Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn In Alaska: Even Freddie Would Say That's Mercurial

"Fall is here and all I have to say is; fuck Fall. Fall? I hate the Fall. What bullshit. Oh, the leaves change color...they change color for two days; then a big wind comes and you got nothing but sticks for the rest of the year. You never have a proper fall coat, nothing you wear is right. You wake up it's sunny out, you put a coat on. You go out, you're sweating like a pig, you take it off then it's's bullshit." -- Lewis Black, The White Album

Achievement unlocked: Autumn
 Hooray Fall! I love love LOVE the Fall. We don't do that season in Hawaii; so, as far as I'm concerned, I bought the upgrade. Three seasons now, eh, what what? But the temperature is kind of...well, I guess "mercurial" is the only truly applicable word there. A little too on-the-nose for those who know what a thermometer is, but I'll just have to try to own it; hells, I'll make it the post title. No one backs Baby Kana into a corner!

Now, I totally got the whole layering memo -- but that's just inadequate to what Alaska is dishing out right now, and what my newly less-insulated body can take. To truly be dressed appropriately for this weather, I need to be allowed to work in just a bra, but also come equipped with a light tank top, with another light tee top over that, followed by a medium sweater or shrug, a light jacket and then a medium one -- because that's easy and convenient, right? The bra must be a padded pushup with the inserts taken out so that I can jam coldpacks or handwarmers in there as needed. This place is hard.
Am I going to die?

Yes. Yes I am.
A lot of it has to do with my office-aka-"library suite" which has a bank of almost-floor-to-ceiling windows that would be more appropriate to a bikini barista* (Google that. I'm not kidding, it's a real thing) which can generate an amazing greenhouse effect, coupled with the Stacks, the back room where all of the hardcopy is stored. And that room is horrifically cold. I don't mean reallyreallyreally cold, like a freezer; it's the literally the kind of cold from a horror flick, a subtle creeping clammy chill, usually associated less with fluorescent lights or rotating shelving and more with crypts and the presence of evil spirits. I frequently find myself going "OOH ooh ooh ooh, AHH ahh ahh ahh, CH ch ch ch ..."

Seriously. Who else gets a suspense soundtrack at work? OTHER THAN THE MURDERER RIGHT BEHIND ME.

 My desk is in the sweet spot right in front of the door to the Stacks, facing the bank of windows. A meteorologist could work full time reporting from underneath my chair on the cold and warm fronts occuring at my station, it's nutso.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, due to established
meteorological physics, I ended up sporting one of those
individualized Eeyore clouds right above my desk

And the world outside the windows doesn't help either...I dare you, find a way to dress office-formal in the 40-degree morning for the 80-degree afternoon that becomes 90-something in my office greenhouse. Yesterday I wore wool dress slacks. It was reasonable! I could barely see the lock that morning because of how thickly my breath clouded the air as I tried to open the car door. 

My office was in the mid-nineties by 3pm.

And because the temperature gauge is in my area, the rest of the building was being refrigerated by the central AC. So everyone who passed through my area was either bitching about how hot it was in here or how cold it was out there, all with a vaguely accusing tone. Meanwhile I'm trying not to move in any way, because once I start to sweat I'm awash, and was therefore trying to avoid that first drop from beading. I self-soothed with images of forcing them to trade pants with me. I'm in the top 5 for slimmest people in my building, so it was pretty cheering.
It would barely even fit their fat heads

This all just supports my major theory that Fall is not intended to be experienced from an office. To a Hawaii chick, it seems like it should be ruled a month-long holiday full of berry picking, long walks in the woods, baking, shuffling through leaves, etc. Like most of life, I think Fall is most optimally experienced under a quilt, by a window, with a drink, a book and a cat. Fall's drink is cider. We aren't cleared for full-on hot cocoa until mid-October, when the snow starts to stick. Because, you know, Halloween's a Winter holiday. T_T;

* I guess I did ask to work in my bra.../regret/

Friday, September 21, 2012

Simple Pleasures Part 3: Heliotransfolium

And see that limning action at the bottom? That's hot.
For those of us to whom ancient Greek roots are "like Greek to me, man", rest easy; it's as simple as sunlight through leaves. We've all seen it, right? That wonderfully alive sort of green glowing with the richness of syrupy golden afternoon sunlight that makes actual, factual gold seem a cold dead facsimile indeed. It is a vision of vibrancy and wealth far past any inert metal, because this is the color of something alive, and in the act of living as hard as it can. The fact that I could find no word for that beautiful sight nagged at me like a toothache. There's no helping it; one had to be made. Introducing:

With helio meaning 'sun' and trans meaning 'through', and foli of course meaning 'leaves', barring any grammatical or syntactic crosscultural differences, this should be seen as a legit word; in that it successfully communicates its message, at least. However, I totally made this up in  a few minutes by Googling ancient Greek roots, so if you see any hitches in my giddyup, please let me know. And, until proven otherwise, enjoy your new word! Just in time for Fall, too; am I good, or am I good? You're welcome.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fireweed: Alaska's Summer Countdown

Halfway there: wretched jaunty little thing
As the car hood starts to sport delicate frost patterns in the morning and the sun starts getting up later than we do, Alaskans are forced to admit that the default state of our State is nigh; as certain throne-straddling individuals are wont to mention, Winter Is Coming. It shouldn't come as a surprise, though; even before the termination dust starts to whiten the very tops of the mountain ranges, Alaska gives us an easy visual reminder by which to more accurately dread the end of Summer. This is called fireweed. While not the actual State flower, it is still a big part of the eco-tourist's picture of Alaska, in much the same way that palm trees are not Hawaii's state plant but are still inextricably linked with one's mental picture of the place.  
But this bright pink blossom is no docile tropical perennial, that will reliably stay the same shape and size while your back is turned; these sneaky devils are countdown timers to their own ultimate demise.

