Improbable Beauty

I would like to start this Blog with an apology and with a warning.

First off, I am sorry for how long it has taken me to write this blog. My lack of writing has been a direct result of being busy with instrument flying and trying to have fun while doing so. Which has been a success! Whooo!

Now the warning: Do not, I REPEAT, do NOT eat the Holiday Turkey Sandwich from the Denny’s in Douglas, Arizona. I am debating how much to elaborate on this subject.. but for now.. I will just say that it put me out for at least a week. Like, OUT, out. Like no mas comida for Maggie for a looong time. Like laying on my floor wishing that the centipede my Instructor found on his desk (Yes, a creepily poisonous bug was in my classroom. As well as a baby snake. I still don’t ever really know what is happening in my life) would put me out of my misery. I will leave it there. Just don’t eat it. Please. Don’t.

In the month or so that has passed since I last wrote, quite a few interesting experiences have taken place.

County Fair: Tickets are free if you pick them up from the college. Pick up my ticket. Get to the fair. Whoops. Forgot ticket. Try to convince them to let me in. Fail. Pay for ticket. Look at chickens. Imagine what chicken I would be if I could be one. Do this for every animal. Eat caramel apple. Accidentally eat the entire thing. Core and all. Mental note to not eat like a goat anymore. At least I didn’t eat the stick. Watch a rodeo. Feel bad for the calves. Walk around a little bit more. Play the “who can hear somebody speaking English besides us first wins” game. Go home.

Hike: I heard about a place near Sierra Vista that you can hike around in and looks like North Idaho (Ramsey Canyon). So.. missing falling leaves and streams and pine trees like nobody’s business, Todd (my cute lil’ non back country red car) and I head out. And it did look like home! It was so nice.. to walk through crunchy leaves and hear streams and see green, real green, trees. In fact, it was so nice, that I just wanted to keep walking! I walked so far and so high that before I knew it, I was in a different wildlife preserve! And at a completely different elevation. Looking back, I should have known I was in difficult hiking territory when I passed a couple of heavy duty marine guys coming down from the path, drenched in sweat, wearing those desert head towels, looking at me like I was crazy. But I was just so stinking happy to smell trees that there is exactly nothing that could have stopped me from continuing up. Now I was never lost, per say, but at one point I decided that in order to get back to Todd, I was just going to have to follow the river down. THANK YOU 4,578 survival books I have read over my lifespan. Was it smart to go hiking by myself down here? No, no it wasn’t. Will I do it again? No, no I won’t. But did I have a great time thinking and just being in nature? Yes, and it was one of the most peaceful times I have had in a very long time. Minus the way down. That wasn’t so peaceful. Mostly because I got bit by a mosquito on my right eye and I couldn’t really see out of it. You win some you lose some.

Bike: Well, at least this time I wasn’t by myself. My friend, Maggie, and I decided we needed to get some exercise. (Is it weird having my best friend down here have the same name as me? It was confusing until I broke my lifelong habit of always referring to myself in third person.. that was a breakthrough in our relationship for sure. Just kidding. I have never referred to myself in the third person. Well, rarely. It always scares me when I do. I digress..) Fortunately, my tires didn’t deflate (thank you barefoot Bisbee bicycle man) and overall, it was a good ride. The issue, though, is the hill we went on had tons of rocks and gravel and ruts. Which is all fine and dandy if you have a mountain bike, but if you have a hybrid bike like I do, the tires are quite a bit thinner. There were a few times I swear I was one with Evil Knievel, jumping over the Grand Canyon the way I maneuvered those 6” ruts and mini-mini boulders. We might have walked up the last bit. We might not have. Nobody will ever know. At the top of the hill, that we may or may not have walked up, we came upon a MASSIVE Border Control camera on this huge crane looking thing. It was clearly controlled by somebody who was in some office somewhere NOT on the hill, and would scan the desert, looking for Illegals. Well, somehow it/the controller found out we were on the hill. As we were looking at it, the basketball sized camera (that looked like Mike Kryzowski’s head…off of Monsters Inc..) began to swivel and come nearer to us. It was one of the eeriest things that has happened to me. This big, seemingly unmanned, robotic machine trying to look at my face. Not a fan. Needless to say, we got out of there. On the way down, some parts were so steep that even with all of my brakes fully applied, I was still going faster than I wanted to. SO I got off and walked down that part. No shame. No shame at all. And I lived to tell the tale.

