An Insectophobiasts Worst Nightmare.. and Other Tales of Horror

 Hellllloooooo Liiiitttlleeeee Ooonneeessss!!!!  *Imagine a British Accent*

(This is what I say to the little baby birds in the nest outside my door every morning (or any time I walk by them, actually). I actually feel like I am apart of their family and when people pass by my little babies without checking up on them or saying “hello”, I usually get either mildly offended or demand that they speak to my step-family. I may or may not be known as the crazy bird lady. Better than crazy cat lady, I suppose. Marginally.) 

This has been an incredibly busy week in the flying world, so I did not partake on one of my adventures per say, but usually walking from my room to the laundry room and back is an event in itself, so I will elaborate on a few of those happenings as well as show some pictures, and talk about flying.

I love flying. Love it. I was a bit worried that if it was something that I had to do everyday, it would get monotonous and my love for it would falter, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am working on my Instrument Rating right now (An Instrument Rating is used for flying in the clouds, smoke, or pretty much any time you can’t see ANYTHING outside. It is typically seen as the most difficult rating to get because of all of the procedures, rules, and the fact you have to completely rely on the instruments inside of the plane to keep you alive.) and I look forward to not only flying every day, but also going to class! I actually enjoy studying.. who would have thought I would ever say that? It isn’t easy, but I see it as a challenge and perhaps the most important rating I will get as an aviator. Right now, we are working on VOR/DME/NDB/GPS/ILS Approaches (ways to find an airport without being able to see) and I really like them. I especially like DME Arcs (Tune 10, Turn 10 Baby!!) and I am starting to really get the hang of this stuff I think. I was starting to get a little crazy with my altitude, but now that I stopped chasing it so much, our rides are significantly smoother (duh, I know!). I am flying in a 182RG (which means it has a retractable gear) and I was having a bit of trouble landing it.. I think I was carrying it in with a little too much power.. but after about 3 landings I FINALLY made a good one.. that is always an excellent feeling! There literally is a runway on campus .. does it get better than that? No. I have Instrument Ground School as well every day and right now we are going over Approach Plates and how to read them. I know I have said this, but I am just really enjoying learning and being challenged in something that I enjoy and love. 

It still rains at least once a day.. usually extremely hard. It rained so hard two days ago that when I walked outside after dinner, there were literally CURRENTS of water running through the road. It was above our ankles and the bottom could not be seen. WHICH IS SKETCHY! I half expected to see Todd (my car) being swept along the rapids, never to be seen again, but Todd is a little fighter, and lived to drive another day. 

The rain is awesome and amazing and refreshing and all … but with rain comes bugs. So. Many. Bugs. Especially these little Black Beetle Things (BBT’s, I call them). If you took the top part of your pinky and cut it length ways in half, you would have their approximate size. If you took a carpenter ant, gave it armor and the illusion of 16 more legs, along with wings and a bit of a stench.. you would have the BBT’s. And they are EVERYWHERE. They usually start coming out of their hiding places around 5 or 6 pm and are most attracted to places of light. Which, consequently, people tend to be where light is as well. I have horror stories that I could write about for pages and pages about these little creatures.. like how it is a daily happening to have them fall out of your hair in the shower, or crawl across your face at night.. but I will stick to one story to traumatize you, just like how they traumatize me. Last night, must have been a BBT holiday because they were out in full force. You could not walk outside without stepping on at least 15 of them every step.

I was in one of my friends rooms watching Prince of Egypt yesterday evening (Which is incredibly ironic because at the scene when all of the plagues are happening.. we recognized almost all of them! Locusts? Sure. Giant toads? Every day. Beetle things everywhere? Yup. Bug bites and sores? Of course!! It was crazy. Maybe we should all paint some lamb blood above our doors.) and we started seeing movement from under his door. Upon further investigation, we realized that the BBT’s were literally, somehow, coming through his closed door. One after the other, they just kept coming. He would get up and try and sweep them outside, but every time he came back in, there were some in his hair and on his clothes and about the third or fourth time that happened, his Good Samaritan side began to dwindle and he just began to smash them. But it didn’t matter! Nothing would stop the endless parade. It was actually kind of a helpless feeling and made me a teeny weeny bit queasy, but I made it and will continue to make it, I suppose. 

