Wednesday, August 31, 2005

oh such a perfect day

When I woke up to an unsuspecting Sunday morning, I thought, "Damn, I missed yoga. Maybe I'll go get drunk at the Alaskan." Because I was slightly depressed all weekend thinking of my ex who was drinking himself to a coma, playing guitar, and texting me sad phoenix poems. But first, I answered my cell phone, because its ringing was the whole reason I even opened my eyes even though it was like 11a.m. already. Turns out it was Canders, the girl who had my position before me and is now in Texas, telling me she'd given this guy, Nolan, my number. Which makes that 2 guys in 3 days who have asked her and received my #. Not to mention I got this Prague postcard Friday afternoon from an anonymous person who knows my nickname and attempted to say, "I am loving you" in Tagalog. So Canders wakes me up with these news and I thought, is this a sign to stop moping??

Long story short: Nolan invited me to hike Heintzelman Ridge. That’s the SAME ridge Lisa hiked a few weeks ago with her friend, Colin, and got lost on and state troopers were looking for them. But Nolan was like, oh it’s not that bad, and it’s such a beautiful day. Which it was. Just absolutely gorgeous, completely clear skies and no rain and a pleasant 67 degrees. So I said yes and then panicked how out of shape and awfully slow I’d be, if I even managed to finish the hike.

Well, while I didn't exactly go ridge running, I did (eventually) make it to the top of Thunder Mountain, and we went to the 3rd peak on Heintzelman. We even mooned the helicopters that were flying tourists out to the ice field. We took a really brief nap, and it felt so beautiful up there with the breeze and the grass and all of Juneau below. I could see all of the Valley and Lemon Creek and part of Auke Bay and from Sandy Beach to Outer Point on Douglas Island. There was the Chilkat Mountains and beyond them, Mount Fairweather, which is a very rare sight even from our vantage, because of clouds or forest fire smoke or rain. Our view Mendenhall Glacier was right below us, and behind it, the Seven Sisters and McGinnis and Nugget Spires. We could see Lemon Creek Glacier and two other smaller glaciers too and Split Thumb in the distance. It was such a gorgeous day, and I was proud of my smoking ass making it up 3615 feet when I couldn't go 100 feet up the Y Mountain in Provo without my nose spurting blood everywhere, and Nolan was so fun and nice the whole time, and I laid on the grass higher than the helicopters, than all the world below me and felt so peaceful. I thought of Noble Goble camping out on Mt. Juneau and was happy for him because he must feel the way I felt, and he could forget about girls rejecting him or not finding a niche in Juneau because such things seem so trivial when you’re looking down at life from that high up.

After the hike, we went to his house to eat dinner, and he busted out this huge fresh king crab, cracked them for me, and handed me the most ginormous chunks of seafood. They were so good that eating them almost beat the view. My mom is the #1 crab fan, and I wanted to take a picture of me holding crab meat in both hands, crab stuffed in my mouth, and crab spilling out from the top of my shirt. Then I thought well that would be pretty smelly so I didn't :P Then we went in his hot tub, drank red wine, and looked at Auke Lake and the Mendenhall Towers and the hemlocks and Sitka spruces all around us. Hopefully, this is just one of many perfect Alaskan days, but so far, it's been the best.


When I got home, I went to the Vista House and watched Da Ali G movie with Seamus, Rich, and Cris. After it ended, I went to Brad’s room and talked with him a little bit. I am constantly surprised by him; I found a calculus book in his shelf, and he said he'd borrowed it from the library to learn calculus, for like, fun. Calculus. He also had a Thailand guidebook and said he got it from a friend who owns the Thai restaurant in Auke Bay so I said we should go sometime, and I also mentioned Sweet Dreams at Nugget Mall, and he said yeah we should. When I left, of course the Vista girls were giving each other looks because they’re all busybodies and can’t shut up about other people. I should just start making out with Seamus or Brad in front of everyone one of these days and really give them all something to gossip about.

pick me up love

there is something about his eyes
Seven layers of blue.
i know he loves me but what can i do
i am here,
dream of dark caves
and ghosts,
have a heart slippery as a
Zapotec fish?
i fumble with spoken words
my tongue twisting awkwardly
so i write at 3 a.m.
summoning songs,
instead of sleeping.

