Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alaska - a day at work

So far, working in this store is about as exciting a painting my fingernails black, which is what I've been doing all day. I'll paint one, let it dry for about 20 minutes, then add a layer of clear coat, and let that dry for 20 minutes. Then I'll wait 20 more minutes, and start on the next nail. I already did my left hand yesterday, and I've been working on the right today. I got here at 10:00 and now it's 3:09, and I just finished the pinkie of my right hand. Isn't that interesting?

Today is Saturday, so there is only one ship docked. Therefore, there are hardly any people walking the docks and browsing the shops. I'll probably close early, around 4:00, or whenever the Harley store closes. They usually close early on slow days, and what with it being Saturday, I figure I only have about another hour here.

A girl named Madelaine works with her mom in the jewelry store next to where I work, and on my first day, they both stopped by to introduce themselves. It went something like this:

Mom - "Hi, I'm Carol, and this is my daughter Madelaine."
Daughter - "Most people just call me Mattie."
Me - "Hi guys, I'm Ash. Nice to meet you." I shake hands with both of them.
Mom - "I'm actually changing my name to Lydia, so you can call me that if you want to (I don't know why she's changing her name, I need to ask her).
Me - "Hey, that's funny, because I just changed my name to Elias."
Mom - "Really? What a nice name, Elias. Why are you changing your name?"

At this point I described my recent baptism, and how I adopted a saints name.

Mom - "Ok, nice meeting you Elias."
Daughter - "Nice meeting you."

(exit mom and daughter)

Since I've been here, every conversation I've had with someone I haven't known has naturally evolved into my conversion story. The first day I was here, I was outside taking pictures and a lady saw me and asked if I was taking pictures of eagles. I said no, I'm just taking pictures for a friend back home. And that conversation turned into a description of my conversion. She happened to be a Christian, and it was just the coolest conversation with a total stranger, winding up with both of us wishing each other blessed journeys. God is here in Alaska.

So far I've walked about 10 miles since I've been here. It's really pretty country out here and there are plenty of places to walk. This morning I saw an eagles butt, and I'll have to take a picture and post it. It is a persistent eagles butt... you just have to see it to know what I mean. Another cool thing that happened is that I got carded at Mikes Elbow Room, a sports bar. I said to the waitress, "Hey, thanks!" She looked at me funny, then looked at my license and said "WTF?" Then I said "YAY!" Then Ed and Scott and I had some beers.

What else? Lets see... the apartment where I live has many different flavors. The first floor flavor is hair salon perm, and depending on the floor at which the elevator stops, there will be different flavors. Last night the elevator tasted like eggs. The 9th floor always tastes like fish. And the 5th floor tastes like a dead corpse. I haven't tasted any of the other floors yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Fr. Justin mentioned that this apartment building looks like Soviet architecture... and yeah, it does. Square, ugly, and pale green. And big. I like it! Yesterday while I was standing at the window, smoking a cigarette, I could see the rain falling in sheets against the backdrop of the local mountain. It was really visible with the green of the trees behind the rain. Maybe that's why they use green screens in movies to composite stuff.

So, as I type this, I'm hungry. I forgot to make a sandwich before work, so I have to sit here and endure starvation. Until tomorrow...

Friday, June 11, 2010

My trip into outer space

I've been in Alaska now for four days. Here in Greenland internet technology is still in its infancy, so getting online depends greatly on whether or not the transistors and vacuum tubes of the 486DX server in the underground bunker are being maintained correctly by the local population of Aztecs, who are only here to work off enormous debts incurred during the Great Astec vs. Inuit Wars of 1993. Which, ironically, were fought to determine which tribe would have control over the emerging internet here at the North Pole. The Aztecs lost, and therefore were forced to relocate to Antarctica to work off their debt as IT technicians. They're not very good at it, and they don't like the liquid methane lakes which are ubiquitous here on Titan, which smell really bad. As a result, they aren't very happy and the internet isn't maintained very well here.

