Denali and I

I’ve stated before that I love Alaska. Which is such a change from  years ago when I couldn’t leave fast enough. I love this state. I love the mountains, I love looking out and seeing those peaks rising from the earth. Fourth of July weekend I got off work on Thursday and Jake had cleaned the car. So we were there with roses and coffee saying, “Meh fuck it, the truck is clean lets go to Denali.”

 

He bought me coffee too!
He bought me coffee too!

Continue reading “Denali and I”

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I Regret Wearing Black

I regret wearing black. I lashed out when Mom asked me if I wanted a green dress. My Grandpa is dead why the fuck would I want something other than black. My soul felt black, I was never going to be happy again.

It was a good death. He basically died at home with my Dad there. He got to say goodbye. He had his wife, his daughter and his oldest son. The last thing I told him was “I’ll be seeing you.” I hugged him and he went to bed. We left the next morning to see my other Grandparents. That small moment we had was the last thing I ever said to him. I cried. I went to the library in their house and looked at his books and I cried. I silently wept. There were people in the house and I couldn’t be weak. My brothers needed me. My Dad needed me. My Mom needed me. Everyone needed me.

We left Colorado a few days after I last saw my Grandpa. I remember the day, I woke up and knew. I just knew. President Obama was sworn in that day. My Mom joked that the reason he died was because he couldn’t deal with having a Democrat in the White House. I walked into my parents bedroom and I looked at my Mom and she explained that he died early in the morning, the boys had no idea, they had already gone to school when she got the call. I had to handle some stuff because she had to go to work, we were leaving that night.

We were still doing laundry from the last trip to Colorado. I finished the laundry, I got my Dad’s uniform ready, fielded calls and handled travel arrangements along with packing for us. I had pots and pots of coffee. I cried, I showered and held on. Keep Calm and Carry on and all that. We arrived in Colorado and all of us Alaskans started to roast. It was 40 below zero when we left, it was a beautiful 60 degrees above zero when we arrived. Too many clothes.

60 degrees, light wind, it was a perfect winter day Grandpa Ray would have loved. We all sat on the porch and just enjoyed each other, the funeral was in a day, we still had time. I lashed out in Ross when we went to get funeral attire. I settled on a beautiful black dress and black heels. I wish I had kept them, but I couldn’t deal with keeping them. Keeping the reminder of what I lost. I wore my shoes a few times after the funeral, but all I could think was death shoes.

When we got to the funeral home, the flowers adorned the altar, the black heels of the women scuffed the carpet. My eyes were swollen and watering. The music lifted into the rafters. There was nothing more to be done. Flowers, check. Mourners, check. Grandpa’s life in pictures, check, actually, double check. We had so many pictures.

My tearing eyes and running nose were because I was allergic to all of the flowers on the altar. Everyone else was crying and above the sobs, all that was heard was one girl’s allergic reaction to the entire funeral. Sneezing, coughing…so much pollen.

I knew I was going to lose it soon, though. Especially after the outburst in Ross. Tears would be forming because of the flowers and the fact that my Grandpa is dead. My cousin Sarah was crying her eyes out on my lap. Then I heard someone say, “Ray said, no moping, so we aren’t going to mope”.

I knew that my Grandpa would want me to wear a bright red dress not this black and laugh. He always taught me that laughing is the best thing you can do in life, besides loving with all your heart and being true to you. He said, “Never do anything half assed” and by the powers above I was going to really laugh. I was going not going to just politely giggle; I was going to laugh loudly. I was going to remember him like everyone else.

Sobs subsided and turned into laughter. We all remembered the fun times of losing to him at poker, even after he had a few Manhattans. Remembering how much he loved Manhattans, period. We laughed at my Grandma’s beehive hair, but my memory is when we’d sit by the stereo in his office and put in some Jazz.

Jazz has always been part of my upbringing, but he loved jazz. He was a student of music, despite his Oil and Tax accountant exterior, inside he was a jazz musician. We listened to Billie Holiday and his favorite Miles Davis. Music was our connection, our combined passion. We shared music, I gave him music like Cheap Trick and he gave me Billie Holiday. When I hear that music now, I think of him and as I told him goodbye for the last time, in the words of Billie Holiday, “I’ll be seeing you”.

I Wear Perfume to the Gun Range

My Mother always said, “Everyone has a gift.” I never really thought writing was my gift. I mean anyone can make a sentence. Turns out that I do have a skill I’m a pretty decent shot. We went to the outdoor range twice a few weekends ago. I loved it. I wore my bright pink tank top and adorable shorts and my Tevas. It was sunny, slight breeze, with the smell of hot lead being pumped down range.

Oh it was amazing.

