The Vagabond is Back!


It wasn’t even just two years ago that settled into my Capitol Hill bungalow, leaving the vagabond life behind. I’ve loved almost every moment of living in this Emerald City, and yet I have solidified plans to leave.

Seattle has been a wonderful experience. I moved here to find clarity, community, and achieve goals. Fiscally speaking, it’s not prudent for me to stay. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck for much of my professional life— and I don’t regret that for a minute. Living in the neatest neighborhoods (read: paying the highest rents) and surrounding myself with diverse people, I have seen and explored and experienced most haven’t in my short 26 years.

But it’s time to go home. In a bizarre change of plans, my calling is to return to my hometown. Please, simmer down. I’m freaking out as much as you are. But this is why: the rent is too damn high. My mom is retired, and she has a new lease on life (which is, truly, the most beautiful thing I’ve seen). She plans to travel extensively, visiting family across the country and exploring in her own right. Therefore, her house in Missouri will be mostly vacant— and what spells more millennial than free rent?

The other reason is that I’m going to complete my Yoga Teacher Training in January. My dearest friend and instructor since youth has loosely offered me a teaching position at her studio— an opportunity that just drips with energy. In a way, I’ll be giving back to that which gave so much to me; and more specifically, she who gave me so much. While I get my feet wet as an instructor, I’m dreaming of different endeavors to cater to the teen yogi population, from which I benefitted as a youth. I’m talking free classes, scholarships, and a lot of love to kids who need it (all of this is up in the air, but the possibilities are endless).

Bluntly, there’s also a trauma inflicted upon me by the town in which I grew up that I need to investigate— it was terrible for a young queer person. Jefferson City isn’t exactly the cultural beacon of Missouri. But I’m in a position of power now; I have a solid career, a clear mindset, and a bulletproof skin. In my liberal bubble of Seattle, I’m protected by my neighbors who think and act just like me. But maybe there’s more to life than seeking likeness. Perhaps there’s a sweetness in conflict— by coming back , there’s a way to get to the heart of why I left. I want to hold the hatred in my hand, examine it with love, and see what happens.

I don’t like my hometown. I’ve made that vehemently clear throughout my life, and I vowed never to return. Well, never say never. With the flying gig, I have the opportunity and obligation to leave for work and get breathers. And it’s not all that bad— of course, I have some of my family there, plus esteemed souls like my former English teacher and childhood best friend. It will be nice to reconnect with a sense of nostalgia, all the while having a different perspective on living in my hometown.

With every move I’ve made in life, I assumed some sense of finality; when I moved to Chicago, I thought that would be it until I moved to New York. When that didn’t work out, and Seattle called, I thought I’d be there for a very long time. Jefferson City was never on my radar— but like many epiphanies, it hit me all of a sudden. It makes sense. And I’m not putting a deadline on it. It could be three months, it could be three years. I just have a vague outline of things I need to do at home— that includes, but not limited to, spending time on my farm just south of town and doing butch things. Maybe I’ll build a cabin. Maybe I’ll grow a big garden like my grandpa did. Maybe I’ll buy a cute little car and zip around the countryside, blasting music and singing my heart out— something I dearly miss. On 160 acres to play around, I can get back to my roots. But I probably won’t go squirrel hunting again, like back in the day. Yes, I did.

Having a bit more financial freedom, what with the lack of rent and a recent raise, I’m excited to see what this life brings. I’ll transfer back to Chicago O’Hare, still as a First Officer, still with the same company, and I’ll hold about 10% seniority— a world of difference from my ever increasing 60% in Seattle. Columbia Regional Airport (COU) is 25 minutes door to door from my house, and it’s a 45 minute flight; commuting won’t be fun, but I’ll be able to manage my schedule better in this base.

The timeframe isn’t as drastic as you think: I’ll be transferring, effective in June and selling the majority of my pristine furniture as I make my way across the plains. Over the past year, I’ve taken a look at what brings me great joy. That includes traveling internationally and conjuring up blog posts for fun. I’ll also be able to travel more freely and won’t feel regret every waking minute that I’m not in my expensive apartment.

I’m opening up to a lot of new things. My hippie side senses a blossom of energy on the horizon. I’ve challenged myself— and been challenged!— over the course of the last few months, and this is the result of the latest phone call with god. You might think it hokey, but it works for me: everyone has a direct line to Source or god or whatever that voice inside you wants to say. I, however, have trouble shutting up long enough to listen, and this is what it had to say. Getting still with myself, I can’t believe that I’m going through with it. It’s against everything I’ve ever said— but it feels so right.

In a sense, I’ll be a vagabond again, floating between Chicago for work and my hometown— or wherever my travels take me. To the Emerald City, I’m sure I’ll return someday for another stint, and I thank you for your hospitality. And I’ll start the bidding for my cute apartment, fully furnished!

Scandinavian Charm

It’s an inexplicable yearning, a quest for one continent. It doesn’t matter where— Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Copenhagen or Stockholm. And I have so many more cities to explore, but I absolutely love Europe.

IMG_1847.JPGLooking at my travels, it’s roughly every six months that I get an urge to hop the pond and breathe in the sights and sounds of languages not my own. I revel in the struggle to pick through signs and navigate metro systems. Because I have almost no extended periods of time off work, I usually have to cram an entire city into three days or less; it’s always funny to see the shock on locals’ faces when they ask how long I’m visiting. “Just a short stay?!”

Europe is a romantic continent, and I certainly have an attraction to it for that reason— it seems that every time my heart flutters, I escape to the old world to figure things out. It just so happened that this time, I was returning to the homeland of Scandinavia, specifically Sweden, after a particularly interesting wedding weekend.

If you haven’t caught on, I’m part Swedish. An 1/8th, maybe 1/16th, I’m not quite certain yet. Out of all of my ancestry, that’s the most interesting nationality (sorry England and Germany or whatever countries make me a mutt). Therefore, I have an affinity for the language and culture, however cold and biting they may be.

