Tuesday, January 31, 2012

29 and counting

So the day Jesse turned 29, this happened:

1.  Jesse mopes around the house. I promise him I’ll celebrate his birthday next week because it’s the first day of classes at URI on Monday and I haven’t finished writing my syllabus.

2.  He gets a call from Josh at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday night. Josh is the Relief Society president’s son. Josh says, “Hi brother Rich, I need your help. I have an economics paper I have to write and I was wondering if you have any economics books. And the paper is due tomorrow.”   

3.  Big surprise. Josh procrastinates everything; he’s in 8th grade and his prefontal cortex won’t allow him to plan ahead, make decisions, express emotions and control impulses in a way that makes any sense whatsoever for at least another eight years. Jesse scans the bookshelf and selects A Brief History of Economics: Artful Approaches to the Dismal Science (only 530 pages!), More Money than God (a good Sunday read), and Winnie the Pooh on Management (just for fun), plus five other books.

4.  As soon as Jesse leaves I do a little happy dance in the kitchen. Jesse totally fell for it. By the time he gets back, all the guests will have arrived and the lights will be turned off so we can all jump out from our hiding places and surprise him. 

5.  It’s 6:30. I have half an hour before people are supposed to start showing up. I have to make fancy red slushy punch, set the table, rearrange the furniture, clean the house, find all the presents I wrapped because I forgot where I put them all… According to our calculations—meaning, my and Jenni’s (Josh’s mom, who was in on the plan from the beginning)—Jesse is supposed to be on his way home after 7 pm. 

6.  It’s 6:45 and everything is ready when the door opens. It’s Jesse. Crap. Luckily, when you walk into our apartment, you’re downstairs and can’t see the living room/dining area, where in his wildest dreams Jesse cannot imagine the marvelous surprises that await him.


      Jesse: Um, I live here?


      Jesse: Where am I going to go?


      Jesse: What? The library is closed.


Jesse’s suspicions are confirmed: he married someone who’s a few pecans short of a fruitcake. But he leaves anyway.

Right after he leaves, everyone starts trickling in and wants to know where Jesse is. I have no idea where he is. Everyone just entertains themselves in the meantime. Our two-person space is suddenly filled with the buzzing conversations and laughter of twenty people—including two four-year-old boys who have discovered the giant exercise ball and are bouncing it up and down the hall, and an almost-two-year-old who has found my box of crayons and is eating the tips off the orange ones. 

Jesse opens the door around 7:15 and probably feels really awkward. But happy. 
This is indisputable evidence of Murphy's Law. I made three cakes. None of them turned out. Not sure why. They all had a big humps in the middle with caved in sides. I salvaged the least humpy of the cakes and tried frosting it. My decorator tip jammed every two seconds. This all happened on Sunday between 3 pm-5 pm. The cake tasted like potting soil, but people were nice and ate it anyway. And we didn't have any "9" candles, so Jesse was 27. Or 72.
This gift is from Josh, who by the way, now aspires to making a living as a con artist.

Artwork by Lucas and Samuel, my new best friends.
The big pot. For lobsters. Or naughty children.
Thanks Joey and Katie! Jesse won't let me touch this toy.
I think I'm going to steal this and use it myself.

I would have taken more pictures, but I was busy making balloon animals for the kids.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Much ado about nothing

New Engluhndas are so curious about Alaska and what we did there during Christmas break. I wish I had something interesting to say in Skippyjon Jones’s accent, like:

a.  “Holy Hot Tamales! We sighted a polar bear roving near the famous John Baker’s poochito yard and it was the first time a polar bear had wandered into town from Barrow since 1978!”

b.  “Holy Green Gorillas! All three of my neighbor’s pet ravenitos got run over by a drunk snow machine driver on New Year’s Eve. Good riddance, they always pecked at our garbage and scattered it all down the street anyway…”

c.  “Holy heartburn! We shot sixteen caribou-itos and ate them in soup for two weeks straight.”      

d.  “Holy frozen frijoles! We stood outside too long on New Year’s Eve and I froze my dedo pequeno so it had to be amputated because of severe frostbite and now I keep it in a Mason jar by my bed like Ninny’s friend Mrs. Otis does with her gallstones in Fried Green Tomatoes and I’ll show it to you if you come over to visit.

