Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, January 01, 2007

One of our more intelligent Alaskan politicians...and believe me, in this state to be called more intelligent than most politicians is to be damned with faint praise...has announced that rather than give same sex couples state health benefits, he would strip those benefits from everyone, including people who in his mind are legitimately married.  How much hate does that take?  Since this is based on his Christian belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman (forget that this is not about marriage - that is a concept way beyond his level of hate), I have to ask what would Jesus do. And you know, somehow in my reading of the Bible, Jesus has never come across as mean and vindictive.  In fact, I think he would probably want to see everyone get care when sick and get all the help they need to get that care. But then, maybe I’m missing some chapters in the Bible that say that Jesus would rather you die in pain and poverty than give you the right to have state health insurance if you are a gay employee’s partner. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:03 AM •
Sunday, December 31, 2006

When I was young, I spent an inordinate amount of time begging my parents to let me stay up till midnight. Eventually they did. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it didn’t happen. Midnight came and went, indistinguishable from 11:59 PM or 12:01 AM except for the fact that my parents woke up long enough to say Happy New Year and go to bed.  So my New Year’s Eve expectations are limited.  When I hosted the KBRW Barrow radio show on New Year’s Eve, I actually stayed up till midnight because I had to. Then Mr. T exhibited hysteria when the fireworks went off and that kept me up even later. Then, as he aged, Mr. T went deaf and the loud bangs no longer bothered him. So I no longer stayed up till midnight.  Now, I have two new dogs and tonight will get to see their reaction to loud bangs and booms.  Will they panic like Mr. T did and keep me up half the night holding them and telling them everything will be ok? Or will they, and I, sleep through the whole thing? Stay tuned. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:36 AM •
Saturday, December 30, 2006

In my one bit of holiday entertaining, I had some old friends over for dinner a couple of night ago. I was thinking about it today and realized that it was one of the most pleasant evenings I’ve spent in a long time.  Old friends are really one of the great hidden positives of growing old.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:38 AM •
Friday, December 29, 2006

Apparently some of my readers object to the fact that no Republicans made it into the Hall of Infamy this year.  I guess they are so used to Republicans getting everything that they feel they should also get this honor.  But these readers clearly do not understand the criteria for admission. Just being an asshole isn’t enough. Just being a warmongering, incompetent neocon isn’t enough.  Just being president against all odds, common sense and wisdom is not enough.  The thing about the Hall of Infamy is that the people and things admitted have to be more subtle.  There is nothing subtle about the buffoons currently running this country. There is nothing but sadness that they will spend two more years making us the most hated nation on earth.  Like with Mr. and Mrs Spears, they have no standards of decency and so do not deserve to breathe the same air as Donald Trump’s hair.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:49 AM •
Thursday, December 28, 2006

When my parents got older and used blood pressure medication and bent down, they were often dizzy when they straightened back up. I now take blood pressure medication but when I bend over and then straighten up, I get a head rush.  It’s two totally different things and it’s why I will NEVER become my parents.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We now come to that time of year when, for want of something better to do for amusement, I decide who merits entry into my Hall of Infamy 2006. The criteria are fairly lax.  Nominees mostly have to have annoyed the heck out of me or in some other way caused me to want to chase them off this planet during the past twelve months.

