Sunday, September 28, 2014

Summer Snapshots

This summer felt like summer.
It was summer, in full... if summer means barefeet, sundresses, and running about on rocks, and constant movement and waves of delight while taking the time to explore Lopez Island (and Patos Island).

During a shopping trip, I grabbed a disposable camera on a whim and snapped a few shots throughout the summer.

As you glance through them, here's a song to go with them. This was the song of the summer for no reason to do with the lyrics but for every reason to do with that bass line at the beginning.

Here they are:

There was a guy and his name was and is Sawyer. We nabbed the apples. We nabbed the tomatoes. We nabbed the squash. We nabbed the blueberries. We nabbed summer all up.

Hannah G. The myth, the legend, and the reason I ended up on Lopez Island in the first place. She's been of my dearest friends since I met her on September 16, 2011 (three years ago!). I love her a lot. A lot, a lot.
Once upon a time we sailed to Patos Island to be the keepers of the lighthouse for a wee bit.

One of many-a-tailgate party with Tobbit. This time it was with Harrison, of New Zealand, and Rebecca, of Everywhere.

This is where I most frequently parked Tobbit. When I had guests, they could stay in the cabin because Tobbit isn't so great for hosting guests.

The "I'm in Alaska" Update

View from a tree on the property of the fourth house I lived in in Haines
Yeah... the posts I've been posting are all correct, I'm back in Haines, Alaska.

If you don't know me well (or keep track of my history -- because who has time or energy for that?), I first came to Alaska with two river guides I met on the dance floor back in 2011. This will be my third autumn in Alaska since my first one in 2012. I love this town.

I live in Haines.
It's a wee town in Southeast Alaska near the tippy top of the armpit of Alaska on the deepest fjord in North America (and one of the deepest in the world world world). There are mountains all over and the largest bald eagle population (concentration) in the world. It's also full of a lot of people I absolutely adore and can't stand to be away from for too long.

I'm currently in the 8th living situation I've had up in the North.

I live with... Dani, Daniel, Luke, Nik, and Pearl.
Daniel, Nik, and Luke are brothers.
Nik is with Dani.
They have a one-year-old muppet named Pearl and she's going to be a big sister soon.

They didn't all used to live together. The giant moment of unison came on after their beloved family home burned down this past February, quite the tragedy - they built it themselves some 20+ years ago. So, back, last wintry-inspiring time. So now, they are all in the house together. There used to be more of them in there but they've since dispersed, a bit.

I'm grateful to have my own room that as four windows that open! Last winter I had a beautiful place to call home (in the back room of a shop in town), but it had no windows. Now, they're ever the luxury.

I currently have some jobs in town that will cover my basic living expenses. I am working for a beautiful homeschool family I know well and I'm also helping out another woman who lives near me.

While up here, I'm also taking a wack at school again as I prepare to finish up my studies. I'm in a math class through my old college and this takes up some 2-5 hours of time a week. I find it terribly satisfying.

If you wish to send me a letter, I can get mail that's addressed to...

M[insertsomethinghere] Hubert
General Delivery
Haines, AK

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Catch the Sun :: Weather Comparison of Lopez Island, WA to Haines, AK

Note: All shots in this post were taken by putting my sunglasses up to my camera lens so y'all can see what I see when I look at the world. This is not Instagram. I'm not sure how to use Instagram...

Haines is so soggy!
Soggy waffles.
Soggy socks.
Soggy doggy.

When I got back to Haines and asked how summer was, most folks just told me it was altogether a wet-mess not even a summer, really. Looking at the numbers, they got more than 250% more rain the normal. This is pretty sub-par for folks who make it through the winter with their eyes on the promised sun-to-come.

Tonight, I started to look at those numbers and what that meant for the people of Haines of Alaska and compare it to what I experienced this summer on Lopez Island in Washington state. I started to get amused and am compiling some of the numbers I found here in this post.

