Monday, March 30, 2015

Russians on the beach

On my inter-island flight last week, I sat in a 3 person row. Sitting next to me was a couple speaking a foreign language. I eavesdropped and was like "hey that sounds like my mission." Russians. Turns out they were from St. Petersburg. We talked the whole plane ride. Then this week sitting on the beach, there was another family speaking Russian on the lounge chairs next to me. They were from Moscow. I love finding Russians on the beach. It is the best.

Today was screw the diet and catch up on American food day. It included macaroni and cheese, popcorn, root beer, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I have no regrets.

Lorin made the mistake of emailing me a groupon for skydiving in Moab. So Sam and I are going skydiving in May. I have never done groupon before and am afraid that I have embarked on a dangerous and expensive journey. I've been really, really good about not online shopping since coming back, but I think I may be a groupon sucker.

Judy and I went hiking in the forest this week. There was a huge ruckus through the trees and we got a glimpse of a huge black wild boar!  Fortunately, it ran away, because you don't really stand a chance if it charges you. After it was gone, I realized that my reaction to the boar was to grab Judy by the shoulders and hold her in front of me so she was between me and the boar. As in, that was literally what I did. So that was pretty shameful. Danger! Use grandma as a human shield!

We went whale watching and it was the best ever. It's baby whale season! We saw two of them and it was awesome. One of them was a newborn. You could tell because it still had white marks all over it from being curled up inside its mother's uterus. The babies were super playful and jumped and flapped their tales all over the place. It was awesome.

Yesterday, we went to a sushi restaurant. At the end of dinner, Judy opened her purse and realized she'd forgotten her wallet. So I sat at the restaurant as "collateral" while Judy went to get her money. But we'd walked over (since we are obsessed with our fitbits) so it took a while. After 20 minutes the waiter came over and whispered, "I'm sorry, but can I ask you to move to the waiting area. We need this table for a reservation." I don't know why he whispered, but I think he thought it was less shameful. Judy finally showed up and he rung her card. As he handed it back, he said, "don't forget your card." We went to get ice cream next door. It cost $11.02. Judy opened her wallet and realized that she had $10.77 cash and had left her card at the restaurant. They said they'd take the quarter out of the tip jar and call it a day. So that's the story about how Judy forgot her money for dinner twice in one hour.

We almost ran out of gas on the way to church today.

We go home on Tuesday night. No trip to Hawaii is ever long enough.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A list of ten

10. We got kicked off the beach on Wednesday because there was a shark attack

9. It's been decided that I'm the only "true Pugh" in the family, because I'm the only one who actually likes nice things like Lorin and his siblings and his parents all do. 

8. My feet are still in not-so-pretty-after-the-mission mode, but lately I've been loving how they look so small and tough.  

7. I'm thinking I'll stop eating meat again, because it's so bad for the environment. But I don't really the "vegetarian" label. Also, I'm thinking I might like only eat meat on Wednesdays or something like that, because Chinese food.

6. BYU is insisting that I take freshman English, because apparently my Swat seminars just don't compare to BYU freshman English. grrrr

5. I spoke in church today even though I'm totally a visitor. I'm still not sure how that ended up happening. Last night I went to sleep having not really written my talk. I modified my homecoming talk a little and it worked fine.

4. It was cloudy yesterday and so I didn't want to wear sunscreen. I got burned like a lot.

3. I've sporadically added to a short "future husband must-have qualities" list over the past year. The first thing on the list is He must be cool with me driving the majority of the time. 

2. I SAW A BABY BE BORN THIS WEEK. (I went to Honolulu to visit some family friends, who's a doctor and is awesome and arranged for me to shadow all day at the hospital.) Once it was over I was like Yeah, that was incredible. I could totally see myself doing this for the rest of my life. 

