to in pop culture and mainstream media, I quietly remind them (read: myself) that my skin color alone subjects me to racism by those that aren't familiar with my lifestyle. This is a concept that actually should unite a lot of black outdoor athletes. That and the fact that a common prejudice still alive in the minds of of many Americans exists where it is asserted that I can't be black because of how I do or do not talk, what music I listen to, or what I choose to do with my free time. I wish we all stood up and challenged others to realize that by lambasting me or other blacks by going against some unwritten definition of what it is to be black, you are discrediting the hatred I/we face on occasion because of the color of our skin (and believe me, at least for me it happens more than you think); you are denying such racism exists, further increasing the punch it packs when it's unleashed on us. I've always been proud of who I am. I will never say I cannot nor will not do something based on the color of my skin. That doesn't stop others from believing that such a racial or cultural barrier exists nor needs to be adhered to, however. 
     For the most part, the people I find myself exploring the back country with or the people I meet along the way are genuinely good people....especially climbers and skiers. Rarely do I meet an unfriendly climber or skier who's wondering what a black person is doing out of the city.....


30 November 2014

Fall Musings

This is my favorite time of year. The days are chilly and the nights are near freezing leaving only the heartiest of souls to brace them. In have always believed that the best way to bond with friends is by fire light under the winter sky. Days are gray and dreary. For late Appalachian falls, the temps during the day lazily rise into the thirties but rarely any higher. Eventually that subtle crisp in the air that lingers in your nose, that faint nip of the cold to come, continually reminds you that winter is around the corner. This is the best time to view mountain wildlife. Animals of all shapes, sizes, and order hurry to and fro preparing for their winter routine....guided by a subconscious owner's manual, a primal Winter for Dummies, as if synchronized by an evolutionary choreographer. The once inconspicuous are now outed by the fallen leaves they trod. This is the time to slow down, to observe Mother Nature, to listen to her. The days are progressively becoming shorter as the year moves closer to winter solstice. In the fleeting moments of the fall season, the local flavor of outdoor sports begin to drift toward snow sports. Those labeled sadistic by the meek will continue to hike, climb, and fish against the white backdrop that is the winter landscape. To these winter wayfarers, the anticipation of the snowy transformation grows with every shortening, bustling, leafy fall day.

18 January 2014

Who Needs Passengers? Another Life Epiphany

I've come to learn throughout my travels that the open road posses healing powers one isn't aware of until you find yourself putting rubber to pavement on your way to your next chapter in life or next adventure. Despite how physically draining they were, I look back on my 6 cross-country drives with nostalgia and appreciation. My drive's allowed for contemplation on questions that had plagued my life with uncertainty and anxiety. The most important similarity of all of my drives was the fact that they were all done by myself. I was free from the obligation to talk to another human being when I was behind the wheel which allowed me to spend as much time as I wanted thinking to myself. I started off dreading my 30-36 hour drives that lay before me but eventually came to not only enjoying them but needing them in my life. My stationary life over the past 4 years has kept me from changing multiple time zones in one trip but I do manage to pick up and roll out across the Appalachia for a few hours with no other intent but to wonder. Immortalized in the words of Tolkien, "not all who wonder are lost..."

With that rambling aside, my recent trip to Tremblant, Quebec opened my eyes to another truth that wasn't immediately self-evident to me: my road trips have to be alone. For the first time in a long time, I embarked on a long road trip with 3 other people in tow. What was even more spectacular for me in regards to the trip was the fact that I wasn't the one driving nor was I in my own car. I attempted to give the reigns to someone else for once and instill trust into not only the driver delivering me to Tremblant but into the other 2 in the car that they would respect my need for quiet and introversion on an 11 hour drive. After all, these times on the road have proved sacred to me...surely my friends can respect that. By hitting the road at 0200 I was destined to some quiet time to myself. The trip itself, at Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, was spectacular. One thing I found interesting as far as how my mind and personality works was the fact that I continually returned to the hot tub. I found that despite being surrounded by good friends, my being in a foreign country (despite the fact that it borders America, Quebec definitely is a foreign country to some), I was still drawn to meet new people and socialize. The resort hot tub proved over and over again to be the meeting place for those not acquainted with one another.

The drive back was a different story. After spending 7 days of being over whelmed with the close proximity of others, I was ready for a little introversion. I defintiely did not find it on the drive back. I do not blame my friends and I would never take someone talking to me for granted, but if I were driving by myself I would have most likely been silent the 11 hours on the way home. All the while during the trip, I had moments of anxiety over the fact that I had zero control over a means of transportation while I was there. If I was having an urge to get away from people for a bit, I wouldn't have been able to disappear into Parc National Tremblant as easily as I could have. I wouldn't be able to make detours as often as needed to satisfy my curiosity. I was subject to the driver's speed, the driver's demeanor, the driver's music. I was truly a passenger. And I did not like it one bit.

