Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ah yes, the “babe” factor.  Our governor has it and yours doesn’t.  Our governor has it to such a degree that even Barack Obama could stand to take a few lessons from her.  Anyone doubting the power of the babe factor need only look at her approval ratings.  More than three months into her administration and her numbers hover in the 70% favorable.  Now that’s a babe factor and a half.

There are some who might argue that Palin has those huge numbers as a direct result of the unbelievably low numbers registered by our former head of state - a kind of rebound effect.  We disliked him so much by the end of his administration that we simply have to like her just to prove to ourselves we can like the person we elected.
Some might argue that she generates those numbers because she is a fresh new face that doesn’t travel with a posse and still looks like the person who could be standing in line next to you at the grocery check out stand sneaking a look at the latest pics from Anna Nicole’s funeral in some gossip rag no one ever actually admits to buying.
But the truth is, despite this being 2007, despite all the years of women’s lib, despite all the fights to be taken on an equal footing with men, to be respected for what is in our heads and hearts and not for the shape of what covers them, women still possess that one great advantage.  Most men can’t resist a babe. And once we, as women, get over viewing that as insulting, we might be able to see just how easily we can turn it to our advantage.
Listen...can you hear it? That’s the sound of thousands of women screaming in horror at that last sentence. To all of them I say, with all due respect, get over it.  Babes have always had the advantage and babes, if they have an ounce of brains to go with their looks and body, will use that advantage every chance they get.  If men fall for it, that’s their problem.
I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me, as I entered the dating years, to keep my mouth shut and not let on how smart I was because men didn’t like smart women.  Apparently, it was my duty as a woman to let men think they were brighter and better than me because their self-esteem related directly to how much they would like me.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I failed miserably in that womanly duty.
I never could play the cute young thing very well. I didn’t improve when it was time to be the pretty young lady. And I certainly blew it completely as a flirtatious adult female.  Those of us who never could be the babe sometimes resented those for whom babedom came so easily.  But now I have to wonder.  Was mother right all along? Should women take advantage wherever they can find it? Because playing dumb and flattering a man into thinking he is smarter and better is nothing more than taking advantage of the sometimes frail male ego, isn’t it?
I’m not saying this is what our governor is doing.  On the other hand, if her dazzling smile and beauty queen looks gets her agenda passed because it blinds some male legislators, then who’s to say she is wrong to use that.  Isn’t that a male problem more than a female problem? And I feel safe in saying a man would use it to his advantage if he could without a second thought.
We’ve had male governors who came close to the babe factor. Tony Knowles, despite his puzzling hair style choice, was somewhat of a babe. Steve Cowper certainly had that going for him.  And Jay Hammond...well, he was the ultimate male babe, every woman’s dream of the tough, tender, real Alaska man. The problem was that these male babes were, for the most part, dealing with all male legislatures that were seemingly resistant to their physical charms and attributes.
I don’t agree with Sarah Palin on a lot of her positions. Being a female, I am not blinded by her babe factor into ignoring our differences.  But for every male who is, I say more power to her.  Pour it on, Governor.  Take every advantage you can.  Vanquish your enemies with your dazzling looks, great body and astounding mind. 
If men still fall for that in this millennium, then they deserve what they get.  Eyes up, gentlemen. A woman’s brains are in her head. You ignore this fact at your own peril.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:33 AM •
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

As a proud member of the sixties counter culture, words fail to express how thrilled I am that the Alaska case that makes it to the Supreme Court has, at its heart, the statement “Bong Hits for Jesus.” Thank god Alaska never really plans to go all soft and urban.  Down in the lower 48 they may ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” Here in Alaska, we know the answer.  Bong hits.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:04 AM •
Monday, March 19, 2007

My dogs think that my attempt to make my bed in the morning is just a fun game to play. Jump up on the bed while she tries to pull the sheet up. Jump off before her hand reaches you. Jump back up as she reaches for the bespread. Jump back off when her face turns that funny purple red while she’s saying your name much more loudly than needed since you can hear perfectly well....yep. There is nothing like making sure the animals in the house know that you are the alpha dog.  Of course, when they are laughing hysterically while acknowledging this, some might question their sincerity.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:56 AM •
Sunday, March 18, 2007

