My Journey’s Blog

I started this blog on Google Blogger and am now in the process of transferring those blogs to this site.  Today I joined the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.  The membership comes with a website and blog.  I plan to take full advantage of those benefits.  I hope that you enjoy my blog and feel free to leave feedback.  Try not to be too mean to me.

 

Distinctive Guest up until now – originally Published 11/16/13

Other then the Alex kid, Arron and that family which are previously mentioned, many interesting people have been in and out of the hostel.  These are in no specific order.  Just as I think of each.

Geno:

I feel Geno deserves special credit.  Comet hates him for no perceivable reason.   I feel so bad.  Geno is so nice.  He is 21, polite, follows rules and helps out.  He keeps to himself because my psycho dog barks like a crazed lunatic whenever he is around.  I’ve squashed some of the barking with a water and vinegar mix (a magic trick that helps with excessive barking).  However, Comet still growls and acts like Geno is a puppy killer.  Comet is a good dog but has loose screws.

Brian:

Brian is another person that Comet hates.  However, I cannot blame Comet on this one.  Brian is no longer here but I’m sure a return would be marked with Comet’s complaints.  The reason for Comet’s hate is because one day we were all sitting in the common area watching television and I found a bug crawling on my hand.  I screamed as the bug startled me.  Brian came to the rescue by hitting the bug with his shoes.  Now Brian is a big guy and a former Marine.  His shoes are probably not much lighter then Comet.  Comet was sitting on my lap, as normal and logically thought the shoes was being swung at him.  Comet responded by jumping behind the couch and barking madly.  Poor dog.

Otherwise, Brian was a perfectly nice guy.  He drove me to a diner in Bellingham and to the store.  He had interesting stories and was reasonably nonjudgmental.  Brian was terrible at cleaning up after himself but he was a sweet guy so he is forgiven.

brian

A picture of Brian.

Richard:

Richard was a guy who came to the hostel because he was turned away at the Canadian border because he smelled of alcohol.  He claims it had been at least 2 hours since he drank.  He was held in a cell for 24 hours.  Which explains my fear of the Canadian border.

Richard eventually left and was able to go over the border.  On his way back he stopped and checked in.  He also came to pick up his backpack that he left with me.  While he was here he carved this pumpkin and made it look almost disturbingly like Comet.  I will add pics later.

Comet Pumkin                comet

Kind of creepy no?

Laura and Jim:

Laura and Jim are awesome.  They are both Engineers with PhDs.  Laura is a freelancer like me.  They are kind of health nuts but that’s probably a good thing.  We had many conversations.  They left a day or two earlier then they should because of DS.  I miss them.

Robert #1:

Robert #1 went by Bob…so I will call him Bob.  He was here before me with the previous assistant manager.  I guess he and the previous assistant manager were dating and they fought like crazy.  Bob came with a fairly quiet teenager named Chris.  I actually liked both of them.  Bob drove me to the grocery store, cooked us all an amazing diner, was sometimes funny (sometimes his jokes were in bad taste) and fairly helpful.  He told me a lot of things that probably are not true like that Ken was supposed to pay me and that Ken was stealing from the hostel but he was pleasant.  He made promises to help DS’s family fix a car and promises to do many things but snuck away one early morning and left without paying his rent for the week.  Very bad form.

Robert #2:

Robert was a totally different drama.  He was dropped off here and while I did not get the full story until later, here is the reason.  Robert is a Native American (his race will become significant later) who at 17 was in a bad wreck.  The wreck damaged his brain and he had to learn how to walk and talk again.  He was clearly off.  He was being dropped off because he was a burden on his family and he had attacked his sister.  He had a court date in late October (maybe early November) and nobody wanted to watch after him.

He teased poor Comet which immediately made me dislike him.  I also have a fear of mentally disabled people as I was molested by one when I was 12.  He made inappropriate comments like saying that the hummus I made looked like cum and kept asking the women who lived in the hostel to go to bed with him.  Including Delores who is 65.  He hit on my volunteers and would make people very uncomfortable.  He played with DS a lot and seemed to fine with her.

