Monday, December 27, 2010


Take me back in the day when loving was pure
Love ain't going away, love is always secure
Life's not always perfect but love's always forever
Lets let true love connect lets try lasting forever

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my all
I'm so ready to give til' the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman can possibly be
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden

Be the man of my dreams and get down on one knee, love
Say you'll be all I need and then ask me to marry you, my love
Lets take two golden bands and lets walk down the isle, love
I'll say I do and you'll say I do, make a golden commitment, oh

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my whole all
and I'm so ready to give til' the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman could possibly be, yes I will
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden

Let's last forever (let's last forever)
No typical american shady love
Let's stay together (let's stay together)
Pray God smile upon ours

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my whole all
and I'm so ready to give til' the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman could possibly be, yes I will
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden

I'm so ready to love, I'm so ready to promise my whole all
and I'm so ready to give til' the day that my life is no more
I'll be everything that this woman could possibly be
Cause I'm ready to be like the olden days when commitment was golden
oh oh my
Golden love
Cause commitment is golden
Mmm mmm
These were the lyrics to Adam and I's first dance. I love them not only because he picked it out, but because i think that they are really and truly beautiful. you should youtube it and listen to her sing the song...its stunning.

Today is the first day of Bar prep. Clearly, i'm extremely focussed. In fact, I'm so excited to be studying that there is a very real possibility i will walk to the post office a couple blocks down the street in the 9 degree F weather just for a break. Hello Alaska, I can see we are going to have a complicated relationship.

Here's another picture :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

i know you are waiting....

so to tide you over...
1. here's the groom with my girls
2. and me with my boys

Monday, December 13, 2010

family togetherness

my fam has been here for a week. we went adventuring on the hood canal. we've eaten yummy home cooked meals. we've watched LOTS of TV. we've done a lot of wedding prep. also, we went to the grocery store. oh the grocery store. i forgot how overwhelming it is to come from a place with 2 choices to a place where there are 25 kinds of chips. as we were leaving, the nice sample lady offered us some of their new snazzy cupcakes. intrigued as to what the reaction of my dad would be i called him over. He obligingly took the maple bacon cupcake. when the nice sample lady asked what i thought, he informed her they were not good and that he:
" is a conservative, you know, a Neo-Con. We don't like change.  For example, cupcakes don't belong at breakfast and bacon doesn't belong on cupcakes."
my mom rejected the lavender one it might just be that QFC has gross cupcakes. she's convinced that's the only reason they were giving away samples.

oh me oh my.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ready, set, go

i've never been one to do just one thing at a time---so this past week, the following happened:
  1. two presentations went well...i think :)
  2. my client signed her final documents--yay.
  3. my sister anna arrived and hung through three going away parties.
  4. my work peoples treated me like gold...which i don't deserve. I am endlessly grateful for their love, support, enthusiasm for my choices, and great humor.
  5. suzanne and terry threw the best Hawaiian send off to Alaska ever. i couldn't have asked for anything more and when i get the pictures of me in the ridiculous glasses john and nancy jo got me, i will post them immediately.
  6. i'm pretty sure i'm going to have a panic attack on wed when i figure out there's no more school, no more work and just a week and a half till i embark on what is no doubt going to be the toughest and most rewarding challenge of my life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

sisters and snow.

I'm counting down the days till my sister, Anna, arrives. Less than a week! There are a couple interesting turns of events:
  1. Anna does not like anything below 70 F. Since it is presently 18F outside, we are going to have to go shopping ASAP for warm things. Lucky for Anna, the fact that i live on the top floor in an apartment that traps heat is a great thing. No heater on and still over 70.
  2. Anna decided to bring some friends with her on this trip. Apparently, ala travelocity gnome, she and her girlfriends are taking plush things with them on their holidays. So, what does my ingenious little sister decide is the best and funniest thing she can think of:

    Yes, Anna thinks taking Ebola to Seattle and the Black Death to Israel is about the funniest joke EVER.

  3. We had a bit of a blizzard on Monday. Seems Alaska is intent on coming here if I'm not there. This makes Adam insanely grumpy because he desperately wants snow to play in up there and the winter is, thus far, VERY dry.
  4. One week till all i have left is an exam!

