Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Monday, October 09, 2006

I have two wonderful young ladies coming to visit me tomorrow and as I look around my house, I once again realize that not everyone thinks normal includes six birds and a blind and deaf dog who has to be carried everywhere just because life is too short to wait for him to get there himself.  I wonder if I can ever get all the little birdseed, crumbs and corn kernels up before they arrive? I wonder if they will laugh or be horrified by some of the language my birds know?  None of which, of course, they learned here...that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:56 AM •
Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why would anyone ever mix up a political party with a moral party?  I mean, how stupid do you have to be to think a party that lives to win elections based on ofttimes dubious information, slurs and outright lies, could have any moral compass?  No political party can claim that.  If you want morals, look elsewhere.  And for god’s sakes, get a life.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 01:53 PM •
Saturday, October 07, 2006

As soon as I find out what a cubit is, I plan to start an ark in my yard.  If you want to ge tin on the ground floor so you can be saved when the deluge finally overwhelms our ability to drain the water, sign up early.  Seats in the good section are going fast.  For those wondering, the bad section involves sharing sleeping space with the lower orders of mammals like politicians and televangelists.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:16 AM •

As soon as I find out what a cubit is, I plan to start an ark in my yard.  If you want to get in on the ground floor so you can be saved when the deluge finally overwhelms our ability to drain the water, sign up early.  Seats in the good section are going fast.  For those wondering, the bad section involves sharing sleeping space with the lower orders of mammals like politicians and televangelists.

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

The US Congress is nothing more than Protection, Inc. and it protects only its own. It makes unions and the mafia look open and inviting by comparison. And while I’m at it, I find it very interesting that the Republicans are trying to spin this as a Democrat problem and are bringing up poor horny Bill again.  Have they no shame?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:13 AM •
Thursday, October 05, 2006

So if you make something for dinner and it’s too much and then you end up eating it for the next ten days in a row but on the 11th day it’s not quite enough so you add a little of something else to stretch it but then you have way too much again and the cycle repeats, at what point do you no longer have any of the original involved?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:33 AM •
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It is the 500th day of rain this year in Anchorage.  People are starting to look grim.  Mold and mildew are growing in the most unimaginable spots on animals and humans alike. When the sun occasionally breaks through the clouds, people react with horror at the bright yellow dot in the sky. What could it be?

This is not a good turn of events in a town where concealed weapons are as prevalent as lattes at Café Loco.  You want people who are carrying concealed weapons to be happy most of the time, not damp. 
Each morning, my little dog heads for the door to go out for his morning ablutions.  He has a wistfully hopeful demeanor as I open the door. Then his head immediately droops as he realizes that once again he’s going to get cold and wet. After staring forlornly at the rain for a minute, he turns around and heads for the other door in the vain hope that perhaps it won’t be raining on that side of the house.  But it always is. 
At this point, it takes a gentle shove on his butt to get him to go out into it and not just squat in the doorway...though there are some days when I think that would be a perfectly acceptable indication of how the day was making us both feel.
I realize that I live in Anchorage now and not Barrow and so must come to expect a lot of rain.  But really, enough is enough.  I have mushrooms growing on my walls - and that’s inside my house. Where I used to have lawn, I now have mold and moss.  Plants that should have bloomed about two months ago are just now putting out flowers. They simply hadn’t seen enough sun to set their blooming clocks correctly.  Or maybe they were just too depressed to bloom.
Here is my real fear, though. What if we have another of those winters?  You know the ones I’m referring to. The winters where it rains and rains and rains and then freezes and freezes and freezes and we drive and walk on ice thick enough to handle an ice hockey game. What snow does fall is quickly intimidated into submission by the torrential rains that continue to pour from the sky through December and January and February...through all those months when it is our god given right to have snow for skiing and snowmobiling and Christmas.
The only good thing that has ever come out of one of those wet, freezing winters was the pain meds I got when I fell on the ice at the end of my driveway.  I had parked the car just a few steps from the mailbox thinking I could safely walk the three feet to it. I was wrong.  My feet went up and my entire body came down on the ice with a head shattering smash.
I remember lying there on the ice, getting colder and colder, unable to move, screaming “Call 911” at the top of my lungs and thinking how odd it would be to die like that.  Here I had survived thirty years in the Arctic, including numerous camping trips with Big Sam in which he often had not a clue where we were or how we would get back, and yet now I was going to die at the end of my driveway in Anchorage during a winter that didn’t even have the decency to have snow.  It was truly one of the most depressing moments in my life.
I soon figured out there was no one else anywhere around in my neighborhood so screaming “911” was a waste of time and energy. And eventually I was able to pull myself to my car and find a friend to take me to the emergency room. While there, I was told they were seeing a lot of falls like mine. Then, they gave me pills to take the edge off till my ribs decided to return to their normal position. Thanks to those pills, I can honestly say I stopped caring about the rain and ice at that point.
I’m not sure I could face another ice filled winter like that.  The darkness seems darker without snow.  The daylight seems shorter without the white to brighten it up.  I feel as though we have become Juneau, and that’s not a good thing. 
In fact, at this point, they might as well move the capitol here.  It’s not as though even our legislature could make things worse. I mean, seriously, you can’t insult the soggy.  They are too tired and wet and damp to care. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:51 AM •
Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If that Florida congressman was both an alcoholic AND had issues with underage girls, why did all his colleagues just turn and look the other way?  Is there truly no honor in politics?  Were they all just so stupid they didn’t see it?  If they can’t stand up on an issue as simple as this, what hope does this country have for its future?  It seems like congress has just become the place where everyone protects everyone else there as their first priority and constituent concerns come way down the hierarchy.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:27 AM •
Monday, October 02, 2006

