Where do I begin?
I’m still in shock.
“my apologies” was posted on October 20th, and has since received over 2200 views, as well as 100’s of shares across Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Its top shares were in Canada and the United States, but my blog post reached people in countries like Madagascar, Indonesia, Kuwait, and even Switzerland. Some feedback was negative – a gentleman on Reddit commented “I’M AMERICAN. EVERYTHING IS ABOUT ME!”
But I had to just laugh because, well, number one… joke’s on him. I’m a dual-citizen, well-rooted in both Canadian and American traditions, opinions, norms, and beliefs <insert “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (by Jay-Z) here>. And secondly, anyone who knows me knows damn well that the post was not for the sake of bringing attention to myself, but rather to acknowledge an issue that is common amongst so many people. I just happened to have a story that fit the issue.
I am beyond grateful for everyone that read, everyone that shared, and everyone that offered their words of gratitude and love in regards to the post. You’ve all changed my life for the better. Don’t be mistaken that I’m healed and completely free of struggle thanks to the blog post… Cannon will tell you, I still text her regularly for her powerful words of inspiration. She snaps me out of it so much and I love her for it. But writing it did help – it feels good to have it out there.
Blaine Rene (the oldest of us four) sent me this video recently. The way that Natalie expresses herself in the end of the video is exactly how you all have made me feel. I feel beautiful. I feel sexy. I feel loved. Most importantly, I feel more in love with myself (in most non-narcissistic way possible). We can DO this!
The last few months in Fairbanks have been amazing – I’m very in love with this place. I’ve found a good group of knowledgeable friends who’ve shown me the nooks and crannies in this city that I’ve come to adore. There’s a bar here called “The Marlin” and it might be one of my favo(u)rite hangouts. Thursday nights, they have karaoke. As embarrassing as this is… the following is a video of me singing Pocahontas with a friend on the night of her send-off party.
The staff at The Marlin is awesome, and the crowd there totally encapsulates Fairbanks, Alaska. You will run into all kinds of people at this little hole-in-the-wall and never encounter a dull moment. We have a pub on campus, too! They have Alaskan beers, Washington wines, and your run-of-the-mill Mike’s Hard Lemonades and Lime-a-ritas. The Pub is always doing something different – beer tastings, wine tastings, DJ’s, or bands.
The first month of school was interesting. We did a lot of random stuff – my friends and I. Starvation Gulch was an event that we went to where these gigantic bonfires were built and burned. I don’t really know the history behind it, but the flames were freaking cool. Plus, flames are just really fun to take pictures of.
We also went to an NRM (Natural Resource Management) barbecue, at which there was a reindeer. My friend Jordan works at LARS, which is the Large Animal Research Station, and she always tells us funny stories about these reindeer and the muskox that they work with. He was so cute, I just had to take a picture.
My friends and I went and saw “Walk the Moon” in concert back in September. That seems like so long ago! They’re most famous for their tune “Anna Sun” and their show had a lot of energy! It was put on by the UAF Concert Board – a similar idea to Music Maker Productions (but nothing in comparison… #MMPforLIFE). It felt good to have one of my commonly known “SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC!” moments again. The small crowd in a large space reminded me of the night in Ontario at the beginning of this summer, when Blue Rodeo performed in Sunderland.
Before we knew it, snow was covering the ground (and everything else). Where my cabin is, it gets more snow than most on my street, and it never melted from the first fall. Snow has been on everything since October 4th!
Upon this snowfall, my clumsy self experienced a casual tumble down those stairs. I guess that’s what I get for running out there in Converse… but still. The scars on my right wrist area will forever remind me to take my time going down stairs. All stairs…
After a few weekends spent hammering and drilling, I got to a place where I was comfortable with photographing the interior of my cabin! I live in one big open space. I’m still working on some sectioning tactics, but for the most part – I’m pleased with the set up. I love love love my little cabin. It’s like living in a glorified dorm room (which I did for 3 years of college anyway).
To be honest, I was a bit nervous to live in a dry cabin at first. No running water. No plumbing. But it has been a truly special, humbling experience thus far. My friend Jordan lives in a house that’s on a well, so she lets me use her laundry room whenever I need to. I haul water for less than 50 cents every 1.5-2 weeks. I’ve got a system down: I use my three 5-gallon jugs for dishes and personal care (like brushing my teeth and washing my face/hands), and I fill up like nine 1-gallon water jugs to carry around with me during the days. The air here is so dry… sometimes I drink 1.5 gallons of water in a day, and I STILL feel thirsty. I always felt like that when I flew up to Edmonton. I’ll be interested to see how it works when I fly DOWN to go home this time!
I shower at the gym or my yoga studio on most days that I get in a good workout – otherwise it’s a waste of my time. LUSH products have made showering “on the fly” ridiculously easy, though. I carry around my shampoo and conditioner in little tins that store them (they’re bars). Sometimes I’ll remember to throw my loofa into my gym bag, but I’ve pretty much given up on exfoliating. It’s not that important anyway (click here to learn why). Plus – this is all good training for the Peace Corps. It will be weird when the holiday season comes around and I start house sitting for some lovely individuals I’ve met along my journey. I don’t know if that will change my perspective on infrequent showers or not. But a bubble bath would be damn nice right about now…
So what else have I been doing up here? SCHOOL. Schooling so so hard. Being a TA has definitely challenged my “Patience pays.” mantra. Sometimes, I’m just like, “WHY THE HELL DON’T YOU LISTEN!!” But I never actually say that. I’m sure that I was the exact same as an undergrad. I probably drove my TA’s nuts. I work with a man who is in like his 30th year of working with ArcGIS, a program that allows you to run spatial problems about areas as small as a square meter, or as large as the globe. That could be an over exaggeration… but you get the idea, right? Anyways, The Doc (that’s what I call him) is a really cool person, and I could not be more thankful that HE is the teacher I am working under. My TA-ship got renewed for next semester too! Finals are coming up and my brain is expected to be mush in a matter of weeks. Three 20-25 page papers, multiple presentations… it’s going to be a whirlwind. But I would rather sit down and gush about scientific information than spend that time studying for a final I’d have trouble on anyway (not the best test-taker).
