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I just watched Whip It, Drew Barrymore's movie about roller derby, starring Ellen Page (Juno). It was an okay film. But, wow, do I miss Oakland now. It featured much of what I rolled my eyes at and what I loved about living in Oakland/Bay Area. I loved the DIY sass of the East Bay. I went to the Bay Area roller derby not too long after they started up. It was fab! I loved it. ....and then I got married and then pregnant.

Or burlesque. I would have loved to do that too.

The movie made me wish I was 5 years younger and starting over again in the Bay Area. I would totally join roller derby. I think it'd be a good outlet for my bitchiness and my love of hitting people. I want to be a badass. I want to be the sort of girl who wears lots of eyeliner and has tats and doesn't give a fuck. Ya know, Alternative. Except I don't want to live in shitty apartment in West Oakland (hipster but sketchy), working at Mama's Royal (or other waitressing gigs at dingy cafes), dating skinny emo guys in bands, drinking PBR, and being poor.

Instead I'm poor, drinking crap wine, living in a cold concrete bungalow, married to an awesome guy who sings along to the Number and Play cd with our son, in rural Wales.

*Mary Contrary?
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What an amazing place. What beauty, and bounty. I never eat so fresh as when I am in Alaska during the summer time.

Flying into Juneau was a different experience for me. I usually get a window seat and stare outside the entire flight. This time I was corralling a toddler (he flies really well, but he's still a squirmy toddler). As we entered familiar airspace and I saw the rivers, islands and fjords I'm acquainted with come into view I expected certain feelings to come up. But this time I felt more disconnected - or, I didn't feel that tug of loss I normally do. As we flew over Juneau proper I realized, for the first time ever, just how rural my home town is. It's TINY. It's..... out in the boonies. Which of course is a great big part of its charm. But still. Growing up I felt I was in the big city (comparatively).

I spent 10 days on Shelter Island with my parents, nieces, and sister. Bennett wasn't so sure about every one for the first few days, but he warmed right up eventually. He never really bonded with my mother, which I find interesting. I think she has issues with males, so I'm not surprised. It was wonderful to be able to let B play and play and play. Outside, inside, with his cousins, on the beach. He loved it. He loved the water, the rocks, everything. He ate enormous amounts of vegetables and fish. So did I. Fresh fish from the ocean and veggies from the garden. Amazing.

My time was spend walking around, frolicking with the kids, eating well and reading. In the first 6 days I read 4 books and an Economist. Every evening there was time spent hanging out on the deck watching the whales bubble feed or breech or just swim around.

Right before I left for town my dad and sister caught a 90 lb halibut.

Town was great too. Exhausting, brief, but great. The Future Gov of Alaska, who from here on out will be renamed MM, as per her request, came down from Anchorage for the weekend and we stayed at her parents' house. That was wonderful. Spending time with her with no agenda, watching our kids play together, was good for my soul. On Saturday night we cooked up a feast: halibut (from my dad) with herbs from MM's parents' garden, dungeoness crab from my dad's crab pot with cocktail sauce, steamed kale, sugar tomatoes, figs grilled with humboldt fog cheese and garlic chips, pinot gris. Seriously, this is the sort of meal I am used to eating with friends in Juneau.

I didn't get to see as many people as I would have liked. Carrying B around town was brutal. We didn't have a car and the town is all hills and mountain sides. After walking up 6 blocks of hills (maybe more?) and 400 stairs we made it back to the house and that killed us for any more wandering around.

Juneau is still beautiful and still filled with amazing, generous, passionate, creative people. The tourist part of the town sucks. Let me rephrase that. It SUCKS. It's getting worse. There are EVEN MORE jewelry stores than there were two years ago. How this is possible, I can't figure out. Literally, there are several blocks where it is nothing but jewelry stores. What idiots go to Alaska and buy fancy diamond jewelry at places called Caribbean Jewels? Oh, your parents, you say? I'm sure they are nice people, but fuck them. Fuck those cruise ships. Juneau is going to tourist hell in a cruise ship hand bag. If you go to on an Alaska cruise on one of those mega ships, please don't ever tell me.