Now here’s the thing… sometimes the range is iffy. Real gung-ho types and I’m not about that. I wanna go to the range and not get ogled I just want to send led down range, you know blow up some cans. I feel more comfortable with the old Alaskan types than the younger guys there. I wouldn’t ever go with out Jake, but, we have a great time when we go to the outdoor range.I love to go to the range. Even when I can’t shoot anymore I enjoy watching Jake shoot.

Alaskan girls are a different breed. We wear our plaid shirts un-ironically, we wear Carhartts, no one really cares here if you shave. In the middle of winter when its -40 and you live in a dry cabin seriously no one gives a shit. I adore this. I love this. One thing that we do however is wear our pretty necklaces and wear perfume to the range. I’m not the only girl to do this. I have seen quite a few women at the range and we smile and wave in camaraderie and I detect notes of perfume. (My favorite is: Very Irresistible by Givenchy)

It’s something that makes me grin. No matter how rough and tumble we are we still enjoy those something very girly. I love this place.

On that note I’m going to put the scope on my rifle. Range date today.

Fridges

Our fridge is white. It’s not coming with us to Florida. It’s UAF’s fridge, but, we have made it ours. There are pictures on it, notes, bills to pay, spices on top in a spindle, there are mementos of a life lived together and apart. We have food to nourish our voracious appetite for good food and entertaining. It’s the photos on the fridge, not the schedule and to do lists, that show the life lived here. As we start to close out our life here, tallying what to sell the more I realize how I cling to photos.

Photographer and writer by trade and degree, this is what I have always wanted to do. I developed a love for photography early on in life. I used up what I had in nickles and dimes to get my film developed. Because I’m old enough to have had film cameras for more of my life than digital. I love capturing moments that will be put on a fridge somewhere. Happy moments with sad context, pure happiness, graduation announcements, all of it. I love all the stories being told and not being told in any given photo.

I love looking at photos of Jake and seeing his smile radiate through his eyes, also his very perfect white, straight teeth aren’t bad to look at either. I love seeing him in his uniform, seeing the pride. I love seeing my Mom and Dad so happy after 25 years together. I love all these pictures.

In my house everything happened in the kitchen. Good news, bad news, everything. That’s why I adore the kitchen so much. That and that’s where the cookies & ice cream is! I can’t wait to great new memories this summer to fill our fridge in Florida with good Alaskan Salmon and on the outside fill it with pictures of a life well lived.

Alaska and Books: My Loves

I slept in late yesterday. Husband shut off the alarm and kissed me goodbye before he left for work. Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Land of the Midnight Sun. I’m not joking even with the clouds, you could see for miles and miles. The Alaska Range was in stunning form. The sun was warm, as was the breeze, there was so much to be happy about.

That’s the thing, I was happy, content, calm. I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t panicked. I was just being in the moment. A rarity for me and I realized while I was looking for fresh produce at market how beautiful this place is. How wonderful my life is. I was able to get a small massage got some knots worked out, I got a pedicure and the best part: I made my husband a snack for class and was able to sun tan outside with an amazing book.

I love reading about heroics in war. It’s something that has always interested me. I texted my Mom explaining how much I love this book, We Band of Angels.

Me: “I wish I could be this brave.”

Mom: “Seriously? You are!”

Me: “I don’t think I could do what they did.”

Mom: “You totally have been one of them. Mostly because it would have made me mad.”

I laughed because it’s fairly true. I love my Mom, I’d do anything for her, but, also, anything to make her annoyed. I’m an awful daughter, ok, a normal daughter. As she went on to explain that I would have done it because she would have wanted me to be a wife, a mother, and I would have wanted anything but. I would have had a career to get out of having kids. No ties down. We joked a bit about how I’d marry a sailor on leave in Australia and how frighteningly true that could have been.

(Jake, my husband, and I had a plan to join the Australian Navy before we got married. So if that plan had happened our wedding would have been while he was on leave…in Australia. So there is some truth to that joke.)

This book and this day made an impact on me today though. While reading I thought about how perfect of a day it has been, how sunny and free of problems. These women had dead to deal with, wounded screaming for pain killers they didn’t have. I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Such a stark contrast, between my day and their days. I can’t wait to send this book on to another reader. Let someone else have their life impacted by this story.

As for stories a young girl’s story was ended yesterday. One of my Baby Brother’s friends. She and her friend, who is in critical condition, were in a massive car crash. They just graduated, senior summer, the summer before the rest of your life, and hers was cut short.

It’s so devastating. Heartbreaking. A life taken so soon. You will be missed Elizabeth. .

Graduation

I graduated. Finally did it. I DID IT! I’m so proud of myself for it. Now begins the hope that someone will hire me. I’m still unsure about what I want to do. I have no idea what I’m suppose to do, what I’m meant to do. Just do in general. Currently, I’d like to be on a beach somewhere.

