Monday, August 25, 2014

A Year Away from Alaska in Sunny California

Though I've lived away from Alaska before while I was attending school in Portland, there was something different about living away this time around. Last June, Alton and I moved to Carlsbad, California, which is about 30 minutes north of San Diego. I don't know if it was California, the fact that I was working and not going to school, less visits back home, not feeling my move was justified, or if it's simply that I'm older and feel the need and responsibility to be at home in Alaska near my family. Whatever it was, there was something different about living away this time around...

Don't get me wrong, living in sunny California was pretty awesome, and the phrase "sunny California" couldn't be put a better way. It was almost too sunny, if that's possible. I always explain to people how much I missed the rain and how, once it's sunny everyday, you don't appreciate clear skies anymore. It's just like oh whoopee another sunny day. When it rained, I don't think I've ever been more happy for the rain. Now that I'm back in Alaska, I'm back to being a tiny bit sick of the rain and a lot more appreciative for sunshine and nice days.

So, just to name a few, here are some things I missed about living in Alaska:

1. Coffee stands - Starbucks doesn't have, for lack of a better phrase, s**t on Alaska's small coffee stands that seem to be more common in Anchorage than the Starbucks you find everywhere in the lower 48. These places make amazing Americanos for $2.00 so how could I ever appreciate a mediocre $4.00 Starbucks Americano?!

2. The rain - maybe not the rain itself, cause I hate how when it rains I have to clean my glasses every time I step outside, but nothing can replace the smell and feeling in the air after it rains hard, not to mention the beautiful sound of the rain. This morning I laid in bed for a good hour before getting up just cuddling and listening to the rain - it was magical.

3. Traffic - yes, Alaskan drivers may suck, but try having a mix of California drivers and tourists traveling at all times of the day. There was literally not one time the highway was empty. And not to mention how when it rains there, it's just like the first snow fall in Anchorage, you have your mix of idiots who don't know what to do and the ones who think they are invincible. I can now fully appreciate Anchorage's rush hour traffic.

4. Basketball - hehe call me a village kid but not once did I play a real game of basketball in California, besides a couple scrimmages here and there. I missed the open gyms and the tournaments that are definitely unique to Alaska, especially for women. So this fall I'm looking forward to getting back on the court with you ladies, you know who you are!

5. Friends - as an adult, out of school, it's so hard to meet other people in a new place. I think if I hadn't been going to school in Portland, I would've been in the same boat as we were in  California. We knew one other person there, and I cannot be more thankful to have had a friend like her there. And though I did have family and friends visit, it wasn't the same. Just knowing you are a drive away from your aunt, or your best friend, makes a difference. The comfort of being close to your closest people just isn't the same as still being able to talk to them everyday (thank you technology)... and last but definitely most important...

6. My family - Probably the largest reason I moved back was them, my whole heart. Not to make them feel guilty or anything, but I really believe what my mother left behind for us was something that's completely irreplaceable and special. The bond I feel to especially my dad and brothers, along with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., is something I learned to appreciate living away and that it might be too strong to live that far away from them. Sure some people might think that's a sign of weakness, but they are one of my greatest strengths. The fact that I was missing out on snowboarding with my brother, or watching my baby brother play basketball, or being there to see my dad get inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame, tore me apart.

While I'm happy to be back, I'll admit there are things about California I'm going to miss. I'll miss walking outside to a warm car, putting my gym stuff on and walking 30 seconds to our gym or going running, the beach, hot tubbing at any time of day or night, and even the endless sunshine. I know once winter hits I might miss living there, but for now, I'm so happy to be back home and have no desire to live there again, even as I look outside to a gloomy, intermittently rainy day. My family is my world and I wouldn't trade a thing to be far from them.

Alton & I at the beach we lived a couple of miles from, Carlsbad State Beach
One of two pools at our apartment - the pool was great, hot tub even better!
We spent a lot of time at this basketball court less than a mile from our house.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Love Always. And Love Hard.

Following the loss of a loved one, your life changes... you change. You never fully realize how big of a part a person plays in your life until you lose them. You go through emotions you've never felt before, through things that no one should have to go through. But it's all apart of life, God wouldn't give you anything you couldn't handle.

I lost my mother, also my best friend, at the age of 24 on June 12, 2012. It's unfair, but it's a fact that life's not fair. I can be thankful I had her for 24 amazing years. My mom was the rock of our family, as many mothers are in other families. She was a person who just radiated with love. She was nice to everyone, knew how to forgive without a second thought, and gave herself fully to those around her, not just her family. She was definitely the most selfless person I know. She made people feel comfortable and appreciated, and opened our home to anyone and everyone. She might've left too soon in our eyes, but that's not up to us. I know she left knowing we would be okay and that we had each other.

I'm blessed to have what we do. I now remain the only girl in our family, with three amazing guys at my side. I have a father who loves us all so unconditionally, who wants the best for us and wants to give us more than he had. I have two little brothers who are probably the best little brothers anyone could ask for. I know that's said a lot, but really, I wouldn't trade 'em for the world. They're so sweet in their own ways. I have grandparents and aunts and uncles, along with much more family and friends, who I'm truly thankful to have. I am blessed with the family I was born into.

Though I lost a loved in 2012, I gained a loved one. A special person came into my life not long before it happened and I wouldn't have made it through the toughest time of my life without him. He didn't have to do what he did, but just as my mother was selfless, so was he in giving his life to help me and get mine back together. I owe him everything. He's made me a better person as my mother did, and I couldn't be more happy with our life and what he's done for me.