This was my first visit to Copenhagen and third visit to Stockholm. The quick day I spent in Copenhagen, I did what I always do when I travel solo: walk. I take a look at the map, see where I might want to go, and I let my feet do the rest. That allows my brain to relax and recharge, all the while doing something productive. My first stop was The Marble Church, or Frederiks Kirke. I’m not religious, but I do like taking a few moments to step inside and feel a moment of quiet. I left and walked along the water to find the Little Mermaid, perhaps the most hyped monument in the town. It was neat, but it was just a statue. I walked through an old, yet still active, military installation shaped like a star; the leaves had just started to change in mid-October, a coolness permeated through the glow of a sun that wouldn’t quite make it high enough in the sky— my perpetual mood.


The rest of the day, I took a nap once my room became available. Then I ventured out into the night to find a kebab, the pinnacle of European junk food. I went to a prison themed gay bar— which isn’t as raunchy as it seems— and met a cute and friendly Italian couple. Copenhagen is the standard of a Scandinavian city: clean, straightforward, and expensive. But my heart is in Stockholm.

The next morning, after a short hour flight with SAS, I landed in “hemlandet,” or The Homeland. At this point, I’m an expert at finding Flygbussarna, buying my $12 ticket to the city center, and relaxing for a 45 minute journey from the airport to T Centralen.

IMG_1878Aside from my familial ancestry to Sweden, my other connection to Stockholm is my cousin Sarah and her husband, Fredrik, and their two bambinos. Fredrik runs FlightRadar24, a flight tracking website and app that has found much popularity around the world. I got the tour of their posh headquarters, studded with aviation relics and modern workplace gizmos— even a treadmill and drink station á la Google. The coders were friendly but short, giving me smirks as they continued to hack the world via aviation.

Later that evening, in a quaint Swedish restaurant named Eriks Bakficka, Sarah gave me tough love. As I recounted my recent romantic endeavor, she called bullshit on fronts I was attempting to smooth over— lovingly, of course. In so many words, her advice about any relationship was this: it should be clear, it should be relatively simple, and it should not be complicated. “Making sense” and checking boxes on shared interests is settling. Love should be explosive and dramatic as the best pan-seared duck breast I was eating.

IMG_1893IMG_1901I let this advice sit with me over the next day as I strolled through my favorite part of Stockholm, Gamla Stan. The bright colors on a cloudy fall day gave me the hideout I needed as I wound through the windy streets. I stopped in for a fika at a coffeeshop, blessedly without WiFi. I ended up at Vasamuseet, a museum showcasing an ancient warship that had sunk in Stockholm. In the dark recesses of the exhibits, I did my best thinking and drafted up what I would convey. The Vasa could be a metaphor for my love life: deep-seated feelings that sailed for a brief moment, sinking to the sea floor but preserved by cold, pure waters— only to be resurrected hundreds of years later and admired from afar. I should start charging admission.

Sarah and I had thrown around the idea of going to another museum for the evening— but I was museum’d out and just wanted some family time. She cooked me a fabulous but simple traditional Swedish meal with dill and crayfish. We sat around the kitchen with her kiddos until it was time for them to do regular life stuff— I made my way to my room across town and got ready for the long flight home in the morning.


I thought this retreat to Europe would reveal clarity through the cobblestone, as if my ancestors would whisper wisdom through the channels and fjords. But actually it was a real life family member, staring me down, pursing her lips, and giving me the truth I absolutely needed with so much love.



Säg mig var du står – Carola

Getting SASsy on SAS!

Once in a while, the nonrev gods shine down upon me— even with foreign carriers. After a quick traipse across the homeland, I took Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm Arlanda to LAX— 11 hours of pure bliss.


With my flight benefits via my company, we have a ticketing agreement with global carriers called ZED: Zonal Employee Discount. Fares range based on distance and the type of agreement. It helps in a pinch for last minute gaffs when American carriers fill up, or even taking advantage of routes that we can’t access via our direct flight benefits. It just so happens that my company has an agreement with SAS that allows us to list in business. Other times, we might be able to bribe a gate agent for an upgrade— but more often than not, we’re in steerage. It’s still fine, because these seats, while subject to space available as any nonrevenue flight, cost around $50-$150, depending on the carrier and distance. I’m not complaining.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to get business— I’m the lowest of the low when it comes to priority. I’ve flown before and listed in business to no avail. So far in my life, I’ve experienced Delta One, United Polaris, and now SAS Business. Disclaimer: I’m giddy about any sort of business experience, so don’t expect me to be picky; although, I do have opinions.

My initial reaction was first and foremost that I actually got up front. Seated in seat 7H, I had a window view on the starboard side of the aircraft. My window placement was a bit awkward, but I wasn’t all that interested in watching the ocean. I got settled, and the flight attendant offered me a glass of champagne— standard issue for most international business seats, but lovely nonetheless.

I have to take an aside and explain my normal routine for long-haul flights: I settle in, get a bit liquored up, watch a romcom with Meryl, Diane Keaton, or any other iconic queen, and have dinner. I usually try to watch a blockbuster, one that I haven’t seen in theaters, as I get ready for bed. Then after my nightcap, I try to get sleep— this combats jet lag and gets use out of the lie flat seat. Morning comes, I eat breakfast over a classic film (Casablanca, All About Eve, etc.) and get ready for the day.

This was no different, mostly.

On the taxi, I geeked out as I saw the passenger to my front and left switch to a screen with a camera of the aircraft— I was too busy picking out a movie to watch (Chappaquiddick, which was odd to say the least). Luckily, I caught it just in time before we rolled onto the runway and blasted into the sky. I know I do this for a living, and I know I’ve seen this view over a thousand times— but what a different perspective as a passenger!

We drifted toward the north pole, and I settled in even more, when the food and beverage started flowing.