I have a 10 hour drive into the Adirondacks coming up. For the trip, an organized one, I had listed that I had room for one more person. I'm now having major second thoughts with that decision. Regardless, I know I am not going anywhere without driving myself and definitely without the stipulation that I be allowed at least half the trip without talking. Guess I'll be driving alone anyways.

31 August 2013

GoPro Camera

My adventures out west were mired with camera follies. From losing them while backcountry skiing, to ruining them by dropping them into sand, to them getting stolen. Some of my best memories are from my time spent in the American west so naturally it kills me that I don't have photographs of memories I want to share and relive. Anyways my lack of photographs from my recreating and exploring the west is what spawned my interest in adventure photography that's alive today.

Today I made an impulse buy and purchased a GoPro camera. It wasn't cheap at all but I have grandiose plans for it. Climbing, skiing, road tripping, doing stupid things, the list goes on. What I'm really excited about more than anything is creating memories with Maleigha. I'm looking forward to what Parenting+creativity+fun+Gopro will equal. Im flying to see her for a couple days in Sept. With her being in Kindergarten our time is limited and very precious. I'll be sure not to miss (nor will my Gopro) a single second of it.

26 August 2013

Yeah yeah, it's been a while. Here's a recap on the past couple of years.

First and foremost, Maleigha is big! My little girl is 5 year old now and in Kindergarten. I last saw her in June and plan on seeing her again in September (which reminds me I missed a Skype date with her due to a busy night at the fire station last night). It has become harder and harder being this far away from her as the years go on. Not only have I fallen in love with her all over again, I've fallen in love with Boise, the city that took me in when I was in my own personal dark place after my father died. For now, I'll have to bide my time and make the most of my trips out west. I am incredibly greatful for how technology has kept us together and how it has allowed her mother and I to stay more easily in touch. Email, Skype, Facebook, Paypal, even facetime through our iphones and ipads have all been put to great use ensuring that we make the best of my distance between my daughter and I. It's been a wonderful experience but I'm constantly thinking of a future where M is only a 15 minute drive away.

I have reached an incredible milestone that has been a dream of mine for 8 years. I finally finished Paramedic school and became a Nationally Registered Paramedic. Even though a lot of people thought I was crazy for doing it, I decided to bight the bullet and complete a fast-paced, semester-long Intermediate to Paramedic bridge program hosted by Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD about an hour away from where I live and work.  Between classes and clinicals, I was averaging 350 miles a week in my car just for the sake of class. In the end I was plenty burned out. Walking away from the National Registry test site, however, was a relief. It never sunk in right away, though, which I always thought was strange considering how big of a deal it was too me. I was finally able to call myself a Paramedic. I no longer had to explain to people what an EMT-Intermediate was or the difference between and EMT-Intermediate and a Paramedic. A dream had come true for me but I still found myself (still do to this day every once in a while) pinching myself to see if it's real.

I'm enjoying a fun and comfortable career with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire & Rescue Department. While attendign Paramedic school, I precepted as a medic which was a pretty fun experience. It was a great feeling that have the back of your crew/shift while undertaking such an endeavour. It went by pretty quickly too (3 months). Shortly after getting released as a medic, I completed the Paramedic bridge program I was taking, completed the National Registry exam, and submitted for and received my Virginia Paramedic certification which allowed me to promote up to the rank of Fire Medic. Working for an employer that provided me so much support towards achieving these goals has really made a huge difference in my life. Not a shift goes by where I don't wake up in the morning happy to go to work. For the most part, I forget that I'm even at work while I'm on duty. I couldn't be any luckier to be able to have such an outlook on life and my job.

12 October 2012

Return from a hiatus?

I'll start this blog entry with the same disclaimer as the last few entries and say that I've been severely neglecting this journal. My life has changed a decent bit. I'm starting to feel older which I have noticed has changed the way I think, treat people, and look at the world. Now, before you lambast me for my choice of words I will first admit happily that I'm 27. However I do see a huge difference in Todd Bevans now and Todd Bevans at 22 when I first embarked for Idaho and Antarctica. For one, I long for my estranged daughter. I long to move away from DC. I've noticed my personality and attitude have changed for the worse (I've become more moody and angry). I want to live somewhere that has a lifetime supply of mountains to explore. I've also been romanticizing the idea of settling down with someone.

I've had a preoccupation with death for quite sometime now. No, I'm not suicidal. However, I've spent a lot of time contemplating what it meant to me and how it has changed me via several deaths I'll never forget: my father's mother, my first dog, my father himself, my uncle, Andrew Palmer from the Dutch Creek Incident, various other deaths that hit very close to home in the wildland community, and a few others. When I first started this blog I hoped to take it down a path much like other climbers and adventurers. For now this blog will remain a target for my venting and frustrations. I welcome whomever has the audacity to admit that they actually following my writings and provide me with a (constructive) counter-argument or agreement. Of course I'll document my trips, random musings, and events. After all this is where I do most f my learning anyways...