Feb 16

Did you all know that Google is moving it’s operations to my hometown?  Well go and check it out.  Lenoir used to be known as the “furniture capital of the south” but since the Broyhills and the Bernhardts decided to abandoned their US operations and opt for cheaper laber in China, thousands of people have lost their jobs and my little town is drying up.

The good news is, a lot of people upon losing their jobs went back to school and a big majority of them majored in some sort of technical degree.  Google intends to do as much local hiring as possible and that means that my town will continue to grow.  How awesome is that?

Google coming to this beautiful town will be a blessing.  I’m so proud!

Feb 16

Well, after being awake over 24 hours and finally arriving in Charlotte on Wednesday, we found that the airlines sent our luggage on the wrong flight.  Yay!

The good news is, it wasn’t lost but we wouldn’t receive it until the next day.  Thank GOD they deliver!  However, staying up all night, waiting for the doorbell to ring was nervewracking and then to have the delivery people call and tell us they had no idea where they were was even more mind boggling.  In a punch drunk haze, Howard and I managed to navigate them to a well known landmark here and we just drove to meet them.  We then returned to my memaw’s house, crawled into bed and slept for nearly 12 hours.  Needless to say, the jetlag is now gone.

The weather is beautiful so far, but for this part of the country, it’s pretty damned cold!  You know, being that I’ve lived in Alaska for over four years now, one would think that my body would adjust to anything over zero.  But not so.  It’s cold ya’ll.  Is all I’m saying.  I feel cold.  I’ll be in the Sahara desert next week, if it’s cold there too, I’m gonna be pissed.

I had lunch with Julie today and then hung out with her at her office for a couple of hours.  It’s so cool that each year that I return there, I receive hugs and warm greetings from her co-workers.  She reluctantly let me leave but tomorrow is her birthday and we’re going to celebrate tomorrow night at Mama Jean’s.  God, it was good to see her.  It was fun to laugh until we cried over lunch and I’m soooo happy that I’m actually in town for her birthday.  She’s having a margarita (or a dozen) on me.  Here’s hoping for zero blackouts.

Dusty has already called to check on us and it’s amazing how much we already miss him and the rest of our gang.  How much we miss Alaska.

But as I drive through my hometown, I have a new appreciation for it.  I love that I grew up surrounded by the blue ridge mountains and that all the roads are windy and nutty.  It also makes me a little homesick.  But not homesick enough to leave Alaska yet.  Just makes me happy that my roots are here.

I’ve drank no less than a trillion gallons of sweetened iced tea and I’ve already had my Mexican food fix.  In honor of our usual “steak night”, we’re going out to “The Sagebrush” tonight to have a steak in Susie and Todd’s honor.

In four days we leave for Morocco and I’m both nervous and excited about the whole thing.  I just hope it’s warm.  Warm will be good.

Oh yes, I almost forgot.  When we stopped by our head office in Anchorage on Tuesday, they made us a tempting offer.  An offer that I can’t really talk about right now.  Needless to say, it’s consumed our thoughts and we’re really conflicted about it.  All I know right now is, no amount of money in the world can buy the friendships we’ve made thus far.  Especially where we live right now.

That’s it for now, that’s how the vacation is going.  Not doing much of anything except relaxing and hanging out with family.  (And of course wrestling with “the offer” we were handed)

I’m sure you’ll all read a drunken post from Marrakesh.  Stay tuned.  It should be good.

Feb 13

Chanel hand bag? Check.

Prada cologne? Check.

Coco Chanel perfume? Check.

St. Andrews’ cross? Check.

One pair of really cute kitten heel sling backs? Check.

Spare Gucci purse? Check.

Camera? Check.

Passports and drivers’ license? Check.

iPod? Check.

Clean underwear and nice clothes? Check.

Wallet and credit cards? Check.

Anxiety and excitement about leaving? Oh yes. Check that twice.

But the best, oh the best, is I am now officially a certified Emergency Trauma Technician!  We all passed and oddly enough we all missed 5 questions on the test.  Weird huh?  Of course when we answered the questions on the board, we added a few smartass answers.  Mine was how to begin treatment on a person in pain and I answered “Bear down!” and “Suck it up, crybaby!”  It got a good laugh and I still got an A!  Glad the class is over though.  Whew!  40 hours of class time compressed in to 3 weeks takes up a lot of time, even though it might not seem like it.

