Living in the Valley of the Apples

They say you never forget where you were the first time you saw a dead rat. Well, actually I don’t think they say that. Actually, I think nobody has ever said that except for me, right now. But. The fact remains, that if you have ever seen one, you will not forget where you were. I had, up until recently, thought that I had escaped the vermin infested days of my Arizona youth. And for good reason! Things were looking up! I live in California! Surely no rodent dare cross into the golden state! Well, my fellow compadres, let me tell you something. If La Jolla (where I used to live) is California’s poster-child for elegance and success and grace, Apple Valley (where I currently live) is the tweaked out step-nephew who frequents the local lock up. In fact, the area I am currently residing in is, quote unquote, on the outskirts of Felony Flats. Yes, you read that right. Felony Flats. And no, I did not make this up. It is regionally known as Felony Flats, I knew it to be Felony Flats when I moved here, and I do believe you can Google FELONY FLATS and it will point you in my very exact direction. (I feel the need to type Felony Flats as many times as possible to reiterate to my dumb-dumb, no-regard-for-my-personal-safety brain from refraining to repeat such a poor life choice in the future. Felony Flats.) The high desert is a place that people traveling through gas and go very quickly, and a place that locals may never depart from. In Apple Valley’s defense, it used to orchestrate a thriving, you guessed it, apple orchard production and was even a metaphorical oasis for movie stars to escape to, from Los Angeles. But then came a very specific apple tree destroying beetle, and gone went the orchards, and with it, the money, and with that, the livelihood of the town. It’s always amazing to me what can bring down a city. Whether it be an insect, the closing of an important business, a lack of quality water, a reputation.. whatever it is, it leaves behind thousands of people with the life changing choice to either adapt, or uproot. They say that the grass is always greener, but in this case and in this particular place, there is no grass. So it honest to goodness must be greener on the other side. That being said, I have the utmost respect for the people that chose to carve out a life in this 110 degree, dry and dusty desert. And I have about 8 more months here, so it is my mission to find the grass, literal and metaphorical, in this tough little town. But, I can tell you where the grass was most certainly NOT. It was not, by golly, in my backyard, in the back corner, where I saw my first rat. It was huge. It was as long as my hand. NOT including the 8 inch tail. It was almost cartoon-ish. It was unsettling. It was borderline scarring. But it was dead. And not IN my house. And my landlord took care of it. So perhaps, there was a little grass after all. It is my goal in life to live in a place where I do not have to deal with rodents on such a regular schedule. It is also my goal in life to make enough money to not have to think twice about paying extra for guacamole. And to have a pet pig. It’s the little things, right?

Well, Keegan has been gone a month. It is incredible to me how relative time is. How some days can take hours and some hours can take weeks. It’s getting easier, in most regards. The hard part is not knowing where he is, or how he is.. it’s the little things I miss the most. Telling him about my day, laughing about nothing and everything, just the security that his presence, even if hours away, brought me. So, I decided I would write a little bit every night and tell him about my day. Last week, I wrote and told him I ate 3 Del Taco Taco’s and a milkshake and then got really sick, because, I ate 3 Del Taco Taco’s and a milkshake. What I really need to do, is get a life. But really, it’s becoming my new normal and that is okay. (Not the taco binging, I now know my limit is 2 Del Taco Taco’s and a mini shake, just clarifying.) I know that we are going to have a deeper level of trust and understanding and appreciation from this separation that I am not sure can come from anything other than prolonged distance and a lack of communication. The thing that I keep telling myself, is that he is coming back.. and we will look back on this and be so proud of ourselves for conquering this deployment. I know that this time in the desert for me, is going to be a time for cultivating gratitude. Thankfulness for a family that supports me and loves me and is forever for me, for a steady job that is allowing me to reach my goals and dreams, and for a tough deployment that has put this country and this world in a much better perspective for me.

