Literally the moment that I open my book, I am asked by this man sitting across from me for help on his computer.
It is obviously a ploy to begin showing me youtube government conspiracy videos, which I watch in respect for a good twenty minutes, listening to the commentary that runs on and on.
He owns the biggest gold mountain in the United States. He’s loaded. He’s going to start his own currency and sue all the big corporations fucking up the world.
He’s a chief. And for most of the conversation, I thought he was the chief of Barrow tribal government, but later find out he is a fleeing cheif from a central Alaskan government.
And his name, his name sounds so familiar. Who is he?
He spends forever showing me all of these alternative energy sources, and says that the oil corporations are murdering his people. And I’m all about listening to that. But when he starts getting into the nitty gritty, I realize he is not just talking about corporations murdering his people with pollution, he is legitimately talking about assassinations. And pulls up Kennedy conspiracy theories to back it all up.
“You’re going to be my new research partner!” He exclaims, ten minutes into our meeting. He then asks me, “Are you afraid to die?”
“It’s okay. Me, too. They’re after me, though. My friend died this past month. He was onto the same things I’m onto. I want to get it all down before I’m gone. The aluminum they are dropping out of the air with the chemtrails– it’s killing my memory.”
My life is a trip right now. I don’t even know what’s happening anymore. I’m talking to people who claim to be billionaires, and own gold mountains and see chemtrails in the sky. And who am I to question them? I just moved to Alaska two weeks ago.
The best I can do is listen, and then walk away. But you can’t walk away in Barrow. If someone sits down at your table in the library, you can’t walk away because there are only three other tables. And it’s a tundra outside. So you sit, and you listen, and you go back and forth on if you believe them or not. And finally you just run outside to sit in the van and read.
Because that’s what you wanted to do all along.
That was a trip though, man. Two hours later, and I emerge. Still not quite sure what I have just witnessed, and definitely going to stay up past my bedtime again in an effort to get some quality reading done.
But let’s be honest— I’ll probably write.
“The poorest county in America isn’t in Appalachia or the Deep South. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm town, and in the election of 2000 the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush, carried it by a majority greater than 80 percent.” -What’s the Matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank
Every time I walk into Tuzzy library, this book is staring at me on the “New Releases” shelf. Even though it’s not a new release, it was published in 2004. But I’ve been drawn to it every time I walk in the library, as it is literally one of the first things I see.
And no one has checked it out in the past two weeks. So, here goes nothing, Kansas. I’m diving back into you. From the top of the world.
I can’t say why I’m reading it, really. I feel like I already understand “what’s the matter with Kansas” after growing up there. But at times like this, whenever everything is different from anything you’ve ever experienced before, and everything also seems to be falling apart, it feels good to pick up a book with a picture of a big elephant crushing a little donkey on the cover.
Feels like home.
I have a lot to write. But I’m diving into my home state instead. Just for a few hours. I’m sure I’ll have energy to write the chaos of today out later tonight.
It never ceases to be a story up here. It’s almost too much for a writing mind.
“But still the world turns, upon its axis. And we make circles. So we can manage it.” -Emmy the Great
One thing before I dive into silly politics— I went to the grocery store in search of a hot cup of coffee, and found one.
And this nice woman, Diane, talks to me for quite awhile about her life, and how she got up here.
This is a really name conscious city/culture. I think Inupiat culture is especially name centric, because family is so important. And name implies family lineage, and also ties in the community. Also, first names are given to babies in Inupiat culture based on recent deaths. So when someone dies, the next person born receives their name, carrying on their spirit. It’s really beautiful, and I want to learn more about it. I have been doing a better job than I ever have in my life of remembering people’s names. Usually I don’t properly know someone’s name until a good two weeks into hanging out with them.
I saw Alexander again today, at the Walking Wednesday lunch with the college.
He is the travel coordinator for the mayor’s office. Because you literally have to fly to nearby villages, at least in the summer, he has an interesting job from a diplomatic point of view. He was telling me about his father who used to deliver mail by sled dog to all the neighboring villages while we was growing up. And how he’s following in his father’s footsteps, with a different form of travel and connecting people. I think that I want to shadow him at his job…
My god. My face is so burnt after today. Can feel it vibrating. I wore a baseball cap, but definitely needed some sunscreen. I walked around the lagoon picking up trash and sliding around in the mud that smells, looks and quite probably is, shit. Thinking about my life choices, and how exactly the fuck I got here.
I spoke with a little Tundra bird. She told me a few things.
The library here– it’s so great. Most libraries you would have to dig for books written by native and indigenous people, but here you have to dig deep to find books not written by native people. Which is why the Kansas book is just such an anomaly and a coincidence, I just have to read it.
Off to red state madness. Home sweet home…