Saturday, November 30, 2013

Overstimulation and Tears

I don't know what this is.
It might be me just being me.
It might be, in part, attributed to my SPD.

This afternoon I tried to go to the Lighting of the Library Open House Thingy (that's the official name). I made it. I went inside.

And lasted about 7 minutes before I had to leave.

The library was packed with people and my brain started fuzzing about and started to prickle. I started to feel distant and unsettled. I tried to make conversation, I honestly did.

But I lost it.

I headed for the door, weaving around, still trying to convince myself to stay to no avail.

A few feet before the door, I saw one of the only, only folks in the world whose presence gives me a stomach ache or a stickly brain (only by association - swell person).

Soon as I was out of the doors, I started to cry.
I don't know why.

I have eaten today.
I slept last night.

Why am I crying?

Is it because of being overstimulated?

I've held it together for a while, now. I wonder what the trigger was. I don't get it. I really don't. Why would I cry?

It's now been 8 hours since that happened. No, I didn't enter into a funk. It was just a short-lived moment of peculiarity.

Within an hour, I had five joyous folks on my bed and I was feeling as loved and chipper as ever. It was a solid crew of folks, all with a positive outlook and spittles of joy that rubbed off onto my elbows.

We listened to around 9 versions of Auld Lang Syne and watched the 1995 Hayao Miyazaki film, Whisper of the Heart.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Yeah, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has to be one of the keenest holidays out there.
It's got this forever-vibe of family being rubbed into your pores mixed with cinnamon sticks and essence of snuggly-bunnies.


I've got a lot to be grateful for. A whole lot.

Right now I could start listing it off, but I'm pretty sure most of it would come off as pretty predictable to anyone who knows me.

I'm grateful for a functional family that makes me feel loved and secure and that encourages personal growth and creativity.

I'm grateful for friends that gush love all over me. I'm grateful for those friends where, when you say, "You make me feel like part of the familiy," they say, "Mägi, you are a part of our family."

I'm grateful for the peace and confidence I have in knowing I'll never go hungry or without shelter, even if I were to give every cent I had away, I know there are folks out there who would take me in.

I'm grateful for a place to call home, my little cave.

I'm grateful to live in Haines, Alaska.

I'm grateful for this year of travel and all the unplanned adventures that I got doused in.

I'm grateful for a job that's never felt like work, not ever. I'm grateful to be able to describe my job as simply to be loving on and hanging out with the raddest folks in town.

I'm grateful for dancing feet and snazzy beats.

I'm grateful for the rice cooker on my counter.

So those are the thank-you's.

Thanksgiving away from my immediate family was swell. It ended up being celebrated within the homes of four different families who took me in.

I guess I sort of celebrated Thanksgiving with my immediate family back in October when I first flew from Iceland  to Washington. Since I knew I'd be missing this Thanksgiving, I gathered the family and they were sweet enough to make time to make it happen.

I know most folks think this - but my family is really dandy! It's a copacetic collection of musicians, comedians, and engineers with a lot of nerd/geek culture mixed in. We usually up for breaking out into song and laughter leaves my guts feeling all jiggled up.

After the meal, all the present-attending cousins went for a walk. We've got a lot more than this, on my dad's side of the family, but this is who could make it and was still around after a couple of hours. It's cool to be around people I'm related to.

So this is our non-Thanksgiving day that sort of looked like Thanksgiving:

We are the Hubert family.
This is our lemonade.

Then, about a month and a half later, I was in Haines and real Thanksgiving came around.

Pre-Thanksgiving occurred on Sunday with the Marquardt mob. We sculpted pierógi around the table, feeling oh so satisfied. I love this crew. They're super chill and really amusing to be around.

When Thanksgiving day came along, I got a call that I would be celebrating at the Jackson family's home with the lovely H family. I used to live in the H's library for a few months! I love them so much - ever unit of their 12-person family.

You could put me in a cabin with any of those folks for 24-hours and I'd be a happy camper. A lot of the time was devoted to making Fluffy Thanksgiving Rolls - a legend among those who know the H family. I remember my first Thanksgiving with them, last year, when I was converted to a true lover of these magical rolls stuffed with gooey delicious sweet nut guts.

I got to meet Olive who grew up in Elkins (shout out to Scotty!), used to work for the FBI, and then drove to Alaska and started living there pre-statehood. Haines is full of the raddest old folks!

A short jam session (super short) and it was time for me to move on to the next household - Byrne's place. At Byrne's, I got to celebrate with his awesome mom, Shirley, and him. I had only met Shirley once before - at her home when me and a friend made Christmas music.

