Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Democrats sweep the elections and Brittany Spears is getting divorced.  Are these not signs of the Apocalypse?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 10:42 PM •

Go vote today or shut up and don’t complain about anything in public life ever again. If you don’t vote, you lose all right to complain, comment or otherwise have attitude about any elected official or policy they may devise.  And I’m a menopausal woman with attitude so you sure don’t want to question why I get to make that rule.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:12 AM •
Monday, November 06, 2006

There was an article in the paper yesterday about the latest in technology being little speakers to go with the I-Pods or whatever the hell it is that people are using to listen to music nowadays.  I only have this to say about that.  PLEASE DON’T!!!  PLEASE, OH PLEASE, OH PLEASE, DON’T!!  Isn’t there enough unnecessary noise in the world today? Don’t make me listen to your music whether it is a rap song about somebody’s ho or a ballad about somebody’s ....well, ho.  Keep it to youself.  Please.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:23 AM •
Sunday, November 05, 2006

Come Tuesday, our silly season will be over and we will advance to the really important stuff.  Or am I the only one who has noticed the sudden glut of toy commercials on TV?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:40 AM •
Saturday, November 04, 2006

If eyebrows are the vestigial remnants of facial hair, what’s their purpose? Why did they remain after the other hair left?  What has ever been their point in life? What do they do for us that we kept them but got rid of the hair on our ears...well, at least, most of us got rid of ear hair.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:08 AM •
Friday, November 03, 2006

KBRW, Barrow’s one and only radio station, is a public broadcasting station that is critical to the people of the north. It’s having its membership drive this week. If you are an old Barrowite reading this, you should consider making a pledge if only in memory of all those great Sunday evening singspirations you remember so well...or Cora singing Happy Birthday on the birthday program...or Johnny Adams singing “This Land is Your Land” in Inupiaq during local talent day.
And if you never have been to Barrow, consider pledging just for the boost it will give to your reputation to say that you pledged to the farthest north public broadcasting station in America.
KBRW now streams online so you can go to their website to make your pledge and then listen to your name read over the air as a contributor.  Really, do you have anything better than that to look forward to today?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yesterday I brought Blondie to the vet to get her anal glands expelled. Does life get much better than that?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:46 AM •
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I have spent most of my life fighting the battle of the bulge. I’ve done it for a variety of reasons. When I was young I did it because I was told men did not find “large” women attractive. Since I grew up in an era when it was more important for a woman to earn her MRS than her BS, this became a major issue in my youth.

As I aged, I fought the battle in an attempt to ward off the actual aging process. I come from the generation that said we should trust no one over 30. That made it very difficult to reach 40 and 50 feeling good about myself.  I thought if I could just be thin enough, no one would notice how old I’d gotten.  Needless to say, that didn’t exactly work out as I planned. When fourteen bones in your back creak and crack when you get out of a chair while making that “oof” sound, people know you are not a spring chicken.
My final battle of the bulge came as I entered my “mature” years and developed health problems that were directly affected by weight.  I’m having more success with the battle this time around, probably due to the fact that it is more about surviving long enough to spend my retirement than simply vanity.
All of the above is an attempt at full disclosure for what follows. And that is that America seems obsessed with the issue of obesity with no middle ground tolerated in the discussion.  You either accept that America is getting extremely fat and the collective weight of the next generation’s poundage induced diseases will crush our health care system or you are wrong. 
As always, I find extremism suspect based solely on the fact that extremists are rarely actually dealing with reality. I find truth can usually be found somewhere in the middle ground that most extremists loathe because it does not fit in with their worldview.
And so I watch in amazement as designers create size 0 clothing with the implication being that if you are anything over a size 2, you are fat. There is a commercial on TV for a diet product in which the pitch is that the young lady was able to go from a size 8 to a size 2 in some amazingly short amount of time.
I think in this instance Muslims fundamentalists are more honest in their actions than Americans. They make no bones of the fact that they want their women to disappear and cover them completely from head to toe to achieve that end.
Here in America, we view that action as reprehensible but see nothing wrong in encouraging girls to become a size 0. Either way, the message going out to women is that to be acceptable, you have to be either a cipher totally enveloped in a walking tent or a size 0 which really just says you are a nothing, literally a zero.
I watch in amazement as cupcakes are banned from school birthday parties or any event for children sponsored by anyone who hopes to maintain any sort of good reputation in the kiddie world.  We no longer allow birthday cupcakes, Christmas cookies, Halloween candy or any munchie that isn’t healthy and sugar free. These same children will then go home to households in which at least 50% of the dinners they eat will be take out and of that, most will probably be pizza.  So let’s take a guess as to which will ultimately have a greater effect on the child’s eventual size and eating habits.
I think our kids need to learn good nutrition and good eating habits.  I think that to be effective, that training needs to be backed up by parents who cook healthy meals at home. I think schools should be allowed to treat kids on special holidays with a cookie or cupcake without risking their reputation.  If what the child learns is that if you eat healthy most of the time an occasional treat won’t kill you, then the child will have learned a real life lesson.
But if what we teach our children is that all sweets are forbidden and bad...well, let’s all remember back to our childhoods and how we responded when something became forbidden.  Made it way more attractive, didn’t it?
So let’s leave the extremes and meet in the middle where common sense should prevail.  Our kids need to learn to eat sensibly. They need to understand that neither a size 0 nor a size 22 is healthy but that leaves a lot of room in the middle. 
And for goodness sakes, grab hold of some sanity and let them have cookies at the class Christmas party.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:00 AM •
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A couple of nights ago I decided to ignore the falling snow and grill a kebob for dinner.  The grill is on my porch. I needed to change from my slippers to a pair of shoes. I went to my closet. There was a pair of black shoes and a pair of brown shoes, both of which would have been equally up to the snowy task.  The brown shoes are more comfortable. But I was wearing grey pants and a black shirt and black socks.  As much as I wanted to wear the brown shoes, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of my sister shaking her head in sad disapproval as I put on brown shoes with a black outfit. And so I put the black shoes on even though they hurt my toes. Because even on a snowy Saturday night in Anchorage, with my sister three thousand miles away, I hesitate to wear brown with black for fear that she will somehow know.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:21 AM •
Monday, October 30, 2006

