“At the deepest philosophical level our universe must have as a structure a set of relationships in which all entities participate. Within the physical world these universal entities participate. Within the physical world this universal structure can best be understood as a recognition of the sacredness of places,” God is Red, A Native View of Religion Vine Deloaria, Jr.
I’m reading Carinne’s book and arguing with Tony about cultures being “completely based on the place vs. completely based on the people”.
This is the similarity in our personalities.
And we both are just playing devil’s advocate to the other one, but I’m getting agitated over it. And Tony is loving it.
This is the difference in our personalities.
I state aloud that maybe someday we will understand one another, and Tony says that he thinks we understand one another– I’m just really fun to argue with. And I turn up the music to “Come Sail Away” on my laptop to heighten the drama, and Carinne rolls around on the carpet laughing in time to the absurdity of life.
“If I could murder someone it would be the person walking on the left side of a right sided hallway.”
I scoot over to annotate the room discussion as Carinne jumps on top of me and proceeds to do inappropriate, but at the same time wholly appropriate things to me.
She’s telling me stories as I’m typing, while sitting on my back. And my stories become mixed with quotes from her. And I don’t stop typing, and she doesn’t stop her stories, and we are lost in this over stimulation spiral we’ve plunged into.
“How did you meet him. In your thermals?” Jess asks about our visitor, Willie, whom I met out on my run tonight. It’s the first time in awhile I actually put on real pants to go outside. And apparently that’s how you make friends.
I was on my way back across town, and a guy rides his bike past me. Both of us wave to one another, and I continue on my jog, listening to my music. All of the sudden, he has turned around and pulled up next to me on his bike. Asking about me, and my life and what work I’m doing up here.
I tell him about it, and he tells me he just had to stop and talk to me. He’s related to 8/10 women in the village and the surrounding areas. And he’s not shy.
I tell him I have an apartment full of ladies, and would he like some tea?
He says he’d love to come over, and he comes over and tells us amazing stories, lets us into Inupiat culture and whaling and offers to bring a few boxes of tea over tomorrow night after dinner.
Jess is doing a wall twerk.
Fascinated and flabbergasted, I turn to Carrine.
“How do I describe this in words?”
We stare back at Jess, feet up on the wall, dancing away.
‘It’s called a wall twerk…”
I stop to scribble this into my composition notebook thrown on top of the drying dishes in the kitchen.
“Ah! She’s taking notes, guys…”
We’re all in the living room after a long, busy day. Carinne, Jess, Alyssa, Tony and I. I’m chatting online with Ben in California, and I’ve got this giant smile on my face the whole time. Because he just makes me smile. And Carinne and Jess are staring at me suspiciously, they think I’m writing about them. Which is fair, because I am most of the time.
Earlier, prior to calming down and reading books, we had a sisterhood moment where we decided that our apartment is going to be clothes free. So that has happened. We’ve become nudists.
“This is everyday life, you know?” we state as we recline on our couches.
Carinne and I had a beautiful moment with local people today. We planted potatoes and sprouts with them. And learned their Inupiat names instead of their English names.
‘It’s going to be weird not having someone write things everyday.
“You. Where’s your notebook.”
“Oh my gosh. Our lives where you’re writing our lives are coming to an end.”
“Who’ll write in the future? ‘MOM. Notebook.’” Tony jokes.
“We are a brave people. We are a strong people,” Willie repeats, as he tells legendary whale harvesting stories that have been passed down through the generations. He is a story teller. Gentle, deep voice and a calm, decided poet’s flow. And as he tells his own stories from this whaling season, this past few months with his crew out on the umiaq in the Arctic sea.
Willie attempts to teach us how to say his family name, which is used as the middle name in Inupiat culture. There are four different “l”s, and three different “n’s” in the language. He laughs a lot.
At one point we dive into discussion of alcohol and darkness and addiction. Willie tells us he doesn’t know people like us. Everyone he knows gets sucked into the drugs, the alcohol, the depression and addiction. He has himself, but he decided to rise above it years ago. Three kids now, and a single parent. Thirty six, but looks like he’s twenty eight. That Arctic air and traditional diet.
Still, the winters are hard.
He tell us about the pool and ping pong community center five minutes from our house where he spends his free time. We say we’ll meet him there sometime. He asks how long we’ll be here, and we say a month longer. And he says he’ll be so lonely in a month. And then I remember what Laura said a few weeks ago, about how it’s a risk in Barrow to make friends with anyone before they’ve been here at least two years. People come and go so much here.
