Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Self-Esteem Zero

Self-esteem.
Zero.

I want to prewarn you that this does not have a Christian spin into it. This does not have some crazy novel resolving to it. This is about low self esteem. This is not a “boost my self-esteem” post. This is me just honestly revealing and recording some thoughts. Putting the "lesson learned" spin would be even easier than this naked look into my mind.

Self-esteem.
Zero.

I was looking back at some pictures from my year abroad in 2007 with self-loathing. I laughed at some memories but each time I saw myself, I would cringe. With the moments I captured, I second guessed friendships thinking, “Who would be friends with that girl? Who would be friends with me?”

I’m not sure. Do I come off as having confidence? Do I look self-assured? I think I like being by myself because then I feel like it’s a choice. When I’m in a crowd, I frequently feel lonely - like I don’t belong or fit in. I feel unwanted and like a misfit. Mind you, of course this isn’t always and it’s gotten better in time - but growing up, especially, it was weird. School lunches. Get togethers. Did anyone actually want me there? Am I merely voicing the insecurities of every teenager or is it just me?

I look at photographs and see each 17 year old beautifully put together and then me on the side. A dumpy attempt at looking nice. I know these thoughts should be forgotten or that they’re “wrong” but they’re what in my head. I flip through the phrases like “ugly” and “unlovable.” This is not a side of me I normally reveal.

Truth is, I am very, very self-conscious. Self-aware. Self-scared-silly.

I second guess friends I have, hoping they love me the way I care for them.

There was a human being whom I thought was my best friend. She told me I was. People thought we were. After a decade later, she informed me that for the duration of our friendship, she was merely humoring me. At first I brushed that aside but sometimes I believe it. And, if she was faking it, who else is? Who else is my friend for pity’s sake. To add this, to our friendship, I was to always come second in everything. Whatever I did, she had to do better - and did do better. Crazier. More unique. More beautiful. More elegant. Better musician. Better education (which I was informed of in junior high, high school, and college). What was I better at? Math, I guess..

Just throwing this out there - I’ve never been asked out on a date. In high school, I was never asked to a dance. While my best friend (real one - she’s awesome) was asked 3-4 times, there was no chance of me getting asked. I’m the friend that guys will hang out with until they can find a girl friend. It’s not even like I want out of the friend-zone - I love it there! But apparently, even the friend-zone is off limits once they found someone to be in a relationship with.

I look at pictures of me “dressed-up” and not once do I feel like I look pretty in them. Prom? Matura Gala? Valentines Dinner with youth group? I wish I had asked someone to do something with my hair. I had no idea what to do with it and still don’t.

When someone tells me I’m beautiful, I try to listen and I am grateful for their words. It’s not something I hear often at all. I know I shouldn’t build up my self-esteem on people telling me I’m beautiful, but a girl’s gotta hear a few times in her life.

Currently, no, I am not in a state of constant self-loathing. My self esteems is still extensively low, but I function and live and frequently feel loved and love back. The end.

------------------------------------

Here's another post I wrote and never posted.


Society has taught me not to be happy with my body.
I’ve been spoonfed photo-shopped images with a side of dissatisfaction.

And, many times, society - you win.

This is the post where I talk about my low body self-esteem and the path to coming to accept and love myself for who I am.

Starting at a young age, my identity was being small. I was off-the-charts tiny and my bone maturity was a few years off. Weight was never a worry and I relished always being “the small one.”

I remember one conversation with a friend from a church, once. “I used to be like you, tiny, and then one day ‘POOF’ I got big.” Oh my goodness. And, well, that’s what happened. I had been so used to being “the small one” I didn’t know what to do when, in my mind, I was big. I was awkward. Acne exploded off my face like volcanos and I was friends with two of the most beautiful girls I knew - one went on to become a model. And this began a trend in my life.

Pictures of myself made me feel uncomfortable so I began to be the one shooting.

Each time I would leave my home for a while, I would gain even more weight. 10-20 pounds were gained in Switzerland the first time and my host dad told me I was fat because I ate bananas. I wanted to tell him it was because his wife force-fed me the leftovers of every meal saying, “Someone has to eat them and I’m full.”

My weight, for the past 5 years, has been somewhere between 114-126 lbs. Currently I’m living at 121 lbs after a winter in Alaska. I look in the mirror and I don’t see a perfectly toned stomach. Living with someone with a six-pack didn’t help with that. I came to think that his body was the norm and felt even more obtuse.

This morning, though, I got up and looked in the mirror and told myself that I liked who I am. This is who I am.

I started to think about body self-esteem and where it comes from and it took me down a similar path of why it was important that I didn’t date for so long. I am of the belief that it is healthiest and best for me to build up my own self-esteem and self-worth without it being dependent on the world or, even more specifically, a male and what they tell me.

There’s some girls that get lots of comments on Facebook telling them how beautiful they are. You know who they are. They know who they are. That’s not me. Once in a blue moon, the B-word is dropped on me and it always comes as an unexpected surprise. Because of little things like this, I sometimes drop into the disillusion of believing that I’m not beautiful which feeds into a bunch of other lies.

It is vital that I can look in a mirror and tell myself I like who I am, and believe it, instead of waiting for a man to tell me that. Why? Because I think that creates an unhealthy imbalance. That teaches me to rely on men for my self-worth. That causes me to use them as a crutch. That means another human being is vital in creating my identity and I saw what happened before.

Before, other human beings created, in me, and identity based on how I looked. Then that was taken away and I have sine been off-kilter. Seven-years after puberty and I’m still feeling like I should be the size I was as a child - really!! That’s how weird my mind is. I still have a hard time accepting that I’m not the size I was when I was 14 - 8 years ago! “If I’m not the ‘small one’ any more, who am I?”

So I need to learn to love me for me, and I’m getting pretty good at doing that, I think. But I’m sick of always thinking, “If I was only 5 lbs lighter...”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lopez Island


I hadn't been to Lopez Island since February 2012 and, eleven months later, I was stoked to be returning.