Just so we’re clear at the outset, Tom Cruise has achieved permanent residence in the Hall of Infamy.  So have Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and any variation of their names that combines them into something that makes me want to toss my cookies. And finally, Donald Trump’s hair has its own wing in the Hall, and since he and that hair seem to be inseparable, he’s not eligible on his own for entry.
Having dispensed with the preliminaries, let’s take a look at who has received nods for the honor this year. Brittany Spears, of course, has received numerous nominations as has her about to be ex.  But even a Hall of Infamy needs some standards and since neither of them apparently has any, I’m afraid they don’t make it in.  However, if the media persists in calling Mr. Spears “Fedex” throughout the coming year, he may get the nod in 2007.
Condoleeza Rice received quite a few votes as the year progressed.  I thought she would make it in till I realized that, despite being Secretary of State and traveling about 90% of the year, she still has a more active social life than I do.  I think that should be reward enough for her this past year.  She’ll just have to wait her turn - or wait till I have at least as many dates as she does - which means she may be waiting a very long time for the honor.
Of course, there were those mean people out there who nominated the Spears, Cruise, Madonna, Pitt/Jolie children. But I don’t feel you should be able to ride your parents’ coattails into this Hall. And while I am the first to admit that the Cruise child in particular could almost cause me to disregard the above restriction, I then find myself confronted with the antics of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie and realize that I shouldn’t sell Suri short. Given time, she’ll probably be able to enter the Hall all on her own.
So who or what actually will get inducted this year?  Well, two who and one what have made the cut.  In order of their ranking I give you:
Number 3, Hillary Clinton.  The presidential campaign hasn’t even begun and I’m already sick of hearing about her, whether she’s had plastic surgery, whether she should have left Bill, whether she can beat Obama, whether her election would signal the end of life as we know it. Enough already.
Number 2, Barak Obamba.  This man has done virtually nothing yet to prove himself, but has already been crowned a demi god.  No offense to Mr. Obamba, who I am sure might someday become a credible politician, but if he weren’t of mixed heritage would anyone be this excited?  Wasn’t Martin Luther King’s dream about a world in which we were not judged by our color?
And finally, drum roll please, the number one entry into the 2006 Hall of Infamy is people on cell phones, whether driving their cars or walking through airports seemingly talking to themselves.  May your cell phones all blow up in your hands simultaneously thereby cleansing the world of many potential future inductees at once. 
I am sick and tired of sitting at a stop sign watching the person in the car in front of me in animated conversation on a cell phone thereby making them functionally unable to pull out into traffic in either a safe or timely fashion. And I am tired of sitting or standing next to someone in public and listening to their latest life crises, job crises, child crises or what an SOB the guy in the next cubicle is. I don’t care.
I know the world will not soon give up cell phones. I know I will probably be the last living person on earth without one.  But as God is my witness, it will take some effort for anyone or anything to annoy me more than they do. 
My fear, of course, is that in the next year someone will take up that challenge and win.  Happy 2007. Let the new nominations begin.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:00 AM •
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The pope apparently spoke at midnight mass in Rome about taking care of the world’s children in honor of the child whose birth he was celebrating.  Here’s a thought.  Sell a couple of the Vatican’s pieces of art or ancient properties. You’ll make enough to feed, clothe and house a whole lot of children. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus would do.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:50 AM •
Monday, December 25, 2006

No, really, today is the day I am absolutely taking a day of rest from my blog...oops, there I go again....i ruined my day off by writing about it.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:56 AM •
Sunday, December 24, 2006

This is my day off from my blog...though now that I’ve written this, it’s not really a day off, is it?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 02:55 PM •
Saturday, December 23, 2006

I was filling the water dishes for the dogs last night when it occurred to me that if I bought bigger water dishes now that I have two dogs, both of whom are bigger than Mr. T, I could save myself some time and effort. Then I thought that this was probably not bad exercise and if I bought a bigger bowl it would just stop me from the extra bending and lifting and that wasn’t necessarily good.
So this is what my life has become...I hold silent debates in my mind about whether small dog water dishes are better for my health.  Take me, take me now!

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:59 AM •
Friday, December 22, 2006

It snowed all day Wednesday and there wass a total white out happening. I made it to my chiropractor’s appointment only by driving up onto a sidewalk twice. I then came home...very, very slowly...and canceled the vet appointment on the other end of town.  And yet...and yet....the dogs got their three mile walk. I had snow down my back, snow up my pants and snow...well, other places. But they got their darn walk. So yes, I must be an old softie.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 05:21 AM •
Thursday, December 21, 2006

The paper yesterday carried an article about a laugh clinic. You make an appointment to see a therapist who has groups in which he or she leads you in laughter. It’s considered healthy for you. You know what’s healthier?  Renting Talledega Nights and laughing naturally.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:15 AM •
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Since I plan to use my New Year’s column for a list of the people and things that have annoyed me the most this past year, I figured I’d better do something nice for my Christmas column or risk being driven out of town by all the little elves that are making me crazy with their Christmas cheer. And so, here it is - my reason to be grateful this year.

