Mortality and Writing Casseroles

The last thing I ever want to write about. Yet the thing that I am constantly writing about. Just not so explicitly.

Walking to the AC store to get coffee after work, looking up to see passing trucks honking at friends, and smiles and loud music and yelling. And looking down, seeing large bloody organs spilled by trash bins outside of houses. Just laying there, as if mocking me and my pursuit of safety.

Was talking on the phone to my mom about recent events right after work, and I was telling her how it’s funny how I’m one of the most calm people on the team right now. How I feel like I’ve exhausted all of my energy freaking out. Then my Mom and I start getting upset together about the things taking place up here at the top of the world, and all of the sudden I’m walking back down the hill to the festival, telling Ricky to back the fuck away from me and “No I don’t want hugs” and opening my wallet in a mad rush of activity to pull out the tiny bag I keep in my change pocket that used to hold back up noserings in, but has since been converted into an emergency xanax hideaway. As an emergency supply, and I don’t dip into it much so the pills have been in there for quite a long time- I remember packing them there before I flew off to Sacramento in October. They have been with me through it all- Silverton Oregon and the black mold, Willits and the asbestos, carbon monoxide scares and drug and alcohol ridden house parties taking place in my living room nightly, and then in Sacramento to aid in digesting the knowledge that I was flying up to the Arctic in a few weeks. These back up pills had been crushed through the series of events that have taken place over the past year– never really needing to use them, but feeling very happy to have them when I did. Today, as I pull the bag out at our recruiting booth, I realize that this is going to be a shit show, for an outsider looking on. A really good impression of our program at a recruiting event, for sure. But also a pretty goddamn accurate portrayal of our program. I splay my wallet out on the table, unzip my change pocket and the tiny plastic bag, and a dust storm of orange powder sprays out. There’s no way to avoid it, and there’s only one pill left intact– have to dig around for it, spraying more orange powder across the table. People are all over, walking past. One hundred percent looks like I’m desperately trying to snort orange coke at the Fourth of July festival.

Shit’s funny, when I calm down. And even when I’m not calmed down, I know that this is what makes great art. The real life of it all. The weaknesses, and grabbing at thin air to cope with life. And learning to laugh about it all.

Bloody intestines lining my walk home, I know I must be in the right place. I just really want to get out of here without having what George has. Without anyone getting it. Which the team, and my team leader continue to fail to recognize as serious. And we have such a goddamn touchy feely team, cuddle puddles galore. It’s been this way all year, and all of the other teams looked at us like this was unhealthy. Which now I do believe it probably was, considering the health concerns currently at play.

We’ve all taught each other things. The vast majority of people in the program consisting of adventurous, carefree adrenaline chasers have taught me how to let go a little bit. And I have hopefully taught them how to take care of themselves a little bit more, and think things through a little further. But George has always been a shithead to me about my fears, when I was trying to keep him and the rest of the team safe. And now, I don’t really feel the need to cuddle and hug him like everyone else is doing. And I want to tell them to stop, and shout, “Don’t you know that there is only one cure for what he has, and the potential for curing this deadly infection is still up in the air?”

Actually, I have shouted this in my own quiet way, many times.

But we are just different people. And they don’t care that much.

People I’m supposed to be with, destined to be with? Or people I should run the fuck away from sometimes?

It’s past the point of me being paranoid, and it’s to the point of me being mad. And now that my pharmacist mother is concerned, I’m really pissed.

How hard is it to fucking hold a team meeting on safety and cleanliness while living with this shit? Or find some active solutions to keep the boys’ living situation a little bit safer?

But fuck, man.

If I survive all of this, I know that I am going to be a much more empowered leader. Possibly be a leader for the first time in my life. Never for some program like what I’m doing right now. Never again. But a leader in other things, things that really jive with who I am and what I believe in pursuing. This year has continually put into perspective for me just how skewed people’s priorities are, and how the hierarchical structure takes away most of the process of logical, rational, human interest thought. It’s no wonder our government is so fucked.

I am scared. I am scared of so much. And I am pissed off that other people are not scared, and doing something about it. What I have learned this year is how to be actively scared, not passively scared. I am not going to go hide in a corner whenever shit is fucked up, I now let everyone know that I think it is fucked off, then have a little panic attack if I need to, and walk the fuck away from the situation if it isn’t changing.

And that’s progress. And that’s change. And that’s who I am and I’m not ashamed of it any longer.

We all have different priorities, and one of my highest priorities is freedom. And I don’t want some kid who made fun of me all year for being a “worry wart,” to fuck up any of my current ambitions. So, yeah. I love him, but I’m peacing out. I’m done. And my team leader should be informing everyone on safe hygiene practices, and Ricky should wear a band aid on the wound where the nail impaled his palm yesterday. And just, the fuck, people?

I’m going to get some coffee and go read.

This town is way too small. Yesterday, W came over to me in the back of the bookstacks.

“I just wanted to check on you, I noticed vibes in the library.”

Our team had just gone on strike, and was hiding out in the library and whispering furiously to one another about our situation. I had to walk away. And found contentment and peace with a book in the back of the library, leaning against a shelf containing natural evolution and Darwin biographies. But then this stranger is all about talking to me and sits down on the floor next to me. And three minutes later asks if he can lay his head on my backpack, right next to me. “It’s like turning over a new leaf, I can’t believe we met and now you’re all leaving in two weeks. I want to know everything.”

I just met you yesterday, fucker. And you’re being really creepy and invading my space physically and I actually feel a little bit threatened, no matter how nice you might be. You’re not listening to my discomfort.

I told him it was nice to meeting you and I need to be alone, not in a situation where some clingy stranger is making me feel super uncomfortable and dead inside.

I need out of this place. Just walked into the library today after getting my coffee at the AC store, and W’s here again. I walk to the back table, as far away as I can get. Which is approximately thirty feet away in Barrow.

It’s come to the point now that I know people everywhere I go, and now it is time to run. Because not everyone you meet is a good person, though I like to think so initially. And there’s some weird, clingy, desperate and aggressive friendship seeking up here that I am not about, at all. Particularly toward women. And I am done trying to be polite about.

Leave me the fuck alone, I don’t want to hang out, I need time alone, and I need to learn how to feel safe again up here. And I need to not feel sexually threatened. Jesus Christ.

I think I’m pretty much done for the weekend. Have to work a two hour shift on Saturday, but that’s it. Even though Laura was trying to make us work all the way through the weekend, Heather is finally sticking up for us a little bit and our mental and emotional health.

Today was a literal mind fuck. I’m going to calm down and drink coffee and read for awhile, and will attempt to relay some of the events and dynamics later tonight.

Normally, I would wait til I had calmed down to write about all of this, because I know when I am upset, I am not the most logical. And a lot of obvious bias slides into my writing. But I’m also taking my time in Alaska as an experimental piece– capturing raw emotions and events, not always taking the time to think about them in the way I want to record them. Record them immediately, and capture my high anxiety landscape mixed with my calm critical thinking landscape, mixed with other’s immediate as well as thoughtful reactions. And putting all of that together into a kind of writing casserole.


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