My data for Lopez Island is a bit off -- it's the historic numbers of Friday Harbor, from this summer, but they're pretty close. Lopez is a magical little land of sun sun sun and fog. So, oi, this is an interesting transition for me. I know I'm a Cascadian girl and am used to the rain, but it's been pouring, you guys. Just pouring these past few days!

This past week in Haines has produced 180% times more rain than I experienced, in total, on Lopez Island in four months.

Here, I even made this chart at that shows the stats from August 4-19 in Haines and on Lopez. Check out how may days there is rain in Haines. See that one day where, in just that day, they 70% of the total rain Lopez got in five months?

I'm really glad I left. I don't know how I would've made it through this year if I had stuck around. Even though I pride myself in being comfortable in the rain, I think this would've done me in. Lately, I've been realizing more and more how much the sun affects me and my mood. Sure, it can give me 24 hour headaches if I don't wear sunglasses and a hat in it, but, altogether, it keeps me chipper.

So, when it pops out for even just a bit, I've gotta get outside. This creates a bit of a tension during the summer because there's this constant guilt when the sun is out. It almost feels like a sin to not bask in it all day long.

Last week, Dani and I got in a glorious walk in the sun. It felt healing and renewing. I know I've gotta keep my legs moving, keep my body moving, to keep my head sane this fall.

As for temperature, how do the two towns compare?

Maximum Temperature (F):
Haines - 78
Lopez - 84

Average Daily Max:
Haines - 64
Lopez - 68

Maximum inches of rain encountered in one day:
Haines - 2.49
Lopez - .32

Total inches of rain from May 1 to September 27:
Haines - 25.58
Lopez - 1.57

Last Sunday it rained 2.49 inches in Haines followed by .01 inches, then three dry days, then .19, and yesterday the 27th gave us 1.46 inches of rain.

I was just looking ahead at the week. Predicted is a dry day (Wednesday) and according to Mr. Weatherman, we'll be seeing snow next Sunday.

I'm grateful for the summer I had because I feel prepared and reading for the fall to come. There's a reason I keep coming back to Haines in autumn. It's my favourite season and Haines is one of my favourite places. It only makes sense, in my mind, to collide the two. In Haines, I have a great support team of friends and families that help me get through the dark and there's the right balance of lots-to-do and enjoy-yourself-and-get-things-done that doesn't happen in the whir of summer.

We'll see how it goes this time around.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pre-Calc II -- the Grand Adventure

View from my folks' home, this morning, during a three day visit.
The past couple of months, school has been on my mind. That crazy place that makes me want to tote graph paper around with me everywhere and lead me to believe that I have an eraser budget.

It was 2.5 years ago that I finished up the class I needed to get my AA (which I still am working on getting due to funky life-ness) and I haven't seen a classroom since.

I left with the intentions of returning again someday. I knew that I needed to leave until I had the drive, determination, and desire (triple D, yo!) to go back to school and put time and money into it. I also was waiting for clearer direction. My AA is in sociology, but I have little interest in paying bucks to get a BA in sociology.

With that I waited.
and waited.
and waited.

When folks crossed my path who were well on their way with an upper-level education tucked into their pocket, I tried to take the time to talk to them and ask them questions. The pieces started to slowly come together. Then, one evening, this woman who got her masters at Harvard gave me a good talking to (this was in the very beginning of August) and something snapped in my brain and I knew I wanted to go back to school. I also received a message from my mom asking if I would go back to school if I came across a decent sum of money. That excited me because one of the reasons I've put school on the back burner is because of cash. Going into extreme debt (beyond $10,000 - although I'll avoid it as much as possible) is not an option for me, at this moment, for many reasons.

When I left for Alaska, I had a list of goals in mind to keep myself going through the fall. Haines has the potential to take the motivation out of you, but it also can present a wide opportunity to achieve much. I knew that I needd to be goal oriented to make the most of my time here. I knew that making money, while possible, wasn't the best goal because I've learned, from past experience, that that can sometimes be a bit out of my control and really frustrating and demoralizing if I make money my entire focus.

The top goal I had was to conquer Pre-Calc 1.
I've done it before (twice), but that was back in 2008-09 and then again in 2011. Now it's 2013 and that information is not fresh. It's in there, but not fresh.