Lopez Island is one of those towns, islands, that feels like home, regardless of how many times you've been there or how disorienting the road layout is. It also just so happens to be the home of my dear friend, and most loyal penpal, Hannah. Hannah G.

Straighten your wrists, child!
From last year's Lopez Trip in 2012
 Since I left, Hannah been all over. Shespent some time in one of the Carolinas in the first part of the year and then went to the English L'Abri. Me? I just went to Alaska. And stayed in Alaska.

We had a lot to catch up on.
Sort of.
We've been in constant written communication, so luckily we weren't too out of touch. But it was encouraging to have the back and forth banter that you get from face-to-face communication.

I get to talk about a lot of, well, real things with Hannah. Conversations I don't sink into with strangers on the bus (usually). I let my guard down completely with her. She reminds me to put the lid back on her toothpaste.


Despite my five days on the ferry last week, the 40 minute ferry trip from Anacortes to Lopez Island was luxury. I enjoyed the views as the sky darkened and read about curling in the newspaper, excited to see folks I knew and recognized from the club.

Finally we docked.
Lopez!
Lopez Island!
HEY! YOU GUYS! WE'RE ON AN ISLAND!


Hannah drove me the winding way home and her parents, John and Martha, graciously welcomed me into their home. She made a delectable dish of rice, lentils, and onions (mujaddara - مجدرة‎ - apparently it's the Arabic word for "smallpox") and I felt satisfied.

The next morning I joined her at her nanny job with Jack and Kate. I got to hold a baby! Goodness! Babies are so swell! I like them. I like making them laugh. They make me laugh.

Later that night (actually, this happened the next night) she spun wool... and we watched Full House. It's my favourite.


I decided I wanted to go to San Juan Island the next day. Lopez and San Juan Island are all a part of the San Juan Islands. They're my favourite archipelago we've got in Washington and I've got a decent pitcher-full of memories there. There are a bunch of the islands, including Swirl Island, Willow Island, Deadman Island, Little Island, but the ones that most folks visit are Lopez Island, Orcas Island, Shaw Island (populatin 240), and San Juan Island. Those are the islands that the ferry service visits. There's also islands like Waldron. Waldron doesn't provide power and water to the residents via the government, but 104 people still live there.

San Juan Island has 6,800 residents - a pretty large town in my book. It's even got a town that isn't "San Juan Island," Friday Harbor.

The night before, I hopped onto Couchsurfing and contacted a few people who seemed genuine and engaging. Two of them texted me, they were away for the day, and I waited for the third. I went with Hannah to work and 30 minutes later, started hitching my way to the ferry. Within 10 seconds (literally - instantly) of sticking out my thumb, I was picked up. It took two rides to get me to the ferry.

As soon as I left her house, Travis, from Couchsurfing, contacted me. I was surprised when, 10 minutes later, someone at the ferry terminal asked, "Mägi?"

I could summerize Travis as a paragliding bagpiping paramedic... I could. But that doesn't really cut to who he is. Travis is the sort of lad you always hope you'll run into when traveling. It was encouraging to hear about his aspirations, life-path, goals, thought process, and views on different manors. We could relate in a lot of ways and he quickly felt like someone I had known for a while.


He had his automobile and asked what I wanted to do. I wasn't quite sure, so we crafted a plan that suited us both. He wanted to practice paragliding. I wanted to try and find someplace, a specific beach, I had visited back in 1998 when I was seven years old.


Fourth of July Beach. Other beaches. We visited them all, looking for the beach I had visited as a child. We walked each one, but none of them were it.

The beach he wanted to go to was Cattle Point. There, the wind would hopefully be right for him to practice. We got there and I gave it a look. It looked familiar. Felt right. Was this it?

It certainly felt a bit smaller... but it was. We had found it. It was at the southern point of the island, this wee lil' blurb of a blip.

He practiced. I played. I like playing...

and then I decided to try and find the cabin I had enjoyed from '91-98. Thing is, I hadn't been there since I was 7 and, well, I wasn't sure how my navigation skills were back then.

I let go of my mind and started walking. Bends, turns, and trees looked familiar, but more than anything, it felt right. I took a few turns and eventually stopped when the feels stopped. I looked around and saw a few deer and felt. It felt right. I felt like it was either here or I was in a completely wrong area of the island. The house didn't totally fit my memory in relation to the garage and so I left. Within 20 seconds I met up with a man. I asked him where the Froelichs lived and he told me that that house I had stood in front of was it.

I said a quick, "Hey!"

We traveled back to the ferry and went to Lopez. Back at his home he played the bagpipes and we listened to podcasts. Soup. Soup. Soup.


I returned home to where Hannah, sadly, was feeling ever poorer than she had in the morning. We had a relaxing evening with an early bed time. That was just what I needed. Through this entire time on Lopez, I was still recovering from the flu.


Thursday, I got to go back to San Juan Island with Hannah for a dentist appointment. She wasn't feeling any better.

While she was at the Tooth Ferry, I met up with Avery - a like-aged lad who had been born on a ferry.


We wandered a few miles and I got to learn about what made him tick. A chef. A pursuer of knowledge and education. He got me thinking about education and the value of it and how some folks pursue it for the sake of just learning, they enjoy the process of it. I like the process but the debt that comes with a formal education just isn't attractive to me.


After the dentist appoint, Hannah felt too sick to go dancing so we went to catch an early ferry that would take her home instead of straight to Anacortes. On Lopez, we got some honey mints and then she returned me to the ferry that took me to Anacortes.

Cindy was there again!

She picked me up and took me out for delicious food (I got a salmon wrap -- Washington has fresh salmon too) and then we drove the remaining 75 miles to Kenmore, Washington (1.5 hours of rainy transit). I valued the time I got to spend getting to know her and was grateful to have a wonderful travel companion for the last stretch of this trip.

526 miles traveled in the first week in the Lower 48 after a 1,000 mile ferry trip.
The entire time, my ear was all plugged up.
Life feels a bit back to normal.


