Elise Sereni
Monday, February 25, 2008

I am destined to never be the person walking down the road with a dog under perfect control even without a leash.  I saw such a person today on my walk and envied him. His dog walked by his side carrying a toy in his mouth. The man had but to move his hand slightly and the dog instantly obeyed. My dogs, meanwhile, were pulling and twisting on the leash while I slipped and slid on the ice yelling, “Girls, be good. Stop it. Don’t trip me. You’re getting the leash twisted.” and perhaps some other language best not repeated. I know that the experts say you can train any dog to be obedient. But I’m never going to be that person.  I’m the person who is trained by her dogs to be very aware of their immediate needs who fulfills them instantly for fear her dogs will start disliking her if she doesn’t.
Yep. I’m never going to be the person walking down the road with her dogs under perfect control. Just another goal in life that will go unfulfilled.

Elise Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Sunday, February 24, 2008

It’s Oscar night, my favorite night of the year. I sit in my easy chair in my nightie, no bra, no makeup, a bowl of popcorn at hand, and pick the gown I am most glad I’m not wearing because it looks so uncomfortable to hold my breath that long. Every time a winning gown shows up on the TV, I take a swig of juice, a handful of popcorn and thank god I was born without talent.

Elise Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Saturday, February 23, 2008

I sat there in a chair at the clinic and the PA said to me, “This low blood pressure could be the start of congestive heart failure.” I was completely insulted. Congestive heart failure is what happens to old people. Then I checked my birth date.  Damned if I don’t qualify.
Oh yeah, it wasn’t congestive heart failure. 

Elise Patkotak • 06:31 AM •
Friday, February 22, 2008

No one should have to endure breakup more than once a year. So why is my front yard an icy swimming pool? C’mon, god. It’s bad enough you created breakup, but to do it to us twice in a year is simply wrong.

Elise Patkotak • 06:28 AM •
Thursday, February 21, 2008

Watching congressional hearings this past week, you would have been hard pressed to know there was a war going on in Iraq in which our soldiers and their soldiers and civilians continue to die with no viable definition of winning evident, or that the economy was tanking, or that my house is probably worth about half of what the government wants to assess it at for tax purposes. That’s because our leaders were too busy tackling the obviously much more important problem of steroids in baseball.

I’m still not sure why the government is spending my tax dollars on this issue.  As I ready my 2007 tax papers, I am tempted to add a note at the bottom asking them to please refrain from using any of my money on this subject.  I won’t because I have an accountant who continually tells me the IRS simply does not have a sense of humor about these things.
I don’t know what was more ludicrous, the sight of our elected representatives listening to an athlete whose head qualifies as a Macy’s parade balloon explain how he never used steroids, or hearing those same officials pontificate over how this is ruining America.  Really?  This is what you think is destroying America’s character?  Not the debate over the definition of torture in which our current attorney general refused to define water boarding as torture unless it was used on him? Not the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay with prisoners now held for over five years with no end in sight?  Not the government’s invasion of our most basic rights of privacy in the name of security?
The argument made for the need for government to get involved in this issue is that these men are heroes to our children. Every time they use drugs to enhance their performance, they influence high school athletes who might do the same.  Seriously, if a high school student’s head and neck circumferences suddenly triple over the summer, I’m thinking that somewhere along the line there should be a parent saying, “Hmmm, that’s just doesn’t seem normal, even for a teenage boy. Maybe I should check this out.” Then, the parents should go buy two walnuts, a carrot, two raisins and a string bean and use them in a show and tell explanation of the effect steroids can have on a man’s body.  I’m guessing most teenage boys would find that quite revelatory.
To listen to some athlete claim he never took enhancement drugs while his neck is the size of a semi’s tire begs the question of just how dumb these athletes are, or assume we are. Did he think he was just having a delayed upper body growth spurt?
Sylvester Stallone apparently took similar drugs while making Rambo 47 so that we didn’t all run gagging from the theater at the sight of his naked 60 some year old chest covered in oil and sweat. I can only assume that at his age he didn’t care about the shrinkage this would cause to other parts of his body because he was past those youthful urges. Or maybe he just has enough money that it doesn’t matter anymore.  Will we be having hearings into Rambo too? After all, there is no greater American hero than Rambo, who is apparently still working on a way to win the Vietnam War and save us from communists marching in the streets of Peoria.
Professional baseball players are adults who make choices. If they make choices to shrivel their genitals to the size of peas, I really don’t care. If they are too dumb to notice that the Vitamin B shots they are taking is making their butt the envy of Jennifer Lopez fans across the nation, then they need a guardian assigned to them way more than Brittany does. But none of that is the business of our government. If these people truly are our children’s heroes, then I’d say that some parents in this country need to not spend so many Sundays in a chair in front of the TV cheering them on.
Our housing market is in the toilet, faith in this country is at it’s lowest ebb in decades, kids are taking guns to college and going wild, and America stands on the cusp of a history making election. But our congress is holding hearings on whether Roger Clemens’ butt is just the result of middle-aged spread.
What is wrong with this picture?
Elise Patkotak • 06:24 AM •
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anyone who even drew one breath in the sixties should see this movie for the soundtrack alone.  I was a basket case while Let It Be was being sung. Wow.