The first course started out with warm nuts and a beverage— I chose the Wing Pin beer, purely for the label. But I was wowed by the flavor. It’s a sour beer, which I don’t normally drink beer, let alone sour ones. Next up was the appetizer: moose salami with pear and mascarpone. Like, you can’t get more Scandinavian than that. Never having had moose salami, I was delighted— robust yet slightly gamey, but it was mellowed out by the sweetness. Onto the meat and potatoes: that’s exactly what I had. It was roast beef with chanterelle mushrooms and lingonberries— again, so delightfully Scandinavian; my DNA was quivering! I finished with a blueberry crumble cake with crème fraiche and a cup of coffee.

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After dinner, I presented the crew with the cookies in my bag that I had forgotten— a small token of appreciation for their hard work, crew to crew. Even on my comparably shorter routes, I love it when people bring treats. It makes the day just a little bit better. I chatted with one flight attendant, the one in charge of the food. We talked about her work history— over 30 years in the industry, first at Gulf Air and then SAS. A Stockholm resident, she showed me her gorgeous house, and we talked about my connections to the country. She got super excited and flipped to FlightRadar24! “Dis one? Oh, ja, I use dis all de time!” she recounted to me in her beautiful accent. “And your cousin, she married a Swede? Good job.”

A First Officer came out for crew rest, and the FA tapped me on the shoulder to talk to him. We chatted about the industry and the plane itself— this happened to be his fourth to last flight before retirement. We both had similar mindsets about working: fly hard until it gets too much, and then take time off. Or at least that’s my approach. I love the job and flying the actual airplane, but sometimes, it becomes a job. It’s at that point when I have to step away and live life, i.e., gallivanting through Europe for a few days.

And then I conked out for six solid hours. I didn’t plan on it— I wanted to catch up in my journal, read a book, and maybe watch another movie. But, admittedly, I had neglected my body over the last few days— physically by walking as a byproduct of the emotional (in a good ish way!) wedding weekend I had just had. In another coming post, I’ll talk about my general sentiments of Europe and why I took this trip in the first place.

So, I awoke to 0:51 left in the flight; the scent of egg quiches wafted throughout the cabin, and I had just enough time to make eye contact with the purser, Håkan, who slid a plate of fresh brekkers on my tray. It was good— I’m a sucker for rolls of prosciutto!


Again, I watched the arrival into LAX, an approach I’ve done many times myself. We touched down on 24R, gradually taxiing to Tom Bradley International Terminal. We waited about half an hour for a gate, but my ride back to Seattle wasn’t until later. In other words, I wasn’t in a rush. When we got to the gate, I gave a polite “hej då!” and headed through Global Entry, one of the many amenities provided by the American Express Platinum Card. If you travel a lot, this is THE card to have, despite the exorbitant fee, because it pays for itself every year for me. Get in touch with me, and I’ll rattle off a ton of reasons why airline folk need it.


Oh, and my only qualm with the business experience is that their movie selection was quite lacking— I don’t know how other foreign carriers compare, but United and Delta sure have a lot better titles. However, I was content with watching the clouds drift by, both on my screen and out the window. It was everything I dreamed of— quite literally!

Tack så mycket, SAS!




Find Your Joy

You know joy. It’s uncovered in milliseconds throughout your day when you are so in-tune with what you’re doing— and love it.

Two things recently gave me joy, that have always given me joy, but have gotten lost in the day-to-day doldrum of operations: flying an airplane, and practicing yoga.

One morning this week, I stood in my kitchen on my navy blue yoga mat, one that I bought while living in St. Louis. It has traveled with me all over, in each city since, and even to retreats. It’s home in a way that no other rubber rectangle could ever be. I had just been accepted to a Yoga Teacher Training in New Orleans (as previously posted!), and out of the excitement, I jumped on my mat. The thing is, when I’m practicing yoga in my kitchen with no one around, I don’t have a plan. No flow, no sequence, not even a semblance of structure. I just do what feels right— of course, that’s sort of why I’m going to get trained in how to conjure up a class. As I hit Warrior II and transitioned back to Peaceful Warrior, I was overcome: rooted deeply in the earth and extending into the sky, I was the conductor of energy, a sorcerer at work.

My coffee pot gurgled, and I retreated to my loveseat to start reading the books I need to finish before going to class (in January, but I’m eager). As my eyes glided over the words, soaking up the sentiment, I realized that this was effortless. There wasn’t barrier or burden.


At least once per trip, I try to click off the automation (autopilot AND autothrottles) to fly based on “raw data,” meaning there’s no guidance— just a pure scan of the instruments. It’s important to do this for many reasons: if the automation fails at some point, you’re ready with skill. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

Yesterday, we were cruising on into Portland, and my captain chided me, “You’re not going to land flaps full for Harambe?” pointing to an inside joke on our airplane. I decided no. But we were halfway through our day, and I decided to turn everything off and fly it my damn self. The power was in my hands, quite literally, as I turned and descended toward the runway, which was obscured by clouds. It occurred to me that we fly these multi-million dollar jets with all the bells and whistles, yet it operates under the same physics laws with which even a small Cessna complies. Cute!

It’s a thrill, though, to have that moment between man and machine— an intimate connection that demands trust and a bit of romance.

We popped out of the clouds, the runway revealing itself amidst a green field along the Columbia river. “50, 40, 30, 20, 10,” the airplane spoke at a smooth cadence, and we touched the ground— softly lowering the nose, and throwing out the thrust reversers, I gave my captain the controls as he taxied off the runway. I exhaled with a smirk. “That was fun!”


Day-in-and-day-out, the routine tires. Cities blur together, and hotels can never match my own bed— but it’s the tiny moments, the ones where you feel like you’re surfing on bliss, that make the ordinary extraordinary. Neither of these moments were particularly explosive. Mostly, they’re banal snippets from my everyday life. But I chose to see them as magic! And making that choice isn’t easy— some days I straight up refuse. The days I do, however, magic happens.

How do you find your joy?

