Dec 22, 2009

bad habits

Posted by Mary |

I think most people have habits. Hobbies, if you will. Little things that they do when they need to pass some time. Me? When I'm bored, I like to count the letters in words. If I'm really bored, I'll break the word down into smaller segments and try to think of other words which contain those same segments of letters.

My dad's timepass, apparently, is going to the hospital. Case in point: He took Monday off from work and was running some errands when he started feeling unwell, so he went to the hospital in Norwich. He managed to score twice in one day, because they said he'd had a heart attack and transferred him to Yale. Sigh. I just came back from Connecticut. I think he's trying to trick me into returning again.

Dec 19, 2009

cold weather plans

Posted by Mary |

It's -30ish today. I'm packing up The Boarder and we're going to the hot springs.

Dec 17, 2009

now we're getting seasonal

Posted by Mary |

One of my coworkers showed up at part of the dance workshops last weekend. Given that he is a good Latin dancer and I still struggle with the concept of letting someone else be in charge, I decided to try to get him to come to an Argentine tango milonga on Tuesday. Success! He showed up and once again attempted to break my brain.

Some of my readers may not know this, but I have a slightly dominant personality. Therefore it is a constant struggle for me to dance socially. I don't mean grinding in a club. a) I don't go to clubs. b) If I did, I could control the dancing in that situation. My struggle is in letting go and allowing someone else to determine how we will move. It's harder than it seems. I can't seem to stop counting the beat and trying to finish the moves for my partner.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, I had to wake up at 5 this morning. When I flew to Portland, Liz picked me up at 5:15 to get me to the airport for my morning flight. It turns out that she was taking the same flight on her way to Baltimore, so it fell to me to return the favor. But when life hands you lemons, you get your ass to the gym extra early. Thus I hit the SRC at 6 a.m., got a long workout in and still got to work much earlier than normal.

The extra time I log today will offset the time necessary to bring in a heated dish for tomorrow's potluck and gift exchange. I'm veering away from desserts for once and bringing in a whole bunch of bacon-y goodness. Also, I am bringing the worst gift known to man. I expect folks to fight over it.

Dec 11, 2009

heard in the car

Posted by Mary |

Dammit. I keep forgetting they put in a handicapped parking spot.
I mean,bully for the handicapped, but what about me?

--I'm going to hell anyway,
might as well be offensive along the way

Dec 10, 2009

super genius of the world

Posted by Mary |

I approached the issue of my broken auto start just like I would approach a computer that is acting up. I disconnected the battery, then reconnected it. Hallelujah, the auto start is receiving a signal. It seems to have gotten itself into valet mode, which I need to switch, but it is working once again.

This weekend is going to be busy. I have two days of Latin ballroom dance workshops starting Friday evening. A friend also requested I attend her birthday dinner Friday night and then go to a bar. I might try to meet her at the bar when I am done dancing, but I've got another 5 hours of workshops on Saturday. Saturday night is the birthday celebration of one of my closest friends, Rachel. Also happening Saturday: the first Clucking Blossom fundraiser (featuring Thought Trade and Work), the last Paper Scissors show for a while, and a friend's boyfriend is playing at the Mecca (ew - to the bar, not to him). So many choices!

woe is me

Posted by Mary |

File this under Life Is Never Easy.

I returned to Fairbanks and to a car with a dead headlight. That wasn't a problem, as I simply bought a new bulb. However, while under the hood to replace the bulb, I accidentally knocked the tiny little wire spring that holds the bulb in place down into the engine compartment where I could not see it or reach it. I called a few salvage yards, but nobody had anything close to my car for parts. (Side note: Really? No newer Subarus in Fairbanks? Very odd.) I gave up and decided I would pay full price to get the part straight from Subaru.

Did you know that Subaru doesn't sell that wire spring? Nope, you've got to buy the entire headlight assembly, to the tune of about $200. All this for, essentially, a bent paperclip. And because of the way the headlight is seated in its socket, the standby solution of duct tape won't work.

Balls to that. I turned up the heat in my garage and got to work systematically removing items from my engine compartment until I could reach my arm in far enough to root around. Lo and behold, I got the spring back out. After putting the new bulb in and putting everything back together, the car started up just fine.

Except. There's always an except.

Except my autostart no longer seems to work. At first I assumed it was the remote battery, as my 2-way remote eats lithium batteries like nobody's business. But the one-way remote isn't working either. So I tried re-syncing the autostart and the remotes. Nope. This isn't the first time I've disconnected the battery. (Last winter I kept the battery inside by the woodstove for several days while waiting for my car to thaw enough to start. It was a long streak of -40 weather.)

So the plan is to take my car to the shop on Friday to have them see if something got knocked loose. I plan to root around under the hood a little more after work and see if I can find the issue and fix it myself. For now, I'll have to manually start it and use my keys to lock and unlock. Just like a commoner would. I miss my autostart already...

Dec 7, 2009

read in an e-mail

Posted by Mary |

If you can not stand it any longer and want to
track the status of your order every other minute,
you can login to your account settings page by going to ...

--E-mail from a company

They know me so well...

Dec 6, 2009

season's greetings

Posted by Mary |

Dear Mother: This is the closest I will get to Christmas decorations.

The new range has been ordered. And thus the kitchen renovations will begin. When I bought the house, I knew it would need some functional improvements, but also a few aesthetic improvements. And the first major aesthetic project I want to tackle is the kitchen. Step one is the new range, since the old one is a bit haunted and unclear on how to maintain a consistent temperature. Fun fact: It is almost impossible to get an electric coil range. People are all about the smooth surface these days. I can't repair a broken burner on a smooth surface, so I had to get the range I wanted special ordered. It will be here in 6-8 weeks.

Now for the catch-up: I went to Portland for the Supercomputing Conference. Got there a few days early to visit with Joanna, John and Sofia. They have a lovely new house in the northeast part of the city. I transitioned to my downtown hotel after a few days and got a-conferencing. Although SC may not sound like fun to the layperson, I had a great time! I'm somewhat isolated in Alaska, so it was a chance to meet a lot of people I'd only dealt with over the phone or by e-mail as well as visit with a lot of different companies and learn a hell of a lot more about the world of supercomputing. Of course, there were parties and such to attend, which made the trip even more fun. By the end of the week, I was far more versed about our systems at ARSC and able to answer more questions in the booth.

After SC came the big surprise trip to Connecticut. My parents weren't expecting me, but rearranged their schedules when I showed up. I managed to hit up two Indian grocery stores and buy some new clothes. My family has always switched Thanksgiving hosting with an aunt and uncle in New York, so this year we were off to Long Island for the holiday. That gave me a chance to see my cousin Abbie. The last time I saw her was October 2003 at her wedding, and now she has two sons. After much visiting and quality time with the family, it was back in the air. I had a long layover and a change of airlines in Portland, so I stored my luggage and hopped a train downtown to buy gin and doughnuts, as one will. Back at the airport, I repacked everything to fit the booze and pastries in my bags, then checked the luggage through to Fairbanks and got back on some planes.

My parents have two somewhat antisocial cats. You can look at them, and maybe touch one of them, but they don't really cuddle. Therefore, it was with great relief that I returned to Nibbles. She was somewhat frantic after my absence and promptly laid down on my head to sleep. On Friday I managed to book some time with Tom, so we got pizza and went to the theater to see 2012. Lots of stuff blew up - yay! He is leaving for a quick trip to see his family and then is off to Central America with his girlfriend for a bit, so I wanted to hang out before he left. This afternoon, I had brunch with Gary, who had gone to Texas for the holiday. Seeing him is always a bit of relief - like everything is back to normal. We hatched plans for some New Year's Eve debauchery and are debating a trip to Anchorage in the spring as well.

Nov 21, 2009


Posted by Mary |

I am in Connecticut. I planned this several months ago, but never told my parents. Due to some plane issues, I didn't get in until about 1:30 a.m. My sister and brother-in-law picked me up at the airport. This morning, they went to my parents house to borrow the truck for a dump run. When Eric came back, he went inside and brought the family out, saying he wanted to show them something really cool he found at the dump. When he lowered the tailgate, I was laying in the bed of the truck. I'm ashamed to say it took them a few seconds to register the fact that it was me in the back of the truck.

Pretty much everyone in the free world but them knew that I was coming to CT for Thanksgiving. It feels pretty cool to have tricked them, and it's great to be around under less strenuous circumstances than my last visit.

