Saturday, February 11, 2017

Welcome back

We meet again. Here on this screen where I ramble about my life and you read. I express anxieties, excitements, motivations, opinions, and plans, and you use these words to mold your picture of who I am. Welcome back, you've chosen a good day to read, at least I think you have.

So I suppose I should catch you up. Since I last wrote I chose Oklahoma as my next frontier. I
started a new job, in a new brewery, with new amazing people. I made friends, borrowed a comical car, made guacamole, and practiced a lot of yoga. I wore heels and borrowed my aunt's shirt for an interview. I got two job offers and accepted one. I bought a plane ticket and designed a 10 day itinerary down the west coast and back inland.

There is this quote (apparently a yiddish proverb) about making plans, and I think it applies to my life most appropriately. "We make plans, God laughs."

Yeah, He's funny, that guy. I guess when I say "I'm just trying this out to see what happens," He says, "Alright, you ready for an adventure? Something weird? Something you didn't expect? That's what will happen." So far His intervention has led me down some amazing and unexpected roads, and I anticipate the same going forward.

So there you go, questions? Yes, I thought you may have a few.

Oklahoma? My cousin got married here so I flew down for the wedding, my other cousin and aunt convinced me to stay for a while.

The Brewery? COOP Ale Works. I got a job by sending them an email with the subject line "Queen of the Keg Wash" It was silly, I thought I'd never hear from them. They asked me to come in the Monday after the wedding. I was paid in beer and t-shirts and then hired part-time.

The job? OU Medical Center Adult Emergency Department Nurse, Full-Time Nights. It's a teaching hospital, the only Trauma 1 in Oklahoma, and part of my next adventure.

The road trip? You'll see.


There you have it. Funny the directions life moves in. Funny how you don't get things you want because something better is on the horizon. And let me tell you, the horizons in Oklahoma are extensive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Twenty Three

Today marks the end of my 23rd year. A year I was told would be boring, and lame, a year where no one takes you seriously but everyone expects you to be an adult. 23 was supposed to be a bad year because "too many transitions," and "nobody likes you."

Me and a Kiwi shortly after my birthday

I didn't intentionally fight these claims about 23. In fact, I may have agreed with this perspective at some points during the year. But looking back, everything I did flew in the face of these ideas. 23 has been the best year of my young life- not coincidentally it may have also been the hardest. 

My 23rd birthday was spent with people who were complete strangers only two weeks earlier, in a country where I knew no one except them, and was wholly reliant on their generosity (which was abundant). 

I jump-started my 23rd year when I boarded a bus headed for a sulfur scented city; I found myself in a hostel dorm room sharing a bottle of wine and a can of jalapeño Pringles with a dutch woman enjoying her five week vacation. From here 23 became what the article linked above claims 23 cannot be. 

At 23 I abseiled in to a cave and spent 5 hours among glow worms and cave eels. At 23 I asked a stranger to climb a volcano with me. At 23 I house-sat for perfect strangers and drove on the left side of the road. I moved in to a hostel at 23 and shared a room with 5 strangers for 2 months. I joined a soccer team at 23, I bought a car and slept in it at road-side rest areas. I worked a job I had been previously denied 3 times and joined a church. At 23 I hiked trails on mountains, hills, farmlands, and beaches, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. At 23 I read 29 books. At 23 I faced countless rejections for jobs and even more acceptance by strangers, friends, family, and coworkers. I walked on freshly solidified lava fields and gazed upon constellations I had never seen. At 23 I said my last goodbye to my sweetest of friends. I moved 5 times at 23, sometimes to new cities and towns, and often back to familiar faces.  


23 sometimes felt overwhelming, lonely, and painful. I discovered characteristics within myself I had no clue I was capable of. And even though I didn't always love my life, it remains the best year I've ever had.