That night I ended over 40 BBT’s lives. They were all over my room. All over my floor.. a few in my bed.. it was madness I tell you.. madness!! I used to walk around campus, flipping over beetles who somehow ended up on their backs so they could have a second chance at life. Not anymore.. that was the old Maggie. The desert changes people, I tell ya.

The thing about the BBT’s, though, is that in the morning.. they are all dead!! It is the strangest thing! On my way to breakfast this morning, the wind started to blow and I heard a very strange sound. I turned around, and I swear to you, there were hundreds of these bug carcasses swirling around, about to create what I could only compare to a dust devil.. but made of beetles. 

I think the reason I was able to stomach all of this without too much of a problem is, about a week ago, my worst fear came true. 

I found a tarantula in my room.

In my room.

I found a giant, hairy spider, the size of my fist.

On my wall.

In my room.

The only one I have seen in my entire life.

I found in my room.

The only one anybody has seen on campus this year.

On my wall.

In my room.

And that is about all I can say about that. Waaaayyyyy too soon for elaboration but let’s just say I did not move for about 10 minutes in case that it would startle and disappear into my room.. never to be seen again.. until one night I felt something moving across my face… BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Rereading what I have written so far, it would potentially seem that I am miserable down here due to all of the little death creatures. False statement. I love it here. I am right where I am meant to be, I look forward to every day, I can’t wait for the next adventure to happen. 

Plus, I am playing basketball again. Some of you know how difficult these past couple of years have been, and I was sure I would never touch a ball again. But something about this place and these people are helping me heal, and for that, I will always be grateful to Douglas, Arizona.

I love you all, miss you all, and am so grateful to have such a great support group.

Love,

Maggie

 

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 A cactus! In the desert! A common sight down here. It is a bit more green at the present moment because of the monsoons, which makes it beautiful also, but this rugged beauty is really, really growing on me.

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I found this on my New Mexico journey.. a monument for Geronimo’s Last Stand. There is so much culture and history down here, but you really have to dig to find it!

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Notice the size of the bricks and flyswatter… BOOOOOOO!

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A happy picture of me to show you that I am still alive and smiling even after the last picture 🙂 On my way to church!photo (2)

There are the most beautiful rock formations down here.. I could explore them for days. Except I am terrified of rattle snakes sooooo maybe for minutes. Maybe I could explore them for minutes.

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Also on my New Mexico trip. Todd, a Javelina hat, and a smile. Can’t go too wrong there!IMG_1881

 

A little over half of the BBT’s I found in my room the other night. The only consolation is that everybody in the town of Douglas is in the same disastrous boat. We will all float on!!

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Mecca to New Mexico

It is illegal to knock down bird nests in Arizona.

Why is this a concern you might ask? Why would I even remotely have an inclination to obliterate a home that such an innocent creature has worked so hard to create? Because these are not real birds. They are Kamikaze air weapons. And there is one located at every single entrance/exit to the dorms. Every morning, every night, actually any time I want to either leave my room or come back, I am dive bombed by a little bird. Yes, they are little, smaller than my clenched fist (I know this because sometimes I fantasize about punching one as it heads for my face.. not hard enough to actually hurt the little guy, but just enough for him to know I don’t mess around) but it really doesn’t matter the size of an object when it is hurtling through the air at .9 Mach. In their defense, they always pull up right before a collision, but the daily air raids do get old. Oh well.