Books read:
Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
Midnight Never Come - Marie Brennan
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*Gallileo by the Indigo Girls always reminds me of the Future Gov. We sang it once with our one-show wonder band.... which was a million years ago.

*Once we get to San Diego we are still going to have to repack many boxes. It's all those damn personal effects, all those little art pieces and altar items and cards and jewelry that just can't be disposed of.

*Holy cow, do we have a ton of stuff to give away at our party tomorrow: jewelry, cds, shoes, clothes, filing things, candles, glasses, dishware, peacock feathers, a glow in the dark Virgin Mary, coat rack, a clock, and even a framed Barbara LaValle print. Oh yeah. Among other things.

*We still need to pack the kitchen, our clothes, the bathroom and the art.

*Only three more nights in the Bay Area. It is truly the end of an era.
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*House? Massive disaster. Dishes stacked in and around sink. Books in boxes, some on shelves, mostly stacked on the floor awaiting to be sold tomorrow. Dust bunnies float about and breed.

*Accomplished today? Got rid of 20 years of sheet music and scores, plus my MA notes. Sorted my photos. Still have two file boxes and a chest of "stuff" to sort through.

*Dinner? Will be pizza. And hopefully either an episode of True Blood (so good!), Party Down, or Scrubs.

*Baby? Miserable, mildly neglected, tired, regressing. Thankfully passed out cold for nap #2. Possibly traumatized from watching an episode of True Blood with us. I'm not sure he should see such lasciviousness, even if he won't remember it.

*Adam? Selling off our wares on Craiglist and burning all of our CDs to an external hard drive. The two dressers, tv, mini dresser (currently manifested as a tv stand), our camping back packs, his trail bike, and a clarinet are posted. We have sold my piano, his fancy street bike, a vintage saxophone and one entertainment chest. Oof. Bookshelves and bed are next.

*Me? Ok. Drinking Laphroaig.
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At one of my many meetings today some one's coffee cup had a map of the world on it. I saw Alaska on it and I was overwhelmed with the realization that as excited as I am to go to Wales, it's not SE Alaska. I was hit with longing for the rocky coast, the greys and greens, the foreboding expanses of evergreens, the quiet.... gah. I die a little every year more I spend NOT in Alaska.
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Last night I had dreams about a cabin in a field off of the Gastineau Channel, a field that doesn't exist, of course. It then morphed into a wedding, many people I grew up with where there, and we were so happy. Full, belly aching laughs. One guy, a friend I've know since I was 6, who I haven't seen since we graduated high school, he and I were wrestling and rolling around on the floor laughing. He in his tux and me in a strapless cream silk brocade dress. Me, sans back fat and ginormous matronly boobs.

Then the dream morphed into a beautiful, elaborate arts salon. I was on a list to sing a baroque song. One I knew, but had never actually sung. I was surprisingly calm about having to do it. There were people in costumes, musicians, singers, almost like some sort of rococo themed back stage.

I woke so home sick, aching with nostalgia, aware of the lack of creativity, ease and spontaneous joyful laughter in my life these days. Not that things are grim, but the juiciness of my dream exposed the ordinariness of my living day to day.

There used to a website, Juneau Photos, that would post a new photo of Juneau every day. It is no more. But I found some sort of link to the photographers photos. These pictures are part of the reason I miss Juneau so much.

5 years

Aug. 26th, 2008 10:29 am
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Five years ago last week I moved to the Bay Area. I came to Berkeley to start graduate school. My intent was to finish with a masters degree and move back to Juneau. Lots and lots of things changed that first year in grad school.

My life is unbelievably enriched for living here.

But I still wake up every morning and want to move back to Juneau.
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I can't look at pictures of Juneau. It's like porn for me, or something.

Right now, I want to move to back to Juneau. I want to raise my baby there. Screw the restaurants and opera and whatnot, give me trees, clean air, grey skies, carharts, and fishing boats.

Seriously. I want to move home. The question remains: what would we do there?

