Sunday, May 31, 2009

What I did on my vacation. By Melissa.

What did I really do on my vacation?

Well, obviously I did all the things I said I did, plus missed a flight, plus cried about travel stuff, plus read an entire novel before landing in Seattle, plus let a random passenger rest his head on my shoulder, etc.

But really, what? I set myself up to be happy!

Maybe part of the happiness is sun and vitamin D related, but part of it is that I got out and had fun, but I also managed to appreciate "home" a lot more. Home. Not in quotations. Not in italics. I'll admit to it.

So, here are some interesting tales from the East Coast and being back in Alaska, etc.

In DC I got to hang out with the campaign kids! I got to see Mr. C and Mr. A, with whom I had at some point spent well over half my time total and most of my waking hours for much of the time I was on the campaign. I also saw a friend from college, another Mr. C. He let me sleep on a futon. While there I managed to go to a ton of museums and do a lot of sight seeing, went to a couple bars, and I ate more fro-yo. Juneau needs fro-yo. Freau Yeau.

I also saw cockroaches. Ew.

I saw Avenue Q on Broadway. Amazing musical. So relevant. Of course I can relate to a recent liberal arts grad with no plans and no luck. Even if it is a puppet.

I missed a flight, swore, cried, pleaded, and eventually made it home. Between NYC and SEATAC the flight was packed. There was a guy sitting between me and this woman. He was very friendly and seemed really innocent for some reason. Then I found out that he grew up in NYC, is a marine, and recently returned from Iraq. Guess I'm not the best judge of character. After learning that I felt a little weirder about having said, "go for it" when he asked to rest his head on my shoulder.

When I returned, the first thing I got to do was go to Breakfast with Miss A. We hit up the Piper, which we with some frequency if not regularity. We also stopped into Salvo to check for treasures but walked out empty handed. I then went home, relaxed, showered and went to work at the Berg.

Friday was a poker night and featured some friends and all good people. It was a really successful night for the bar and me and it seemed to be a sign that I had come back at just the right time. Welcome home, it said.

Saturday I slept in late to get back into the Alaska time zone and the bartender time on top of that. It's funny to go from waking up at reasonable hours on the East coast to pulling the late night schedule of a bartender on Alaska time. Makes the time difference a bit more.

Saturday night I worked again and many of my friends made appearances and I had a really fun night. I may have been legitimately drunk by the time I closed up, though. Ah, professionalism.

Today I went to brunch at the Alaskan with some friends. We had breakfast foods and Miss C and I drank mimosas - I bought the "champagne" from the liquor store across the street and brought it over. Classy. I also, after actually becoming intoxicated, went to coffee with a new friend. We grabbed coffee and walked around and I dragged him up to Chicken Yard Park because it is wonderful. I snagged us the swings after some children got off. I still think a playground without swings is really not much of a playground.

Now I'm at work again and it's a quiet night, but I've had such a lovely time being back that I can't even be upset or concerned.

It's nice to be someplace beautiful with so many good friends.

Is it the vitamin D? Is it the afterglow of the vacay? Or is it that my life is just really good?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some will win, some will lose, some were born to sing the blues...

As you may recall from my blog devoted entirely to being lost, taking the wrong subway train, and other such exasperating matters - I don't have the best luck with travel sometimes.

Yesterday was no exception.  

After saying goodbye to everyone, including that rat that scurried across the sidewalk as I left Liebling's apartment (is a brown rat crossing your path bad luck?), I spent my last morning tying up loose ends, going to the credit union (since my friggin' card was 'misplaced') and getting my last cup of PinkBerry for the trip.  I then grabbed my backpack and suitcase and headed to the Broadway/Nassau station to hop on the A train to Far Rockaway, getting off at Howard Beach.  The train was faster than anticipated and I hopped on the Airtrain to get to the correct terminal.  Sure I accidentally got off at terminal 7 thinking I was flying United again, but I corrected my error thanks to the Crackberry and made it to Terminal 8 with an hour and a half before my flight was to depart.

Cue American Airlines SHIT SHOW.  Really, Am-Air?  After dragging my suitcase into some labyrinth of nylon tape I was directed to go to another line in another area, "Go all the way to the end" she said.  I went.  I had to do the self check-in on a machine which is less user friendly than the ones at the Juneau or Seattle or even San Francisco airports (must just be Am-Air) and then I was in a line to check my bag - for $15.  First there wasn't so much a line as a giant mass of frustrated travelers.  Then there were a number of lines.  Then the jerk-face at the head of my line made us all get into one line, pushing me further back.  Then there were people accidentally in the non-existent line being served, then there were people who were slow and in the way, then there was a woman who couldn't find her passport.  Then there was me.  

"You're too late."  I stare incredulously.  "Too late?"  Then, upset because I totally called it, telling the woman that if I miss my flight because of this shit show, I would be pissed.  Did I jinx myself?  "I'm to late?  No.  I can't be too late.  I'm only late at all because of this FUCKING SHIT SHOW!"  Oops.  I opened my mouth and not so nice things came out.  The man, of some South Asian descent, told shoved my passport and cash back at me and told me to get out of his line, that he would not help me.  Not that he was helping me anyway.  Desperate and upset, I asked the other woman (who knew what she was doing and friggin' went at a speed not metaphorically similar to a snail or a three-toed sloth) and she told me to go to this place - TICKETING.

After waiting in another really long line (my original flight not departing for another 20 minutes at least) I made it to the front of the line.  "Where are you going?" asks the woman.  "Seattle."  Oh, it's too late.  "Yes.  That's why I'm at the ticketing counter.  Can I get another flight?"  After a few minutes I was told that I'd be put on another flight to Seattle.  That left the same time the next day (today).  Ugh!  I walked away, frustrated.  Then I walked right back and asked about my connecting flight to Redmond, Oregon.  "Oh, on standby."


Talking to my mom about how upset I was, the first thing she could say was, "Well I don't have any money to help you."

Great.  Not that I was counting on it, but it just wasn't the conversation I needed.  And since I was going to miss seeing my grandma.  And since my sister isn't actually popping out a baby just yet.  And since my bank account was a little lower than I'd have liked.  And since I was second guessing retaking ownership of my car anyway.  I determined that instead of my AlCan adventure, I would just go home to Juneau.

Defeat?  Maybe.  But I'm fine.  Better, perhaps.  Better because I can go back to work, make money, pay rent next month, buy food, etc.  Oh, and maybe pay bills.  Listing the credit card companies in my phone as "Douchebags" and "Fucking Jerk Faces" and changing the ringtone to mute isn't the most effective way to deal with finances.  

Looks like I'll be back to Juneau, my lovely little town, where everyone knows me and most love me.  

This sounds really self centered and silly but OMG was it frustrating to be so anonymous that I didn't get hit on (except by a select few CREEPERS) and didn't get drinks bought for me and I didn't even have random conversations with interesting people.  Good thing I already knew people in this town.  City.  Whatever.  

Well, now I'm off to try it all again.  This time leaving about an hour earlier, taking the Long Island Railroad, and I'm not taking any crap from any little old ladies or slow friggin' clerks this time.  No way.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Smell of Wine and Cheap Perfume

Maybe the perfume isn't cheap. Maybe it's a lot of Jean Paul Gaultier and Burberry and D&G and Armani and stuff like that, but I can officially say that I've partied in New York City.