So that’s it for a while guys, Tess is also on vacation or else she’d no doubt be beautifying my site with her stellar prose and wit.

Amy, well, I haven’t asked Amy if she would like to guestpost but she knows she’s always welcome. (Amy, ask Pete to set you up if you want to guest post!) Did ya’ll know that our Amy is now a published writer? Oh yes. And even if she doesn’t get a chance to post here, you really should go over there to her site and tell her what a badass she is. Go on now.
Now you all know that I’ll find my way to a computer somewhere and check in. But I might be off somewhere drinkin’ iced tea and twanging it up with my southern family and friends.

Say you’ll miss me. You know I’ll miss you.

See you on the flip side in a couple of weeks!

Feb 12

February 14th will be a hard day for my village.  It will be the one year anniversary of Richard’s death.  It doesn’t even seem like it’s been that long.  His absence here has been palpable.  Especially for his family.

I want my last post before my vacation to focus on one lady in particular.  His life partner of 20 years, Judy.

When Howard and I first moved here, it was of course, an adjustment.  Not a hard one considering where we came from but nevertheless an adjustment.  Many people welcomed us immediately and some took some time to get to know us better.  A couple of those people were Judy and Rich.  Where Rich was always ready with a smile and some conversation, Judy was too.

On our community message board, Judy was always the one saying positive things about everyone.  If it was your birthday, you better believe she was one of the first people to post about it.  Every Friday night at steak night, we could count on Judy being there with either Rich or her sister, Betty.  The conversation was always lively with her and there was lots of laughter.  Howard and I grew fond of her very quickly.  She was and is one of the most gentle souls we’ve ever encountered.  She loves to tell stories of her wild adventures growing up in rural Alaska and as an Athabascan Indian.  The woman can shoot a moose like nobody’s business and hang with the big boys out on a camping trip too.

Everytime we leave the bar, she gives us a big hug and tells us she loves us.  Just thinking of our Judy makes us smile.  I really don’t think she has a mean bone in her body.

When Richard died, our hearts broke for her.  For every tear we shed for him, we shed for Judy too.  Richard was the greatest love of her life and now he was gone.

While Judy was honest about her immense grief over him, she could always find a way to smile too.  Even when Howard and I didn’t know what to say, Judy did.  This past year we’ve spent a few nights with her at a bonfire here or there and she loves to reminisce happily about Richard.  We let her because we know that memories are all she has left of him now.

One night over the summer while Mama Jean was visiting, we had a big party and Judy, her best friend Debby, Howard and myself, sat at our kitchen table and she told us of other tragedies in her life.  Tragedies that I feel sharing here would betray her confidence in us.  But I assure you that Judy has lost more than a human should in her lifetime.  Howard held her hand and consoled her when she cried.  More than anything Howard and I want to be there for her when she just wants to talk.  I know she would do the same for us.

Howard and I think about Judy and the losses in her lifetime and we admire her strength.  Not only to be able to go through the things that she has and still be able to stand up and talk about it, but the fact that her losses have not made her bitter.  I don’t know that I could go through what she has and not be a hard-edged cynic in the end.  But Judy remains the loving, strong, funny and beautiful woman I’m sure she always has been.  I hope that if, God forbid, I lose Howard in such a tragic way, that I too, can come out stronger and more hopeful in the end.

Judy says that she couldn’t have gotten through this past year without her friends and family and no doubt her family and friends have consumately been by her side and she is blessed but I don’t think Judy gives herself enough credit.  A lot of her strength comes from her spirit and her unwielding instinct to push through the tragedy and come out on the other side stronger, wiser, and grateful.  Her strength and grace should be a beautiful example to everyone who has suffered such a loss.
We love you Judy and while we won’t be here on the 1 year, please know that you and your family will be in our thoughts.

Feb 11

…and I’m not at all prepared.  Mentally I am but not physically.  In fact, I’m going to be busy up until we get on the plane flying out of the village.