Willie is giving a sermon at a church in a few weeks, and we’re going to attend and support him.
He tells us about all the food at Naluktuk, the whaling festival next week.
Strangers get extra portions, there is a special word and comfort given to strangers in Inupiat culture. We are honored.
“You’ll still be in my writings loves, even after we’re not constantly in the same room together. You’ll always be in my life. Therefore, in my writings.”
Alyssa with her GMO movie, she finishes it and then we rant about it for ten minutes before I say I have to stop. And she does, too. We take a breath, and she decides she’s going to be a farmer…
My teammates and their ability to welcome a person in that I brought from the street on a whim on a Saturday night. I knew they’d be great to him, and they were. And now he’s our new friend, and they’re all super excited to know him.
“To recognize or to admit differences, even among the species of life, does not require then that human beings create forces to gain a sense of unity or homogeneity. To exist in creation means that living is more than tolerance for other life forms, it is recognition that in differences there is that strength of creation and that this strength is a deliberate desire of the creator” -God is Red.
We’re all sitting in living room for two hours, silent together. Then I jump in the shower, and three girls come in to pee one after one for the next five minutes. We converse and spit lyrics at one another.
“Do you create right now, or do you be the sponge. Addicted to knowledge. Addicted to hearing, reading, writing stories, you know?”
Carinne steps in my closet, and visually demonstrates this statement as she hovers in and out.
“What happens when he believed their stories as true, and they didn’t believe in his.”
“I consider myself an eclectivist, every story has truth. I believe in stories.”
In Western culture– stories are seen as childish. In many other cultures, stories are everything.
“Fear of snake or reptile, depression stems from man’s annihilation of nature and having that fear. Waiting on that doom day instead of living in the wild present.”
Reading a couple pages of a lot of things. Hearing a few stories from a lot of people. It all ties together. Correlates because our mind makes connections.
Tony is making his new home on our couch.
It’s 1:30 in the morning and we all finally stopped moving.
Always move at the pace that is given to you, and flow with simplicity. If you have time for a tea party now, and a tea party presents itself, who are you to make it any harder?
Success through what is small.
It furthers one to have somewhere to go.
It furthers one to see the great man.”
I-Ching page of the night
Holy shit. A bird just flew in my window.
It’s two in the morning, and I’m in the living room alone. And a bird just flew in.
It’s trying to get back out, fluttering up against the glass. I’m watching it while I lay on the floor. I feel like I should help it out, but I also feel that if I approach it, it might get more confused.
Sometimes it’s best to just let life figure itself out.
The bird eventually hops back over to the opening in the window, and it stands there on the ledge. Half in, half out of my apartment.
And another bird jumps up onto the ledge from outside, and joins my midnight bird. They are both opening their mouths, and biting each other’s mouths. They are the same size, so I can’t imagine one is feeding the other- this is only something a mother does for her babies, to my knowledge. I am not a bird person, and have no idea what this biting means, though. Maybe they’re talking? Fighting? I’m not interested enough in the facts to read up on bird behavior.
So I’m going to state authoritatively that they were kissing.
Sweet, weird, midnight bird kisses. Half inside, half outside my apartment. Metaphorical to jumping ship, to feeling trapped, to enjoying the present, to going with the flow, to finding your window, to embracing absurdity.
“Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit?” -Eve Ensler
I wasn’t going to write tonight, and was going to give myself a day off from thinking and writing.
But, as I’m falling asleep tonight, I realized that this was a total cop-out. And I always make excuses for things when I’m scared. And since I’m facing all of my other fears right now, why not face art?
Writing is about the process, not the product. If everything that is put on paper is part of a process, then what is there to fear? Never a final product, always a piece to the whole. Every artist a contribution to the giant patchwork quilt that is the human experience. The life experience.
I’ve been enjoying using this blog daily since I got to Alaska, but I was beginning to feel pressure. Like my luck was running out. Felt like I was really hitting home with my words lately, and then today I started to feel tripped up. Like I stepped out of the flow for a bit.
And I’m all about that flow, man.
But I’m reminded of what my brother and I started this year out with a mission to do: overcome the roadblock that is perfection. When you overcome that fear, you become limitless.
“Winds following one upon the other;
The image of the gently penetrating.
Thus the superior man
Spreads his commands abroad
And carries out his undertakings.”