Post-Weekend :: First Monday in the Lower 48


At 8 AM, our ferry pulled into Bellingham. The fog obscured the familiar town I was looking forward to seeing so, instead, I looked for my brother and father who were picking me up.

Welcome to life in Washington.

The next morning, at 5:45 AM, I departed for British Columbia, Canada. I managed to stay at the homes of two friends and started to feel semi-recharged... sort of. I did a lot of sitting that weekend. I was at the Leuba home, friends from Contra, and with Emily Lynch, a wonderful friend I’ve known since December 2000. That’s a while isn’t it? Maybe? I’m still at the age where 10 years seems like a lot.

I was thinking about that last night – 10 years difference. I’ve been realizing that I’m just 10 years from 32. 12 to 22 seems like a long time, I’ve gone and changed and become a real human being. But 22 to 32? Is that time going to fly? Lately, 32 hasn’t seemed that old anymore. A good, decent-sized handful of friends of mine are in their 30s. Quite a few. I’ve been thinking about what that means to reach 30 and thinking about where I think I might be when I’m 30. I’m not some career path like a bounty of folks I know. My life could look like a lot of things....



On Monday, I was eager to see my friend Kyle! Last I’d seen Kyle was in Santa Clara, CA. Before that it was Bowen Island, BC; Seattle, WA; and Portland, OR. Somehow  we managed to both end up in the same town on the same day.

We hung out for a few hours at the Surrey Public Library and the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University. It was refreshing to see him again and we both bounced ideas and experiences off of each other.
 

At 1 PM, Kurt, Alex, and Ed came and picked me back up and we drove across the border where I was dropped off in Mt. Vernon at the transit center. I was elated! Caught the bus! It was an hour long bus trip to March’s Point - through the town of La Conner and around Skagit Valley. It was a small bus and by the end, I knew a bit about the bus driver and she knew about me. The next bus picked me up and I noticed quickly that all who boarded knew the bus driver, Mark, and he knew them - and then took the time to get to know me.

Ancortes right on time. Anacortes is where you catch the ferry. Joys! Cindy met me there. I got to meet her parents and she gave me a ticket that would get me to Lopez Island. I know Cindy from contra dancing and was going to be seeing her again on Thursday when we drove back to Seattle together for Thursday night contra in Lake City.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Back & Still Sick

Frustrating.

That's what my first "Seattle Days" were. I planned to get out. I planned to dance 5 hours every night. I planned to...

I stayed home.
Sick.
Saturday, I got rid of 187 items before crashing in bed for the rest of the day.

Saturday morning Brent did come over and we got to jam. Satisfying.
Saturday night Carole came over and that was wonderful!

But, overall, I was sick in bed. I let myself heal, hoping I would be as good as new by Sunday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Annual Langley, BC Trip


I was on the ferry for about 53 hours from Alaska to Washington.
Then, I managed to stay in Washington for 20 hours before heading out again.

Uh oh.
Old Mägi is back.
The one that thinks that every weekend is worth going to a different location.

Alex, Kurt, and Ed drove me all the way up to Surrey, BC where I caught the busses to Fort Langley and had a short walk to the Leuba home.

This this point I was sick and tried. Genuinely sick. It was day 12 or 13 of this flu thing and I still felt like crap. As for tired? I had only gotten 7 hours sleep in the past two nights - only 2.5 hours the night before.

I trumped along 96th, knowing their house was only about 2 miles away. To keep things short, I managed to make the walk last over 5 miles.

I didn't really know if they'd be home but I assumed someone would. Normally the house is full of awesome folks like Tammy, Monica, Mica, Sky, River, and Scotty - sometimes Rowan.

After a long walk, I climbed over their gate and walked up the long driveway to find River and Jewell about to leave in their car. House empty. If I had arrived 5 minutes later, I would've missed them and then been locked up. Zum gluck they were there and let me inside. They were off snowshoeing and dancing. I asked if I could sleep in their house. "Yes."


I immediately made my way up to "the Crack" - that space in Sky's room between the bed and the wall which has been filled up with blankets and pillows. I slept there for the nap. Stayed there all day feeling crappy. And slept there.

At midnight, River and Jewell came home.

I had wanted to go dancing with the group but they were far away after snowshoeing so I would've had to bus it there and I felt drained, as it was - a sign that I ought not go dancing.



Here's my inner-reflective part:

There's something odd about being in a space where all the folks you're used to being there aren't there.
And, the other odd thing is, generally, I enjoy the space just as much when they aren't there as when they are.

I experienced that at Bowen Island. I went back once everyone was gone, preparing myself that, "it wouldn't be the same." It wasn't the same but I liked it still. I like places sort of just as much as I like people. And to be alone in places I like? Mmm. So comfortable.

It was good for me, actually, to have a place to rest without other people. A place where I couldn't go anywhere or do anything but just relax - what my body needs. If they had been there, I wouldn't have napped. If they had been there, I would have gone dancing. But instead, I just did nothing.



Sooo... the next morning Emily Lynch picked me up. I've known her for over a decade, now, since 2001. I've visited her every single year, usually just once a year, since 2009. This was visit number five or six.

She took me to church which was really encouraging. Me and churches are weird, sometimes - but the pastor said some things I really had been needing to hear. After church, Emily, Jeremy, and I got some much needed pho and I managed to get down around 1/4-1/3 of it.

Lazy day at home was needed and granted.

Watched a movie. Played Bohnanza (!!!!). Ate dinner. Squished everyone on the couch...

And now, today I take the bus back to Surrey to meet with Kyle. Then I'll drive back down with Alex, Kurt, and Ed to Washington where I can catch the bus to Lopez Island to see my pen pal, and amazing friend, Hannah!

Yeah... I'm at it again. That thing called not-being-able-to-stay-in-one-place-for-long.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Transitional Travels

I haven't really been in one place, this week, 'cept for "on a boat."

I boarded the ferry in Haines, Alaska on Monday, the 14th, and pulled into Bellingham, Washington on Friday some 1,000 miles later.