Friday, November 19, 2010

one month

Till i acquire the following:
  1. JD
  2. MRS
  3. ANC
So excited for friends, family, fun and finishing!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

on birthdays and marriage

it's birthday season in the our immediate familia. The parental and youngest sister all have birthdays in just over a week span.

the first two belong to these:

Usually i write some schmoopy things, but today I want to honor the fact that my parents have been married for well over three and a half decades--that's over 35 birthday's together. They are quite different personalities, joined together by their love of each other and focus on the spiritual nature of their lives. Having this example of stability is one of the things I am most appreciative to them for. What they have demonstrated is that unconditional love really is unconditional--you love people through locations you don't like (NC), bad perm hair styles, pocket protectors, crazed children, and around the world adventures. 

I am epically grateful and miss seeing them everyday more than i ever expected.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

windstorms and strange clouds

Here's a list of crazy things that have happened in the last week:
  1. I saw my first moose-in-a-neighborhood. Here Moosey is:
  2. As I was leaving Anchorage, there must have been snow falling on Hillside at sunset. The result was a fuschia curtain over part of the city that already looked totally steel blue with white snowy mountaintops. It was amazingly beautiful and taught Adam and I to carry the camera EVERYWHERE.
  3. Last night there was a crazy windstorm and at one point I thought all the windows in the apartment might cave in. This prompted a need to make stew for dinner tonight :) I can't tell you why those are connected....just that they are.
The truth is that I really enjoyed Anchorage. The weather is drier there and so low 30s feel more like mid 40s in Seattle. Again, no explanation for that, just how it is. The wind, however, is mighty chilly and I think a balaclava is in my future (that face covering thing....not to be confused with Baklava). We are into the final push folks. Anna arrives in two weeks, my parents in three, and Adam in four. I am absolutely thrilled that friends and family from around the world will be pouring in and cannot wait to show them the city we have been calling home for the last four years. I also cannot wait to get started with our life in Anchorage, find a job, and learn to cross-country ski.  Bring on the snow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

6 hrs.....

I'm grateful to Mitch---he's taking me to the airport on his way home from work. I'm taking three suits (one of them is not mine and i suspect its owner is not going to be able to abstain from wearing it before our wedding, but he insisted that i bring it so he can get a matching shirt), a xbox and kinect (devin rocks), and all the papers i could possibly need to write a paper on NAGPRA/ANCSA.

Here's what it looks like today (that's the stunning Alaska Mountain range in the background---i think its Denali Nat'l Park??) Click on it to make it MEGA.

Adam says my stilettos are a bad plan. Hmm. so i bought new boots, but they don't match my suit. Apparently, i'm meant to wear my snow boots to the door and then change into my cute shoes. *skeptical look**

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

T-48 hrs

Till i get on a plane to go see this in person:
Photo credit: Mark Torgerson, Eagle River, AK

Friday, November 5, 2010

magical hourglasses

Yes, I am going to continue incessantly putting up webcam pics of Anchorage. I don't have anything else to put of pictures of and pictures make my blogging MUCH better.

Anchorage 9:30am
You know in Harry Potter when he's talking to that professor who collects people and they are talking about the funky hourglass the sands of which stop flowing when conversation is good?? Well, I wish I could make the sand in my hourglass slow down just the tiniest bit so that I could feel like I have my feet under me.  Every time I turn around another week has gone by and I am one more week closer to graduation and wedding without having gotten through 90% of what I need to.

My lovely and supportive friends are all gracious in offering to help; but unfortunately, none of them can write a paper on the nature of Alaska Native corporations in NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) because of ANCSA (Alaska Native claims settlement act) or go take my Remedies exam for me. Nor can they train not one but two replacements in the upcoming weeks at work or go knock 'um dead in my interviews trip to Anchorage this coming week.

Anchorage 8:30am
My lovely work friend Stacey is originally an Anchorage girl and is being VERY kind and letting me raid her parent's garage and borrow her cross country skis for the winter (located in ANC). That save a bundle of money and means that if it turns out cross-country is not for me then no harm no foul. Let the winter adventures begin!! 

It's crazy to think that in 52 days we will be official married and calling Alaska home.

