Four weeks in..

I’ve been in Alaska almost a month now. Some days it feels like much longer than that. It has been both refreshing and stifling being up here. I’m starting to memorize faces, names, and people’s quirks. I now have two roommates, and thank you Muva Gawd we all get along. They work opposite shifts and I’m the only one on a M-F day time schedule. Some days, our schedules overlap each other’s and we all chat in the kitchen/dining area. I am back into the swing of cooking, even though groceries are MAD expensive up here. Wait til yall see the receipts from some of my market trips! All I do is cuss from the time I go inside until I leave the register! Lmao

Since it’s such a small town, I run into people from work all the time. Glad I get along with most people, cuz I can’t imagine always possibly running into someone I got beef with. Something I mentioned on Facebook earlier is the silence I am growing accustomed to. I’ve always loved living in the city, even as a child. My apartment in Mt. Vernon back home gave me all the city noise I could handle: sad whistles of CSX and Amtrak trains, belching jake brakes, the shrill sounds of the buses lurching to a halt, the whoosh and ding of the light rail, the thunderous subway that rolled right underneath my building. My home in Bethel is not far from the airport, so that’s some pretty regular noise; but I haven’t heard a siren since I left Chicago on Cyber Monday! The plus side to all this silence is that my meditations up here have been nothing short of magical!! I sweatergawd I been on the astral plane! Imagine hearing nothing but the occasional hum of a plane engine, Tibetan singing bowls (my preferred music for meditation), and your own breath?! Yeah, it’s pretty dope. 

The other thing that makes my heart feel full up here is the community I’ve quickly grown to be involved with. A woman saw me during lunch break of orientation and invited me to Sunday dinner. I showed up ecstatic to see 3 Black women listening to soca! I was like “whaaaaatt?!” That was such a healing night for me, more than they may ever understand. My feelings were still hurting from the previous day’s bullshit over that blog story (double eye roll axel and dismount). Being surrounded by women who look like me and have so many shared experiences between us was like hot tea, a warm croissant with honey, and a blanket for my soul in this cold, remote land. I’m grateful for them, and for those who have yet to meet us. Sunday dinner and Sunday Fun Day (with another crew of people) are the highlight of my week! That and sleeping in on weekends, since the cotdamb sun don’t rise like nearly 11 am, then sets by 5 pm. 

I am hoping to secure other opportunities up here related to my other passions but I’ll speak on those when they happen. Just know that I am always thinking of ways to fully immerse myself up here. I had to laugh earlier cuz in the cab on the way home from the market, I looked up and realized there was snow and ice everywhere around us, and the grass I barely saw was like 500 feet away. The cabbie saw me looking around nervously and we locked eyes in the rear-view. I said “Is that the lake or a tundra road we’re on?!” He laughed and said in an Albanian accent “That’s the lake. It’s frozen.” My eyebrows were in my scalp! I laughed and said “Oh my goodness, I’ve been over this way a bunch of times and had no idea!” So um, yeah, that’s what life is like. Oh, and Saturday night, some friends and I decided to experiment with boiling water and the bone chilling weather outside. It was -16 degrees when my homeboy tossed the water into the air, toward the tundra. IT INSTANTLY TURNED TO SNOW! Glad we recorded that moment; because I’ve seen reporters do it back home but never experienced it in person. 

Christmas is next week and I thought I was going to Anchorage to visit my family but them tickets are last minute and it wouldn’t be smart to buy them. Some of the crew here will behaving kickbacks all weekend so I’m sure I’ll have to fun to get into. Oh I forgot to mention that the only store that sold retail beer and wine closed last Saturday, the day after I went! It’ll be reopening in January under new management. Apparently the alcoholism up here is so severe, the community voted to only let the store operate Wednesday through Sunday from 5-8 pm. Needless to say, I was appalled but amused. The day I went, I stood outside for 20 minutes as 20 people were ahead of me and the store only let 5 people inside at max, one person at a time in and out. That was one of the many instances I whispered “Wtf” to myself and shook my head laughing. Several people took selfies of the quickly growing crowd, yelling “Everyone say ‘WHISKEEYY!’ “. Absolutely hilarious. What tickled me most was seeing people ride away on snowmobiles with boxed wine tucked in the crook of their arm. I was in SHAMBLES. I definitely cussed as I bought a 5 liter box of Franzia for $47!!! Everything up here is 2-3x the cost back home because it’s so far away from most manufacturers. 

I guess my thoughts on living up here so far are mixed. None of the pros and cons outweigh the other cuz I’m not leaving until my contract is over anyway. Hahaha. I can definitely see how people stay longer than planned but I also see why people want to leave. For now I’m just observing and getting acclimated. This is nearly a thousand words but I had to update yall on my first month in the tundra. 