"winter was never my season."

i have climbed Thunder Mountain and seen beyond the Chilkats to Mount Fairweather on a juneau day
jumped off cliffs and held a boy’s hand underwater in Greece
rappelled down a ravine and swam in cold Switzerland mountain pools
excavated ancient jade jewelry in the jungles of Belize
dived out of a plane over Catalina Island.
my life
like an article in National Geographic
complete with fold-out pictures.

how do i reconcile this spirit with a boy 
from Cincinnati, 
who paints dragons and Chinese skies 
on his walls
content to draw his dreams
instead of living them?

i know he loves me 

but what can I do 
when there are seven layers of ice
under seven of blue?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Alaskan Wildlife

I was walking out of Auke Bay Elementary this afternoon and heard a noise in the woods that I initially interpreted as a little girl screaming. Alarmed, I looked around wildly for the source, ready to snatch away some 5th grade bully or rescue someone from a well. But after a few moments, I deduced that it was some Alaskan animal. I'm no naturalist, so it could have been a marmot, a porcupine, a bald eagle, or a bald marcupine for all I know.

Contestant #1 Contestant #2
Contestant #3

Capital Chat

This morning, 3 other staff members and I spoke about our school-based program on KINY's "Capital Chat", hosted by Chris Burns. The show was from around 8:30 to 9am. I've never been in a radio station before, so it was really exciting for me, but one of my coworkers, Betsy, was just a pro. She's a real mover and shaker. I didn't expect to pipe in much, if at all, but Chris pointedly asked me questions a number of times so I talked about being a new Alaskan transplant (go Bearcats!) and how I love Juneau now and no, the rain doesn't quite bother me, but the low-hanging clouds sometimes do. Afterward, I took some pictures with him, and another radio employee passed by and remarked, "Well, you don't have to ask her to smile, do you? She's got a movie star smile." I told him, "It's not so pretty when I'm laughing; I look like I'm about to eat someone." Which is true.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

This is her story.

Etna, CA, 2001. A boy who loved me but could not speak it because it's not hard to love, but it's hard to love well. A mother's expectations. I left this and more, scared of the tanning bed smiles and a silver plattered future, and headed for the mountains with crystals that speak. And there, part of me ran off to a place where there are only empty spaces and points of light. I look for her sometimes, most often with people who have fire and tales, but she is long gone, and I hope she is happy.

Jazzland, Vienna, 2002. I wanted to wear my hair in tiny wavelets moussed tight against my face like a 1920s silent cinema star or at least pin an obscenely red flower in my hair, but this was no flapper era, and I thought the white man couldn’t sing the blues.

A dim underground brick cellar. Over 500 years old. The Jazz Greats on the wall. Wooden tables and little church candle stubs, a dark ages throwback in the midst of a Soul reunion. I cramped myself between a young man with a broken finger and a very old gentleman in a grey suit, both of them bopping their heads, tapping their feet, and once in awhile, when the energy shook him, the old guy would pop out some short crazy dance gesture. And all of us in that beautifully dark dungeon pretended we were somewhere, someone else and drank to keep our lips wet and our fantasies going.

Los Angeles, 2004. He was soft as rainwater, but his heart was a tangle of knots and numbers. I was hard and sharp as obsidian, but my heart spilled, overflowed, with words and loose threads. I could not deceive myself from a troubled life, my love bigger than something I could box neatly and tie with a string. Loud and raw and exploding. I knew this and was sorry for it; there was much pain here. I could salt my heart or choose between two realities. In one, I jumped for joy, the way creatures do, and children do and adults don't do. In the other, I would spend my life wondering where the leap went.

Where the Northern Lights Live, 2005. I have circled the world round and round, endlessly, and with each place, part of me lingers behind and the me that leaves is different for it. I wonder if cities have Volckringer patterns of people, faint imprints of selves, and I wonder if they go about their business in some sepia-colored world we can't see. If I went back to Brantford, would I glimpse a 19-year-old me forever sitting on a bed, terrified of what I'd done and what I was about to do?

There is always another beginning. Nothing, ever, is that neatly tied up like brown paper packages or Hollywood movies or modernist novels. Whatever we build is temporary. Loves and buildings and entire civilizations get torn down indiscriminately. So we start over, we hold hands and bare bodies, we cook good food, and we remember what it was like before. Before the change or the heartbreak or the bombs. We fight to hold on. We fight to let go.

"In my dream, the angel shrugged and said, If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Helicopter Ice Field Excursion

I'm gonna be here, booyah!I (heart) Juneau so bad. After work, you can do amazing things like hike in the rainforest or go rock-climbing or ... go on a helicopter ride to tour the Juneau Ice Field! Yes, that's right, I'm going tonight or tomorrow. And the kicker--it's free!!

