e_juliana: (made in alaska)
Awesome, wonderful, joy-inducing "Alaskans for Obama" video - my mom was at the Fairbanks one. I teared up, no lie.



Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] theodosia for finding that.
e_juliana: (alaska)
Yeah. Palin's accent is an extreme example of a city Alaskan accent. It's city because it's more with the Midwest flatness, less with the Native lilt. The accents I grew up around (and with) were a weird hybrid of Western Canadian, Midwestern, Texan/Oklahoman, and Native.

Sigh. I really don't like this woman.
e_juliana: (moose)
The story of how my mother whacked a moose on the butt one Alaskan winter morning.

This story takes place in the dead of winter, in the house I grew up in, when it was surrounded by snow. The snow in Fairbanks, it's dry snow. I never could make a snowman out of it, and snowball fights always had the possibility of getting scratched - from the snow or from the gravel that always gets mixed in.

I was in high school, and my mother was teaching at the same high school. We only had one car, so we car-pooled in the morning and figured out later exactly how both of us would get home at night - walking the mile or more home at 40 below not really being an option. Not to mention the fact that we were only getting 3 hours of daylight at that point, so the morning and afternoon commute were done in the dark of night.

A few mornings before, I had let the dogs out for their morning romp. They went out the door and off the deck as they always did - in a tumble of fur and yelping and excitement. A few seconds later, they came streaking back to the door, silent and terrified. I grabbed the flashlight we had hanging by the back door and shone it out over the field, catching a glimpse of brown haunch as the moose ambled away.

Now, I don't know if any of you have been up close and personal with a moose, but they're not ones to mess with. They're short-sighted and very aggressive when surprised, especially if it's a cow with a calf. It's always a wise idea to let the moose go where it wants - less potential for harm all around.

This morning, the dogs were fine and I was downstairs toasting a bagel when I heard the keerunch, keerunch of the snow being packed down by someone's footsteps on the walkway around our house. I thought it was odd, but put it down to my grandpa's usual morning perambulations. But then I kept hearing it, almost in stereo.

My mother came bustling down the stairs, urging me to put on my boots and coat, because we were late to school. I told her, "I think there's a moose out there, Mom." "No way. The dogs didn't yelp this morning, did they? It's probably just your grandfather." "Nuh-uh. It's a moose." Her hand on the front door handle, my mother turned to me and said, "There's no moose out there." She opened the door, and WHACK! There was a moose in front of our door! My mother had just whacked a moose on the butt with our door!

There may have been shrieking and general pandemonium as we scrambled to get back into the house, as the moose leapt off of the stairs into our driveway, as the dogs (safely behind the entryway door) lost their mind. Maybe.

Once we achieved a measure of safety, we peeked out at the moose. For its part, the beastie had positioned himself directly between our front door and our Volvo, and was torn between weighing his chances of trampling the Volvo and making sure we knew our place.

Mom called the school - "Hi, we're both going to be late. Yeah, we're having a transportation issue. No, the car's not dead, but there's a moose in between us and it, and I don't think it's going anywhere. Yeah, so we'll be in as soon as we can." This being Alaska, the school took it in stride.

Eventually, we got to school. But my mother will never live down the morning she whacked a moose on the butt.
e_juliana: (made in alaska)
Okay, so probably only [livejournal.com profile] libkitty knows about it (maybe [livejournal.com profile] zoethe and [livejournal.com profile] theferrett), but - Happy Alaska Day!

Today is the day the Russians officially signed Alaska over to the US (as opposed to Seward's Day, which is when Seward paid Russia for Alaska - hence AK being known as "Seward's Folly").

Despite never wanting to live there again, I am fiercely proud of my Alaskan history & heritage. So much so that I'm thinking of getting the "Made In Alaska" thingy tattooed on me somewhere (without the words). Or I could get the outline of the state. Something.

Dammit.

Sep. 6th, 2006 04:51 pm
e_juliana: (alaska)
Susan Butcher died.

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner )

I met her a few times. She was warm and engaging and a pleasure to be around, and.... I don't know. Words fail. She was a kickass woman and person.
e_juliana: (alaska)
The Fly By Night Club, one of the most Alaskan places I know, is going out of business on September 8th.

I tried to come up with an essay talking about how very Alaskan the place was, full of irreverence and silliness, but I just can't.

Thankfully, [livejournal.com profile] zoethe could, so go read about it, and raise a glass to the frontier life that's slowly slipping away.