I really appreciated the conversations I got to have with them - but am keen on seeing Shirley again so I can be the one to ask her questions. I know she's one of those rich human beings that's fun to get to know (rich like fudge, not like Scrooge). One of the highlights of the time was when she wanted to know if I ever was around "old folks." I got to inform that yes, indeed, a lot of my favourite folks and humans I spend a lot of time with are "old." Age doesn't make much of a difference.

Byrne made a delectable duck. I never knew I liked duck until Byrne roasted it up. Sigh. So grateful. The entire meal was delicious - especially the stuffing! He puts malt vinegar and cardamom in his which would make it legendary in my books (if I had books). He asked me for a hand at beating the whipping cream, but made it pretty clear that I was incapable of properly whipping it... I have so much to learn in this world.

After hanging out with Byrne and Shirley, I was driven over to the Green's home where a collection of Greens and Mackowiaks were all starting to make nests for a post-Thanksgiving film screening.

Oh Haines!
Feel the love.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Midnight Footie-PJ Bike Ride for Headache Relief

It was reaching 12:30 AM and I hadn't slumbered an ounce yet. Two hours had past since I had settled into my giant, plushy bed and all that had happened was that my six or seven hour old headache had intensified.

After rolling over for the thirty-eighth time, I decided it was time for action. I had already rubbed peppermint oil on my temples (no luck) and knew my shelves were vacant of any sort of pain relievers beyond antihistamines.

I shoved on some slippers over my footie pajamas, thew on my wool coat and a hat, and hopped my bike and started riding through the below-freezing weather, through town. I scowled at the cool breeze that taunted my throbbing temples, still slick with peppermint oil.

The entrance of the only compartment complex in town was a welcoming site. I lay my bike in the grass an trombled up to the top floor, grateful for fuzzy slippers to mask the sound of lazy legs. A quick knock and I was welcomed into the home of Nyk, Dani, and Pearl.

This family was one of the top reasons why I came back to Haines and Pearl's arrival into the world was certainly the trigger that empowered my fingers to buy my plane tickets from Glasgow, Scotland to Reykjavik, Iceland to Seattle, Washington and then a ferry ticket from Washington to Alaska.

This is where I go whenever I get up in my head.
This is where I go when I just have a craving to be around folks.
This is where I go when I want to chill and be around rad friends that I have found full acceptance with.

And this is where I went when I couldn't sleep off the pounding in my head.

See, not only are they amicable company, Nyk's a pharmacy technician. All I needed to do was stick out my hand and he filled them with the appropriate pills. Dani handed me Pearl.

Pearl was the distraction I needed as the meds kicked in.
Her grins and old-man expressions were welcome as relief came. She's such a sweet kid. I love the way she'll nestle into your arms, making you feel like you're holding love itself.

Pretty soon, within the next thirty minutes, I felt like a human again and was set to bike home, fall back into my quilted bed, and drift into a cozy slumber.

I love this town.

Captured by a Street Photographer

Sometimes it's amusing to Google oneself (we all do it, right?).

Today I did the search, "Mägi Hubert"

And I found this photograph:

Upon seeing this picture, I was completely perplexed. I didn't remember this location at all. I don't remember this moment. I do remember busking quite a bit in Uzhgorod, Ukraine this summer in that dress. But I don't remember being surrounded by lovely flowers.

The photo comes from here. I can tell it's "MP", but don't know exactly who that is that took the picture - some sort of street photographer. Nor can I figure out how to write to them unless I sign up for VK. My friend Darya had spotted me on the webiste and told the person I was "Мэгги" and directed them towards me. This is the first time I've seen this photograph.

Oi. Busking in Ukraine.
That made me smile a lot.

It was fun to play to a live, responding audience that was ever-changing. Sweet fiddle, too.

Snow in my Boots

I wish you could be here.

If you search for "Haines Weather" right now, the first search result is a winter weather warning from the National Weather Service.

Ready for the forecast?

Rest Of Tonight: Areas of blowing snow. Snow. New snow accumulation 5 to 8 inches. Lows 13 to 21. North wind 15 to 25 mph...strongest near lynn canal.

Thursday: Snow. Areas of blowing snow. Snow accumulation 5 to 8 inches. Storm total snow accumulation of 22 to 31 inches. Highs 17 to 22 early...then slowly falling through the day. North wind 15 to 25 mph. Locally higher gusts near lynn canal.

Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Lows 11 to 21. Northwest wind 15 to 25 mph. 

Friday: Snow. Highs 23 to 29. North wind 15 to 25 mph. 

Friday Night: Snow. Lows 18 to 26. Northwest wind 15 to 25 mph. 

Saturday And Saturday Night: Snow and rain. Highs 31 to 37. Lows 18 to 28. 

Sunday: Snow likely. Highs around 29. 

Sunday Night: Colder. Snow likely. Lows 14 to 24. 