Why? Because I rock the f-ing casbah, that's why.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I don't think I helped my reputation today

Today's slightly embarrassing moment: I left my house this morning headed for the high school to attend the teachers' breakfast. Wanting to make a good impression, and being a bit rushed, I quickly donned black boots--my closest pair of nice work shoes, but the heels click loudly when I walk in them. So I take a shortcut I know through Cope Park and Juneau's historic cemetery. Imagine this hushed, picturesque graveyard with a small morning memorial service going on, people with their heads bowed in prayer, and here I come around the corner clippityclop, clippityclopping along on the rock pathway. On one hand, I felt like an idiot. On the other, I couldn't be late. Well by the time I reach the school, I've worked up a sweat (which on me, is never a sexy sheen, it is like obviously sweaty and gross), and my boots are covered in grass, dew, and mud. So much for trying to look professional.

Today's photo opportunity: Last weekend, I volunteered for a benefit concert which was donating half of its profit to us and half to Red Cross. Today, the concert organizer came over to take pictures of him handing us the checks. My boss said he's always in the paper so I should stand in instead.

I was going to include a picture of that, but I looked fat so here's a skinnier version of me wearing exactly the same thing I am wearing today except this was taken 2 years and 10 pounds ago. Oh and I'm holding a check for $1100 instead of a rum and coke with a twist. Upgrade!

So whenever that does run in the Juneau Empire and/or Capital Weekly, a) that will be the 2nd time in a month that my mug's graced the local pages and b) I'm going to earn a reputation for being an attention hog.
Well...either that or the rude import who has no etiquette for sacred death rituals.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Free Willy!

Thinking about: "Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough." ~J.W.

My sister, her husband, & I went whale-watching at Auke Bay yesterday and had an amazing time. The boat driver's name was "Captain Larry" and he smelled like a week's accumulation of bad tobacco and no showers. Because they picked me up half an hour late, we were the last to board and had the only available seating left: right behind Stinky McStinksalot. My sister and I invariably wound up spending most of the time on the outside decks while my brother-in-law obliviously stayed inside.
Don't Capture Me!
So the tour guide began by talking a bit about the wildlife and differences between humpbacks and orcas. For example, did you know that orcas in the wild live up to 90 years old whereas orcas in captivity live less than 10?? It's all fun and games until precious sea mammals die 80 years younger.

The guide told there's only about a 15% chance of seeing orcas on any given day, but then we ended up seeing like 6 of them so I'm wondering if he gives this shpiel all the time so tourists get giddy and overtip when they do show. Regardless, it was incredible to see them. They even got pretty close to the boat. Of course, what everyone on these things really want is to see the whales do something amazing like breach the water and do flips as if such behavior were common and natural because Sea World spoiled us when we were 7. And I'll tell you when they ARE most likely to do something like that: the moment your eye muscles start quivering from staring at your digital camera too long waiting for said event so finally you close your eyes for a moment, relax your hands and let the camera drop to the side. Then bam! The whales just performed a quickly executed Roy Rogers dance number and by the time you get your camera perfectly focused and zoomed to take the picture, all you catch is a little bit of their tail as they dive back beneath the surface. So yeah. That's my story of why I'm about to have 10 photographs of tails in various underwater-return.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Caterpillars and Missed Flights and Whales, Oh my!

We had a table set up for Mendenmall's Back-to-School Event today from 10-2, and we drew very low interest--mostly (in my opinion) because right across from us was a blow-up giant caterpillar playland for kids. You can fill out boring paperwork... or jump in this!!! We didn't stand a chance. Our competition
I was really excited to wake up to today since my sister and her husband are arriving. But then she calls me, and they had missed their flight from Seattle to Juneau so instead of seeing her for dinner, they won't even arrive until 10p.m. Shucks.
That's okay since the 3 of us are booked for a whale-watching tour tomorrow! I've been really excited about it for over a month now, but then I read this crazy "whale of a tale"! Which, besides sorta freaking me out, serves to remind me how very, very far away from Cincinnati I am, where the closest thing to a beach is the polluted Ohio River, and the nearest thing to a killer whale might be the mutated catfish who get angry when you swim in their toxic watering hole.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dear Jeebus, I Love Anthropology

thinking about: you're the color, you're the movement and the spin...