Some road signs I have seen in this area and my thoughts concerning them:

Beware of earth fissures” … WHAT? Why! Why is there a road where the earth could theoretically open up and swallow me! I wasn’t aware I am living on a tectonic plate fault line! Oh wait.. I’m not!

Warning: Visibility frequently reduced to zero with no warning” Am I living at the top of Mount Everest during a snowstorm? Am I living in the middle of a dust storm in the Sahara Desert? NO and NO! So why on earth is this a potential hazard? And why.. WHY! Would I not be able to see it coming?!

Caution: Severe gusting winds. Drive with caution” In other words, if you drive on this road, there are large odds that you will be driving through a horizontal tornado. Have fun, suckers.

Beware: Edge of the Earth, 2 miles.” Well, maybe not this one.. but sometimes it sure seems like it.

Fast Food Experiences: I went to Subway awhile back to get a salad because I just really needed some fly-free vegetables. As I was waiting in line, the fire alarm went off! And nobody.. not a soul.. reacted in any way to it. Not a raised eyebrow, not a covering of the ears, not a bewildered eye or a rush to the exit. N O T H I N G. I honestly thought I was getting that disease where your ears ring and ring and there is no cure. As I was halfway through ordering and debating how much ear damage I was getting and if eating healthy was really worth being deaf for the rest of my life, one of the employees got on the phone and said something about “fuego” and eventually it turned off.

Another time, I was trying to order a chicken sandwich at Church’s Chicken, and I wanted it without pickles and mayo.. just lettuce and chicken. And a non- sweet tea. After repeating myself 4 times.. both at the ordering box and the window, I receive a sandwich with ONLY pickles and mayo and a very, very sweet tea. It is such a struggle sometimes.

The one that takes the bacon, so to speak, is when we went to McDonalds the other day. As AJ rolled down the window to order, he lets out a yell. As I was telling him to hush, this massive locust-cricket-grasshopper thing hits me in the side of the head! I start to yell and wave my arms around like a maniac. BAM! It hits the windshield. WHOMP! AJ tries to hit it with his shoe. POP! It hits me in the chest. SLAM! I run out of the car and realize there is quite the line of cars behind us. I get back in the car, both of us thinking the beast is no longer in our presence. He started ordering and I swear to you, out of NOWHERE.. out of thin air.. this Houdini Devil bug falls from the ceiling and starts pin-balling off of us and off the windshield! It was too much. At long last, it catapulted itself outside. I yelled sorry to the employee as we screeched away, lucky to escape with our lives. Burger-less and breathless. We just went back to the college after that.. too much excitement for one day for sure!

I went to a Luke Bryan and Lee Brice concert this weekend in Phoenix and it was one of the most fun times I have had in a long time. I was with really good friends, surrounded by country loving people in the warm Phoenix night. I think when I look back on college, that will be one of my favorite memories. To be young..

Flying is going well. I am getting ready for some pretty big stage- checks and then the big kahuna tests are coming up in about a month or so! I am studying a lot, flying multiple times a week, and trying to keep my head above the water as far as all this information in concerned. I have pretty much all the approaches down pretty well.. am a big fan of the ILS.. and am now working on procedures and perfecting them. It is hard work and mentally tiring work, but I know how rewarding it will be when I finish. I flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor the other day and was taxing next to and around some BIG airplanes.. surreal really. I still really like it, am glad I came here, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. Okay, that last statement wasn’t exactly true, but I am glad this is where I am getting my training.

To wrap this up, I saw something beautiful the other day. I was driving on a back road near Douglas, and the sun was beginning to go down. Arizona sunsets are everything that they are talked up to be. The most beautiful golds and purples and pinks fill the expanse of the sky and reflect upon the red dirt in the most magical way. I was driving slow, appreciating the beauty, and I came upon a cow pasture. There was this mound of dirt in the middle of it, not a remarkable mound of dirt, and a lone cow on the mound of dirt, not a remarkable cow by any means. But the dark silhouettes of the cow and the mound with the backdrop of the gorgeous Arizona sky created the most beautiful scene. For a moment, just for a moment, I was a part of the amazing beauty of this world and I was allowed a glimpse into just how incredible this earth really is. You wouldn’t think these ordinary pieces could or would create such intense beauty, but that just goes to show that everything and everyone is beautiful. You just have to know how to look and be willing to see what is in front of you.

Thank you all for all the continued support. I love you all, miss you more, and would love to hear from you.

Love,

Maggie

I want to think again of Dangerous and Noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable, beautiful, and afraid of nothing.. as though I had wings.”

-Mary Oliver

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