The other day, I decided I just had to get the heck out of Douglas. I love being here, I really do, but I just had to get away for a little bit. I awoke, as usual, to the sound of World War 3: Bird Edition (EVERY morning, the above mentioned fowl gather in the thousands to recreate the great Battle of Thermopylae right outside my window. This is not a scientific fact, but honestly, nothing else could make such racket, therefore it is my reality) and instead of going back to sleep, I popped right out of bed, filled up my cute little red cooler with ice and blueberries and water, and hopped in Todd to hit the open road.

And open it was. I love driving in general, it relaxes me. I love listening to my music (which exactly 0 people appreciate down here) and feeling the wind through my hair and seeing all that the desert has to offer. In some stretches, it seems like the road goes on forever, the sky eventually swallowing it upon the horizon. In other places, it is like driving through the land of giants- massive, red boulder formations stack upon each other creating unearthly canyons and with just a little bit of imagination, you can believe that the BFG is just right around the back, blowing dreams into sleeping ears.

I think about that a lot while I am down here, that many authors must have lived in or studied this area. Roald Dahl must have gained some inspiration from the immense formations and Dr. Suess obviously styled some of his characters from the vegetation. There is this one cactus tree thing that if a person was to put eyeballs on it, it could walk off the pages of Horton Hears a Who. There is so much beauty here, but it isn’t obvious beauty like we are used to in the North West. There aren’t clear, sparkling lakes or snow capped mountains but there is a type of ruggedness that in some ways, is the most beautiful of all. The desert is a place of survivors. The climate doesn’t discriminate between species. It doesn’t matter if you are a frog or a cactus or are here on a Work Visa or are trying to get your aviation licenses. We are all trying to survive and to thrive and there is a sort of community within that battle that is beautiful in itself. There is definitely an extraordinary level of respect and kindness down here and it contributes to make this area such a beautiful place.

As all of these thoughts were rolling around in my head, I saw that I had made it to New Mexico, and decided to continue to Lordsberg to eat breakfast and study a little bit.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Mom, remember this! (Don’tbemad-don’tbemad-don’tbemad-don’tbemad-don’tbemad:))

I have a bit of a history with speeding violations. I don’t mean to go fast, I really don’t! I was born with a 18lb metal rod in my right foot and it is a constant struggle to go the speed limit with my disability, but 99% of the time, I do. Honestly. It is that dang 1% of the time that the cops are around that has gotten me time and time again. BUT in my defense, this was not a case of careless speeding, I thought the limit was 65 mph. In the south, south, south U.S., speed limits change every couple miles, so if a person is busy contemplating the meaning of life or trying to learn every word to Bohemian Rhapsody, it is possible to miss one. Which I did. I would venture to say that 73% of all traffic I saw on that trip was law enforcement of some kind. Whether it be border patrol, highway patrol, local police, Royal Mexican Mounted Police (Just kidding) .. they were all over. This should have been a bit of a red flag, but since I actually live in a border town, it didn’t seem out of the norm.

And then I saw the lights. Crap. I honestly wasn’t sure why I was getting pulled over, but since I wasn’t in the mood for a drag race, I did. He came around to my window and we began the standard convo.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Actually.. I really don’t!”

“You were going 65 in a 55 zone.”

“What?!!?? Oh my gosh! I honestly thought it was 55 I am so sorry!” (At this point, I had to make a decision about how to act. A lot of people start fake crying and usually get out of tickets.. but when I fake cry- or try to- I look like maybe I really need to go to the bathroom, so I chose the road less traveled.. the one of truth)

“Yup, it changed a few miles back.. have you ever been pulled over before?”

“…… errrrr….. yes?”

“Are you hiding anything in your car?”

“Nope.. negative on that one.”

“Will you please step out of your car?”

“What?”

“Will you please step out of your car and come over this way?”

