Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Thursday, July 16, 2015

This is a story with disparate characters who eventually come together. The characters include me, a Marine and Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines gets mentioned because coming home to them after flying on other carriers is like climbing back into mom’s womb.

But let’s start at the beginning. I was flying from Philadelphia to San Diego on United with a plane change in Houston. A thunderstorm was in full roar as we boarded the flight to San Diego. We sat on the runway for four hours waiting to take off during which time United offered us each one cookie and a glass of water. Then we were informed we’d be going back to the gate because we needed more gas. We sat at the gate for another hour only to have the pilot announce they’d had a problem with the gas tank and so fueling had taken longer than expected and now the flight crew had run out of time and needed to change.
We were all asked to de-plane but stay in the boarding area as a new pilot and co-pilot were on the way and we’d be departing within the half hour. Two hours later someone noticed that the sign over the door now read, “Los Angeles”. We asked the lady at the counter where our San Diego flight was. She told us she was off duty, picked up her purse and left. We asked the man who came to the counter a few minutes later. He told us he was there to board the LA flight and had no knowledge of any San Diego flight. Turns out the flight had been canceled but United had felt no need to announce that at our gate. We were pointed towards customer service. 
The customer service line snaked around three blocks. That’s where the Marine comes in. I wish I’d gotten his name but I was too woozy from no food, exhaustion and the sneaky feeling that a hypertensive diabetic under stress was not able to make the best decisions for her welfare. Crying in the bathroom stall didn’t help. But that Marine did. I don’t know if I reminded him of his grandmother or he was just a Marine doing what he’s trained to do – protect and defend. I don’t think I ever more felt like I needed a strong arm to lean on as I did eight hours into this nightmare day at the Houston airport.
He told me to follow him to a counter where we got booked on standby for a future flight without the long wait in the customer service line. He got me back to a seat in the waiting area and stayed close. When they announced that our gate had changed from C33 to E17, he didn’t rush ahead of the crowd to get there first but walked at a pace I could maintain and kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I was ok.
The day continued endlessly with the flight being delayed again and again. My Marine got off standby and got a ticket immediately as an active duty military in uniform. He deserved it. Every time I felt like just dropping everything and crying in the middle of the terminal, I looked up and saw this nice young man watching to make sure I was going to be ok.
To all Marines everywhere, Semper Fi! You guys rock. To this one Marine in particular, you made my day of horror a day to remember for your kindness. If this is what the Marines are teaching our young men and women in uniform, then you are doing an amazing job.
Now this is the part of the story where Alaska Airlines comes in. After traveling on an airline that clearly felt no need to make announcements, help travelers or even pretend to be nice, getting on Alaska Airlines two days later was like coming home. Staff smiled. Announcements were made. You were kept informed of what was happening. Flight attendants acted as though they actually liked their job. I know people have occasional problems with Alaska Airlines. They are not perfect. But once you’ve traveled on some other airlines, you come to realize just how special Alaska Airlines really is.
The takeaway of this story? They don’t treat liberals nicely in Texas, Marines rock and Alaska Airlines owns my heart.

Elise Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The more he climbs in the Republican polls, the more I find myself practicing saying “President Clinton”. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Democrats contributing to his campaign in the hope he gets the nomination.

Elise Patkotak • 03:33 AM •
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

One of the truest definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The US has had the same policy for over fifty years towards Cuba and it has resulted in nothing… no one has been released from jail, the Castro brothers are still in charge and some form of communism is still the law of the land. So President Obama decided maybe it’s time to try something new. And what do the Republicans in Congress do? They say they will block his efforts. Apparently they think fifty years is not enough time to count the current policy as a failure. Maybe sixty years will satisfy them? Or maybe they are hoping to outlive the Castro brothers and when the last one finally dies, declare victory.
And once again I think to myself that Washington DC has a higher per capita ratio of idiots to normal people than even Juneau during session.

Elise Patkotak • 03:08 AM •
Monday, July 13, 2015

Wet, cool and breezy. Thanks, Anchorage.

Elise Patkotak • 10:07 AM •
Sunday, July 12, 2015
image

Miracles do happen. Way to go, Ivy Ma. Never show fear.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
..