Today was spent going over last minute things with our relief manager, who happens to be Mark, our new full timer because frankly, he can do all the things that a relief manager can and probably better, so why should I pay someone’s airfare and per diem if I really don’t have to?

I came home to eat and to shower (oh yes, I wore pajamas to work because we are closed today and dammit I can do things like that) and then we’re going to the cafe to see the first of the Iron Doggers zoom in for break, to check in with the judges, gas up, and to hop right back on their snowmachines. (The Tesoro Iron Dog race, if you care to google it because I don’t have time to post a link right now, but it’s an awesome race and we’re one of the checkpoints along the trail)
Tomorrow, I will rise early and spend the day making daily checklists for Mark and the rest of the employees to make their life easier.  THEN I leave work at 4 to get to my final ETT class. Tomorrow night is the final class AND the final exam.  No pressure or anything before vacation right?  I should get home around 10pm and then I’ll start packing and cleaning up the house so that our friend Julie, who is watching (I just typed “washing” instead of “watching”, luckily I caught the mistake because that would have been hilarious!) the house won’t think we live like pigs.

Then my flight is 9:45am on Tuesday morning.  Nope.  No pressure at all.  I hope to get one more post in before we leave because I’d like to tell you all about my friend Judy.  One of the strongest women I know.

Until tomorrow bitches!

Feb 10

Last night when I stopped by the house before going to my class, Howard mentioned that he couldn’t find the camera.  I called Dusty to see if I left it there.  He said he would look for it and call me.  I, of course, obsessed just a tiny bit about it and then we ended our phone call and I left for class.

When I returned home, I called him to see if he’d found it.  So far, nothing. Which really worries me because we LOVE that camera.  He promised to look for it again today.

Then of course, we started in our weeks and the gossip and the drama going on in our lives.

We spent a lot of time talking about Val.  I like being able to talk to Dusty because he and I can talk a subject to death but it’s very therapeutic for us.  Neither one of us ends the topic until it’s talked out.  We talked about how much we miss her.  What a presence she was to this community and how her children must be coping with her loss.

That brought us to the subject of wills and our final wishes when we die.  In light of all the death in the past year, Howard and I decided that while we’re in NC, we’re going to see my memaw’s attorney and make out wills.  It also makes sense because we travel a lot and obviously are at a higher risk doing so.

It’s something we don’t like to think about but it’s a necessary evil.  I want to make sure that if, God forbid, something happens to me, my family won’t make Howard’s life hell, especially if we have children.  I want to know that he’s taken care of and burdened with as little as possible.  I mean, death is hard enough without all the bullshit.  I’ve seen how mean and evil, death can make people.  I’ve seen how grief brings out the greed and the petty and it scares the living hell out of me.  Howard feels the same about me for the same reasons.

Dusty told me of his final wishes and then asked me if I’d accept power of attorney and be the executor of his estate, should he die.  Though losing one of my best friends is disturbing, I accepted without hesitation.  I don’t want him to have that burden either.  I then asked him if he would do it for me and Howard as well and he accepted.  I’m glad that if I die before Howard, Dusty will make sure that my husband is taken care of and all the monetary allotments and possession will be distributed the way I wish.

Upon the writing of my will, Dusty will receive an Express mailed copy and I can rest easier.

198 minutes later (Dusty has a timer on his phone), we were all talked out and satisfied and immensely thankful for meeting each other and finding such deep, unconditional, immediate friendship in each other.  He really is the brother I always wanted.  I’m the annoying older sister he’s never wanted.  But he loves me anyway and I love him.  Having an unbiased “family” member is a good thing.

Feb 9

My fellow crazy and fellow shoe addict, Maria tagged me for this one.

The instructions: you now have to share five little-known facts about yourself, and inflict the Meme on five other unsuspecting Bloggers.

1.  I’m afraid of the dark.  Now you must be asking yourself why I would live in a state that has about six hours of daylight from November to January.  Who knows?  But when I’m in bed at night, I have to fall asleep with the lamp on or the tv on or I can’t fall asleep.  It always gets worse when someone close to me dies.  I’m not even sure I know WHAT it is that terrifies me so much about it, but darkness really screws with my head.