“Uhh……….. really? Why?” (I was about to be arrested in New Mexico. Oh my gosh. I just wanted to eat my blueberries and crawl in a hole. But, I learned previously that Diamond Back Rattle Snakes hide out in holes so I didn’t do it and plus my berries kind of tasted like beef)

(Upon seeing my confusion, the officer smiled and explained that it was normal procedure to be written up outside of the vehicle, so I popped right out and walked over to him. About halfway back I realized I wasn’t wearing shoes, but I figured that contributed to my naive-hick-Idaho look, so I carried on.)

“Where are you headed?”

“Lordsberg I think it is called? Maybe?”

“Why are you headed there?”

“Uh, I don’t really know.. I just wanted to check out New Mexico.. and eat breakfast.”

“By yourself?”

“Yup.”

“Hmmm. Did you know that this is the most patrolled highway in Arizona and New Mexico?”

“No.. I did see an awful lot of cops, though.” (My mind is slowly beginning to put the puzzle pieces together by now)

“That is because this is the major drug and human smuggling road down here, we make multiple busts every day.”

Oh boy.

“Oh my gosh! I had no idea! (I then got curious) How do you catch them? How do you know they are smuggling?”

“Well, they usually give us stories about how they are traveling to Lordsberg for no reason and just want ‘check out New Mexico’.”

Gulp. Looking back, I could not have made the truth sound more like a lame lie.

“Well, sir, I can assure you there is no one in my car! I do not think I am smart enough to be a smuggler!” (Maggie… what the hell was that.)

I kind of got a weird look for that one.

“Do you mind if I look in your trunk?”

“No, not at all!”

Todd is a great car, he really is, but sometimes he begins to have a mind of his own. The trunk just recently started getting randomly jammed, so opening it can be quite the ordeal. I walked over, still no shoes, and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t. By that time, my imagination began to run rampant and I imagined that an Illegal snuck in and was holding the door shut from the inside with 87 lbs of cocaine… and I would end up with 25- life. But then.. POP! Opened the trunk. And to my relief and the cops amusement, the only thing in the trunk was an abhorrent amount of “emergency water” as I like to call it.. lots and lots of plastic water bottles that are probably toxic by now.

“Well, the mistake you made was a common and easy one to make, so I am just going to write you a warning.”

WAHHHOOOOOO!!! YESSSS!!!!!! YIPPPEEEEEE!!!!!

“Thank you.” (calm, cool, collected)

We then proceeded to talk about drugs and arrests and Idaho and aviation for awhile, and then bidded each other adieu and good day, and went our separate ways.

I continued on to Lordsberg, ate breakfast at a nice little place called Kranberries, and chatted with the waitress about how ridiculously low waiters/waitresses get paid.

On the way home, I saw a sign for a Desert Museum, so I stopped and checked it out. It was so cool! There were probably 30 glass cages of snakes and 50 more of other indigenous animals along with artifacts and a garden that had lizards and turtles and lots of very pokey bushes. There was this one rattle snake, that every single time I walked by, rattled. I have never heard a real life rattler, so as you can imagine, the first time I heard him, I almost hit the deck and called 911 because I was sure I had been hit. As soon as I realized that I was alive and was going to make it and he was in a cage, I started to do a weird little dance thing in front of him to make him rattle again. Kind of strange, but I was the only one there so who cares. I finished looking around, bought a Javelina hat, slapped that puppy on my head, and continued on my way back.

A few miles into the continuation of my drive, I saw this massive mound looming in the middle of the road in the distance. I slowed Todd down to a crawl and inched my way forwards, not having a clue what to expect. It was a black mound that was moving in a strangely – and kind of creepy – rhythmic way.. when all of the sudden, a red neck and head whipped around and stared into my soul. There were 3 or 4 very, very large buzzards enjoying a meal. Eventually they all half flew, half walked away, but I had the strange feeling I was about to enter Mordor. It was strange, it was creepy.. and now I am moving on with my life.

The last stop I made on the way home was a roadside monument to Geronimo and his surrender. I sat on the picnic table for awhile, contemplating the story and the people and thinking about life in general. It was a really, really good day.. one that I needed sorely. In addition to all of these adventures, I was able to reestablish my goals and dreams and get a better perspective on my life and where I am and who I want to be.

