So I did some travel for work this week, which was originally going to entail a quick day trip to one of the rural hub communities for a regional meeting on Monday. Then a couple of visits to communities in another region got added on, since the flights worked out well to go to that region’s hub, to overnight there Monday night. Then we were going to go to one of the communities Tuesday, overnight there, then fly to the second community Wednesday morning and back to Anchorage that evening. A bit complicated, but combining the trips seemed to make the most sense.
The first part of the trip went fine; I went to the first regional meeting, which went well, then to the other regional hub where I spent the night. The visit to the first community the next day also went well, and we overnighted in the school there in the expectation of continuing with our itinerary the next morning.
Well, morning came, and with it heavy snow and the intensely strong winds for which that area is famous. We ended up staying three more days, each day waiting to see if the weather would clear up enough for planes to get in, and each day being disappointed, until today, when the storm finally broke and it was beautifully cold and clear. The flights today worked out fine, and I just made it back to my apartment in Anchorage. It’s awfully nice to be home.
It’s obviously not pleasant to be stuck somewhere for much longer than intended, but the experience this time was actually not that bad. The school was very hospitable, so we always had a warm place to sleep and plenty of food to eat, and there is a store in the community where we could get any additional food or supplies we wanted. The school also had internet access, so I could get some work done and keep track of how things were going in the office. It was interesting to see what it’s really like to wait out a storm like this, and the community itself was very welcoming and friendly, so it was a pretty pleasant time given the circumstances.
Man, it’s been a weird few weeks, but in ways that are hard to explain. Nothing bad, really, but work continues to be super-busy and stressful at times. I’m doing fine overall, though. I haven’t devoted much time to blogging, obviously, but that’s not really for lack of time. It’s just hard to think of things to say, especially for this blog which hardly anyone reads anymore.
Once again a year has gone by, and it’s time for my annual list of cities I’ve visited this year. As in previous years, this only includes cities where I spent at least one night, and each city is only listed once, in the order that I first visited it. “City” is defined broadly to include some very small communities, but not actually rural areas. With that in mind, here we go:
- Anchorage, AK
- Juneau, AK
- Fairbanks, AK
- Noorvik, AK
- Nome, AK
- Philadelphia, PA
- Bethel, AK
- Aniak, AK
- Glennallen, AK
- McCarthy, AK
- Albuquerque, NM
- Sitka, AK
- Phoenix, AZ
- Unalakleet, AK
- Flagstaff, AZ
As in past years, the exclusion of day trips makes this list slightly incomplete, but less so this year since I did fewer day trips and many were to places where I spent the night on other trips. Overall it’s a pretty good picture of my life these days.
I’ve visited my mom’s family pretty regularly in the past few years, but I’ve fallen somewhat out of touch with my dad’s family. This year, however, I decided to go have Thanksgiving with my dad’s cousins. They’re scattered all around the Southwest, so they tend to rotate holidays around different locations, but this year Thanksgiving was in Phoenix so that’s where I went. It was very nice to see everyone, and they were all very happy to see me, so I think I’ll go back for Christmas (also in Phoenix this year) and probably other holidays in the future as well.
This week I went to Sitka for work. I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I read The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, which takes place in an alternate-reality Sitka inhabited by Jews displaced from all over the world. I liked the book but had some reservations about it, due partly to its implicit political message and partly to the fact that I’m just not that into gritty detective stories. Anyway, as I had expected, the real Sitka is a very pleasant little town and not gritty at all.
My dad died seven years ago today. Ever since then, my mom has had a tradition of going camping on September 27th, usually with her sister or one of her friends. This year, I took a few days off to come down to Albuquerque to go camping with her. We didn’t actually go camping today, since she’s teaching Sunday school and wants me to go with her tomorrow to help the kids build a sukkah (which it’s a little early for, but whatever). It’s also just generally more pleasant to go camping during the week since it’s less crowded. So we’re going down to Oliver Lee State Park next week, which should be nice since that’s a part of the state we haven’t spent much time in. After we get back we’ll go to Yom Kippur services at the synagogue, then I’ll fly back to Anchorage.
Anyway, since we weren’t going camping this weekend, tonight we went to see This Is Where I Leave You, which my mom has been wanting to see for a while. It’s about a Jewish family that gets together to sit shiva after their father dies, which wasn’t actually the main reason my mom wanted to see it but made it a particularly appropriate choice for today. I wouldn’t call it a good movie, exactly; it’s certainly formulaic and sentimental, and the plot is weak and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Still, it’s kind of sweet, and the parts about the various siblings and their personal struggles definitely struck a chord with me.
This has always been a difficult time of year for me, for various reasons, and the past few weeks have been very busy and stressful, so it’s nice to take some time off and do some different things for a change, and it’s definitely nice to spend time with my mom.
Not a whole lot of major interest to report this month either, but I’m still doing well. Work has been busy, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of some of my new responsibilities and am less stressed out about it than I had been.
I’m still busy with work, but at least I’ve been traveling more lately than I had been for a few months. This week I went to McCarthy, which was very interesting, and I have a couple more trips coming up in August and a lot of stuff going on in September. So yeah, things are going well.
I know almost every post I do here these days is a variation on “I’m really busy,” but that’s pretty much my life. This time I’m also sick with a pretty bad cold, which is getting better but did prevent me from going on a camping trip over the Solstice weekend, which was disappointing. Overall, though, things are going fine. I’m busy but feeling quite productive, and a lot of stuff at work that I’ve been working on for a while seems to finally be getting real results. So that’s nice.
The aftermath of the Isla Vista shooting has led to a lot of welcome discussion of gender relations, misogyny, and the idea among many lonely, resentful young men that they “deserve” sex with women of their choosing. I think the underlying concept in the latter is what I would call “Sex-as-Prize,” and it joins two other conceptualizations of sex that I also hate and have been thinking about for longer: “Sex-as-Conquest” and “Sex-as-Performance.” The former is pretty closely related to Sex-as-Prize, but with the difference that it involves the assumption that (in a hetero context) the man will pursue the woman actively with the goal of having sex with her, regardless of her initial opinion of him. It’s all over romantic comedies and so forth, and shades rather obviously into rape. Sex-as-Prize is similar but the assumption is that the man doesn’t even have to put in the effort of pursuit; the woman will just fall into his lap as long as he’s a Nice Guy or whatever. This is also fairly common in the media. Sex-as-Performance is somewhat different, and less obviously gendered, but still quite widespread. You see it in stuff like the idea that being “good at sex” is a quality someone (usually a guy, again in a hetero context) can acquire as an independent quality not tied to the preferences of any particular sex partner. I think it finds its most extreme realization in strip clubs, where there isn’t even any actual sex, just performance.
I hate all three of these concepts, for what I hope are obvious reasons. I don’t have as pithy a term for my preferred way to think about sex, but it’s basically just that it should be fun and both parties should be totally into it, without all the other baggage associated with the other concepts.