And on that same note, or similar note, I have found one of the keys to happiness. At least in my life. My grandma always has said that life is a roller coaster, full of highs and lows and everything in between. And you don’t appreciate the highs without the lows. And whenever she would say that, I would always think, “Uhhh, I think I can appreciate the highs all the time. Don’t need no lows for me!” (Apparently my mental train also had no formal education, but that is beside the point.) But guys, she was right. Like she said, we live in the valley. And I don’t think we should fight to live on the mountain top any more than we should fight not to live in the canyons. Being satisfied and fulfilled in the valley means that when you get a mountain top experience, it exceeds any and all expectations. Let me explain.. last weekend, my sister came down to San Diego for a basketball tournament. Now, as already mentioned, I lived in La Jolla for awhile. Absolute paradise. And I truly thought I appreciated it while I was there! The ocean, the flowers, the people, the food! But it’s so easy to get complacent, to keep reaching for better and better and not being satisfied with where you are, and I found myself not being happy. Not being happy with my job, with my lack of friends, with things I took for granted. But then I moved here. And I decided to have a better outlook, because having a positive outlook on life is the only way a person can survive here. So by the time Grace came down, I had acclimated to my new valley. And I was okay with it. BUT. I got to spend a whole day with Grace in San Diego and La Jolla, and let me tell you, I have rarely felt so much joy in my heart. Even on the drive over, watching the terrain change and the temperature drop, my heart began to swell. That day, I marveled at the many vibrant flowers, stood in awe of the mighty sea, tasted tacos (not Del Tacos Taco’s) that rivaled perfection, and truly indulged in what was, by all accounts, the perfect day. I relished the company of my sister and am so thankful for her kind spirit and generous heart. It was one of those days that, even as it’s happening, you know is going to be one of those special, special memories. So, I learned that I would take as many valley days as it takes for one day on the mountain top, for one day of pure, unadulterated joy.

So, all of that being said, did I mention where I slept that night? No? Well, let me tell you a little story. Apple Valley is about a 2.5/3 hour drive to San Diego, and I had fully planned on returning Saturday night after her games, and returning Sunday morning for more. But 5pm rolls around, and Grace and I are having the aforementioned day, and NO WAY IN HELL am I breaking that up to drive back to AppHELL Valley. So, 7pm rolls around and I have been intermittently calling hotels, googling rates and rooms, and going further into a state of denial about my continued failure in finding a vacancy. I drop Grace off at 830 at her hotel, sit in that parking lot, and continue my quest. Nothing. And by nothing I mean NOT a thing (and by that, I mean nothing under $200). But I, armed with my pride and the bank account of a pre-airline pilot, decided in no way am I about to drop that kind of money on a hotel that LOOKS SKETCHY IN THE PICTURES. I almost wanted to call some of these people back and just tell them that even their website pictures of the hotel look sketchy, and I was personally offended they could even CONSIDER charging someone that much money for such a dump. It was robbery! And I was out of luck. (I do need to mention here that my parents offered multiple times to pay for a safe hotel, but dammit I am an adult and I don’t need no help! (There is my uneducated mental voice coming back.. going to have to work on that, I think it is the Idaho coming out in me.)) But then I had a light bulb. I had an air mattress, a blanket, AND a pillow all in the back of my Rav4! You know me! Always prepared! (This is untrue, I just happened to work a 15 hour day the previous week and we are allowed to take a nap and I was too stinkin’ lazy to clean out my car.) So, after about 30 minutes of mental dilemma and steeling myself to the idea, I pulled around the hotel complex, it truly was a safe area, and parked in a lit area with lots of nice looking cars with little family stickers on the back. I then put down the back seats and started to fill up the mattress. Well, the pump thankfully is battery operated but MAN was it loud. I didn’t want people to think I was sleeping in my car, so every time somebody came even remotely within hearing distance, I slammed the back door and ran around to the driver’s side. In hindsight, I looked like some type of drug dealer or maybe even a drug consumer. But rather that than hotel-less!!! I eventually got it filled up (with only a couple of parents quickly ushering their children to the other side of the parking lot to maneuver around the cracked out backseat drug dealer, might I add!) I do need to mention, that when I moved from La Jolla to Apple Valley, Keegan helped me pack up my car. And he put items in cracks and crevices I didn’t even know existed, but thanks to him it only took one trip. However, when I was trying to put down my seats, they wouldn’t budge. So I did some investigation and I found, wedged underneath the middle seats, my long lost magic bullet, Tupperware specifically designed for salad with a separate dressing compartment (Thanks, mom) and a fork. And with the front seats now completely full of my flight bag, suitcase, and numerous other oddities, I decided to just leave it in the back with me. So there I was, in the back seat of my car, closing out one of the most perfect days of my life, nestled between a magic bullet, a salad specific container and a fork. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. (ESPECIALLY the $200 those hotel robbers were trying to get out of me.)

