Armpits and Alarms


It smells like feet by my bed.


I’ll figure it out later.

Outside talking to Mom on the phone earlier.

You do you, beau.

 In Salem at recruiting event with Shawniece.

Calling to reassure her that I was fine, to disregard my last will and testament that I had sent out earlier in the day. And her and Pop were cracking up. They had never even recieved my alarmist email.

I think it was my bowl of food.

I am on display out here.

Say I’m going to bed and leave the fireside chat.

Come back, clean my face and clean my space, and then settle into bed and reach for my laptop.

And the minute I grab it, Alex is rolling over toward me. He’s the boy’s bed parallel to mine.

And he tells me all about his life- lying on the floor next to me. He was born and lived the frist 10 years of his life in Ukraine, then got adopted by Americans and has lived in Miami for the past 10 years.

Then I say, thirty minutes later, I’m going to read a book now.

I loan him a book and he rolls back to his bed.

Just as Jess and Dre are walking toward me. I can only see their outline because the fire is behind them, and they are casting a shadow over their faces and bodies. There are no lights in the room because we lost power early on in the day due to the storm.

We’re completely over it. I think the biggest surprise to me during this whole adventure has been how little people give a shit. They tell us we have to be prepared for everything, so when things happen everyone just goes about their business like a normal day.

Anyway. Jess says Dre has something to tell me. And Dre says that he’s angry at me. And I can’t take him seriously. And I can’t take him seriously and know he’s joking, but I can’t see his face in the dark and so can’t really tell for sure. Then I see his smiling cheeks rising in a sillouhette against the fire background, and I tell him to fuck off.

And George pats me on the back and I scream at him to stop wiping things on me. As I do everytime he pats my back. You’d think I would learn by now- he really does just pat me on the back a lot. He’s like my little brother, and for some reason really looks up to me. And we’ve been talking about colleges together, and he writes and drinks tea now. But he still farts and is constantly giggling and playing pranks on people.

Then Shawniece and Laura, my girls sleeping on the wall beside me, laugh at all of my company as I’m trying to fall asleep. And I tell them I am on display here, but it’s probably best because if I wasn’t I would be holed up in a corner somewhere not coming out for anyone.

And now I’m going to bed.

Shawniece and I have to write thank you notes and fill out recruiter reports tomorrow at lunch during our 20 minutes of wifi a day. Twenty minutes of the world.

Yesday Shawniece and I went to our recruiter event at the community college, and we interacted with one beautiful soul named Pedro. And then we talked about feminism and race for the next three hours together as we made hopeful eye contact with the busy students running to their finals during the day.

Today I officially ended it with Clint and it did not go well. Well, I guess it did go well. I needed him to be pissed at me for me to be able to do a good job of ending it. And I think I needed to be a bit pissed as well. Last night I went through and read all of Nikki and I’s letters I had typed up online, and I remembered everything I needed to tell myself about why I’ve made the commitment to be single. And that just because someone wants you in their life, and says they need you and only connect with you, does not mean it goes the other way. Or that you should feel obligated to stay in someone’s life in a close way.

Fly free, birds.

Today was a pretty horrible day on the anxiety front.

I hung up Christmas lights with George all morning, and we both screamed over a few giant spiders spanning a fist.

Then I went to help set up a big Christmas tree. That was stressful as they were a million people participating. So I went inside to help with crafts.

Guess what we were doing in there? Decorating little trees.

“Fun” creativity always stresses me out. I don’t want to beat around the bush- tell me what you want me to do, or else let me slap something quick together and go home early.

I ended up being the most creative one with the trees though, and everyone was laughing at my non-team orientedness, my no nonsense self goal oriented style.

Got done fast, and went to help this ranger. Who sends me down to the basement to put boxes away. Again and again. And last time I go, Clint sees me and is like, “Aren’t you wearing the mask? There is black mold down there.”

And I’m like, that makes sense. It smelled so wrong down there, I had tried not to breath it in but thought I was being paranoid.

Well, it turns out I had plenty of time to make up being paranoid. For the rest of the day I was having a mild anxiety attack over black mold, and wrote a rash email to everyone in my family stating my last will and testament.

“I want you to know that I love you!”

We met up as a group after lunch, and the leader asked for a volunteer to take the van on some errands. I volunteered, and Clint volunteered to ride with me, as usual. Probably the last time he will ever do that.

