Saturday, December 16, 2006

Grieving over Brandon

Its been over three weeks since I returned from Denver. After a week of starring at the wall, I unzipped my suitcase to unpack. So its not a shock that it took me so long to blog about what has happened lately.
Tuesday, November 14th I received a call from Wayne that morning. He had been calling Brandon all Sunday without any answers. Monday, he called his work & he hadn't showed up. He went over to his house & the garage was unlocked. The window was rolled down, the battery spent & Brandon was dead in the front seats. This is what he told me that morning sitting infront of my computer at work.
Can anyone ever truely explain what you felt at a moment like that?
Brandon was the brother that I never had. Our dogs & art brought us together several years ago. There hasn't been a week since then that I hadn't seen him or talked with him on the phone. He was my partner @ the gallery, street painting buddy, a fan club of two for manga porn/pink squirrel milkshakes/stop-motion photography & warehouse mate...a constant compainon.
I tried hidding under the blankets with Itchy but the phone never stopped ringing as one person after another discovered about his death. I couldn't deal with it on my own in the Arctic. I flew back to Denver for his memorial. Lauri Lynx Murphy was my hero Friday night as she hung his art, had a band, and slide show. It came the time to talk on a microphone to this crowd. I wanted to tell his family, girlfriend, friends & admirers all the things secert/personal that I only knew about him to share how wonderful he was but instead I only said how much he admirered everyone in that room, that he's never said a single bad thing about anyone.
We cleaned out his house. I won't go into the difficultites of this but it was a changing moment for me. I was shocked how anyone can find good moments during this but there were moments.
My sister was fantastic during this time. We took a Bollywood dance class for her birthday. She threw me a surprise birthday party (well not such a surprise but it was a good thing that someone spilt the beans or I wouldn't of gone). It was good to see the friends that were there for me.
Since I got back I've been working everyday & weekend on the airport. I had my Arctic Engineering final exam. A dance performances. A company Christmas party that I ate muktuk (rancid whale meat). The regular holiday doldrums. Time hasn't healed the hurt. Brandon was one of those friends that I was planning growing old with. You can't fill that loss just carry on with a gap.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How NOT to move in the winter

Donna has been gone for a month & Tina finally got on that plane to Arkansas. Moving time has finally come. Everytime I move it seems to be a bigger transition than I expected. Its like you can't simply pack your boxes & move into a prearranged housing situation, right? The universe wants to shuffle a little variables around.

I had prearranged to move in with my new roommate, Ju Yeong. Great lady, great house, everything was supposed to be great. This first sign was that it started snowing the night before I was going to move in. Snow in the fall is different than the snow in the winter. Its rain that turns to ice once it touches the ground. So I'm trying to move up into the hills with roads like this. I get to the road right before Ju Yeong's house & I can't make it up this little hill. Not only can I not make it up the hill, I'm sliding out of control a ravine. I'm freaking out because I can't drive out of this, so I end up having to get a tow truck. I made one of those prayers that we all do in situations like this. "Please, if I get out of this alive I'll get snow tires put on tomorrow." That was sign number one...well, maybe sign one should of been my truck's topper unablity to keep the bed door up. Its never pleasant to climb in the bed of a truck, have the lid fall down & dump a pile of snow down the back of your pants. I might just invest in a stick to hold that lid up so that never happens again.

Now I have not only studded tires BUT an engine block heater, battery blanket, & oil pan heater. I'm completely winterized.

Sign number two was when Ju Yeong emailed me Wednesday that her family was coming to stay for six months & I would have to find some place else to less than a week! Oh Crumbs! Ju Yeong thought she was helping me out by introducing me to a friend of her's that had a 300 SF apartment for rent. I was freaking out until a coworker gave me the number of landlord of College Manor. This place for the jet set of Fairbanks; allows dogs, flexible leases, radiant heat floors, dishwasher, no roommate & the best part....a heated garage. Call me Mrs. Jefferson because I am moving on up!

So I was able to relax a little. Take my time in cleaning up the old house, which is different because I have to do things like fill the fuel oil tank before I go. But Saturday night I went out to the Blue Loon for a Halloween party. I must say that Leg Avenue is a wonderful company but their new halloween costumes make idiots out of women. It was 20 degrees waiting in line to get in & women were standing there without coats in their naughty cops outfits ready to drop. I stood next to the shits that were quite warm in their outhouse, hot shit & holy shit costumes.