2.   I am always playing some sort of beat in my head that ends up being tapped out either in my feet or my fingers.  Even now, my foot is tapping a beat.  No beat in particular, just tapping a cadence.  Always the same pattern no matter the rhythm.

3.   I have a fear of flying but only while taking off and landing.  It’s weird.  I’m always tense when we take off and as we make our final descent but when we’re up at cruising altitude, I always relax and the fear subsides.  Howard, no matter what, always reaches over and takes my hand during these two times because he knows I’m screaming inside.  If I’m flying alone, I usually clench my fists and close my eyes.  But put me 30,000 feet in a pressurized capsule going 500mph?  I’m good to go.

4.   My sister looks and acts NOTHING like me.  Seriously.  Now, we do have different fathers BUT you would think there would be some resemblance in either personality or looks but we have neither.  She’s my polar opposite.  Anything I like?  With the exception of animals, she’s most likely not going to like it.  Which is okay.  We celebrate our differences now but quite often when either of us tells someone that knows both of us separately, that we’re sisters, they usually think we’re kidding.

5.  When I’m in deep thought, I sit and twist my hair.  My family calls it “twiddling” and I have done it, since I was a baby.  I actually used to suck my thumb AND do it (when I was a small child of course, I don’t suck my thumb now, you freak!), especially when I was nervous or pissed off.  My mom loves to tell stories about how I’d get angry (usually with my sister) when I was only 3 or 4 and pop my thumb in my mouth and start “twiddling” my hair.  I managed to wean myself off my thumb at about 5 years old but the hair twisting?  I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it.

So that’s it!  Aren’t you intrigued now?

I think I’ll tag Amy, Tess, Heather, Julie, and Jen now.

And if you’re so inclined, leave it in my comments or on your own blog!  Have a ball!

Feb 9

So in my drunken stupor last Sunday night, I suggested that we girls (ie: me, Kathy, Susie, Manda and Joanie) get together and watch “The Color Purple”.  Because sometimes, you just need a good cry and some solid female bonding.  Everyone thought it was a good idea.

Except that I don’t remember making the suggestion.  Dusty assured me I did indeed make the suggestion after his mother (kathy) asked me if we were still on for “girls’ night.”  I totally faked them all out and said “of course!”

So tonight we got together and watched “Waiting to Exhale”.  Close enough.  Women struggling in relationships with men who are trying to keep them down.  We figured it was too late in the evening to start a looooong ass movie like “TCP”.  I was offered wine and tequila many times but I declined.  Good Lord, I STILL feel hungover.  Just the thought of a beer (oh my god) makes me gag.  Even my beloved Alaskan Amber (oh my god…again!), I can’t even stomach the thought of right now.  Thank God, I’ve got class tomorrow night because I can get out of going to the bar and thus avoiding the added pressure of “Just have a drink already!”

I just sat there curled up on the big fluffy sofa with Manda Grace and her dog Bubba, sipping my water and eating strawberries.  We were wearing pajamas.  All of us.  Thank you very much.

I’m really going to miss these people who have become my family while I’m gone for three weeks!  For the first time, I have excitement and anxiety about leaving.  And that feels pretty good.  It feels good to live in a place you love so much that you get homesick when you leave it.

But.  I don’t love it enough to give up going to Morocco.  No sir.  My family’s drama?  Maybe.

Just kidding mom!

Feb 7

Pepper has Diarrhea!  Woo hoo!  Let’s all clap together now as I steam clean the shit out of some carpets.  No really.  I’m cleaning the shit out of some carpets.  I hate carpet.  When I’m living in a house that I own and one that doesn’t belong to the company I work for, I will have hardwood floors.  They are soooooo much easier to clean.  Cold feet be damned.

*SPOILER ALERT!  REGARDING TONIGHT’S EPISODE OF “ROME!”*

Ya’ll.  Tonight’s episode of Rome was awesome!  So violent and brutal but oh my God,
when Luceous found his kids, I ugly cried.  Dusty watched the episode and called me immediately after.  I think I’ve found another convert! (Jason!)  I was still crying when he called.  Damn, I love that show.  I think I love it even more now that I’ve actually been to Rome.