Now isn't the time. But soon.
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How many of you remember Sassy magazine? Me, I remember the columnists by first name. Turns out that this is common among fans of the magazine. I had a subscription to the magazine in its heyday. I LOVED it. But then, I will admit that I was not all that discerning! I had a subscription to Seventeen for about 3 years. I still remember the Art Carved and Jostens ads, the hope chest ads... basically, even in 1987 it was a throw back to the 50s and 60s. The magazine seemed to say that the greatest thing in life was to marry your high school sweetheart. I had a subscription to Young Miss before it became YM. And to Rolling Stone. Like now, I was eclectic in my tastes.

What's weird is that I still remember covers and issues. I remember when Whitney Houston modeled for Seventeen (1986 maybe?), when Milla Jojovich had just moved to the US to model and still had that mole on her forehead. I remember the Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love cover of Sassy, I remember specific ads and fashion spreads.

But Sassy held a special place in my heart. I didn't relate to much of the music and style. I was never into the Riot Grrrl stuff. Yelling and bad musicianship isn't my thing, no matter how much I like the politics. I never have been all that alternative in my dress and I don't have any tattoos or piercings. But I loved the magazine for its tone, its smart content and for exposing me to style and ideas that weren't just like mine. The writers didn't talk down to teens. I think these reasons for loving Sassy are quite common.

The book, How Sassy Changed My Life: a love letter to the greatest teen magazine of all time, which I finished this morning, talks all about the history of the mag, why it died and what its influence has been. I am grateful for finally getting the story on why it died. But for the most part, there is very little in this book that will come as news to Sassy readers. It's also pretty mediocre in writing and analysis. The book makes a good point about how alienating Sassy could be to those who weren't boy crazy and mainstream in ideas, but weren't outsiders, angry or punk rock. I sometimes feel this way reading Bust. I don't dance burlesque, make my own handbags or listen Bright Eyes, but I read the magazine because it's fun, smart and creative. There is such a dearth of media out there for independent, creative women that I feel like I need to subscribe just to show solidarity. Which makes me wonder why I've never subscribed to Venus.

I only recommend this book to diehard fans.

(If any one has or finds copies of Sassy pretty please send them my way!! I rue the day I ever tossed them out.)
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I've been homesick. Of course, I'm always homesick in the summer. I haven't had my mountains/glacier/old growth forest/hiking/fishing/long nights/tourist filled Juneau summer fix. But I also have some sadness in my heart that Benn has yet to breathe non-polluted air (the fires are still making the air hazy here, my nose has been itching for weeks), has yet to hear or smell the ocean. It's been cars and concrete and traffic when we go outside.

Also, having a new baby means being inside a lot. I feel both cocooned in my cozy nest and also a little isolated. Especially because so many of my new mama friends are far away. I wish I had actually met some of you ladies in the flesh, that we could hang out a little as our babes feed for hours on end, that we could be of some actual physical support to one another and that our babes could grow up together. This last part makes me sad. I think about my nieces and The Future Gov of Alaska up in Anchorage. If only Anchorage wasn't such a dump... I think of all the kids growing up together, of me being an active part in those girls' lives, of my boy knowing family well and being cared for by loving people invested in his well being.

Today is my eldest niece's 9th birthday and the Future Gov is in early labor as we speak. This new little person will born any day now. I am far away. She won't meet Benn and I won't meet this Maggie/Stella/whatever they end up naming her, possibly until Christmas. My sister and nieces won't get to meet him until then either.

I also wish Benn would smile at me. Benn will be 8 weeks tomorrow. He is still only 6 1/2 pounds.
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On my way to work (yes, I am at work today!), I saw two guys on the bus. Both looked anywhere between 16-19. Both were little hipsters. Both were quite indie-trendy. But one, were it not for his ipod, looked like 1987 personified. From head to toe:
-faux shag/mullet hair cut
-large thin framed red sunglasses (these do not look good on anyone! ack!)
-new wave t-shirt (couldn't read it from my vantage point)
-super skinny black jeans PEGGED (oh god, why??)
-and the icing on the cake? white KEDS

Holy goodness.