Last time I was in the City I went to a bar or two in SoHo with some college girlfriends. I should have remembered from that experience that SoHo bars are overpriced. I didn't. Hence the hipster shit show on Thursday night.

I've been out a lot with Liebling and co. We started the going out with a Friday Happy Hour at La Palapa in the West Village. Happy hours are big here. Happy hours are glorious here. Half price drinks? Yes. For those of you not privy to the Alaska Laws of Liquor, we don't have happy hours. We don't have amazing drink specials. We limit the number of drinks set before a person. In New York City, imbibing 5 drinks in two hours is a brilliant idea. End of happy hour nearing? Better grab another drink while the special still stands! At that first, lovely happy hour I had three Margaritas - maybe four - plus a small flute of champagne and a shot of hibiscus infused tequila (the latter two on the house). We were celebrating the birthday of the Natalie Portman Doppelgänger. Saturday night was another night out, but this time we went out a little later and had dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy (once I had been directed to get there and met by Miss Tall A and brought back) and lots of Sangria. After that was the overpriced B Bar in the Bowery.

This last weekend we did a happy hour in honor of Liebling's birthday (we're entering our MID-TWENTIES now) and went to this giant open air bar and restaurant on the river. It was a long wait and the service was sparse, but with hundreds upon hundreds of guests, I won't complain all that much. The Margaritas were cheap during Happy Hour and plentiful all evening. I had enough to get a nice buzz, but not quite so much as Liebling, who was skipping and frolicking and joyfully drunk. I will do her a favor and not list the funniest moments here. Let's just say that when the tale was told at the nail salon ($23 mani-pedis!) the little asian ladies giggled hysterically and Liebling turned a shade of fucshia which rivaled her newly polished nails. We went to a second bar after the Happy Hour, but I wasn't particularly feeling the vibe and was feeling a bit sleepy so I headed out after one drink.

Saturday was another party night. This was the official celebration of Liebling's birthday with sangria and mexican food at her apartment. We had a lot of fun and some of the highlights included my dirty feet (from walking barefoot on the porch) and my travel mug kamakazis. At around 12:15am we headed out to go to a bar to drink and dance. During the ten block walk, the party crasher - a geeky, homely looking fellow with sport sandals and a blazer - insisted on butting into my conversations. My friend from Germany, Miss I, and I were trying to catch up and he would regularly pace us (on my side) and ask, "What's up?" I should have replied, "Well, we were having a conversation." Even after we got to the bar he seemed to have picked me out as the person to follow. Miss I was picked out by the Italian neighbor (he wasn't bad though). At one point, scanning the table of friends, he waved to me. Eventually he was absorbed by another group and we went downstairs and danced until it was time to head home.

Including the shit show in SoHo and the brief but fun sojourn in Williamsburg, I'd say the nightlife in New York is acceptable. Happy Hours have been the most fun, so far, but perhaps the dancing would be nice too if my feet weren't so sore from the touristing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

It's a lovely day in the neighborhood! Which neighborhood? Well, most of them. If you ignore the fact that it's hot and humid, the fact that it's not raining makes it seem nice. And if you ignore the fact that you are in the Bronx, life almost seems pleasant.

Last time I went to NYC I stayed in Manhattan. I think I only made it as far South as SoHo (eff SoHo bars) and I didn't even end up quite so far North as Harlem, though it wasn't far from my hostel, and though it is apparently the next target of gentrification.

This time in The City I managed to make it to Brooklyn and the Bronx. And to the Bronx I say, "Don't stop believin'." Someday, White People could take over your neighborhood, too.

Are you familiar with Gentrification? If you are not, you should wiki that shit. Here, I'll do the work for you: Wikipedia on Gentrification.

I visited the Bronx on Friday. My friend Liebling is a teacher out there. I took the 1-2-3 line to Burnside and stepped out into the Bronx. I was the only white person and most of the shops looked retro and/or had signs mostly in Spanish. It was hot, humid, loud, and gritty. I walked a few blocks and got to Liebling's school. Her class was small today due to a lot of absences and the children were all adorable 2nd graders but full of energy since none of them have the luxury of back yards, and if they did, would they be allowed out to play in them? Uniforms are required and I honestly think that it is a positive thing in this community. Some of the kids in her class were really bright but at least one of the students should have been in a class where he could receive more individualized attention. Apparently he gets pulled out of regular class once in a while to spend time with a special needs instructor. All the kids were 'ethnic minorities' though in this area they were clearly the majority. They were mostly sweet kids and asked some bright questions, wanted to learn to do stuff, and they were pretty excited about most things. I got lots of hugs and lots of curious questions. Perhaps a sign of the life to which they are accustomed, I was asked if I had kids. One of Liebling's co-workers, an older woman, bitched a ton about this and that and everything else. One of her comments was, "This woman sent her kid to school sick, she didn't feel well at all, she felt so bad she was sobbing. What kind of mother sends her kid to school when she feels that bad?" And I could think of reasons - a working mother who can't afford to take time off to stay home with her child, a mother who is determined her daughter will get a good education so she doesn't get stuck living in poverty, or a mother who thinks that her daughter might receive more help from a school nurse than she herself could provide? I think that it is a sad thing when a teacher in inner-city NYC can't imagine how different it must be for a poor mother vs. a white, middle class mother.

Yesterday I visited Brooklyn. My German friend, Miss I, and I started out in Brooklyn just across the Williamsburg bridge, where the neighborhoods were clean and quiet and where there were art galleries. Then we managed to take a train to another part of Brooklyn, which we briefly explored after a freak storm with pouring rain, lightning, thunder and even hail. When that cleared up we stepped out onto Flushing Street, where Miss I and I discovered ourselves in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. I think Hasidic? Haredi? Anyway, most everyone we saw was dressed in such a manner that it felt like we had gone back a century in time. The men all wore black trousers and coats with white collared shirts and black hats and most had beards and all had the curls. Even little boys playing on the sidewalks had the curls hanging down from their temples. All the women I saw wore modest and older fashioned looking clothing and all of the women who looked to be wives and mothers were wearing pill box hats. It was interesting. We ended up getting back on the train very near where we started to get to where we had actually intended to go.

We were really trying to head to Williamsburg. Williamsburg is home of the hipsters. Thanks to Gentrification, a neighborhood which was once home to an ethnically diverse community, mostly poorer families, is now home to mostly white kids in ugly clothes. The poor ethnic families must have been pushed out to the Bronx or Queens. Walking through Williamsburg, one sees mostly people in their twenties through mid thirties, most fitting the hipster stereotype (see upcoming Hipster Manifesto and Related Studies) and the occasional group of latinos or a Dominican family grilling on the stoop.