We drove 111 miles to Kenmore and I had some time to settle into my home state.

15 hours after heading home, I joined some friends and we went to Canada.

[insert 2.5 hours of sleep and lots of snotty-tissues]

117 miles to Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

I boarded the bus (hallelujah!!!) and an hour, $2.75, and 17 miles later I was in Fort Langley.

I meandered 5 miles by foot.

Slept a bounty.

Monday, I travel 80 miles to get to Anacortes, Washington.

12 miles on the ferry to Lopez Island.

And then it will have been a full week.

--------------------

Now the reflection. I'm back at it. I'm doing it again.

In Alaska, I learned to settle. I learned to stay in one town without leaving it, ever, for months and months on end.

But the moment I'm Seattle, I'm on the move. Different beds each night. Seeing what I can pack in. Attempting to make connections.

I don't get how or why I do it.

Ferry AK->WA :: Thursday :: Tamarack

Thursday :: 19:22

Finally, on day four, I found my social self again. I finally let others initiate conversation with me and I managed to enjoy it. It isn’t that I haven’t talked to folks at all, it’s just now that I did that thing called “talking together on the ferry for a long time because you have no where else to go.”

And you know what? All the folks that initiated conversations were dudes. All of them! Dudes! I initiated conversations with two moms - but no ladies started ‘em up with me. Guys, on the other hand? Easy as eye contact. Heck, didn’t even have to make eye contact. And now I’m thinking what percentage of them also were so forward as to initiate physical contact.... my back was patted a lot during this trip.

My “social” day started with breakfast, I sat a table away from a man and pretty soon we were talking. He had a bounty of French toast and I was excited when he offered me two half slices. I had already had a sweet potato for breakfast, but it looked delicious. A small cup of peanut butter and a few drizzles of maple syrup later, we were engrossed in conversation. And it was about time. This man mirrored my position on the ferry - directly across from me. He was on a “ferry vacation.” His vacation was riding the ferry. Legit! His home is Federal Way. He has lived in Juneau before and has family there.

Another man I’ve been talking to most of the trip is the Man in the Halibut Cap. He’s probably in his 60s and helps keep the cafeteria clean and things running smoothly in the kitchen. He snook out a cup full of garlic for me when I was feeling sick to help my immune system. He was always slipping things into my hands - peanut butter and he tried to give me a free Rice Krispy treat. We talked about the joys of honey and he always just seemed to be there. He would joke with other old men (sorry guys - when you’re 60, you’re old) about taking care of “the pretty young girl” as he would rest his hand on my shoulder.

Later in the lounge, I met aother man as I sat at the piano and played. We hung out for a solid hour or so, jamming and talking. He had a daughter in New York that he hadn’t seen in five years. I couldn’t imagine that. You could tell he really missed her. After he left, I stuck around for a bit, playing, but when I tried to leave, two other men started up the conversation and I got sucked in.

Arturo, age 55, was from Texas. Craig, age 35, was from Montana but had been living in Sitka. Arturo is a massage therapist. Craig was the jock in high school and student body president, but now he’s a brewer. We talked about the progress of life and Alaska and then they had me play the piano some more. I tried to show Arturo how simple the piano can be - how many songs are simple and formulaic, but I’m not sure he got it.

But, really, all of these dudes! So many old men want to talk to me! Where are the old ladies? Don’t they think I’m nice.

They went upstairs to watch Clash of the Titans but I decided to go for a walk again.

Earlier I had strolled outside bare foot for a good ten minutes and then with my boots on for another twenty. Around and around the boat, being thrashed about at the front where the wind found itself displaced to the sides of the boats.

The conversations I initiated were with two rad moms. I sat on the observation deck, at the very front of the boat, with Linda and Scott, her song, for about an hour and a half during an open sea crossing. They’re on their way to California for a bit and then off to Australia for two months. Our discussion was about Australia, travels, the Simpsons, and Scott showed me some photographs. Scott has Downs’ Syndrome and was a complete ham in the most wonderful of I wish he was a tour guide in New Mexico. I’d go on the tour most certainly!

19:39

There’s a general camaraderie on this boat as we all have one thing in common - Alaska.

Alaska rarely just “happens” and there’s a common understanding that, “Alaska is awesome.” If you’re from Alaska? Awesome. If you traveled to Alaska? Rad. Because we all know there’s a story in there, somewhere.

Since the journey is for a couple day, folks want to know what you were doing in Alaska and where you’re going. This encourages a brief exchange of stories that gives a chance for some sort of bond to be created.

See - Alaska isn’t just another Iowa or Mississippi where, if you say you’re from there, folks don’t know what to say in return unless they have family here and then they can say, “I love family there!” and then the other person says, “Oh. Cool.” I don’t know how to describe it. Alaska is simply something else. I know in my mind, when I thought of Alaska, I thought, “Golly -- that’s a long ways away...” although really, it isn’t. Just around 40 hours from Bellingham, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska - although I would not recommend getting off prematurely and missing out on Haines.

Alaska is vast, expansive, and full of some pretty darn terrific folks!

On the ferry, we know that no one has anywhere to go. There is no place we have to be. When we share time with each other, in partiality its in the spirit of “we’re stuck here for the next 58 hours so lets become friends” and then you smile at each other each time you pass by each other which happens a lot. You will run into the same person an easy 25 times a day so you better get along. If there’s someone you want to avoid on the ferry, good luck - especially if they’re pushy and are always trying to start up a conversation. However, if a conversation does start up, it’s common knowledge that that conversation is allowed to go on for hours, easily, and sometimes started up again the next day. Where else do you have hour long conversations with strangers who aren’t drunk? Few places foster that.

Small communities form all around the boat. Each room has its own sense of character and feel to it. You start to learn who hangs out in what corners as territories are claimed. Where else can you go where you get inside a giant moving building and people decide to sleep on random places on the ground and camp out next to each other between rows of chairs. Imagine spending four nights sleeping in a movie theatre - it’s like that.