Nothing if not literal, they spring back from their dormant state in mid-Spring, but aren't up to blossoming until genuine Summer has arrived in June. Then begins the merciless pink indicator, creeping up the stalk like a dynamite fuse until late August, when it starts to get chilly at night.

Termination dust: You can actually see
Winter storming the barricades
Now, as it's September and time to get out the coats and scarves, it's too late -- Fall arrived with force on the 5th, with a wind storm so ferocious I experienced my first-ever paid emergency State closure. I got to stay home, one of the few homes with power and internet service, snuggling with my Bun, marathoning White Collar and generally living the dream while the cats tore wildly around the house. My smugness could not outweigh the inescapable promise of the fireweed, though; hearing birdsong, feeling sunlight, wearing anything revealing, or going outside out of anything but necessity is all over for another nine months. While the earth carries this next summer to term, I will just have to sit in my sweaters, saving up enough spite and bile to resent the fireweed again next time. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What's A Year Between Friends?

So I definitely put off updating for long enough, my procrastination prerogative is fully satiated.

It's no good, you guys; I can't stop thinking of things I'd love to rant to you about. I have no time and hardly any audience, but the hell I say; damn the cheesemongers and bring on the posts!

Should've labeled it
There's nothing like full-time 9 to 5 office work to stimulate an almost desperate level of creativity, as one's own imagination attempts to achieve escape velocity from grim reality. My guilty little stack of doodles, snatches of song lyrics and other bits of inner-head dandruff bear witness to this. Meanwhile the return-mailing project remains entirely unaddressed, because I have my priorities properly wiggly.

I have made huge strides in my job skills since last I posted, in that I can now sometimes talk to my boss without having a panic attack. Not much else has improved; I seem to be surprisingly conform-and-obey-resistant. It's not a mark of character, I assure you; I'm not fightin' the power, I just lack the aptitude. However, I can put on earrings and high heels like a champ, so they think I'm an adult. The fools.

Magical-girl transformation
sequence: ACTIVATE
I have definitely begun my magical-girl transformation into a grownup, though; I recently cleaned out my sock and underwear drawers, and Loved. It. It was like giving my whole psyche a scrub and brushup. I went through my wardrobe, cleared out all our bedroom shelving, and redid my office setup...I'm an organizing fool! Or, alternately, a total tool. When did I buy into this well-organized malarky? Couldn't tell you, for the brainwashing is now complete. I used to be a Hot Topic rebel, spike-collared and antagonistic to strangers at the mall; I knew the score, and was free from the lies of tidiness, timeliness, or any other -ness you'd care to name. What happened?

This is not rhetorical; I think I know, actually.

Kids find out somewhere between ages 3 and 13, based on the individual's level of observation or their parent's IQ, that adults are stupid and boring. They then commence to rail against these wastes of humanity that gave them the precious gift of life in ever-increasingly intelligent rants as they progress towards the second pivotal point, which can occur any time between 17 and 27, depending on apron-string strength, level of education or the advent of a family tragedy. This is the point at which all the adult-imposed structure and well-intentioned plans draws to their scheduled close and the young human, suddenly shorn of a sheltering scapegoat to be "held back" by, stands before the realities of life, survival, the need for food and rent money...and suddenly loses all aspirations to the soapbox or personal principle.

People are remarkably conservative and unimaginative when presented with a sudden dose of total personal responsibility.

You find the job, the apartment and the person to live in it with, and batten down the hatches against both reality and old dreams of grandeur. CSI reruns, takeout and saving up long enough to buy the new iThing shape your world, and by the time you resurface from this womblike regression from that shock enough to get a decent job, make some sound investments and gain the ability to vacation every other year, there's no hope left; you've bought in to everything your parents stood for, and you're shopping for durability, searching for stability and trying to watch your cholesterol. The world is hard, and whenever the moment is that the young person faces that fact, is the moment the transformation begins.

“Looks like he was a real go-getter, huh Pete”
“Sure does, Bob”
And yes, of course there's exceptions to this; sometimes people see opportunities and possibilities, not just obstacles. And I think most anyone on a good day can talk themselves into taking on at least one of their obstacles and making an opportunity for themselves, it's nowhere near impossible. But have you noticed how many of those opportunity-makers, movers and shakers, tend to be outlined in white on CSI? Hmm? HMM? Inactivity sees you through, says I; and have you seen my new iPod? It can hold 160 gigs! I can take alllll my music with me on our next vacation.