I'm quite excited about my new place & the garage. I had a coworker help me move the scooter in & said that I could bill my garage as the "Farthest North Vespa Service Station". I replied that also when I'm bored during the winter it will become the "Farthest North Roller Rink."

Miss you more than having something to do on my birthday,

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dance in those pants but not the top

Alaska Public Radio is doing its fund raising this week so I changed my channel. The weather broadcast was on of, '20 degrees with a chance of rain & maybe that four letter word that begins with an S.".....but who has time for the weather report. I have get my butt moving packing up the house & winterizing the truck. My calendar is full this week. I'm up to three dance classes a week & three days of dance practice. One evening of arctic day to get everything else done.
I've been dancing so much because of all the upcoming performances. Being a rockette of the North is tasking. Tomorrow I have two performances. Friendship day & Haflaween. Then its Diwali, the Indian new years. That community will have their celebration in the beginning of November where I'll dance my first Odissi Dance. I'm so nervous. My costume arrived from India yesterday. The bottom is the right size but the top only fits on Itchy. The costume looks like so & if you know anyone that sells parts let me know. The only mail service in India is DHL & it takes awhile.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Movin' on up

My parents were in Fairbanks last week staying with me. It was wonderful! I've never had anyone come visit me before so the excitement wore me out. I bought food & a bed..things that I don't normally do. The food was simple, not the bed. We have one sole furniture store; they wanted $900 for a double. The only other place is the grocery store & that was the same. I thought that Sears would have but it was 'we can order it & it will be here in 2-3 weeks.' (That's what everyone says if you can't find something in a store.) Luckily I found a wholesaler that had reasonable prices.
While my parents were here we went cranberry picking, driving to the pipeline, swimming in the hot springs & most importantly...bringing home the Vespa. My Mum lovingly cleaned it then we hauled it down a flight of stairs into the basement so I could work on it during the winter.
We had to take the doors off & tie ropes around ourselves to lower it down..quite the ordeal. When the cowl came off to look at the engine, it looked like 50% engine & 50% black, electrical tape. This is going to be an adventure.
Towards the end of the week my new roommate of a month found out that her job wasn't going to work out & was going to move back to Anchorage- that weekend. If my parents didn't worry enough about me already. Luckily my old roommate came to the rescue & hooked me up with Ju Yeong. I'll be moving in with her at the end of October. So we had to haul the scooter back up the stairs! Ju Yeong is wonderful & she has a heated garage:)
My parents returned back to Denver Saturday morning. I spent the weekend in a bellydance workshop with the amazing Morocco. Morocco is one of the mothers of American Bellydancing. She's been dancing professionally for 47 years. I first balked at her schedule because she was going to have us dancing 6 hours a day. Then I found out that she was 67 & didn't worry about it. How wrong I was?! At the end of the first day I was icing my joints & soaking in a bath. I was even more impressed when she went on to perform in the hafla that night. It was a special night because I got introduced to the community. I auditioned for the professional dance troupe a couple weeks ago & got in. I've never auditioned for anything before & there I was being appaluded while receiving flowers. It was so surreal that I was waitig for the blood to dump on my head like in Carrie.
Miss you more than the all the furniture my roommate took with her,

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rejected from High School

Fall doesn't start in Fairbanks until the Tanana Valley Fair. With perfect timing, the day the fair opens it starts raining. It hasn't stopped for weeks. I asked when it would stop & cringed to the response. "It doesn't, it just turns into snow."

The fair was different. Everyone was excited about the rides & the food. There were gyros! $10 to get in to just for Greek food. Atleast I got in for free. I was helping out the Interior AIDS Assoc. by giving them bathroom breaks. One break a man came up to tell me how you cure AIDS by basic cow husbandry. Apparently a calf doesn't have an immune system without three weeks of saturation with milk. He believed you could rebuild immune systems in humans this way. The conversation ended when I got serenaded by the barber shop octet.