The Itch I Can’t Scratch

The following is not a paid advertisement, and I’m not getting any commission. But it is a rant; proceed at your own risk.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor to discuss a little rash I’ve had on my hands. He told me it was very mild form of dyshidrotic eczema, treatable with a steroid cream. Quelling my fears of imminent death, as indicated by WebMD, I was relieved that it’s not a big deal. (I also had three different pricks, but not the fun kind: a Hep A shot, a flu shot, and they drew blood for routine testing. But I digress.)

So I go about my merry day, hitting up Club Pharm. The nice tech typed her little hands off, looking up my prescription. Her eyes widened and uttered, “Wow. That’s a really high copay. It’s $400.98.” In shock, I might have cursed. “Oh, there’s no goddamn way I’m paying that.” At this point, I handed her my insurance, and she entered it. Beep boop beep, and it came back that, not only would my insurance not cover the original dosage, but they would only cover a third (20 grams versus 60) of it. The price lowered to $99 of which they would cover a whopping $8.50. I walked away infuriated and without my medication.

This morning, I woke up with a mission to figure this out. There’s no way a simple cream could cost $400. I would rather let my hands rot than pay an absurd amount. At first, I called the pharmacy again to double check if that, in fact, was correct. It was.

Then I called my doctor’s office. They were dumfounded, too. They told me to go with another pharmacy and see if it could be cheaper elsewhere; meanwhile, they would investigate another, similar medication to reduce the cost. It was then that I did some research on my provider’s website— and, yes, the retail value was over $400 where my plan didn’t cover ANY of it. So, I called them.

I talked to a very nice man who said, “Yeah, they’re trying to get your money.” I was firm but polite with him, knowing that he personally was not the issue.

And then, finally, I called my mom, as any snowflake butthurt millennial does. With her infinite wisdom, she took to the Google machine. We found a coupon for the prescription at roughly $70 for the original dosage— still too damn much, in my opinion. But I called my pharmacy, ran the numbers, and it’s being filled as we speak.

Here are my issues.

  • It’s a cream. We’re not talking heart medication, liver pills, or even chemotherapy. It’s a CREAM! To treat a pesky rash! How in the hell could a cream cost $400 retail? In what universe is that an appropriate amount?
  • I had to do the work. Me. Calling, inquiring, investigating. Had I went about this all fat dumb and happy, I would have ended up paying the money, and no one would have said a word.
  • My insurance is worthless. I’m not blaming my employer, although our benefits could be improved. United Healthcare and OptumRx are trash companies, and I’m sure the rest aren’t any better.
  • This is no one person’s fault. Of all the people with whom I interacted, everyone was pleasant, as was I. But I became infuriated in the process.
  • I used a coupon. Not combined with my insurance, not a special rate through any sort of service. This is, straight up, a coupon that I GOOGLED.

And again, this is over a cream. I cannot imagine the process with other more important, life-or-death medications. I am so blessed that my pressing ailment is more of an annoyance than a concern— I’m more distraught that my doctor says I should take off my rings in case I’ve developed a metal allergy. They’re my fashion, flair, and nearly my livelihood.

By the way, it’s not contagious.


Take me to Church!

“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” If you don’t think Beyoncé’s album was on my mind while I strolled the streets of New Orleans, then you are severely mistaken.


I’ll admit: not being able to go to Bali was a huge downer. Walking home with my packed bag was a bit downtrodden— I felt like I had been broken up with in a very disappointing way.

But I was on a mission to reclaim my time, as I always am, and I had another plan. Again, I packed a backpack and left right after work. After a brief stop in Chicago to see my goddog, Kiki, and my best friends, I made my way to the Big Easy to check out a yoga studio at which I might do my Yoga Teacher Training— so I crafted my own yoga retreat!

The Yoga:

I can’t get this picture out of my mind.


Here it is, The Church of Yoga. As a branch of the Laughing Lotus brand of New York and San Francisco, I was turned onto this place through my dear friend and Seattle yoga instructor, Danielle. The colors exploding on the face of the edifice are nothing short of what happens inside, where true expressions of love, dance, and harmony come together.

I got in on Sunday night, and I went to a Moon Circle— not quite a yoga class, but a spiritual exploration of the New Moon. We sat in a circle and discussed this particular new moon’s effects and meanings. Each of us shared our intentions and stories of what was on our mind, and we repeated affirmations after we finished; I was in awe of the community that this place supported.

I was excited to take a class taught by the studio’s co-founder, Dana Trixie Flynn. I had just missed her master class in Seattle at my home studio, The Grinning Yogi— but I heard that she was a burst of energy. I was NOT disappointed. I was blown away by the diversity. Yoga is a very White People™ activity, often accused of appropriation of Eastern culture. But the people in class were white and black, fat and skinny, gay and straight, men and women.

Dana’s teaching style is very in line with my own yogic philosophy— during class, a student asked a question about a particular pose, something about how her arms should be. Dana cheekily responded, “Well, after you do it 1,000 times, it’s still going to be different.” I chuckled, because I’ve seen this same scene before— people, rightfully so, being inquisitive and asking questions about how a pose should be. They direct their intricate questions toward the instructor, looking for guidance. And sure, there might be some technical alignment wherein a certain direction could be given. But, by and large, feeling out the pose as your body expresses in that day, in that moment, is the answer to those questions.

The following night, I went to a class with a live DJ who was playing Beyoncé. Let me reiterate that: there was a yoga class, with live music, playing Beyoncé. 

This could not be more on brand for Robbie Barnhart if I tried.

Chelsey, that evening’s instructor, pulled out all the stops— dancing in the poses, singalong “Halo” savasana, and even going so far as to do a costume change at the end. I apologized to the girl next to me for twerking in such close proximity, but I truly could not help it. NamaSLAY!

Don’t even get me started on how sad I was that I had to leave before Yoga After Dark – Drag Edition.

