Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I don’t want to look but I can’t stop. The pictures are horrifying and yet I am mesmerized. I keep thinking that with each picture the reality will hit. But it all looks so unreal. That can’t be the street I used to walk down. That’s a river. That can’t be the Boardwalk where I stroll. It’s an ocean. I watch TV incessantly, I ransack the Internet looking for I don’t know what… for that something that will finally make it all click. But nothing does. My sister and brother and cousins are safe. I can’t ask for more than that. But I want to. I want my sister Judy’s house to be in one piece. And I want my cousins Joe and Robert to be able to go back to the homes they so lovingly crafted for their - dare I say it? - old age. I want to go East for Thanksgiving and sit in the house in Ocean City and have it all be as it was before.
And somewhere in my head I hear a voice screaming, “Nope. No climate change happening here. Just keep moving folks. Nothing here to see or understand.”

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:50 AM •
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
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My sister sent me these pictures of the storm approaching Atlantic City on Sunday as she evacuated to Valley Forge, PA. where they have large malls to keep her happy while the storm wreaks its havoc. Got to say the picture of that house makes me glad I’m too poor to own beach front property.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Monday, October 29, 2012
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She may have been born in Pennsylvania, but she already knows that Alaska is the only place to be.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:05 AM •
Sunday, October 28, 2012
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With a special shout out to all Navy EOD team members. May you stay safe always.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:13 AM •
Saturday, October 27, 2012
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Friday, October 26, 2012

NCIS… NCIS:LA.... my night for imaginary sex.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:09 AM •
Thursday, October 25, 2012

My mother used to tell me stories the circumstances her parents faced when they first emigrated from Italy. Signs on buildings stated, “Italians not allowed”.  Job postings contained the added words, “Italians need not apply”. So when I moved to Barrow and heard stories from friends there about the days, not that long past, when Natives and dogs were both banned from certain establishments, I thought I had a frame of reference that allowed me to understand their pain. But I didn’t, not really.

I’m not sure anyone can have a true frame of reference for what Alaska Natives faced in the “bad old days” unless they too have been judged by the color of their skin or the slant of their eyes while the content of the mind and soul were totally discounted. It left scars on Alaska’s Native people, just as discrimination left scars on so many other people deemed different in America.
AFN works hard to bring Alaska Natives a far distance from those days. It gives them a political voice and the strength that comes with numbers. After Senator Lisa won her write in campaign against Joe Miller in large part because of the solid block of Alaska Native votes she received, it’s hard to conceive of anyone doubting their clout.
Yet in the same week that AFN was once again drawing Native groups from across the state to celebrate their cultures, their spirituality, their dancing, their arts and, perhaps most importantly, their determination to never be viewed as second class citizens again, we heard about a plea deal to give a women one year in jail for killing a Native man as he walked down the street late at night.
When I first saw the headline that said this deal had been reached in the hit and run death of Hubert Tunuchuk from Chefornak, I thought of how the agreement seemed to merely re-enforce the concept of Alaska Native life as somehow just a little cheaper than non-native life. Because given the circumstances of the crime, I think there would have probably been quite a hue and cry if this agreement had been announced in the death of a non-native.
I know nothing about Ashley Bashore. She looks like a fairly nice young lady. She was texting while driving in the dark early morning hours of Easter Sunday a year ago. When she hit “something”, she not only didn’t stop to see what she’d hit, she continued texting. And even if she honestly thought it was a dog she’d hit, something I quite frankly find hard to believe given how many dogs I’ve ever seen on the Tudor Road overpass, what kind of person doesn’t stop and try to help. Any living creature deserves better than to be left to bleed and die alone on the side of the road.
Yes, she was only 19 and probably panicked. But she was calm enough to continue to text. And 19 is not a child. At 19 you should have some sense of responsibility, some sense of the value of life, some sense that there are things in this world more important than you are. So to my mind, the judge was very right to reject a plea deal that belittled the life that was taken.
The picture in the paper of Hubert’s mother hugging Ashley’s mother after the judge rejected the plea is heartbreaking. Both have experienced terrible loss. The difference is that Ashley will eventually go home to her mother. Hubert’s mother will never hold him again. It is a tribute to the strength of Native women that she could reach out to Ashley’s mother at a time when the entire justice system of this state was about to diminish the tragedy of her son’s death. It is entirely in keeping with my experience of so many Alaska Native women I’ve been privileged to know.
AFN was in full progress here in Anchorage when this case came before the judge who rejected the plea deal. It seems serendipitous timing. His ruling reaffirmed that Native life is as valuable and sacred as non-native life. His ruling held at bay a justice system that would belittle Chefornak’s loss. He acknowledged that the dignity and worth of life cuts across all cultural lines.
Good for him.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:04 AM •
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today someone took their stuff OUT of my garage instead of moving more stuff in. Are you listening, Bob?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:39 PM •
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I wake up in the morning surrounded by dogs and stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Carm must quietly bring every toy to bed after I’ve fallen asleep. Santa is there of course. Kept close so that BuddaBubba doesn’t try to steal him. Then there’s his rawhide chew. And his lip toy. And his chicken toy. And his ball.... OMG! And on top of it all is the fact the Carm only falls asleep when he is finally too exhausted to stay awake and guard his stuff from BB - a BB, may I add, who could not care less about Carm’s stuff.
I may soon have to tranquillize him so we can both get a good night’s sleep that does not involve me turning over in bed and causing some toy to squeak loudly, scare the crap out of me and make me sit bolt upright using language that no dog’s ears should ever hear.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:26 AM •
Monday, October 22, 2012