Before it started raining I went berry picking with two coworkers. It was disturbing when they called Itchy "bear bait." Bears love blueberries. Luckily they like them at a late ripeness then we do. That doesn't mean that you don't keep a wary eye out. The way to keep a good distance between you & bears is noise. Some people attach sleigh bells to their clothes. I personally think that's like a dinner bell. James likes to do Mr.T impressions while Mike sang. With those two carrying on we spent an afternoon on our bellys picking low-bush blueberries. Then we drove to Chattanika Lodge to eat a Dredge burger while basset hounds lay at your feet.

I have the title on the Vespa now! I got excited to see that there was a course titled "Intro. to Small Engines." In the class you got to dismantle a 2 stroke engine, remantle it then bring in your own project. Just what I needed! When I went to register they wouldn't let me because it is only taught to Hutchison high school students. I was able to register this week to a graduate level Arctic Engineering class without any background checks but I can't get into high school.

Finally fell down the stair ladder up to my bedroom. I miss you more than a hot pad.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

World Eskimo Olympics & Regatta

The summer has finally showed its head. It has been raining so much that it’s only risen over 54 degrees one week since May. The dear old plumber at work today told me about his troubles building his cabin in this weather. He told me that he built his tool shed first & was camping in a tent. It got so bad that he moved his table saw into the tent & moved into the shed.

It even down poured on the governor during the ground breaking ceremony at the airport on Wednesday. That's right, we have officially started construction. Just three more years & it will be finished!

This week has been so exciting for me. Wednesday morning I took my roommate's visiting family to a pancake feed in a parking lot down the street. I had my first sourdough pancake from 100 year old pancake mix. I never knew that sourdough is one of those things that you just keep adding flour too & it will last forever. Tasted pretty good.

That evening I went to the preliminary events of the World Eskimo International Olympics. There was the blanket toss, the one hand reach, the one leg kick, the stick pull, knuckle hop & ear pull. There are others but I really don't want to go to the seal skinning competition. There should never be an Olympic sport that sounds like a menu- "dependant on the seals of the season". Other than that one I was quite impressed by the competitions. The blanket toss is like it sounds that a bunch of spectators come out, they move a blanket made out of many seal skins, then someone gets thrown up & down on it. The catch is that they have to land straight up on their feet & does some dance move in the air. The 'blanket' did get holes in it twice during the competition. Historically this was done to see long distances over the tundra & for fun.

The one hand reach is like a push up except only one hand can be on the floor. The rest of the body has to balance on that hand while the other hand in reaching out to grab a dangling ball. This was original a training exercise to learn balance incase the ice breaks up around you.

The one leg kick is like the reach. They balance on one leg, jump in the air & kick a ball on a string & land standing up on that same leg. They can jump up to 8 ft! Why aren't there any Eskimos in the NFL? Anyway, this was a way of signaling far off ships when I whale was killed.

The stick pull was like tug-of-war except with a foot long stick covered in Crisco. It’s supposed to train you how to grab a fish in the water.

The knuckle hop & the ear pull are the pain endurance competitions. The knuckle hop is a push up on knuckles & they see how far they can hop. The knuckles do get bloody. It’s supposed to mimic a seal. The ear pull...well the world champion is an 800 lb. Eskimo named Big Bob.

I might go to Sunday’s competition to watch the Eskimo Women versus White Men tug-of-war.

Also this weekend is the Golden Days celebration. Its kind-of like a founders day celebration. The water activities are what I'm interested. I have bought my Rubber Duckie race ticket & come Saturday, they will release 6,000 rubber duckies into the Chena River. The duckie that arrives at the Welsey Bridge the first wins $10,000. On Sunday is the Red Green Regatta. I don't know if you have seen that show on PBS but it’s about this do-it-yourselfer who gets hurt more often then not by his creations. So you have to build a raft from found objects that somewhere on it uses duct tape to attach something. People have been telling me about rafts made with oil drums & swing sets & one year a man simply paddled down the river in his refrigerator.

So that's for the sunny days. On the rainy days, I have been searching for parts for my winter project. Only in Alaska can I go to a garage sale & find a 1958 Sears 125 Vespa Allstate Super Crusiaire! Not to mention that it’s been owned by the same family for four generations & has a title. I'm sure it needs some work but I won't know until I find a column lock key.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My First Entry

I finally did it, I have my first blog. Since I moved to Alaska I have been sending weekly emails to all of my friends & family about my experiences up North. The emails got too large, crammed with images, so that no one could read them. So the ended up all garbled. A blog is the answer.