The creativity flowing out of this studio is beyond my wildest expectations. It’s relevant, authentic, and downright FUN! As I peruse this as an option for my Yoga Teacher Training (which, let’s be serious, is about 95% right now), I realize that my perceptions of a traditional training experience are antiquated— there is a way to keep this ancient practice fresh!

The Food:

img_1506.jpgI had to supplement my burnt calories somehow— and New Orleans did not disappoint ways to do that. My first full day, I goofed up the recommendation that my Lyft driver gave me. She said to go to Cochon Butcher— but I got caught in a thunderstorm on the way there and completely missed the small place in the back. Instead, and unbeknownst to me, I sat in the bougie dining room of Cochon. I only realized it after I had placed my order, noting that it was a bit pricier than originally mentioned; however, the rabbit and dumplings soothed my cold and drenched body.

Seeing that Parkway Bakery & Tavern was closed on Tuesdays, I went to Wille Mae’s Scotch House instead. Now, my grandma could make some mean fried chicken, and that will always be my favorite— but this place is a close second. And the butter beans (that were, surprisingly, vegannnnnnn)? Get out.


And, on my final day in New Orleans, I had the behemoth fried oyster po’boy. Only available on Mondays and Wednesdays, I saved the best for last. (I’m glad I only got half, because I couldn’t imagine eating a whole one with a side of gumbo.)

Cafe Du Monde is a tourist cliché for a very good reason. My first late night adventure through the French Quarter had me inhaling beignets— and choking on powdered sugar. Throughout my stay, I obviously had to get a second opinion of Morning Call’s beignets, which weren’t as good. Therefore, it was clear that I had to have another batch of Cafe Du Monde’s beignets for good measure— and of course I had to come home with a can of coffee and chicory. Don’t @ me.

Bottom line:

The spirit flows through NOLA, and I can’t wait to return. Over those days, I met so many wonderful people, welcoming me into their space and amplifying my love for yoga. I have yet to debrief with myself— I have to come down from the excitement of the experience, but that will be duly noted in my Pro/Con list for YTT programs.

It was hot there, which usually isn’t my MO. But as the sweat hit me in class, a voice popped up in the back of my head, “Don’t get burned by the fire; ride the flame.”


Beyoncé – Halo

Displacement: A lesson in expectation

“Crew Scheduling giveth, and crew scheduling taketh away.” — FOM SP3100

Or something like that.

This last week, I found out that I was displaced from a trip for training, meaning that a new pilot was to be trained on my trip. Sweet! That gave me 10 consecutive days off WITH pay, and it’s a dream come true for someone who has flown their ass off all summer.

Except, until yesterday, they assigned a last minute trip to my schedule. It’s perfectly “legal” for them to do that. They can assign anything— anything!— to your schedule if it falls within the footprint of the original trip. Since my awarded pairing was a four day, almost anything goes.

I have attained decent seniority in Seattle, which is an increasingly senior base. I don’t get everything that I want, but I’m also not that picky— I like three and four day trips with report times after 9 a.m., because, as you know, I’m not a morning person. Fun overnights are a priority, then credit, and then specific days off. Other than that, it doesn’t matter to me. Weekends are a hot commodity, and I gave up on them; I’d rather have large chunks of time off in between work.

Up until 72 hours prior to the original trip, Crew Scheduling (we call them “Crew Support” at my company, but I don’t think they deserve that title anymore. #shade) has the ability to assign anything, as I said, and WOW did they give me something I hate: a standup. It’s where we are on duty all night, fly the last flight out and the first flight back to base, leaving me with maybe five hours on the ground. It completely messes with my sleep schedule. While I retain the credit from the originally awarded pairing, I absolutely abhor these kinds of trips.

I had plans. I had dreams. I had the world to see! At first, I planned to visit my cousin in Stockholm and then make my way down to Madrid; my old stomping grounds from study abroad were calling me. But then, unabashedly, a better offer came around— a friend invited me to go to Bali. Done! The logistics were in place, and I already have a bag packed in Seattle, waiting for me in the crew locker, wherein I could get off work and bolt for any number of departing jet planes.

But that isn’t the case anymore. With my tail tucked between my legs, bowing to the supreme authority of the Scheduling Gods, I’ll stay in Seattle and cover their flights.


I’ve been on property for two years, eight months, and 15 days. A short time compared to others, I know.

I chose this company, because of its reputation and longevity. And I stand by my decision. In the grand scheme of things, it’s the right place for me, right now. I live in base, love the flying, love the airplane, and love the crews— most of them, anyway.

But I realize, now, that I am a cog in the machine. A number. I drank some Koolaid when I first got here, and I believed that we’re a family— and that is true, in base. I’ve been saved so many times by my coworkers, made wonderful friends and memories on great work trips. I truly adore the people of the company— some of them.

At its core, however, this is a gritty operation that leaves no room for emotions. There is flying that needs to be covered, and pilots must fill that need. I don’t fault Crew Scheduling for giving me a trip— but I do fault the system, overall, for the lack of consideration of hard work.

Last month, I worked 95 block hours. That’s 95 hours of sitting in my seat with the door shut, brake off, and ready to go— but that doesn’t count waiting around for a plane to arrive, doing a preflight inspection, or being delayed for Air Traffic Control. I even went so far as to pick up extra flying that needed to be covered.

So, you could imagine how excited I was to have 10 days off, uninterrupted, with pay— a small perk for a grueling lifestyle. Here’s where you’ll play your What About Me card, throwing down how much YOU worked and how many hours YOU flew. Save it. I’m talking about me.

What I wish the flying public knew, what I wish even my coworkers at headquarters knew, is that this is not a standard job. I have no idea what it’s like to be a local in my own town. I don’t get to meet up with my friends every Tuesday and play kickball; I don’t get to plan a short weekend trip to the mountains or float the river. I don’t know my schedule until a week before the month starts. I don’t know when I’m waking up or when I’m going to sleep. Hell, I don’t even know where I’m going until I get there.