Elise Patkotak • 06:05 AM •
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Every year this time as I prepare my paperwork for my taxes, I go to my little blue plastic file box and pull out the wads of receipts, bills, notices, rabies shots records and check stubs and think of my friend Janis. Despite the fact that I now have an office with two full filing cabinets that could probably organize everything so that sorting things out wasn’t so difficult each year, I still find myself stuffing all my probably important papers I might need for my taxes into the same blue plastic file box that she picked out for me almost twenty years ago in a vain attempt to help me get beyond the junk drawer system of filing.  I could buy a new box. I could actually sort my papers throughout the year so that tax time would not be so painful. I could avoid stuffing papers into an overflowing box every December as room ran out in my little blue box. But I won’t. I know I won’t. Janis knew I wouldn’t. That’s why she got me to buy my little blue box. And each time i go to shove another piece of paper into it, I think of her.  For that alone it’s worth keeping.

Elise Patkotak • 06:35 AM •
Monday, February 18, 2008

After every awards show of any kind, the E channel carries a fashion critique show of what everyone wore. I watch those shows faithfully, guiltily, with a secret pleasure that is hard to explain.  No, that’s not true. The guilty pleasure is not hard to explain. I love watching people wearing things that my mother would have thrown herself in front of a train before letting me out of the house in get praised for being “fashion forward” and “fresh”.  Some of the outfits I understand and might be tempted to wear if I were 100 pounds lighter, 60 years younger and going to a Halloween party. Others, not so much. But mostly I love to watch the shows because they make me feel better about my idea of style...as in, no matter how bad my style sense is, I at least know not to indulge it in public while cameras are rolling.

Elise Patkotak • 06:45 AM •
Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pharmacies should have two sections. One with medicine bottles headed for a home with children. By all means, put every kind of safeguard you can think on them to childproof them.  Of course, my belief in the ingenuity of children of this great country of ours will be sorely tested if they aren’t able to open them all way before their parents figure out how to do it. But that’s besides the point. The other section should consist of drugs for homes without children but with old farts like me who spend an inordinate amount of time looking for old roach clips from the sixties to use to pull the damn wad of cotton out of the medicine bottle after we’ve taken a blow torch to open it.

Elise Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Saturday, February 16, 2008

The feds had a huge debt in the late 1990s. But their budget was less than their revenues. So they declared a budget surplus even though that pesky trillion dollar debt still existed. I don’t get it. If you still owe money, how do you have a surplus? And why can’t I balance my budget that way?

Elise Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Friday, February 15, 2008

Is it possible to die from a sinus infection? Because if you find me dead over the next few days, that will be the cause.

Elise Patkotak • 06:32 AM •
Thursday, February 14, 2008

I’ve told this story before but I think it bears repeating. A class on STDs had a discussion centered on the role of alcohol in child sexual assault. The instructor asked everyone in the class who’d ever been drunk to raise their hand.  Most hands went up. Then the instructor asked those who had sexually assaulted a child while drunk to keep their hands up. All went down.

