North to Alaska! Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The 4th of July is a big deal in King Cove. I guess it's a big deal everywhere in the states, really, but it's one of those times when smalltown America really shines. And you don't get much smaller than a town of maybe 800 folks, most of whom earn a living either fishing, canning fish, servicing fishing boats, or collecting a check from the native corporation. 

(I don't know the specifics, but apparently most of the Aleut tribes are incorporated; maybe it's a tax thing, I dunno. Maybe all Native American tribes act like that; I didn't really check. But as a corporation they get to disperse funds to all members of the tribe from the money they get for stuff like fishing rights, land ownership, and whatever other deals they work out with the government. Before you get all Tea Party on me, I don't think those guys are making a whole hell of a lot individually, but if anyone can stretch a dollar it's the people living where food comes in on a barge every couple weeks and bears routinely come prowling around your house.)

Anyway, the entire town comes together for the Fourth, which is often kind of the kickoff to their summer. Kat and I walked around town with her crewmates and buddies while watching all the little kids in footraces and pie eating contests and things. It was just like my memories of the 4th growing up, except there were mountains and volcanoes and an ocean. 


I Should Just Shut My Stupid Mouth

I've always been too big a smart-ass for my own good. My life is riddled with events where, if I had just shut the hell up instead of trying to get the last word in or needling someone over the edge with one more "witty" barb, things could've gone much better than they did. I've talked myself into way more ass-kickings and public humiliations than a single person should endure before deciding to change up their approach, and yet still I find myself in situations like last night:


North to Alaska! Part 3

Continuing the tale of my Alaskan exploits this last two summers ago...

I don't know why it's taken me over two years just to tell this story. Luckily I took notes. Thanks to the one anonymous person who commented that they actually liked reading about it and reminded me to finish the damn thing.

As the plane roared off into the sky and left us in a cold-but-sunny valley with a constant barrage of wind buffeting us, it suddenly sank in just how "out there" we really were. Cell phones didn't work. There was no one working the "airfield" (a strip of gravel fenced in to keep out grizzly bears and a single aluminum shed), and from where we stood there wasn't even a road. It was just us and the wind.

I did my best to distract myself from the panic attack that was building in my brain by taking in the landscape: the harsh winds (did I mention it was REALLY fucking windy?) prevented any sort of tree from growing, but this being July in Southwest Alaska it was as green as it gets. The hills were covered in thick, rolling grass as green and verdant as a painting. It swayed and undulated hypnotically under the winds, and the shadows of clouds raced across its surface like ships on an ocean. The sky was a brilliant azure, so bright it bordered on pearlescent. It was like someone had re-tuned my vision and suddenly I was seeing in high definition.


Ain't That America

I'm from a tiny Southern Illinois town. It's a good place to be from: growing up there I was safe from any serious crime (although it is a minor miracle I wasn't killed by a drunk driver, since that seems to be the official pastime) and I got a decent education despite not really applying myself. A lot of kids have it worse when it comes to the hometowns they fall into. But by far the best part of being from a tiny Southern Illinois town is that being from there means I'm no longer actually there. I escaped. I got a chance to get out and see that the world is not entirely composed of German-heritaged, surburban middle-class white people with a penchant for racism and Budweiser.

Don't get me wrong: I love my little hometown. My family is there. My best friends, some of the most wonderful and amazing people in the whole world, live in Southern Illinois. But as I've spent more time away from it I've gotten some perspective on how weird it can be, sort of like peeking behind a Norman Rockwell painting to see the canvas is actually kind of dry-rotted and gross. Case in point: 


I am the Nostradamus of Pissing Your Pants

A year or two ago, I helped write this idea for a device that would shame your children out of wetting the bed by tweeting every time they peed:

And today I see that someone not only took us up on our million dollar idea, they made it an honest-to-god reality:



The Things You Think About as You're About to Die

At some of my poorest (financially and morally) moments, I sometimes wondered if I could "get lucky" and have some serious-but-not-fatal accident befall me so that I could sue the shit out of somebody and have my financial worries taken care of. Nevermind that in this scenario my financial worries are probably replaced with newer, more tragic worries like eating through a straw and pooping into bags for the rest of my life; in my head it was always something that was serious enough to give me a wicked scar or something but not too debilitating. I think for a brief time when the economy first crashed that became the new American Dream: surviving a horrific injury long enough to have your bills paid by someone else.

This morning I had the opportunity to cash in. Turns out my heart's not really in it (because it's still inside my body).


Diary of Descent - February


February 2
I really hope we didn't survive the end of the world just to freeze to death. Had to wait out last night in an abandoned bus. We've been lucky to not have any rain for a couple days, but without the moisture in the air warming things up the temperature has dropped below freezing. I had to physically pull my right eyelid open this morning; it had frozen shut in the night.

I don't know what the hell this is all for any more. I thought if I could get Val and I to safety everything would work itself out, but now I don't even know where she is and I'm not sure there's such a thing as a safe place in the world any more.

Valerie, wherever you are, I miss you. I'm so sorry I left. 

February 2

We took way too long to get moving today, and Donovan's starting to feel better but the cold nights really take a toll on him so it's slow going. I floated the idea of heading back to the gas station just in case the rest of the group is somehow waiting there. Matt and Donovan's silence said more than enough. I can't ask them to risk their lives for this, but I also can't just give up on Val and leave. She might be hurt. God, she might be trapped somewhere with those things snarling and howling at her, just waiting it out. 

I need to think about something else for awhile.

Why Me?

Not only am I intrigued to find out if anyone actually clicks on this sort of thing, but I'm also offended that somehow some Facebook view-tracking algorithm decided this sort of thing might appeal to me.