Well folks, that’s it for now. I hope all is well with you. Love to all.

Maggie

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Mini Blog Numero Uno

Well hello everybody!

I have to apologize for not writing for such a long time. Hopefully that will not happen again. My solution to this is Mini Blogs! They will be shorter, but more frequent. Hooray! However, the good news is that I have had an action packed semester that has involved:

Snow Boarding up near Show Low, AZ: I have never been as sore as I was the next day. Ever. Every single muscle hurt. I fell almost every 30 feet .. on my buttocks, my face, my hands. There were 3 year old children who could barely walk that were passing me. In fact, I was so bad, that my instructor went to drink during the lunch break. For real. I drove somebody to drink. Cheers to that.

Exploring Cliff Dwellings near Silver City, New Mexico: We hiked up to these actual dwellings in the side of a mountain that were massive! Carved into the rock were huge rooms, specifically dedicated to bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, spiritual rooms.. It was amazing and just reinforced my desire to drop everything and go live in a cave somewhere in Africa with a pet javelina and perhaps a peregrine falcon.

Barnstormed New York City with my Grandma: This trip was one of those trips that, while it is happening, you know just how incredible it is. Every moment was magical from the Broadway Plays to visiting the World Trade Museum to the food that was so good I constantly wanted to cry. The best part of the trip, though, was getting to spend so much time and make so many memories with one of the most special, kind, and incredible people in this world- my grandma. The culture, the people, the sounds, the energy, the smells.. it captivated me even more than the first time I went. I cannot wait to go back and hopefully even live there someday.

Learned that snakes can move up to almost 20 km when they want to: I can’t walk to the laundry room anymore without constantly being prepared to run as fast as I can.. tennis shoes everywhere I go. I saw a massive snake that spanned the entire length of the road I was about to drive on, slithering into a ditch, and it was then I decided I was going to buy a handgun and carry a large stick.

Walked the London Bridge (Yes, the real London Bridge): Guess what! They moved the London Bridge to Lake Havasu! And guess what else! I flew there for one of my solo cross countries, used the crew car they have at the airport, drove to the London Bridge, got out, walked across it, got back in the car, got back in my plane and flew back home! It is actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but who cares.. at least it didn’t fall down. PS I am pretty darn lucky to be in aviation.

Biked next to a javelina:  I was biking (haven’t biked this road since, albeit) along the Douglas highway, and I look over to my right, and there is this javelina, maybe about 10 yards away, running alongside me. This continued for a solid 100 yards or so. I have never felt so wild and free! Me, biking as hard as I can to keep up with this sprinting wild pig, side by side, both of us loving the feeling of the wind in our hair/bristles and the smell of camaraderie and adventure. It was a beautiful moment, however looking back I am kind of glad I didn’t get gored.

Experienced the loss of a close friends loved one: I don’t really have much to say about this other than he was one of the strongest, bravest, kindest, most faithful men to ever walk this earth and it was a privilege to know him.

This semester, I have been taking Commercial Ground School, Commercial Flying Class, Multi Engine Ground School Class, and Certified Flight Instructor Ground School Class. This means.. by October I will have my Multi Engine Rating and will also be teaching flying at the college!! Yayyyyyyyy money!

I also, for next semester, have found my dream house. It is high up in a canyon, light blue, surrounded by wilderness.. and a place I cannot wait to start my working life in! (And it has a clothesline.. booyah!)

Also, I would like to say Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms out there.. but specifically mine. Thank you for giving up your life so I can follow my dreams, for working so hard so I never go with out anything, and for being such an amazing role model and woman.. one who so many people look up to and love. Thank you for everything, Momma- See you real soon 🙂

Thank you all for being so supportive and understanding.. can’t wait to come home in a month!!

Love, Maggie

P.S. I will soon be making a picture blog so you can see all of the places I’ve been recently!

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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Bisbee and Beatles and Business as Usual

The Pastor at my church got locked out of the church on Sunday. Fortunately, I always sit near the back so I got to see all of this play out. It was right after his sermon, quite a good sermon for that matter, and he went into the Pastor Room at the very back of the church. He goes into the room to regroup or pray or eat a quick snack (That’s what I would do).. whatever he does in there.. and the pianist began a lovely tune to serenade the congregation. After a few minutes, I heard the door begin to rattle. After about 15 seconds, the handle began to shake violently and those of us near to door tried to inconspicuously turn around. About 10 seconds later we heard something large hitting against the door, the frame starting to shake, and a determined grunting sound emerging from the room.