How do I feel about gentrification? How do I feel about white people (re?)claiming poor neighborhoods? It's an interesting question. I don't quite know the answer. If I say it's an improvement, it's only that I recognize that white people of higher socio-economic standing will be getting better education for their children and better standards for sanitation in their neighborhoods, etc. If I call gentrification an improvement it is only because I know that white people have it easy. If the new Williamsburgers are to put their kids in public schools (which they may not) the public schools would have to be better quality. If the white people are going to have their neighborhoods, they'll demand better sanitation and nicer parks and then the rent starts rising and the poor brown folks who used to be doing just fine will have to pack up their belongings and move their families to the Bronx or Queens eventually. I think there may be a brief period of time in which the higher socio-economic class hipsters and the lower socio-economic class ethnic minorities can live together, in which the hipsters benefit from low rent and being so hip and independent, in which the ethnic minorities benefit from the higher standards demanded by the hipsters... but how long will that last? We see it all the time that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

In Williamsburg Miss I and I went to a restaurant called Fette Sau (it means Fat Pig in German) and we experienced what can only be called an experience with the right intonation. It is a big, open air barbecue place with seating at big wooden tables and benches, both indoor and outdoor. Everyone sits wherever there is room and the menu is mostly meat (vegetarians and vegans beware). The wait was long and one orders at a counter with a display from a menu consisting of Black Angus Beef Brisket, $16/lb; Pulled Pork Shoulder, $16/lb; Pork Cheeks, Pork Belly, Sausage Links, and Cornish Hens, etc... Then the sides consisted of German style potato salad (which is so much better than American style), baked beans, broccoli, pickles, sauer kraut, and rolls. The orders are served on big tin trays with a sheet of wax paper laid on top, the meat is served directly on the wax paper covered tray while the sides are served in little cardboard containers. There were paper towel rolls on all the tables and if you wanted to serve the food from the tray you had the thin white paper plates. Silverware was cafeteria style. Beer could be ordered served in jugs and mason jars. The clientele was mixed, half families there for a hearty meal, half hipsters there for the bizarre atmosphere. The decoration was rustic, the music old-timey and there was a flat screen TV on one wall playing the fireplace channel. If you ever go, definitely try the cheeks.

After this, we stumbled upon a little bar with live music and cheap drinks (for NYC standards and even for Juneau standards). We ordered $3 pints of Amber and sat around listening to a band that covered 50's and 60's songs and another band that was reminiscent of a 70's punk band. There was a fundraiser going on for an effort to recycle used clothing by sewing bags to replace plastic bags. It was another case of hipsters on parade, but not quite so absurd as the Thom Bar in SoHo since this group was far less pretentious. People seemed laid back and more friendly, though there was still something of that 'my dress is more vintage than your dress and my favorite band is more obscure than your favorite band' vibe. Miss I and I were talking about it: living in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, and decided that being that cool all the time would be a lot of work, exhausting even.

After grabbing a soft serve ice cream from an ice cream truck we hopped on the metro back to Manhattan. I have seen what lies beyond Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn (though not Queens or Staten Island) and I will end by saying that I am glad I visited the Bronx and that I do like Brooklyn and even Williamsburg, though the hipster thing might drive me crazy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shadows Searching in the Night - OR - Tales of Melissa Finding Her Way in NYC

I think that, more often than not, I take the wrong train. Somehow I managed to always eff things up. It's ok, my friends are patient.

I have had a number of adventures being lost, some less frustrating than others.

On Tuesday of last week I booked a Chinatown bus to DC and had to find my way to where the bus was by 9:30 in the morning. Considering I had my backpack packed and was out the door by 9:45ish, you'd think I'd have no trouble getting from Wall Street to Penn Station. You'd be wrong. Kind of. This time I wasn't so much lost as I was unknowingly at least a half mile from where I needed to be when I got off the train. After walking in the direction I KNEW I needed to walk, I was exasperated to find that I still hadn't reached 8th avenue. I asked a guy which direction it was and he told me (the way I was heading) but told me it was X AVENUES further. And mind you, there are other streets in between the Avenues. I looked at the time and thought about the fact that I had to go X Avenues in X minute and grew disheartened. At some point I had one more Avenue, two more minutes, and the do-not-walk symbol is up. After waiting that out, I sprinted ran the final distance and arrived, red cheeked and somewhat overwhelmed, but made it on my bus.

On Thursday night, back in The City I was meant to meet a high school acquaintance at some club or another in SoHo. The bus back from DC had taken significantly longer and after primping and preening, it was already a minute to midnight, the suggested arrival time. 'No worries!' I thought, 'I know the train and the stop and I shall have no trouble at all!' WRONG. I got on one train, got off at the proper stop to transfer to the right train and then sat there. Well, the whole train sat there. Usually the drop-off/pick-up of passengers is pretty streamlined, but the train just sat and sat. Finally the conductor announces that it'll be 'a moment' because there is a hold up at Chambers. A few minutes later the conductor announces thanks us for our patience and announces it'll be 'a little longer' because there is a police investigation going on at Chambers. These announcements occur every few minutes while I am sitting next to a pair of self-absorbed twins with Broadway aspirations and the silver spoons in their mouths surprisingly not inhibiting their speech. They talked on and on and on and on. When the announcer said for at least the tenth time, or maybe the third, that we'd be departing 'shortly' but Chambers was still blocked, I got up and walked to the nearest exit.

By this time it was at least 12:30 am and dark and I exited onto an unfamiliar street which was mostly blocked off for construction. I was lost in The City in a strange neighborhood (but not the Bronx) and had only $6 cash on me. (FML) I walked and walked, looking and feeling lost, until I found an ATM finally. I withdrew some cash and then after a few more blocks hailed a cab. I finally arrived at the party and can announce that it was worth none of the time and effort. It was a dark little bar full of gay hipster boys and snooty hipster girls, all parading like peacocks with tails on display. And when I say full, it wasn't that full. And I thought hipsters were all poor, starving artists and musicians, but these hipsters could apparently afford poppers and $13 vodka drinks. But more on this in the upcoming 'Hipster Manifesto and Related Studies."

Now, this does not involve being physically lost, but it can make a person feel lost. I left my card at that piece of crap bar with the overpriced drinks. Having ordered a simple drink: A double-vodka-soda-with-lime I was slapped in the face with a "That's $26." Ignore the woulda-coulda-shouldas and I'll tell you that, in a state of shock, I handed the bartender my card. Then I tasted my drink which did have vodka, but as it was in the same glass as a single, it had very little soda and not even a squeeze of lime. After standing around alone among the peacocks (I, a pea-hen?) and sipping my awful drink, I was desperate to leave. When high school acquaintance Mr. bHip suggested we hop in a cab and head to a more happening bar, I jumped on that bandwagon and into that cab, leaving my card. On Saturday I went to retrieve my card - Friday didn't work out. I called in and received no call back. I went in and was told that my card was not there. I KNOW I LEFT IT THERE! I had people 'go look' and I was told that they didn't have my card anywhere and if they did find it, they would give me a call because they had my info (just like they gave me a call when they didn't find it? OH.). So there I stood, cashless, cardless, and at the start of a THREE DAY WEEKEND. Amazing. And just to add to it. When I called in to cancel my card, the last transaction was that bar running my card. Luckily only $2.88. I should probably dispute it.