Honestly, I could have refused to let him stay.  In fact, DS’s mother and grandmother thought I should have refused him service.   They insisted that I move him upstairs and away from DS’s room.  I moved him mostly because I put him in a dorm room with Brian and Robert snored so loud that Brian didn’t get sleep.  However, I refuse to discriminate based on mental disabilities.  I refuse to discriminate based on what someone might do.  I feel that is right up there with discriminating based on race, sexual orientation, gender, age and religion.  I wont do it nor will I knowingly be a part of someplace that does.

Robert did get kicked out.  He had probably gone off whatever medication that was making him mentally stable.  One night he was walking around in his boxers…raggedy boxers and acting creepy.  He touched me foot and I told him that was certainly not ok.  The next morning he had drawn a peace symbol on Ken’s sacred drum with a dry erase marker.  I do not know much about Native American traditions but I am given to understand that that drum was either a gift or gotten through a vision quest.  Since Robert was Native, he should have known better.  He also wrote weird stuff on some of the signs and was in general rude.

I told him to leave and gave him 2 hours.  His father picked him up.  That made life a little better.

I was luckily able to get most of the marker off Ken’s drum.  However, it is still somewhat visible.

David and Baron:

David and Baron are an older couple who used to be in the navy in the 80’s.  They net there and got married in the 90’s.  They staid in the hostel for 3 weeks waiting for the papers on their house to go through.  Comet loved them.  I adore them.  Even though they are about the age of my parent’s they seemed older but cooler.  It was like hanging out with grandparents.  They had no children so they did not mind.  Baron was rather superstitious but awesome enough that I could look past that.  They sat upstairs most of the day and watched TV.  I watched with them a lot.

They just left and are getting their house together.  I am hopefully going to visit them soon.  I got a house warming gift and everything.

Well.  I am going to leave off blogging for now.  I have 2 more big stories and I shall be caught up.  Go me!

 

dinner    dinner 2

Dinner for everyone at the hostel

More Catching Up…and some complaining I guess – Origanally published 11/16/13

I decided to break things into separate posts.  Not totally sure why.  Not many things marked my days as special so this shouldn’t take long.

As time went on I was discovering that the family staying here was a family of bossy neat freaks.  They seemed to think they were more in charge then I was and I let things be as I understood that they were not in an ideal situation and I am not one to need to be in control of everyone.  I liked them well enough although the little girl got more and more dreadful as time went on.

That child makes me rethink my stance on abortion.  (For the record my stance on abortion is that I would never have one and but I think it should be legal and every woman has the right to decide how she feels about it.  I don’t judge other for getting one and just because I’ve made a person choice to never get one does not mean that I should force that on others.)  After meeting this child I think maybe abortion should be practiced more often.  (I am joking…please don’t take deep offense…or do I don’t actually care.)  DS (the name I give the little girl, short of Devil’s Spawn) was too forceful with my dog and at times mean.  She chased him with a broom, tried to start fights between him and her orange cat (who wasn’t really supposed to be in the hostel), kicked Comet once or twice, teased him with food, would jump over him barely missing landing on his tiny body and constantly yelled at him for random stuff that didn’t matter.

Worst of all the child is rarely supervised.  She did things like go upstairs and throw pepper all over the dining area, paint nail polish all over her room and shower and get into the dish soap and pour it all over the place.  She threw her cat down the stairs. (Can you say blossoming serial killer?)  Terrifying stuff.  Her mother has no patience for her and is gone at school/studying from early morning to late evening.  Natane also ignores her for the most part when she is here and makes excuses for her otherwise.  DS was the cause of more then one guest leaving earlier then planned.  Not a good situation.  Needless to say I tried my best to limit the time DS spent with my Comet dog.

I actually have a feeling that if DS’s requests to her mom to “just hold me” was met with more cuddles, DS would be less Devil Spawn like.  Of course, I don’t know much about child rearing.  Maybe they are doing fine raising her and she just naturally has a bad personality.  Maybe it’s what all 4 year old children are like.  I’ve not been around a 4 year old for almost 4 years so maybe my memory is weak.

Natane referred an older woman from her school here.  The School is the Northwest Indian College, which seems to be a little sketchy from what I’ve heard.  The woman still lives here and while at first I found her annoying, I actually like her now.  I find most people annoying, it’s when I can push past the annoying parts and still like that person that I actually start liking them.

If only I could write this much on my NANOWRIMO project.  Sheesh.

