Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Thursday, February 12, 2015

The photos on the front page of the paper last week were simply heartbreaking. Two mothers holding each other as they looked at pictures of daughters they will never again hold in their arms. A dad wiping tears from his eyes as he watched a slide show of the young lady who will always be his little girl but who is no longer around to grow into the amazing woman she held out promise to be. And a man in a prison jumpsuit with tears streaming down his face as he viewed the pictures of the two girls whose lives he took while driving drunk.  There were no winners in the courtroom that day. There were only people whose hearts were broken and whose lives were forever altered by one single decision made over two years ago, the decision to drive drunk.

I’m not sure what else society can say or do to get people to understand what a horror drunken driving is. I don’t know what else we can do to convince people that when in doubt, err on the side of caution and call a cab. I don’t know what other advice we can give people after they’ve tried to take the keys away and been met by belligerence and anger as their drunk friends insist they can drive.
When I was growing up, drunk driving was a legitimate excuse for the devastation left behind after causing an accident. You were not guilty because you were too incapacitated by drink to know what you were doing. It has taken decades to change that attitude. But every time we think we’re gaining ground, there’s another drunk driving tragedy and we wonder all over again how that driver could have possibly not gotten the message. Because we really don’t want to think that people could have gotten the message and just don’t care. We really don’t want to think that they are so cavalier about the potential for causing untold heartache and pain inherent in drunk driving that they do it anyway.
I think what angers me most is when a tragedy occurs and the drunken driver has a string of DUI convictions in his or her past. We wonder how these people are still on the street, still outside of a prison, still able to get into a car and drive drunk. Clearly taking their license away doesn’t stop them; such petty issues do not bother drunk drivers. Somewhere in their past they got the idea that driving was some sort of right that could not be taken from them. And so they drive despite laws, court dates and jail time. Until we find a way to keep drunk drivers off the road completely – aside from putting them in jail for life after a first offense – we all need to be aware that they are on the road and are not safe drivers.
As we enter the world of legalized pot here in Alaska, I hope the powers that be are able to ascertain a THC level that is as clear as the blood alcohol level we use for drunk driving. Because no one should be driving who is in anyway impaired, whether the impairment comes from prescription drugs, over the counter cold meds, pot, alcohol or anything else available in our modern society. While public transportation in Anchorage doesn’t make it easy to use the bus system for traveling to and from a party or bar, there are always taxis. And the argument that a taxi is expensive is just stupid. If you have enough money to go to a bar and drink, then put enough of that money aside for the taxi you’ll be needing.
As for the people pictured on the front page of the paper last week, their lives are forever altered. For the parents, the best they can hope is that the pain will ease as they remember the joy their daughters once brought them. For the drunk driver, his life is pretty much in ruins. The thirty odd years he will spend in jail will cover the majority of the years he could have been a productive member of society. For society at large, we will forever be deprived of the good that those girls might have provided in their adulthood.
There are no winners here, no matter how long the jail sentence. There is only loss.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:20 AM •
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I don’t know at what age this becomes true or if it’s true all your life. But it definitely is a bad idea at my age to fall asleep with my dog sleeping on my legs. You wake up to two legs cramping in places you didn’t know legs could cramp.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I like Brian Williams. Always have. Always thought he was one of the good guys. Now it feels as though there really is no one left to admire or respect. I am sadder about this than I thought possible.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:54 AM •
Monday, February 09, 2015

When I worked outside the home, I hated Mondays because it meant the weekend was over and I had to go back to work. Now I dread then because, if I don’t have an idea for my weekly newspaper column by now, it becomes panic time. And given that I’m writing this instead of a column, I think we know what kind of a Monday this will be.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:52 AM •
Sunday, February 08, 2015

Just got back the DVDs from iMemories with my family movies from the fifties and sixties into the seventies. My dad can never be accused of being a great film maker. So there I sat staring at the screen trying to figure out who I was looking at or what I was looking at when suddenly, in a perfectly clear shot, all my aunts appeared. They were all so beautiful. I don’t think I ever realized that when I was young. And suddenly I was sobbing and didn’t even know why. I miss them more than words can express.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 12:48 PM •
Saturday, February 07, 2015