Nov 20, 2009

free stuff rocks

Posted by Mary |

I have spent the past week in Portland, OR at the International Supercomputing Conference, aka SC. Have I ever mentioned I love getting free stuff? Conferences are great for that.

I will write more on my thoughts on this conference later. Craig and I are getting ready to head for the airport for 2 p.m. flights. I would say that we are both departing for warmer climes, but I hear there may be record lows in Fairbanks tonight.

Nov 8, 2009


Posted by Mary |

I have lost my voice. I'm sure the very idea makes some people happy, but it's really annoying. Example:

I am at work right now. (Yes, at 10:20 on a Sunday night. I figured I could do some stuff tonight so I can stay home tomorrow.) I decided I wanted to get some Taco Bell on the way home. Comfort food, you know? Except I can't use the drive-thru window. Only commoners go inside!

Nov 7, 2009

old-tyme cures

Posted by Mary |

I started battling the illness with Italian penicillin. Forget the Jewish treatment of chicken noodle soup, I made some zuppa toscana. Then I moved on to Indian penicillin - fresh paneer curry. I also started the "drinking tea" plan and gargling with warm salt water.

Yesterday someone suggested eating something cold to soothe my throat, so I just had malted milk sorbet for breakfast.

Best. Illness. Ever.

Nov 3, 2009

melodramatic behavior ... again

Posted by Mary |

I have taken ill. It's not as bad as in the past, since I have yet to proclaim that I am dying or demand that someone care for my cat after I am gone. But still, I am under the weather. In fact, I am taking the day off from work to recover.

The day after the Harvest Ball, I got the chance to celebrate Diwali. No, not just celebrate Diwali, but perform at the UAF Diwali celebration! Cold Fusion did three Indian choreographies, and then the gorging on Indian food began. We don't really have Indian food in Fairbanks, unless you count the secret menu at Pizza 4 Less, so normally if I want it, I have to make it. We got an overwhelmingly positive response to our performances, including several people who commented on how authentic the dancing was. That made Rachel, our main Indian choreographer, very happy.

So to sum up, great dancing, delicious Indian food, and a date with a student. Oh, did I not mention that part? On Saturday, I went to a coffeehouse with a grad student I met at Diwali. We talked for more than an hour, and I didn't get bored. Given my tendency to get rapidly bored with most people, I am taking this as a good sign.

Oct 25, 2009

when it's good...

Posted by Mary |

Sometimes I love Fairbanks. Saturday was one of those times.

My main goal for the day was to get done up for the evening. It was not just any evening, but Harvest Ball, the biggest gay event of the year. Naturally, Gary was my date, but he had promised to dress up for me. In turn, I took a shower around noon and set my hair in fingerwaves. I've been obsessed with vintage hairstyles for a while, and my fingerwaves have been coming along nicely. With my hair and makeup did, I pulled out my trusty prom dress. Vintage green polyester with some nice beads - I got it for $1 at a flea market in 1993 or 1994 and wore it to my senior prom. Since I'm still wearing it 15 years later, I'd say I got my money's worth. However, it lost the "best bargain" title because I also wore my full-length fur coat. $0.99 at Value Village!

Gary, Liz, Hayley and I met up at the Carlson Center. Being a gay event, naturally there was a drag show. I've seen some of those ladies give better performances, but the crowd was still going crazy.

Liz and I also performed a poi fusion routine. I was conflicted, because generally in a drag show, performers collect tips. Collecting tips form the audience while dancing is just too close to stripping for me. I already have a co-worker who refers to every performance as a "hoochie coochie dance." I have no issue with other performers collecting tips, and honestly I think we should be rewarded for our work, but we certainly weren't going to deviate from our choreography to accept crumpled dollar bills. Sorry, it's not something we work on during our two hours of rehearsal each week. However, while we were dancing, several members of the audience came up and quietly placed money in a tip basket near the stage. I assume it was shared among all the performers at the end of the night. I don't know, since we were long gone by then.

Rather than sticking around until the bitter end, the four of us grabbed some more folks and headed over to the Boatel. If you've never been to the Boatel Sleazy Waterfront Bar, it's pretty much summed up by its named. One fellow bought Liz some Scotch to celebrate her passing another milestone for her Ph.D., and I had an unfortunate martini involving green bean juice, as they were completely out of olives.

As I left the bar that night, I saw my first northern lights of the season dancing across the sky. It's still unseasonably warm, so I stood outside in strappy sandals and my senior prom gown, taking in the beauty of the aurora. Sometimes that's all that it takes to make me happy.

Oct 19, 2009

heard (read) on chat

Posted by Mary |

I think I did the right thing.
And by the right thing, I mean the not-as-wrong thing.

--Me. I am the queen
of justification.

It was a weekend of creative endeavors. To wit: I appreciated the creative endeavors of others when Dara, Joel and I went to the Pub to see Paper Scissors on Friday night. Have I mentioned that the band just plain rocks? I'm glad Craig is back in town for the winter. I ran into David there, who taught me some basic salsa. We attempted a Viennese waltz when the music came up, but the dance floor was very slippery due to dirty hippie students spilling beers. After David nearly wiped out twice, we opted to sit out the rest of the song. We were the only ones dancing, anyway.

On Saturday I finally had the materials, power tools and will to buckle down and make curtains for my bedroom. Well, most of the materials. There was some annoying math involved, as I was sewing in a blackout lining that would only cover the window but the curtains were pretty much floor to ceiling. I could have taken the easy route and done a full-length lining, but I didn't want the curtains to be so heavy. I managed to do one window perfectly, but had to wait until the next day to go buy more grommets. I did manage to finish the other window on Sunday. Pictures to come.

Since I had the sewing machine out, I decided it was time for a curve-hugging dress a la Joan Holloway. There was some great stretch suiting at the fabric store, but it had vertical stretch, not horizontal. Bizarre. This involved more math to figure out how to lay out the pattern pieces in the opposite direction. Again I say, pictures to come.

Liz and I also met up on Sunday to rehearse a choreography we're performing at the Harvest Ball this weekend. We made a costume run to Value Village for new tights since we've destroyed our last pair in a few performances.

This coming week should be interesting. I have to wrap up one aspect of a large project at work, and I have two performances. I don't really have any free time scheduled until Sunday night. Apparently stress is part of my daily routine.

Oct 18, 2009

heard at dinner

Posted by Mary |

Do you think I can fake a pregnancy long-distance to get the money?
--Girl #1
No, what you need to do is steal a baby...
--Girl #2

The conversation didn't really improve...

Oct 14, 2009

heard in the office

Posted by Mary |

Yeah, I'll stop singing that song soon.
Just like I stopped singing "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?"
once we got to Costa Rica.
(falsetto) La la la la la la la-la-la.
--Co-worker #1
Dun dun-dun, dun dun-dun.
--Co-worker #2
Jeez, if I could teach you to dance life would be like a musical.

I know I'm kind of late to jump on this bandwagon, but I have started watching Glee and am in love. I'm sure it's surprising. Who would have guessed I would like a musical with lots of dance numbers? I think I was a very flamboyant gay man in a past life.

Oct 13, 2009

the pain

Posted by Mary |

You know you had a good weekend when even your toes are bruised. It's not as salacious as it might sound. On Friday, I joined Liz and Rachel for pizza and some T-shirt designing early in the evening. Then I headed out to the Marlin to see Paper Scissors play. I have a few friends in the band, and naturally I ran into a few more in the audience, so it ended up being a very late night. The late night led to my choice to have brunch with Gary and be lazy on a lovely Saturday. Some weird weather systems combined to bring us a few warm, sunny October days.

Saturday night I embarked upon a trip across town. It did not begin well, as I got pulled over less than a mile from my house. I wasn't doing anything wrong per se, but I did have a headlight out and cops will use that as an excuse to pull you over on a weekend night to see if you're drunk. I was stone cold sober and also had the replacement bulb in my passenger seat. Back on the road, Mary 1, Cops 0. Across town, I found my dance partner, changed my shoes and hit the floor. About three hours later, I was exhausted and pretty thoroughly danced out. Cha cha, two step, waltz, swing, triple step - it was just too much for my feet.

I decided to swing by the Marlin again on my way home. Mistake. The place was filled with GIs looking to score and I was not in the mood for the band. In retrospect, I should have gone to Ivory Jack's to see the Pickup League, but I didn't feel like getting pulled over again for my headlight.

The weather held through Sunday, giving me the chance to blast some Otis Redding while I replaced the headlight and did a little bit of work on my car. I did not get motivated enough to clean the garage out, but I did make it about halfway through a new dress. I felt the pain of the weekend catch up with me on Monday when I ran intervals before work, then went to tango class afterward. I need to take it easy, because next weekend we have two performances (Harvest Ball and Diwali) and I need to bring my A game.

Oct 9, 2009

heard at the dance studio

Posted by Mary |

"Chaos" is not a pattern.

Oct 5, 2009

heard in a blog

Posted by Mary |

Someone should really come up with 0 calorie booze.

You're tellin' me we can put a man on the moon but I can't be thin and drunk?!

holy s$%

Posted by Mary |

I just realized I own a house. No, nothing broke. I think it just finally hit me.

weekend shenanigans

Posted by Mary |

I needed Saturday to recover from Friday. Then Sunday happened.

On Friday, Cold Fusion performed at a dance recital put on by Tundra Caravan. Since Rachel rarely gets a late-night babysitter, we took advantage and went to Brewster's after the show for potato skins. My friend (and fellow dancer) Liz has been dating my coworker Craig, so he came along too. I don't know if he was mentally prepared for the thought of Mary and Liz together or for the possibility of several hours of dance conversation.

On Saturday, I spent the day doing dance workshops with Eva Cernik. Her sword workshop was very helpful, but I did not enjoy her zill workshop. After the workshops, Joyce opened her studio for a hafla. Lots of live drumming and dancing. Liz and I decided to go out afterward and went to a 10 p.m. showing of Whip It. I think I might be more of a curmudgeon than a misanthrope, because I couldn't believe the amount of kids at the movie theater. Damn teenagers.

I got up extra early on Sunday to make apple cider doughnuts. The only kitchen store in town did not have a doughnut pan, so I was attempting to make them with a mini bundt pan. Do not make this mistake. I have already ordered a doughnut pan. Dara and Joel picked me up and we went to brunch at Stephanie's house. In true small-town fashion, I realized when we got there that she rents from the Haighs. They are the people I bought my lawn mower from that I knew from Hidden Hill. What was going to be a quick brunch turned into an epic meal with lots of champagne. I got no chores done on Sunday.

Despite all of this, the high point of my weekend came in an e-mail on Sunday night. We've been asked to perform at Diwali. Three songs. Dance domination continues...

Oct 1, 2009

what a difference 6 years makes

Posted by Mary |

No, actually, this is not a sappy post reminiscing about my 6+ years in Alaska. Today I received a copy of Lonely Planet's Trekking in East Africa, the 2003 edition. Why 2003? Well, it's the most recent edition, and I desperately wanted to get my hands on some info about hiking in Africa. Sure, there's Kilimanjaro, but what else is there?

The book only covers three countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In fact, so far it's all about the Rwenzoris in Uganda. Uganda is perhaps not the safest place to visit these days. The book skips Rwanda entirely, and yet I have not ruled out some time in that country.

Besides planning for the trip, I am getting ready for my first winter in my new house. Since dance friend Jeff is also my neighbor and a contractor and was the owner of a plumbing and heating repair company, I feel confident that my house will be in good hands. I've got to get the weatherization teams in here for some free repairs too, though. I know this place could be more energy efficient.

Sep 26, 2009

isn't it ironic?

Posted by Mary |

Alanis Morrisette has ruined that word forever.

There are only two telephone companies in Fairbanks. Currently, I am being pursued by collections from company #1 for telephone service at my ex-boyfriend's apartment, where I never lived. He is being pursued by collections from company #2 for an unpaid bill at the Baurick Court house in March 2009. He moved out in June 2008.

After some quality time on hold with company #2, we discovered that when the bill finally switched over to my name, it was technically a different account. And even though both accounts had my credit card for auto pay, they never processed the balance from his account for March. They were demanding a late fee for the unpaid bill, but they quickly backed down. They had payment, they just didn't use it. It would be like charging me a late fee because I sent them a check and they didn't bother depositing it until the next month.

Company #1 remains a mystery, as they clearly have an account set up in my name at that address. Too bad I was living at the commune at the time.

Our first snow has arrived. It's melting away as I type, but I did wake up to a white lawn this morning. Last year the first snow also fell during Starvation Gulch, but it never went away. I recall getting pelted with snowy hail while standing next to the massive bonfires on campus, then driving home in a furious snowstorm. I think it's time to get the snow tires back and put them on the car.

Sep 22, 2009

it's the time of the season

Posted by Mary |

Fun fact: It is raining at home. It is snowing at work. The two locations are less than 2 miles apart.

Last year, as I recall, the first snow never really melted. It started during Starvation Gulch and hung around until April. I hope this year is not the same. I want the snow, just not yet.

Sep 19, 2009

heard at the watering hole

Posted by Mary |

I stared at that thing for an hour like a monkey doing math.
--Nate, who couldn't read the hat

Sep 16, 2009

heard at rehearsal

Posted by Mary |

Well, if you think it's too raunchy, then we should definitely change it.

For the record, I was the only single and chaste girl in the room. This reputation is undeserved.

Sep 15, 2009


Posted by Mary |

I like big hair and I cannot lie.

Sep 14, 2009

blame it on the social media

Posted by Mary |

I think part of the reason I haven't been writing on my blog much lately is because I've been on Facebook. Once I've written something there, it doesn't make much sense to write it here as well, right?

I'm throwing myself back into a busy schedule. Tonight I had a private cha cha lesson, followed by the first of a 6-week tango class. Tomorrow night I start a zymurgy class with some of my friends. Wednesdays are still bellydance rehearsals, and Thursdays I have ATS class.

The cha cha is one in a series of private lessons I've been doing with an instructor who is a friend of mine. It is very conveniently located at a private studio 4 houses down from me. Tonight, the studio owner popped upstairs. Lo and behold, it was my dance partner Jeff! I don't know Jeff very well, but whenever I go to the Silver Spur (small text=big shame) I try to hog all his time. Not only does he own the studio and live down the road from me, but he is a general contractor who just sold his plumbing and heating business. Now there's a friendship to cultivate! Plus, I can just lay on the horn outside his house and force him to go dancing with me!

Tango is a new experiment. I chose it because it was the most interesting sounding of the Monday night classes, and I don't have much in the way of free time. My friend John Gimbel is in the class, as well as a sort-of coworker, Nicole. I got paired up with another guy named John, a big fellow who seemed pretty decent on his feet though he didn't give enough indication of an upcoming change. Near the end of the class, all the partner-less people had to switch to a different lead, which is how I got paired up with Tom. Now, I was already tired and had been wearing my dance heels for a long time. (And one of the instructors followed me along the dance floor for a bit, admiring my custom-made dance shoes!) Tom and I did not dance well together. Sure, he gave great cues, but our bodies weren't compatible. He was a smaller guy, and our legs kept bumping and I felt like there was no tension in our dance frame.

Still, several weeks of upcoming classes, plus the possibility of being able to stalk Jeff and go dancing regularly has me quite excited.

delayed pictures

Posted by Mary |

I promised to post photos from my trip along the Denali Highway, didn't I? And I never did. Well, until now, that is...

The start of the road. The second day was mostly overcast like this.

I have a Gorillapod, and I'm not afraid to use it. Also, I have on a lot of clothing but no bear spray. Oops. There's no excuse for the sullen look.

Can you find the hunter in this picture?
Along the McClaren Summit Trail. The weather started to clear up a bit. And by "clear up" I mean the clouds moved from one side of the trail to the other.

I picked a lovely spot to camp. Those random white bits in the picture? Bones.

Lots of bones.

Including this partial leg I found near my tent.

Dismembered animals weren't enough incentive to move my camp, though. Perhaps a nice fire will keep the bears away.

The weather was quite nice the next morning. Until it started to rain as I was breaking down the tent.

The view is lovely, but you can see why you shouldn't drive too fast. Most of the road is like this.

I tried for a better shot, but failed. What, you may ask, was I trying to get in the picture? If you look very, very closely, there's a bald eagle. But my zoom is not so good, and it flew away when I tried walking closer.

Sep 11, 2009

[this space left blank]

Posted by Mary |

I feel this way every year. Every year since 2001, there has been mourning, ceremony and memories. And every year I get angry, but it's not the anger you'd expect. Maybe anger isn't even the right word. It's hard to explain, but here it goes:

My 9/11 was not your 9/11. And I don't want to spend my time talking about what the day was like for me. I certainly don't want to hear about what it was like for you. The sensation gets stronger now that I live in Alaska. I don't care about hunters who were stranded for days because planes couldn't fly in to pick them up. I don't care that you woke up to a phone call. I can't quite put it into words succinctly, and I've already devoted more space to it than I ever wanted to. Just let people have the privacy they might need. I'm not going to put my emotions on public display.

Sep 2, 2009

heard in the tech lab

Posted by Mary |

It's the lyrical smackdowns that hurt the most.
--Kylie, as my robot team was
beating Patrick's robot team

It's....there see....oh, you just had to be there. Robot races at work. Coming after the free cookies and smoked moose ribs, it kind of just capped off the day. I like my job.

Aug 31, 2009

denali highway

Posted by Mary |

My impromptu trip across the Denali Highway was, naturally, off to a late start. I had my weekly massage after work on Friday (health insurance pays for it, so I'm not going to cancel the appointment) and then I took a quick shower to rinse off the oil and started throwing stuff in the car. I had a full tank of gas and a game plan.

I headed out past North Pole and had the minor thrill of veering right in Delta Junction. By golly, I was driving on roads I'd never driven on before! In the largest state in the nation, there's very few actual state routes. Those that exist are known more by name than route number. I believe I was traveling on Alaska Route 4, but I just know it as the Richardson Highway. My goal was the one campground marked in the Gazetteer. It had been raining steadily since I left Fairbanks, and I wanted to set up camp and go to sleep. The campground turned out to be more of an RV sort of affair, at least as far as I could tell from the car, so I continued south toward Paxson.

It was closing in on 11:30, and I wanted to go to sleep. I finally just pulled off the road into a paved turnout and found a dirt trail leading off of it. It looked vaguely camp-able, so I set up the tent in a cold drizzle and hopped in. There were no niceties such as brushing my teeth. Instead I decided to play any old favorite game: How Will I Die? Round One: Bear Attack vs. Serial Killer

The next morning I was still alive, and it was still raining. I coaxed myself out of the tent and simply threw all of the bits and pieces into the trunk. As it turns out, I was only a few miles north of Paxson. Having never been there, I expected a typical Alaska highway town: 1-2 gas stations, a store, a restaurant. Nope, not Paxson. One building, which contained the gas station, store, restaurant and bar. It did sell Diet Dr. Pepper, so +1 for Paxson.

Paxson also had the dubious distinction of where I officially turned onto a new road. Technically I've driven the Richardson Highway before, even if I never drove that particular segment before. But in Paxson, all was shiny and new as I turned onto Alaska Route 8, aka the Denali Highway. It was all paved and lovely, at least for the first 30 miles. Then it reverted back to the potholed gravel I had grown accustomed to. It didn't matter much to me, as I was willing to drive slowly, and I had an iPod full of NPR podcasts.

Hunting in Alaska is a tricky subject. Some hunts, it seems, are already open, whereas others don't start for a while yet. So it's hard to say who was legally hunting. But as I came around a corner and spotted a black Honda Civic stopped in the road and a man standing in the road, pointing his rifle toward the hills, I was pretty sure I was seeing something, well, illegal. As if hunting from the road wasn't foolish enough, there was his vehicle choice. How, I ask, are you going to get a carcass home in a Honda Civic?

Around McClaren Summit, I decided to hop out of the car and enjoy some hiking. My friends had been of two minds about my solo trip: One group thought I should bring a gun, while the other thought I could adequately protect myself with a really big knife. I demurred on both accounts and opted to bring bear spray. It kept me safe on the Chilkoot Trail, so I figured it would keep me safe once again. About a mile into my hike, I came across a large pile of bear scat. At this point, I realized I had left the bear spray in the car. Nothing for it but to keep going, right?

The rain stopped while I was hiking, and I was rewarded with a merely cloudy view of the mountains on either side of me. After staging some photos with my new Gorillapod (love it!) I decided to head back to the car. The clouds shifted long enough for me to spot several men with guns wandering around on the hills. I was thankful I wasn't wearing my moose jacket, even though I'd heard everyone was wearing them this year.

After one cold, rainy night of camping, my mind started wandering in the car. Specifically, it started wandering south. I decided the most logical thing to do was to drive to Cantwell, call some friends and head down to their place in Chickaloon and enjoy the rest of my weekend in the Valley. Hey, I could even go shopping at Target! (Don't you judge me! The nearest Target is 300 miles away. It's a treat to go there.) I was pretty much set on this plan, until I decided to take a random dirt trail off the highway and found a nice flat area with a couple of fire rings set up. At this point, the sun was starting to peek through the clouds, and it seemed like the day might turn around. Plus, I really wanted to take a nap.

I yanked the still-soggy tent out of the trunk and let the sun and wind dry it, then set up camp near one of the fire rings. I went looking for firewood, and as I wandered back into the bushes, I kept coming across more and more bones. Not, like, a random bone here or there. More like a set of shoulder blades, a spine and ribcage, a leg with the hoof still attached. Perhaps this wasn't the best camping spot. But laziness prevailed, and I decided to take a nap rather than move on.

As the sun set later that night, I lit up my pitiful supply of wood and enjoyed breathing in smoke. After burning a few holes in my fleece, I went into the camp to try to accomplish my goal of the trip: figure out my game plan for upcoming travel. I can't say it was a huge success. I've decided to maybe go to Belize in Dec-Jan for a 2-week diving vacation. But I will definitely be joining Cara in Africa this summer to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. If I have to dump the Belize plans, so be it.

Before drifting off to sleep, I decided I was too narrow-minded in my think and played a game of How Will I Die? Round Two: Aliens and Zombies Could Get Me, Too. In the end, I decided I would most likely meet my maker at the hands of Nazi ghosts. Specifically, this guy:

Hey, nightmares are nightmares.
But the next morning I was still alive. It was freaking cold, and I laid in my sleeping bag for about an hour, whining about getting up. By the time I was rolling up my Thermarest, it had started sprinkling again, and I was able to get the tent bagged up before the skies opened.

The drive home was a continuing orgy of NPR, interspersed with the occasional song or two. I can now confirm the theory that a full tank of gas will get me from Fairbanks to Healy via the Denali Highway (with several miles to spare). After two nights of hip cramps from sleeping in a tent, I was looking forward to getting home and sleeping in my new marshmallow of a bed. I also eagerly anticipated a long, hot shower. Since sleeping in just isn't an option when you're camping (especially when you're a morning person), I was back in Fairbanks around 12:30.

Aug 30, 2009

i'm not dead yet

Posted by Mary |

I survived the weekend of camping. Please hang up any phones on which you may have dialed 9-1 and waited....

I'll share the story of the trip later, when I can add photos. For now, I will tell this tale...

On Friday I decided to play a game with my co-workers. We have a chat program set up for the office. I put my status as "Marco" and sat back to bask in the glory of a million "Polo" chats that were sure to come my way. The results were not so impressive, especially in light of the conversations my "Is zymurgist a word?" status provoked.

Aug 28, 2009

out of office auto reply

Posted by Mary |

I'm heading down to the mountains in about 15 minutes. I'll be enjoying a weekend of solo camping and hiking. If you don't hear from me late Sunday night, a bear probably ate me.

Aug 27, 2009

oh noes

Posted by Mary |

I have heartburn and the hiccups. Is this what getting older feels like??

Aug 24, 2009

spoiled for choice

Posted by Mary |

I decided I wanted to travel again, but somehow this has turned into planning trips on three separate continents within the next year.

It started with Asia. My friend Christi moved to Cambodia in January, and it seemed logical to go visit her. I was halfway through planning a trip through Cambodia and Vietnam when I bought a house and realized that the airfare was not budging. My newest financial metric is one mortgage payment, and airfare to Phnom Penh was no less than 1.5 mortgage payments. I've informed Christi that this kind of rules out Asia.

Then Dara mentioned going to Belize this winter. A ticket to Belize is about 0.7 mortgage payments. So I began working up dates and an itinerary for Belize, Guatemala and possibly parts of Honduras or El Salvador.

Then an old friend told me today that she will most likely be in Kenya for field work next summer. She and I have been talking about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for about a year now, but it's always been a stumbling block for both of us to be in Africa at the same time. And now I know she'll be there and I can stay in her apartment for free.

What to do? What to do? I don't think I can turn down this chance to meet up with Cara in Africa. But I still have that leftover ticket from Seattle that I need to use by January. Should I try for just 2 weeks in Central America and then 4 weeks in Africa? I've got enough accumulated leave (and should have more by then) to pull off both, but there is a financial impact there. Should I designate the Central America trip as PFD money and the Africa trip as $8K-house-buying-tax-credit money? (Note: The trip will not be $8K. Most of that money is going to my mortgage. But I was planning on spending between 10-20% on something fun.) Should I just give up and buy an around-the-world ticket and figure out how to make all the segments work? Seattle-Belize-Fairbanks-New York-Amsterdam-Istanbul-Nairobi-somewhere else is looking mighty good....

Crap. I'm calling for a retreat. I'm heading out this weekend for parts unknown to camp by myself for a few days and consider all my options. Maybe I'll have some clarity when I come back.

Aug 17, 2009

heard in the kitchen

Posted by Mary |

You really do need a man to cook for.
--Maegan, who doesn't seem
to realize that she is currently a
beneficiary of my kitchen efforts

It was an unexpected evening gathering. Liz came over to watch the season premiere of Mad Men with me. To celebrate, I made an Italian sausage and tomato soup, salad and bread, and we ate on the back porch. We enjoyed the show even though I couldn't find the right cable to hook my laptop to the new television. After Liz left, I began to whip up a batch of The Brownies, prompting the above comment. I can't help being so domestic at times. I have a love affair with food.

summer winds down

Posted by Mary |

Liz, Rachel and I try to stay dry before our performance

Of course it rained. It was time for the Tanana Valley State Fair, right? This year my dance troupe had the honor of being one of the closing acts at the fair. On a rainy Saturday night, we took the stage at 10 p.m. and danced until the fireworks started. There was no covered area for us other than the stage, so we had to hop up and down into the mud and wait in the rain. Still, it was a good end to a great summer of performances.

Although it was a Saturday night and I should have gone out to meet friends, I chose to go home and take a long, hot shower. I mixed up a dirty martini and retired for the night.

My big purchase since buying the house has been a new bed. I'd had my old one for many years, and I was no longer sleeping well. As some people already know, I have a penchant for a high bed. In fact, my bed frame was elevated on 7-inch cinder blocks. Fun fact: New mattresses are much thicker than old mattresses. As a result, my new bed was obscenely high. Like "3 feet off the ground" high. Like "the cat can barely make the leap up" high. Like "this would be easier with a step stool" high. Not a problem. On Friday night, Maegan and I hit Home Depot and I bought some scrap lumber. For $2.01, I was able to make much lower bed raisers (a contradictory concept) and my bed is now accessible once again. And in case you were wondering, it's like sleeping on a marshmallow. I love my new bed.

The weird feeling of home ownership is fading. I still like knowing that I own that squeaky spot in my bedroom floor, but I no longer panic when I think about mortgage payments. In fact, I'm even starting to think about travel again, though I probably can't swing the trip to Asia I was hoping for. (Sorry, Christi, but the ticket alone would be 1.5 mortgage payments!) At this point I'm considering a return trip to Central America for the holidays.

Aug 4, 2009

....and we're back

Posted by Mary |

That wireless router problem? I fixed it.
That burlesque show? It's done.
That housewarming party? It was a hit.
That new roommate? She arrives tomorrow.

I'm pretty much settled into the house. There are still issues I need to resolve. For instance, I need a new bed but I also want a new chair. There's not enough storage space for two people in the kitchen if one of those people is me. My temporary solution is a set of shelves in some dead space by the laundry area. My more permanent solution is to build a pantry in that same area.

And I need to tackle the new windows project but Lowe's does not sell the windows that meet current Energy Star requirements for tax refunds. I'll need to special order them, which means I also need to figure out how exactly to measure the damn window properly. There are 6 identically sized windows in the house, but my numbers don't match up with standard window sizes. I refuse to believe they are all custom windows. Since it will take about a month to get the windows in, I don't know if I'll be able to replace any of them this year. In theory, I could do all 6 in one weekend with a few dedicated helpers, but I wouldn't get the windows until mid-September at the earliest.

I'm off to Anchorage this weekend. Liz and I are leaving early work early on Thursday. After 6 hours of Neil Diamond, Avenue Q and general cattiness, we'll be there by the evening. Friday will be a relaxing day of shopping and lunch with Joanna, followed by a show where I only have to perform for TWO numbers! Then two days of dancing with Mira Betz and we're back on the road to Fairbanks.

Jul 28, 2009


Posted by Mary |

Just got home. 4 shows in 4 days. I'm exhausted but happy to say I really brought it with my song tonight. It helps that it was a theater crowd. But still, really really exhausted. I have 3 days of *just* dance classes and rehearsals, then I have to be in Denali for another show. The weekend after that I have to be in Anchorage for a show. The weekend after that I've got a show at the Tanana Valley State Fair. When did my hobbies take over my life?

In other news, my wireless router has now defeated two men. I am bringing over a third tomorrow night. If he fails too, I am buying a new router. I can't live a life tied to one place for Internet.

Jul 22, 2009

trials and tribulations

Posted by Mary |

I have no internet at home. No local phone either, though I get cell reception so it hasn't really been a problem. But no internet? That's a problem.

I like the web. I like to check my e-mail before I go to sleep. I like to wake up in the morning and read my feeds before I get out of bed. I like to find things like this:

On the bright side, I'm probably getting more unpacking done without the distractions of the web.

Jul 15, 2009

closing time

Posted by Mary |

Spam bots have hit my blog. I currently don't approve each comment, but I do have word verification enabled. Therefore I can only assume that some poor little sap in a third world country was getting $0.10 an hour to post bullshit on my site today. They all came in around 3:30 a.m., and had a link to some sort of satellite TV company. They have all been deleted. Play nice, kids, or I'll take your privileges away.

I close on my house at 1 p.m. today. Last night Joyce served me a potent Bloody Mary and then let me order furniture online. I reviewed the order this morning, and have no regrets.

Jul 14, 2009

ahead of schedule

Posted by Mary |

Got into work today and found several messages and e-mails. My closing has been moved up to tomorrow. It wouldn't be a problem at all except that the insurance is remarkably slow.... A few games of phone tag later, and the binder is finally at the bank and the title company. Now I just need to get a check for my closing costs and start getting my signing hand warmed up.

Jul 7, 2009


Posted by Mary |

You know what will keep my mind off of the show opening on Friday? Peeling back one of my toenails at rehearsal tonight. Sigh. I'm really looking forward to shoving my foot into high heels now.

The lead up to opening night is always excruciating.

Sunday: finish teaching a choreography, then 2 full run throughs
Monday: gym, work, 2 hours of show rehearsal
Tuesday: gym, work, dance class, full run through
Wednesday: gym, work, 2 hour rehearsal for Cold Fusion, promo show at Marlin (maybe)
Thursday: no gym (can't take it any more), work, full run through, dance class
Friday: gym, work, show opens
Saturday: Cold Fusion performance, then another show
Sunday: usher at Othello, maybe breathe and do laundry

In house news, the bank has been trying for 3 weeks to get confirmation from UAF that I work there. I put my HR person on that today. I'm supposed to close in 9 days. I've figured out mostly how I want to paint my bedroom. I've got fabric picked out for a new headboard, though not for the curtains yet. I found out that the credenza I wanted to get for the living room is NOT available for the free "ship to store" option, and that shipping will cost more than the furniture. Time to start hitting up stores in town to see what they've got. I also need some silly, basic things like a reel lawn mower and a ladder. Oh yeah, and some new doorknobs, too. Nothing says "I own the place" like changing the locks.

In personal life news .... oh, wait, I'm too busy with dance to have a personal life these days. well, that's not entirely true. On July 4, Joyce, Dara and I floated down the Chena River in a canoe, stopping at bars along the way. And I've been discussing with Joyce my growing fixation with a man I know. I think it will come to nothing, but it amuses me for now.

Jul 3, 2009

wait, what???

Posted by Mary |

Palin just said she's resigning? Huh? What? Oh, sure, I'm happy about this, but a little unexpected, no?

Jun 27, 2009


Posted by Mary |

Nibbles and I have touched down on 3rd Avenue. Despite some panic attacks, she did survive the trip here. Have I mentioned how awesome my friends are for letting me stay with them? Also, Joyce's minivan is even better than a pickup truck for moving stuff. That thing is huge!

I am almost, ALMOST out of the house on Baurick Court. I've got a few boxes left to pack, some garbage to throw out and a whole lot of cleaning to do. I want my hefty deposit back. That's more than a mortgage payment.

Now that this house stuff is all settled-ish, I'm starting to think about the realities of living there. For instance, I bought a new television, so I need a way to both display it and maximize my storage. I've come up with this:

Also, I need a game plan for colors. I'm thinking a teal in the bedroom, with a lighter color inside the closet. Maybe a light purple. I might use that same color to redo the dressers, and I plan to make an upholstered headboard. Jay Cable is going to loan me his jigsaw to do it, provided I agree to not cut my fingers off. I should probably see what upholstery fabric I can find in town before I go buying paint.

a good friday

Posted by Mary |

Today was a good day at work. I took a group of interns on a hike up Angel Rocks, then went to the hot springs for a few hours, then dinner at Silver Gulch Brewery and dessert at Hot Licks.

I'm home now, slightly sunburned and definitely tired. Tomorrow is the first UAF Really Free Market, and I'm going early to drop off a bunch of stuff I'm getting rid of in this move. I got the appraisal back from the bank today, and the house came in at the right price. It's looking like this house-buying stuff is a done deal. That should give me a nice place to put the new television.

I've started watching some Star Trek: Voyager, despite the fact that the boys at Make It So once voted the entire cast as the worst actor in the history of Trek. Maybe that's weighing on my mind, but I've notice that DVDs are making a subtle editorial comment. The "Launch" button for each episode thus far has been positioned over what is, frankly, the rectum of the ship. Seriously.

Jun 25, 2009

impulse spending

Posted by Mary |

I bought a new television today. I was only sort of considering it, but then I found a 32" LCD that was discounted for being the floor model. I figure I can justify this by pointing out that my LAST impulse purchase netted me a $130K mortgage. Also, my new living room is small and the old television ironically takes up more space. Plus now Bollywood nights can return to my house.

Bob is gone. Celine is gone. I am sleeping on an air mattress as I slowly depart. Air mattresses are cold and uncomfortable, and I look forward to being reunited with my mattress and boxspring at Joyce's on Saturday. She and Michael have graciously offered to let me bring my cat and crash in their guest room until I close on the house. How much do my friends rock??

Packing has sucked. Please don't ever let me buy clothes again. I'm a fashion plate, but that comes at a price. That price is a massive wardrobe. I've been trying to cull things. The stiletto Timberlands are finally going away. I suspect more stuff will be going away when I try to unpack.

Tomorrow I am going hiking for work. In an effort to document our summer interns, I will be scrambling up Angel Rocks, then going to soak in the hot springs. It's rough. I realized today that this probably means I need a bathing suit. Luckily, I found one I had not yet packed. After hot springs and dinner, I plan to come home and pack pack pack. I'm really ready for that "moving" montage...

Jun 22, 2009

not-so-still life with cat

Posted by Mary |

I get no respect from that beast. To be fair, she's being extra needy because all my belongings are slowly disappearing from the house.

The video was shot late last night/early this morning. Yesterday was kind of great and sucky all at once. It was solstice: Yay! I woke up to rain: Boo! The rain cleared in time for our performances at the street festival: Yay! I ate lots of fried foods: Yay! I came home and got a migraine: Boo! I attempted to nap it away, to limited success: Yay? Boo? I then got nauseated, but had not yet packed the Alka Seltzer: Yay! My nap kept me from going to sleep again: Boo! I watched a zombie movie instead: Yay! I woke up and still had a headache: Boo!

I called out sick at work. Now it's hours later and I'm still in a bit of pain. I think this is because of the air mattress that I will call my bed for the next week. Marmian and I moved my bed and couch on Saturday, and I will officially begin squatting in Joyce's dance room on Saturday. Until then, it's air mattress time. This kind of reminds me of the rebound guy I dated last year who believed there was no finer bed on Earth than a futon mattress on the floor. Every morning felt like a college weekend. Ugh.

Jun 20, 2009


Posted by Mary |

Last night I dreamed that I moved into my new house. I was in the backyard when I noticed a problem with one of the shingles, so I tore it off of the roof. Then I started tearing off more shingles. I had removed about 1/3 of the roof when I realized that I didn't actually have any of the materials necessary to repair the roof. "Don't worry about it," I told my dream self, "you can just put a tarp over it until you're ready to fix it."

This dream means I am:

a) nervous about owning a house
b) a true Alaskan when it comes to repairs and quick fixes
c) all of the above
It's time to start packing stuff up again. Marmian will be here with her truck soon.

Jun 16, 2009


Posted by Mary |

How come women can have a baby shower every time they get pregnant, but not have a bridal shower every time they get married?

This moving business isn't good for me. I'm so busy I don't have time to make food, which means getting takeout if I even notice that I'm hungry.

I think I'm getting less panicked about buying a house, but I'm getting more panicked about singing in public in a few weeks. Why did I agree to do that show?

I'm having a really hard time finding a manual lawn mower. I think I might have to order one off the Internet. That makes for an ironically large carbon footprint for the human-powered machine.

I can't be the only person amused by the fact that an aerospace reporter is named Miles O'Brien, right??

Jun 13, 2009

heard in the hallway

Posted by Mary |

Yeah, well it wasn't a bear.
Don't take away from my kill.

Seriously, it was a BIG spider!

Jun 12, 2009

tread carefully

Posted by Mary |

My roommate killed a polar bear. No, really.

Read about it here.

Maybe I should stop making fun of him so much. Nah.

Jun 11, 2009


Posted by Mary |

Since my new house (ack!) will have cellular reception, I'm debating whether I should just ditch the landline and go with only a cell phone. It seems logical, but I also want to have Internet access at home. And thus far I can't seem to find just Internet access. Well, I can, but it's $40/mo as opposed to $50/mo for a phone, Internet and possibly cable bundle. That's stupid.

I breifly decided that a new house (ack!) warranted a proper, grown-up purchase. Specifically, I wanted a piece of art by Bill Hammond. I saw some of his stuff in a gallery in Wellington, NZ, and it kind of stuck with me.

See what I mean? Creepy and gorgeous. The one above is "The Fall of Icarus" and below is "Placemakers II."

Alas,Mr. Hammond does not seem to have a website. The one site I found that sold quality work started their lithographs at $2,500. Ouch. I've found one NZ print store that has two of his prints, "Placemakers I" and "Jingle Jangle Morning" for sale for NZ$80 each. I think it might be worth it. But it won't be the same as seeing his art up close, seeing the paint that has poured down the canvas.

Jun 10, 2009

heard in my bedroom

Posted by Mary |

I learned a new trick today.
I hope you're going to put your shirt back on before you show me.

I haven't been here much lately. Mostly because I've been here:

Yeah, so I kind of bought a house. Ack. I get nauseated every time I think about the fact that I'm signing off on a 30-year mortgage. Oh, sure friends tell me that I can leave it after 5 or 7 years, but STILL!! That's a longer commitment than I've ever managed in my 32 years.

Anyway, to save you all from too much boredom as I talk about disclosures and home inspections, I'm going to be busy over there for a while. But, to sum it up:
  • I bought a house
  • It seems pretty cool
  • I am closing in mid-July and am quasi-homeless from July 1 until then
  • I am excited and nauseated all at the same time (seriously - who does this so quickly? I decided LAST WEEK that maybe I ought to consider buying a house. I made up my mind on Thursday, viewed the house on Saturday, put in an offer on Monday and it was accepted on Tuesday)

Jun 5, 2009

settling down

Posted by Mary |

I think I'm going to take te plunge. It's time to be a grown-up and admit that I've lived in Alaska for 6.5 years. I'm staying. As such, I think I am going to buy a house.

Oh, originally my plan was to build a house next year, but damn that Obama and his $8K tax credit! Stupid economic stimulus! I don't know if I'm going to find the perfect house in the perfect location for the right price. I do have until November to take advantage of the tax credit, but I also have to move out of my place by then end of this month. Which means either buy something right now or put my stuff in storage and move into the cheapest month-by-month apartment I can find. Hello, Fairview Manor!

I believe the house-viewing madness starts on Tuesday.

May 31, 2009

heard on the stairs

Posted by Mary |

Oh yeah, there have been a few earthquakes recently.
Uh, yeah.
--Roommate, who had asked me what
was new when he got back to Alaska

The reports have varied from 3.75 to 3.98, and are currently reading at 3.8. I think I'm ready for the earthquakes to end and the fire season to begin.

May 30, 2009

extra extra

Posted by Mary |

Here's a lede you won't see in tomorrow's paper.

Although she's lived in her Rosie Creek house for two years, Mary Haley said she never felt any quakes until last week. "I was in bed the morning after my birthday, and I wasn't sure if it was News-Miner reporter Amanda Bohman, who was laying next to me, or if it was seismic activity, but I felt the earth move," Haley said.

The ground has been shaking again which is weird, because I really never feel earthquakes here. I was at the Loon waiting for a concert to start last night when I felt a small tremor, which Marmian pegged as a small quake. It was a 3.5, and the aftershocks were mostly small with the exception of a 1.86, which we didn't really feel anyway because Greg Brown rocks!

Since it was my birthday, I was forcing people to drive me around and I insisted we go to the Marlin after the show. Chris Juhlin was playing there, so it was another good time that involved numerous shots. Hey, it was my birthday! Although I'm used to seeing one coworker there, I was startled when another showed up. I've never seen him out in public before, let alone dancing and possibly drinking.

Since Amanda was my designated driver and had to go to the airport for a story in the morning, she just spent the night at my place. She had expressed a little jealousy over the earthquake a few weeks ago, since she didn't feel it out at her place. We went to sleep, and that's when the action started.
6:16 ..... 3.23
6:20 ..... 2.35
6:23 ..... 1.59
7:29 ..... 2.93
9:07 ..... 2.14
We woke up for the 6 a.m. ones, drifted back to sleep and woke up again for the 7:30 quake. At 9 we were up and getting ready for a run to Lulu's Bagels. It's been quiet since then, and I'm wondering if these little earthquakes are releasing the energy or are building up to something bigger.

May 29, 2009

insult, meet injury

Posted by Mary |

On my birthday, xkcd? Really?

No, fuck you.

It's 11:30. The champagne is gone. I should be cleaning. I should be packing. I should be finishing choreography to teach on Sunday. I should be getting ready for Clucking Blossom tomorrow. I should be doing lots of things. But, as I mentioned, it's 11:30 a.m. and I have finished a bottle of champagne.

My nerdy coworkers pointed out that I'm only 20 if you count in hexdecimal. I like this plan. I hope I get carded tonight, since I'm only 20. This is already shaping up to be a much better year than last year.


Posted by Mary |

That makes two years in a row that I've been woken up at 8:30 a.m. on my birthday. Someone has to pay. And it's time to start drinking a bottle of champagne.

May 28, 2009

heard (read?) on chat

Posted by Mary |

A friend and I were discussing Facebook when I came up with a brilliant plan. My goal is to be the first person to comment on every person's status update. I shall use the following eloquent prose: First!

so ... you're going to rape everyone's status, basically?
they had it coming

Shortly thereafter, Christi was my first first. I'm pretty sure she'll get annoyed before I get bored.

May 25, 2009

heard on the phone

Posted by Mary |

Are you my friend?
--Prank calling kid
--Prank calling kid
Do you have any friends?
--Prank calling kid
Maybe you should try another number then.
--Prank calling kid
Good luck.

I resisted the urge to psychoanalyze the kid any further. Y'know - probing questions about why he/she doesn't have any friends, sympathetic comments that it must be hard to not have friends, the sort of stuff that would linger in his/her mind for years.

I survived kayaking yesterday. Normally I wouldn't put it in such dire terms, but this was no simple paddling trip. Our guides began the day by asking us what we were scared of. So I mentioned my fears of tipping the kayak. Brilliant idea. That's exactly what they made us do. Crap. Those boats felt a lot tippier than the ones we used on Doubtful Sound in New Zealand, too. Case in point: Joyce tipped while we were playing sponge tag. Then we all had to practice water rescues after the guides demonstrated with her. I think she and I will continue to enjoy the water together, including a possible booze cruise down the Chena sometime soon.

The weather has been glorious for the holiday weekend. Very sunny and warm. It makes me sad to stay inside and clean and sort through stuff to get rid of before I move. On the bright side, I only have to work 3 days, and then I'm off for another long weekend. I refuse to work on my birthday.

May 23, 2009

let's get ready to rumble

Posted by Mary |

I went to bed at 4 a.m. today. Not for any lascivious reasons - I just wasn't tired since I took a nap after work. The time I chose to go to bed is key, because it means I was not very far into my sleep cycle and not yet at my deep REM sleep when an earthquake hit at 5:30.

It wasn't particularly big - current reports have it at about 3.59 and about 8 miles down. The center was approximately 1 mile from my house (if you can trust Google maps and GPS coordinates), which explains why I felt this one and a few aftershocks. It should be noted that there are many, many earthquakes in Alaska, but it's a very big state. Check it out. I woke up about a minute before this one hit, and then had to comfort a freaked-out Nibbles.

Growing up in Connecticut, I never really had to deal with earthquakes. It just wasn't our thing. Hurricanes, blizzards, ferocious thunderstorms? I'm used to all of those (and my, how I miss thunderstorms). So the first quake really surprised me. I timed my move to Alaska perfectly and arrived a few months AFTER the big quake in Denali in 2002. I was working the night shift at the News-Miner's copy desk when I felt my first earthquake. It wasn't bad in retrospect, but I'm just not used to the feeling of buildings moving. I'm sure I've slept through many quakes since then. Still, it's a nice start to a long weekend.

May 20, 2009


Posted by Mary |

Surprisingly, I don't think I made my injury any worse by running the triathlon. Even more surprisingly (and not to digress, but this is why we need comparative and superlative adverbs - "surprisinglier"), I finished the race in 2:02:15. In 2006, I ran a slightly longer course in 2:02:06. The surpisingliest thing of all is that it took me 00:01:25 longer to do a 3 mile run on crutches than it did for me to do a 4 mile run with non-broken feet.

Oralee seems upset that I beat her swim time with a broken foot. For me, the more relevant facts are these:

  • I did not finish last overall.
  • I did not finish last in my age group.
  • I did not finish last in any of the legs or in the splits.
Seriously, I was on crutches, and I still beat people in the run. It was quite fun to watch the walkers as they noticed my crutch and began to reluctantly jog. Slackers!

Liz and I are feeling super-motivated now and may very well run the Chena Lakes Triathlon in July. Outdoor swim - brr!

I started dancing again yesterday. Well, I started moving to the music. My footwork is awful because I still can't put too much weight on my left foot, which is where most of the weight goes in both ATS and bhangra.

Both of my roommates are away for a while. And though I should be working on burlesque choreography, I think I'm just going to send out some e-mails, fire up the sauna on Saturday and see who shows up. I crave a nice night at home with friends, and it may be one of the last times I use the sauna before moving. I hate moving.

May 17, 2009

don’t tell mom

Posted by Mary |

I’ve done some foolish things in my life. When I was 7 or 8, an abandoned barn in the field behind our house collapsed at one end. As soon as the first snow fell, my sister and I decided to use the rickety structure as a makeshift sledding hill, climbing up the roof to the standing end, then zipping down to the bottom. I’m only bringing this up so my actions of today seem less foolish in comparison.

I tried training for the Gold Nugget Triathlon. It was on one of those training runs two weeks ago that I broke my foot. Stress fracture, left foot. And I didn’t really discuss this much because I didn’t want any lectures, but I decided that I was going to do the triathlon anyway.

It seemed like a logical plan when I was up in Fairbanks. It even still made some sense when I got to Anchorage. But as the bus pulled up to the race site this morning, I started to doubt the wisdom of this plan. It didn’t help that some of the top athletes were still on the course, zipping in on bikes, heading out for the run. Suddenly the course seemed awfully … long.

After getting my chip and a warm-up swim, I began the long process of waiting in line. With the regular race site closed for construction this year, 1,400 racers had to go through one 6-lane pool for the swim. It was complicated to say the least. Someone took my crutch at the start and was holding it for me when I got out of the pool. The swim is usually my best part, though it was abysmal this year trying to get around the doggy paddlers and do a snake swim. I still managed to pass a lot of people in the pool.

I don’t want to think about my T1 time, since I had to use the crutch to get out to my bike, then sit down to wrap my ankle and hop my bike across the mat. Someone told me the bike course was flat this year, but someone lied. I did some passing, did a lot of getting passed. At one point the pain in my foot was too much, so I hopped off the bike on the big hill. I snagged a road bike at a bike sale after I broke my foot, so I hadn’t really trained with it at all. I just kept reminding myself that at least I didn’t have to run.

Just when I was thinking about taking another break, I turned the corner and saw the race site again. I parked my bike, grabbed my crutch and headed out for the “run.” Do you know what pain is? Pain is using a crutch to hobble through the run section of a triathlon. I did no passing here. I’d like to think I took the slow, monastic approach. At my slow rate, I had a chance to see everyone else on the course and to cheer them on. And they had the chance to tell me how much I rock. No, seriously. Among the many things I heard were:

  • You’re amazing.
  • You’re my hero.
  • You get major badass points for that.
Not once did anyone hit on the truth: I am stubborn.

I kept switching the crutch from arm to arm. It sort of helped, in the sense that the chafing and bruising was spread evenly along both sides of my body. And while I can’t deny that it was nice to hear everyone cheering me on and to see groups stand up to clap for me as I came back from the run course, I don’t think I’d do it again. I don’t think I need ego boosting if it comes coupled with exhaustion like I feel right now. Between finishing the race and the drive home, I’m beat. I showered. I ate cake. And now I’m watching a Nazi zombie movie and getting ready for hours of blissful sleep.

May 6, 2009

heard at the dance studio

Posted by Mary |

I won't be able to wear high heels!
Yes, that's the real tragedy in all of this.

Yes, it seems that I have broken my foot. Just in time for the triathlon. The "no refunds" triathlon. The "T-shirts for finishers only" triathlon. I'm still mulling my options.

May 4, 2009

aging gracefully

Posted by Mary |

My car is getting older, as evidenced by its increasing mileage. Of course, I just took the picture because of the coincidental odometer readings.

It's spring. I have my first mosquito bites and on Saturday I watched a beautiful parade of ice floating by on the river. The weather has been unseasonably warm lately, and everything is melting at once. I suspect that the hills will start to turn green sometime soon.

The warm weather also means that it's time to go looking for land. I'm meeting with a potential builder on Saturday to suss out a two-acre plot and talk about house designs. I spent some time eyeballing a friend's house at a party on Saturday, trying to get an idea for how my plans might work.

In dance news: The show on Friday went well. It was not our show, but we were the coolest act there. I also managed the impossible: a complete costume change backstage in 12 seconds. Yes, someone was timing it! In addition, there will be another burlesque show this summer. It will be a 3-week run in July. Stay tuned for more.

May 1, 2009

i'm a liar

Posted by Mary |

After I stretched my ears to a 4, I said I'd never stretch my second ear piercings. I lied. I just moved them to 14. What can I say?

Tattoo plans are moving slowly. The artist in Anchorage does really great work, but it takes her up to a week to reply to my e-mails, and then the response is sometimes, "Sorry, that time got booked." Joyce and I might be taking a special trip down just for tattoos. However, I still want to go look at the portfolios at Body Piercing Unlimited.

I've got a performance tonight. My solo is going to be improv. Super duper improv. It's a sword piece, and I just got a new sword video in the mail last night, which has thrown off my game plan. Too many new moves to try!

I know my plan is to build a house next summer, but I've recently seen ads for two cute places that are already built. Why did the mortgage industry have to collapse? I want one of those low-money-down loans! Patience. Patience. It will all be worth it in the end when I have the perfect place.

Apr 30, 2009


Posted by Mary |

I had to get some blood taken last week. This involved an early morning drive across town and two attempts to find a vein that worked. It left me with a tiny red mark on each arm. However, the clinic did not give my blood to the FedEx guy who came by later that morning, which meant another early morning drive across town. This time the nurse found a vein on the first try. And as a bonus, I do not have a tiny red mark on my arm. Nope. Not this time.

I look like a junkie. My arm is beat to hell for two vials of blood. What happened? I feel like my father is just going to laugh at this post, because his entire body pretty much looked like this after last summer. But I have a performance Friday night. I'm going to have to put makeup on my freaking arm. Lovely. I'm going to a party this weekend, where every eligible man I meet will assume I enjoy red wine, long walks on the beach and heroin. Brilliant.

Apr 28, 2009


Posted by Mary |

So now you can imbed YouTube videos directly into Gmail chat? Cool new feature that I've heard nothing about.

Despite the fact that he works in an open office, I like sending my friend videos and links that he must visit. It makes him a bad employee but makes me a very good friend.

Apr 27, 2009


Posted by Mary |

I asked Tom if anyone was going to sing the song from the Star Wars Holiday Special at Bea Arthur's funeral. He said it was thematically appropriate, but probably not. So instead I'll post the clip here for your enjoyment.

And no, the quality really doesn't get much better than this. Ah, Star Wars Holiday Special, how you haunt me!

another week begins

Posted by Mary |

I was not feeling the swimming mojo this morning, which is unfortunate for a few reasons.

  1. I am getting some henna done today for a performance this weekend. Chlorine kills the henna pretty quickly, so that makes today my last swim of the week.
  2. No one had said anything yet, but the pool is closing next week. I really wish UAF would give us notice about these things. I'm sure by Thursday someone will have scrawled a note and stuck it on the locker room doors, but that's about all the warning we ever get that our pool is going out of commission.
Spring might actually be here. It was in the high 60s yesterday. That's driving-with-the-window-open weather. It made the dance studio rather warm for rehearsal, but I'll gladly suffer that for now.

Apr 24, 2009

frakkity frak

Posted by Mary |

May is cursed. And it's snowing in April.

When I signed up for the triathlon, I stayed up until midnight so that I could get in. I got myself a volunteer spot in the pool, which means I can run early. The volunteer coordinator has told me that too many people signed up for the pool and I can get moved to parking. I understand too many people signed up. I saw that it went to -18 before they closed. But there were still pool spots available after my registration was completed, so why am I getting bumped?

Also, the tattoo plans are not coming along so well. I couldn't convince the artist to come in on her day off, so instead I decided to stay a few extra days in Anchorage. I asked her if she had any spots that day, and she said she was open. I replied precisely 6 minutes later to tell her that I wanted the spot and asking if she needed a deposit. Two days later she replied to tell me it had been booked and I really needed to come in to put down a deposit. Sorry, but I'm not going to spend 12 hours on the road to give you a deposit. I've asked about the first weekend in July, when I've got a four-day weekend. If she can't do it then, I'm not going with her. Yes, her work is beautiful, but I don't need to deal with any more flaky artists. I've got a backup plan that's actually located in Fairbanks.

My friend told me she found the perfect man for me. Except he lives in another country. How is that perfect, exactly??

Apr 20, 2009

uh oh

Posted by Mary |

I brought my new running shoes to work today. But I'd forgotten that I washed my running clothes at home before I went to Anchorage. I had my swimsuit, but didn't have my shower stuff.

As a result, I tried to do a brick after work. A mini brick. Very mini. About 5 miles of biking and a mile of running. And it kicked my ass. You just can't train for that in a gym. A stationary bike or treadmill or track are not the same. I've got less than a month to get ready for the triathlon. I'll do it, but right now it worries me.

Apr 19, 2009

civilization vs. home

Posted by Mary |

I'm back from an extended trip south. The drive down Thursday was mostly uneventful except for a double trailer truck suddenly deciding to pass when I was already halfway up his side. I met up with Adam for Himalayan food. He's very familiar and comfortable, but I'm pretty certain we never actually hung out in Mystic together. John and Joanna were delighted to see me, even more so when I brought in a container of brownies.

The Adobe workshops were somewhat helpful. They didn't expand my knowledge for InDesign or Photoshop, but helped a bit with Illustrator and a lot with Fireworks and Flash. I bought new running shoes while in town, since my last pair date from 2006. I also forced Joanna to leave the baby, get dressed up and go have sushi with me. When packing the next morning, I liberated the most delightful polka dot dress from the confines of her closet.

The Palmer workshop was fun. Most of the people seemed pretty new to ATS dance, and we were called upon to demonstrate changing the lead at one point. The evening performance was a casual hafla at a restaurant. Anyone could hop up and dance, which led Liz and I to spontaneously revisit our bhangra. Joanna and Melissa showed up and joined us in a 5-person ATS formation. This proved the point that ATS dancers can share the same stage without practice, as we all managed to follow each other's lead.

My return trip home was boring. I hadn't tightened my gas cap properly, so my cruise control wasn't working, which annoyed me mildly. When I got to Hindi class, I found that Joyce and Liz had broken down outside of Nenana. They were in the process of being rescued by Michael and thus did not make class.

While I was in Anchorage, Joanna took me tattoo shopping, and I think I've found the artist for my next piece. The only sticking point here is that she is 350 miles away and doesn't work on any of the days that I'm going to be there. I plan to break her will and make her come in on her day off to tattoo me. My friends are confident that I will win this battle.