During my first week or two in Haines, I was talking to M who has homeschooled her children. She had a self-teach textbook on hand and lent it to me. I worked on it a bit but hadn't yet made a lot of progress. I was worried that this would be how the rest of my fall would go. I wanted to have it done by Christmas so I could start Pre-Calc 2 in January.

Two days ago, I was thinking about school. I talked to the neighbor I grew up with knowing for 21 years, she lives across the street, about school, and I felt an even greater drive to get going.  I was in Seattle for a few days for a memorial service.

A few hours later, that night, I went online and looked at the courses for the community college I used to attend. They had room for me in their online Pre-Calc 2 course. The class started on Wednesday.

Without much hesitation, I signed up, paid for it, and got really excited.
Crikey! I'm back in school again! I am once again, officially, a student.

And this is where I'm at now (flying above British Columbia back to Alaska).

Is this going to be easy?
Initially, no.

Most students will be fresh from Pre-Calc 1 and ready to dive in. For me, this information is long gone in my brain. I've got a week to review a quarter's worth of information.

I think I can do this, though.
Really, all I needed a deadline and a motivation. With that in place, I just have to work hard.

Mentally, I have the capacity, I believe, to do this.
Focus wise... wish me luck. I like math, but without my meds, we'll see how this goes.

I just got my syllabus today. Our first homework assignment is due in 10 days. That's 10 days to review around 300 pages of math. I think I can do it. I only work about 9 hours a week, so I can easily put 5 hours into this each day.

I have seven days to drop out of this class and get a 100% refund. I have seven days to determine if this is possible. It is, though! It has to be. If I don't do it now, I'll have to do it next quarter, and I won't be any further along then than I am now.

Another challenge will be that this is an online course. I'm pretty rotten at online courses. Not failing-bad - they just don't represent me well (I'm used to 4.0s - with an online course, my score can be anywhere from 3.1 to 3.5 and an occasional 4.0). I do well with face-to-face. I'm going to give it another try, though. This is a great way for me to keep moving forward on this path.

I'm stoked for the struggle. This isn't a hard class. Not at all. It's doable and high-school me could do it. The struggle, though, will come with being self determined to learn a bunch of old information all over again in a week. I thrive when I feel like I'm struggling. The best, most interesting and fruitful times of my life came when I felt like I could barely keep up and had to give it my all to keep my head above the water. I miss that sensation.

Lately, I've been working on developing a healthy rhythm to my Alaskan life. This involves the right amount of social time, work, exercise, reading, and helping out around the house. I need to keep working on being disciplined. It's not something that comes naturally, but can be done. During my years at community college, I fine-tuned my habits to become anti-procrastination. It took a while, but I soon learned to do my work early on and enjoy the benefits that come with it. I need to engage those habits again.

I feel eager and determined.
Cha cha cha.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Eyes Go Dialated

I went for a walk the other day... and these were the faces I made the entire time.
This photo selection was from when I was trying to take a picture of my eyes when they were all bizarre.. the problem is, I couldn't actually open my eyes up for the shot.

Hey world --- this is the face I make when my eyes have pyramid (dilating drops) in my eyes. My mom works for an optometrist, so eye appointments have been routine, even though I have pretty stellar eyes. I've got glasses, but the doc says that I don't have to wear 'em unless I'm in the mood. Just a little astigmatism.

Since I was visiting Seattle for a few days (yes, I had only been in Alaska for a week or two so far - there was a memorial service in Seattle to attend), she booked me a last-minute appointment.

I guess I had someone new doing my eyes because, after some test, she went ahead and put the drops in my eye. My eye doctor politely flipped out at her ("I can give you 14 reasons why you shouldn't have put pyramid in her eyes..") because, essentially, she made it so he couldn't do anything with me. My eyes were so out of wack that I couldn't do any eye tests with him. Thus, my last day in Washington was spent near the eye doctors so I could return later in the day when my eyes were better and less dilated.