It has been pointed out to me that yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and I didn’t even make passing mention of it here.  Well, pardon me, but which part of my name looks Irish to you? I know, I know, on St. Pat’s Day everyone is Irish.  Well, I for one think the Irish need to reconsider that concept. Do they really want the unholy triumvarate of Bush, Cheney and Rove to be Irish for even one day?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:18 AM •
Saturday, March 17, 2007

MEMORIES

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our lives. Yet, if they find warmth therein, who would begrudge them those years that they have so guarded? And whatever they take, be sure they have deserved.”

John Galsworthy

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:24 PM •

Five parrots, a cockatoo and two dogs are currently shedding feathers and fur in my house. Thank god for my cataracts. I can’t see half the mess.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:13 AM •
Friday, March 16, 2007

I don’t mind the firing of all those federal prosecutors as much as I mind the boldfaced lies of the administration in claiming that it wasn’t political. For god’s sake, we aren’t idiots out here, even if we did elect Bush twice.  But to have hard evidence of correspondence between the White House and the AG’s chief of staff showing the political plotting and manuvering, and then to find out that friends of people in high places got appointed to the suddenly vacated positions, and then to see the good evaluations those eight prosecutors received proving that the terminations had nothing to do with their competence, then to find out about investigations of Democrats that weren’t going fast enough for endangered Republican candidates in the last election....to see and hear all this and then have the president claim it wasn’t political...well, maybe he has a right to treat us like idiots. After all, he got away with it in the last presidential campaign and he was re-elected. He lied to us then and got away with it so why shouldn’t he feel that he can lie to us now and get away with it.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:21 AM •
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Halliburton is leaving the US and setting up its new corporate headquarters in the mid-East. You know what this means, right?  Quick, check the US Treasury. We must be totally out of money.,

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:39 AM •
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Now that Fur Rondy and the Iditarod have safely made it through Anchorage with all the snow they could possible want, would it be horrible of me to suggest that I’ve had it with winter.  I’m done with ice.  Snow has lost its amusement value for me.  Bragging to my relatives about how low the temperature got last night is no longer fun. 

I’m tired of the twenty-minute dressing routine I have to go through every day before I walk my dogs. My feet long to stroll without little wire grippers between them and god’s earth.  My hands long to feel the air on them and not be stuffed inside fur mittens that have perhaps seen one too many Alaskan winters. I’m tired of the boots and jackets and parkas over jackets and scarves over hoods that seem to be the only sensible attire when outside in single digit temperatures.
I want to bring my trashcan to the end of my driveway without risking serious injury due to the fact that the surface is now one solid piece of ice. I want to go out into the bright sun and experience its warmth, not just the memory of how warm it used to be.
I know. I know. I’m being a wimp. A real Alaskan wouldn’t complain so long and loudly. A real Alaskan would accept that there is at least another month of winter before we can even hope to venture outside for any prolonged activity without being wrapped up tighter than a drum in seven layers of insulated clothing.  A real Alaskan would be strapping on skis, jumping on a skidoo, hooking up a dog team or slogging out in snowshoes. 
Except the truth is that this is my 35th winter in Alaska and in every one of them, real Alaskans are the ones I have heard complain the longest and loudest each year about this time.  Real Alaskans are the people filling the planes heading towards Hawaii and Mexico. Real Alaskans are the ones I bump into at the Las Vegas airport baggage carousel.  Real Alaskans are planning gardens and checking out their fishing gear in the hope that this year their spouse will let them buy even more plants and rods and nets and all those toys that make our short Alaskan summers so great.
I spend a good deal of my winter now wondering how I ever survived my first 28 in Barrow where it is colder, darker and winter lasts ever so much longer.  I remember my first winter in nurses’ quarters at the Barrow hospital, staring out my window at the frigid darkness and writing with my finger in the frost on it, “Help me. I’m from Brooklyn.”
My friend Elaine and I walk together on weekends and marvel at how we complain about above zero weather when, in Barrow, we consistently walked in below zero weather and reveled in the challenge.  Once, after a particularly windy snow storm totally shut down our usual route along Fresh Water Lake Road, Elaine kept insisting that if we just got over the next frozen snow drift, we would find clear road on the other side.  I don’t know why I listened to her.  But she sounded so very sure of herself.
So we climbed up one drift and down another. The only way we even knew we were still following the road was by turning around and locating Barrow’s tiny skyline in the distance.  Eventually, the dogs stopped dead in their tracks, looked at us as though we’d lost our minds and refused to scramble up over another drift.  I took that as a hint we should give it up and accept that we just wouldn’t be able to have our walk that day.
So why is it that here in Anchorage I complain if the city hasn’t plowed the walking path I use? Why do I wear more clothes for above zero here than I did for below zero there? Why, when I now live in a place that gets at least some daylight even in the darkest part of the winter, do I find myself talking more about cabin fever than I ever did during Barrow’s two months of total darkness?
And a little voice whispers in my ear, “Because you are old.”
But I know that’s not the truth. The truth is I complain because I am a real Alaskan and it is my right...nay, some might say my obligation...to whine as long and loudly as possible until the warmth returns.  Then I’ll complain about the heat and mosquitoes and long for the return of winter. 
Because being a real Alaskan means never running out of seasonal reasons to whine.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:13 AM •
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I am always highly amused when I read letters to the editor in the local paper in which some yahoo points out that we could not publicly complain or criticize our government if we were in Iraq and so we shoudl shut up and support whatever the administration wants to do. And I think to myself, “But isn’t that the point?” Alas, that kind of nuance is lost on the letter writers.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:32 AM •
Monday, March 12, 2007