Monday: Snow likely. Highs 20 to 26. 

Monday Night: Cloudy. Chance of snow. Lows 15 to 25. 

Tuesday And Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Highs 21 to 27. Lows 14 to 24. 

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Highs 22 to 28.

I kept getting drawn outside today. There's a crazy cool power when the wind carries flakes of water up and about and around you. I don't even know how to turn this into words.

You'll be standing there and then here a rush behind you. When you turn around, all you can see is a huge cloud of whirling white swirl about and then charge right through you.

To bundle up, I wear a base layer of a wool shirt, wool jacket, and then a wind layer. On the bottom, I wear fleece tights and a skirt.

I also brought along sunglasses which altered the experience.

"Sofia! Want to go for a walk?" I asked my favourite dog.
Sofia looks like a fox.
She is a beautiful dog and a source of courage for me as I meander about Haines.

The leash was popped on and we tromped down the stairs into the snow. Sunglasses on, my eyes were spared the ice that kept trying to flick its way inside of my eyeballs. But, they also worsened my eyesight. Sofia led the way down the street. We kept stopping to look up, mouths gaping and grinning. Ok, I was grinning. She was being very doggy. We started to run recklessly at a giant bank and she dove right in and  followed in pursuit, the snow going up over my boots.

The snow thickened so I couldn't even see down the street, it seemed as if the power was out. We slid and skittered down the highway a bit more towards the sound of the snow-machines (snowmobiles) that had taken over the field of the Haines School.

Every moment seemed surreal. There was no way real life could be this incredible. No way this is real.
Each breath, each blow felt like a gentle suggestion, nothing frigid that could cut through my fleece leggings. When there's wonder about you, cold doesn't have a chance to cross your mind.

Over the next few days, it was fun finding ways to "cope" with the snow. Snowy days are best spent in the company of folks that just sort of give you a warm feeling when you're around them.

One afternoon I was blessed enough to spend out with the C family. I've been seeing the C family about once a week, when possible, since last year when I was in Haines. We used to do Sunday breakfast but now I tend to end up there on Fridays. There are a few families that have welcomed me into their homes and treat me as one of the family - the H family, G family, M family (x 2 - Mac & Marq), and C family. These are the families who will let me in at any hour - the ones where I'd feel comfortable coming over to their home even if no one was home and I'd likely make myself a peace of toast and do the dishes.

Anyways, the C family morning and afternoon was delightful. The father of the unit rigged up some inner-tubes to the snow machine (snowmobile) and pulled up and down the road, through driveways and up on snowbanks. The girls and I made holes in the snow banks, small snow forts that made us feel safe. Back inside we drank tea and cocoa and they sucked on candy canes after a giant pot of soup. It's hard to convey the feeling of that day spent out in the snow. I feel as at home with them as I did in my home growing up.

The snow continued to pile up all day long (they say it was over 2 feet in one day) and the roads were no longer being plowed. Mid-afternoon they ran me back into town for fear of not being able to make it one way or the other.

After I was dropped off at home, I learned that my afternoon job had been canceled (totally ok with me, I still get paid) so I was able to join Felicia and Zak for dance practice at the church. Another man joined us and we worked on the dances that Felicia and her sisters had written. Without any sound system, we ended up dancing to the music on my phone. The only music I had were tunes from my dad's memory card, so we were doing jaunty dances to the likes of Chicago, They Might Be Giants, and Mannheim Steamroller.

On the way back to my house, the snow just sort of hit me in a good way - not a snowball way. I was just excited. There was a huge snow bank and over and over, I threw myself into it. It felt so good to have my body jolt around and land all curled up in the frosty fluffy snow.

We stopped by IGA for dinner and, back at my place, watched the Little Rascals and the Sandlot with Rebecka and Polly. It was a solid, satisfying evening and those movies encouraged plenty of laughter.

There were a few folks complaining about the snow which is something Dani and I don't get. We were discussing and saying that, pretty much, if you live in Alaska, you have no right to complain about the snow. It's just a given that you'll have to face snow if you live here. For me, I love coming to Alaska in the winter because I love the snow. I love the smell of the air up here. I love the feeling of stomping snow off of my boots to gather with friends. I love it when it storms around me and the world turns white for a moment. I love Alaska.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Do you really like hitchhiking?

British Columbia, Canada
At a forum I like to frequent, the question was tossed out, "I guess my question is, WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT HITCHHIKING because i HATE THAT SH*IT?"

I typed up a quick answer, but decided to expand on it here on the blog.

Before I even start, I'd like to acknowledge that I don't hitchhike all that often. It's been more times than I can count on my hands and toes times two... but not that much. Usually I don't need to. But, if I do, I'm not afraid to stick my thumb out. Sometimes, I just get picked up by strangers who see me walking along the road. Craigslist Rideshare also rocks (only needed it a few times).