I feel like it is beginning to become customary to leave you all with a horror story involving animals.. so here goes.

The other night, it monsooned pretttttty darn hard. Again. And I had to grab a package from a building across campus from a RA, so I decided to drive since it was raining so hard. Thank goodness I did. When I got to the building, I saw the lady staring intensely at something behind the Coke machine. I got out of my car and started walking over to her when she said, “This is the biggest snake I have ever seen!” At which point I stopped walking. I was about to ask her politely if I could burn the campus down to deal with the snake, but I noticed something come streaking out of the rain, right to the back of the machine. It was dark, but I did manage to see a white stripe on the back of the agitated animal. “Skunk!” I bellered, and the RA took off back inside the building, and I ran back to Todd. Curious, I stayed around and watched for a bit. I was not disappointed. I heard this SQUEECCHHHH!!! and I kid you not, saw the skunk come flying out from behind the machine. It was like he had been drop kicked.. the poor little guy was airborne for a significant amount of time. He hit the ground running.. straight back out into the monsoon. I do not know what happened back there in the dark recesses of the Coke machine, but I do know that I will never be leaving my room after the sun goes down for the next year and a half.

Thank you all for your continued support and feedback. I love you all and am so blessed to have such a strong support group.

Until the next adventure,

❤ Magdalen K.. the girl who actually and legitimately looks forward to waking up every morning 🙂

 

 

Pie and Rats and Pirates

Arizona. The place where the climate, the wildlife, and the vegetation all want to kill you. And actively try. Last night, we were walking back to the dorms at around 10pm.. and I saw something sitting in the parking spot next to Todd (my car.. I name things.) At first glance, I thought it was a big rock that the monsoon had washed onto the pavement, but upon further investigation, I realized it was not a rock. It was pretty dark, and I was pretty tired, but I am pretty sure I saw what I saw.. and it was NOT pretty. Javier (my favorite cafeteria cook) had been telling me stories about the monster rats that come out after dark.. but I passed it off as him trying to scare me and shoved it in the same place I put tarantula and rattle snake stories.. deep in the recesses of my mind. But his voice rang throughout my head as I gazed upon a mammal that looked like it came straight out of the Princess Bride forest scene. It was the biggest rat I have ever seen. It was at least the size of a loaf of bread. And not a Great Value loaf of bread from Walmart.. we are talking a Great Harvest Cinnamon Loaf of bread. It was a beast of an animal. As soon as the light shined into his little (not that little) beady eyes, he took off.. straight under Todd.

You always hear about the fight or flight response to things that scare you or confront you.. and I have always wondered what I would be. I liked to think I would be a fighter, but then I also thought that being a flight-er wouldn’t be that bad either because the survival rate seems like it would be higher. Well it turns out I am a stare-er. I don’t move, I don’t breathe.. I just stare. I am a chameleon. It worked for the obscenely large rat.. 1 for 1 so far. Go Mags.

I figure I should talk a little bit about flying because that is, after all, why I am here. I love it. I love my classes.. I love the people (well most of them, being honest here) and I actually like studying. I guess that is what happens when you are doing something you love. Ken Larson, my flight instructor in Sandpoint.. is the best instructor in the world. He is also one of the best people. Hands down. I can’t think of a single person who would debate this fact. I was really worried about transferring instructors because where do you go from the best? But my new instructor’s name is Rick.. and he is probably the second best instructor in the world. I have been so blessed to have instructors and mentors in the aviation world that not are only the best in their profession, but also care about me as a person and want me to succeed. I think that is huge.. having people who truly believe in you. I am currently working on ILS approaches and holding patterns and have been spending a lot of time getting through the ground school and simulator work so this upcoming week, I will be flying a lot. It is challenging, but I really enjoy working towards something that, upon completion, will be as immensely gratifying as I know getting my Instruments License will be.