I am grateful, finally after more than fifty decades, that my friend Grace had her birthday before me.
I guess we need to go back a bit to explain this. I first met Grace when we were both about 3 1/2 years old.  Actually, she was 3 1/2. I was only 3 1/4.  And that bugged the heck out of me the whole time we were growing up together.
She got to do everything first.  She became a teen first. She got her ears pierced first. She was eligible to get a driver’s license first. She even became a woman first...in, I should clarify, the old fashioned sense of becoming a woman.  She hit sweet sixteen before me.  And she got to drink legally first. 
I spent a good deal of my youth thinking it was just so darned unfair that she got to everything before me. I couldn’t wait to grow up so that things would be even between us.  Ah the foolishness of youth.
Now, as I approach a milestone birthday, I find myself quite happy to have her go first.  In fact, as we have approached a variety of milestone birthdays over the years, I have grown more and more content to be the second to reach them.  I would, at this point, be not at all unhappy if I was a year or two or five behind her instead of three months.
But that’s not likely to happen so I guess I need to learn to be grateful for the three month gap which gives me some time to catch my breath as I realize just how old she is.  And just how old I’ll soon be.
I’ve never particularly had trouble in the past with birthdays, even those considered the milestones of our lives.  If you were never the pretty young thing, and I wasn’t, you don’t have as much to lose when you are no longer young. In fact, you have a lot to gain. I’ve always been better at being older than I ever was at being young.  My life began in earnest when I hit forty and felt that I’d finally grown into my head.
The problem, as I see it, is that I liked forty and found fifty not bad either. But beyond that there seemed to be this yawning chasm of varicose veins, veggie induced gas and aches and pains that caused strange sounds to come out of my body when getting in and out of my car.  Whether this vision is true to reality or not, it seems to be the one stuck in my head that keeps replaying as I think about hitting new milestones.
And so I watch my friend head into this new decade and look to see if there are any visible changes that should cause me to worry.  Her knee aches.  She’s got some new medical problems.  But her life hasn’t slowed down. She teaches full time, is getting ready for her second daughter’s wedding and is never at home because she just has too many places to go and too many thing she has yet to accomplish.
This gives me hope that I will not fall completely apart on my next birthday. And for that I am grateful.  Finally, I’m not jealous that she’s reaching milestones before me.  I’m happy to be trailing her lead.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m also very grateful this Christmas that I still have my friend from so long ago in my life? That is truly one of the best gifts I have ever received.  Her continued friendship has been a kind of anchor for me. If I ever became too full of myself, all I had to do was call Grace. She would remind me of the days spent on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City screaming for Ricky Nelson.  Or the afternoon spent in my mother’s kitchen trying to pierce my ears with a sewing needle, ice cubes and a potato. Or the times spent in her mother’s parlor - the formal one with the plastic on all the furniture - trying to teach ourselves to dance to 45s like they did on Bandstand.
We were nerds together when we were young. We’ve remained nerds most of our lives. And as we gallop into old age, I imagine both the friendship and the nerdiness will remain intact.  For this, I am immensely grateful.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:38 AM •
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The girls are keeping me way busy. They are much more active than Mr. T was for the last few years of his life. Actually, growing mold was more active than Mr. T was for the last few years of his life. So I’m getting used to walking fast on icy sidewalks and picking myself up with dignity after falling. I’m getting used to using only a small portion of my bed so I don’t interfere with their sleep.  I’m learning to adjust when I get up, when I eat and when I go to sleep so that their day is comfortable for them. Yep, all in all, I’m once again in charge of my life.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:53 AM •
Monday, December 18, 2006

The most annoying invention of the past two hundred years...unless you count the earplug/microphone attachment that makes everyone look like a candidate for psychotropic drugs because they are talking to themselves.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:06 AM •

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