On our way back from the errands I told him I needed us to draw a permanent line between us. And then we saw four or five of the cutest blacktail deer just hanging around and eating shrubs on the side of the road. And walking across the road. They were so much smaller than whitetail deer from back home, and I thought they were all babies at first. They look a lot like donkeys, with that tuft of dark hair on top of their head.

Back to the side trip- Clint and I go and pick up firewood for the cabin for the next week and a half. He slits a few logs of wood with a crazy old park ranger.

We go back to the lodge, driving with the windows open in the fresh Oregon air, and fill up the van with tables. And while we’re inside the lights and power flickers, and then goes out.

We make it back to the main office where the festival is being set up- and the power is out all over the park. It’s all those damn lights. And now we’re falling asleep in a dark house, the fire crackling and dying.

Thankful to be alive. Need to work on my anxiety and taking space for myself. And my convictions, standing behind them with confidence. I know what I want, and I need to take it. I want to be a writer and a traveler.


The rest of the day I talked with Dre, and he was lovely.

Got home and slept, called parents with team leaders cell that gets coverage out here.

Made oatmeal for dinner and ate a bagel. All I’ve had are carbs today, I really need to fix that, but we don’t have any other food- especially with the fridge and the microwaves out.

Then Dre, Tony and Jess came over and sat on the floor by my bed and we talked about purple poop and blueberries.

And then Jess and Dre started rolling around the hall in their sleeping bags- it was hilarious. Tony joined, I abstained.

Then we all sat down by the fire and Carinne and Jess tried to make a fort out of sleeping bags. We also played jenga with the wood blocks and made a statue with them.

Then I went to bed.

Tuesday night we were in Silverton, and I went jogging and then stopped in a sit down Thai restuarant by myself and ordered a sit down meal solo. First time doing that, and will be doing it again. Who says you have to wait for people to join you to enjoy delicious food?

We interviewed the owner of the Mainstreet Bistro and she was lovely and gave us her touching life story.

We got a ride home from the other team, right before that though this beautiful Latina woman- 70 or so- comes up to me and motions to her son’s truck.

“You ride?”

It was so sweet, and our ride had just got here. I communicated that with hand motions, and said muchas gracias. And she came over to shake my hand and I went in for a hug. Then she went over to my team leader, who never touches anyone, and she hugged her as well.

Nik wanted to hang out again but I was happy to tell him no. Less complications the better. And it’s been super nice not having cell service as well. No guilt at missed messages. Just no way I can possibily respond. Let it fade away.

A lot of other things have happened- we are presenting at a deaf high school on Monday for recruiting. We visited on Wednesday to set it up and before we went in Shawniece taught me to say nice

nice to meet you. I signed to the woman we were speaking to, and she was so excited she introduced us to her whole class. And I signed nice to meet them and they all grinned. It’s just like traveling to foreign language countries- the effort is all that is needed. The show of respect, as good as you can. Makes me want to learn more, now. And we’re all just people, and love the connection. Everyone benefits when we overcome fear and the unknown and meet each other in the middle.

Just turned off laptop go to bed, so did George. “A! We even go bed same time!”

He’s across me. We wake up last every morning, 15 minutes before leave. Together no fail. Same minute without alarm.

This morning we had yoga at 6:30 am before we all went to work. I placed myself on a mat in the back of the room, got into child’s pose, and fell asleep on my face for the next 45 minutes while everyone sweated.

Andre and I traded nametags tonight at the event and pretended to be one another. It was really funny.

People were telling me later how he was still being me even when I wasn’t there- he was Annie for a good two hours until he finally broke out of character.

I wear my combat boots with my yoga pants and a leather jacket when I come out of the woods, now.

Today was the last day before the Christmas festival. Tomorrow we will be working at it.

We will be working on it Saturday and Sunday. Then working til Thursday, and driving back to California. On Friday in Cali, we have a full workday out in the fields somewhere, then we end the evening with a four hour cleaning session.

Back to busy.

As if I hasn’t already been busy.

I will miss living out in the boonies, though. It affords you a certain aloof luxury.

Wild card.

I’ve decided to withgo a shower tonight.

“Every woman has breasts and thighs and hair in her armpits; I see them as black curling flowers; THeir legs are strong and hairy, men do not force them to shave; here they do not alter animals or their passions.” -Claire Rabe, Sicily Enough

Jess’s inspirational quote at the beginning of the workday today, read out of her book.


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