1. I think this is my favorite picture from my mission. Can you tell how much I adore her?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Post-Mission Identity

I've thought a lot about the word missionary these past few weeks. Until 4 weeks ago, that word was a big part of my identity. When introducing myself, I always coupled that word with my name. Привет я Сестра Пью, я миссионерка церкви Иисуса Христа святых последнее дней. I remember how long it took people to understand me when I said that word in Russian. You're what? Missionary. What? Missionary! It was like I needed extra chances to confirm my identity. I am a missionary. A missionary. ME. A missionary. Missionary.

I think I did need extra time to embrace that identity. I hated being called Sister Pugh for the first five or so months. I was Hannah. I wasn't ready to give up my identity. And then, at a certain point, things changed. I realized that I wasn't becoming Sister Pugh at the expense of Hannah. I realized that somehow they would one day mesh together into something better. I got over the fear of losing myself to my name tag. I knew I was a missionary when I referred to myself as Sister Pugh inside my own head.

And then I came home and I wasn't Sister Pugh any more. I no longer introduced myself as a missionary. I became something different. I think that in that moment of loss for identity, I started reaching for words that described me, some old and some new. English major. Aspiring midwife. Mormon. Woman. Feminist. Liberal. Daughter. Writer. Reader. Thinker. Driver. We all know the words.

As I did that, I started feeling this pressure to live up to the labels There was tension between them. A feminist is supposed to be like this but a Mormon is supposed to be like this and there is a lot of conflict between those two supposed to bes. I started feeling trapped in a way I hadn't felt in a long time. It was like trying to run towards 8 people all at once; you can't take a single step towards one without betraying another.

Which led me to really think about the labels. When I came home, one of the strongest desires I had was to be true to myself and what I'd learned. I've never felt so free to be myself as I did on my mission. I realize that probably sounds ridiculous to many, because missionaries have so many rules and in so many ways are so the same, but on my mission, I was free from all the labels I'd previously picked for myself, because they simply didn't fit into what I was doing. I felt like, for the first time ever, I was being my real genuine self. It was a self I didn't even know I had, but there she was, waiting to be exposed under all the labels of what I thought I was or wanted to be. And I liked her a lot. I felt good.

One thing I've really come to understand these past weeks is that I am so over being defined by labels. I am rejecting the labels. I'm cutting myself lose from them. It's only been a couple weeks, but already I am so tired of feeling like I have to be certain things because of adjectives I use to describe myself. I want to be myself. I am way more interesting than that walking buzzfeed list of stereotypes I so often feel like I need to conform to. I am reclaiming that freedom to be myself and to be more complicated than any handful of words. I am claiming back the right to be authentic and confident and happy.

I'll tell you one thing I know am; I am a Ukrainian-kitchen dweller. I'll ever cherish all my hours spent in the kitchens of people I love baking, praying, eating, drinking tea, talking, learning, reading, laughing, sharing stories and becoming friends. Sometimes, when I miss Ukraine, I miss the kitchens the most. (And who I was in those kitchens.)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rainy Days on the Island

When I got my iPhone, they gave me a free fitbit. I had no idea what a fitbit was, since I'd only recently returned to civilization, but I've quickly figured it out and like it a lot. I bought myself a new pair of Tevas and I walk for miles in them every day. Judy and I have daily steps competitions. I always win, because I'm stupidly competitive. "I walked farther today than my grandma did." 

It's been rainy and cloudy most of the time we've been here. Under normal conditions, that would be sad, but since we've got a month here, we know the sun will come out eventually. So until we have beach days, I've been reading a lot, spending lots of time with my parents, and taking long walks alone on the beach catching up on 18 months of This American Life. I have a crush on Ira Glass.

We had one sunny day. We went to the beach. I went swimming for the first time in 18 months. It felt so good. I love swimming. I've always loved swimming. It's about freedom and independence. I love the ocean. I love having the ocean near. I think I am conquering my fear of sea turtles. (They sneak up on you while you swim and it's no small matter). 

Judy can never hear/understand anything I say. Lorin bought hearing aids a few months ago. When he emailed me about it, I was horrified, because hearing aids are for really old people. Turns out, the only thing worse than an aging parent with a hearing aid is one without it. I'm taking Judy to get her hearing checked when we go home, because I don't really want to spend the next 10 years repeating myself. I realize that it might be selfish to want her to get hearing aids for me, but as the only child living at home, I take that liberty.