Trying to Catch up to the Present I am – Origanally published 11/16/13

wOOt…it only took me a week to get to this one!

My first week was spent running around telling people I had no idea what I was doing and trying to figure out where everything was.  Additionally, I was struggling as I’d been off my meds for a few months.  (I have bipolar…jolly).

The family that lived here seemed really nice if not a little illogical so I had a lot of help figuring everything out.  As Native Americans they claimed to not believe in any religion that did not originate on this continent (North America).  Which is illogical to me as it is proven that life started in Africa and therefore everything started there.  Additionally, the whole Pangaea thing means that all things originated on the only continent that existed.  Of course, I am agnostic so I see all religion and superstitious beliefs as unlikely.

Poor Comet was so nervous with the new people coming and going.  This of course was great for him as we are planing to go on a road trip and he is going to have to get used to new people and places.

Because I was really told very little, I had to figure out what I was doing as I went.  Which meant I had to search for clues and make it up as I went.  I soon had working order of the office and a procedure to check people into the hostel.

Within my first two weeks I got my first problem guest.  He began his stay by not being able to find the hostel and calling me three times for directions.  I can’t hold that against anyone.  I get lost so much I think I’ve spent years worth of time wondering around lost.  He then started in on wanting me to cut him a deal for staying here.  Err no.

I was told very distinctly by a man who owns a tower near the hostel that I was the boss and to not cut anyone any deals.  While I am willing to help people out, I do not like to be scammed and had no problem not cutting any deals.  Staying in a hostel is a deal.

We shall call the first trouble guest Alex because that is his name.  Alex continued by telling me that I look and act like I am 17.  I know I look young and have a innocent voice but seriously.  He then proceeded to refuse to smoke 25 feet from the building.  He also left sinks full of dishes, a big no no in a hostel.  He was confrontational and once accused me of saying mean things about him under my breath while I was just sitting silently.  (I may have been thinking mean things but that is besides the point.)  Comet never liked him and most people he eventually grows to like.

Alex also accused me of pick pocketing him…a skill that I am not graceful enough to have and Netane (the Mother of the little 4 year old) of cooking food that somehow gave him an instant headache.  Lesley (the grandmother of the 4 year old) for some reason thought he was switching rooms and when I asked him about he freaked out.  I learned first to not trust what Lesley said and second that this Alex kid was completely unstable.

The Alex kid also didn’t understand basic figures of speech.  For instance, when he checked in several people were checking into the hostel and the phone was ringing like a fire alarm.  I said “I’m suddenly very popular.”  He didn’t understand that…he took me literally.  I also asked him if he was “playing musical rooms” when I asked if he had switched rooms and he was so confused by that statement it took 15 minutes of me and someone else trying to explain the figure of speech.

During Alex’s stay another gentleman staid with us who I wish could stay longer.  His name was Aaron and he was so sweet and defused the unstable Alex more then once.  He was on his way up to Canada to volunteer but was turned away.  Canada is very concerned that people will illegally go there to work.  The USA is Canada’s Mexico.  Aaron was Jewish (clearly unorthodox Jewish as he willingly tore into the pork ribs we barbecued one day) and I’ve come to the conclusion that unorthodox Jewish boys are the nicest boys out there.  (This is based on 3 Jewish males that I’ve met.  Probably not a fair sample to come to this conclusion but at least it is a nice racial stereotype.)

After Arron left, we just had Alex with which to socialize.  He began bringing his cigarette butts, and probably also smoking, in his room.  I think he got the impression that I was about to kick him out because he then left.  I changed the code to the door.  Alex is now on a banned list.

Trying to keep up with a blog is difficult – 11/8/13

Everyday I think about writing in my blog and everyday I decide other writing projects are more important.  I have to get in the habit of writing this.  Grr.

Anyway, back to more about the hostel.

The Birch Bay Hostel is in this little tourist town on the Canadian boarder.  I don’t have a passport so I cannot go into Canada.  I’m under the impression that Canada isn’t that great anyway.

The hostel itself if in the Horizon Park complex which was once an air force base.  The park has a camp on it that is used for disabled youths for a couple months in the summer.  I got here after the camp had let out.