But it’s so easy! You just sit up there! Yeah. I do, and I’m always engaged. While I admit I’m not staring at the controls the entire time, I am always “on.” Scanning, listening, smelling even— so it’s not “just sitting.” Imagine how tired you are after one flight, and multiply that by 14 in four days, sometimes.

Looking to my foundations of yogic philosophy, I fell right into the trap of expectation. I expected them not to assign a trip, and I expected to be en route to paradise tonight. When you allot your energy toward a specific outcome, your suffering intensifies.

With great risk comes great reward, though. I’ve sat in First Class International seats for free. I’ve gone on whirlwind trips at a moment’s notice. I don’t downplay any of this, and I know how it must look from the outside looking in— and I am humbled by this perspective.

But I’m still going to whine about it. I’m a pilot, after all.


Why Did It Have To Be Me? — Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Demise to Arise

The dawn breaks, birds start chirping and I, well, I am not fond to witness such a travesty. I know the earth does it every single day, and I’m sure it’s a miracle. But it’s not my thing to be conscious during that time.

I am not a morning person. And I don’t mean that in the it’s-a-bummer-to-wake-up sense. Every morning is an ascension from my restful dream state through the bowels of reality, finally emerging to a new day— to put it lightly.

So, where’s the coffee?

Because I have to put blame somewhere, I’ll point the finger at my erratic schedule. I don’t have the luxury of a 9 to 5 office job where routine reigns supreme. Some mornings, I’m awake at 3:00 for an early van, other days I’m off work at midnight. Admittedly, it is nice to see the sunrise from 36,000 feet, trekking along to some destination. But that’s at work. And due to the nature of my work, I don’t take anything home with me, other than the bullshit I might spill about whatever random crewmember acted a fool. On my off days, I have no semblance of a schedule, other than things I might want to do. And I’ve approached myself many times with that same mantra in creating a morning routine. In fact, my dry erase board at home says, “Things I Should Probably Do” and my journal prompt is “What would you like to do today?”


One of the only reasons worth arising so early

I don’t have one— because I’m battling the demon inside who wants to stay in bed until noon. And sometimes (ok most times) I let myself do that, because nothing is pressing to get me out of bed. No dog, no husband, no other pesky dependents who rely on my immediate assistance. And I’m not necessarily wanting a reason, either, other than the sole purpose of being semi-productive. Again, I pose that question to myself: What would you like to do today?

And the thing is, I don’t know. What I do know is that I need caffeine, preferably in the form of a French Press and perhaps a newspaper, digital or physical. And then maybe a light yoga routine. But mostly I want to discourage that tempestuous voice, much like the devil sitting on my shoulder, telling me to slide back into the warmth from which I emerged for some ungodly reason.

I don’t do talky in the morning, either. In fact, I’m a completely different person— a total bitch, unenthusiastic and annoyed. Somewhere after an hour when my eyes have opened and I’ve accepted that there’s no way out, I might be decent and ready to take on the world. For my friends on the east coast, this means early afternoon before my mind is ready to converse at normal levels. It is possible, however, to communicate with me at earlier times, but it’s not advisable. You’re liable to hear a multitude of senseless mumbo jumbo or crass insults that are, truly, out of my control.

I wish I could point to a certain flow and say, “Ah, yes. This is what I do in the morning” besides scowling at sunlight and rolling over for a few more minutes of snooze. I recently downloaded the app Yoga Wake Up, and it’s a different way to get going in the morning— I can’t say that I’m fully invested in the idea, but I’ve tried it a couple times. I don’t hate it, which is saying something.

What’s your spark? What is your ritual? Send your ideas my way, so I can test them out.

*I’ll also add the disclaimer that I am, in no way shape or form, attempting to become a morning person. I’m merely trying to not feel homicidal.



Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

Sitka by the Sea

IMG_0832I’m not an icy editor who fell into a romantic fling with Ryan Reynolds (how I wish!)— but I did spend some time in Sitka, Alaska. Over the last two weeks, I had two 30-hour layovers in this seaside city, a highly sought-after trip among my coworkers.

The town is a quaint port of call, teeming with cruise passengers and sleepy otherwise— luckily, we avoided any ship arrivals.

Part I: The Initial Experience

I was giddy the entire flight up, poring over the company issued Alaska Briefing Guide. Flying is a touch different up north, what with the desolate terrain and cowboy antics on the Final Frontier. I was also lucky enough to fly with a check airman (not as part of any sort of examination, thankfully) who had been there several times, so I knew I had backup. When I told him that I had never been to Sitka, let alone Alaska, he said, “Great! It’s your leg.” The approach we chose to the airport circled us around an extinct volcano with clouds spilling over the side. I was mostly focused on the aircraft. Mostly.

IMG_0836When we got settled at the hotel, one of my flight attendants accompanied me to my namesake restaurant: The Mean Queen. We split a pizza, and I made friends with a random guy who worked on a private yacht that had docked and was to leave in the morning. Downstairs at the Mean Queen was the only night life in Sitka— I twerked once or twice, and we walked back to the hotel, a glimmer of sunlight just above the mountains at nearly 11 p.m.

The next day, we planned to rummage around the town before taking what was supposed to be a leisurely hike. Not rising too early, we ventured to the farmer’s market and picked up a loaf of raspberry infused bread and shared it over coffee— the loaf was local and delicious and only $3. How could we say no?

“Hill” is an understatement.

But here’s where things got lost in translation. We started the hike with wide gravel trails: with limited research, we embarked on the Gavan Hill Trail, which said it was only one mile to a scenic outlook. I’m not sure how they measured that mile, but it was certainly more than that. It was also not flat at all. While my booty may look great from all the stairs and uphill climb, it was a strenuous hike. In fact, I lost my flight attendants about three quarters of the way through. They couldn’t make it any farther, and admittedly, hardly could I. But I didn’t come all this way just to turn back— no, I was going to see this scenic viewpoint, dammit!

Bear spray, not beer can!