Yesterday marked the 34th anniversary of my arrival in Alaska.  Tomorrow will mark the 34th anniversary of my arrival in Barrow. It’s been a long, strange journey.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:10 AM •
Sunday, October 01, 2006

Remember when Ike’s son and Richard’s daughter married thereby uniting what was then two American political forces?  Fast forward to 2006. Imagine what would be produced if Cheney and Rumsfeld’s children managed to somehow unite and reproduce.  Scary, isn’t it?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:34 AM •
Saturday, September 30, 2006

Let’s all send out a cheer to those Aleut villagers who have refused Venezuela’s free heating oil in protest of their idiot president’s (Venezuela’s, not ours) remarks about George Bush. Bush may be the biggest disaster to hit the White House since I don’t know when but he’s OUR disaster and if you can’t respect the person, you need to respect the office. That’s why our elections happen in the voting booths and courts in this land and not at the end of a tank or gun.
I hope someone here in America appreciates the sacrifice these people have just made and offers to help them with their heating oil costs this winter.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:53 AM •
Friday, September 29, 2006

It is the 500th day in a row of rain here in Southcentral Alaska.  People are starting to look grim.  Mold and mildew are growing in the most unimaginable spots on animals and humans alike.  We have become Juneau.  There is no hope left. They might as well move the capitol here.  You can’t insult the soggy.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:28 AM •
Thursday, September 28, 2006

If the rumors about Condi Rice and that Prime Minister are true, then she has a better love life than I do. The woman is the frigging secretary of state of a country at war and looks like you’d cut yourself hugging her and she not only has the time, she has actually found someone attractive, to date.  Now I really am depressed.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 06:16 AM •
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I grew up Catholic at a time when Catholic most emphatically did not mean Christian.  Christian meant Martin Luther.  Catholic meant the pope.  The gap between the two was the size of the Grand Canyon and just as hard to hurdle.

So growing up I never knew anything about the YMCA or the YWCA except that they had Christian in their name and so we didn’t go there.  We went to CYO.  Our C stood for Catholic and that made all the difference.
It wasn’t till I got to Anchorage that I started becoming familiar with the YWCA.  I was invited to be one of the women who would present from her work at the annual Alaska women’s writers event. 
Being a writer means living in isolation a lot. Writing is a very solitary occupation.  Even if you are working on stories that involve human contact for interviews and information, the final act of putting words on paper is as personal and intimate as it gets.  Going to this event meant I actually got to meet other women who did what I did on some level. Whether they wrote fiction, non-fiction, poetry or technical manuals, we all had the moment in common where we are staring at a blank word document and wondering how to start.
So I joined the YWCA only to find out that the little event I was in was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work they do for women and young girls here in town.  They offer everything from physical fitness classes to finance classes.  They have a fly fishing retreat for breast cancer survivors and a self-defense class that teaches physical and verbal forms of self-defense.
But what impressed me the most was the classes offered for women that you just don’t find anywhere else, operated by Women$Finances, which is apparently Alaska’s only SBA designated Women’s Business Center.  As I read the titles of the programs offered, I wondered how I’d ever had the nerve to start my own little company without taking them first.  I guess ignorance can be bliss as times but it sure doesn’t make for a successful business.
Even the most well dressed among us knows how to jump a car when needed, and we always carry jumper cables for those just in case moments.  Alaska women know how to warm a kid up who has been playing in below zero weather long enough to freeze their entire brain without causing undo loss of life or limb. Alaska women know the very best recipe for black bear stew and can ferment whale meat till it is an exquisite delicacy.
But how many of us know our exact financial worth and whether it’s enough to get us through till we die without having to share a bathroom with an entire floor of people in an old age home.  Personally, I’d like to have enough to at least get a semi-private.  Suddenly these finance courses make a whole lot of sense, don’t they?
Even more impressive is the work the YWCA does with young girls. From programs to encourage young women to get interested in science and technology to programs that empower young ladies, especially at risk young ladies, the YWCA reaches out to every segment of women in our society and tries to give them the tools they need to succeed.
This coming Saturday, the YWCA is presenting Alaska women writers reading from their work at UAA.  There will also be two seminars, one on self-publishing and one on poetry.  The cost is minimal. The seminars will run from 4:30 to 6:45 PM at the UAA Library Room 302.  The reading will be at the UAA Arts Building Auditorium from 7 to 9 PM. If you like what you hear at the reading, the authors will be selling their books during the reception that immediately follows. And best of all, the money you pay to attend goes to support the work that the YWCA does all year round in our community.
As someone who works with at risk youth and sees the needs of so many young women in our society to develop the skills to not just survive, but to thrive, the YWCA is one of the best bangs for my buck that I’m apt to get.  So head on over to UAA this Saturday.  Enjoy some of the best of Alaska women writers, meet some fascinating people, and support a program that has your daughter’s, wife’s, sister’s, best interests at the heart of all they do.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:50 AM •
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

...but then I see a picture of Laura Bush looking adoringly at her husband and think that alien abduction can be the only explanation.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:28 AM •

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