June 17, 2013

June 17

It’s 8 am at Beaver Fever Cafe in beautiful, downtown Tok, Alaska. The sun sets at about 11 pm. The horizon turns pink. From then on, it’s still light out, just dimmer than before.

Was Dad (Karl John) part of the criminal underworld? He could easily have become part of it as  a child. He was poor and the oldest boy (at a time when that meant something) in a big family with an alcoholic dad. He was out on the streets of Berlin, Germany, selling newspapers. A vulnerable target at a terrible time in Germany (Dad was born in 1901). It would certainly explain all the money we had.

I am really focusing on SELF-control. All this time (before now), I have been trying to assert control over others. I was caught in that space where people vie with each other for power. It’s a ridiculous game.

At breakfast in the Cafe here, an old man and his hugely obese son (?) were eating sausages, toast and eggs. I deduced (imagined?) that the old man was very mentally ill and the kind of person who is ALWAYS waging inner battles with himself and everyone around him. I used to engage these people in the battle for  imaginary power. To win was everything!

Now, I have accomplished a retreat from the war. I am only dealing with myself. Another one of my issues is trust.

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Yesterday I bought a quart of Budweiser at the local Husky Liquor store. I told the guy working there that I’d like to be greeted by a man in a bathing suit (a cardboard picture of a young woman in a bathing suit was at the entrance. He said, “Well, there’s _____.”  (Some famous, young, male car-racer, I think–in another cardboard, life-size figure behind the woman.) “Yeah,” I said, “but he has all his clothes on.”

The guy groaned and said, “Oh, God.” “It’s the truth, Man,” I said. Men are slowly getting the picture (women love sex, too… and naked men!), and women are slowly getting more social power (eg. business ownership, etc.).

So I walked home and drank the whole thing in my trailer, alone, while watching Jeeves and Worster and Sherlock Holmes on my computer. And I realized something about alcohol’s effect on me: alcohol makes me aware of my emotions.

As an Aspie, I prefer to be aware of logic and my own brain’s reasoning power. I have “normal,” typical, average emotions, but I control them (not repression; control) and I carefully observe and regulate my expression of emotion. Sometimes I am unaware of and uninterested in/bored by my own (and others’) emotions. I just don’t care about most emotions.

Alcohol makes emotion vivid and unavoidable. This is good to know. It explains, for one thing, the terrible passions and violent actions that can accompany consumption (and abuse) of alcohol.

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Most angels are not avengers. To avenge something means to punish someone for something. Sherlock Holmes tells Jim Moriarty that he is on the side of the angels, but that he is “not one of them.”

This new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes is extremely interesting to me. It (Sherlock) is teaching me SO much about myself as an Aspie. It’s very exciting!

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Sitting on Chip’s back porch, watching little planes take off and land. Divine. I am surrounded by aggressive, hungry mosquitoes, so I am covered from neck to toes with clothing.They bite me through my clothing. I am eating a Hershey bar and one of this years chilli peppers (wilting and therefore free from the local health food store).

For the first time, internet service is atrocious.

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What people talk about here in Tok: infestations of bugs (including bot flies up their noses) in caribou (horrible!); fishing (halibut, etc.); recent (June 2013) floods and how the villages (eg. Eagle, Chicken) are recovering and if they are rebuilding and the fact that people are leaving and not returning; gossip about local people (who is nice and who is not, yadda yadda yadda); alcohol; marijuana.

And the fact that the polar bears are moving inland and mating with black bears.

For how many years have I been trying to impress men by NOT showing my intellect? I am finally not doing that anymore.

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THE PSYCHOLOGIST IS IN.

In the course of normal conversation, people talk from their strengths AND their weaknesses. So a person who lives with a feeling of jealousy will portray this feeling in their conversations all the time and in every possible way.

If someone else hears this conversation and THEY, TOO have a problem with jealousy, their weakness will be triggered by the conversation. Knowing this will help with that problem. You won’t be tempted to feel jealous. (Remember: emotions are the result of thoughts, and you can control your emotions by observing your thought processes closely.)

In addition, not playing the power-tripping game (I have control of you”) will help you to not respond to the other person’s conversation and their weaknesses. Keep focused on SELF-control.

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June 18

I am back at Beaver Fever. I was out hitching from about 6:45 am until 8:15 am. Then, Chip called and told me Lucia, Paul’s wife, is going into Fairbanks today and will give me a ride to Delta Junction. It’s 109 miles from Tok to Delta.

Last night, Chip and I went over to Paul and Lucia’s for a wonderful dinner.  They live about three miles outside Tok on MacKenzie Road. Lucia’s gay pals from San Francisco, Douglas and Matthew Hudson, were there. Paul and Lucia’s  daughters Kate and Jo (ages 11 and 14 or 16) joined us. (Lucia confided that they had eaten dinner at ten pm the previous night because she had been busy all day cooking. Lucia teaches fifth grade at Tok Elementary School during the school year.)