And the final big tail of being lost took place yesterday when, once again, every station within a quarter mile of me was closed. Wanna hop on the 2-3 at Wall Street? TOUGH. The JMZ on Wall? HA. Anything nearby? Good luck! I had somehow lost my handy little metro map and had to guess. I took the nearest subway in the direction of Brooklyn before realizing that there are a lot of different lines in Brooklyn that do not connect in Brooklyn. Then I went back to Manhattan and decided to try my luck at one of the stations with a whole lot of trains, thinking my odds of getting on the right train would be better. For some reason it was almost impossible to find a friggin' subway map except on the trains, which actually got me on trains a couple times just to look at the maps (and the subway station attendants never have maps). Finally, after discovering that the 2-3 goes to the stop I want, I head off to find a 2-3 but can't look at any sort of map since my effin' phone decided to stop recognizing my sim and then decided that it would go from 3 bars of battery power to the blinking red low battery in the blink of an eye. I asked and someone did tell me where to find it. '7th Avenue' he told me. So then I kept walking and actually saw a 2-3 entrance at 6th and stupidly entered there - into the labyrinth that is a sprawling subway station. I must have walked in circles and curly cues and up and down stairs for 15 minutes before I finally found a Brooklyn bound 2-3. I hate the MTA and their insistence on shutting down my stops on weekends.

Because I am writing this, you know that I am not lost, in fact I am found. I am safe and sound. Luckily or because I am not a complete idiot and can be resourceful or sometimes I even ask for directions.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

She took the midnight train going anywhere...

I have a love-hate relationship with the metro.  Love it because it is cheap (in one fell swoop I've taken care of most of my transportation needs for this whole trip) and hate it because OMG-WTF why am I in Brooklyn?  Right.  If I had known to read that flier I would know that the R (for rickety) wouldn't be stopping at Rector.  Or that the 2 and 3 line wouldn't be running during the weekend.  It's a good thing cab fare is cheaper in NYC than in Juneau because for the time I spent in that cab trying to explain to the cabby where on Wall Street before giving up and requesting that he drop me right there, I would have paid at least 50% more in Juneau.  Of course Juneau doesn't have traffic and it's pretty much impossible to not know where things are.  In Juneau I would say, "I live by the governor's mansion." and in NYC I get to say, "You know, the New York Stock Exchange?  The Trump building? WALL STREET?!?!?"

Friday I slept in, getting used to East Coast time.  I actually awoke at a reasonable time but then fell asleep again.  I then got to see Mr. D's office, the place that pays him enough to afford the apartment that costs more a month than I make.  We sat on the rooftop in the rooftop garden in the sunshine with a view of the tops of skyscrapers.  After that, I went to Greenwich village (again) and wandered.  I thought about going to a cute cafe, but it was too hot, then I went into a vintage clothing shop and looked at every dress that existed in the store.  While here, I got a call from Liebling inviting me to a happy hour at some place in the West Village.  I responded that I was close and to let me know when they were near and I'd meet them.  Then I realized I was in Greenwich Village and worried that I was not actually in the West Village and then walked and walked and walked and eventually ended up at the same place I started and discovered I really was pretty close.  I had to call and ask for the name of the place and its location again (just one block up and a few over from where I was) and still didn't know what it was actually called until I arrived.  Good thing happy hour meant margaritas and champagne and tequila with hibiscus!  After happy hour I went back to Liebling's place where we ordered in sushi and tried to watch a movie, but fell asleep.  She did, at least.  

Saturday morning Liebling and I made pancakes with another visitor to the apartment, Miss Taller A's friend Miss E.  After pancakes we went our separate ways, though Miss TA, Miss E and I were to meet up later.  We met at Ground Zero - which is really hard to see and to be depressed by since it is all blocked off with colorful vinyl.  We then went and walked halfway to Brooklyn.  On the bridge.  On the way back I ran into the groomsman I walked with at Miss MM's wedding in Wisconsin!  In a city of 8 or 9 million, what are the odds, right?  Wait - I just laid down the odds.  Something like 1 in 8 or 9 million.  I guess not quite that since we're all hanging out in Manhattan, not Queens or something, but still sort of crazy.  Miss E and I watched more breakdancing (crazy tiny child spinning on his head and stuff) before the three of us headed to midtown to hit up the H&M before party time.

Now, I got sort of lost on the way to La Palapa, and that was just on foot.  Imagine how bad it can be when one combines weekend train schedules with my knack for getting lost along with a time to meet people, be it flexible.  I managed to wander around downtown Manhattan until well past my deadline to meet people, they then told me to meet them at Canal instead of Times Square.  I hopped on the 4 or the 5 but it only hits Canal late nights, apparently.  Then I was at Grand Central and had to shuttle to Times Square (why couldn't I have found that 30 minutes earlier?) and get on another train, this time guided strictly by Liebling and Miss TA.  I finally made it to Canal and Miss TA instructed me to stay where I was and she came and got me.  We had dinner in Little Italy, drinking sangria and eating heavy carbs, delish.  But then I had a massive food baby and barely had room for the Jameson and High Life I ordered at the Whiskey Tavern.  I wished for the food to digest while I sipped on the cheapest beer on the menu ($3 in NYC!!!) and wished that I could get drunk in a more efficient manner.  Can't beat that beer and shot special, though.  After another of these and prompted by some Neil Diamond, all four of us girls found ourselves perched upon the back of our booth seating belting out Sweet Caroline, beer in hand.  We were almost as ridiculous as the bachelorette party.  After the hits started dying down, we determined it would be time to attend the official birthday party of the girl whose happy hour we attended (I swear she looks just like Natalie Portman) and we hailed a couple cabs to take us to the Bowery.  The B Bar, where we met her, was enormous and had a pretty decent atmosphere but outrageously expensive drinks.  A double vodka soda with lime should never be $18, not unless someone declared prohibition all over again.  Or maybe if that vodka was amazing vodka distilled from potatoes or grapes or whatever that were fertilized with the manure of Kentucky Derby winners, distilled in golden casks, and blessed by the motha' effin' pope or Elton John or someone equally important.  Funny story though, at the B Bar I ran into another person I knew.  This girl I met visiting Miss L in Nante during my time abroad - we met again right when I turned 21 while she was visiting Miss L in Oregon.  In a city of 8 or 9 million, odds are 1 in that many(ish, and I meet TWO people I know.  Anyway, three overpriced drinks later, after some dancing in some side room and seeing two people all but going at it in a booth, we decided to head home.  Since I was nearer downtown than uptown, it was determined that it would be best for me to go to Mr. D's Wall Street place.  Liebling convinced me to get a cab, something for which I ought to thank her, since the weekend schedule makes all the routes go all funny.  Imagine if I were to end up in Brooklyn at 4:30 in the morning... Oh dear.