(I will just say - part of the reason I love San Francisco so much is that it also has that finely-toned sense of absurdity that I grew up with in AK. Mr. Whitekeys exemplified that sense in the best of ways. I hope AK keeps that, even as it starts to resemble the Outside more and more.)
e_juliana: (fix me now)
Can I just say that I'm kind of wigged by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline shutdown? The Pipeline has been a central fact of my existence since I was born. My dad went to work for Alyeska - also known as Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in 1977, and still works for them (though he might be retiring this year).

I've played in slices of the pipe used to create the Pipeline. I have a piece of the Pipeline cut to resemble Alaska, with the Pipeline, the pump stations, and major cities picked out in gold paint. I remember thinking that they used real pigs to clean the Pipeline, and wondering if they equipped them with SCUBA gear. It's a major feat of engineering. It's not pretty, but it's pretty frickin' cool nevertheless.

It's also a reason why Fairbanks grew so much in the 70s, and why it kind of felt like a frontier town up until the 90s.

I know humanity is fleeting, I know our works are temporary. But this is a cornerstone of my early life, and it's rusting and broken, and that's a little upsetting.

GIP-ish.

Jun. 21st, 2006 11:19 am
e_juliana: (howling dog)
This isn't great, but it's a shot of where I'd be spending tonight if I was up in Fairbanks - The Howling Dog Saloon.

The Dog is legendary. It's not insulated, so they open in May and close in September/October. It's about 11 miles outside of Fairbanks, about 2 miles before the end of any sort of pavement on the haul road north. That's where all of the bikers go, where people who want to dance to good live music go, where the people who are looking for a honky-tonk go. They have the requisite peanut shells on the floor, and all-night volleyball outside. It's decorated with random crap: bras, license plates, vintage photos of the area, T-shirts, an Olympic flag... They now have a motel attached for those who would like to avoid a DUI.

It's a true roadhouse, with that added bit of Alaskan insanity, and it is so much fucking fun.


(ION, I am absolutely in love with the sound of steel guitars. LOVE. Also love dobro. I'd probably be hearing that if I was at the Dog tonight.)
e_juliana: (Default)
Y'all may think I'm doing a lot of complaining. It's true, I am. However, best to complain to my extended network of friends/family than to blow up at Mother Dear, so here we go.

Last night hammered something home that I've know for a while: I really don't belong here. What it added was the feeling of being simultaneously utterly foreign and bound to old notions of one's self.

Let me explain: When I'm in the States, people look at me as if I'm some sort of exotic bird when they find out I was born and raised here. But here, I am exotic. I dress differently, I look different, I move differently. I have heard through the grapevine that someone I used to care for very deeply now thinks that I am pretentious, that I've "gone Hollywood". To a point, that stings. To a point, that's true. I do expect better things out of life than this place can ever give me, and I won't hide how far I've changed. I just hoped that the people I grew up with would see the potential and how far my wings have spread. If they were to be disappointed in me, I would hope that it would be the disappointment of not shooting for even more. But, that is not the case.

I feel bound here, bound by the old expectations. Many people have expressed surprise that I am marrying, saying that I seemed such a free spirit. This saddens me, because all I wanted when I was here was someone to spend my life with, who got me, who, when shown a new door, would say "Let's go," and walk on through. Someone who wants to spend the rest of their life doing theater and hanging the moon. Clearly, said person was not here, and I'm glad they weren't, because Zach gets me best of all, and we show each other doors.

Anyway. Babbling. Will go spend times with parents now. Back home on Monday, none too soon.
e_juliana: (impulse)
Day One - Arrive in town, be greeted by loving relatives. Repair to a riverside cantina where we can observe the mating habits of homo northernus redneckus and nosh on authentically native deep-fried fish and chips. Go home, realize my room is one of the brightest in the house due to strategically placed skylights that have no shades in them. Also realize that it is bloody hot and there is no fan in the house. Fall asleep anyway.

Day Two - Arise early, still on home time. Attempt a run with mother and dog, and only achieve half of the intended distance, due to ungodly heat and jet-lag. Visit with grandparents and be shown things that I will apprarently inherit when grandmother shuffles off this mortal coil. Wince. Shower, cool off, and go shopping for food with which to cook the evening's meal. Feel like the stupidest of tourists when shocked by prices for watermelon. Oy. After meal, which includes grandparents and stepfather's close-to-senile mother, go to karaoke with mother. See a dear friend or three, sing "I Touch Myself" on a dare from the KJ (who is a friend of myself and my mother), drink champagne cocktails, realize exactly how far out of place I am.