Less than one week and I’ll be back in NC!  Or actually on my way there.  No wait, I’ll be checking in at the airport more than likely because I have a red-eye that I’m catching at 1am out of Anchorage.  But I’ll officially be on vacation this time next week and I’m REALLY looking forward to it.

Superbowl Sunday was fabulous.  Well, what I remember of it.  Brian picked up a keg of Alaskan Amber while he was in town and brought it back with him on his plane.  I’m still a bit hungover.  I’m not even kidding.  The scary thing is, I blacked out.  It was my fault because I barely ate anything that entire day and Dusty and Howard said I was slamming the beers back like nobody’s business.  I was also drinking it out of a wine glass.  Go figure.  Just keep rolling your eyes.  I know.  But it really did scare me.  I’ve only blacked out two other times in my life and those blackouts were associated with my other two worst hangovers.  Yesterday was no exception. I spent from 4am to 8am wretching to the porcelein Gods.  Eventually I was dry heaving because I had nothing else to expel.  My body felt so dehydrated that I could barely stand up.  Being that sick scares the shit out of me.  It’s going to be a long time before I drink like that again.  Obviously this girl can’t hold her liquor.  Even if it is half a damn keg!

I can’t wait to be back in the south again.  I’m nervous about my family and all their drama but I’m craving the moist air, the sweetened iced tea, and hiking on Wilson’s Creek.  Mainly just getting out of here for a little while.  Not so much my town but just all the bad things that have been happening over the past month.  I’m more than ready!

I’m looking forward to skiing in the Atlas mountains in Morocco!

I’m looking forward to REAL Mexican food.  White cheese sauce that I can’t find anywhere but North Carolina.  This time, I’m asking the cute Mexican guy who owns the restaurant how they make that damn sauce.  It’s akin to crack.  I’ve no doubt that I will eat Mexican nearly every day while I’m there.  And that’s just fine with me.  I’m off the diet dammit because it’s my vacation!

I’m looking forward to seeing my friends who are all planning to meet up at my mother in law’s for our annual “Welcome home!” party.  Especially Julie because she needs a hug from her best friend.

I’m also looking forward to getting to bed right now because Lucky is whining for me from the bedroom.  It’s good to be loved.

Feb 3

Tonight during my class, we were just beginning to cover external bleeding and its remedies when (and I swear to God this is true) we heard someone coming up the steps to the meeting room we were in.

We turned to see a gentleman walk in holding a napkin over his bloody forehead. He explained that he’d been in a snowmachine accident on the way to our village from a military site about 30 miles away.

Julie was the PA on call so she escorted him downstairs to the clinic and then came back up to reschedule the class. She then asked to have someone with her to assist. She looked right at me, prompting me to volunteer. Everyone else seemed a bit hesitant anyway, so I thought “Why not?” I was a bit nervous about it but up to the challenge.

He ended up having several lacerations on his head (thank God, he was bald), that I had to clean out, and he was bleeding pretty badly. I was amazed at how calm I felt in spite of my adrenaline going. Julie prepped so she could stitch him up, while, she instructed me on cleaning the wound. He was terrified of needles so we had him do some relaxation breathing and I kept his mind of it, while asking him about what he did, where he was from, etc. He didn’t even know it when we gave him a Tetanus shot. The numbing of his head was a bit more difficult but I kept him calm and still while Julie got to work. We ran through the assessment of a potential brain injury. Luckily he came through with flying colors.
In no time, we had him all stitched up and bandaged and I cleaned his head of the remaining blood and he thanked both of us, before we released him.

It felt great. I can’t even describe it. Julie said I was “amazing.” Julie, of course was too and I told her so.
I was amazed at how well I remained focused. How tuned in to Julie I was. My God, I dare say it felt natural.

I also told Julie this better get me extra points in the class. Of course I didn’t mean it.

But how wonderful and gratifying it felt to “fix” someone. To lend a hand. To be in the thick of things. I think I’m going to be a pretty darn good nurse.

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