Anyway, the flight to Seattle was pretty uneventful, but long. I always forget how much I really don't like to fly until I'm on my way to the airport, which I suppose is better than stressing out for several days before the flight. There wasn't a whole lot of turbulence, thankfully, which is really what sets my nerves on edge. Plus, during the flight to Seattle, I was constantly distracted because my seat happened to be right next to the 'flight attendant nook', which was a little empty spot where the the flight attendants gathered and gossiped during the flight. It's amazing actually, on this flight anyway, how much the flight attendants don't do, as opposed to, say, handing out peanuts and taking orders for rum and cokes. Being a scant several inches away from the group of four attendants, I was privy to all kinds of personal information which they bandied about like a whiffle ball, such as how great a workout each of them got on the 'Total Gym'. I know the blonde's jumprope endurance record, I know how far the brunette can run on the treadmill, and I know the exact route of the older, wise one who started in California, flew to Dallas, then to Seattle, and back to California. It was so interesting. And to top it off, the flight attendant station was the only place on the entire plane with any room to stand, and everybody who was waiting for the bathroom, throughout the entire flight, stood right there, so I got about a dozen butts just several inches away from my head, for several minutes at a time, for 4 hours, as everybody waited for their turns.

One attendant, the older wise one, was very nice to me. I kept refusing beverages because I didn't want to have to get up and stand there in the designated bathroom / flight attendant nook for the bathroom (which happened to be right next to the emergency door, so if that thing happened to spring open, out I would fly, and I don't really like flying), and after the third refusal, this flight attendant got very concerned and wanted to know if the other attendants were ignoring me. I think she really wanted me to have a ginger ale.

Then the four hour layover in Seattle happened to me. First off, the Seattle airport is shaped like a giant X, which seems to be an extremely inefficient way to design an airport. In order to get to gate E, you have to walk down one length of the X and then down another length of the X, down two flights of stairs, then you have to wait for a train, which will finally deposit you somewhere in the vicinity of gate E. When I finally arrived there, it was only to learn that a Los Angeles flight had usurped our gate and departure time (apparently Los Angeles is more important than some podunk town at the North Pole), so I had to backtrack all the way to where I started so that I could wait for four hours at gate D. I got a lot of exercise though, so I guess... no, it still sucked. And to top it off, I left my prayer book on the train. Maybe somebody will find it and get some use out of it.

The plane to Ketchikan was only about 1/5 full, which was awesome. I had three seats all to myself, and I promptly fell asleep during the entire flight. When I finally arrived, it was about 10:00 local time, which was 1:00 in the morning for the rest of the world. Ed had a pizza cooking and we had some beers to celebrate my arrival. I was dead tired by then, so after pizza and beer, I hit the sack for about ten hours.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I'm leaving for Alaska today, and yesterday Leah came over to say goodbye. I couldn't believe that it was happening... we hadn't spoken to each other since April 16th. The last month and a half has seemed like a bad dream that never ends. Then yesterday I saw my girl again...

But she's not my girl. I can't lay any claim to her, but I love her so. Yesterday when I saw her, and talked to her, and spent time with her, that seemed like a dream too. My friend - my best friend. The one I love was here, I could see her, I could hear her. It didn't seem real. I was so happy.

I keep thinking though, what if things hadn't happened the way she described them to me? Would she still have wanted to see me to say goodbye? Would she have cared, or would her happiness have kept me relegated to a simple memory, a phase in her life that was over and done with? I don't know. I felt so abandoned when this all started, just cut off and thrown away and forgotten. I don't want to think like that though... the girl I love said goodbye to me, we spent time together and had fun, and it was almost like it used to be. I was so happy. I hope so much that we're friends again. It feels like we are... I think we are. I just hope I'm strong enough to be selfless about this and truly be her friend.

It hurts my heart to think that she might be feeling something similar to what I've been feeling. I wish her all the happiness in the world... and I still hold onto a fools hope, I guess, that I might be able to make her happy some day. For now, I'll be in Alaska until late September. We'll see what God has in store.