Day Three - Wake early, decide to roll right back over and go to sleep again, at least until hangover wears off. Go to lunch with mother and grandmother and some friends of my mother who happen to care for me as well. Terrible service, terrible food, good company. After lunch, go to Fred Meyer's for a fan for my bedroom, as it is still ungodly hot, and promptly lose grandmother in the aisles. Find grandmother, purchase fan, go home, take a nap. A long one. Wake up, go to dinner with mother, stepfather, and stepfather's mother, and then join grandparents at movie theater to see Around The World In 80 Days. Wince through the movie, go home, have ice cream, go to sleep in newly darkened room with new fan cooling it off. A bit.

Day Four - Wake early. Again. Get up and go for a 4-mile run with mother and dog. No shade, no water, just heat and dust and sun. Die. Complain about dying and about global warming, which is causing it to be 90 bloody degrees in the bloody middle of bloody Alaska, just 100 bloody miles below the bleedin' Arctic Circle. Stick tongue out at mother as she laughs and soaks up the heat. Stagger home, shower, go shopping, come sit in uncooled loft of piano store and type up update.

Tonight - see performance of kid's musical theater camp. Mother wrote the script. It's very cheesy.

Tomorrow - drive 2 hours to go whitewater rafting and eat pizza.

Monday - Home, sweet home. Civilization.
e_juliana: (Default)
And sweating my butt off. Yikes. It's about 80 here, and nothing has A/C.

The trip was fine. Well, except for the two children under two in the row in front of me. And in the row behind me. And in the row across from me. That was not fun, especially at the three-hour mark, when all of then decided to throw tantrums.

I love the direct flights, though. Saves me from having to relive that experience multiple times. Although there was the sprint from one end of the Anchorage terminal to the other, because our plane came in late. Oy.

The approach into Anchorage took us over Valdez and Cook Inlet. Every time, I'm struck by the land's appearance, and how insignificant words are when describing it. Picture rows upon rows upon rows of snow-covered mountains, stretching to the horizon. The snow only fading into brown and then green as it approaches Cook Inlet. The wrinkled, gnarled land, just there. So much of it, and humans barely noticeable. Just amazing.

Anchorage to Fairbanks, our path was too far out to see Denali properly. Bummer. I'll see if I can see it from my favorite ridge tomorrow.

Barndad has a digital camera, so I shall see about getting pictures and posting them.
e_juliana: (mystery)
Note: The following is spawned by my deep desire to not go up to Alaska this month. I don't want to - I've got a show to work on, a wedding to plan, a marathon to train for (and Guilder to frame for it), and yet I must. I must because my mother and grandmother will it so, and because both of my grandparents are steadily deteriorating. So, I'm trying to get all of the negativity and crankiness out of my system before I go, in order to be the pleasant daughter.



[livejournal.com profile] herself_nyc is currently touring the wilds of the PacNorthwest, and had this to say about a stop she made:

Pretty much everything man-made around here is ugly. It's very frustrating. There's almost no feel for making structures fit into the majesty of their environment, and the environment is just incredibly fine.


That neatly sums up a persistent feeling I have had about my childhood home in specific and much of the West in general. Which is not to say the Midwest is a pinnacle of harmony between landscape and structure. When you're in the prairie, there's not much you can do to make the buildings flow into the landscape. The most you can hope for is to build it warm and tight, and pray that a tornado doesn't take it. Or, you can live in a city along the river, and let it flow from there.

However, the Midwest does not have the Rockies and the acres of forest/taiga/tundra that the West and Alaska does. There's something mildly oppressing about being among such majestic scenery, a feeling of never being able to measure up. Whenever I see Fairbanks, I get the sense that the miners and the Pipeline workers also felt that way, and so chose to go the other way, to make the town as squat and as ugly as possible. I know this is wrong, that the overriding concern was survival, which does not make for soaring architecture. There are grace notes, but the grace notes are back in the woods, set away from civilization, where people took the times to make their dwellings blend into the landscape. The town as whole is still the squat little mining camp it always has been, with a Sears and a Fred Meyers thrown in for good measure.