Yoga is a huge part of my life again too. Most days, I’m dressing in a hybrid of clothing so that I can race to the studio at the end of a long school day and find clarity, space, peace, and love on my mat. I adore my yoga family at Heart Stream. Donna hired me as a Seva Servant (“seva” is a yogi term for “selfless service”). I started off cleaning the studio and have sorta wiggled my way up to a publicity-type position. Sorry for spamming your Facebooks with posters. #sorrynotsorry
While not warming up with a bunch of friends (and my new favorite beverage Stella Cidre) at a local dive… I typically head to the movies solo. Oddly enough, we’ve got a kick-ass movie theater here and my “seen it” list is extensively longer than my “darn, I missed that while it was in theaters” list.
I’ve also really gotten into the art of Crock-Potting (once again, for those of you who knew 14 year-old Olivia). Soups are so fun to make! The reduced priced produce section at Fred Meyer makes it especially fun! You can make a huge thing of soup for like $4! I’ll make soup, freeze some, eat some, give some, trade some…. whatever works! My favorite was this butternut squash curry thing I made – inspired by a summer of Indian food with Uncle B.
Having time to cook and clean has been really strange. The only time I ever really cooked was when Jessica and I were practically living together, and when I was doing meal prep. It’s been nice to not fear food. Instead, I try food. I experiment with salmon a lot, and typically wind up making some form of stir fry. Cheapest, easiest, and satisfying.
Oh! I got another job! Officially a waitress at a really awesome place here in Fairbanks. The Pump House used to literally be a place that had pumps that sent water everywhere. Bill Bubbel, the owner, bought it (or something like that) and then gutted it and turned it into a restaurant, but managed to hold onto the “Historic Site” acknowledgements. It is also a DiRona certified, making it recognized across the continent as a top-notch place. Therefore, it’s a waitress’ dream come true… TOURIST TRAP! Summers mean money at The Pump House. I will be saving up for one awesome little financial nest egg to return to when I’m back from overseas… wherever that may be. Check out the menu! It’s wickedly Alaskan, right down to the Elk Burger, which my lovely Jessica had on her travels here.
Speaking of The Peace Corps…
I am being considered for a position in Senegal, Africa. The position would be under the agriculture wing of their projects, and I am anticipating an official invite soon. All of my other friends have received their invitations, so to say I’m not freaking out at all would be a really BIG FAT LIE. Totally nervous. But to be considered for Senegal is amazing. I was wary at first… but after corresponding with previous and current volunteers, and after utilizing my professional Google skills, I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with the idea. Senegal is the longest-running Peace Corps program. It’s never been pulled! Pretty damn exciting. Abigail said she might visit me 🙂
Christmas Break will be spent yoga-ing, house-sitting, crafting, and serving. The Pump House closes in January, which is perfect because I return home for a week, right before school! I’m taking allllll of the pamphlets to try and sell my sisters on coming up here in the summer. There is so much to do, and with my later arrival to The Last Frontier, I didn’t get to participate in many of them. I am going to try my hand at ice fishing when I get the chance… but I have to be very careful with participating in winter sports up here. If I break a single bone (which has already happened in my life more than it should…) I won’t be allowed to serve for the Peace Corps. Therefore, I am making the conscious decision to not ski downhill until I’m back.
It’s very dark here, now. Thank goodness for my Happy Lite.
I can set it to wake me up to a sunrise, and I can also pretend to experience a sunset at 9 PM, as opposed to 2:30/3 PM. I’m nervous for when the total darkness really sets in. But then, there’s 24-hours of daylight to look forward to come summer! SO MUCH VITAMIN D!
I recently have started dog-sitting for a guy here who has the most beautiful cabin I’ve ever seen (and a vinyl collection I can only dream of right now). Opal is the dog’s name – reminds me of my favo(u)rite character from “Because of Winn-Dixie”. That book changed my life. In the midst of dog-sitting, I’ve already had to break a door down, shovel my car out of snow, hike up a driveway in like 1.5 feet of snow, pee while watching for moose and other things that could hurt me, and started a wood-burning furnace all by myself 🙂 I feel as close to “true Alaskan living” as I can probably get before hitting up the Peace Corps.
There’s a lot more I could talk about, but that’s mostly because I haven’t written since I moved here (other than “my apologies”). JuicePLUS+ has greatly benefitted my health while being a resident of interior Alaska (thank you Cannon!). I met my moose neighbors. They’re CUTE. I got bangs – they’re liberating. I am seriously in withdrawal from not shopping at Sephora. I’ve tried a lot of the thai restaurants here (not recently though, because I’m broke as a joke). But instead of listing anything else, I will just post pictures. First and foremost though, MY CANADA GOOSE IS HERE. (i have the best sisters).