Since I've committed to the business of exceeding my own expectations I intend to stay the course for 24. For those of you who read these jumbled words of nonsense, rest assured, I will keep you informed on what exactly that course turns out to be, just the moment I know it.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Forgotten words

I came across this post I apparently forgot to finish writing. It was titled, "People who make a Difference." I've been in Washington for almost 2 weeks and out of New Zealand for over 2 months. Finding these forgotten words was a cool reminder of how I was feeling in June and why I'm here now.
Before you read, check out this super cool picture from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately, as I tend to do. I've been thinking over what it would be like to leave Nelson, who I would say goodbye to and what I would be thinking while I left. I've imagined the last conversations I'll have with the important people I've met and the final views of the city I've loved. When I picture these moments and how I will feel I start to freeze. It starts at my diaphragm and moves down to my toes and up in to my cheeks.

It feels like getting a hug from every person who's impacted me while simultaneously watching them disappear in to memory. I hold in my chest the warmth their kindness has given me, but know I will fade in to a figure of the past. I miss this place intensely and I haven't gone yet.

I'll miss sitting in a burger king stealing internet to write these posts. I'll miss going to work at 6am to wash kegs and ending an afternoon shift with a cold beer and warm conversation. I'll miss cleaning for my friend who has been a compassionate and steady listener. I'll miss sitting in the lobby of a hostel learning Japanese from my good friend, and I'll miss sitting around a table of foreigners all smoking their expensive cigarettes while we converse about life abroad. Lonely hikes up hidden mountains on my days off are something I hope I can replicate somewhere else, but hearing someone say "sweet as" is a luxury only meant for kiwis.

No, I don't want to leave, but I know I can't stay.



By the way, this was my final view of Nelson as I left:


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Alex


When we got Alex from the SPCA he had developed Kennel cough. I remember sitting on the floor of our kitchen holding his head in my lap and making promises to God. I told God that if He let Alex live then I'd do everything I could to give him the best life a dog could possibly have.*

Luckily dogs don't hold grudges, or get mad and your shortcomings. They never question your choices, even when they get the short end of the stick. They just want you, because you're their pack. You're all they have, and you are the best thing in their world. They feel loved just being near you.

For 13 years Alex desperately wanted to be near us. I remember hiding things he had chewed up in our absence because I was afraid mom wouldn't take his destructive neediness anymore. She loved him though; even if it took her a while to admit it.  
For 13 years he would sit by me every time I was sad. He would tolerate me trying to snuggle him and taking impromptu naps on him. He would listen to me try to learn guitar, sing loudly around the house, and complain about whatever life crisis was happening at the time. He would get excited every time I came home after an extended absence, and he would hesitantly watch me pack while he knew I'd be leaving again. 

For 13 years he'd forgive me for not putting him first when all he knew about life was how to put his pack first. 

Alex was more than a good dog, he was a sweet soul. He was what I needed most on bad days and what I loved most about good ones. He was a companion, my unique friend, and a constant reminder that an answered prayer can be so much more than you intended or imagined.


Alex Klansek
November 2003- October 26, 2016





*I also asked God to spare our cat Oscar until the second coming, but He must have thought that request was a little less reasonable. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Westward bound

Oh hey internet, I’m back with updates and visuals! 

Turns out I didn’t really feel like blogging while I was home, but here I am in the car heading westward, bringing you news of my excursions. 

I was in Indiana for a little over a month going between a recently crippled mother* in Bluffton and my former home city of Indianapolis. The vast majority of that time was spent sitting on couches, beds, floors, chairs, counters, and passenger seats, re-connecting with friends and family. I didn’t do anything more exciting than eat a vast array of cuisines and excessive sitting. If you thought I looked like I lost weight when I came home from New Zealand, then don’t worry, I have been well fed. The good news is that the majority of my sitting and eating was in the company of loved ones. 

I would tell you all about my time home, but some things can't be accurately explained with words. It was fun, it was sad, it was exciting, it was packed, it was needed, 

Currently I am sitting in the back of my vehicle while my good pals Abby and Amanda lead us westward through Wyoming. Today’s adventure began in Sioux Falls South Dakota 

and led us through the Badlands and it’s unique rock formations. 