They left, and I kept on trucking. My thunderous thighs are quite strong, though, and I have a habit of pushing myself too hard. Mind over matter, stairs galore and switchbacks later, I finally made it to what looked like a patio deck and a bench. A lovely lady who turned out to be from Seattle was sitting there, waiting for her husband who had trekked even farther. She was kind enough to take my picture as proof of accomplishment. The view was stunning, but what I really wanted to see would have taken me even longer. No energy and no water (I know, dumb choice), only armed with bear spray, I rested for a minute before my long trek back. Another family had showed up to the overlook, and I kept the kindness alive by taking their picture. Risking giardiasis, I took a sip from a mountain stream; it was absolutely delicious, and I’m happy to report that my bowels are normal.


I couldn’t be more on brand if I tried.

Eventually, I made it back to the hotel where I rewarded myself with a hefty portion of halibut fish and chips, plus a glass of wine. The sun was setting, putting a nice glow on the mountains, and I retreated to my hotel room. It’s a pastime of mine, but I was looking through the guest directory and found actual stationery and envelopes. I conked out after I wrote two letters to beloveds, only to blast off out of Alaska the next morning. As the passengers were deplaning in Seattle, I bid them adieu; lo and behold, the girl from the top of the mountain recognized me from the hike!

Part II: A Culinary Exploration 

We landed in Sitka again, this time approaching from a different way but no less beautiful than the time before. As is tradition, I guess, the entire crew went out to the Mean Queen and had so much pizza to share— we even ran into some Southwest flight attendants who had been nonrevs on our flight. I didn’t twerk this time, however, but I was feeling low key.

Just shut up.

That same sentiment followed into the next day, when I got up and got ready at my own pace. The farmer’s market is only every other weekend, so that was out of the running; however, last week I stumbled upon a coffeeshop in the back of a bookstore, which is totally my MO. I had a slice of Big Daddy cake, because duh, and I perused the bookstore when it opened. My nose led me to a reindeer dog stand (like a hotdog, but reindeer!). Rudolph never had a chance— this beautiful link of love was wrapped in duck prosciutto, drizzled with raspberry-chipotle jam and balsamic glaze, and topped with grilled onions. Be still my artery-clogged heart!

Sitka was once under Russian rule, if you could tell. 

The night before, though, a captain who joined us for leisure (because he knew the flight attendant) was raving about a local restaurant called Ludvig’s. He said that it’s hard to get into, because it only seats a limited number of guests, and a lot of times it takes a couple weeks to get a reservation. This piqued my interest, as I’m all about bougie exclusivity. I gave them a rang and left a message, saying that I’d like to put my name in the hat for dinner for one. They called me back later that day, and much to my dismay, they were completely booked.

Until an hour later, they called back and said that they had misheard my message and didn’t realize that it was just for one person— I scored the last seat in the house for the night! In an upcoming post, because it deserves that much attention, I’ll regale you with my experience there. As the captain who recommended it said, “Don’t even look at the bill.” And boy howdy, was he right. But I digress…

IMG_0967Alaska didn’t disappoint in both adventures, each time just as lovely as the next. A gate agent invited me to go paddle boarding with her next time I’m there, which only points to the generosity and hospitality that Alaskans harbor. I didn’t get any Sitka overnights for August, but anything could happen on the swap board. My hippie side was vibing— I could feel the energy of the expanse, the lack of people and civilization. For the first weekend, my Verizon service decided not to work well, and the hotel Wi-Fi left more to be desired— so I was truly unplugged for the duration. Prior to this work block, I was hanging out with friends in New York City, and just a week later I was exploring a new-to-me state— this airline life is dynamic and blessed!




North to Alaska — Johnny Horton

Bringing Home Maxine

IMG_6582.JPG“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies,” but taking home a 737 MAX 8 aircraft with Sunwing Airlines might come close.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Johnathan told me that he was asked to come to Seattle to pick up his airline’s new bird. As is customary for most deliveries, employees are asked to attend— frontline and corporate employees, pilots, flight attendants, you name it. It is, after all, an empty airplane that needs to get back to base.

I looked forward to his visit, because he lives in Canada and across the continent at that. But to my surprise and complete honor, he asked if I would be able to accompany him on the actual delivery flight. After a quick check of my schedule, as if it actually mattered, I gave him a resounding, “YAAAAAS!” I’ve done a few interesting things in my budding aviation career, like flown a Caravan with only 11 hours on it— but this tops everything.

And yet, I also had no idea what was in store. The night before the flight, I went to a cocktail reception with representatives from both Boeing and Sunwing. I met Johnathan’s coworkers and the people who made the entire event happen. As I was stand

ing in line to get a Manhattan, naturally, a man named Mark introduced himself to me. He asked what I did, and I responded that I’m a pilot for SkyWest, joining the flight with Johnathan— “Oh, I know SkyWest. Jerry Atkin’s airline, yes?” Formerly, I responded, but yes. (It’s not often that people know of SkyWest, let alone the old president.) We exchanged pleasantries, and that’s when Johnathan told me that Mark is, actually, the president of Sunwing. I was floored, because he was the most approachable, nonchalant, and charming guy— which, as I’m told, is the case in the office as well.

Fast forward to the next morning, meeting everyone in the lobby of the Fairmont Olympic hotel— bright eyed and bushy tailed, we loaded the bus and headed off to Boeing’s Seattle Delivery Facility. We were both confused at the verbiage of our host, in that they wanted us to put our luggage on carts to be loaded on to the plane. Thinking that it would be checked underneath, and not wanting to part with our carry ons (because we’re experienced nonrevvers, people! We know what happens when you lose sight of your bags!), we carried them up the stairs despite the furrowed brows of the Boeing employees. It turns out, however, that they would have given us our baggage later— they were just being extremely generous.


