Flying, Fear and Freedom

So I made it to Sacramento, California to begin my journey in AmeriCorps National Civilan Community Corps (NCCC).

I conquered my fear or flying, and don’t really know what to make of myself now that that integral part of my daily thought is gone.

I met Dave the other night!

We had to group up by state, and he’s like, “Wait, are you ANNIE!?”

And he said his friend, the banker, had took a picture of my information and sent it to him.

He’s from Hillsboro, and I asked him if he knew a family. He does, he went to high school with my first boyfriend.

Crazy shit.

Then- this girl I met on the ride from the airport to the airforce base, she was on all my flights with me. She noticed me the whole time as I paced and chewed gum like a crazy person- and then talked to me when we finally got there. She’s from De Soto.

I have a lot to tell about my flight here…

So I went through the x-ray machine in KCI at 6:40 am (by the way met a fellow Kansas member there that morning) and it went off. I had nothing on me, but they said it was every tenth person or something. They had to swab my hands, and put it in a machine. So weird.

Well, I passed. And when I got through, it only took an extra minute, but they were calling last call for my flight, and yelling my name over the intercom. “Last call for Sacramento!”

I ignored it the first time, that couldn’t be right. I just got in line! But then they call out last call again, and I freaked out because I was nowhere near my gate. I tell the closest gate I’m on my way, and then I RUN to my gate.

I get there out of breath and on fire. They put my through, and I get on the plan. THE LAST ONE TO GET ON on a plane with 200+ people. There was an empty seat right up front, and I sat down next to the guy who I later find out was the second one on the plane.

I settle into my songs and my xanax and am quite proud of myself and thankful for the airline for waiting for me.

We take off, and I barely feel it go into the air. That feeling that I’ve been dreading for so long. It’s actually exciting rather than terrifying.

Getting close to San Diego, the pilot calls the steward and then comes out of the cockpit and goes into the bathroom while the steward slips up into the cockpit. Very strange, never seen that before, but it makes sense why it would happen.

He comes out of the bathroom right in front of me, which about ¾ the plane used on a three hour flight, he’s this really young, hot pilot and he’s laughing with the stewardess and joking about the fog going into San Diego and how he can’t do it with a full bladder.

And then we land, and the windows go foggy for a few whole minutes as we go straight through it, and I trust the pilot with his touchy bladder. I trust, and I say, bring it on.

As we’re landing the guy next to me starts talking to me. He’s going to Portland for a trial, whether he’s putting on the trial or being put on it I do not ask. He’s a world traveler in his sixties- been all over, telling me everything. His kids teaching English in various countries around the world.

His name is Doe and he’s from downtown KC.

He had the best engaging smile, and I loved talking to him. He never asked questions about me, just told stories. Which I preferred that day.

Said goodbye, and good luck.

Landed in San Diego, and my flight was cancelled. All the flights in the area, San Francisco, Portland, etc were cancelled, and I had a momentary freak out, five minutes tops, and wondered about the weather. Then I just went and sat at my gate. And wondered about people and ate omelets, decaf coffee, orange juice and chewed gum as a past time for three hours.

Sweet woman in the bathroom and I bonded over the paper towel dispenser, and I was reminded how much I fucking love people, that it almost made me cry. And I knew I was on the right path, and I could handle waiting all day for this plane if I had to.

And then when I got on the plane, putting my luggage on the overhead, my waterbottle fell off my backpack and onto a lovely old man’s head. It was mostly empty, so it didn’t fall hard, but I felt so bad, and instinctively put my hand on top of his head and asked how he was. Patting his head as I finished stuffing my luggage above. It was funny if it wasn’t tragic. A bit of  both. I apologized again when we were in baggage claim after the plane ride, and he was all smiles and didn’t even remember it.

Driving from the airport to the airforce base it was pure desert. Dust dust dust. We saw the city in the distance, then we went the opposite direction of the city. That was a bit tragic as well. But I was down for whatever. When we got there, it was quite literally barracks. And that is where we will live for the next year on and off. It’s quite humbling and will be very zen inducing once I clear my head of preconceived California beach house notions.




Seven year olds should not have had enough life experience to be able to act like professional salesmen by that age.

I’m at the Starbucks a mile away from our campus, and a little boy just walked up to asking for donations and selling calendars. There are about six kids in the store right now, Starbucks people all gave them water like them knew them. They easily turned away when you said no thanks like they were expecting it. I’m pretty sure they are homeless or close. I didn’t realized it at the time, and wish I had fished out a few dollars. Heart wrenching. I have never experienced living in a place like this before. I don’t know how to feel.

Just walking here, I walked on a different side of the road, and stumbled upon a vacant lot that had beds and trash piles and looks like a lot of people live there. It’s about half a mile from my home. One person was messing around in the trash piles and just stared at me. I think he was about my age. I will be walking on the other side of the road from now on.

Last night we took the train into downtown Sacramento, and had to walk a mile to the train station. We thought we’d be fine at night, we were a big group of about 10 people and there was a sidewalk along the road and looked like it was a straight shot there.

Turns out the sidewalk disappeared when we got to the bridges, and we had to take a side route through a bunch of trees and palm trees blocking all signs of light. And once we passed that we had to cross a bunch of busy streets and then headed down the steep narrow steps to the train station. Which was equally uncomfortable. There were only six or so people down there, and some of them looked like they might live there.