..
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Patkotak • 03:15 AM •
Saturday, July 11, 2015
image

Aunt Judy and Bella sharing their red tongues after, I hope, eating something red. You’ve got to love an aunt who will do this with you, even as you worry that you’ll have to be putting her in a home sooner rather than later.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Friday, July 10, 2015
image

My suite mate Nancy and I our senior year in college. I can only hope that’s a joint she’s smoking given that I’m holding a coconut head and nun’s doll. Any other explanation for the props would just be too weird. And don’t even ask me about the granny cap on my head. Either that was part of being stoned or I was showing an early tendency towards the fashionable person I never became.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

..

Elise Patkotak • 03:02 AM •
Thursday, July 09, 2015
image

If you want to know what you look like to friends and relatives when explaining that twenty below weather is not bad because it’s a dry cold, then pay close attention to their faces as they explain to you that eighty plus degrees with three thousand percent humidity is good for your skin. No one is buying the other one’s story.

This thought occurs to me as I return from a trip to the East Coast to visit family. My mother swore that my sister and I came from the same father and that we are both her natural children. And lord knows we look enough alike for that to be possible. On the other hand, my sister thinks that heat and humidity are good things and is loathe to turn on the air conditioner until the ambient temperature in the house hits over 85 degrees. Anything less than that and she honestly believes that opening windows and turning on fans is more than enough to allow you to breathe comfortably. The fact that those fans are swirling hot and humid air does not register with her.
I, on the other hand, am an Alaskan. I spent the first twenty-eight years of my residency in this beautiful state in the Arctic. I loved it. I glowed when it went below zero. I rejoiced when it went to twenty below. I got absolutely giddy at thirty below. So, to put it mildly, I do not understand the attractions of either heat or humidity. I live in Alaska to get a snow burn, not a suntan.
Having gotten that off my chest let me say that the visit with family was wonderful in many ways. At a time when the Supremes were declaring marriage a right for all consenting adults, a family whose composition would not have been possible even 75 years ago surrounded me. My cousin Joe’s daughter is married to an African-American. His son is married to an ethnic Chinese woman whose parents immigrated to America from Vietnam. And another cousin’s daughter is married to a dentist of mid-eastern origins. Our family has gone, in one generation, from as ethnically pure Italian as you can possibly be, to a blended family of all colors, shapes and sizes. Laws forbidding interracial marriages would have precluded any of these wonderful people from loving each other and producing a new generation that will grow up enriched by the variety of backgrounds mingled in their DNA.
Where once a family photo would have shown a homogenous grouping, now we have enough variety to keep family gatherings interesting and family food feasts diversified. Ok, I lied about the food diversification. Some of my generation will never stop cooking Italian. Some will only ever reluctantly go to an Asian restaurant. And some simply don’t understand why, if you have a chance to eat meatballs with crusty Italian bread, you’d ever want to do anything else.
But except for that, my family has expanded to accept any and all newcomers who are brave enough to weather a meal with us. And that’s a good thing because it means that the next generation will be so used to the rainbow hue around the dinner table that it won’t think twice about it. In the same vein, the next generation will wonder about the fuss over same sex marriage, or as they will call it, marriage. They’ll wonder because it will be so commonplace as to not even raise an eyebrow.
I watched some of this happen in Barrow over my years there. As different populations moved in and became part of our community, there was a lot of intermarriage between the Inupiat and all the others ethnicities that followed. Barrow truly is an international melting pot now, with children of multiple backgrounds living side by side with little of the rancor that comes from fear of someone who is different; because when you’re all different, you are ultimately all alike.
So while it may be a little late to wish America a happy birthday, let me indulge myself and do so anyway in honor of the melting pot it has been and hopefully always will be. Diversification in financial portfolios and life creates a stronger result than homogeneity will ever do. Hurray for the red, white, blue, black, brown, yellow and all hues in-between.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
image

Snowy missed me but did not turn psychotic over my absence. I wish the same could be said of Carm. Not sure I’ll ever be able to go to the bathroom again without him trying to jump on my lap to make sure if I go down with the flush, he goes with me.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Today’s my first day back at Bird TLC since my trip out. Can’t wait to see all the birds. On the other hand, they’ve been busier than hell with baby birds. So maybe this desire to be back among them will last a shorter time than expected. Either way, eagle poop here I come.