After dinner (which included moose meat), we all went to a concert in Tok. It was really nice and I got to see another side of Tok. About ten youngsters played piano or sang or played violin. Jo played two pieces on the piano. Next year she’s going to boarding school (in Valdez?. She got in because of her prowess on the piano.

Before this little concert (attended by parents), I would have said no one sings in Tok. The Beaver Fever gals told me that anyone any good (musicians, singers) leaves town.

I can say with confidence that no one walks here and few ride bikes. It’s because of the long, cold winter. They are unused to walking, and that prejudice/habit remains even when the weather changes.

People have rather old-fashioned manners here. It’s sweet and cute, but how much of the double standard here is due to valuing the past over the present?

Tok is marvelous in some ways though. I walked home to Chip’s from the Husky Bar area last night (my choice–he offered me a ride home or a beer with him at the Bar). It was about 11 pm, and of course it was beautifully bright out. Not a soul was on the street and almost no cars were on the highway. I felt very safe. I peed behind a building and noticed that at Adriana’s A Taste of Mexico, their big “tent” and the tables and chairs inside were all just out there; anyone could have stolen the whole thing. At the Health Food Store, the sign they put out by the road every day was up on their porch (very accessible to anyone). And at 40-Mile Air, the planes and helicopters were (seemingly) unguarded (was a guard around and I didn’t see him/her?). I could have tampered with any one of the planes. I walked through them and then on, the back way, along the gravel airport road, to Chip’s. Have I ever, as an adult, been to any place like Tok? Probably not. Not in the US anyway

Dinner: some pot smoking (with Doug en route home from concert); wine and beer flowed!

A funny thing happened after the concert. We went back to Paul and Lucia’s house, and, for about an hour before Lucia and the girls got home, I was alone at the outdoor table with the four men (who had been drinking most of the evening). I couldn’t get a word in edgewise! They would outshout me every time I tried to talk. I pointed it out to the.; I told Lucia when she returned, and we laughed about it. Later, Kate said to me, “Are they letting you talk?” No, they weren’t and they didn’t. It  was an All-Male Review.

What the fuck was that all about? I wasn’t looking for some kind of special indulgence because I was a woman; I definitely had things to contribute to the conversation (which was mainly about travel).

I asked the girls here at Beaver Fever if there was a double-standard here in Tok (or in Alaska). They just said, no, it’s no usual behavior here. It depends on the men you are with. They cited local independent women who go out hunting and support their family with food while their husband works.

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When Dad was in Berlin as a kid (before he came to the US at age 21), he told me about seeing people on the street pushing wheelbarrows full of money. It was WW I (or before), and their money had become devalued to that extent. Must have been pretty bad.

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The serial killer tells Sherlock Holmes (BBC) that his addiction is to not being bored. Another quote, this one from Sherlock: Bitterness is a paralytic; love is a much more vicious motivator. And, finally, you risk your life to prove you’re clever, says Dr. Watson to Sherlock. (All from the episode Study in Pink.)

Parts of the vast forest here are set aside for people to cut firewood, free, for winter heat. The trees don’t get very big here (they’re bigger on the coast, says Chip). They have a very short growing season (“four weeks,” Chip says), and the permafrost is so near the surface that their roots can’t go deep. The trees that have a bigger circumference are two hundred years old (Chip again) because of their difficulties growing. And I didn’t even mention the absurdly low, winter temperatures (record low: -83 F.).

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I love hitch hiking. It really lets me know that I’m a Gypsy. I’m free and at home out there on the road. Gogol Bordello (Russian Gypsy band) sings: We know all about you; you don’t know a thing about us. That’s so true, and, realizing this, I am changing my style and just letting the drivers be the actors in my highway drama. I used to act out little things like, “Who the fuck do you think you are, passing me by?”  (hand on my hip, aggressive stance, nasty stare, etc.). Not any more.

Pleasure is divine. I can’t say this enough.

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I got a ride from Lucia to Delta Junction. She told me several things about Tok and Alaska. Many men, she said, come up here to live their fantasy life as a rugged woodsman, hunter, living out in the country. It’s a hard life. And they are invariably pursuing their independent interests while the women raise the children and create an infrastructure.

Lucia told me that some of the Native villages are matriarchal and some are patriarchal. Mentasta, for example, she said is matriarchal, whereas Northwood is patriarchal. The patriarchal villages apparently have a lot more alcoholism, etc.

Lucia takes her kids to any performance of music or the arts that comes to Tok. People come through and perform at house concerts (like my friend, CSer James Hurley of Moorpark, Ca.).

The leaves turn here in late August or early September. The main trees here are spruce and aspen.

Apparently, the Native People here (and everywhere probably) have such a different culture from the majority (Caucasians) that getting along with them, according to Lucia, is hard unless one is herself also a social outsider. One of Lucia’s friends is Helga, from Germany and thus a social outsider herself. Helga has managed to become friends with the Native People, whereas Lucia who has taught them at the Dot Lake School, hasn’t.

 

 

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