2019 POV

For me, 2019 brought a big shift. In the fall of 2018 I knew that I needed to make a change. I had resigned my management position at McCarthy Lodge, at the end of the summer season, but it wasn’t quite clear what I should do next. Should I look for another seasonal summer Alaskan gig? Or should I look to do something else entirely? Was I going to continue to live my nomadic lifestyle, spending summers in Alaska and winters in California? To complicate matters, my health had suddenly taken a bad turn, back in the fall of 2018, and problems in my gut had led to me losing a great deal of weight (which was alarming because I’m already a skinny dude). I was feeling extremely low energy, to the point where a simple, short walk just about did me in for the day. At that point, all options were on the table.

Despite the questions I had about my health, I circulated my resume in the Santa Cruz area, to see what might be available for tax and accounting jobs, and I eventually accepted a job at Santa Cruz Pacific Accounting & Tax, a CPA firm in downtown Santa Cruz, just a short, windy commute through the redwoods, 20 minutes from where I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The new job works well for me because I can continue with the nomadic life to which I have become accustomed, but instead of working summers and writing in the winters, I am now working winters and writing in the summer.


I made a big shift but still kept my two home bases.

I love the CPA firm I work at. Really great people, very casual but at the same time these are some hard working, nose-to-the-grindstone type of accountants. The unofficial company motto of “have fun and get shit done” suits me well. It took me the better part of a year to reconcile myself to wearing jeans and Birkenstock sandals to work at a CPA firm. My CPA experiences were always with conservative Midwest firms.

Flip-flops may be on the list of approved office attire, but as my boss recently told me, he hires people for their toughness, so people know how to get stuff done. It’s a great mix and perfect for the way I roll.

But back to that whole “writing in the summers” thing, cause dang, people. It’s absolutely heaven.

Let me slip a few photos under your nose to give you an idea of what I’m talking about when I speak of the delight of spending a summer in Alaska simply enjoying the wilderness and engaging in the creative process of writing:

Good shot on the Alaska Highway, May roadtrip up to Alaska. Dall ram, I believe. Good lookin’ dude. Helluva set of horns.
My Beaver Creek cabin, tucked away in the woods

More scenes in and around the cabin:

Standing on my front porch, I watch the moose, then decide to take a few pictures and for the hell of it I ask the moose to hold the pose —- and she did, just like that, and held the pose as I took a few shots, including this one
Jumbo Mine. Summer, mid-June, 2019 but still plenty of snow up on the mountain.

More photos from my hikes:

And of course…..good old McCarthy town:

Having a drink with friends at the Golden Saloon. McCarthy, Alaska, summer 2019
One of my personal, favorite pics. McCarthy, Alaska 2019. West side.
I drove the Pride Float on the Fourth. My apparel is the patriotic red, white, and blue, but I’m also wearing my best socialist rose shirt. ‘Merica for me: the red is for equality, the white is the color of the canvass upon which we can celebrate our diversity and the blue is a cool color, so to me it stands for freedom because if you wanna be free ya gotta keep it cool, yo. Keep it chill.
Fourth of July pre-parade drinks, i.e., the fellowship of the crew of the Pride float.
My one-way commute to/from town was over an hour on foot, and I normally walked it. I was always on the lookout for a ride and jumping in the back of my friend’s truck one day afforded me this fantastic photo op of a truly authentic McCarthy vehicle.

In addition to the serenity and the good times to be had in and around McCarthy, it was a productive summer of writing, which included some good progress on my Impossible Novel. The Impossible Novel is my new name for the novel (or novel series) that I’ve been working on for many years. It’s a massive something-or-other that will probably be in process for another decade or so, so far as I can tell. I also expanded my fiction writing, since The Impossible Novel is so daunting right now. I started in on several short stories, including one short story that I’m working on expanding into a book (either a novel or novella).

Returning to California, I jumped in with activist work, particularly to start working for Bernie, among other things. With Bernie returning for a 2020 run, it was hard not to get excited about the possibilities. From our work with Occupy through to Bernie’s 2016 campaign, the United States now actually has an active political left, for the first time in nearly half a century, and it is composed primarily of progressives and democratic socialists. Here’s a few pics of the activist work:

Medicare for All rally in San Francisco, in reaction to Nancy Pelosi (yet again) poo-pooing Medicare for All in favor of the corporate scam that currently masquerades as “healthcare”
#feeltheBern 2020 in Boulder Creek, California
Tabling for Bernie in Boulder Creek, California, fall 2019
Organizing meeting with our local “Santa Cruz for Bernie”
Climate Strike protest, 2019 in downtown Santa Cruz. It was a good turnout, and we at the local DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) chapter in Santa Cruz gave the protest a decidedly anti-capitalist theme — but everyone else heartily joined in with our chants and cheered our speeches. Capitalism, as any serious climate activist knows, is absolutely incompatible with a healthy, living planet.

And of course, there are the redwoods and the beauty of central coast California. This is what motivates me to work as an activist. It is to preserve the beauty and joy of the human experience which consists primarily in our connection to all other life on the planet. To me, this connection is deeply sacred and holy, and worth fighting and sacrificing for, as the onslaught continues from capitalists, i.e., those who seek to turn the living world into dead money as quickly as possible. Time is short, but a better world is within reach.

Redwood luv, fall 2019, Fall Creek State Park
Central Coast California, Big Sur, 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, I feel hopeful. Personally I’m feeling much better than I did a year ago. It took an outrageous amount of research and work to figure out my gut situation, but I’m healthy again and eating well. And with the Trump term coming to its close in November, and with Bernie having such a strong base and running a stable campaign with growing momentum, there’s reason to hope. But it isn’t just Bernie. Progressives and socialists across America are running for offices, phonebanking, cutting turf (i.e., canvassing), writing articles, and agitating for change, real change. Not the so-called “hope and change” of the Clinton/Obama years, where disaster is only one election away (cf. George W. Bush and Donald Trump), but the kind of change that only comes about when individuals and communities take power and agency over their own lives, working cooperatively and democratically for self-determination, personal dignity, and social justice and equality.

So I feel hopeful, and I’m working to translate that energy of hope into political results.

Quote of the Year:

“America will never be a socialist country” ~ Donald Trump

Response of the Year (to Quote of the Year):

“I thought it was great. I think he’s scared.” ~ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Sunrise over the city of Santa Cruz, on an early January morning, 2019

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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