I’d like to do something that involves the military. That’s been my whole life and I’d like to continue being apart of that community. I think I found a job in Tampa that I desperately want. It is a job at the Wounded Warrior Project. I found it accidentally while search online and I believe I have found the job. THE JOB that I could be amazing at.

I have this awful, awful, habit of getting down on myself. So job searching makes me break into tears something fierce. All I see is my beautiful college degree being utterly worthless. It can be horribly heartbreaking. (I cry a lot because I’m a big baby. Wine and chocolate helps job searching.) I love my degree and what I got my degree in. I think it’s valuable, just sometimes I get down on myself.

I applied for the job and I’m waiting to hear back. I’m also looking at other jobs. Not pinning all my hopes on this job. As much as I want it. Such is the life of job searching.

Back to cover letters.

Ybor City and I

It was Ybor City that changed my mind about going home. I loved the vibe of the place. The history, everything about it. It was Clearwater and the phone call from my Dad that our truck was broke. Really broke. Expensive broke. I turned to Jake and said, “Lets never go home. Let’s stay on this beach.”

We did go home. Just FYI, couldn’t stay on the beach.

There was a lot of time spent in Ybor. I adored looking at the old cigar factories. I could hear the stories. The cobblestone streets, the amount of things to do, everything about it. It was a failing and they turned it around to into something that is thriving.

The whole trip home we talked about is moving to Florida. No Birch trees, none of my big allergies. We talked about if we had found our new home. We threw around some places. Had to be close-ish to the university, cheaper side of things, can’t afford no $300,000 place. I’m also not opposed to working on a house. I want something that I could call my own.

His parents are possibly coming up here. We might go down there. It’s an interesting upcoming summer. Smoke has been flitting into town so my summer here is up in the air. I mean that literally. I can’t handle the forest fires, so, my summer is up in the air due to air particulates.  I’d love to have one more summer here. I adore this state. I wish I could stay.

So…Florida here we come.

I should start working out.

Rainy Days & Sunshine

“Where you going baby car?! I wanna follow you and find out what type of person drives you.” Jake shouted to a Smart Car. He has a strange obsession with Smart Cars.

This began our first day alone in Tampa. Little white car, Frozen playing on the radio, and a rain storm. Lets talk about a few things first:

  • Jake and I travel well together
  • A little rain means something different to people
  • Old Book Stores and wine help bad moods

Singing on our way to Tampa, getting passed by cars going 6 billion miles an hour. No big deal. We were having fun.

Parking in a big city is a nightmare. I though Anchorage was bad, GOOD HEAVENS, with the honking too, Tampa sucked. Till we found a nice parking garage. That’s when the wind picked up.

Oh did it pick up. Did you know that even the locals were calling it hurricane weather. Obviously, I had to go outside because there was lighting and thunder and I was giddy. wet stairs

We were downtown Tampa we weren’t seeing very many tourist spots, most everything was closed. I mean it seems Florida shuts down on Monday. After wandering around we found a very nice wine bar, whereupon we discovered the various rules of alcohol licensure. (apparently, it’s a separate license to sell wine, who knew?)

We walked around, again I should mention that it’s pouring, all I have on is a running jacket; we are soaked. We found the Photography Museum…closed, because it’s Monday. (disclosure: everything closes at 5pm as well.) Finally, as I was starting to get fed up and annoyed, we found coffee and an old book shop.

Jake and I are huge readers. We have more books than anything else in this world. We love the written word so walking into this shop was amazing. You could smell the old book smell. The dust, musty vanilla, hints of coffee, it was beautiful. So many books, not enough time to intake all the knowledge that is bound in leather covers.

A book store (and getting out of the rain) really puts me in a great mood. There isn’t much about a book store that doesn’t lift my spirits. I actually walked out with out a book, but, just being there was wonderful. Finally, we went towards home and the shopping center. Mama wanted more Victoria’s Secret!  (I should mention the clothes I brought on the trip didn’t fit at all so I HAD to get new ones.)

DSC_0031Dinner at home, a nice evening on the Florida Lanai with his parents telling stories was a fitting end to the day that was mired in rain and closed museums.

 

 

Things we learned:

Jake’s idea of a little rain isn’t a little. It’s a downpour. The more you know.

 

 

Bones, State of the Union and Afghanistan

I love the TV show Bones. I’m currently watching the show. The case is involves a victim of September 11th. Doesn’t matter what, anytime, 9/11 is mentioned in a show or a book, I still get chills. I remember watching the towers fall. I remember my Dad going into work. (We were military.) I remember being so scared, but, going to school anyways and telling everyone about it.

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