When I let myself into the hostel, nobody was here.  Nobody was around at all.  The gentleman who gave me the ride decided to stay with me until he knew Comet and I were safe.  I called Ken the manager, he said he’d be home in a couple hours and that I should pick a room and make myself at home.

I had no idea what room to pick.  I knew I was supposed to get my own room and no way in hell was I going to be sharing.  I hauled Comet’s crate and everything upstairs and set in front of the large TV that would later cause me much strife.  I fixed my Comet dog some water and nervously sat.

The front door of the hostel is a tricky one.  The lock box has to have the code punched to get it back into the slot.  To lock the door, one has to lift the handle on the outside and turn the lock.  I had no idea how to lock it.  I also had no idea if anyone was staying in the hostel.

Additionally I was rather concerned as Comet had never been in a new place like this and I was worried he would freak and and pee everywhere.  Instead he examined every corner of the upstairs.  He probably learned more about the hostel in that time we sat upstairs that first night then I have the entire time we’ve been here.

Finally I heard people.  They came upstairs, all worried because the door was unlocked and the key removed.  It turns out that they were guests who had been here for about a month.  There are 3 of them (yes, they are still here over 2 months later) a 56 (later to turn 57) year old woman, a 29 (later  to turn 30) year old woman and a 4 year old girl. They helped me pick a room (which I later switched) and figure out where a couple things were.

Ken got home much later.  Told me very little but made plans to talk in the morning.  So, I went to bed.  Comet slept in the bed with me just like he has every night since I got him.

The next day basically Ken gave me the passwords to everything and turned me loose.  I was now an assistant manager without ever doing anything managerial before at all.  I soon found out I was mostly on my own and pretty much completely in charge.  Good times.

 

Here are some pictures of the cutest dog in the world.

Comet    Comet

 

The Rest of the Story – Originally published on 9/29/13

I promised I would finish the story about getting to the hostel so here is the rest of the story.  As I don’t have a car, getting here was an interesting trick.  I had two choices.  I could connect to the different city bus systems all the way up to Birch Bay or I could try and find a ride on Craigslist.  I chose to use the bus as a back up and try find a ride on Craigslist.  I posted an ad and waited.

Of course, everyone kept telling me how I could just take the train.  Yes, I could have taken either greyhound or the train.  However, both greyhound and the do not allow pets even in crates.  Even though I am training Comet to work as a service animal, he is not one right now.  My only option was to take him in a crate on the city bus or get a ride share.

Craigslist ride share is awesome.  I got several responses to my ad.  I posted the ad Monday and said that I needed to leave Wednesday or Thursday.  Some people on Craigslist cannot read as one guy wanted me to leave with him that night.  I finally got in touch with a gentlemen who was driving from California to Canada and would be going trough Blaine/Birch Bay.  He would be in Portland on Wednesday at 10 am.

My family and friends were in shock.  I was packing up and leaving within a matter of 4 days.  My best friend asked me if I was going to go stay in a brothel.  She didn’t seem to believe that I was going to volunteer.  Everyone seems to think that I’ve settled in Portland for forever but I never actually planned to stay in Portland for more then 2 years, even though I’ve been back for almost 5 years.  Ready or not, I was going.

Wednesday morning came and my ride was late.  My ride was very late.  My ride also did not have a cell phone.  In fact, I was just about to look for alternative transportation when he showed up.  He was an old hippie from Canada.  We filled up his gas tank and began the drive to Blaine.

About an hour into the ride, he informed me that we would be stopping for 2 hours at a friend of his in Lacy. WA.  All I could say was it was cool as long as I got to Blaine that night.  What can one say?  I was hitching a ride.  My mother was very concerned when I told her about the stop via text.  I suppose it was a little nerve racking.  I was at the mercy of a stranger.  A Canadian stranger at that.  For all I knew his friend was a cannibal and they wanted to make female stew with an extra flavoring of little dog.  Luckily they had no interest in chowing down on me and we were back on the road again in two hours.