Tell me what makes time fly and slow down for you...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

swimming and ignorance

At work, I do some minor things with a drowning prevention network. This came across our listserv today and I think it is valuable for everyone. Please share.

by Naji Ali
November 1, 2010

To be honest, I just sat there staring out at the water. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard from the woman sitting next to me.

“Look” she continued, “I’m not saying it, but my friends say that black people don’t have the buoyancy to be swimmers.”

There had been studies done in the 50s and 60s that claimed that since black athletes on average tend to have less body fat than their white counterparts, they would be poor swimmers since body fat creates buoyancy. Those studies have since been thoroughly debunked.

But nonetheless here I sat on the dock of my swim club listening to someone defending the accuracy of those studies.

At that very moment all the frustration that had consumed me over this topic came boiling to the surface. Here I am, an African-American man, an open water long distance swimmer, living in the age of Obama (and in San Francisco no less), having overcome unspeakable racism while living in South Africa during the apartheid years, here I am still having to hear these ridiculous explanations on why blacks can’t swim.

“So,” I responded, trying to measure my words without invoking profanity, “If your logic is to be believed, then explain to me why Cullen Jones is such a phenomenal swimmer. Shouldn’t he be sinking like a stone?”

No answer. I continued:

“What about Charles Chapman, the first African American to cross the English Channel back in 1981 and did it with the butterfly stroke no less? What about him? Surely he should have drowned after swimming for over 12 hours, right? Maybe the water can tell the difference— maybe it knows who’s black, white, Asian, or Latino. Do you think the water knows?”

She looked on and tried to explain herself again, stumbling to say that she was not racist (I never believed so), that I had misunderstood her intent, but by then I had heard enough and excused myself and walked off to cool down.

It is because of this story that I was asked to write a bit about black people and our relationship to water.

A Brief History Lesson

While it is true that many African Americans do not connect with swimming, we do have an amazingly rich swimming history that dates back to pre-slavery days in Africa. And the impact of swimming on the Civil Rights Movement toward the demise of the Jim Crow laws of the South was enormous.

Before the slave trade began, Africans living in coastal communities were observed by early European explorers to be excellent swimmers.

Bruce Wigo, Director and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has been chronicling the origins of swimming and blacks. Wigo, in a video entitled “A History Lesson,” found on the website, speaks about a picture drawn in 1884 by a European settler that depicts an African doing the “Australian crawl.” But as Wigo points out in the video, “The only difference between what that African is doing in the picture and the Australian crawl is that the Australian crawl wasn’t invented yet.”

Lee Pitts, Jr., in an article entitled, “Black Splash: The History of African-American Swimmers,” wrote about a number of remarkable achievements by blacks in swimming. Pitts writes of one that is truly striking to think about:

“In 1679, when a slave ship wrecked off Martinique, an African slave whose name is lost to history, reached shore after swimming for sixty hours, an aquatic feat of survival that rivaled Homer’s Ulysses and was a record of endurance swimming that was not matched by white men for almost 300 years.”

Let that sink in for a moment. No pilot boat, no food or drink, choppy water, and swimming in a predatory environment, yet this person managed to reach shore.

In the same article, Pitts expounds on another piece of history that most people are unfamiliar with. Most of us remember reading about Harriet Tubman and her famous Underground Railroad. But how many of us know where that title originated? Pitts writes:

“The Underground Railroad got its name when a slave named Tice Davids escaped from Kentucky in 1831 and swam across the Ohio River to freedom in Ripley, Ohio. According to legend, Davids’ owner was chasing Davids in a boat when he lost sight of his swimming slave. Thinking Davids must have drowned, he remarked to his companions with a sarcastic smirk that his slave must have taken an ‘underground railroad.’ The comment was reported in the press and the term has been with us ever since.”

Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures

But these great swimming feats came at a price for black swimmers.

Knowing that they were losing “valuable product” due to their slaves’ propensity to swim, slave owners began taking drastic steps to protect their property. One of these steps was to instill a fear of the water by dunking disobedient slaves in water until they nearly drowned and by creating fear through stories of creatures living in the water. Thus it didn’t take long to excise or destroy the West African swimming tradition from African- American culture. The Jim Crow laws that were enacted after The Civil War prohibited blacks from the popular seaside resorts in places like Atlantic City, N.J. and Revere Beach, Mass. And by the 20th Century, as the swimming pool began to gain in popularity in the United States, the color line prohibited blacks from enjoying this pleasant recreational skill.