Today I slept sort of late and then decided to get out of Mr. D's hair.  I grabbed the loaner laptop (so much nicer than my own laptop) and wandered around.  I wandered past Ground Zero again (getting a slightly better glimpse) and then found myself in the World Financial Center or whatever, laughing because of the state of our world financiers, and trying to get out of there ASAP lest their awful luck rub off on me (because huge bonuses and Manhattan penthouses are awful luck).  I then discovered Battery Park and had some zen time, minus the sneezing, contemplating the Atlantic and literally thinking to myself that I liked the Pacific better.  After that I went to hunt down some free wifi, eventually giving in and going into a Starbucks only to find that their free wifi is only free once you've purchased the free wifi card (does that count as free?).  Whatever.  Jerks.  I gave up on that and found myself in SoHo (note how I find myself places and do not actually go to places) where I gazed at shops and eventually gave in and went into TopShop, feeling nostalgic for the time I accidentally spent $70 on a pair of shoes because of the friggin' British Pound.  I grew dismayed when there was an abundance of size 2 clothing and the largest size was an American 12 (UK 16, EU 44 - just to remind Americans that we're fat and in denial) but luckily the US 12 was just what I needed and I walked out with a sassy dress to wear for Liebling's birthday this coming weekend.  Even though I had to purchase the absolute largest size in the store, I was thankful that the store at least had that size and that I can continue to shop at NOT plus size stores.  Not sure why it even matters.  After that I decided I would walk until I found a train that hit Rector (since Wall is out of commission) and hopped on the R heading to downtown and Brooklyn, except it skipped downtown.  I noticed this when after Canal it didn't stop again, and how it got light and how I was looking at the friggin' Atlantic Ocean from the SUBWAY train.  So I went to Brooklyn.  Then I was distraught and got on the Q going to Manhattan, worried that I'd accidentally end up in Queens if I got on some of the other trains.  Then I ended up taking the Q all the way to Times Square because pretty much all the trains go there and I'd certainly find the right one.  But then not even the 1 train was running so I ended up getting back on the R heading to Brooklyn, planning to get off at Canal and walk the rest of the way back to Wall Street.  But then this train conductor/person/announcer announced that the R would hit all the stops headed to Manhattan and that if we took the train to De Kalb we could hop on the Manhattan bound and hit stops like South Ferry and Rector.  Better option.  

Finally, I made it home, having forgotten to eat and with sore feet.  But I made it.  Take that, MTA!  I did manage to catch a sunset going over the Manhattan bridge.  It was a lot of nice colors beyond those skyscrapers.  I wondered to myself if the jewel tone sunset might have something to do with the ridiculous air pollution.  Industry improving on nature?  Just kidding.

Tomorrow I'm meeting with a friend from college whom I visited last time I was in NYC.  Then I'm going to take a bus to DC on Tuesday, hopefully, and return by Thursday so I can go to a party hosted by a guy with whom I went to high school.  And then Friday ought to be another happy hour.  Then Saturday is Liebling's party.  Then Eventually I have to leave the East Coast.  I'll probably get to really liking it just in time to leave.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just a Small Town Girl

So, everything has worked out and I am in Manhattan. I'm at Mr. D's apartment on Wall Street, an apartment for which he pays more than I earn monthly - whoa! I think that is partially a sign that Mr. D has got some skills, and partially a sign that I need a better job.

Miss J did show up and we did do some cleaning together. Miss J also took our dishes to her parents' house to use the dishwasher (we are such bums) and took most of the recycling. The house is still far from spotless, but it is a vast improvement. VAST.

The landlord, another real estate guy, and another dude who looked sort of contractor-ly walked through our apartment. Literally WALKED THROUGH. They looked at where the fire detector is should be and then headed straight for the other door to get out. I nearly had to yell after them, "Oh, and about my broken window..." Good thing we spent so much time and effort and nearly got into a fight over cleaning the apartment.

Tuesday night I had two members of Little Black Raincloud Co. play some at the Bergmann, it was definitely nice, though we had a really low turnout for this particular event. Who am I kidding, we've had a low turnout for a lot of events. Oh well.

Wednesday it dawned on me that I should (1) do laundry, (2) secure my paycheck, (3) secure a ride to the airport, (4) pack, and (5) give Miss P her gift of a piercing and tip money. Somehow I managed to accomplish all of these things and make it to the airport in time to change my flight to a JNU-SEATAC flight instead of the JNU-ANC-SEATAC flight. This meant another awesome night sleeping in the children's play area. Sleeping became much easier once the children were gone.

This morning I discovered that my flight was going to be a little late, but it didn't occur to me that the not even an hour delay wouldn't give me unlimited extra time. I wandered aimlessly for a really long time and then discovered that my flight was boarding. Oh. I didn't have to run or anything, but I did have to focus on the task at hand and get to my proper gate.

The flight itself was uneventful, I was reading the Atlantic and managed to sleep for much of the flight. Our first attempted landing was a little frightening, the plane seemed to be tottering side to side and I was concerned we might lose a wing on the runway. The pilot decided to bring us back up again, circle a bit, then try again. The second attempt was only slightly less nerve-racking but successful in the end. Probably the first time I've been on a flight on which the passengers applauded once we were safely on the ground.

On facebook I misused the word 'alas,' making my status update look like I had gone on the trip with a death wish (it was noticed and pointed out). The funny thing is... I contemplated a minor plane crash. Honestly, had we crashed in the way it seemed like we would have crashed, we wouldn't have really gotten hurt or anything, we all would have survived, I bet - plus we all could have said, "And this one time I got in a plane crash!" Wow, I ought to be slapped for having thought that.

So, after many adventures on the airtrain, subway, and the streets of New York, I made it to Mr. D's apartment. I took a shower and got ready before heading out to meet Miss K, visiting from Japan, and Mr. S, who teaches in Jersey. That's when the adventures really happened - meeting them in Greenwich Village. I managed to get on the 2 train for one stop, before realizing I wanted to be on the 1 train. Then I accidentally got on the 3 train, thinking it was the 1 train. Then I got on the 1 train going uptown instead of back downtown. I ended up wandering around Times Square until I finally found a subway station where I could get on the 1 headed downtown and showed up about a full hour late. Then it didn't take too long to find Mr. S waving me down, thankfully. He and Miss K were at the Stonewall - a bar which is historic in the gay rights movement - where Miss K was already drunk off of three cocktails. All this getting lost makes me think I've been in Juneau too long - I've become completely incapable of using mass transit! I also looked fairly overwhelmed when I realized that I was walled in on all side with, well, WALLS instead of Mountains. I think that skyscrapers are much more claustrophobic than living in an isolated town surrounded by mountains. Listen to me! Ridiculous.

Mr. S and I had a drink each and we all caught up on our respective lives in our respective cities before heading to dinner, where we continued to catch up while eating some reasonably priced food and giggling over Miss K's drunken state. Miss K took some pictures, in which we both look crazed, but it was really nice to see some friends from college.

Now I'm probably keeping Mr. D up, so I should go to sleep. More news as it comes. Or maybe I'll make you wait!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Don't Marry Me

1. I seem to put my "career" in front of too many things. Things like sleep. After having worked the auction all day and having such a slow start at the bar, I figured I would get to close early and sleep. Not so. But not unfortunately.

Eventually friends showed up. I got to close out the evening joking around with good friends and laughing hysterically over the "Non-Profit League" and other such nonsense. The "Non-profit League" is/will be a league of super heroes poor college grads who try to save the world as Americorps volunteers and underpaid non-profit professionals.

I think I may have found my inspiration. For comics. Another thing to steal me away from marital obligations.