I've been slowly catching up on news a little bit, including the Kate Kelly and John Dehlin excommunications. It makes me sad. It makes me grateful that I wasn't here to be in on that. Sometimes, it really is nice to just not know anything. Ignorance isn't always all that bad after all.

I've been working on managing my iPhone and internet and facebook. I think I let them take over my life a little bit too much when I came home. I installed an app on my phone that tracks how much I use my phone and kicks me off after an hour of use for the day. Wasting time has become something I hate about myself. The internet doesn't make me feel good. Facebook definitely doesn't. I'm learning to set limits for myself. 

I've been thinking a lot about living authentically. I definitely figured out how to live more authentically when I was across the ocean (I'm getting tired of the phrase "on my mission"). I want to keep ahold of that. Of not worrying so much about how I look to other people or on social media. Of not worrying about fitting the certain images. I'm a liberal, a feminist, a Mormon. I like hiking and running and horses. I like books and writing. But I'm trying not to let my images of what people who like those things should be control who I am, because I think I used to do that a lot. I'm trying to be my authentic self. It's harder than I thought. It takes a lot of deliberate choices. But, at the end of the day, I think it's good, because I feel a lot more peace in my heart, and I like that. 

I love this song. My best friend has always loved me for my poor taste in music and movies. I just love what's popular.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I'm not sure if I want to keep blogging. It's kinda something I'm still deciding. But today, I'm sick, I don't want to watch any more TV (I watched 2 seasons of Downton last week), and it's Monday, my email day, so I'm going to go ahead and blog.

I've spent the last two weeks spending time with all the people I love (including some long-overdue alone time). It's been great. I love talking about my mission. I haven't been awkward or weird. It's not been hard to adjust. I've enjoyed myself. And whenever I've talked with someone, the question I've eventually been asked is: "so what are your plans?"

Immediate plans include getting on a plane to Hawaii tomorrow and not coming back until March 31. While there, I plan to enjoy the 3 mile running loop, to catch up on all the books I missed on my new kindle, and to skype as many people in Ukraine as I possibly can. In April, I've got a cool little job-thing lined up, working for an awesome family. Also, I plan to buy a Subaru in the near future.

I decided a couple months ago that I want to be a midwife when I grow up. I decided to be a midwife because I loved being a missionary. I loved being part of women's lives, and fostering relationships with them while practically helping them and working towards something. That's what midwives do. Midwifery is flexible and can fit into literally any kind of life I end up having. I can be a midwife pretty much anywhere in the world. I can work how much or how little I want to. It's perfect.

The decision to be a midwife requires a nursing degree, then a graduate nursing degree in midwifery. Which meant Swat was out of the picture because they have no nursing program. I'd actually been feeling for several months that I needed to leave Swat and go to BYU, but I didn't understand why until I decided I wanted to be a midwife. So I transferred to BYU. So I start down there April 28. I'm planning on pursuing a double degree in nursing and English (because I just can't give up English just yet), which will require like 18-20 credits per semester for the next couple years, but I think I am up for it.

I'm a little nervous to start college again. I've got 18 credits for the spring/summer semester, which will be no easy walk in the park, especially since spring I'm taking two writing-intensive English classes that I'm hoping will whip me into shape after 2 years without writing college papers. I have to take Freshman English, but I'm taking it from my awesome 10th grade English teacher, so that will be fun, I think. It's a little scary, but it will be good.

Spring/summer I'm going to live with my good friend since 2nd grade, Sydney! She's the one who picked me up at the MTC curb two years ago, and I can't wait to live with her. Then in the fall, I'm going to live with my best companion, Sister Welling (whose real life name is McCall, but I'm still getting used to that). I'm excited to live with them.

And last night, I had a dream that a cowboy from Omaha asked me out. So maybe I'll run away with a cowboy after all.

All the love, nonetheless.