In addition, self-segregation also played a role in limiting those of African ancestry from getting in the water. I remember my Aunt saying to stay away from the pool because, “black folk don’t swim.”

What my Aunt told me made sense to a lot of black folk, if you steered clear of the water you wouldn’t drown. Right? Sadly this attitude is one of the principle reasons for drowning deaths amongst African-American children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the drowning rate in the African-American community amongst children between the ages of 5 and 14 is 2.6 times higher than their white counterparts. Overall, nine people per day drown in the United States; six out of the nine are people of color.

But fear is not the only factor keeping black people out of the water – financial consideration has made things challenging. Consider that even if a child wants to learn to swim and doesn’t have a fear of the water, many of the most vulnerable do not have parents that can afford lessons, swimsuits, gear and transportation. And even though we now have a black president, it doesn’t mean that we’ve moved past the issue of racism. I get a lot of comments from folks at my own swim club asking why more black people aren’t members or swim in open water. I always reply that we never felt welcomed. And we don’t feel welcomed simply because no one ever took the time out to invite us. Why would we come? We need look no further than the events that happened to a group of camp kids from Philadelphia who were denied entrance into an all-white country club this last year to know how far we have to go.

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps, but its not like these issues just sprang up overnight. Its impressive that USA Swimming is putting money into teaching swim lessons to kids of color in low-income communities with their Make-A-Splash Program, but where were they all those years during Jim Crow, or the 70s, 80s, and even 90s?

Why is that of the hundreds of thousands that are members of USA swimming, less than three percent are people of color?

Simple, we don’t feel welcomed. And as long as this is the perception that drowning rate figure by the CDC will remain constant, and possibly grow.

So What Can We Do?

When I speak truth to power about the disparity of drowning in the African-American community I always get the same question, “So what can we do about all this?”

One obvious thing to remember is that we need to stop looking at swimming as a sport first. We need to approach it as a life skill much the same way as eating, reading, writing, walking or any other thing we take for granted is. When I speak to parents about the need for their children to swim I emphasize that not only is swimming a great sport, but also a valuable life-skill. This is usually when eyebrows are raised and I say, “Did you know that the Earth is two-thirds water? Did you know that if your child learns to swim he/she is not only preventing another drowning, but also has access to employment in fields such as lifeguarding, the military, swim coaching, firefighting, law enforcement, SCUBA diving, underwater photography and a host of other jobs that require swimming skills?”

Another thing that I feel is important is to have more role models in swimming. Cullen Jones is a good start for the younger generation, but they should know about folks who have contributed mightily to swimming that come from our community.

Jim Ellis, the coach of the PDR swim club based in Philadelphia (Whom the 2007 movie “Pride” was based on) has been churning out national and Olympic swimmers for nearly 30 years.

Annual swim meets like the Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet held in North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend brings together some of the finest age group swimmers in the country to compete. The meet has grown from 10 teams and 104 swimmers in 2003 to 29 teams and 758 swimmers in 2009. While all are welcomed to compete, the meets emphasis is to reduce the drowning rate of black children and encourages children to swim competitively.

The Josh Project, founded by Wanda Jean-Butts, whose son drowned in 2006, offers free swim lessons to low income children and is planning on building a center in the not-to-distant future so that those who wish to swim competitively can be in an environment that fosters their potential.

These are just a few of the folks that I know who are making a difference in their communities. We’ve come a long way to dealing with this issue, but we still have a long way to go.

Often when I talk to parents about the value of their children learning to swim I hear this common refrain, “Swimming is a white folks sport; we got basketball, football, tennis, and even golf now!” And I always smile and respond, “Yes you’re right. But – as far as I know – no one ever died not knowing how to make a lay up, throw a tight spiral, volley at the net, or shoot three under par.”