I just took a break from writing this to go play night soccer.. and on the way back it honest to goodness looked like the cement was writhing there were so many bugs. I honestly thought the world was ending for a second. Being down here really is like being at the end of the world. At dinner yesterday (which ended with a delicious piece of banana pie.. the little things) it monsooned like nothing I have ever seen. It was like the floodgates of Heaven opened up and I was back with Noah, about to board the Ark. Except there was no Ark, no giraffes or monkeys or cute little red pandas. There were only monster toads and black beetles. But in all honestly, I love the rain. There is something deeply cleansing about it.. like there is no other moment than this one. Like the only person on this earth is me and the only thing that matters is feeling the water hit my skin. It, if only for a few minutes, is about a magical a thing as can happen on this earth. (Except for realizing we got banana pie for dessert.. that was disturbingly exciting.)

Last night, Bianca and I got a little cabin fever and decided we had to get a change of scenery, so we  tagged along with two other guys who were going to check out the bar scene in Bisbee (a town about 20 minutes away). The town of Bisbee deserves its own, separate  blog and perhaps I will go down that long, very strange path at a later date.. but for purpose of this story.. imagine a town that every character Johnny Depp has ever played would not only fit in, but thrive. Edward ScissorHands? Check. Willy Wonka? Double check. Tonto? Yes sir. But out of them all, Captain Jack Sparrow would have had the time of his life last night.

Unbeknownst to us, it was Pirate Weekend in the old Bisbee. E V E R Y O N E was dressed up as a pirate. Old, young, boy, girl, cat, dog.. didn’t matter. In fact, a lot of the people looked like they were born to be pirates. Like they either were born a few hundred years late or somehow perfected time travel. It was amazing. I wish I fit in somewhere as much as some of those people fit in as pirates. I have never felt like such a minority as I did there.. even though every time I go to Walmart, I am quite literally the only white person in the store. That doesn’t even hold a candle to how much we stood out, but fortunately, everybody (old, young, boy, girl, cat, and dog) was drunk as skunks and didn’t seem to care. Obviously, Bianca and I were not there for the bar scene, we were there to explore, but we were hungry. So the two other guys (over 21) headed into the bar and we tried to follow because, age be damned, we wanted some $14 chicken tacos. But out of nowhere.. and I mean the man must have risen from underneath the porch or pulled a Harry Potter and apparated because I swear he did not physically exist .34 seconds before.. this ancient pirate man growled (yes, growled.. like a bear. With only one vocal chord.. I don’t know how many vocal chords bears have.. I feel like more than one, though) “ID’s NOW!!” and he menaced his hand towards like he had a hook. Which, for the record, he didn’t. Bianca and I, in perfect synchronization and without saying a word, did an about turn and bounded down the stairs into the mass of pirate people. We wandered through the streets, exchanging our courteous “AHOY, Matey!”s and our fair share of “Shiver me timbers!” .. which upon brief reflection, we decided not to say the latter because we were, and still are, not exactly sure what that means.

In under one block.. I swear to you.. we stopped and listened to a Mexican band playing Indian music with a flute, quickly moved past a lesbian screamo band, and were offered a zebra print blanket, by a woman who was not functioning in this realm, because “it was soft”. I still am not exactly sure what was going on. We did not take the blanket. We did not get drugged. As the aviation world likes to say, “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.” And as I like to say, “Any night you go to Bisbee and make it out alive.. is a good night.”

Again, so far so good. Thank you and love you all 🙂

❤ Magdalen K the girl who is not exactly sure what is happening 98% of the time.

PS. I bought a plastic pink flamingo to go in the flower bed outside my room, named it Sachitas (my favorite Spanish word at the moment.. means sausage.. don’t think too far into it), and hoped that he would scare away the bugs. It isn’t working. A fly just died on my foot. Literally. Just died on my foot. What is happening? Where am I?