It’s probably one of the last places I’ll be for a long while where every other person, or more, knows exactly where Haines is and what to expect of it. They know its quirks. They know names to run by me. “Do you know....?” “Yeah!” “Have you been to...?” “Of course!” In Seattle, they’ll just give me blank stares and then laugh. “Haines? As in, Hanes underwear?” and I’ll scowl because I forgot that Haines does sound like the underwear brand. I’ve come to even find the letters H-A-I-N-E-S together to be quite endearing.

I could easily stay on this boat for a few more days. It really never gets old. The time whizzes past and I wish it would sort of slow down for me. It’s 19:51 and I get off this boat tomorrow at 9:00. That’s 13 hours - 7-8 of which ought to be spent sleeping. Five hours left with these folks? Five hours left and I have so much more left to do!

Ideas keep tossing in my head about things I can write about - although I just realized that I already have nine pages of point 12 font typed up. When did I do all of that?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ferry AK->WA :: Wednesday Afternoon :: Feet & Ketchikan


Wednesday :: 14:02

Feet away from my cozy cove on the boat is the door to the outside deck. I pulled on my windbreaker and shoved my thin hat into my coat pocket. With bare-feet, I began to walk around the boat, up and down ladders.

Finally I reached the bow and the fierce Alaskan winds shoved me in a breathtakenly refreshing way. I took a bit deep breath and just stood there, as the wind attempted to beckon me left and right. I allowed my hair to ungloriously whip around into unattractive mangles, spreading across my face and then plastering itself straight back. Some people can pull off the wind-swept hair -- not me. It's amusing.

As I turned to the back of the boat and started walking, I felt an ungracious force prod me onwards and it took me a moment to realize it was just the wind.

Thoughts flickered [edit: WHY DID I USE THE WORD FLICKERED? THAT'S STUPID! The words are always swirling in my head, not flickering. They stick around like getting your toes stuck in muck..] in my head, words I wanted to document. And I began thinking about how much I wrote. I write.. a lot. Sometimes for hours a day. Does that make me a writer? I didn’t think so. Despite my verbosity, I still hold to the idea that I am merely a documenter. I turn intangible ideas into something digestible by others and that I can re-live through years later.

I tell myself to close the laptop and go live and experience. Then I realize I’m on a boat and I don’t have to. I can ignore that voice. I can live tomorrow. Today, I can sit and be lazy and antisocial, looking forward to the sweet potato I get to have for dinner.

Can I become a hermit?
I think I would be good at it.
A 60% hermit.

40% of the time I would gather stories and the rest of the time I would curl up in my Hobbit Hole and laugh at my toes.
Feels like junior high taking pictures of my feeet - but I really, really think feet are neat. Not like a fetish. I just think they're swell and wonderful a bit more than usual...
---------------------------------------------------

Wednesday :: 16:32

The ferry is about to depart from Ketchikan where I got to see a friend I’ve known for over a decade. Tricia. We were only in port for about an hour; enough time to run to Safeway where I could get carrots, a pear, and rice ‘n’ beans in a tortilla (they call it a burrito). It felt weird to see someone from “home” in Alaska, the new “home.” She came here before me and I never thought that we would collide up here - twice, in fact. The pictures I posted are of my first visit.

As I sit in my corner, I am deliberately avoiding any contact with humans - but it’s hard. At the microwave, a Texan caught me in a conversation, even after I said, “I gotta go...” he kept talking. The Cuban always tries to engage in conversation and I think I am always trying to end it. I’m not in a human mood. I want to just be by myself and not talk to anyone except for Brekken and his family (I just learned that his dad lived in Switzerland to - he saw my Migros shopping bag I use to get stuff around) and baby girl who got off in Ketchikan.

Ferry AK->WA :: Wednesday Morning :: Solitude, Home-sick, and the Future

Normally I have a sheet between the lockers and chairs to make a fort.

A Cuban philosopher keeps visiting in my little sick corner of the ferry. Between sniffles we discuss God and I frigidly avoid the topic of love, adjusting my belonging when he mentions “missing something,” - acting occupied and distant. Later, he tries to bring me a glass of milk and I want to curl into a ball of invisibility as I tell him I can't drink it, dodging the offering of friendship.

“Baby Girl,” the lil’ tot, keeps escaping her mother to check on my bags. She requests access to my toothbrush and Vitamin E and I painfully deny her of them both. Still, we laugh together and I poke her bare belly as she gleefully giggles. I warn her I’m sick and, of course she doesn’t care.

Three year old Brecken relentlessly plays peek-a-boo with me behind chairs. When I change positions, he squeals for the entire cabin to hear and my let out a sputtering, snot-choked laugh.

In simplicity, I prefer solitude on this ferry trip. I want to be left to my own solo-devices as there is much to do. I spend hours laying on my Thermarest Z-Lite mat, wrapped in my qult and listening to Moth podcasts religiously. Since I got my cold-drugs, the mucus-fountain has slowed to a trickle and I’m delighted to only have to sit up three times an hour to clear out my nasal passages with blaring honks that rival the ferry's horns.

I’ve begun to tackle the letters but just a few postcards is enough to wipe me out for an hour. During the hour, I search for sleep, but feel to exhausted to let go of consciousness. I tear through thoughts and try and let them go, but some cling more harshly than others. Though I went to bed at 20:30 last night, it was 22:39 that I last checked my clock.  A certain unwanted, despised thought cycled through my mind and for the first time ever I typed the words, “FUCK YOU!” on my lap-top in a letter that will never be sent.

I awoke at midnight, shocked at the two hours of sleep I had acquired - success. I was on the right path. Baby girl was wailing away and I pitied her mother above all else. Likely exhausted and weary from sensing emotions beyond her own. I curled up in my sleeping bag and two hours later woke again to hear baby girl declaring her dissatisfaction with the expectations her mother had of her.