The schedule was as follows: quality time with Maxine, a ribbon cutting ceremony, a luncheon, and departure. As we twirled about the exterior, it was photoshoot time— both of Maxine and us, of course. It was in this moment that I reveled in Seattle’s rich aviation history, probably since I’ve moved there. Over the years, I’ve been to the Museum of Flight, the Future of Flight Aviation Center, Boeing’s production lines and the like— but as Boeing after Boeing formed the conga line to SeaTac overhead, I had an existential I-can’t-believe-I-live-here moment.

After the luncheon, which had details down to the Sunwing-inspired orange tablecloths and cookies, we proceeded through security; although not required, it’s a Boeing protocol due to those pesky and uncertain Canadian characters.


We boarded up and oohed and ahhhed at the interior. The intoxicating new airplane smell and the relaxing mood lights set the scene for our four-hour journey across the continent. As we perused the cabin, noting the new features. All four homosexuals present attempted to get in the lav, and, surprisingly, we mostly fit! President Mark was there to document such a historic event. Happy Pride?!

IMG_0302 2
How many gays can fit in a 737 MAX 8 lav?

It was then time to take our seats and make preparations for getting underway. Despite claiming to be an aisle person, Johnathan sat behind me for the takeoff and promised to return upon reaching 10,000 feet. We departed runway 14R at KBFI for the promised land of the Great White North. Maxine revved up, and off we went! Cruising by SeaTac and making a pass at Mt. Rainier, I was distracted by the views not to notice how incredibly quiet she is! And as someone who flies every week, whether for work or pleasure, noise is fatiguing.

We made our way eastbound, loaded up and truckin’. Given my excellent aviator skills and sense of direction, I felt the presence of my homeland beneath me— it was then that I looked out the window to see the entire Flathead Valley in Montana, where I learned to fly. Clear as day, the Mission Mountains bathed in an afternoon glow, and I shared with Johnathan the incredible views, regaling him with my epiphany of exactly when and where I knew I wanted to be a pilot. Pictures will never do this justice.

Waving goodbye to the Rockies and hello to the high plains, it was time to get our party on. We went to the forward galley for some refreshments of the bubbly sort. The first popped bottle erupted with delight, indicating that Boeing wanted to shake up the party. Seeing this as a moment to take command, Mark assured us that he could open a bottle without the fizz. This was partially true, and things were going well until just a tiny portion of the cork made way for the contents under pressure— but all the champs took aim at a flight attendant cornered in the galley with nowhere to run. Johnathan and I both watched this in slow motion while she was drenched in booze. We all got a good giggle out of it!

And then we were fed. Although they were out of the steak by the time they got to us in the back (which, by the way, no one really spread out and mostly concentrated near the front of the plane. We, however, enjoyed our space with the random artwork sitting in the aft rows). We weren’t disappointed. Beef can be cooked a number of ways, but only one and not to order on an aircraft (I’m looking at you, United, on my recent Polaris excursion). We opted for the salmon, keeping with the aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest, paired with a lovely white wine. Feeling quite divine, we traipsed to the flight deck for a sunset tour.

At this point, we were over northern Minnesota. I asked the captain if we would celebrate penetrating Canadian airspace by blasting Celine Dion over the PA. This didn’t happen, sadly. Meanwhile, I was geeking out over the big displays, gleaning pertinent information of the plane. A senior captain paired with a badass junior FO, the flight crew recounted to me how impressed they were with Maxine.


We returned to our seats and got comfortable for the descent— this time switching sides of the aircraft. According to the arrival procedure, this would be the most advantageous side of the aircraft to see the skyline of Toronto. Again, pictures don’t do it justice. We landed, captured by an #avgeek friend of Johnathan, and made our way through customs. Johnathan had Nexus, and I went through the flight crew line, because, well, I am flight crew…just not on that flight. At any rate, the Canadians warmly welcomed me into their fine country, and we made our way into the city.

Johnathan’s apartment is in an absolutely stunning location just off Church street. To my Queer as Folk fans, we were in the thick of things— and I actually went to Woody’s! Meeting his friends, some avgeeks some not, I was enveloped in the hospitality of Canadian culture. We could take several notes here in ‘Murica.

Following a darling brunch, we headed to Billy Bishop Toronto City airport for Doors Open. Air Canada and Porter represented the airline delegation, and we twirled around the premises.

Disclaimer on Canada in general: I think it’s fake— but not in a disingenuous way. It seems like most things are in order, in a way that the United States cannot compare. This isn’t to say that they don’t have their fair share of problems (especially considering the recent election in Ontario with a Trumpian candidate winning the ticket). But there’s a general air of prosperity and ease of life, rooted in courtesy and respect. Perhaps I’m dwelling in a utopic daydream as a form of escapism. I am and always will be a proud American, but we could do so much better— and Canada proves that to me with each visit, regardless of the coast.

I’m a big hippie at heart, and I’m always attempting to “live in the present moment.” And I can say with complete certainty that I cherished every moment of the weekend. As I’ve told him in private and publicly as well, I’m honored that Johnathan invited me. This was a big deal for not only him— a bucket list item— but his airline in general. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was so happy to have this plane come home. We all have our opinions regarding the 737: that it’s tired, that it’s old hat, that Boeing needs to revamp its midsize narrow body fleet. I don’t disagree. For humans and airplanes, one can only be stretched so much. But Maxine will be a great fit for Sunwing, and this entire event was incredible and profound.

IMG_0172I can’t speak for Johnathan, other than what I saw on his cute face, but I sure as hell didn’t wipe off the cheesy grin until I landed back in Seattle, flying right over from whence we came. And no sooner than I had left to go back to work, Maxine made her first revenue flight that Sunday morning to Punta Cana, mere hours after we had parked— I guess Mark wanted her to make money right away!

Smooth was the entire weekend— the people, the airplane, and the flight (one of the smoother flights I’ve been on in a while, I might add!). Perhaps I’ll see her again in the skies sometime. But in the meantime, she’s busy reclaiming her time!


Soundtrack, because it wasn’t played:

Céline Dion – Taking Chances