2. I'm sort of a mess and seem to be more and more frequently late. I'll provide you with a nice mental image. About one hour after the start time of the event, I could be found standing in a cemetery wearing rolled jeans, ballet flats, an overly long cardigan with one of those Yasir Arafat style scarves, my red plastic framed glasses with a blackberry in one hand and a jar of pickled green beans in the other. That's a hipster photo shoot if there ever was one. If only there were a picture so I could put it on my myspace. I would probably also need to update my profile song to something newer and more obscure though. Anyway, I did make it to the brunch at Miss E's place, where we had bagels and cream cheese and orange rolls and Bloody Marys. Delish. Anyway, showing up an hour late and with little direction, I tried to call every one of our mutual friends (and of course Miss E) and then attempted to facebook stalk via fb mobile.

3. I'm not as cultured as I ought to be. I totally failed to go to the Bach concert I meant to attend. The brunch went later than intended and it was Sunny.

4. If it is sunny, I will probably want to spend time in the sun and not lovin' on you.

5. Epic Fail: Domestic Addition. Includes rant. I'm a messy person. I'm a stubborn person. I'm a procrastinator. There you go, I just listed out my three worst traits. My three worst traits paired with a roommate who exhibits many of the same traits is bad news. We are regularly in a battle of the wills related to doing dishes or cleaning the apartment. She always wins. In the year that we've lived together, she rarely does the dishes, may not have ever swept or really tidied, and most certainly has never touched a bottle of bleach or scrubbed the friggin' toilet. I always break down first and clean. Recently it's gotten pretty bad, with every dish we own cultivating a new civilization in the sink, a leaning tower of Pizza boxes, and clothes and shoes strewn everywhere.

Cue catalyst. Friday, after working all day and partying all night, I arrive home to discover a note on the door. The landlords are coming into the apartment on Tuesday at 10am to check the carbon monoxide detector and check to see if things need repair (um yes, like my broken window which might have been fixed before the COLD weather if we wanted to be really helpful). I see the note but can't really do much about it on Saturday because of the auction. Saturday evening I receive a text message from the roommate that says something along the lines of: did you see the note? and when will you have time to clean stuff? I responded that I was really busy working the Auction and then at the bar and had plans Sunday morning for brunch but that if she could do the dishes and pick up, I could do all the scrubbing and sweeping and the really laborious stuff. She then responded that those things were not as important and that what really needed to be done was dishes and pick up and trash removal and that she had to work all these extra jobs suddenly and that could I please start on the dishes and stuff because "[she didn't want to get stuck doing it all herself]."

HA! Ha. Ha.

I wrote back with my tentative schedule, said that this was obviously not good timing for either of us and pointed out that this was likely to be a contentious issue and that I would do what I could but that I didn't want to get stuck doing it all myself either. While thinking that I ALWAYS do it all by myself and that that text message was HILARIOUS.

Sunday, before heading to Miss E's brunch extravaganza, I started on the cleaning. I removed all the dishes from the sink and put them to soak in a separate tub with hot, soapy water. I removed the primordial soup from the bottom of the sink and, while dry heaving, dumped it in the empty trash can, having taken out the other trash. I also filled up another trash bag or two with empty soda cans, plastic bottles, beer bottles, beer cans, and random other trash which was at least 75% NOT MINE. I then went about my day, having brunch with Miss E, soaking up a little sun, then going to work, where I remained until bar close.

It was a ridiculously slow night, but I stuck around anyway, hoping for the late night stragglers. At close to bar close Mr. JB showed up and we started talking about what's been going on in our lives, etc. He had a text or call from Miss M, learning that she and my roommate were hanging out. Hanging out at bar close on a Sunday night meaning my roommate was out drinking. When I went home after hanging out with Mr. JB for an hour or so, I discovered that the apartment was untouched. That not a dish had been washed, not an item had been moved, and most likely she hadn't set foot into the apartment. I guess she really didn't want to "do it all [herself]" and she is certainly succeeding.

I'm writing from work. I'm at the radio station again doing some wrap up. I have to go pick up some last minute gift certificates and clean up the office. I sent a text message that I had started and asking when she might be able to work on the clean up. No response. All I know is that if I do end up doing this all on my own, especially after that passive aggressive text message, I will be pissed. And it'll be a really good thing I'm leaving on vacation on Wednesday.

So, yeah, the point there: Don't marry me because I'll be a terrible housewife.

6. Also I'll probably blog about it when you are a jerk.

7. And last night I talked to my mom. I was really late in the Mothers' Day sentiments and caught my mom when she was probably at least two and a half sheets to the wind, if not three. It started out with the usual how-are-yous and how-was-your-days and ended with my mom debating with me about the choices I might make if I were to discover that I was knocked up. You might wonder why my mom would be wondering what I would do if I got pregnant and it's not just a maternal urge due to the holiday... All the vague references to my sister's life are related to the fact that my younger sister is going to have a baby. The words I ended on, basically, were that "regardless of who I sleep with, whether I think the world of him, having a child right now is not an option" and that "I have, in fact, thought long and hard about all of this because having sex, even safe sex, still puts one at risk to become pregnant." The reason I figured my mom was drunk was because she was misspelling everything, she brought it up (she gets sort of emotional when she is drunk and once cried because I said I might never have children), and because she at some point interpreted what I was trying to say as that I "only sleep with men [I] would have a child with." If that were the case, I'd be a virgin. So, don't marry me if you wanna have lots of babies.

I think that's it. Those are 7 reasons to not marry me. At least right now. It's also an interesting way to recap an interesting 36 hours.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Auction Action and No Rest for the Weary

I got by butt out of bed an hour and five minutes later than I had planned, so instead of arriving early to work today I arrived just on time. In time to spend a whole day running around up and down the stairs, around the building, from my office to the studio, to gather this or that, to call him or her, to seek out answers... Oh my.

I survived. The radio auction is over. I can breathe. But no rest for the weary - I am already at work at the Bergmann for the night. So from 9 am this morning until 3 am tonight it's work, work, work. Just 6 hours short of a full 24 hours. And if you count that I got up an hour earlier and probably won't get home until an hour later... that's just 4 hours short of a full 24 hours.

I bid on and won a piercing from the new tattoo parlor in town - a gift to my bff Miss P. I bid on and lost kayak lessons for two. I thought about other things but oops, missed out. Probably for the best, since I am certainly not made of money.

I also guest auctioneered during the 1 pm hour with a friendly face. We managed to be witty and sell the heck out of our auction items. I also made the occasional "appearance" at other times to talk more about items on the metaphoric auction block.

Last night I worked at the Bergmann for a few hours until the newest bartender showed up to relieve me. I took off so I could go to Miss B and Miss R's party. I ended up staying later at the Bergmann, drinking with and having some pizza with the few people who were around. I arrived at the party and though the crowd that was there was a good one, it was a small one and growing smaller. I ended up heading downtown with Mr. CB and Mr. PL to you know where: the Alaskan. Collette Costa was heading a band of out-of-towners doing some sassy danceable numbers, getting me out on the floor at least once or twice. Danced with the infamous first crush of Juneau history and though my necklace tragically broke, I was still a happy gal. I also spent a good bit of time hanging out with Mr. Z and a couple of his pals, Mr. A and Mr. T. Chatted a bunch with those fellows and then, magically, bar close was upon us.