So I contacted the UAS anthropology professor some time ago so I can "keep a hand in" the field and stimulate my social science neurons. We had a very fruitful meeting in which he explained his background experience and projects. He had a multitude of great ideas and was very personable to boot. An adopted son of a local Tlingit clan, he suggested he introduce me to some of the elders and maybe get invited to some upcoming potlatches. That would not only be an amazing personal experience but will flesh out a lot of the dry textbook stuff I read in college about them.

One project he posited for me to work on is an ethnography of sorts on the Filipinos in Juneau. They have a really strong presence not only in this city but in the entire state; they're the largest Asian population in Alaska. He knows the editor of Alaska History, a board-reviewed journal, and said if I incorporated archival research into the contemporary scene, I could probably be published. How awesome would that be??? I'd have a published article before grad school, and I won't feel so angry about my Anthropology nemesis (who shall remain nameless).

The professor is also some bigtime caver/mountaineer and does work for the U.S. Forest Service. Some of the projects they work on are caving expeditions in the Tongass Rainforest where they drop into caves and map them out doing all kinds of GPS work and stuff.

Professor: Well, there is this other thing you could get into... but, it takes a certain type.
Me: I'm a certain type! What is it??

Professor: They're called "pit projects" and they hike around 12 hours a day looking for caves. Then they drop into them, and sometimes they're totally vertical with walls smooth as a baby's butt, and we just use a single rope technique...(at this point, my mind fogs with caving terminology)...accident, too bad.
Me: Wait, what? Accidents what?

But seriously, if I were to go for it, he said I'll be trained over the winter to participate next summer. So I'm thinking, mother of pearl, this is the stuff of National Geographic Extreme Edition and even if I suffer vertigo more often than I care to admit, I will just have to suck it up and go for it. Cuz honestly, how often do kids fresh out of college just get to go on paid spelunking adventures in Alaskan rainforests?? In your face CRM boys!

Yet another project he hopes to have in the works (dependent on receiving a grant) is an overview of cultural assessment in Glacier Bay.

Booyah! That is so beautiful. It would basically involve kayaking to remote islands to do ground surveys for Native cultural property.

Well well well, I may just have to quit my position at BBBS! (Of course I won't; I don't want to be flighty with my commitment like that. And I do love this job.) But if all these things goes well, then I will probably stay in Alaska a little longer than I originally planned.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hoodoo! Who Do? You do.

Seams, Steener, and I watched "The Skeleton Key" last night, to my chagrin since I spearheaded the outing with much ado. Erghh, how bad does this movie suck? Let me count the ways...

1. It's simply not scary when the supposedly evil witch people yell, "She's fixed the doors, ma!", reminiscent of a redneck shouting for a shotgun.
2. I love you Kate, but "hoodoo" yourself back to "Almost Famous", when your movie character had depth and held interest.
3. Speaking of bad characters, Caroline (Hudson) is supposed to be an empathetic hospice caretaker, yet her idea of healing involves scaring the holy sh*t ghosts out of a traumatized, old man. Not to mention, it got a tad ludicrous when she crashes her little economy car multiple times into steel gates with the poor decrepit guy sliding around in the passenger side. Then, after ensuring he's too paralyzed with fear and injuries to escape by himself, she lays him on a workbench in a wet tool shed, throws a sheet over his head, and drives to her boytoy's house.
4. Can we please start making other rooms scary besides ones in attics? I haven't liked a movie attic since Beetlejuice; that's a long time people!
5. The ending isn't exactly predictable per se (although there are a lot of hunches you get after 30 min. into the movie that turn out more or less true), but Damn Gina. The extended epilogue just about used interpretive dance, American Sign Language, and a Power Point presentation to get the message across. We get it. It's not even that shocking. Stop trying to jock M. Night Shamalamabingbang.

On a more positive note, I thought Rowlands and that old dude gave good performances despite a rotten script. And...well, it wasn't a waste of two hours as much as "I Know What You Did Last Summer", or "Jeepers Creepers". Those movies made me die a little inside. But yeah, so much for the horror thrills I was seeking. This film is just like creepy rooms in the attic, don't go there.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Big Brothers Big Sisters Bible, a passage

Thinking About: Yes I will come for you. Roll my strength into a ball for you. Throw myself across chance for you. I will be the bridge or the pulley because you are the dream.

I'm leaving work shortly for our Auke Bay satellite office to do my *very first interview* with a potential volunteer. The paperwork is ridiculous; I already have a stack of forms as thick as my undergrad thesis, and that's just to get her file started. If all goes well and she becomes matched, her file will grow into something the size of a Bible.