Naji Ali is a long distance open water swimmer based in San Francisco. He and his business partner, Ron Chism, are planning on introducing young African American and Latino youth to open water swimming in the spring of 2011. In 2013 Ali will be making a solo attempt of The Cook Strait.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Good Morning Anchorage--it appears it finally snowed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

today's chat with my mama

Lissa cracks me up.

Today, she asked whether we had bought a SAD (seasonal affective disorder)  lamp yet. It's a full spectrum lamp meant to help with Vitamin D deficiency, etc. It was one of the conditions upon which they were ok with Adam and I moving to AK. Here's what followed on gchat:

me: he [Adam]'s supposed to be getting that and my parka.

Melissa: and thermal unders
and warm gloves and socks
and scarfs and other stuff to make you look like one of the South Park kids (a nice South Park kid--if there is such a thing)

We miss you Q.

Friday, October 29, 2010



Thursday, October 28, 2010

impending graduation

We had to order cap and gown this week. It triggered some fear, I gotta tell you. In undergrad I made a tragic error. When my Arabic professor asked me what grade I "deserved" I made the mistake of telling him the truth. I like languages, they come easily, I could have done more = B+. Low and behold, even though I killed the exam, the man gave me a B+ and i missed cum laude by the GPA distance between my honesty and an A-. I kicked myself for weeks. My early adventures in university level academia had been less than stellar--my class attendence was impeded by the Illinois winters. So, the fact that I fought my way back to nearly cum laude kinda broke my heart. In irritation, I blew off graduation and went to New Zealand to hang out with my best friend.

Now, 8 years later, another graduation is on the horizon. This one I will attend. I've earned it. Besides, who can resist getting to wear this get up:

The Doctoral regalia consists of the following pieces:
  1. Cap/Tassel: puffy and round as opposed to the stiff square ones worn in undergrad.
  2. Gown: usually black (ours are) with three velvet stripes on the sleeves and stripes down the front. 
  3. Hood: the circular fabric that hangs from my neck down my back. Honestly, it doesn't look much like a hood. It is ceremonially placed on as a sign of graduation. In my case, because Adam graduated from the same law school--he will come on stage to put mine on with a professor, seriously making my graduation a family affair. 

Luckily, my graduating class is only about 40-50 people :) and I get to invite everyone I want. Thus, my hope for a very large, very loud, cow bell plus cheering section the day before the wedding. Here's to being 5 weeks shy of done with university forever.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

too many choices, too much time

Clearly, I am struggling with color scheme. I am also struggling with things like:
  1. deciding what to eat for dinner
  2. deciding whether or not to unbury the other half of my bed from the pile of books, clothes and bags; and
  3. deciding whether i want to buy a purple boa for halloween
If you have opinions on any of those, or anything else you want to share, please feel free.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

birthdays galore.

The last few days have been crazy birthday-ness. Two of them were too far away :(, but i made up for that by partying in Belltown till the clubs closed with one Dizzy D. So, here go my birthday honorings:

1. Jobi.
I have no idea how this guy went from the king of the Seattle party scene to settled down father of two boys, but i'm going to give the credit to his beautiful wife, because i fully believe it to be her good doing. It's been 17 years and i still can't quite explain the depth of this guy's soul. I'm super proud of him over the last few years--especially related to his work with teenagers :)

I stole all these pics from Facebook. for the record.

2. Dizzy D
If it weren't for this guy, i wouldn't have number three on the list. This one convinced me moving to Seattle would be a good idea. He's also one of my favorite partners in crime for flower watching and trouble causing. In fact, he did earn the nickname "trouble" from a lovely lady named "big mama", so you know it must be gospel. and, true to tradition, he took to the dance floor at Karma to birthday breakdance :). one of these previous birthday breaking adventures ended in him windmilling into a desk, killing a computer and his watch in the process....this time we were all better off.

3. Fiance.
Yeah. that's all i need to say about that. Happy Birthday, baby. Last one apart.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foggy, yes me, but also the morning

UW Intramural Field in the fog.
Lately, in the morning, the air is crisp, the car is covered with dew and there is fog weaving through the city. For anyone who isn't familiar with Seattle, it is hilly. Like, San Fran hilly. Like, shut down the streets if there is snow or ice hilly. So, fog winds its way around the 7 or so big hills, following the water and freeways. From on top of one of the hills it looks like a cotton blanket--deceivingly warm looking.