Let the snow fall. And for all you Anchorage drivers waiting for that first snowfall before putting your snow tires on, please remember that snow is still slippery this year just like it was last year so drive slowly to the garage to get your snow tires put on after the first fall.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:04 AM •
Sunday, October 21, 2012
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The only thing wrong with this picture is that Aunt Judy did not make room for Dodger in her lap. Where the hell are her priorities? Oh that’s right. At her age it’s hard to remember things like that, especially when you become a great auntie twice over in less than four days. It’s not nice to mess with an old lady’s mind.
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Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:12 AM •
Saturday, October 20, 2012

She bought the red stuffed Santa doll that has now become Carm’s obsession. It must always be in his mouth or by his side. As I lay in bed last night giving him his goodnight pats, he sat bolt upright with Santa in his mouth, unable to lay down and relax with the pats because to do so would have meant putting Santa down and then BuddhaBubba might get him. So there he sat, trying desperately to keep his eyes opened, holding tightly to Santa, until finally sleep overwhelmed him and Santa dropped from his mouth as his head drooped down and hit the bed… at which point he woke up, grabbed Santa, jumped off the bed and spent the next 30 minutes pacing through the house with Santa trying to find a safe place to stash him. Eventually he returned to the bed, tried to stuff Santa under my pillow and, after I made it clear that wouldn’t happen, curled up with Santa between his legs and relaxed into a restful but guarded sleep.
I am happy to announce that Santa was still there when he awoke this morning and BuddhaBubba thinks Carm is nuts for imagining that BuddhaBubba wants anything to do with Santa… at least, until Carm drops his guard. Then all bets are off.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:05 AM •
Friday, October 19, 2012

There is apparently a new study out that shows that women who routinely eat chocolate tend to be thinner than those who don’t.  Why the hell didn’t my body get that memo?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Although I find myself on the cusp of Romney’s 47% in that I’ve worked my whole life and paid taxes but now do indeed draw a government pension and use Medicare, I can’t shake the feeling that I would fall on the distaff side of his equation. It’s probably best I do. That’s where I’m most comfortable.

The other feeling I can’t shake is that Mitt Romney’s 47% comment itself doesn’t bother me as much as the context in which he made it. There he stood, speaking in front of people for whom $50,000 is an evening’s meal as opposed to an annual salary. When he made those horrible comments about half of America, the people surrounding him seemed to nod or murmur in agreement.  Marie Antoinette would have felt comfortable with that crowd.
If America ever descends into true class warfare, those are the people who will be on the other side of the equation. They eat their $50,000 dinner while ruefully acknowledging that the rest of us do nothing but try to suck off their success. They’ll never truly understand why we don’t take our caps off, tug our forelock while bowing and thank them for the scraps from their table.
I saw a quote recently by William Blum explaining trickle down economics as, “The principle that the poor, who must subsist on table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich bigger meals.” I have no idea who Mr. Blum is or in what context he made that statement. But it certainly rings true. And I’m guessing all those people at Romney’s fundraiser would view it as a simple statement of common sense as opposed to a condemnation of an economic theory that has all but destroyed America’s middle class while elevating the top 1% to levels not seen since the days of the robber barons. And we all know how well that turned out.
There was a time when a politician could forcefully state “Ask not what your country can do for you. Rather ask what you can do for you country” without being labeled a pinko socialist. Since those days we have gone from being a country with an understanding of the common good and the need for us to pull together as one community to a country where the loudest ethos seems to be, “I got mine and I don’t give a damn if you get yours.”
The Preamble to our Constitution speaks to government’s responsibility for the general welfare of its people. In a time when kings ruled and nobility treated everyone else as being put on earth to serve their needs, these two words made America unique among nations because it required the government to work for the common good of all and not just protect the narrow interests of a very specific class such as the rich nobility.
We became a great nation for many reasons but one of the most dominant was that, on paper at least, all people were treated equally, protected equally and viewed equally by their government. Whether they made $100 a year or $100, 000 did not matter. In that voting booth they were equal. When a politician ran for office, he needed to court the poor as well as the rich for that very reason.
So how does a presidential candidate get to state before the voting even begins that he only plans to represent those segments of American society that fit his criteria for deserving representation? And why would anyone believe him when he apologized for the remark after it went public? Common sense seems to make it obvious that Mitt was merely saying something during what he perceived as a private moment that he really thinks but understands can’t be publicly expressed. 
I think Romney truly believes that half this country sucks off the benefits available to them due to the wealth of the other half, with no desire to earn their way. I think he is now even more aware than ever that he shouldn’t say those things aloud, no matter how strongly he believes in them.
The reality is that Mitt was raised in a privileged world most of us will never experience or understand. And vice-versa.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:07 AM •
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last week was a very busy week for me socially. I know this because when I did the wash today I had three pair of black pants and one pair of blue pants in the mix. That, I came to realize as I gazed into my closet, was pretty much my entire wardrobe. If I’d been invited to one more thing I would have been forced to either decline from lack of clothing or do wash on a day not a Saturday. I would have probably declined based on wardrobe malfunction.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 03:18 AM •

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