It’s 13:32 and Happy Feet II is playing for the fourth time in the recliner lounge, where I sleep. On the ferry ride up the Inside Passage back in October, I spent about 90% of my time outside in the Solarium. Now I’ve huddled up in the Recliner Lounge, a meager effort towards recovery. I’m nestled between some chairs and the lockers, three of them holding various belongings of mine. I have a food bag, writing bag, clothes bag, and technology bag.

The most surprising thing about this past hour is that I’ve begun to do something called, “Missing Haines.” It’s not a full ache, it’s just an uncomfortable twang of discomfort as I thumb my way through pictures of my Alaskan life in the year 2012. A video of my bike ride into town sets in a peculiar longing that I haven’t experienced in a while and I brush it away, picking it off like flicking away a mosquito before it bites to avoid the itch.



I overwhelmingly and excitedly pan through my upcoming plans for the next four months. Four months within a routine can whiz by with such agility that you rub your eyes, seeing if maybe you missed something when you blinked. However, four months in constant transition can turn into a novel as experiences stack up and each day becomes something unexpected.

For four months I will change beds at least once a week (‘cept for almost two weeks in Russia) and will learn to carry what I need on my back. A skill I’ve gotten pretty good at, but never for such a line of time.

It will be peculiar to come back to Seattle without having a home. Father expressed that he thought it would be a good idea if I didn’t come to my childhood-home upon my return and I didn’t protest. I still love him abundantly and he reciprocates. Yesterday, during my three hour walk in Sitka, he was the one person I talked to. We're close and love each other, I'm just not supposed to live there a bunch.

I did a request on Facebook for temporary housing and an a colourful array of friends popped up, offering couches, cottages, and closets (actually, no closets - I wish) for my use when in town. I’ll try and not stay in one place too long as to not overstay my welcome. Over the next months, I will rarely be able to let my guard down as I seek to sense the well-being of my hosts. I will try to be determining if I am, in any way, having a negative influence upon their routine and calculating if there is a way for me to make adjustments.

So I relish this ferry trip. Here, I can be settled for at least a few days. I will go to my childhood home for a bit to sort through belongings in a brave attempt to tackle getting rid of around 50% of my belongings.

I’m not scared to hitchhike across America or go to Russia solo, but fear not being able to let go of the mountains of crap I’ve acquired. Overwhelming. I feel like this is something that I really need to do. I have boxes of items I am not going to ever use again. I'm hoping to find friends to come over and talk me through getting rid of junk.

Ferry AK->WA :: Tuesday in Sitka :: Hitchhiking, Snot, and Soup



I pulled out the driest piece of toilet paper I could from my damp pocket. Despite it’s snot-coated status, I made a weak effort to blow my nose on it, smearing my face with the sticky contents of my nostrils. My throat was burning but the mist of Sitka left me feeling refreshed. I felt ready to curl up on the shoulder of the road to sleep.

After 3 miles, I stuck out my thumb for a ride. I had just gotten off the ferry in Sitka, the ferry that was taking me from Haines, Alaska (this was day two), where I’ve been living for the past 9 months, to Bellingham, Washington, where my valiant brother would pick me up. We were in port for the next couple hours so I decided to explore the town. Town? How far was town? For all I knew, it was another 9 miles there.

Trucks whizzed past me without a glance. I kept on a smile, took off my hood, and slid the mittens off my hands in an attempt to make myself look harmless, although personally I thought it made me look like an idiot. Who Alaskan would have the stupidity to dress like that? One car raced past faster than the others with audible aggression. A minute later, it raced back and screeched to a halt across the street. A young, tan man with a baseball cap rolled down the window and tobacco smoke leached out, invading the air fresh from the Sitka Canal.

“Where you headed?” he asked.
“Don’t know -- town? Is this the way to town?”
“Uh, yeah. Want a ride?”
“Yeah.”

I ran across the street and took shot-gun in the stranger’s car. He asked the typical questions that you ask a orange-baggy-pants-wearing soggy red-head. He also asked me if I had $5 (I only had a one-dollar bill) and if I had any weed (I didn’t). The entire time, he puffed away on his cigarette as the windows fogged up to nearly zero viability. We pushed 20 mph over the speed limit across the slick pavement.

“Where do you want to go.”
“Do you guys have any soup?”
“You want me to drop you off at a restaurant?”
“Sure, if they have soup.”

We took turns and I tried to take note of our route so I could find my way back. We pulled down a dark, unlit street with a few shops on it and I took his cell phone number as a last resort if I was going to miss my ferry at 18:45. I always like to have a back-up plan.

I walked down the street until I saw Kenny’s Wok & Teriyaki. I pulled open the red door with the small round yellow window and stepped into a muggy, dragon-splattered restaurant. My hopes were to find soup. For $9.59 I got a giant bowl of vegetable udon and a pot of tea. It was just what I needed to hopefully heal up.

I’ve been sick for a long week or so. The flu + the cold doesn’t serve me well and I felt like a giant ball of crud. Sleeping in a nook on the ferry had left me exhausted as I sat up every hour or so to clear out my nose during the night. The roll of toilet paper I was using quickly shrunk and the boots I was putting the dirty tissues in filled up.

I would breath in the steam of the soup till my nose began to run and ran to the bathroom to clear it out. As my nose emptied, my stomach filled up quickly as I surveyed the feel of the town I was in. It had the same small-town feel as Haines, even though it’s about 5 times larger. Everyone who entered into the restaurant greeted everyone else and they all seemed to know the other folks’ names and business. I sat in the corner observing it, but not feeling included, which was fine. I took the rest of the soup to go and set out back into the already dark, damp town of Sitka.

It felt refreshing to be in a new place again. I know Seattle well and it hadn’t been since August since I was in a town I didn’t know (my first time in Juneau). I surveyed the tourist traps, closed for winter making the entire town seem like it was shut down already at 16:22 in the afternoon.

I followed a group of teenagers into the pharmacy which also included a packed ice-cream bar with tall stools and the camera-store. I groggily picked out a box of cold relief that had pills for daytime and nighttime. I enjoyed the man at the camera-store who also asked my story as I inquired as to when the ferry left, forgetting if it was 18:45 or 17:45 that I needed to be there. After a quick hop to the post-office, I started to backtrack to find a hitch stop that would take me the remaining 7 miles to the ferry.