I said hello to some friendly faces at the Rendezvous and had one final drink before walking home. As I was walking, I discovered that I had someone walking with me. He is a seasonal worker who is no doubt lonely and managed to tell me a short and depressing history of his recent life. I tried to hint that his company was unnecessary and somewhat unwelcome as we trekked nearer and nearer my apartment and further and further from where I would guess he might live. I figured (hopefully correctly) that he wasn't dangerous, merely lonely and seeking companionship, so I walked as far as my apartment building before stopping and standing awkwardly while he finished telling his story about his mom's death, hoping he would catch on and be on his not-s0-merry way home. I waited. And waited. And then I heard my name, "Is that Melissa?" from a distance. Appearing on the horizon, blessed saviors of awkward situations, were Miss P and a handful of others. They managed to bring enough action and energy that I was able to sneak into my apartment building with rushed goodbyes and goodnights, thereby ditching the somewhat sketchy seasonal and getting to bed.

Now tonight will likely be a quiet night since I am competing with live music at the Rendezvous and the Jazz Babies' Ball at the Jacc and who knows what else. I wish I could go to the Jazz Babies' Ball, but I must work and I don't have a sweet costume anyway.

Tomorrow I am going to sleep in and then go to brunch at Miss E and Mr. K's place. We'll have delicious food prepared, most likely, by Mr. K, who cooks for a living, and have Bloody Marys or maybe mimosas. Lovely!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Here I Go Again on My Own.

Turns out "I'd love to road trip with you" actually means "I'd love to but..."

It's been suggested unanimously that I drive the AlCan with someone, even with someone who wants in my pants, rather than drive it alone. This is looking less and less like an option. With a "maybe, though that money should go elsewhere" here and a "let me know exactly when and I'll see if I'm available" there and then an "I really should be looking for a job and not taking a road trip," it's looking like I might be on that long, long road on my own.

I found a really awesome job for which to apply today. And I did it. I sent a cover letter with attached resume, writing sample, and references. The job is perfect, perfect, perfect for me. Except it would put me in Skanchorage or the MatSu. But it would also have me TRAVELING and SAVING THE PACIFIC OCEAN and doing OUTREACH and all sorts of lovely thing I really enjoy.

Speaking of outreach, I just committed to helping out with a global warming campaign. I think I just got suckered into softcore field organizing without the pay (which wasn't much anyway) but also without the ridiculous time commitment. Look at me being all involved. As always.

The auction is this weekend. If you read this and you are in Juneau, Alaska, please tune in to either KRNN or KTOO this Saturday between 10am and 6pm. That's either 102.7 or 104.3 FM this Saturday, May 9th between 10am and 6pm. You can bid on some awesome items, which are listed (some with photos) at! You can also stream the radio stations online. I also recommend that, no matter where you are, you give KXLL 100.7 FM a listen either via radio waves or streaming from the website. It's my favorite radio station EVER.

We are auctioning off some really cool stuff including a free tattoo and a free piercing from High Tide Tattoo, a glacier tour, jewelry, Aurora Projekt gear, hotel stays, an awesome Mountain Hardware shell, art, a portabe grill, nature books, a digital picture frame, lots of landscaping stuff... but you should check it out on the website.

But after this it is me, what little money I have, a heck of a lot of travel, including going it alone - most likely - on the AlCan. I tried to google the following keywords, "murder alcan highway" and luckily got nothing. I here that Mother Nature is the real killer on that trip though. Here's hoping I don't end up in freak snowstorms or floods or whatever else might befall me. Good thing I've got some extra insulation (F*** YOU, JRC!) and am feisty!

Oh, but one more thing, good Rotaract meeting last night. I am feeling much better about it these days. Miss JR led an interesting discussion about the Four-Way Test, which turned into a bit of a debate but oh boy, do I love debates! Also had a good long talk with Miss BP beforehand, regarding sisterly relationships. I didn't get any definite answers or any really direct advice, but it was nice to talk to someone who would admittedly be just as torn in such a situation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One Big Fat Adventure

Vacation! Yay!

To be honest, sometimes it is just exciting to get out of Juneau. It's a lovely town, but a small and isolated town.

I have been thinking a lot more about my upcoming trip and I also made some big changes to the trip.

I leave Juneau on May 13th, arriving in NYC on May 14th. I leave NYC on May 27th but instead of flying from Seattle to Juneau, as originally planned, I'm flying from Seattle to Redmond, Oregon. Hopefully I'll also make a little trip to DC somewhere in there - I have friends I'd love to see, but nobody has offered up a couch just yet.

Now, not much of this is very well planned. Call me a procrastinator, seriously, I am a procrastinator - but I think it'll be ok. I am really excited to see friends from college, my time abroad, maybe the campaign. I'm also excited to see a Broadway show, visit more museums, and bask in the big city smog. It'll make my return to fresh, clean Alaska all that much better.

I'll be visiting my family in Redmond/Bend, Oregon and then making my way back up to Juneau via I-5 mostly and the Al-Can highway.

Driving the Al-Can is an adventure - hell, life is one big fat adventure. I'll leave Redmond/Bend and drive to Eugene, where I'll hop on I-5 after hanging out with some friends from High School. On I-5 I'll hit Salem and Portland to visit friends from college. I'll travel further still on I-5 heading to Seattle and Bellingham, where I'll see friends from college, high school, and from my time in Juneau. Then it's the Al-Can. Then I'll be driving through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory until I hit Skagway, where I'll hop on a ferry and take my car and me back to Juneau.

I have to say, it's really tempting to keep driving the Al-Can, going from White Horse to Dawson City, then driving up to Fairbanks. And if I'm in Fairbanks, ought I not to try for the Arctic Circle? Drive further still, passing through Nome and then visiting some tiny village and feeling the cold?

But wait. MONEY. I can't afford to run around jobless and spending money for quite that long.

Anyway, to Skagway and then ferrying to Juneau.

I've been soliciting for travel buddies. I get a lot of maybes and could-bes. A lot of "sounds wonderfuls" and "I'd-love-to-buts." Only one person has said, "I want to come." Only one person has the ways and means and the willingness. I can tell that the others will fall through, I can imagine having to make the drive alone. Or I can make the drive, starting in Central Oregon, with Mr. HG.

I think I described the relationship Mr. HG and I had in a very recent post. At the time I wrote that I was not holding him in high esteem. Now that I'm somewhat distanced from the peeving situation, it's sort of silly. But I have to weigh this out - is it worth it to spend DAYS on the road with a guy you used to have a thing with but don't anymore even though he definitely still wants in your pants or to drive the Al-Can completely alone?


Monday, May 4, 2009

My Sister, Myself

I spent the weekend in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. Whitehorse is Juneau's sister city. I didn't spend much time in the city limits, since I was helping out at a leadership retreat for high schoolers, but according to a friend who was more familiar with the city, they are a lot alike. While waiting to get my iced tea at the Baked Cafe, full of healthy whole grain and spelt scones, organic everything, and fully compostable to-go cups, I thought that it was comfortable, that I could imagine spending time here, much like I spend time in Juneau.