From the Badlands we ventured to Mount Rushmore to gaze upon our four largest former presidents 

 and then one, lone, extremely large, and unfinished monument of Chief Crazy Horse. The monument is the largest project of it’s type in the world and was started in 1948. 

I thought Indiana had wide-open skies, Wyoming is a whole other animal. So far so flat, but different from Indiana in that instead of fields of food we have nothing but plains. In the distance I see a bumpy horizon and am holding out hope for a more scenic drive to come. Anyhoo, off to Seattle so start over again. This time in to the gracious arms of my aunt and uncle instead of total strangers, but still just as exciting. More to come.  



*surgically crippled, she’s fine

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wider Skies

I have been in Indiana for about two weeks now. Those two weeks seem like a blur of faces, experiences, and conversations. How do you sum up 9 months of what you saw, did, learned, and changed? How do you answer the question "How was it?"

What is "it"? my flights? my travels? my friends? my job? my car? my hikes? my books? my experience?

It was amazing, more than I could have ever asked for. It was living in a new place, with new people. It was normal, every-day experiences in foreign places. It was sharing space with strangers. It was learning different ways to cook, dress, act, speak, and think. It was comfortable, and right. It was sad and sometimes and felt heavy. It was uplifting and different than anything I'd ever known. It resembled everything I wanted, with the features of everything I was afraid to have. It was nothing I expected and everything I dreamed. It was natural, it made sense. It was independent. It was so much gain and occasionally loss. It was life.

Now that I'm back I find myself looking up a lot. The sky here is so wide. I stand outside gazing at the Indiana sky and it goes on forever. I love mountains, in fact I prefer them, but there is something to be said for a sky with no obstructions. Here we are surrounded by an unregulated competition between sky and field to continue on endlessly, and sometimes it's hard to tell who wins.



Life happens wherever you go, whether you live under wide open skies or in the land of the long white cloud. It was amazing being away, it's amazing to appreciate what was here all along, it will be amazing to discover new and strange places. Life is consistent in that every beat of your heart indicates you're still living it, but you control the variation in landscapes and which skies you chose to dwell beneath. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Leaving

As many of you are already aware I have made my exit from New Zealand. I boarded a plane at 8:55pm on September 2nd and landed in Honolulu at 7:35am on September 2nd. The opportunity to re-live a day of your life- and in a different country- comes around rarely so I took full advantage. 
My first act upon reaching American soil? Sweating. Profusely. HELLO SUMMER.*

I should try to summarise my last bit of time in New Zealand, but honestly there is just too much to say. I will however, tell you that my last week was spent looping around the north island with a couple of fantastic friends who gave me an excellent excuse to spend my final week retracing some steps and creating new ones. 

Everyone keeps asking me how it feels. People want to know if I'm sad or excited, or what the last few days were like for me. I didn't have much time to think about how I felt until I was on the plane, and it wasn't until the plane started moving down the runway that I realised I was leaving. I told myself countless times I would be leaving, but my right brain refused to believe my left brain until the evidence was undeniable. 

My first real home away from home. The place where I learned I can live whatever life I want, however I want not only because I am capable, but because the world is home to many kind and generous people who want to see others succeed. The country I entered knowing no one and then exited with family. The cities and towns with adventure on the periphery and immense kindness in the centre. I spent 8 months allowing myself to be uncomfortable, discovering my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned there is a time to stay silent and a time to speak. A time to be alone and a time to bring someone along. A time to rest and a time to explore. I realised there is never time to be offended, and always an opportunity to learn and love. I made friends from countries with completely different cultures, and discovered what different nationalities think and believe about the country I come from. I discovered a view of the world I would never have been given, I had to find it myself.


Above is an attempt at a summarising video of my 8 months in New Zealand. So much is left out, partially because I can't fit it all, but also because some experiences can't be shared. If you want the experience you must have it yourself. If it is fear that stands in your way, then I pray you will have courage. If it is people, then I pray you will have wisdom. If it is circumstance I pray you will have freedom. 


*I know, it's not technically summer in Hawaii, but it was 87ºF (Roughly 30℃) and this is my blog so I say what I want.