This is this morning. Because of my class schedule and the fact that Obama is in town, I parked on campus. I drove past this lovely UW field with folks headed to get in the monstrous line to hear the President speak.

Things are good. Keep your toes crossed everything's on the up and up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Occupation pre-occupation

I'm glad he still loves me because I am a creature obsessed. I am obsessed with compulsively checking my email (even on sunday) to see if the job Gods have shined down on me and given me interviews (2 real, 2 informational so far). The reason this is silly is that my phone beeps whenever there's an email---so there's no reason to sit like a crazy person clicking refresh. In between clicks, I spend the better part of the day repeating this mantra: "Dear God, i've been really good lately--i'm swearing less, been quitted smoking for almost two years, and haven't made anyone cry in a long time, so, please please please, let these people in Alaska like me and at least be willing to have me interview."  Adam likes to point out the futility of bargaining with the universe, but since I think his karma bank is fuller than mine, I'm going to stick to pretending the universe's job market is a souk that I can barter my way in/out of.
photo credit: t. mickler
Actually, the real problem is more basic. I am, all my ladies put your hands up, an independant woman. I have made my own money for a long time. I work hard. I pay my credit cards off monthly, put some dinero in savings, bills are always paid and I can comforatbly buy baby toys for my bff's still as yet unseen daughter or naughty gifts for my high school roommate's wedding. These student loans for law school are a nasty thorn in my side, but one I realize I would have been hard pressed to get around.

So here it is: The idea of being without employment or insurance FREAKS ME OUT.

I want to feel like a responsible grown-up who can hold her own and contribute evenly to our marriage. I crave the security of knowing that if i can manage to pass the bar then there will be a job with my name on it. Now, if you would all please join me in repeating my mantra changing the I-whatevers to Mar-whatevers, I will be eternally grateful and you can come stay in Anchorage anytime to look for mooses.

And speaking of Obession---here's one of my favorite bachata songs by Aventura.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hole 17: Frisbee Golf

Date: October 12, 2010
Location: Kincaid Park, Anchorage, AK
Adam and Josh were on Hole: 17
Large Obstacles: 3
Solution: Skip hole 17

Monday, October 11, 2010


My girl Layli posted this---and I am epically grateful. Tradition, especially based on prejudice or nonsense ha no place in our society. I'm tired of honoring those who's legacy is more destruction than good. I hope you, too, will reconsider.

Monday, October 4, 2010

proof of life

photo by: Dhabih Eng
location: Puget Sound, Amy & Manh's wedding
I'm thinking: Oh, Dhab, it's kinda chilly and you are taking pictures.....this can't possibly be a good combo.
But: it seems to have not been a horrible combo.

ps. my fiance's very handsome.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Recomendation: Fifty Miles from Tomorrow

One of the great loves my of my law school career has been learning about legal progress made towards providing rights (land and otherwise) to the Indian and Alaska Native communities. Clearly, my knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing these communities is extremely limited and i have appreciated the opportunities to learn.  One arena in which i would like to work professionally is in Alaska Native Law and a substantial part of that is dominated by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) which officially awarded (ed: it was already theirs thanks for codifying) 44 million acres of land to the Alaska Natives. Rather than having reservations as in the lower 48, the tribal groups or group conglomerates created corporations which control the lands/profits/etc.

This book:
Is pretty incredible. It is written by a brilliant man who was at the center of the push to establish land claims. Hensley served in state government and has been an incredible lobbyist and influence among government and his people--to secure their rightsand also to secure their culture under the rapidly increasing pressures of white influence/decimation of the native way of life. It is both a beautiful glimpse of life in rural Alyeska and a profound commentary on the journey of a man and a people.

You cannot go wrong reading this.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the source of today's happiness

this guy comes tomorrow...

For a whopping 46 hours, but I'm super excited because it is the last time he's coming before the wedding....which means, we are meeting with the officiant, going to see the Mariners, and going to a friend's wedding on a cruise around Seattle.  I'm a little freaked out because I am giving the welcome speech and introduction explaining the Baha'i marriage ceremony.  If you have had experience giving those talks, let me know.