Now pretty much everybody is staring at the back door, but the Bystander Effect held true, and nobody thought to help the poor man. There was silence for about 5 seconds, in which he must have been getting ready for a running start to hit the door, and BOOOOOM!! He comes barreling through, with enough momentum to smash a linebacker, the whole while laughing and guffawing. Nobody really knew how to react so they were respectfully quiet, except me. I was howling like a monkey.. it was one of the funnier things I have ever seen. A Pastor getting locked out of his church.. the irony!! So there was the Pastor and Maggie.. enjoying a nice laugh at his expense. Was it the best reaction? Ummm, no probably not. But did they still invite me to the Potluck afterwards? Absolutely.

Enough is enough. I am running out of fingers to count how many times I have had a flat tire in the two months or so that I have been down here. Back in Idaho, it was a very rare occurence to have a flat tire but here.. I just wonder WHEN it will happen on the ride, not IF it will happen. This limits me to riding only as far as I can walk if I have to. And in this heat and elevation.. I am confined to about a 12 yard radius. Just kidding, but it is seriously concerning not knowing when you are going to go flat because water conservation and roasting to death is definitely an issue. So I decided to take a little trip over to good old Bisbee (Pirate Day? Lesbian Screamo Band? Plastic Bags are outlawed? Ringing any bells?) and see if there were any Bike shops to be found.

While researching it online, I found two. The first was called “Bisbee Bicycle Brothel” and the second “The Bicycle Company of Bisbee”. Fortunately, my decision on which one to go to was made for me because the Brothel of Bikes was out of business.. shocking, right? I walked into the shop and a 50 or so year old man with exceptionally bare and tan feet and an on point Hawaiian shirt greeted me and asked if he could help. I told him that he had impeccably tanned feet (no I didn’t) and that I could not bike for more than 2 miles without going pancake flat on at least one tire. He took off my tubes and proceeded to pull out what looked like an epidural needle from the front tire. It was a massive cactus thorn. Well that sure explained a lot! I then asked him to make them impenetrable and he said he would do his darndest. We then had a nice conversation about the history of Bisbee and all of the mining and gambling and prostitution that made the town into the little gem it is today. He also told me and showed me on a map all of the hiking and camping and adventuring places in Cochise County so I am thuper excited about that!! So if everything goes according to plan, there will not be any more flat tire stories! Yay! Whoo! (My tires weigh about 87lbs each now.. but I will take it, gladly)

Aaaannnndddd now it is time for A.F.T.I.H.L.O.T.P.W.O.S!!!

(A Few Things I Have Learned Over the Past Week or So)

Praying Mantis’s (Manti? Mantisss? Mantusii?) actually look like they are praying! And are as long as a person’s hand! And creep up on you when you are just trying to rest against a wall and then for a split second peer deep into your soul and you think that they are going to murder you in cold blood but then you remember that you are 700 times as big as it is and your heart resumes its beating.. I’m sorry, I had a moment.

Agua Prieta, the town that is directly across from Douglas on the Mexican side, is not a dirty and terrible place.. it, in the main parts at least, is exactly like Douglas! There are restaurants and parks and everybody still speaks Spanish. I have a friend who goes over there frequently, so I have tagged along the last few times and got to see her play in a soccer game, got my nails done very nicely for under ten dollars, had very broken conversations with my very broken Spanish, and ate a Mexican Hot Dog (or 2.. or 3..)

Mexican Hot Dogs are the best things on earth. Imagine a hot dog.. but good meat.. in a warm, fluffy bun that is kind of shaped like a pita.. topped with beans, onions, jalapenos, and a delicious mystery sauce.. wrapped in bacon. And if that doesn’t sound good, which it originally didn’t to me either, just come on down and try one. They. Are. So. Good. Especially washed down with Horchata and followed by Churros.. Ohmygoodness my life has been made complete.