It really doesn't help that I am a city person through and through. I love being in the middle of tall buildings, of people walking around, of the bustle that makes up a city. I realize my city is small compared to some, but it's still a busy one. It's a lot of fun for me to just be in, to wander around and see what's going on, what's new. Too long in Fairbanks, and I start to feel stifled and stir-crazy. There's no anonymity, especially for me. Also, the main history of the town revolves around the bars downtown and a bunch of cabins that got moved over to a theme park formerly known as Alaskaland, now known as Pioneer Park. Good times.

Mind you, not all of Alaska is like this. Sitka is one of the most charming towns you'll ever see. Valdez is a fishing town, and has its own style. But a lot of Alaska is like that, where it's cheaper (and often safer) to build out instead of up. I wonder how much of that "style" is influenced by the tendency of rural Midwesterners to migrate up to Alaska. Hmmmm. Or is it just the survival mentality that is always there under the surface? As always, the answer is probably "both".

(edit: not knocking rural Midwesterners. At all. Promise. I discuss what I know.)
e_juliana: (kickass)
Well.

Weekend was fine, lots of hermit-ing for me, cuddling with Z, all good. Saw Julius Caesar. The production was meh, but I talked to a woman who I went to high school with, who I was friends (through Dale) with her and her boyfriend when I was up in AK working on shows for my mom, and who I basically lost touch with when Dale and I broke up. That was... odd. Awkward. I invited them to karaoke and gave them my contact info. We'll see if anything comes of it, or if we stay on each other's periphery, like I do with my other friends who moved down here from AK.

The biggest problem with seeing her is that it brought back a lot of memories of being with Dale. That's hard, because I don't think we treated each other very well, and I really don't think I handled breaking up with him well. I was avoidant and passive-aggressive, unable to admit that he really had been a transitional relationship. Things deteriorated so far between us that I know he wouldn't like to hear from me again at all, which pains me. It's too bad, but I guess that's life. And probably part of the reason that I've been so flexible on my boundaries with Carl. Hmm.

Anyway. That wasn't the biggest weirdness of the weekend (which started out surreal, as I mentioned before). Nope, that was reserved for Sunday, for rehearsal. That was when one of the actors, the main actor, showed up not tipsy, not buzzed, but drunk. Stumbling, slurring, the whole nine yards. Z had to send the actor home and walk the part himself. It was probably the only time the fight scene was completely right - lines and blocking.

Sally can't be too mad, because they have to have trust and a rapport. Z can't be too mad right now, because that will interfere with their working relationship. Me? I can be mad. I am mad. I'm fuming. The rehearsal was called because we all needed it and badly, and said actor fucked it up for the rest of us. This isn't the first or even second time it's happened, either. Too frustrating.

So, we rehearse tonight, and I'll see how it's handled. I'll see if there is contrition, or an attempt to return to business as usual. I'll see.

Oooooh.

Oct. 24th, 2003 10:41 am
e_juliana: (mystery)
Homesick now.

There's apparently some massive solar flares going on, which usually translates to heightened aurora activity.

In Fairbanks, I kept two lawn chairs in my trunk/hatchback. Not for the bonfires that we always attended, but for after. When we were driving home on a cold fall/winter night, and the aurora lit up the entire sky. When we'd drive to the top of Ester Dome or just to the top of aptly-named Aurora Drive, put out the lawn chairs so we wouldn't freeze our butts in the snow, and just watch the ribbons of colors snake across the stars. When we would see this and this and this.

I'm not homesick often. Fairbanks is too isolated for me to be happy there, and I spent far too long trying to make myself into something I wasn't so I'd fit in. I equate Fairbanks and Alaska with being almost completely self-contained, with having to work hard to survive, with compromises, with settling, with missing out. Clearly, this is not true for everyone, and the fact that I grew up there has a lot to do with it. There's compromises and missed opportunities everywhere, it's just a matter of what you're pursuing. For my life and my interests, I need a city and a wide array of choices.

I still miss the sky, though. And the air.
e_juliana: (impulse)
I'm going through old files on my work PC, and I found Zach's travelogue from our trip up to Fairbanks two years ago. That was a good trip and I wish I had pictures from it. We didn't know if we were going to go or not, because Zach's dad had just taken sick and was still in a coma. But we went, and we slept a lot, and I showed him my hometown. I took him to karaoke, and the park that I played in as a kid, and forst theater I worked in, and I showed him my favorite view in all of Fairbanks, and the entire family went climbing in the White Mountains for solstice.

Anyway. Thought I'd share, because it's funny and I'm feeling a wee bit homesick. (edit: and I cut-tagged it, because it's hella long...)


Observations from the North )


Yeah, it was a good trip.

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