Recent statistics show that fifty-seven percent of rapists were not using alcohol when they assaulted.  Sixty percent of the victims were sober during the incident. Sexual assault is about power. And what more horrible power can you exert over someone than to force yourself on them in the most violently intimate way possible?  Even worse, only two percent of these assaults occurred between strangers. Being safe at home is not an option for many in Alaska.
The statistics that came out last month came from the Alaska State Troopers.  Statistics for rape in urban areas such as Anchorage where local police respond were not included.  That means these statistics come from outside Alaska’s urban areas. It means that Native leaders throughout the state are cringing again as the reality of how ugly life in bush communities can get for the most vulnerable of their members. It means the good inherent in cultures that have existed for thousands of years is getting swept away in the tide of pain, anguish and destroyed lives that play out every year in small villages throughout this state.
I think it’s probably significant but not surprising that the people addressing these concerns in bush Alaska are almost all women. I think it is equally significant that the majority of people running these villages, and the village and regional corporations, are men. I find myself asking why these men who claim to be leaders of their regions and cultures aren’t doing much, much more to address these problems. Women and children are almost always the victims. Men are almost always the perpetrators. And so it seems to me that at some point these men have to stand up from their corporate desks and council tables and tackle this problem with their peers head on.
The men leading Native communities need to stop accepting abusers and rapists on their boards and councils. They need to go into the schools and the gyms and the village stores and take their young men by their ears and tell them how unacceptable their behavior is on a moral, human and cultural level. They need to make the abusers understand that they will no longer be accepted into leadership positions, they will no longer have the privilege of having their peers look the other way. Native male leadership needs to cleanse itself of those men who make a mockery of the very virtues they claim their cultures hold so dear. If they abuse they should be kicked off their boards and councils. If they abuse, they should no longer be considered eligible to occupy any position of leadership in their community.
Economic and social isolation is as much a problem in bush Alaska as alcohol.  The stress of a fuel bill that’s too high to pay, a job that’s beyond your reach, a wife making a bigger paycheck than you, more kids than your income supports...all these things lead to the feeling of powerlessness that is often only relieved by the unspeakably horrific acts of rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse of children.  Understanding the cause, however, is not a reason to excuse the behavior.
Women are doing all they can to support and protect their children and friends. But the voices full of pain and anguish coming from so many homes in the bush can only be fully addressed when all members of the community are fully engaged. And that means that the leaders of the profit and non-profit corporations, the village mayors and councilmen, the men who claim the mantle of leadership for their people must confront the men whose violence makes a mockery of their values.
Women alone cannot make this happen. And if these ills are not addressed, then the membership of the groups these men lead will continue to be decimated by suicide, murder, prison sentences and damaged lives that cannot ever again be made whole. If that happens, then who will be left for them to lead?

Elise Patkotak • 06:39 AM •
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just so everyone knows, I’m out of bed, the weather has warmed up into the high teens and I have decided to resume my life. I must say I was surprised to find Blue and Blondie’s postings on the website. I was unaware that they could type without opposable thumbs. But then, maybe opposable thumbs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
At any rate, I think I know now a little of what it must feel like to have groupies.  Blue and Blondie follow me around the house like stalkers. I think they want to make sure I don’t try to crawl back under the covers without first feeding them and taking them for a walk. So they dog my every footstep (pun fully intended) and watch fearfully every time I approach the bedroom.
On the other hand, it’s kind of fun to drive them nuts.

Elise Patkotak • 06:35 AM •
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The longer the cold lasts, the more carbs I crave. I could fall into a bowl of pasta topped with bread and baked with rice and be happy to not emerge until spring...or a temperature above 20.

Elise Patkotak • 06:25 AM •
Monday, February 11, 2008

With my luck, the following will turn out to be the one, true religion:

Frisbeetarianism: The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

Elise Patkotak • 06:15 AM •

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