At Arizona Diamondback games, instead of the vendors yelling the usual “Ice Cold Bottle of Beer, Water and Coke right HHHEERRRREE!!” they yell something along the lines of “Cotton candy, cracker jacks.. HOOORRRCCHHHAATTTAA!!” Which doesn’t really flow out of their tongues quite as well as the more standard sales pitches, but man does that Mexican milk-ish drink sell like the dickens in these parts.

When somebody informs you that there will be the outskirts of a hurricane coming through the next day and that there is potential for 12 inches of rain overnight.. believe them. And roll up your pants and hoard some extra burritos from the cafeteria for emergencies.

Always eat a salad in the cafeteria. Unless there is a dead fly floating in the salad dressing. If there is a dead fly, skip the ruffage for that day. Upon further thought, if there is not a fly floating in the dressing, skip it anyway because that means it (and its friends) sank to the bottom. After even more thought, don’t ever eat the salad. Ever.

Be careful driving around at night with the windows down because skunks like to hang out around stop signs. And bugs like to throw themselves into Todd from the streets if given the opportunity.

There was a Beatles group that came to our campus last night to put on a concert. Can you think of something that fits together less than Douglas, Mexico and the Beatles? I can’t either, but my goodness I love the Beatles so I did not care one iota about the absurdity of it. I went with AJ and he is not really all that much of a Beatles fan, but he was a good sport all the way up until they played Yellow Submarine. Around the 15th time the chorus was sung, he had about enough. (In is defense, they did sing the same 3 lines a mildly obnoxious amount of times)

Ringo: “We all live in a yellow submarine!”

AJ: “A WHAT?!” (Yelling.. literally yelling)

Ringo: “A yellow submarine!”

AJ: “OH!” (We were starting to get looks)

Ringo: “A yellow submarine!”

AJ: “I GOT IT!!!!!” (*sigh*)

Anyway. My mom told me about a time when I was much younger, my mom, dad, and I went to a faux Beatles concert and I started rocking and head banging so hard that they had to move to the back of the concert to give me some more room to maneuver. Looking back, I figure I went so hard because Paul and I shared the same haircut (I had a bowl cut until I was about 16) and I must have assumed I was catching a glimpse of my future up there on stage. While I didn’t need to be removed this time, I still loved every second of it.

My Flight Instructor’s wife just had a baby so he has been gone for a little over a week so I have been doing every type of approach imaginable in the RedBird Sim.. which has been very helpful actually, but I am ready to start flying again. Everything is coming together, I think, and I still really like Instrument flying. If everything goes according to plan, I will be an Instrument Rated Pilot by December!

This weekend looks to be an interesting one.. the forecast is calling for a Mexican Baby Shower and a County Fair. I am guessing it will be one for the books.. I will report after!

Thank you all for reading and, as usual, post any comments or questions because I would love to hear from all of you 🙂

Love,

Maggie

Just Another Empty Nester

Today was laundry day.

Well, today was the day my laundry got done. Laundry day should have been about three days ago.. but I digress. This should not be a blog worthy story. It should have been a simple, mundane task that took about an hour. But no.

Upon waking up today and deciding it was time to get dressed and welcome the morning, I came to a rather stark realization. I had nothing to wear. Nothing. Usually I have a few pairs of shorts to spare or a shirt or two but (aside from a few dresses and winter jackets.. not sure why I packed the latter when it typically doesn’t get below 65) I had nothing clean but the pajamas I had on. I looked down to see what I was wearing, was not all that impressed, but needed to get to the laundry room so I made a judgement call and began to gather the soap and necessary washing items. As I was doing so, I caught a full length glimpse of myself in the mirror and froze in shock and mild horror. During my previous scan of my outfit, I must have had my eyes closed. I looked a fright. I had on Hobbit Pants (think Lord of the Rings.. moss green felt.. 48 sizes too big), an oversized Larry Bird collectors shirt (#TeamLarryForLife #ThanksDad), and my hair in a bun directly on top of my head.

But my laundry needed to get done.

I opened the door to my room.. made sure there was not a soul in sight.. and ran as fast as I could the 100 yards to the Laundry Room, high stepping over the bug carcasses, while carrying a bag full of clothes that would have rivaled the Grinch’s bag of stolen Christmas Gifts (I watched that movie the other day.. what a classic). Phew. I made it unseen. I threw all of my clothes into one washer, colors and whites be damned, and ran back to my door. I could hardly believe my luck! Not a single person saw me in my Hobbitish glory!