God made turn signals on cars in order to allow the driver of car one to let the drivers of cars two through ad infinitum know that he or she was planning to turn onto a street or into a different lane. This is not a hard concept. Putting your turn signal on when you are already halfway into the other lane is plain stupid.  Most of the cars around you already get what you are planning to do and are cursing you silently under their breath for not signaling in advance.  Putting your turn signal on at that point merely proves what they already think of you....and it’s not very nice.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:30 AM •
Sunday, March 11, 2007

Well, I visited my dentist for my annual exam this week and, in a tremendous break with recent tradition in my health care, nothing was wrong.  Talk about a freak occurence...me, going into a health professional’s office and coming out with no new diseases, problems, aches, disabilities or need for more medication or surgery. I guess miracles do happen.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:05 AM •
Saturday, March 10, 2007

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that Best Friends is where I want to go when I’m old. It’s the largest no kill animal shelter in America and it is a magical place of kindness and love and joy for many animals who had precious little of that before their arrival at Best Friends.
Anyhow, Best Friends is looking for donations of items like blankets, towels, old pet beds, kitty scratching posts, toys for birds or dogs or cats that your loved and lucky pets no longer use...anything like that. They could also use packages of Pill Pockets to help the medicine go down.
In particular, Britney the Pig is longing for a sweater...blue is her preferred color. And I’m talking about a real pig here, not some shavened head pop star in need of serious emotion help.
So if you have any of this stuff hanging around your house and want to make it useful again, send it to Best Friends at 5001 Angel Canyon Road Kanab, Utah 84741
Just think how good you’ll feel as you walk out of the post office knowing that in a few days a pig will be smiling in Utah.
You can go to their website for a more complete list of items they need. http://www.bestfriends.org

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:30 AM •
Friday, March 09, 2007

So the headlines say Bush is turning his eyes towards Latin America. Some would say he’s doing that to distract attention from the Mideast. All I know is that if I were Latin America, I’d be very, very nervous.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:27 AM •
Thursday, March 08, 2007

My first thought on hearing that Dick Cheney had a blood clot in his leg was that I hope he had to go to Walter Reed and wait in line with our vets while the bureaucracy shuffled him around and then, when he finally got to care, it was substandard.  And actually, I don’t really care if that makes me a horrible person. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:47 AM •

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