I thoroughly enjoy hitchhiking (and wouldn't do it if I didn't) as a solo female traveler.

It's always been a keen way to meet rad folks.

I'm not aiming for money or getting laid (that's the last thing I want, actually) as some of you mentioned - I crave connections. Since I travel alone, I thrive in the conversations I have in the moments I share with the strangers. Also, as mentioned above, getting around for free is rad!

 My start with hitchhiking was pretty vanilla. I was living on an island in Canada that promoted the hitching culture so much that they had hitch-stops (signs with thumbs on them) around the island that you could just stand at and wait for someone to pick you up at. Folks had coloured tags in their cars that identified which part of the island they lived on so hitchhikers could more easily decide who to accept a ride from.

Any time  I wanted to go "into town," I'd just stick out my thumb and get a ride over and back.

I've gotten some pretty sweet rides. There was the man that picked me up after I had twisted my ankle. He stopped and bought me a cookie. Then there was the woman in northern Scotland who ended up hosting me for a week with her family and they truly made me a part of the family, taking me out to the movies and a concert - complete with a departure gift for when I had to leave. Can't wait to go back someday and see them again.

Sure, there's a handful of creepers out there, but I've never felt unsafe (which I know is the exception to a lot of folks' experiences and this isn't something I take for granted). Part of it might be that I seem to trigger everyone's darn maternal-instincts - even folks who didn't know they had 'em.

I was getting a ride to California and it was me and this grizzly sort of man in the back seat. After we dropped him off, the driver turned around and said, "You really don't know the affect you have on people, do you?" I asked her what she meant and she expanded to explain that I sort of just soften up everyone I meet - she described it as "melting" them. She said that the moment she picked me up, all of a sudden, grizzly man turned from grizzly to papa bear.

 I dunno.

 It has yet to let me down.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

2013 Trip by the Numbers

Isle of Skye, Scotland
I like to keep numbers as I travel. These are the numbers I collected on my little 2013 solo trip.

The numbers represent the time period of when I left Haines, Alaska to when I came back. They might not be exact to the very number- but all data is pretty super close.

The Days

40 :: Number of weeks spent travelling.
280 :: Number of days travelling

Departed on January 14th and arrived back in Alaska on the 21st of October.

This was 77% of a year.

Day of the week most frequently traveled on:
Monday - 12
Wednesday, Friday, Sunday - 11
Thursday - 10
Tuesday - 8
Saturday - 6

Utrecht, Netherlands
The Miles

Number of miles traveled - 27,756 miles
This is 9.7 times the distances from Seattle to New York and more than the circumference of our planet.

Top months for miles covered:
- April - 6,443 miles (included New York, Rochester, Toronto, Moscow, and Vologda)
- October - 5,443 miles (included Reykjavik, Seattle, and Haines)
- March - 3,940 miles (22 states + 2 provinces)

I consider a day to be a travel day when the day centers around getting from Point A to Point B (usually well over 3 hours, sometimes a full 24 hours)

70 days were considered "travel days"

In May, 12 days were considered travel days

Kirkenes, Norway
The Transportation

I used these methods of transportation in these countries:

Trains - Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Scotland, England, United States, Canada

Busses - United States, Russia, Ukraine, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Canada, England, Scotland, Iceland

Bikes - United States, Romania, Ukraine, Norway, Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland

Boats/Hovercraft/Canoe/Kayak - Russia, United States, Canada, Norway, Netherlands, England, Scotland

Timișoara, Romania
The Countries

17 :: Number of countries visited
38 :: Number of times borders were crossed

Crossed a border on average every 7.3 days
Spent, on average, 16 days in each country

Longest time spent in a country outside of the US - Ukraine (72 days), United Kingdom (40), Russia (30)
Shortest time spent in one country - less than an hour in Liechtenstein
Most consecutive days in one country - 40 days in Ukraine

The Sleeping Spaces

103 :: Number of beds/couches slept in
121 :: Number of times changed beds/couches

43% of nights were spent in a new bed/couch
I changed beds every 2.3 nights

15% of beds were found through CouchSurfing

22 :: Number of couches slept on
7 :: Number of floors slept on
21% of the places I slept on were couches

14% of beds/couches were shared with another human

14+ beds were in/on cars, buses, trains, and boats

March :: Month with the most bed changes - 21 changes in 31 days

Most consecutive nights spent in one bed - 14 nights in Room 17 at the Nehemiah Center in Ukraine

Most consecutive nights in which every night was spent in a different bed - 9 nights (March 24 - April 1)
This would be 16 nights but I spent two nights in a row on the same couch in Georgetown.

How did I keep track?

This is the agenda. I kept notes all year round.

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