Of course, I have become a dowdy nursing mother, still wearing her "coolest" maternity jeans, wearing ill-fitting bras, in need of a lip and brow wax. Eesh. What little style I had has been killed dead. If only I managed to hang on to my junior high wardrobe, I'd be rockin'.... white Esprit bag, keds, swatch watches, and acid washed jeans anyone?
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Spring is on in full force here in the Bay Area. I barely seem to leave my couch these days. Sadly, walking is starting to make me ache in areas seemingly unrelated to my legs. I'm just so damn tired all the damn time. I really really want to indulge myself in the energy that I feel when I wake up to birds chirping and fresh, bright sunshine in the morning. I think I'm starting to get a (very small) surge of new energy thanks to spring. I have an itch to read the books piled up on the coffee table, to get out of the house, to finish some house hold projects. Still not feeling quite as motivated to sing or study, but I know that will come. (I actually dreamed last night of performing in an opera - which was really more like a musical - one I hadn't rehearsed for. But my improv worked and I sounded great. A decided subconscious shift from trying to sing only to find enormous wads of gum clogging up my mouth.)

I think part of me might also be entering the Nesting Phase of pregnancy. Some women seem to get this from the start. I'm not surprised it's taken me 2/3 of my pregnancy to get here. All of a sudden I realize that I have 11 weeks left - 11 weeks to prepare. Now's the time to read all the books I want to read, finish moving into our apartment (hang the stinkin' art!), wash the floors, get those side tables we've talked about, purchase the baby needs, etc. Now should also be the time to get cracking on the dissertation outline. But I've just given up for the time being. I'll do it. But I know if I hound myself I'll have an anxiety fueled crying jag. Ah, hormones.

The arrival of spring and the looking ahead to July also makes me a bit sad. Summer is coming and I won't be making my yearly pilgrimage back to SE Alaska. This year, around the 3rd and 4th of July I will not only be wondering if the Pea is immanent, but I'll also be sad that I'm not in Juneau. No long 18 hour days, no hikes in the rain forest, no whale watching off mum and dad's deck, no fishing, no foraging beach lettuce, no communing with the mountains or the sea, no seeing the friends I see for maybe one or two days a year. I'm sure once the babe is here I won't be thinking of this. July will be a blur of bonding and boobs and poop and baby.
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Last morning in #7. I've been awake since 5am. An improvement on the usual 3am wake up. I don't want to move anymore. The new kitchen makes me sad.
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I dreamt last night that I was in Juneau, walking out towards Thane. No cruise ship docks, old wooden framed houses, precarious icy dirt slopes to the water. I was having trouble staying balanced on the edge of the road. The sky was slate grey, a typical winter day's sky around 2 in the afternoon. I dream of this light from time to time since it's not available here.

My sister wants me to move to Anchorage. There are many good reasons to move there: nearer to my nieces, nearer to my sis, nearer to the Future Gov; Alaska; free day care: Sis can watch the baby while I work on my PhD. That's hard to pass up.

But Anchorage. It's a hole. If I want strip malls and box stores, gang violence and meth fiends, pretentious rich folk with fancy cars, I can stay right here in the Bay Area! It has many good things too, of course, the most important being that it is in Alaska and if you look up, over the fast food outlets and dingy streets, the mountains and ocean are right there.

But Juneau. I miss that town. Today I am homesick for the water, the overcast impenetrable grey skies, the fishing boats, the snow capped mountains, and even for some of the mind-numbing hometown politics.
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My heart hurts for two reasons:

I miss Alaska. It's entirely the fault of the Redhead Who was Lost, but Now is Found. She is on her way to Anchorage and Juneau and Tenakee. My chest aches at the thought of dark, cold, grey, wet, vast expanses of "nothing," and a cabin in Tenakee - a village that is two blocks long with no cars, perched along the shore of Chichagof Island, population 104, 45 miles from Juneau. I haven't let myself wander back to Alaska in quite a while.

My heart also hurts because I am pathetically out of shape. I rode a bike this morning for the first time....since high school? I seriously cannot remember the last time I rode a bike. I had forgotten how fun it is, but I'd also forgotten how my knees feel about it. The merest hint of a hill highlighted just how desperately I need some cardiovascular help. All right already! I'll get a bike!