The town of Sitka reeked of a few decades ago. Vast store spaces that were filled with odds and ends and the uncomfortable sight of awkward souvenir shops lacking customers. I crossed my first street with a stop light in three months and waited for a blaring bleeeeeeep to alert me that it was safe to cross. I felt stupid waiting for the cars that weren’t coming. I think that’s one reason I like small towns - you rarely have to wait for anything except your mail. Other than that, lines are generally short and when they are long, chances are you’re standing next to a friend. In my childhood town of Kenmore, population 20,000, I sometimes run into someone when out and about, but rarely. After even just a month in Haines, I couldn’t leave the house without running into a friend.

I crossed the roundabout in style (not really, quite un-style-y actually), and started to pull out my thumb when I crossed underneath each street light. I tried to find a place with a good pull-out and lighting - hitchhiking in the dark is a challenge unto itself. Folks don’t like pulling over to let a stranger whose face they can’t see into their car. They couldn’t tell that I was harmless. I finally picked a spot by a veterinarian and waited. Thumb out. Smiling.  No gloves. Bare arm. See world? I’m a safe person!

My snotty face needed another nose clean so I blew into a fresh piece of toilet paper. A clod of blood came out and I tried to tame the bloody nose. I ran to the veterinarian and the vet assistant gave me a box of legit-generic-brand Kleenex. I asked the time before racing out. It was 17:57 and I needed to catch a ride by 18:15 or else, chances were I might miss my ferry, making life altogether interesting.

The lights in the veterinarian’s office went out and I heard a voice yell, “Need a ride?” I semi-eagerly yelled out, “Yeah! Which way are you headed?” “You going to the ferry? “Yep!” “I can get you there.”

I gleefully, and gratefully squished into the young assistant’s car and, without buckling up, we set off towards the ferry on Halibut Point Road. We talked about a mutual friend (Alaska is full of small towns where, if you know one person from another town, chances are everyone in that town knows them) and we pulled into the ferry terminal with about 15 minutes to spare.

“Welcome aboard, Margaret,” the ticket-master said as he waved me towards the boarding ramp.

And that’s where I am now.

Last night’s sleep was pretty mediocre, well, tolerably-miserable actually. We didn’t board the ferry till 22:10, although it didn’t depart till midnight. I went to fill up a water bottle with chamomile tea with hopes of knocking myself out.

“Mayyy-geee,” I heard a man shout and I turned to see Kyle, Cassidy, Margaret, and another girl (sorry girl) gathered around a table. I joined them for a bit, figuring I wouldn’t fall asleep right away anyways.

That night, I got around 4 hours of sleep. Most of the night was spent blowing my nose and readjusting the pack I was using as a pillow. My dad had offered earlier that night, so graciously, to split the cost of a cabin with me if I wanted to sleep on an actual bed. I was so tempted to take him up on it. That would feel incredible! But it would also be the same cost as a train ticket from Seattle to Chicago and I would rather feel sick and cruddy than spend the money.

I finally arose at 10:32 and spent time sorting out letters, pictures, and the belongings I had brought on board. There’s always something to do on the ferry.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ferry Ride Home

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cat Box Full House Sick Day


You know what I did with my last Saturday?

I curled up in a chair and watched Full House all day.

I felt like crap. I didn't feel like having another day of feeling like crap in my bedroom - so I felt like crap at the Clark's. I can really let down my guard, there.

We watched Full House all. day. long.
And it was great.

I love that show.

We did some origami. It drained me.
Oh yeah... I'm sick.

We snacked on rice crackers and black berries and Stacey made chicken noodle soup for dinner. It was wonderful. It was healing,. We drank tea by the gallon.

I curled up in the chair some more.

They played the fiddle.
And before that, we went to Dalton City. Folks were ice skating.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why I Travel On My Ownsome


"Are you traveling with anybody?"

This has been the most frequent question I've had lately along with, "When do you leave?"

The answers?

I'm traveling alone.
I leave on Monday, the 14th.

But, jumping back to the "traveling alone." The most common response I've gotten is, "You're brave," and they say it as a compliment. And, well, I'm not sure yet how to respond to that yet because I never really thought that I ought to travel with someone. The idea of bringing another person along when I go abroad hadn't occurred to me. I do think I would travel with someone in the lower 48 for my first major hitchhiking trip (cover your ears/eyes moms) or if they had a vehicle and we perused about in it for a while. But, beyond that, if I'm going someplace to try to catch on to the culture, I'm doing it on my ownsome.

Why would I want to bring someone with me? That wouldn't help me with the reason why I feel the need to travel.

I like to travel as an attempt to uproot myself completely from what I know. I desire to have the rug ripped up from under my feet, forcing me to fall, perhaps, and rebuild myself from the ground up. It's my self-made-attempt to have myself thrown into a pool without knowing how to swim and learning right there in that moment.

And - what happens if I bring along another human being? Well, then I have a safety net. Then, at the end of the day, I have someone who can relate to me to go back to. I am not forced to find comfort in the people I am getting to know, building up a new support system for myself. I don't have to adapt. If I wanted to keep living as I live without change, I would still be in Seattle - life is "good" there.

When I first came to Alaska, I came with two men (Andrew & Tyler) and I stuck around with them a bit instead of meeting the locals. When I tagged along to their social worlds (river guides), I never really fit in. But when I swam around Haines on my own, meeting up with folks with the way I do, I was blissed out (especially old folks, I like them). Lesson learned.

I know in the future, I will travel around the lower 48 on and off with other folks, it's inevitable (and I may do it in March for a bit as I get from Seattle to New York City), but when I go abroad, I want to do it on my own.

I also choose to travel on my own because, being me is to my traveling advantage. See, I look like a sweet, young innocent girl that can do no harm. Throw in a bearded-giant-man and folks are less likely to feel like they can just take us in on a whim without worries. People are more likely to take in a single girl for a night than a girl and a bearded man.