It's been nearly 9 months since I lost her, and I've come to realize this is going to be a life long journey. It's amazing how a person can make you yourself a better person, and its upsetting to lose that person. Sometimes I feel lost without her and as if I'm not doing the right thing. I know I'm not being as good as I could be, and I know I make one too many mistakes. However, I have hope with the support I have that I'll make it and learn to be a good person without her here physically, cause deep down I know she'll always be here with me. I'm going to miss her when I get married, when I have kids, the next time I get a haircut and want to show her... always and every day for the rest of my life.

I may not be in a position to give advice, I know I should take my own. What I'm about to say is said all the time, but I couldn't mean it more when I say...

Love hard, especially those who love you
Embrace forgiveness, you don't want bitter feelings eating at you forever
Don't take anything for granted
Cherish every single moment, as you could be gone in the next
Last but not least, everything happens for a reason. I always thought so, but really, it does.

Always remember those. It all comes down to love and everything it entails. Love others, love yourself, act with love. To those of you who have been here for me forever and especially through the past year, thank you.

My beautiful mother in high school:

When my mom surprised me in Kotzebue to support me as I ran for Miss Arctic Circle:

The angel that sits at the spot she laid to rest:

Our family and loved ones at her Unalakleet service:

Well, I suck at this...

I realize I am terrible at blogging. It's been nearly two years since I posted anything, and wow has life changed. Since 2011, I've experienced a lot that has allowed me to learn so much. I'm holding my 2nd job since the last time I blogged, I've lost a loved one, I've gained a loved one, I gained weight, I've lost even more, and I've seen parts of the world I never saw before. All the while I've made a living in Anchorage, had some bad times, had some good times. Bottom line, I have drastically changed my life for the better through this process and look forward to the future as a changed person and what it holds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Aana's Graduation

My grandma (aana) is one of the most inspiring and selfless people I know. She lives by what she preaches, and she is a true leader who, by her words in a speech to us at the Emerging Leaders Dialogue, is in it as a service to the people. She served on the Alaska Redistricting Board this year and is the President/CEO of NANA Regional Corporation... and all while doing this, she completed her Master's in Rural Development at UAF.

I attended her graduation and was so happy to be apart of it. I'm so proud of the person she is and what she has accomplished in her life, coming from not having much and becoming a single mother at the age of 18 with my beautiful mother. She's a great role model to myself and many other young leaders, and I'm proud to call her my aana and be named after her, both my middle name Marie and my Eskimo name Kasannaaluk.

My aana & I after her graduation

My aana - Master's degree graduate of UAF

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring Time in Unalakleet

Spring time... it's my favorite! At least in Bush Alaska. Bird hunting, crabbing, ice fishing, emperatures are warmer, there's still snow, you can still ride snowmachines on the snow and on the water. It's just a happy time for me :) I went home to Unalakleet for my dad's birthday and Mother's Day; it was perfect timing, though it was a little early for the birds.

Out bird hunting, I didn't shoot anything, but I was completely content with life, sitting in the blind out on the flats. My dad was a "stay at home dad" when I was little (fished in the summers), so he took me where ever he went. Bird hunting in our family has been more than providing - it's bonding and spending quality time with each other without the distraction of Western technology (despite the fact that we have fun with our snowmachines and enjoy the water skipping portion of hunting). I love it and it will forever be my one of my favorite past times.

I also got to help my dad check their crab pots which they keep out from the time there's ice in the ocean until the spring. This is for subsistence purposes. In some of the pictures you can see Unalakleet right behind us, that's how close we are to town! It's a bountiful land that'll forever be home.

My brothers and I heading to the blind with our snowmachines

Here's my dad & I heading out when I was little with our hunting dog Jabbar

Crane flying over Unalakleet

My baby brother sitting in our blind

My dad, brothers Keoni & Gage, and little cousin Kanayaq pulling crab pots from the ice

My brothers & I with the crab we got from two pots

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arctic Man 2K11! 26th Annual!

In Alaska, people anticipate this event all year. Snowmachiners, snowboarders, skiiers, partiers... everyone ready to have some fun, let loose, watch some good ol' action on snow. About 10-12,000 people attend every year, all camping out on one pad below the Hoodoo Mountains by Summit Lake, Alaska.

The race starts at the "Tit", where the skiier or snowboarder heads down the mountain. Then they hook up to their teammate who is on a snowmachine, who takes them for part of the track, and near the end the skiier releases off the tow rope and heads down the mountain. It's a five mile course, with the record running around 4 minutes to make it down.

Our crew headed up early Thursday and was there the entire weekend until Sunday afternoon. I'm well worn out, my body sore from riding (snowmachine) and snowboarding on Friday and Saturday, and very tired from the lack of sleep. It was definitely one of the most epic weekends I've had in my entire life, but I am very glad it only comes once a year! Party on Wayne!

Arctic Man racers:

Nina & I excited to be there! Coincidentally stopped outside the Trooper station:

Me at the top of the Tit getting ready to board down:

My crazy friend Lou havin fun in the amazing snow:

Excited to head up to the mountain!:

Only the greatest crew aka Team Imiq!:

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Haven't Tried Crab Until You've Tried Norton Sound King Crab

So I had a post earlier on checking crab pots on/through the ice, now here's the product! I normally don't like crab, but I'll make an exception for this crab. It's super sweet, juicy, and is just different from any king crab you'll ever taste! We even eat the bellies, which have a different texture than the rest of the meat. Most people throw them away, but you're missing out on crab's best kept secret! In the winters, crab migrate toward the shore in the winter & mate in the spring. So, we have our pots set about a mile from town, if that. Can you say yum? We later made seafood chowder & crab cakes.