Then I had the brilliant idea to go for a walk.
Genius? Eh?
The agony.

Luckily, Dad picked me up at the thrift shop (I couldn't drive) and took me out to Thai food and then dropped me off at the community college so I could buy my textbook for this quarter. A few hours later and I was set to get my eyes re-checked.

I never wear my glasses. Why? Because they really hurt my eyes.
Turns out the prescription was wayyy too strong for me. They sent me to pick out new frames but I decided to keep the old ones I had. They didn't even get used and it doesn't makes sense to fork over the cash for new frames.

And... I finally did get a picture of my eyes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Things He Did

Photo from 2012
I know sometimes I blog when I'm in a bad place. Sometimes I blog emotionally and while I try to limit those, I keep some up because it represents the broad spectrum of emotions I feel - not just chipper optimism.

I would like to note that this list is not made from any emotional extremes. I wrote it at 7:30 AM after a good night's sleep. I feel level headed. It's 2.25 years in the making and has been developed by talking to a lot of folks who are older and wiser than I am. I've avoided going into much detail about what happened a few years ago, but I decided to write it out now since I recently heard that he's doing similar things to his current girlfriend that he did to me. For some reason, that was healing for me to hear. I feel awful she has to go through it, and I hope she gets out soon, but it let me know that it wasn't just me. I had still, up until now, thought that maybe this was all in my head - maybe I just wasn't strong enough or was really the abusive one.

These were my experiences. I didn't know him, really, at all when we started to live together and I was in an isolated situation and didn't know anyone within a thousand miles.

1. He would invalidate my feelings. I didn't realize this was happening. I would tell him how I was and how I was seeing things and he'd tell me it wasn't so. I got so bad that I couldn't eat more than a bite of oatmeal a day, and even that was a struggle, and had constant stomach aches. He told me it wasn't a big deal - that it wasn't that bad. I didn't realize that he was frequently invalidating my feelings until I was around guys who didn't do that.

2. He didn't ask consent.

The way he would cover himself was by asking after the fact. In an attempt to try and keep him from leaving me, I wanted to go along with everything. I would also initiate with the same attempt.

3. When I was expressing emotional distress about a situation, he mocked me saying, "Meh meh meh, my name's Mägi and I can't handle social situations." It wasn't exactly those words, but something on that page and he definitely said, the "Meh, meh, meh, my name's Mägi and" part.

4. When I would write out my concerns with him, and was very open and honest, about how things were going (I was miserable), at the end, he would just say, "I don't see it like that,"  and leave it at that or have nothing to say. I'd tell him, "To someone who's never dated, this really seems like a relationship," and he'd say, "This is nothing like a relationship." We shared a bed, I made meals for him to come home to, I did his laundry, he would make oatmeal and help with dishes. I was confused because it seemed like one, although I had never been in one before.

4.5. Even though he wanted to sleep with me (and was highly sexual), he would tell me, "I think of you as a sister." And I told him that was messed up and that he must not have a sister (he didn't) because brothers never treat their sisters like this.

5. When I told him I had to get away from him, that I thought I was heading in a dangerous direction and needed space, he told me I couldn't. When I said I needed a break, he told me we had to work through it and not being friends wasn't an option. His friend was a mediator in this conversation. Us taking separate roads was not an option. When I said I might need to leave, he said that I shouldn't.

6. I realized he was really into this other girl. He'd invite her over to our place late at night and want to stay out late with her at the bar before coming home to where I was. He knew full well that I was struggling with an infatuation with him (which gets strong pretty fast when you live with someone) and in a lot of mental distress.

When I told him he needed to just pursue her and just let me be, he told me that couldn't happen because he didn't know, yet, if she liked him. I couldn't go until he had her secured. I was good for keeping him company until he had the next girl all the way lined up.

7. We were living together in Location A when he told me I had a week to find my own place. I found it. As soon as I found it, he asked if he could live in it too. My gut told me it was a horrible idea and I went with it. At the end of our time there, he wanted to keep living together in a new house. I told him this was a bad idea (although we looked at places) because I knew I was going to have a hard time getting over him - especially when he was sleeping with another girl in the room next door. He told me that he didn't see how that would be a problem.