I accidentally saw some of the superbowl and it’s aftermath. It’s something I’ve never seen before as I’ve never actually watched the superbowl or any of its pre and post hysteria. I know this is foolish of me but I don’t find over-drugged, over-large men giving each other concussions entertaining. The friend watching the game at my house also watched what happened after the game ended when some sort of trophy is transferred to the new winners. I looked up from what I was doing to see a man carrying a large silver trophy down a row of clearly crazed adorers who reached out to touch it with an awe and reverence I’ve never even seen accorded a relic of the true cross being processed through a crowd of true believers. It was one of the most amazing spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Grown men reaching out to touch this piece of metal as it is carried through the crowd high over the bearer’s head. The person carrying the trophy could not have felt more reverence if he was holding the holy grail over his head… or maybe to that crowd, this was the holy grail. Does god know he’s been ousted and replaced with this trophy?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Friday, February 06, 2015

So I’m stooping down to look under my sink and see if the leak has been fixed. I’m shinning my flashlight at the approximate location of where the leak had been and hear a periodic drip but can’t see it. Then I realize the sound isn’t a drip but is coming from my knees and ankles. It has nothing to do with the drip and everything to do with me being old and creaking more than ever.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Thursday, February 05, 2015

According to some, President Obama has declared war on Alaska. Given the amount of unaccounted for money shipped to Afghanistan and Iraq on pallets in small denominations when we were first at war there, we should maybe not be so quick to judge harshly. Why turn down the chance to become a war zone showered with untraceable money? Think about it. What do Alaskans like more than free cash for which they’ve had to do absolutely nothing?

Even more interesting in the realm of untold amounts of money is the announcement by the Koch brothers that they will dedicate almost one billion dollars to buy… I’m sorry, elect… the next president of the United States. I’d like to formally inform the Koch brothers that I can be had for a ridiculously small amount of that total. Even more importantly, I’d also like to know how the average American thinks their fifty dollar donation to the candidate of their choice will stack up against this billion dollars when the elected official has to make a decision in someone’s best interest.
I feel as though we are inching closer to a time when only white male landed gentry vetted by the Koch brothers will be able to vote. Since we, the common man and woman of every color and affiliation, have clearly lost any influence on the election cycle, no one will care if we object.
We vote based on the information we receive through ads, TV news programs, magazine and newspaper stories and, god help us all, Google searches. But if the majority of those outlets are held by the same ultimate masters, even if you have to go through a series of puppet masters to get to the top, then the only information you’ll have on which to base your vote will be their propaganda. This is, ultimately, how people like the Koch brothers get us to vote against our self-interests. They convince us that their self-interests jibe with that of the common man.
Think about that for a moment. These brothers are worth over forty billion dollars… each! Do you really think they have anything in common with someone who has to worry about paying for the car repair and mortgage in the same month? Do you really think their kids go to schools where students have to share books and computers – assuming the schools even have computers? Do you think they stand in a Safeway looking at the price of a gallon of milk and wondering if, given the price, it’s all that necessary for their kids’ healthy growth and development?
I was listening to some talking heads recently and a comment was made that the Koch brothers can pour all the money they want into a campaign but in the end, it comes down to us in that voting booth making our choices in total privacy. The talking heads felt that this balanced out anything the brothers could throw at us because we will vote in our own best interests. That’s an interesting idea and might have had some credibility in past centuries. But in this century, the average voter is often looking at a slate of candidates that first had to pass muster with their moneyed overlords before running for office. We are, sadly, often presented with candidates who have only made it to the ticket by agreeing to support their masters’ positions. The average person often can’t find a candidate on the ballot to vote for who seems to really understand their issues.
I think this may be why the Bill Walker/Byron Mallot ticket came across as such a breath of fresh air. Whatever the truth may be, they behave as though not beholden to any party or master. Bill Walker actually seems to be trying to act in Alaska’s best interests. In today’s political landscape, he stands out as someone totally different from the people we usually see on our ballot. And the chance that others like him will ever again get elected to office grows slimmer and slimmer with each election cycle in which the Koch brothers and their ilk can overwhelm any person running without their approval.
Remember that very old movie, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”? It was fiction when it was made. After the changes of the past fifty years in politics and political funding, it has now moved into the realm of fantasy.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I think it’s a telling sign when a car dealership in Alaska advertises a big sale on four by four vehicles because the lack of snow has left then with a big backlog of vehicles. Gosh darn, maybe those scientists are on to something with their blathering and bleating about climate change.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:20 AM •
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
image

Why, in a house that is almost 100% covered in puppy pads, does Bubba insist on finding the one inch of space between them and peeing there. Is she just dumb? Or is she a devil dog with a disgustingly innocent and amazingly lovable face?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:14 AM •
Monday, February 02, 2015

I’ve finally figured out so much of life that puzzled me in the past. But now I’m too old to be able to enjoy half of what I’ve finally figured out. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 12:12 PM •
Sunday, February 01, 2015
image

My poor cousin Joe. He doesn’t stand a chance against these cuties. Add that darling little Ivy Ma, who was not available for this photo session, to the mix and he might as well just get out the checkbook and give them all his money. They have him right where they want him. Some of us could not be happier about it… or laughing harder.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.