I did display my stupid American nature.  I dozed off for about 20-40 minutes.  As I woke up, I looked up at the speedometer and saw a terrifying sight.  We were going down the highway at 120.  However, being someone who likes to drive fast and who has crazy friends, I casually said “wow, and I thought I drove fast.”  The gentleman driving said he could slow down if I liked but he drove so much that he got used to driving a little over the speed limit.  He then went on to explain that usually on the highway it is OK to drive 5 to 10 miles per hour over the speed.  Very slowly it dawned on me that there were smaller numbers below the numbers on the speedometer.  Finally my poor drowsy brain realized that I was in a foreign car.  I was going 120 km.  In fact, I would have been driving a little faster then he was driving.  I felt silly and very dumb American.

Finally we were in Blaine and finally in Birch Bay.  We kept driving on back country roads.  I used my GPS on my phone to direct us.  Once on the correct road, we came across signs directing us to a detour to the hostel.  The detour was kind of confusing and bumpy.

We finally got to the hostel.  The hostel is unmistakable as a big sign saying “Hostel” is displayed on the side of the building.  The gentleman who drove me was very nice and wanted to stay with me until he was sure I was safe.

The director of the hostel had given me a code to open the door.  I found a box next to the door with numbers and buttons.  I expected the code to unlock the door long enough for me to open it and walk inside.  However, when I punched the code into the box the box popped off of the wall to reveal a key.  I unlocked the door and let myself into the Birch Bay Hostel.

A Not So Epic Start – Originally published 9/21/13

So, I’ve been told that as a writer I should keep a blog.  I’ve never been good at keeping blogs but I’m going to try.  I was never even good at keeping a journal.

I guess I should give a brief overview of what brought me here and what this blog will be about.

Around the first of June (maybe as early as the end of April) I decided that unemployment sucked and a writing business was the way to go.  I poked around and applied to a few writing jobs and now have a couple of steady clients.  I am not writing what I wish to write but it is a start.  I’m not making even half of what low end educated freelance writers should make but I am paying my cell phone bill.

At the end of June to the beginning of July I was supposed to go on a road trip to California with my best friend.  First we were going with two other girls then plans changed to her and I alone.  Of course she backed out and left me itching to get out of town and nobody with which to go.  I decided that I would go somewhere alone and chose to stay for three days at a hostel in Seaside, Oregon.

I had the best time in Seaside and met people who were full of wander lust.  Staying in a hostel is an experience that all likable people should try.  While there, I learned that most hostels do something called work exchange where you work in the hostel and stay rent free.  Some people travel all over very inexpensively staying in hostels and working.

Suddenly I had the wander lust bug myself.  I wanted to work and live in a hostel.  I could work a few hours everyday and write the rest of the time.  All I need to work is my laptop and an internet connection.  Unfortunately I had two issues with this idea.

The first and the most easily overcome issue is that I do not have a car.  Luckily craigslist.org has a rideshares section and the US is full of buses.  A person could travel a large portion of the US by city bus linking from one bus system to another if he or she is so inclined.  Additionally, Greyhound goes pretty much everywhere.

The second issue is that I happen to have a little dog named Comet.  Comet was found, by me, on craigslist and I paid a “re-homing” fee of $65 and took him home.  I got him because after my dog Shadow died in January, my life ended and I needed a new baby to restart it.  He did restart my life.  I will never stop missing Shadow, Shadow was so very special, but I love this new mutt.  As much as my dog makes my life worth living, he also makes my life more difficult.  Hostels are rarely pet friendly.  I understand why.  Not everyone cleans up after a dog, some guest may have allergies and many dogs bark and cause trouble.  Comet has a few loose screws even so he is prone to trouble causing.

I wanted to work at the hostel in Seaside.  I love the Oregon coast and I loved that hostel.  However, they were not interested in someone who had a dog.  Even a cute little dog.  They did offer to let me work there for a week but I had left Comet for three whole days and wanted to get back to him.  I went home determined to somehow feed my wander lust.

The best way to find what one needs is to find it online.  That is what I did.  I jumped online and posted an ad looking for a hostel that would let me work there and bring my dog.  In the meantime, I came up with a backup plan.  The goal was to save for a car and once I could afford one I would go on an epic road trip with Comet and drive and write.

I continued working on my writing business and completely forgot about my post looking for a hostel that would take me and my dog.  Around the 25th of August, I got an email from a woman telling me about the Birch Bay Hostel in Blaine, WA.  They would be interested in a volunteer to live there and a pet would be acceptable.

Off I went to almost Canada with my little dog in a stranger’s car.