From 'The Word of Marc, 8:16': "Oh ye, courageous Big Brothers and Sisters far and wide, take heed. For though thou walkst in the shadow of the Mendenhall Valley, thou still needs a form of government-issued picture I.D."


Monday, August 15, 2005

Future Honorary Citizen of Davis, CA

Elsin threw a BBQ at her house-sit last night, and the place is amazing. The owners decorated it with wonderful objets d'art from all over the world, and there were books everywhere that emanated a sense of, "hey, we're knowledgeable, we're curious about things that are bigger than us, and i bet you really want to be our friends." Which is true. I really do want to be their friends. The living room had an entire wall of slanted floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the channel and Douglas Island and "the flats", and there was an impressive telescope and a library nook which is a miniature version of the one in my dreams.

They also had two dogs, which somehow seemed out of place in such a cosmopolitan setting. One must have been ancient, and wobbled along on severely unsteady legs like a well-meaning kid put on circus stilts; the sight just about broke my heart. The other looked a bit daft in the head and despite all the luxuries the house had, had only a large twig and a piece of black stone to use as toys. And guard them in all his dopey glory he did.

The most exciting part of the evening occurred when I met Elsin's half-Filipina friend's mother. After talking at length about the Philippines and a bit about my (distant) relation to the ex-president, she revealed that she came to Davis, CA decades ago for graduate school in chemistry. Curious, I asked what she did for a living now. Turns out, she's the mayor. She said if I visit, she'll make me an honorary citizen of Davis. And while that won't get me the key to the city, it'd still be a pretty damn cool certificate thingy on my wall.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Do the Hustle!

Watched "Kung Fu Hustle" at Silverbow yesterday with Steener & Gobie. The movie was free, and I liked the venue better than the Nickelodeon theatre because a) you can sit at tables and eat dinner while you watch and b) the floor doesn't slope down the further away from the screen you are. This movie is soooo hilarious!!! And yes, it is better than "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist". Much, much better. In fact, it's brilliant.

Alright, I exaggerate a smidgeon. But seriously, go watch it.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mr. Hanky Panky, the Christmas Erection

cander's party was fun. you know it'll be interesting when the house punch is called "pink panty droppers"--a lethal combo of tequila, vodka, beer, and lemonade powder. if not panties dropping, then at the very least, standards, and someone was bound to get something. some of the players that night:

mr. peepers: not at all in reference to the SNL monkey man but because this creepy guy lived across the street from can and winn and watches them undress through the windows. when he shook my hand, it felt bizarrely sleazy and made me want anti-bacterial soap even though i didn't know about his reputation yet.
peter, pumpkin eater: so drunk even his eyes looked slurred, and perhaps sober, he would have been quite charming, but in his inebriated stupor, his personality had flatlined. still, he has to get credit for being a naval engineer, so he couldn’t have been so retarded in normal circumstances. made inappropriate invitations to me and stared at my boobs before wandering out of the bar, i'm sure, because he was attempting to find a bathroom and got lost.
jeff, the redneck: whose real name is actually nolan but he shaved his beard in this ugly way for a theme party earlier that day. i guess i can forgive him for that when he was sporting such a fly, pearl-snap button shirt.

aside from peter's embarrassing attempts to publicly procreate with me, and his friend's comments of wishing to be so lucky as to make out with me, i thankfully did not give into the mixed drink's title and walked home by myself before the bars closed.

Friday, August 12, 2005

follow the bouncing ball

alaskan geography 101: Juneau is in "the inside passage". The Gastineau Channel separates us from Douglas Island, and the Juneau Ice Field separates us from people who say, "Woah bear!"

It's hilarium!

i suppose since some (ok, one person) likes to call me 'phoenix', it's only appropriate that my online journals also shed their old skins and start anew. so here i am on blogger because of my roommate, i.e. Stina, Cris, Steener, or my personal favorite, Dirty Skank. so goodbye easyjournal, and thanks for all the fish!

so she already talked about our i won't go on complaining about the leaks and the foyer that smells like rancid butt and the ghost in my closet who knocks at 6a.m.

instead, i will regale you with my version of last night's salsa fiesta, because kitty is no juneau nemesis of mine, so here's what else happened: the usual suspects came, the usual shenanigans happened, and the usual creepy old men stared at the Vista girls. after i walked home that night, i shot myself in the foot. figuratively speaking.

tonight, a coworker and her roommate are throwing a house party, and i really hope i'm out of bullets.