We got on the bus and two women got on at the next stop, one of them bursting into spontaneous singing about fifteen cents for paradise and how she is in love with Mary J Blige.

We walked around downtown Sac and saw painted purple and blue trees and a really cool sculpture in the middle of the road that had ruins from all different cultures piled on top of one another and the words: What Have We Wrought across the bottom. And other ominous phrases on other variations of the sculpture throughout the middle of the road.

Just the middle of the road. No idea. Kinky town. I liked it.

We walked up to the capitol building and messed around with a couple attempting to get into the capitol. They were from Portland, and we told them that we were all couch surfing and met last night. And then Colin whipped out his badge and told them we were actually government employees and do you want his badge for five dollars.

Ended up at a bar and these two guys came up to Colin and I, whom I had just met an hour ago, and started calling him glasses. And then telling us we looked like we were from fucking Oregon. And when I told them I was from Kansas they cursed Bill Self for a good five minutes. They continued to say, “You don’t know who we are. We’re drunk, but we’re really important people. We’ve got real jobs!” Then they proceeded into homophobic and anti-semitic jokes which is when the party ended and we turned around in our seats.

On the train ride home a group of people got on with red glow in the dark sex toys and were screaming and yelling about how many balls they had. They were all women.

And, thank god, my roommate and my teammate have both showed up at the Starbucks as well. So we can navigate home together. Or at least know that we are not completely crazy for walking here in the first place.

Starbucks, you never looked so good.

I really like my roommates- I have two and I’m on the top bunk so I never get in bed except to pass out immediately these days.

I really don’t have a space of my own to just sit and think. I sit in the middle of our room, because it’s so much work to climb up on my bed as it’s really high and army style and no guard rails or ladders.

I’ve been a bit overstimulated with people lately. I am very polarized in dealing with people- I either want them all the time or I want just my alone time. And I think I forgot these past few days how much I love being alone. And it was wearing on me, but I was not feeling confident enough to just sit by myself. But this morning I was.

We made breakfast and lunch at 7 am this morning as that’s the only time we get to use the kitchen during the day, and then after that I went and sat in the sun in the practice field. Propped my head up on my sweater, put my massive headphones on, stretched out in my yoga pants and tank top (a welcome relief from the uniforms we’re wearing daily now— belly button high pants and shirts tucked in with belt. Terrifying- but we’re all doing it so you kind of forget about it after awhile.) and I looked up at the eternally clear blue sky, felt the cold pavement under me and the dry air that feels like you’re floating compared to Midwest humidity.

And I realized that this is exactly where I want to be. I am so alone- and this is what I love. It’s very strange, I can’t explain it, but I love it. I love having people to write home to and visit, but I love that I don’t know anyone here and no one knows me.

I looked up at a bird that had perched above me, and had some shift occur inside of me. And I stopped worrying about getting wifi and text messages and staying up to date and saving all my writing on my computer immediately. And I decided that I am just going to have a complete retreat year. I’m going to change a lot, I can already feel that. I’m not sure how I will change, and that’s what I love most. I trust myself though, and I decided then and there that I will follow through with the “roughing it” philosophy. Not just think it in a new age buddhist “I read this book” way, but I actually have a chance to do it this year. I actually don’t really have a choice. I’m off the grid.

I think probably the only time I’ll be able to blog is weekends, unfortunately. If then. We have a 5:30am to 9 pm schedule weekly for the next month, and we are on call during the evening and weekends as well. So have to stay close by, but I want to get to San Francisco in the next few weeks after I settle in.

One of the girls on my team is really into meditation, another teaches yoga, another is going to volunteer at the planned parenthood down the street with me on weekends, one of the guys is from here, another is ever smiling, another is a pacifist and then there is a guy who was born in Romania and a girl from NYC. We have 12 people on my team and my team leader just got back from four months of camping and trail building in Alaska. She’s super quiet and dependable and vegetarian.

There are 4/12 vegetarians on our team. And 3/12 dairy free. Very lucky for me.

We’re all going to eat cheap and healthy, and workout daily at 5:30 am in the dark with the stars. Yesterday we went on a Ladder Run with a soccer ball in the dark early hours, moon shining. Then we do breakfast right afte.r

They are saying that these 12 people we’re with will become our best friends, our world for the next ten months. It’s strange to think about, but I’m sure it’s true. We have a lot in store for us, and we’re all going to have this unique experience together. I’m really happy to be here, and really inspired by most people that I’m meeting. Everyone here is genuinely internally motivated, and loving oriented.

It’s odd. I don’t think I’ve ever been around people my age like this before. I identify with them, but I am not used to being able to express that part of my personality in public.

We’re just going to do something this year.

And we’re headed to the redwoods in the next few weeks. They are throwing us in the woods with just our team members for a whole weekend so we can get used to “us and only us” mentality.

My team is very outgoing as well, and I’m sure we’ll meet locals wherever we go. We already met so many people last night. A good half of us went out together, and we all seem to get along rather well. No one is instant best friends, everyone is just slowly and nicely warming up to each other. In a very awkward and robotic like way that is surprisingly working.



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