I also travel by myself because I rarely find someone I want to spend that much time with. I'm going to be Frank again (not Margaret, Frank) and say that I can get sick of folks pretty fast. I'm not sure how I would ditch someone if we got to Russia and I wanted to get rid of them.

I also travel by myself because, when I'm on my own, I can do things on a whim on my own terms. I don't want to worry about meeting your goals and you feeling great. When I travel, it's hard enough to meet my own needs. If things go wrong, at least I know I can live with it.

See -- I'm not necessarily brave, I'm just lazy and want to make life easier on myself.

In Reply to the Anonymous Comment

I do read every single comment y'all leave and appreciate them. Some are insightful. Some are encouraging. Then, I get comments like this after posts like this:

So Magi: I have to ask, since you did not address it and I expected it to be at least hinted to - What does Magi want in a relationship? What does "relationshi" mean? Friends do come and go and this is understood. So, Magi, what are you looking for in a male friend relationship?

So Anonymous: I want to first and foremost warn you of this -- don't ever expect anything of this blog. I know you "expected it to be at least hinted to" but, just to let you know, you're going to be disappointed frequently if you've thought you could expect anything of it. I write what I want to write when I want to write it because I think I want it to stick in my brain or I think folks might like to know. It also has to be a topic that I'm interested in.

I also want to warn you, Anonymous, that I may have a bit of a harsh tone in this post. It might be because you forgot my umlauts. You also switched between talking to me in third and second person which made me feel weird. I talk pretty frank when I don't know who I'm talking to.

Your question perplexes me because you ask a few questions there and I'm not sure what you want me to answer. This is a summery of the questions you asked:

1) "What do you want in a relationship?"
2) "What does "relationship" mean?"
3) "What are you looking for in a male friend relationship?"

I think you should have defined number two before asking me. See, relationship is just used to describe, in my mind, the bond between two, eh, two things. Two nouns. What is my relationship to Haines? Haines is my home. What is my relationship to White-Out? I collected it in the fifth and sixth grade.

But I'm guessing you are referring to relationships between human beings. This is where I'm not sure if you're referring to relationships platonically or romantically. Dating vs. friendship.

If you meant friendship, then question one, I would say that is a very vast answer and for me to answer it would be very limiting. I could say I want friends that will stretch me to grow, but sometimes you need to be the steady one to be there for others as they stretch and grow and in turn that can mature... see, a very long answer.

If you meant "relationship" in terms of, "YO! Dat's my boyfrehhn," well, you should have said so. Once again, that answer could be a book. If that is your question, it might be answered later in this post. I haven't decided yet if I want to write about that. I'm not sure if I want to tell people.

See, when it comes down to it, I can want "this" and want "that," but the right man will be the right man. Do I have lists in my head? Sure I do. I've got some dandy checklists that I use to convince myself not to like someone of the opposite gender. And, yes world, that was me saying out loud that I do sometimes find myself infatuated with men. Crazy, I know.

And then you asked "What are you looking for in a male friend relationship?"

Well. Let's take out relationship, there, because that word is confusing. There's "male friend" and "male relationship" and when you smash them together like that, person, I don't know what you mean.

In a  male friend, I want the same thing I get from a female friend. Which means I generally want to be friends with passionate loving people who generally inspire me. But, many friends go beyond that small qualification or don't even reach it. If it's a dude and a friend, I don't want to worry about loosing them the minute they get a girlfriend.

You said, "Friends come and go and this is understood," which is, in some ways, valid. But I think that was said in response to my fear of loosing friends when they enter into relationships. I don't think that's the finest way for a friend to go. They go because they don't need you any more and found someone to spend all their time with. That, once again, leads me to believe that I'm simply a female place holder. Not cool. Not cool.

What am I looking for in a male friend relationship? Just that. A friend.

But, are you, by any chance, asking what I  am looking for in a not-platonic relationship with a male?

You didn't really say that. So I hope I answered your questions. If not, feel free to re-articulate what you wanted me to tell you. Or, give me a call and I'll tell you over the phone.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ice Fishing

Photographs of me by Lori Webster.

Lori and Mike invited me to go ice fishing with them.
I was ecstatic.

Get this. We walk on a frozen lake. Drill a hole in the lake. Put string in the lake. Pull out fish.
Remarkable.

Would you look at that mountain? How am I going to ever leave Haines?


At around 11:15, they picked me up at the home of my client's parents, who I guess seem more like friends than "client's parents" just as she seems more like a pal than "client."

Even the six or so layers I had on weren't quite enough to keep me warm for a couple hours on the ice. But, I was content.

We drove down to Mosquito Lake.
In the summer, it looks like this:


Mike brought out his new toy - a propane powered ice auger. Within seconds he had drilled an 8 inch hole into the 3 feet (or so) thick ice. We scooped out the slush and were fishing within minutes.

I hadn't caught a fish (eulachon don't count) since I was around 8 or so with Uncle Tom and this was new to me.

It was Mike vs. the girls.

Our job was to pretend we were worms doing the disco - convincing the fish to bite.

Pretty soon, I learned what it felt like for a fish to bite. Unmistakable.

Mike had a few and then I got my first bite.

I yanked out my first fish - a cut throat. The hook came out and I learned how to BASH THEM ON THE HEAD WITH SCREWDRIVER! It was crazy. They died quickly.

Lori caught one soon after.



Dollies and Cut-throats were the fish of the day.
In the end, we caught 25 fish.

Lori caught 5.
I caught 7.
Mike caught more.


We began our trek home by heading in the wrong direction, towards Canada to 33 Mile. 33 mile is where I ate my very first meal in Alaska.



On the drive home, we counted bald eagles. I think we got up to 48.

That thing on the left is a moose. Moose moose moose.

And when I got home, R & J H. helped me clean the fish (read: they cleaned the fish and I helped a little bit) and R cooked it up delicious!
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