8. There are a lot of things that were really unhealthy that happened in bed (luckily, we never had sex - never ever) that I don't want to write about here.

9. I was always apologizing. I was sorry for my feelings (for him) and I felt really guilty for feeling that way and ruining our friendship. It was all my fault that things went wrong, I thought. We had something so great, I thought, and then I had to go and mess it up by falling for the guy.

10. We had a major conversation, one day, where we talked about how I was in a really vulnerable state and wasn't ready to be living with him and have him pursue another girl while we were still living together. I thought that with more time, I could get over him. I asked him for time. He agreed to it and I thought he was so great to not be chasing other girls for a week or two so I could work on healing. That very night, we went to a bar together. Before, he had expressed frustration at me for leaving early, or leave without saying good-bye, so I made a point to stay extra long and be social like a good girl (it was this night that I met one of my current housemates). I saw him leaving near 2 AM without me and I went to go home with him. As it turned out, he was going to the dock with his new love interest. He told me he thought I had left. I biked away in hurt and in frustration -- he knew how fragile I was, at that point (remember -- barely able to eat?). I called him and he asked if I needed him to come home. I told him I did, because I knew what they were going to do at that dock. He came home with me. I thought he was so good to me, because he came home.

At this point, I was starting to think that I was the abusive person in the relationship because I had kept him from doing something he wanted to do. I thought I was becoming controlling.

11. He told me over and over that he cared for me. Now, looking back, I don't see care in his actions. Since then, I've had issues when guys have told me they care for me. I've had a lot of issues with a lot of things that have to do with guys, since they were things that he did.

12. In social situations, I felt absolutely ignored by him - like he was annoyed by me. I expressed that and he told me it was the opposite - he told me he spent more time with me in social situations than with any other person.  I told myself I was just over thinking, insecure, and stupid.

13. At the end of all this, I stopped talking to him for a while. When I did, he told me, "You were mean," and also told me, "Mägi, I didn't do anything wrong."

These are things I couldn't see when I was with him. I was completely blind.

Since then, I've talked to a lot of older, wiser folks (and some younger wiser or some younger and not that wise, just sensible) who opened up my eyes to the situation. Folks who knew him a lot better than I did started to reveal to me who he was - he was always portrayed as an insecure boy with low self-esteem. This makes sense.

I had thought he was so good to me. Good to me because he did dishes sometimes and got me a bike and would dance with me in the kitchen. I didn't realize that if being around someone ever does such damage to the point where you can't eat and have constant headaches, maybe you shouldn't spend lots of one on one time with them in a place where you feel absolutely isolated.

He's still with that other girl (since summer 2012) and I've heard from folks that he's pretty rotten to her - manipulative, mind games, and demeaning. I've also heard, though, that she's so in love with him, that she can't see it. I hope she gets out of that relationship soon.

I was only with him for two months and he did more damage than an appendicitis. I'm glad I got out.

The following year, an older-than-me-friend said, "Mägi, how come you have a hard time admitting you were in an abusive relationship."

I didn't think it was abusive. He didn't hit me, ever. He didn't do anything that was blatantly horrible. He didn't call me names. I thought it would be making a big deal out of something small. I didn't want to be "that one girl" who villainized a guy because things didn't work out. I mean, his last words to me, basically, were him telling me that he didn't do anything, anything wrong.

I still keep second guessing myself. I still have a lot of insecurities related to this situation.

It took me a lot of years to see different sides of this. For a while I thought it was all in my head. I thought that I was evil and didn't deserve to be with anyone because of how things went with him. I'm grateful for the humans who worked through this with me for hours and hours (and hours).

The Birthday Day

Sorry about that post, last night.
Sort of.
Well, I guess I'm not really sorry.
Not at all.

I'm currently at the Juneau Airport, two hours before my flight to Seattle. I know I don't need to be here this early but I'd either be here or at the hotel room.