Elise Patkotak • 03:49 AM •
Monday, July 06, 2015

Last week this time I thought I’d never get home again and I’d was so homesick. Today I find myself scrubbing bird poop and sweeping up the ripped papers from Abdul and I think to myself, “Living the dream”.

Elise Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Sunday, July 05, 2015

The only real question is how long it will be before Carm detaches himself from my leg so that I don’t risk breaking it every time I try to move. He’s apparently determined that I will never leave this house without him again. Nice to have at least one creature in this world so devoted to me. Just wish he were rich.

Elise Patkotak • 03:43 AM •
Saturday, July 04, 2015

Marriage is equal across the board, health care is available to millions of Americans, Donald Trump is running for president… it’s a great time to be American!

Elise Patkotak • 03:42 AM •
Friday, July 03, 2015

The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, the nephews were absolutely adorable… and most important, today I head home after being away way too long. Alaska, I’m heading your way!

Elise Patkotak • 03:35 AM •
Thursday, July 02, 2015

Last week was one heck of a week, wasn’t it? The Affordable Care Act got upheld, marriage equality was extended to all people in this country, Obama sang Amazing Grace a capella and actually pulled it off and Bristol Plain proved the efficacy of the abstinence program she advocated for so long as they were paying her a lot of money. Yep, what a way to begin the summer.  Alaska’s fires stopped making national headlines. Our earthquake was lost in the fog of funerals. Even Donald Trump’s insane rantings couldn’t get him front page coverage in the face of such formidable other headlines.

I’m not sure what else can be said that hasn’t already been said about the happenings of the past few weeks. I feel as though all the words have been used and all the emotions exhausted on both sides of every issue. It’s summer. We’re supposed to be thinking about smoking salmon, picking berries, going outside without four layers of clothes… you know, things important to Alaskans. We have just lived through one of the most embarrassing legislative sessions ever and want nothing more than to relax and enjoy the sun and heat.
But before we leave all those headlines behind, I think that there are a few points to be made that are very specific to Alaska. First and foremost, a big shout out to all the people in Willow and surrounding areas who are helping their neighbors rebuild their lives after losing almost everything. Next a big shout out to PETA to get their attention. Alaskans mushers did not lose any dogs to the fire despite that fire being in the heart of mushing country. Most mushers made it clear they would not leave without their dogs no matter the danger to themselves. That, PETA, is what real love and devotion to your animals is all about.
And it wasn’t just the mushers. Friends and neighbors and strangers alike opened their land and hearts to our own local sports heroes and made sure the dogs had a place to be safe until the danger had passed. Once again, PETA, that’s what a real commitment to animals looks like. I’m not saying that all mushers are great or that all Alaskans are great pet owners. But most of us respect and love our animals and do what’s needed to keep them safe no matter the cost.
To all the fire fighters who came from around the country and from our own towns and villages, who risked their lives to save ours, you deserved to be in the headlines way before Donald Trump and his running mate. Oh, hadn’t you heard? He’s nominating that thing on his head as his vice presidential candidates. Don’t anger it. I understand it can be quite vindictive.
My brother spent his adult life as a volunteer fire fighter. He fought structural fires. It scared our whole family that he was one of the people running towards the fire as others ran from it. I can’t imagine the courage (or insanity, take your pick) it takes to run towards a forest fire. I mean did you see those pictures that were all over the papers and the Internet?  Positively frightening. But because of our firefighters, those flames were beaten back and the destruction from the flames contained.
You can define heroes in many ways. Some say Caitlin Jenner is a hero for publicly showing a side of society that has hidden in the shadows for millennia causing pain to those who felt different and could not express that difference. Certainly those nine people killed in South Caroline are heroes for living the Gospel of Christ that calls for peace, for turning the other cheek, for not courting violence in the house of their Lord. And all our mushers who thought first of their dogs and then of themselves are also heroes as well as their neighbors who rushed to help instead of running to safety. And every firefighter who put their lives on the line for us, who deliberately walked towards those blazing infernos are heroes.
You don’t have to make headlines to be a hero. Everyday heroes are all around us. And in Alaska, we seem to be blessed with a super abundance of them. Way to go, Alaskans. Thanks for making me even prouder to call this state my home.

Elise Patkotak • 03:02 AM •

Page 2 of 250 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »

Subscribe to My RSS Feed: RSS 2.0