But freaked out or not....i get to be with Adam :)  Crazy pic huh?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rooeinday---aka becoming an "Citizen" as an adult

My dear friend Rooein came to the US about 12 years ago. He went to school here, worked, then graduated from law school. He learned all of our strange slang (although some of still eludes him) and eats all of our strange food. And this past week, Roo became one of us.  He bought himself an american flag tie and got all sworn in. We threw a proper BBQ with flags and lots of Apple Pie (although Celeste's homemade one was by far the best) since that's what US folks eat.

It left me thinking about it means to be a citizen of a country. Strangely, whenever i hear the word "citizen" i think i'm in some futuristic sci-fi move rather than real life. Obviously, i struggle pretty hard with this concept because in general i like to see myself as a "world citizen"--although i recognize the power my little blue passport yeilds. I grew up singing songs that started "i'm proud to be an american, where at least i know i'm free...." that honored our military. I'm not sure if it was because we lived in a state wtih a strong military presence, because my father's side were military, or because i was just honestly more patriotic as a kid--but i loved that song. I still know all the words. I don't think i know all the words to the national anthem, however.

Speaking of things i don't know, and luckily don't have to. Roo had to past some test about our history i guarentee you i cannot pass---nor can probably 75% of US Citizens. I think it is stuff you learn in high school---and of course, i went to high school in Canada. 

So, tell me what it means to you to be a citizen of a country...what kinds of responsibilities/privileges/letdowns come with that?

Friday, September 24, 2010

...just dance

my girls, with their hands up in the air

i remember the first time we danced. the memory comes in flashes like an old movie created from stills. it was hot and humid outside and the airconditioner wasn't making the club any cooler. i smirked when you asked me to dance. i was a 5 night a week bar star back then--and a beat snob. i was caught offguard when you found the beat and then found me within it. dancing with you was effortless. it was the only thing that was ever effortless between us.

the film pans to static and then back into focus. i'm reaching to take the outstretched hand of D one of my three best friends. There are few people in the world i love to dance with more than this beautiful man who is always late. We are standing outside in an atrium/indoor garden area in a swanky club by Durham standards. By DC standards, it's still a dive. The air outside is cool--it must be early fall. There are fairy lights. We spin easily to a slow salsa beat and laugh. It's been the same since we were sixteen. Dance, laugh, drink horrible coffee at Waffle House for hours, dance somemore in the living room.  The next time we dance will be my wedding.

Static again. I'm 13. There's a stage and a huge crowd and the rest of Workshop is getting ready to go on. I have no idea where i am other than somewhere in BC, Canada. The music cues and the adrenaline takes over. At the end, i have no idea if i got the steps right. It doesn't matter. People's eyes are welling with tears from this dance racism being a learned behavior. For the first time, I realize the power of dance to move souls.

More static. It's the middle east and a friend is teaching a salsa class. I haven't been before--I've been boycotting dance because i miss D and i'm not willing to go to the place in my heart dance holds. I'm scared i'll feel empty without it. People are counting--trying to make the music conform to the steps. It's painful. The movie in a movie of my life flashes to learning to dance years before and the sage advice--feel the beat in your soul before you move--rushes through me. The dance snob in me flares again. I smile at the instructor/friend and say--don't count, just turn me...inhaling the music and following him. He looks surprised as i do the step the rest are still counting out. Granted, i've been doing this for a decade longer than they have but I still. It's about the beat not the steps, I mutter.

The last few days have been a struggle. i feel like i have been forcing the steps of my life rather than letting them flow with the harmonious beat that lies under. I'm trying to hold still long enough to feel it flow again before i move.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Office....mine.

today, for reasons i still don't get, rather than hit delete on a training requirements email that didn't apply to a lot of people, they started hitting "reply to all" to say take me off the list. After the first, oh, 30, you would have thought everyone would figure it out. The the next 30 were people saying "stop hitting reply to all" by hitting reply to all themselves. This afternoon, after the next shift started their own version, someone who shall remain nameless to protect the AWESOME!! sent this bad boy out:


Training is REQUIRED for the use of Outlook, Webmail, and Other Email Clients with Advanced Reply All Functionality, going live on September 26, 1996.

