Pressing Buttons and Fried Water

My morning. The morning of someone who desperately wants to be a morning person, but has been under the illusion that this is a possibility for many, many years.

I can’t remember a time when my alarm didn’t go off at ridiculous hours daily; four, five, six thirty five.

I’ve definitely never really gotten up before seven with an alarm before. But it’s always a nice thought.

My roommates, however. I am always so surprised when they still speak to me. It takes a lot to hear someone’s alarm go off for hours upon hours, and still feel the desire to engage in friendly conversation with them later in the day.

My morning this morning– carefully crafted the night before with three alarms, a pile of work to do in the corner of my room and the hopeful promise of coffee– began with alarms going off around six or so.

But I was not fully conscious of this fact until around seven, when I hear my roommate letting out an audible sigh. Frantically hitting the snooze button on the tiny flip phone I’ve scurried under my sleeping bag for better snooze access at first unconscious alarm sound this morning, I let out a soft, guilty, half conscious “I’m sorry.” And surprise myself with my apologetic words to the sleeping world.

I move a little and look around, suddenly realizing with early morning genius that I had better get up, or else this alarm will keep singing until my roommate finally bunts me out of the apartment.

I come to the living room, and post up in the big comfy chair and coffee table by the window. This has become my writing spot. This has become a reason to drag myself out of bed in the mornings.

Fixing coffee, I have to align the pot just right with the machine, or else the water and coffee grounds will spill over onto the counter. And they still might do that even with all the conscious preparation in the world.

I hit lots of buttons on the almost defunct fancy coffeemaker. How do you need so many buttons to make coffee? I go about making the machine start working much like I make most things in my life begin. Pushing lots of unknown buttons in a controlled, but fairly erratic way.

The coffee machine lets out a sigh similar to my sleeping roommate, letting me know that I have scored the right combination of buttons for the morning.

I retreat back to my window seat, waiting for the coffee to brew and thinking about what I should do with my Sunday.

Brunch is being provided for us at 11 am, where that is, who that is with, or what that consists of I know not. But I’ll just press buttons similar to the coffee machine, right? And then around three I’m headed over to Laura’s house to fix dinner. She’s fixing dinner with us every Sunday at her house. She said there will also be local scientists, or just whoever else is in the area that catches her fancy on Sunday nights.

The beauty of life.

I will never again not know what to make for dinner. Lentils, cumin, pepper, garlic, frozen vegetables and homemade German dumplings.

And then I’ve got my ladies doing godknows what on the living room floor next to me.

The first morning we drove to work with Laura, she commented on the coffee we had consumed that morning.

“I really dislike the smell of coffee. It’s something from my childhood.”

“Oh, we’ll brush our teeth extra in the mornings, then,” Carinne posits.

“No, I can actually smell it coming off of pores. The oils get in your skin, and sticks around for days after you drink it.”

Erratic coffee machines of chance, and unmistakable life choices layered in the skin.

Today we became a employees of the North Slope Breastfeeding Coalition.

Got sweatshirts and everything.

Working on Saturday, we took the van over to Laura’s house around one to load up supplies for the permaculture workshop. Then headed to the local middle school to set up.

Laura has three kids- ages five, three and one. Two girls and the youngest a boy. They are absolutely adorable and intelligent and go everywhere with us. The first day of work they sat on our laps on the vanride to the college.

In part because of lack of seats, but also in part because we have basically collectively adopted three children as a team.

Today the kids ran around serving me drinks while I set up the powerpoint presentation for the workshop.

“I don’t want baking soda milk, Viola. I would like some water, please.”

This is such a treat for kids, I remember as a kid. It’s a mission. Getting to pretend to have a job. Before you actually know what it’s like to have a real job.

Viola runs back, and pretends to fill up a cup with water. Rushing back, laughing and screaming.

“Here you go! Drink it!”

I do my best at pretend consumption of pretend water, and it entertains the kids to no end that I’m playing along.

And after I finish my water, Viola lets me know that it was actually “fried water.” She has tricked me.

And so she runs laughing back to her makeshift kitchen, and her sister follows the game in suit, running toward me with another cup of water.

I drink it, and then am greeted with the exclamation that this was “ baked tea water.”

This goes on for quite awhile. The powerpoint is about finished, and I am brought a final cup of water. With the giggles never ending, and the smiles showing up on my face by default. I’ve never really liked babysitting, but every once in awhile kids are pretty hilarious.

I drink the water with dramatic effect, and Paulette is teetering around in excitement, squealing after I finish the cup.

“That was TOILET WATER!”

After we finish setting up, the people start to trickle in. It’s not a huge crowd, but it’s a fair amount, and feels a lot more full with my team crammed on the middle school lunch tables as well.

The local vet, Liesel, sat down next to me. A middle aged woman from Florida, she had been trying to move up to Alaska for years, and jumped at the job opportunity in the North Slope. She was not shy, and very upfront. At the end of the day, she invited me and the team to come tour her clinic.

Also met a graduate student from Indiana, in Barrow to study gender politics of the subsistence hunting community here. I told her I’d love to have her job. And please let me know if she needs any help.


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