But no. Everything went according to plan. It was too cold to do anything, as Paul Young’s The Shack aptly explains: “[Cold weather] releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules.” All three of my dad’s cars and the four snow machines even took a holiday and refused to start in -47 temperatures. So we stayed inside and when we went to bed at 3 a.m. it was just as dark and cold as it was when we woke up at noon the next day, so we were doubly unmotivated—I was even too unmotivated to wax poetic about anything, unlike I did about last year’s red rubber boots.

But we did eat a lot of purple pancake-itos with the tundra blueberries my mom has stored in the freezer since August, and she cooked five course breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for us every day. And my dad constructed new cat toys from dental floss and dried ptarmigan heads so we could entertain ourselves by driving the acrobatic kitty to summersaulty attempts to catch the feathered clumps with her teeth. And Landon played Killer Bunnies with us, and Merella and Dario made us homemade soap for Christmas, and Willaby ran off to hang out with her boyfriend and play fake bowling on their Wii every night, but that’s okay.

Two weeks of doing nothing in a cold, dark, icky town in the middle of nowhere goes fast when you’re with people you love.

More pictures here, if you haven't seen these yet.
The family picture. Last year I had hair. This year I look bald.
We're at the beach! This is what it looks like in winter. In -56.
My house. All the houses in Kotzebue kind of look like this: plywood boxes with ugly paint.
Robot boys.
We flew here on these planes. I jokes.
Hello Mr. Bear.
This is what my dad uses to heat our house. Everything is shipped to Kotzebue on pallets. My dad drives around town on his snow machine and piles them in his sled and stacks them as high as the roof. He has the most enviable pallet collection in town.
My butt's not cold, not at all!
This barricade of boots does not keep the fat cat from eating.
The acrobatic kitty.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Christmas in Alaska was a blast! One of the best parts was the presents. Not that because we got a bunch of stuff or anything, but because we had so much fun opening them. We started out with a white elephant gift exchange between everyone. The gifts were splendid and ranged from Pelican Poop and an over-sized pencil to a wig (real hair!) and a Howdy Doody dvd, etc. Afterwards we opened the regular presents. All of the presents were great, but there were three in particular that were especially awesome: a ChillBots robot ice tray (made in Cumberland, RI of all places), a Domo calendar (which is hanging up at work), and a t-shirt of a mustachioed Domo.

The CHILLBOTS! Perfect for making tasty frozen treats!

January displays an homage to classic films such as The Never Ending Story and Howard the Duck.
Mustachioed Domo running.

The ChillBots are very cool and I get a kick out of all things Domo. Domo is a cute little monster that hatched from an egg and is raised by a wise old rabbit that lives underground. Domo is relatively na├»ve about most things and stars as the main character in a series of stop-motion vignettes that document his adventures in the world. Domo is short for Domo-kun. As stated online: “Domo” in this case appears to mean more of something (usually to stress “thank you,” “excuse me,” etc), implying increased politeness. “kun” is used as “Mr.” or “Ms.” for “younger people or colleagues.” Domo gets nervous/excited a lot and tends to sweat and break wind when he does.

I suppose that it takes a certain sense of humor to appreciate Domo, but I find the shows thoroughly entertaining—more so than Sarita. One of my favorite episodes is when Domo is out wandering and comes across a group of sibling foxes. He doesn’t have any siblings so isn’t quite sure how to interact. At one point in the show, the foxes start arguing until the little sister jump kicks her brother and everything turns out okay. No wonder then that when things start to go wrong later in the episode, Domo thinks he can make things better by jump kicking one of the foxes, except this time the fox goes flying across the screen since Domo is much larger than the little sister. For some reason I find this hilarious.

Another one of my favorite episodes is when Domo gets his hands on some headphones and goes around sticking them into things trying to see what they sound like.