Click on this link to be directed to the Web based training: "How many people the email address 'CIS Users' includes and why you cannot be removed from it" or click on the "Check the 'To:' and 'Cc:' fields before sending" Go-live icon on CHILD (main page of CHILD right hand side).

Drop-in Hands-On Practice Sessions for Not Replying All when Aggravated by Reply-All issues will be offered this week: M,W,F from 7 AM - 4:30 PM and Tu,Th, from 7 AM - 6:30 PM in room W3745.

Thank you

Email Support and Reply-All Compliance Team

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a girl can dream right....

Sometimes...i like to imagine that if i blinked my eyes or clicked my Rocket Dog shoes three times i could end up one of these places below. the interesting thing is that everywhere i dream of has water and mountains--maybe that bodes well for Anchorage after all.

in the south Pacific in Bora Bora

in the north of Chile near San Pedro de Atacama

in the Alps

Where do you dream of being when you close your eyes?

Monday, September 20, 2010

a week ago....i left Anchorage

A week ago, i was in Anchorage. It feels like way longer than that. A couple great things happened.
  1. I saw a moose. Actually, two mooses. A mama and a baby in Kincaid Park.
  2. We stopped by a farmer's market with amazing produce
  3. We went on a beautiful nature walk out in Eagle River and saw some salmon. The trail i wanted to go on was closed because the bears were eating the salmon by the river and do not like to be distrubed at meal time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Alaskan September part III--and an aside

The aside first, because it seems more appropriate. I have gotten entirely too emotionally invested in this show: Covert Affairs. The season finale was on Tuesday and I have anxiously been worrying about the fate of one of the characters since. The real issue is simpler. If i don't quit the panic attack, its going to be a VERY long 8 months before i get to find out WTF happened.  If you too share emotional bonds with non-existent TV characters and know how to make it stop...please I beg you, comment and tell me how.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled discussion of my trip to AK. Juneau was the last stop on the Crossett Tour. We had a great turn out for the meetings:

Juneau is the home (in the my heart lives here in the grandios sense of the word) of my girl Layli. I often think of her when i am here. To me Juneau seems frozen in a weird haunted sense. Isolated with no roads.  To Layli it is a never ending adventure of red onesies and outdoor love.
I do love me some glacier though....and also this visitor's center :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September in AK Part II

We caught the evening flight to Sitka. This plane was fuller than the first--i guess other people would rather not fly at 6 am, too. All they serve is either orange juice or water as the flight is too short. The captain came on, announced we had reached our cruising altitude and would remain here for the next 4 minutes, so he would turn the seatbelt sign off in case a bathroom run was needed. Hundreds in 4 minutes--right.

Sitka is a beautiful town. It is located on the west side of Baranof Island on the Pacific. It was settled by the Tlingit peoples and they were "joined" by the Russians right around 1800. We stayed at the Sitka Hotel in downtown (which has spotty internet for anyone who googled that and got here). The view when i went to sleep was dreary but lovely:
The clouds wrap around the mountains like a protective smoke screen, it was quiet and peaceful. When I woke up, it was a different story. In the night, a couple of cruise ships, probably the same ones we were in Ketchikan with, turned up in Sitka. All of a sudden, my stellar view became lame.

And thus the little town of Sitka had its population jump by a 1/3 overnight. 3,500 folks descended on the town to shop and take pictures of the Russian church the heart of town has developed around. When they all departed at about 2pm, all the shops closed and the quiet descended.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saxman (aka September in AK part 1)

Last week was an annual business trip to SE Alaska. This time, we went to visit a grantee in Saxman (a predominantly native alaskan village outside Ketchikan). They have an amazing totem park among other cool here are a few shots:
These are two of the totems from the park. Cruise ships often bring their people here as a day trip place. One of the historical places is the Cheif's former house. The architectural style was called "balloon" which means that the frame goes from ceiling to floor. Recently, the City of Saxman nominated (and earned for it) the title of most endangered building in SE Alaska. As you can see, because of the frame set-up, the whole building is leaning right on over and will soon fall. Outside the house is this strange modern art kind of totem pole--with eagles on branches. It sits next to a 1700s Russian cannon.

Inside the Community Center is lots of lovely artwork:

Here is a detail from the one on the left: