Updates on Life

How long has it been since I’ve posted on this blog? Too long. It got lost in cyberspace, covered in cobwebs and dust, and I’m finally pulling it out of that box in the far corner of the internet’s attic, dusting it off and putting it back to work.

I’ve moved to Tacoma, Washington and made some big changes in my life. I no longer work for the State of Alaska, since I no longer live there, and I’m searching for the next step in the adventure I’m on. I have started a small editing business and I can’t wait until it’s off the ground. This fall, I plan to go back to college for engineering. I’m working part-time for the division of elections in my new county, and I am enjoying all the changes as they come. It’s anyone’s guess what the next step will be, but isn’t that the point of adventure?

It’s funny how when you leave something for a while, returning to it will show you how much you have changed. That is what this blog is doing for me. It’s easy to get caught up in picking apart your past, noticing the things you don’t particularly like about it and wishing you could change them. I don’t think this blog was any good and I want to go back, edit each of my posts and make them better. Make them fit who I am today, maybe, and not who I was two years ago. But there is beauty in the past and there is something to be said for accepting it as it is, acknowledging your growth and appreciating it. So I’m going to try to do that and leave the old Arctic Journal alone.

With that having been said, I’d be thrilled if you came and visited my new blog. It’s right here. Enjoy!

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The Purpose of Satire

The American Bar Association says that hate speech is “speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.”

The OED defines satire as “The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

The major difference between these two definitions is that satire has a purpose – to “expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices.” Hate speech does not have a purpose beyond offending, threatening or insulting.

France attempts to prohibit hate speech by penal code and press laws, deeming unlawful public and private communication which is defamatory or insulting, or which incites discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person or group on account of place of origin, ethnicity or lack thereof, nationality, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or handicap. Several publications, however, have been acquitted of charges of hate speech over the last several years, including at least one against Charlie Hebdo.

It is important to remember the difference between hate speech and satire. In the words of author Michael Coren, “Cartoons are supposed to be rude or offensive. Satire, from the Greeks to Swift and Defoe to the Soviet dissident writers to modern French magazines, has to provoke. Otherwise it’s safe and pointless. Genuine liberalism is not about allowing that with which you agree; it is about tolerating that which makes you extremely angry.”

Home Alone

I wake up on a Saturday morning, the sun coming in through the blinds, and roll over, bleary eyed, because although my body is ready to wake up I am not sure what to do with my mind.

When I finally know that I am not going to go back to sleep, that the day is inevitably marching forward with all the clamor of reality, I pull myself reluctantly away from my soft mattress and stomp, clumsy-footed, across my room.

I make coffee and get in my car. Where am I going? I’m not really sure, so I drive slowly away from town, along the only road that goes anywhere. The sun is already at the top of the sky, shining bright and fresh and drying the puddles that never totally disappear. I turn off the main road onto a dead end with houses alongside, driveways brimming with old trucks and detritus. When I get to the end, there’s a staircase going down the steep slope toward the water of the bay. I park my car as close to the edge as I can and get out. The stairs piqued my curiosity, so I walk down them to a thin dirt path which skirts the water. Where am I going? I still don’t know.

I squint at the bright sun like an underground creature seeing it for the first time. My nearly empty coffee cup in hand, I walk slowly through the cobwebs. two joggers pass me and I think I really ought to run more. But I’m outside in the sunlight… That’s a start, right?

I walk for a while, but finally I reach the other end, little shacks with outdoor toilets marking the terminus of this tiny excursion. So I turn around, the sun at my back now, and return slowly to my car.

It’s not raining, so everyone is out in the meager sunshine. They all seem to have a purpose. And I, purposeless, walk by them one by one, a trespasser in their lovely world for a moment. I climb the stairs, get in my dirty car and drive away.

A Pet Peeve

One of my greatest frustrations in life is when people – professional writers and journalists, no less – misuse words.

I was just reading an article in Rolling Stone – not a source of the best writing ever, to be fair – and someone was talking about a belief which is allegedly held by the proponents of a certain political party.

“The idea that government assistance to the poor creates dependency and erodes freewill has long been a key tenant of conservative thinking.”

What, is this idea renting out space in conservative brains or something? I’m assuming they meant “tenet.” Not to mention “free” and “will” are two separate words.

Go ahead, call me a nerd. But come on.

And that’s just one sentence…

In Which I Plan A Wedding

Hello Friends.

It’s been too long since I updated you all on my super exciting life, and I know you’ve just been dying to hear more. So here’s your update!

As many of you know, I got engaged a few months ago. Well, time flies, and in about a month and a half I’m getting married.

After much serious thought and deliberation, we decided to have a very small wedding. Around 40 guests will be attending and we are keeping the budget extremely low (for a wedding). That having been said, I want to throw the best party I can for those few who will be gracing me with their presence. And since this isn’t just any party, but a Wedding with a capital W, expectations run high.

I could make a list of things I’ve done and things I have yet to do (don’t worry, I’ve had plenty of practice with that over the last couple of months), but that would be boring. So I’ll just tell you about some less-boring things that have happened lately.

1. I have learned that people are wonderful.

I am amazed at the love so many people have shown me over the past couple of months, and I struggle to fathom how I will ever live up to their kindness. From being told that I will be a stunning bride, to being given priceless heirloom china, to those people who are taking time out of their lives and spending tons of money on plane tickets just to be here with my guy and me… It all makes my day.

2. I have learned that planning a wedding is actually lots of fun.

Here are a few things I dreaded, and how they actually turned out:

finding a photographer – I met a really sweet lady who my sister knows of through her job who kept telling us how much she loves weddings and who is photographing ours for so little I almost feel guilty about it.

Registering for gifts – I actually get to look around and pick out cool stuff that other people will buy for me? Sweet!

Pre-Cana – The premarital counseling program that Catholics have to do. We met with the sweetest couple in the world five times and talked about ourselves, our relationship, and basically anything that was on our mind, and it was absolutely amazing. Our “mentors” were absolutely the best, and I hope we can be friends with them for a very long time.

3. Engagement is really hard.

It’s a weird transitional phase that you have to go through as a couple before you can be married. I feel like I’m ready to be married, and sometimes I kind of just want all this stuff to be over with. But at the same time, I know that in the last three months or so our relationship has grown and gotten better and and it will continue to grow and get better, I hope, forever.

Reality

I just reached a pretty incredible milestone.

It wasn’t like anything I expected. But I guess these life-changing events never really are.

I expected a sudden event which would change everything in a single moment. What little girls daydream about, I guess. Some shadowy, handsome figure on one knee, a bright shiny object in hand, speaking those words you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear… Ready to sweep you away into the future.

But reality outshone my expectations. The moment came and went; it was brief, unexpected and barely significant. The moment isn’t what I’ll remember. The eternal promise is what I’ll remember, and the hope for what eternity holds.

I expected to feel different now, for my life to suddenly become something it’s never been before, for everything mundane and boring to suddenly be sparkly and exciting and new.

But the truth is, that change didn’t happen the moment the a ring was on my finger. It began months ago, and it will continue to happen for the rest of my life.

A proposal isn’t about the moment, just as a ring isn’t about the diamond. It’s about a promise, the future, and the gradual changes that you barely notice until after they’ve occurred. Nothing about this is as glaring and straightforward and sudden as the ceremonies surrounding it. But for all its subtlety, it’s the most significant thing in the world.

Juneau Life

I’ve been in Juneau for about six weeks now. A gorgeous little town sandwiched between a harbor and lots of steep mountains, it’s not accessible by car – you have to get here by plane or ferry. It feels a bit isolated at times, but I like it. I guess you could say I’m a small-town girl at heart, and Juneau is a very good fit for me.

That having been said, it’s been a lonely six weeks. Doug had to leave for work two days after we got here, and I don’t have a lot of friends in town. I go to work, come home and read for three hours pretty much every day. On the weekends I go for walks, drive around, meet up occasionally with acquaintances, go to the grocery store and to church, and that’s about it.

A few weeks ago I flew up to Anchorage for a weekend to see Doug, who was home from work briefly and was staying with his parents. When I arrived, I realized I had been a little homesick.

For my first month in Juneau I worked as a receptionist at the Department of Law, but two weeks ago I started an exciting new job with the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. I’m working as a research analyst, and I collect and document data and statistics on communities in Alaska. I’m sifting through massive databases and sorting and updating tons of information.

I’m full of anxiety, but also so much hope, for all that my future holds.

I’m Back

Well, I neglected this thing for a while, but don’t worry. I’m still here.

On New Year’s Eve I moved into a new house in the town of Juneau, Alaska. It’s the capital of the state. It hasn’t stopped raining since I got here.

Here’s the story.

I left Anchorage in the morning on Monday, December 27th, with my boyfriend and a car full of stuff. We drove east into Canada, through the frozen, empty nowhere that is the Yukon Territory. By the time we got to the border it was about 6:00 PM and totally dark.

We drove down a narrow highway in the dark, ice fog sparkling in the air, for about four hours after crossing the border. Finally we arrived in Haines Junction, where we stopped for the night. It was an empty little town, only there because of the highway, totally made up of gas stations and hotels. We managed to find one little bar. A pickup truck was parked outside and a dog was wandering around the door. We went inside and saw two middle aged men and a woman seated at the bar playing rummy. We sat down at a table, but after about five minutes one of the guys called to us to join them. He asked us where we were going, then spent the next fifteen minutes defying stereotypes by talking about Bobby Orr and snowmachines in a thick Canadian accent. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

The next morning we left Haines Junction hurriedly in order to get to our ferry on time. We got there with about four hours to spare. Finally the ferry arrived. As soon as we got on Doug saw one of his friends, and we all sat on the deck and talked until we pulled into Juneau at 8:30 PM.

We stopped at a bar and had burgers for dinner, then we found my new house and parked my car outside. It took us five minutes to walk downtown. It was New Year’s Eve, so things were a little crazy. We went into the Alaskan, one of the older and more famous bars in this town, and I saw some people I knew, so we joined them for a while.

After that we walked over to the Hangar, a bar right on the water, packed with people dancing to awful music like they do.

We went out the back door and we could see a guy right by the dock setting off fireworks – it was midnight.

The best New Year’s Eve midnight I’ve ever had.

So that’s how 2014 began for me: a new home in a new city, with a guy who makes everything perfect.

I know I’m a sap. I’m not sorry.

A Rant About Politics

I have a confession to make:

I don’t discuss politics. Ever.

Here’s the thing: it’s not that I don’t care what happens to this country, or that I don’t feel one way or another about certain issues. It’s just that, well, I really don’t like to talk to people about it.

Does this make me a bad person? Does it mean I don’t care? Should I try to win other people over to my way of thinking? Am I being lazy?

I don’t think so. Here’s my excuse: I believe our culture has lost its ability to engage in meaningful discussions.

You probably spend a bit of time and energy trying to convince others to think like you, or at least trying to get other people to understand your point of view. But in general, you’re going about it all wrong. If people are invested in their own political opinions enough to care, they’re not going to start agreeing with you just because of a meme you posted on facebook or one of your dinner party tirades.

Recently I was having dinner with my dad and a few acquaintances. Someone mentioned a certain political figure who has been the subject of much ridicule in recent years. Then she turned to my dad and said, “I’m sorry, are you a fan of ***?” My dad gave what was probably the best answer to such a loaded question. He said in a half-joking voice, “Well, I wouldn’t tell you if I was, now would I?” Whether he is a fan of said political figure is not the point here. The point is that the question was rude and deserved no response. However, everyone present sort of automatically assumed that since he wouldn’t answer the question, he must be a fan of ***, who they were actively ridiculing at the moment. The atmosphere in the room became visibly awkward as they continued to pick on ***.

You may want to ask, “What was so rude about the question? If he wouldn’t answer it, isn’t it his fault that no discussion was happening?” Well, I will tell you exactly why the question was rude and why he was justified in his response. The one asking the question did not want to engage in a discussion. If my dad had said “No, of course I’m not a fan of ***,” she would have expected him to engage in her tirade against ***. If he had said he was a fan, she would have just tried to get a rise out of him – which she did, assuming he was of the latter opinion.

Moral of the story? Don’t bring up politics EVER unless you are discussing the topic with a very close friend who you know also wants to discuss said topic. Don’t garnish every internet page over which you claim dominion with clever little sound bytes and quotes meant to get you more likes or invoke angry comments. And please, please don’t begin ridiculing anything (or anyone) controversial in mixed company with whom you are barely acquainted. All you’ll get is people who have a very poor impression of your manners.

Did this post make you angry? Do you think I’m completely off base? Well, I encourage you to comment – maybe you’ll actually change my mind.