.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 12:14 PM •
Friday, January 30, 2015
image

See that control at the bottom of the picture. That’s the heating pad. And that is BuddhaBubba’s bed under which it is placed. Carm decided to get in on the action. Climbed in over Bubba and stuck his head behind her butt so she couldn’t see him there. She sat up and refused to lay down again until he moved. He didn’t move. So for the next five minutes I listened to BuddhaBubba doing her best imitation of a growl to scare her brother out of her bed. It didn’t work. She eventually forgot what she was growling about and went back to sleep. He slept with his face shoved into her butt. All was happy and well again in my household. Oh yeah, Snowy was on the next bed watching with bemusement. Then he fell asleep too.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
..
.
.
.
..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:29 AM •
Thursday, January 29, 2015

I used to have big dogs that loved to walk. My three new ones came with a different idea about walking and the outside. They are little dogs. The girl won’t even go out for her bodily needs once it’s below 32 degrees. Both the boys love going out for about ten to twenty seconds. Then they are done with the walk and it’s time to go get warm and get treats. I soon realized I needed something to substitute for the miles I was no longer walking. I got a stationary bike. And believe it or not, I use it every night. Finally, a piece of exercise equipment that isn’t a clothes deposit system in my living room.

I work from my home. My dogs are with me twenty-four hours a day. This creates what some might call a tight bond and others might call a significant neurosis on the part of the dogs. If I am farther than five feet away, they panic and have to get up and move to wherever I am. So when I move from the kitchen to the living room couch, they all follow. If I get up from the couch to use the bike, which is less than three feet away, they have to also get up and reposition themselves on blankets directly behind the bike. I assume this is on the off chance the bike might take off and they’ll need to follow. The little girl is the only one who doesn’t follow this routine. Since I put the heating pad under her bed, she doesn’t like to get all that far from it. Not even the distant screeching of the parrots can rouse her when the heat hits her belly.
This is my home. This is my life. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. For me a roof over my head, a heater blowing hot air and a toilet that flushes are my minimum requirements. Warm cuddly dogs and loud joyous birds are just an added bonus. But after following the stories in last week’s ADN about some of the homeless in Anchorage, I realize that home can be defined in many ways. And a lot of those ways would horrify most of us.
The people highlighted in those stories were both homeless and alcoholic. It’s that last part that causes us to start losing any sympathy we might have felt. If all they have to do is stop drinking to get their lives together and get off the street, then they should just do that, right? Just grab those bootstraps and pull yourself up.
But maybe it’s not so easy. And maybe what we call home is not something everyone might want. Or maybe it’s not something everyone can attain. Alcoholism is a deadly disease. The physical problems it can cause often stay with someone years after sobriety has been achieved. Achieving and maintaining sobriety is often a goal beyond the reach of someone whose body and brain have already been ravaged by alcohol. But a good look at the camp sites being dismantled and reassembled all over town shows a sense of home is still alive and well in this population in the way those tents are filled with personal items and life’s memorabilia.
As I read the articles, I found myself going beyond the alcoholism and seeing people who still wanted a home, even if it was just a tent in the woods. And people who still wanted love and companionship, even if it is of a variety that is hard for most of us to comprehend. In the end, the heart wants what it wants and doesn’t care about the circumstances that would seem to preclude love ever being present. What this piece taught me above all else is that these people we see on the corners looking dirty and smelly and holding sloppily inked signs are very much human beings with all the same wants and desires and needs as the rest of us. For some reason, whether mental illness, substance abuse, or just bad, bad luck, they ended up on the streets while you drive by in your warm car on your way to your warm home.
In the end, it wasn’t the differences I remembered. It was the humanity we have in common. To paraphrase John Bradford, “There but for the grace of god, go I”.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:28 AM •
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
image

If Bruce Springsteen had any sense at all, he’d want Jimmy as his best friend. Oh yeah, that’s the house Bruce grew up in. Way to celebrate!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:49 AM •

Page 2 of 241 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »

Subscribe to My RSS Feed: RSS 2.0