Yesterday was my birthday and it was lovely.
Remarkable? Not really.
Pleasant? Yes.
Was I in good cheer? In deed.

I woke up and opened up my letters. Goodness, thank you, humans, for all that paper-love you sent me. Thank you for cards and letters and postcards and pictures and for Travels with Charlie.

A hot shower was taken and I got dressed for my first day as a 24 year old - paisley skirt and a dark green sweater.

Downstairs, I enjoyed talking with Dani. She's not a huge morning person and I'm not a night person so we make an interesting duo. After about 20 minutes, she realized it as my birthday and wished me a happy one. For breakfast I served up some leftover borscht I'd made the night before.

After breakfast, I got a call from a neighbour who asked if I had employment. I said that I was looking. She said she could use my help on something so I ran over to her house and worked a bit with her on organizing. We worked together for a few hours before I said I had to go back home to pack and clean. We made a good team and I'm stoked to see her again next Thursday.

Back home, I hung out with Dani and Pearl and then Alice came over. She was pretty shook up and had had a rough day with the news that Scotland had rejected independence. She brought over a chicken to eat because chicken makes people feel better, sometimes. Alice means a lot to me. We spent a lot of time together my first year in Haines but during the second year, I didn't see her at all. Now, I get to see her again. I really appreciate her

Before long, it was 4:30 and time to catch my 5 PM ferry to Juneau. I had to go to Juneau so I could catch my flight, the next day, to Seattle for a funeral. Dani was really sweet and drove me there and we were both in good moods. She's such a good friend to me. At the ferry, I quickly gave them $35 for the ticket and boarded the ferry with a large jar of borscht in hand.

I settled into my seat aboard and then looked out the window and.. and... who did I see?
Justin Riley.

I met Justin back a few years ago in Portland, Oregon. Next time I saw him was in Paonia, Colorado and then again in Bellingham, Washington. I hadn't seen him since.

Now, here he as on the same ferry I was on from Haines to Juneau up in Alaska.

The other thing is, I was a part of the reason he was up there. A few years ago during my first summer in Haines, I went to the fair and saw, near the front of the stage, a man dancing to the live music. I asked him to dance and soon got to know Daniel Martin. He as trying to start a dance scene in Juneau. Later, when he asked for suggestions for dance instructors to fly up, I suggested Justin Riley. Now, here was Justin Riley up in Alaska after teaching a dance weekend for an event Daniel was putting on. Voila!

We got to talking and soon met Anne, the woman sitting in front of us, who was on her way to a housesitting gig (sort of...) in Juneau. You're always guaranteed a good conversation on the Alaska Marine Highway if you want one.

4.5 hours later and we were in Juneau. A quick call and my ride to the hotel was there. Since it was for a funeral and I otherwise probably couldn't make it, my family was really sweet to me and paid for this trip. Hotels always feel like luxurious experiences. Giant fluffy beds and fresh soap. The hotel staff wished me a happy birthday and I made my way up to room 237.

I was surprised with how big the room was and, there on the table was a birthday bag filled with treats from my folks! It made me smile.

I slept like a starfish.

And, well, that was my birthday.
Happy happy birthday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Toddling Housemate

So... I've got this new housemate.

I haven't yet written about the living situation I'm in, or really, much of anything of my life lately. Lopez got me really behind for a number of reasons (either super happy and busy and then there was that time when things got difficult and then I was moving and people were dead-ing). I'm hoping to catch up over the next few months.


The new housemate rocks (you'll hear about her folks later, because they rock too).

I've never before lived in a house where there's someone who laughs whenever they catch me going down the stairs (or at least gives an awkward glance) or when I come in the house. In doing all that, she makes me grin.

I love watching her run and fall down over and over again - and she gets a kick out of me running too.

I met her last year and enjoyed a few months of getting to know her. Since it's been a year, she's taking her time in warming up to me - but we're getting there. All in time. Yesterday she followed me thrice up the stairs and hung out with me in my bedroom as I wrote a letter to Hannah. It's nice having a human in the room who laughs that much.
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