When boys are selling things at the store to raise money for a team or for the boy scouts, they tend to stand around joking, punching each other in the shoulders and looking as though the last thing on their mind is pushing their product. When girls are selling things for their team or the girl scouts, they seem much more focused on the task at hand and rarely let anyone go by without at least asking if they are interested in buying something. 
No moral here. Just something I’ve observed.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 05:57 AM •
Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dunking? Torture? Yes, I could not be prouder of our current leadership. With Bill Cinton we debated the meaning of the word “is”, With George Bush and his fun loving puppetmaster Dick Cheney, we debate the definition of torure.  I’d was less embarrassed by Bill Clinton’s cigar trick.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 11:11 AM •
Saturday, October 28, 2006

Poor Blue is going crazy trying to figure out how to herd me, Blondie, the three birdcages downstairs and the two birdcages upstairs into the same general area so she can sleep soundly, knowing her job is done.  How do I tell her that even I can’t carry those cages up the stairs for her?  I’m hoping she’ll eventually figure out that the birds are already in safe “pens” for the night and she can relax.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:16 AM •
Friday, October 27, 2006

I picked up his ashes yesterday and now he’s home again. I feel both he and I can rest better now knowing he’s where he belongs with the person who loved him best.  Blondie and Blue sniffed his ashes respectfully.  And my Abdul bird has not said his name since he left us.  I think she knows and is sad in her own way. She used to start every day calling him. “C’m here, T” she’d yell over and over till he slowly trotted by on his way out for his morning break.  Now, she still repeats the “C’m here” part but never says his name.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:22 AM •
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sandals and socks in 40 degree weather...does anything else better indicate an Alaskan’s refusal to let go of summer?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:37 AM •
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Last week was a hard week for me.  Not only was I attending a seminar entitled The Alaska Child Maltreatment Conference, but I finally had to send my little buddy of 15 years across the Rainbow Bridge.


At the beginning of the week, the only thought in my mind was, “What PR genius named this conference?” By the end of the week, the only thought in my mind was that all our children should have as much love and kindness in their lives as Mr. T had in his.
Mr. T didn’t always have it easy. He came to me as a two year old with the worse case of ADHD I have ever seen in any creature, including my beloved godchild. He’d lost his first home in part because of his frantic activity and was looking for a second chance to prove he could be someone’s good buddy.
Mr. T could spin through my house in a constant circle for hours on end, leaping across couches and chairs, whether they were occupied or not, just to burn off his energy. I used to take him down Fresh Water Lake Road in Barrow and let him run behind the car from the cemetery to the lake and back. It was about three miles round trip and sometimes we had to do three trips before he had used up enough energy to consider getting back in the car.
As time went on and he realized that this life we were creating would continue, he calmed down.  I know some friends who would laugh at that statement and say that he didn’t actually calm down till he got senile but really, he did.  He grew comfortable and secure in the knowledge that it was his house, his food dish, his toys.  He understood that no matter what threats the birds were making, in the end I would protect his stuff and not let them have any of it.  As he grew more secure, he also grew calmer. We still walked every day but the frantic nature of his motion disappeared and he seemed to actually savor the time we had together. He took the time to smell the roses.  And then he took the time to mark them so that every other dog that came along would understand they were his roses.
As I listened to the case studies described in the seminar on child abuse, I realized that Mr. T had something so many of the children we discussed would never know. He had stability, love, guidelines and limits. He knew where he stood in the hierarchy of the household.... ok, maybe he had a slightly inflated sense of that but nonetheless he knew he had standing in the household and that standing was firm.  He knew he’d be fed and walked every day. He knew he had a safe bed to sleep in at night and a safe lap to sit in while watching Animal Planet.
If the kids who go through the state system had half of those things, they probably wouldn’t have to be in the state system. And that’s just such a sad statement to make.  I offer no apologies for the love and care I lavish on my animals.  They deserve it and I can afford to give it to them.  I don’t think this is a case of having to choose to be nice to animals or nice to kids.  In a perfect world, both kids and pets would have all the love, laps and security they needed to make each day an exciting new adventure.
I was taking Mr. T on our regular walk when he collapsed. I brought him to the wonderful people over at College Village Animal Clinic and they helped me help him cross the Rainbow Bridge surrounded by people who cared, in the arms of the person who loved him beyond all possible description.  Till the day he died, he knew he was safe and secure. He knew I would never let anyone hurt him and that the people who I entrusted him to when I wasn’t there would be kind and gentle.
Wouldn’t it be great if someday here in Alaska every one of our children...and really, they are all “our” children.... could have that same love, security and peace that Mr. T enjoyed for the last 15 years of his life. Imagine what a better world that would be for them and for us. It’s not an impossible dream to achieve but it isn’t an easy one.  When you consider what’s at stake though, it would seem that no amount of effort should be too much to make all our children safe and loved.
Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:01 AM •

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