Jun. 14th, 2005 10:19 pm
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Oh my god. I am crazy in love with my intended.
What an incredible person. What inspiration. What hope. What challenge.

I remember flying into the Bay Area for not quite the first time, but the first time as an adult, knowing that my life was about to include California, include this new maze of concrete and dry brown hills. I remember flying into Oakland for a visit to PSR, the visit to see what I was going to be getting myself into, not knowing at all what California was about, what graduate school was about, what this adventure was going to be about. I remember staring out the window on the flight north thinking to myself as I watched the land move from city to hill to flat that California had a lot to teach me. So far it has not been so much the landscape that has surprised me, but the people I have met here that have challenged, surprised and educated me. I often miss the amazing people from Juneau, the DIY spirit of the theatre and music and politics there. I miss the enthusiasm and generosity of the people there. Much of their passion revolves around a profound love of Alaska, a love of place that frankly is absent, at best thinly considered, elsewhere. To my great joy and surprise I have found people here as passionate, vibrant, challenging, and creative as any I could have hoped for. There is no central theme of place, but rather a rag-tag group of people committed to authenticity. (NB the famous key word)

California has pushed me, called me out. Adam, who to me has redeemed any image of this state I have ever held, epitomizes my time here. I cannot image my time in California without him. I always carry Alaska with me where ever I go; now in addition I travel with California by my side. My view of the world is now seen through a double lens- no, a triple lens! Mine and his and ours.

In another realm of my life, though not so distantly related, I have pulled out an Italian art song, a good ol' freshman in opera major art song. Boy, does it feel good to sing - really sing - again, even if I'm rusted 10 years.
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Two years ago in July, right before I left Alaska for the the unknown, Rory Merritt Stitt played a show. He did a heartachingly sad version of "Landslide." I shed tears. Things were rough then, with my relationship and the moving and about to start grad school.

Yesterday, sitting in the back of the rental car, the Dixie Chick's happyish version of the same song played on the radio. I am in the midst of much change, again. (That might explain the dream I had last night of a huge 777 nose-diving to the earth.) Looking at the sun reflecting off cars and windows, listening to Adam's happy family talk, listening to the lyrics of the song, I was overcome with longing for Alaska. Like, on the verge of sobs.

But I collected myself, and went on with my evening, discussing my life to come in California for at least another year.
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Besides [ profile] automata's photos and vignettes and [ profile] donkeyfly's short reminders of the glories of living in Juneau, it is really Pat Costello's Juneau Photos that breaks my heart every day. Those mountains, that light, I can smell the water and feel the trees.

Sometimes I feel like I can't cope in the "real world." Sometimes I feel that Alaska has made me the ass-kicker that I am, but sometimes I also think it has ruined me for anywhere or anyone else.
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I talked with my sister and 5 year old niece last night. S. has nothing to say, she never does. Every time we speak she is becoming more and more our mother. I wonder where S. has gone. Adam is so close with his bro and I envy their relationship. My family considers me demanding and selfish, which would be true, but in their eyes I am asking for too much from them. What I am asking is for my family members to care about my life, share theirs with me, and not to exist in this "don't rock the boat" mentality.

And my niece. She is glorious. She said she isn't looking forward to the new baby. She says mommy and daddy have done this (new babies) before, but "I've never been through this before." I told her she'd be a pro by the time I have babies and she can come show me how to do it.

She also talked about snow forts. And I am sitting here listening to Hem and feeling so nostaligic for Juneau. For small towns, the strangely competent music scene in Juneau, for grey snow skies, thick evergreen forests, even for the facade of families.


Nov. 15th, 2004 06:51 am
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All week long Juneau Photos has been posting pictures of the northern lights. Today's is especially gorgeous. For a dose of beauty, check out the site, and see where I'm from.

I even dreamt about Alaska last night. It was misty and children were stomping along the shoreline,like when I was in school and we had Sea Week, checking out tidal pools and playing on the rocks, playing tag among mossy trees.


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