Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gettin' Down with "Down East"

"I found it"- Existentialist identity humor at Sartre's Station
Gone from navigating through ice fog at forty-below to driving around in just plain old fog at forty above. Not having the foggiest idea what's going on either.

More mullings after the jump...

Being trained on how to recycle damn near everything, feel like the proverbial Nordic barbarian. Learning to live again with running water for the first time in twenty years, not to mention living in a house with multiple rooms where everything's hidden away in drawers and cupboards, and not out in open view like a one-room cabin. And speaking of open views, dammit, no more opening up the door to stroll outside for a leak either.
Besides funny accents, hearing all sorts of curious new terms, like "cupolas" (think a little Alaskan cache stuck up on a roof - actually, come to think of it, not all that much bigger than some of the cabins I've rented) and weathervanes seem to be quite the architectural fashion statement. Folks who were born & raised here are also referred to as "lifers" - which I've previously only heard used in connection with correctional institutions.
Relearning how to navigate strange neighborhoods with new street names as opposed to the autopilot I've enjoyed while driving the comparatively simpler ruts around Fairbanks for half my life. If anything, travel makes you pay attention.

Tundra runs in the local daily paper, along with maritime charts. Ignoring both rising tides. Nautical culture infuses everything here, the environment shaping the people much like Alaskan identity is inextricably intertwined with a profound sense of place (Sarah Palin not withstanding*) and connection to the land, or in this instance, the ocean. And there are many burly men with manly beards here as well.

"Yarrr... avast ye scurvy poseur"
Keep mentally slipping out of gear, a little overwhelmed at all the changes, not the least of which is the four-hour time zone difference. Not so much the physicality of it, but more the tangential awareness that all my friends are hours behind me now, along with many, many hours away. And as of yet, no-one to hang with but the g-friend and the critters, which is all I need for a while at any rate. Even the weirdness of going to a cafe and not being recognized or seeing anybody I know is subtly disconcerting, while being simultaneously liberating. Reboots are an intense experience.
Once again I am reminded of the peculiar yin-yang symbiosis represented in the sides of my personality being personified by my two cats: one with separation anxiety and overcompensating with outgoing, furry friendliness; the other, older one just runs away and sulks under the couch.

*And despite being on my best behavior as a de facto ambassador of Alaska, still draw the line at encounters with sycophants of the Quitter: I relish disabusing them of the fallacy that Palin commands any sort of respect from the average Alaskan resident. In fact, part of my marketing strategy is hinging on promoting that there exists alternative idiots (better or worse, depending on your point of view) as a lucrative export trade. Now if I can just convince someone to launch my own reality TV show, "Jamie's Alaska" (kinda like this here blog, but with sound, and, every so often, movement) wherein viewers can for example watch me return again and again to the Golden Eagle Saloon, for an entire season. It might look like a re-run, but trust me, it's all new to me.

Due to all the overhanging, lingering spectre of the recent move, I'm super-hesitant to start the consumerist cycle of accumulating more crap. As is with virtually everywhere across America the Great, there are acres and acres of corporate chain stores sprawling around and in-between each little town here, full of bright, shiny shit no-one really needs but everybody seems to want. That said, walked into a Best Buy and promptly lost my geeky mind.

For the whole road trip I have been packing a copy of David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster," which the title essay should be required reading for anyone heading to this neck of the New England woods. Probably not appreciated by the locals, it paints an unflinching portrait of the surrounding cultural morass behind the archetypal symbol of Maine:
"Originally published in Gourmet, this review of the Maine Lobster Festival generated some controversy among the readers of the culinary magazine. The essay is concerned with the ethics of boiling a creature alive in order to enhance the consumer's pleasure, including a discussion of lobster sensory neurons."
Previously never gave much thought to the fact that we tacitly overlook their frantic scrabbling to get out of the deathpot, which kinda kills off any argument (and appetite) based on the supposed non-sentience of this animal. In conjunction with devouring a fantastic book that my father gave me by Richard Watson called "The Philosopher's Diet," which appeals to both my philosophical bent and the recent chunking up, even more changes are afoot.

But in the meantime, have another Mallo Cup and some more Genny Cream Ale...

And try to not think about ticks and Lyme disease.


  1. Don't forget to drink yah Moxie, ayuh!

  2. Would have posted your comment and replied sooner but for connections being down on account of a FREAKIN' NOR-EASTER that's dumping over a foot of snow.
    Gee. More ideas on the way...

  3. Actually I just heard for the first time the term "thundersnow" - thunder + lightning w/40mph winds on top of the snow. Blustery indeed!