Elise Sereni
Wednesday, April 06, 2016

On the East Coast visiting family and not getting to my webpage like I should. I’ll do better soon. Or not. I’m on vacation and feeling like I am responsible to no one. Will post columns on this page everyThursday as usual. So check in tomorrow for sure. Other than that… you’re not the boss of me. I can blog whenever I feel - oh god, who am I kidding. I was raised on Catholic guilt by nuns. I will get back to posting every day in order to ensure my chances at heaven.

Elise Patkotak • 06:33 AM •
Friday, April 01, 2016

I will spend today with two sisters I have known since the earliest of our childhoods… I mean so early we weren’t even in school yet and I started school at 3 1/2. The older I get, the more special times like this become. How lucky am I to still have these friends, to still visit with these friends, to have people whose memories fill in my gaps about whose store was where on the street and what the neighborhood names were. Yep, I am very lucky.

Elise Patkotak • 03:56 AM •
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our Alaska Legislature has spent the past three months trying to curb sex education, get guns on college campuses, and find a way to justify staying at the Taj Mahawker. Now it claims there is simply no time left to create the long range plan needed to keep Alaska on a healthy financial footing. Legislative “leaders” say they’ll squeeze this project in next year. Could this have anything to do with this year being an election year?

If JFK wrote his book, “Profiles in Courage”, about our Alaska Legislature, it would have been a much, much shorter book. It would have contained a front cover, intro and back cover. The book would have more spine than most of our legislators.
Anyone who has ever lost a job knows that living off your savings while eating cereal straight from a box and watching The Price is Right is not a viable financial plan. You need to get off your butt, find another job and get back into the game. Our legislators apparently don’t feel that way. They’d rather sit on their butts, drain our savings accounts, and pray for a spike in oil prices so that the whole deficit debacle will just go away before they return.
Alaska is a pawn in an international game of brinkmanship over who will control oil and oil prices on this planet.  We don’t get to play on that level. We get to deal with the results. And the results are pretty clear. Alaska can no longer survive by sucking at the teats of Big Oil. We need another boom or we need a sensible financial plan that will take us into a healthy financial future.
In all my years in Alaska I’ve seen legislative session after legislative session go into overtime or special session because legislators find it impossible to get their work done in the time allowed. In the real world, at a real job, they would have been fired years ago. But we keep re-electing most of them which begs the question of who the crazy ones are in this scenario. It certainly doesn’t seem to be the legislators who year after year don’t do their jobs except at extra expense to us and yet never lose that job. So I guess it must be us voters who keep sending the same people back to Juneau and expecting a different result.
The Republicans controlling the state legislature seem stuck in a groove that keeps playing the same tune… no taxes.  They have apparently not stuck their heads up out of the sand – or whatever other dark spot they keep them – to notice that the majority of Alaskans are consistently saying that we understand the need for some form of new income to accompany fiscal cuts. Alaskans are saying that they understand the free ride is over and they may have to start contributing to the programs that make this state a good place to live and raise a family.
I understand that many of our legislators are in deep debt to their energy industry overlords and that puts any retooling of oil tax rates and breaks so far off the table even Sarah can’t see them from her house. But if you are going to automatically take a large chunk of potential revenue out of the equation, you have to bite the bullet and put up something else. Every economist who has looked at our current financial situation has said that it cannot be bridged by cuts alone. Any elected politician who would dare say we can cut more because the last round of cuts caused no pain should be run out of town on a rail. He should be run right to the home of the family that now has no income because the cuts created layoffs. He should ask them if those cuts caused no pain.
If I sound deeply disgusted with our current legislature then I am not getting through to you. Because deeply disgusted doesn’t even scratch the surface of my feelings about this group’s apparent inability to face reality and do what’s right for Alaska. But their need to secure their jobs, jobs that will never be cut from the budget, is so desperate that they would rather leave our economy dangling by a string than risk losing that job.
There are a lot of unemployed Alaskans who know exactly how they feel.

Elise Patkotak • 03:50 AM •
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thanks to my dear friend Janis, I will fly first class today so I am not dreading this trip as much as I might otherwise be doing. I may actually have a seat that fits my body. What a concept. Not something you routinely find in planes nowadays.

Elise Patkotak • 03:55 AM •
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I leave for a family visit on the East Coast tomorrow so today I am in my usual pre-trip panic. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am traveling to another place in America and not a Third World country so I will probably be able to find anything I forgot once I get there. And yet I still panic.
Thanks mom. You didn’t give me your gorgeous figure or full head of hair. But damned if I didn’t get all the neuroses.

Elise Patkotak • 03:52 AM •
Monday, March 28, 2016

It is a bad sign to have spent all of yesterday in my bathrobe and been perfectly content?

Elise Patkotak • 09:51 AM •
Saturday, March 26, 2016

There are two things for which I am very grateful in my old age. One is that I threw out my last pair of pantyhose in 1988. And yes, they were queens. The second is that I got too old to give a damn before Spanx were invented so that I will never have to even try to put them… whatever the hell they are… on. And from what I’ve heard about Spanx, it sounds like they are just your old fashioned girdle and long line bra in a modern iteration. Didn’t like that the first time around. Ain’t going anywhere near them now just because they have a fancy new name.

Elise Patkotak • 03:42 AM •
Friday, March 25, 2016

My sister and I were in South America when Ronald Reagan won the presidency. That was embarrassing enough. I don’t want to be anywhere but under my bed if Trump wins. So I guess we have to adjust our travel schedule for this fall.

Elise Patkotak • 03:23 AM •
Thursday, March 24, 2016

I have to assume most readers will not be shocked to find out that Senator Dan Sullivan and I agree on very little. Political viewpoints don’t get much farther apart than our respective philosophies. But there are two things on which we completely agree. One is that the Marine Corps rocks. The others is that no government should be negotiating away justice for juvenile victims of sexual assault.

The stench that arose from the investigation of Senator Ted Stevens is hard to ignore. The worse of that stench is the possibility (probability?) that the government’s chief witness against Stevens, Bill Allen, was promised he would not be prosecuted for (allegedly) causing underage girls to cross state lines for paid sex with him.  Even if Ted Stevens had been guilty of everything the government charged him with – and we now know that is highly unlikely given prosecutorial misconduct throughout the proceedings – his actions would still not rise anywhere near the level of Allen’s actions in (allegedly) using young girls to satisfy his lust.
Bill Allen was a very powerful man in Alaska for a very long time. Powerful people tend to think that the rules don’t apply to them. From Elvis Presley’s Priscilla to Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13 year old cousin, the rich and famous seem to believe they are above the law and exempt from responsibility for their actions. Bill Allen was one of those who bought into this delusion. He ruled the Alaska legislature, he ruled VECO, and he ruled Alaska through the outsized role his company played in the economy. Ultimately, he believed he was above the law. The people we pay to enforce the law seemingly confirmed him in this belief.
That people like this exist is disgusting. That people like this can use their money and influence to buy themselves safety from their actions is even more disgusting. That our government would in any way aid and abet someone like this is beyond disgusting and rolls over into the category of obscene. The most vulnerable in our society, the young and lost, already have no one to protect or guide them. They are the teens on the street that, if they are lucky, find Covenant House. The unlucky find a Bill Allen. And the only agency they can turn to at that point for protection is the same agency that is protecting their abuser.
What freaks me out even more than the government’s attempt to protect this (alleged) pedophile is the silence that has emanated from Alaskans about what Allen (allegedly) got away with. I know men sentenced to more than a decade in prison for doing much less. So why are Alaskans so complacent about this potential travesty of justice? Is this why our sexual assault and sexual abuse rates are so high? Are we not angry because we don’t care or because we have become so inured to the headlines that it doesn’t really register?
President Obama signed the amendment that Senator Sullivan attached to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act into law and its effect on the type of actions that (allegedly) allowed Bill Allen to get away with being a pedophile will be profound. Local agencies will no longer have their hands tied by the federal government in these cases. Maybe Bill Allen will never be brought to justice for his (alleged) actions against young girls but at least the next person to try it will know that it won’t be so easy to negotiate away the charges.
In the March 17, 2016 opinion piece in the ADN, Sullivan and co-author Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards state, “Victims need to know that their government is working for them, not against them for political purposes.” It could not be stated more clearly, concisely or truly. Young people on the streets are victims waiting to happen. They have no one to protect them as they have often left horrendous situations in their own homes. We can’t save them from their bad decisions. But we sure as heck can prosecute those adults who encourage them to act on those bad decisions by offering them money, travel and some version of companionship in exchange for illegal sex.
I have to wonder how many female attorneys were in the room when this deal was (allegedly) made with Allen. I’m betting none.

Elise Patkotak • 03:10 AM •
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I am addicted to the wings bar at Safeway. When I die, I will probably cluck my way to heaven!

Elise Patkotak • 03:20 AM •
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Snowy had snuggle down to the bottom of the bed under the covers. Then a dog barked in the early AM. He jumped to attention… well, he tried to jump. In reality, the blanket and sheets didn’t allow him to jump as much as they allowed him to try to stand upright. He did not succeed. The dog outside continued to bark… apparently some of my neighbors get up early to go to work… and Snowy felt absolutely obliged to go bark back. So he tried to get out from under the covers to go bark. Only he couldn’t find his way out. He woke me up when the outside barking first started and I was now fully awake watching this lump at the bottom of my bed moving frantically around trying to find any opening possible before his barking response was too late to be effective. When he couldn’t find an opening, he barked while under the covers. Barked and barked. And I did my best to not get hysterical laughing. Then I lifted the covers so he could get out and instead he looked at me as if to say, “Too little, too late”, and curled up and went back to sleep.
My life is never boring.

Elise Patkotak • 03:14 AM •
Monday, March 21, 2016

Snowed one day. Melting the next. Winter in Anchorage this year was as short as it can get. And I’m still glad I already had my snow tires removed. 

Elise Patkotak • 11:13 AM •
Friday, March 18, 2016

Did you ever wonder why we all seem to find one place in our den or living room that is ours… that we don’t ever want to share… that seems to be the place we are most comfortable while watching TV, reading or visiting? I know how Sheldon feels about his spot. I may not be so anal retentive about it, but I am pretty anal about it. It’s my spot. Stay out of it.

Elise Patkotak • 03:58 AM •
Thursday, March 17, 2016

Conservatives who feel government should stay out of their way but should be all up in a woman’s business often confuse me. They think it’s wrong for government to regulate how private business is conducted. If a person running a bakery doesn’t want to bake a cake for a gay couple, then by golly, the state should not be able to force that person to do so. But if a woman wants to conduct private business with her doctor concerning her body and her reproductive system, then they feel the government should be right in that exam room handing the doctor the speculum.

While religious conservatives will pass laws that require a woman to have a baby whether she wants it or not, I have yet to see the law that in anyway inconveniences the man who did the impregnating. Women carry the full burden. Don’t bother pointing out laws that allow the state to enforce child support payments.  Ask any woman with a kid she is trying desperately to raise as a single mother how well that system is working for her. First you’ve got to find the guy. Then you have to do the paternity test. Then you have to go to court to get an order for child support followed almost inevitably by another hearing to get an order to garnish his wages when he doesn’t comply. Yep, it’s a fun filled, rollicking ride down that road of child support. No law forces the father to stay and raise his child, change diapers, go to the ER in the middle of the night for a medical emergency, or help prepare an exploding volcano for show and tell. Nope, all that is the responsibility of the mother forced to bear the child.
Given that conservatives feel government is too intrusive, you have to wonder how they are so comfortable with sending government into that doctor’s office to observe the most private of moments between a woman and her physician. I’m waiting for the day these same conservatives demand a law that says before a man can get Viagra, he has to prove his need by showing his doctor he can’t get an erection without that pill. Then his doctor should be required to send a document to the state confirming that his patient is incapable of functioning as a man without pharmaceutical assistance. Then some government panel should hold open hearings on whether or not that person should be allowed to have sex again by use of the pill and, if so, whether he will be allowed to risk reproducing or should first submit to having a vasectomy.
While this may sound a bit farfetched for some, I guarantee that most women are nodding their heads in silent agreement as they face a world in which men can get pills that keep them sexually active as long as they want and those pills, unlike birth control pills, are required to be covered by insurance. Gee, I wonder who came up with those rules?
So we have a world in which men are encouraged to have sex as often as they want, even if they need a little blue friend to help them, but women are supposed to bear all the responsibility for what can result from those pills. If god forbid a woman gets pregnant, then she will simply have to have that baby because she was clearly too easy in the first place. She needs to be punished. As for the sperm donor who impregnated her, well again, she was clearly too easy and he was just doing what men do if they can.
I would respectfully suggest that until such time as birth control is required to be covered by insurance, Viagra should not be covered either. I would further respectfully suggest that conservatives go find something else to do to occupy their time and not feel it necessary to put their noses into my business with my doctor. Because if you are not willing to fund programs in this state for women and children who are cold, hungry and afraid of what tomorrow may bring, or for women who desperately need access to decent reproductive health care so they can exert some control over when and with whom they have children, then you can’t call yourself pro life. You can only call yourself pro birth.

Elise Patkotak • 03:21 AM •
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I’m doing this a day early for all my Irish friends who will be so busy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day that they won’t remember if I wish them a happy one on the actual day.

Elise Patkotak • 03:26 AM •

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