Aaaaand my door was locked.

As I checked my pockets for the 14th time.. I came to the realization that in my haste to run to the Laundry Room, I had left my keys in my dorm. But being the level headed and quick thinker that I am, I decided I had two options. The first was to hide in the communal bathroom for the next 4 months until the semester was over and everybody had left, and the second was to march my little self across campus to Central Housing and get an RA to come unlock my door. After about 10 minutes of listing the pros and cons of both .. sure death by starvation or eternal humiliation were the key contenders.. I decided to go get the key. I also decided that if I looked like I was fine with what I was wearing, then everybody else would not look twice. Fake it till you make it baby! And fake it I did. Twenty minutes and 52 strange looks later, I was safe in my room.. key in hand.. pride only slightly damaged.

These last couple of weeks have been busy ones. All of my flying is starting to become very complex and mentally draining which has led to a significant amount of sleeping and studying, in that order. I shot my first approach a while back and am now about to start ILS approaches as well as ATC Communication (Booo radios!!) to start tying things together. I am still enjoying it and am still having fun although I wouldn’t mind doing an aileron roll or a loop every now and then.

I wore a sweatshirt last night and it was 78 degrees. I am becoming a disgrace to North Idaho. Please forgive me.

Some friends and I were cruising around Douglas one night, trying to find an elusive frozen yogurt shop that I had driven by once but been unable to find again, and we came upon a movie theater. Yes, an honest to goodness movie theater! I haven’t been that excited since I found out that we were having pumpkin cobbler instead of pudding for dessert the previous night! Up until our discovery, we had been driving 45 minutes to the nearest city to go to movies every once and awhile. Albeit, this theater only shows two different movies for a week or so and they aren’t exactly new releases and the times are really all that convenient and there is a perpetual firework on the right side of the screen because the projector is 72 years old but hells bells!! It’s something to do! And on Wednesdays and Thursdays it is only $5 for two people!! Wahooo!! We go hard in Douglas.

On another note, my birds are gone. I knew the day would come, I knew that they had to grow up and literally spread their wings, but I never imagined it would be so hard to emotionally let them go. And I am being one hundred and fifty percent honest when I say that I love my little birds. And that the day I woke up and went to say ‘good morning’ to them, and they were gone.. was easily the worst day I have had down here. I actually almost cried. I know it is irrational and to a very real degree, ridiculous, but they were born around the time I moved down here, and seeing their cute little faces every morning was a constant that I looked forward to and took for granted. One day, two of the four were gone and the next day there was only one. And the following day.. my little nest was completely empty. As mentioned, that was a rough day. I actually called my parents and told them how sad I was, and my daddy mentioned something about that was how he and my momma felt about me leaving .. and that was about the most depressingly beautiful thing I have ever heard. I found it in my heart to try and let them go, but there were four tiny holes where my babies used to be.

But the next day.. there they were! Sitting, waiting for me in the morning again! Fully grown, beautful as ever, except now they could fly. They could fly, but they still came back to me. And maybe that is how life is. You grow up, just enough to be able to be on your own and fly away for a little bit, but then you come back home. Not forever, and maybe not very often, but you know where your heart is because that is where your family is and then for a little bit, everything is okay in the world again and life is as sweet as ever.

If you all thought I was a Crazy Bird Lady before that last paragraph, I shudder to think what you think of me now!

I miss you all and will be better at trying to keep this a weekly Blog.

I would love to hear from you all and if you have any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to comment below or to e-mail me (Maggie.Kirscher@gmail.com).

Maybe it is because it’s late, or maybe it is because I am in a sentimental mood, but I would just like to thank all of you, my family in particular, for creating such a beautifully supportive and loving nest for me to come home to. I love each and every one of you and am so blessed to have you in my life.

 

Love,

Maggie

 

P.S. I would like to give a shout out to the coolest, funniest, sassiest, most beautiful sister and best friend in the entire world.. GRACE KIRSCHER .. for turning 15 on the 11th. I love you Grace, more than you will ever know. 

 

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Above are Todd and I, cruising down some Arizonian Highway, a line of my birds and their friends after they flew away, my last bird to leave the nest, and a happy picture of me. I will try to be better about taking pictures of myself and my activities and my friends.. I just never have a camera on me!

Goodbye for now 🙂

 

 

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!!

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?