I sit here in a recliner with a heavy blanket covering me as well as an assortment of ridiuclous, tiny kittens. My friend Amanda is asleep on one side of the room and Grandma, upon returning to bed, has also gone to sleep. In the middle of the room is a huge set of windows that allows me to see a good deal outside, and most of what I see is WHITE. And not just white Christmas white, but desert storm white. As in, this is what you see in the movies before movie characters get lost or stuck and DIE. The wind is blowing INTENSELY, and the snow is so thick that I can't see to the other side of the backyard. If you were out in this, in a field somewhere, you probably, literally could not see your hand in front of your face. I've seen snow since I've been here, however this is surreal stuff.
I'll write about the trip up here sometime, I took a pretty decent log of all things in my notebook, but so much time is passed it's weird to think about catching up. Anyway, the trip was good for me. I'm glad I decided to do it that way, even if it was occasionally terrifying and I don't especially reccommend it to girls traveling alone. Ultimately it was really empowering-- to stop where I wanted and to not have to worry for a second about other passengers. I like traveling with people, it's nice to share the experience with someone (and several times on the trip I was sad that I had no one to "ooh" and "awww" with over the sights), however whenever I have had travel companions in the past I've been very concerned about their level of comfort or interest that the trip often ends up being mildly dissatisfying. But this was good. I felt happy. I felt like I could take on anything. I felt probably the best I've felt in a long time. Definitely reaffirmed my desire to travel, and after staying in hostel after hostel and finding most places with ease, I can't seem to understand why I hadn't done all this before. THIS IS WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING. And it's what I think I will try to do at every spare moment with any spare dollar. Once I have a spare dollar.
North Dakota is a very interesting place. I really like it. It suits my present western phase. I think it will be fairly easy for me to write Westerns here (IE finish the one I started and write another one... the next one I want to write must be set here). I looked it up and only about 10 movies have been set in North Dakota, one of them being Leprechaun and another being Fargo, which only has about two scenes set in Fargo itself. I find this a bit odd. I think I shall be the one to change this. Also, the people here are definitely interesting, and the family I'm staying with has been here for so many years that they know everyone's story. Writing material. I hope I do the right thing with it.
The actual town I'm living in is called South Heart. It has a population of about 300, give or take a few. It's mostly neighborhoods situated on the Heart River, a pretty little river that twists and bends. Railroad tracks go straight through the town (making directions to one house or another dependent upon said house's location in relation to the tracks-- IE on the "other side of the tracks"). There's a grain mill, no longer in use, mostly, by the tracks. There's a golf course (apparently this is of note and people do come from out of town to use it in the summer), a post office, a bank that's open till 12, a gas station, a defunct cafe, a small Catholic church with a little Prieslet parish, and the famed "I Don't Know Bar." Girls do not go to this bar, generally. In one corner of the town there's a field where mobile homes have congregated. These are the oil field workers trying to make due. There has been such an oil boom nearby that all of the towns are packed with oil workers, they cannot build housing quickly enough to accomodate them.
The town is sort of surrounded by an odd dirt road that goes back, circles round this desperate, sad area of fallen trees, and passes by a beautiful farm. The Heart River passes through this farm also, giving it an incredibly idyllic feeling. When I passed by it everything in it was terribly still, including the river, giving the impression that no one actually lived there.
There's one cop here. Her name is Linda. She patrols in the afternoon when the kids get out of school just to make sure no one is speeding. However apparently she doesn't have the authority to technically write out a ticket (She has to go through the county authorities), so she mainly just tries to seem threatening. Everyone here generally considers her a joke. I wish I could write something about her but it'd be too similiar to Fargo.
Dickinson is the town closest, and where the focal point of the boom is. It's population is about 3-4,000, but so many people are moving there that it's just exploding. People here are saying it will triple in size within the next two years or so. Aside from the oil, the main draw of Dickinson is the college there. It's a state college... I'm not sure what especially it's known for, though apparently the main way the place snags students is through their athletic teams. Most young people out and about seem to belong to some sports team or another. The college itself is very pretty, made up of red brick with old signs and fences, reminds me of a mini UCLA except with a good deal of age. In Dickinson there are little churches everywhere (only one big church that I've seen, which is a Catholic church of course). The other attraction seems to be the DINO museum, which is closed half the year. I can't wait to investigate THAT (actually I saw many signs for various dino museums as I made my way into North Dakota... I wonder why that's a thing out here).
Everyone here has the good ole Marge-from-Fargo accent, noticable especially when the word "bag" is used. It always comes out "beyg."
I've been applying for jobs alot this week. It looks like all of the nicer ones have been snatched up lately, so I guess I'll have to take a crappy one for awhile. I'm OK with that so long as I'm being paid well, which I think I will be. Everyone is hiring here. It's the surreal opposite of California. EVERYWHERE you go there is a huge NOW HIRING sign, promises of sign-on bonuses, the whole shebang. It's crazy. So basically if I get sick of one job I can hop to another one lickity split. I actually really want to try factory work-- horrible sounding, of course, with 12-hour shifts, God help me, but the pay is great and the hours... there's so many of them. I don't know how long I could handle that mentally, but it'd be very interesting to try for awhile.
In the meantime Grandma and I get along great, despite the fact that the whole family is now in one house due to Grandma's apartment flooding (a temporary arrangement). Thankfully she has a sweet demeanor for one suffering with dementia and is almost always cheery (unless she's hungry). Her attention span lasts about one minute, however from time to time she'll bring up old stories. Yesterday she spoke about growing up and wanting to beat her older brother Harlan home from school. She cut through a field in order to cut him off, but it was incredibly muddy and she actually got completely stuck in it and had to stay there until her uncle came looking for her and fished her out.
There are also kittens on hand!! And horses! Horses that I will ride once the snows have gone. A few nights ago Amanda and I heard a thudding noise and went upstairs to investigate. Turns out one of the little kittens (I think they're about 2-3 weeks) had, we think, climbed on a chair then fallen and face-planted. We walked into a room full of blood. The kitten, heavily bleeding from its mouth, had stumbled around the room, dripping everywhere. I had no idea that so small a creature could contain that much blood. I thought for sure it was dead, but I rushed it to the sink and cleaned it off and made it be still for a few minutes (it had aggravated its condition by scratching at itself), and finally it seemed to breathe ok. After Amanda finished cleaning up all the blood I gave the kitten back to it's mother and I started to remember that scene in the cartoon 101 Dalmations when they save Lucky. That's kind of what it felt like, rubbing the little one so that it might wake up. Now the little bugger has one eye swollen shut and it's tooth out of place, but it's alive and once again every bit as curious and suicidal as its bretheren.
Annnnnd now Amanda is showing Grandma her foot and insisting it is a kitten. Grandma (patting it): "This one isn't as soft as the others..." There are waffles upstairs. The snow is still raging outside. My legs are as dry as the sahara. Such is life in North Dakota.