When I returned to Juneau, I got a phone call from my sister. I have lots of sisters, actually, but my sister who is closest in age is THE sister. For some reason we have this bond that is very special. I don't know if it is something that happens to all sisters who are close in age or if it has to do with how we had to share a room up until I left for college or how we always had shared birthday parties because our birthdays were only a little over a month apart or if it was because we had only each other in whom to confide through all the rough patches in our lives. Either way, I think that there is a relationship that can be recognized through time that is magical enough that they would call them sister cities and not brother cities. A relationship that, perhaps, not every sister experiences. A relationship that surpasses many in meaning and strength and the ability to affect all other aspects of life.

This soul entwining sisterly bond is beautiful. It is having someone in the world who will do anything to understand you and who can usually succeed in it. It is having someone who has shared many of life's experiences. It is having someone whose heart possibly beats the same rhythm and pace. Whose eyes see the same exact hues. Whose ears hear the same exact notes. Whose fingers feel the same sting of pain on that one to ten scale. Whose tastebuds know that mom's meat loaf is pretty gross.

The bond is also difficult. Sharing all this doesn't mean the sisters are the same people, that they are bound to make the same or similar decisions, that they will lead similar lives or that they will react the same way to some very serious stuff. It just means that, whatever happens, the other sister will share in the joy and pain and suffering and confusion that comes with all of these different experiences.

Some months ago, perhaps half a year ago or more, my sister went through some trying circumstances. Where I left town, went to college and eventually moved to Alaska, my sister stayed in town, tried and left behind college and eventually moved out of the house while still keeping much closer ties with the family. I, perhaps selfishly, forged on to build my own life, completely independent of the ups and the downs of a rather tumultuous family situation. My sister found herself there in the midst, throwing herself further into it, and using drugs and alcohol as a temporary escape. She started going to rehabilitation meetings which would sometimes help curb the habits, sometimes not. She was, one night, arrested for driving under the influence, passed out with her head resting on her arm on the steering wheel of her still running parked car, just past the dirt road on which my family resides.

I remember most of those phone calls. The call in which my sister confesses that she has a real problem. The call in which my mother tells me that my sister is passed out on a concrete block in a jail cell. The call in which my sister tells me that she is thinking about moving out of my parents' house but worries about our younger sisters. The call in which my mother asks me questions, trying to get me to tell my sister's secrets. I remember the stress building up in me, back aches and head aches, I remember chain smoking clove cigarettes on my lunch hour, listening to how much alcohol had been consumed, how much coke had been inhaled, how much ecstasy and how she knew it was a problem. I remember crying and feeling helpless, hoping that a concrete block was rock bottom, though rock bottom can be much, much lower. I remember trying to save all my money to fly my sister to see me. I remember thinking about moving back to Central Oregon, thinking that my presence might somehow make something even slightly better.

Recently there has been a calm. A peace. Everyone seems to be doing OK from this distant vantage. I talk to my mother on the phone sometimes, she assures me that everything is wonderful. My high school aged sister went to her first prom, and though she had scared us all with a bout of depression and some angsty cutting, she is the picture of high school happiness these days. The youngest is nearing fourth grade, happy and healthy, smart and adorable as ever. Even my dad and I manage to have a talk now and then, talking about weather perhaps, trying to avoid talking about my crazy left-wing politics. My sister is dating someone who treats her well and who, for the first time, has drawn out from her the words, "I love you."

But that calm can only be the metaphorical calm before the storm, or the breathless eye of the storm that is our family life. It can only be that. And true to the way a story always seems to go, I got a phone call that changes lives. I called Alaska Airlines and changed the last leg of my trip. Instead of flying from New York to Seattle to Juneau, I will fly from Seattle to Redmond. I don't have a return ticket, though return I must, if only to take care of the life I've been building here these last two years. On midnight, the very start of May 28th, my second Juneau-versary and the day my youngest sister hits the double digits in age, I will arrive exhausted at my parents' home and figure out just how entwining this sisterly bond is.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Zombies, Canadians, and Me

Did you hear? Apparently there are cases of the Swine Flu that make people zombies. This happened with some other virus, the heart restarts and then the presumed dead person flails around. Not all cases end in death and not all deaths include re-animation, so it's not a true zombie apocalypse, but I still plan to be prepared.

I can't decide if my lack of concern related to a global epidemic (WHO level 6) is normal or if I am just young and feel invincible. The BBC recommends that if you feel "yourself passing away, then notice your strength and vigor returning at an alarming rate, please attempt to restrain yourself to prevent infection and harm to others." Please, when becoming a zombie, think about your fellow man.

Speaking of zombies - a friend of mine makes fantastic short films and is going to make a zombie film. We were talking at a bonfire recently and I think that I may be commissioned (I think that implies pay, I'll likely be doing it for free) to do makeup for the zombies. AWESOME. You saw some of my work from the zombie party just before Easter. We probably don't even need to make up a plot. He can just say that someone came back from a Mexican vacation with the Swine Flu, died, then came back to life. Then we isolated Juneau-ites must fight off the undead Swine Flu victims. I think that we ought to have a sense of humor about it and only use weapons like carving knives, frying pans, and I bet we can find a Rabbi somewhere.

And maybe in the end we'll flee to Canada where we can actually get health care. Do you like my segue? I'll be in Canada this weekend. Whitehorse, Yukon. I'm hopping on a ferry tonight with some fellow Rotaractors. We'll stay overnight in Skagway tonight then cross the border tomorrow. I didn't leave the country at all in 2007 or 2008. Whitehorse isn't really some sort of exotic vacation spot, but it is outside the US. We are doing team-building games and a dance. Duct tape is apparently our theme. I'm bringing my camera.

I'm missing a lot of work this month! Gone this weekend and then for TWO WEEKS later in the month. It's a good thing I got my TAX REFUND(!) and have been working two jobs instead of just one. I think I'll still manage to pay my bills and rent and afford food and booze. Eventually I'm going to have to make more money so I can save up and buy that upright bass I'm obsessing over. Then also pay for lessons. Maybe I can start a "Help Melissa Buy an Upright Bass" fund. I do have a summer birthday and it is nearly summer AND if you can believe it, it's already MAY. Month FIVE. We're almost halfway through 2009. Also, later this month is my second Juneau-versary. It also marks the start of YEAR THREE in Alaska. All of it has been recorded faithfully in this blog.

And this last bit has nothing to do with zombies or Canadians but last night was Miss JB's last night in town. She and I leave on the same ferry tonight. A group of us went out on the town. We were at the Alaskan where a member or two of Little Black Raincloud Co. were hosting Open Mic and we also spent some time at the Rendezvous where members of Brave Monkey were playing some sweet music. There was dancing and drinking and debauching and cavorting. Yes, even cavorting. And, because it is always healthy to have a ridiculously unrealistic crush, the first Juneau crush was out and kissed my hand. Always a charmer, that one. Some pictures were taken. Maybe you'll get a chance to see some.

Oh, and also on the same Ferry is my current boss at the station and her fiance. Party Ferry? Maybe...