Good night ❤

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Polar Bae

Soooo..

I put in my two weeks’ notice October 26th.

Didn’t have a solid backup plan but I knew I wanted to do something else. Got a travel job (for a lab) that following Tuesday. Moved in yesterday.

Today was orientation.

I am living in Bethel, Alaska for the next six months!

More details coming soon.

NAK Exchange Day!

(Written Sunday April 22, 2018)

Bruuhhhh yesterday was SO DOPE!!!

Mr. Huff’s Serene Self Portrait class was very euphoric, as we began with ten minutes of guided meditation. He usually guides meditation when it’s just the two of us so experiencing it with a group of people made me extra proud. I’ve never painted a self portrait, that I can recall, in my adult life. Here’s how mine progressed.

(Yall better not laugh. I’m not a visual artist by any means. 🙈😂🎨🖼️)

I had literally ten minutes to spare between his class and mine. When I went upstairs to set up my projector screen, I realized I left my notes home. 😣😩🙄🤯 I managed to remember and discuss five of the six points I had written down so I think I did aight. I streamed my class on self-love through Facebook live. Here’s the video for that.

Overall, it was fantastic having the opportunity to share my thoughts on love, boundaries, growth, and introspection. I was nervous a few times cuz I felt like I was talking too much 🙊 but it seemed balanced for the most part. Although 30 people signed up, I had a total of 13 attendees. Hearing their feedback on my topics was great for me not only as a facilitator, but as a person who enjoys reading and writing about self-love. I truly enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives on it.

Later that evening, we decided to go to a show at the Motor House. We took pictures and videos of a few familiar faces. I was pumped to finally meet Courtney, The Curvy Ballerina! Her spirit is beautiful as is her work.

Sunday was waaaay more lazy than it should’ve been, cuz my ass shoulda been packing for this trip! Wednesday can’t come soon enough but I know I’ll miss my lover terribly. 😩😩😭😭 My trip will be the longest we’ve been away from each other since we’ve been together so yeah, we ain’t feeling it; but I’m immensely grateful for video chat technology.

This was a lot so I’ll probably update once I get to St. Thomas.

💞💞

Dental work and self love

Yesterday I braved my way to my dentist’s office; stomach in knots, worried about the needles, and most importantly, how hideous I’d look afterward. To my surprise, she got the anesthesia in without a hitch!

Apparently there are two types used during the procedure; one has epinephrine (a stimulant), the other doesn’t. So she inserts the non-epi drug into my semi-numb gums first then the next drug. When I tell y’all that method made a WORLD of a difference!!! The epi drug is the one that gives that tingling burst sensation in the gums upon insertion. Since she does that one last, my gums are already numb from the first drug so I couldn’t really feel it.💞💞💞🙌🏾🙌🏾🤧🤧

Two hours, three fillings and a crown mold later, I was all set! And what made it better was the fact that she let me play my own music so I wouldn’t hear the drilling as much. I love that my dentist is a Black woman with natural hair. Representation matters, especially in healthcare.

I definitely need to cut back on my sugar intake cuz I already have four more fillings scheduled. 😩🙈

In less painful news, my friend and I booked our flights to St. Thomas for Carnival in April!! ✈️🛩🏊🏽‍♀️🧚🏽‍♀️💃🏽💃🏽🏝🏖⛱It’ll be my second time playing mas, and I can’t wait to pick our costumes. I’ve been working 60-75 hours a week lately since we’re short staffed and one of my coworkers died a month ago. At first when she gave me the trip dates, I was like “daaag I can’t take all those days off work!” but I quickly dismissed that thought.

I DESERVE. And not just cuz I’m working like crazy, but I deserve to go to the beach, dress up in beautiful clothes, dance, eat, and drink with hundreds of beautiful people cuz that’s the kind of stuff I enjoy. Also, since I didn’t make it to Puerto Rico for my birthday in September, I’ve been salty about not making it to the beach.

I think self love is whatever is healthy for you that you choose to engage in on whatever basis you like. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose spa trip with all the frills. Self love for me is definitely on a spectrum. I can spend my evening in silence with hot tea, animal crackers, and incense burning, or I can hop the next plane smoking to Miami for a weekend. Either way, I gotta remind myself to do things I enjoy because I wanna do them.

I can’t remember where I saw this message, but to paraphrase…

Don’t always save up things for the perfect time. Do them now. Enjoy things now. That dress you wanna wear for that wedding in the summer? Wear it next weekend! That recipe you saw on Pinterest that wanna try for your friend’s birthday? Cook it tonight! That poem you were gonna recite for the big poetry night? Do it impromptu in front of your friends.

I’m not saying don’t anticipate your big moments, just don’t get so caught up in timing being right that you miss out on the essence of that thing itself.