Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shake That Booty

One of the many benefits of having a boyfriend who works for Hearthside Books is the big little perk of complimentary tickets to various events. Since I'm going to assume that every single reader of this blog lives in Juneau, I don't have to tell you that Hearthside sells tickets for just about every show in town. At the very least, every show that the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council puts on. So on Thursday night, Danny and I went to see John Lee Hooker Jr. play at the Rendezvous *for free.* We enlisted a couple of friends to go with us, and it was generally a very fun night of heavy dancing and light drinking--until I had to shake my booty.

John Lee Hooker Jr. played a lot of really enjoyable music on Thursday night. Save for a cover or two of his father's songs, all of the music was new to me--but that didn't matter. I got down on the dance floor and had a really good time. At one point near the end of the evening, there were very few people dancing. I was the only woman on the dance floor, and that was the moment when JLH Jr. decided to announce a 'booty shaking contest.' As he was announcing the contest, his eyes were locked on me. He pointed at me, and smiled.
Now, those of you who know me at ALL know that I'm not the type of person to draw attention to myself in a public setting (unless I'm like, really drunk). I prefer to fade into the background and do a whole lot of observing others. Normally, at the announcement of a booty shaking contest, I would have literally bolted toward my seat in the audience, but this situation seemed abnormal. He was looking right at me, pointing at me! It seemed that the only logical option was to shove my neurosis into the back of my mind, and do the damn thing.
Three other girls (one of whom being a friend I brought, who I kinda sorta pressured into joining in) hopped on stage, one at a time, and shook their asses, but I didn't pay any attention to the girl who went before me, or the two who went after me--I was kind of preoccupied with my own, somewhat mortifying, experience.

Here's how it happened: Girl #1 gets on stage, drops it like it's hot (or whatever the young people are saying these days), people clap. I get up on the stage, JLH Jr. puts his arm around me, tells me what is going to happen, fondles my butt a little (seriously, ew), music plays and I dance with my backside toward the audience. All the while, the look on JLH Jr.'s face is one of utter satisfaction (again, eaw--this guy is nearly 60). After the music stopped and I got off the stage, he threw out a few derogatory compliments and it was over.
Despite my hesitations about shaking my ass on stage, I've never been terribly concerned about my dancing ability. Even when I look like a complete dumbass, I have a lot of fun. And when it comes to booty shaking, there is a certain amount of genetic ability that comes into the mix. That said, I did not win the booty shaking contest. A really drunk, horny girl did--and it was for the best.

At home that evening, I think I asked Danny about twenty times if I looked like an idiot on stage. His biased, boyfriend-response was "no. no. NO." He tried to convince me that I shouldn't feel so dirty about the whole experience by saying that I should stop thinking like a prude and start thinking like a "1990s feminist and own your sexuality, like 'I am Woman, hear me roar'"--whatever that means. The embarrassment is difficult to shake (no pun intended), but I guess I'll have to get over it. I stepped out of my introverted bubble, got a little bit objectified, and survived the whole experience. Things could definitely be worse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Learning to cope

I've recently been slapped across the face by mortality.
One of my very good friends passed away six days ago and the event has sent me on a journey that I wasn't ready for. I've been contemplating writing about it here since I found out this past Thursday, but I think I was trying really hard to ignore what was going on. Denial is a powerful stage of grief, and I kept thinking that if I didn't write about it, didn't cry about it, Mike's death would go away. But it hasn't, and I think I am finally beginning to understand that.
I do not believe that all deaths are tragedies, but Mike's is. In a way, I feel as if his life has been reduced to a piece of gossip. I have been receiving texts, calls and Facebook messages from people who didn't even know him. These people don't care about the impact he made in life, they are focused on the details of his death. They ask me if I know what happened or why he did it, and the truth is I don't know all of the details--but at this point I don't care. Mike was pretty adamant about his hatred of gossip and he always told me I did too much of it. I never understood what the big deal was until now. When you're hurting, gossip is toxic. Mike knew that, but he knew just about everything.

Grief has me all fucked up in my heart and in my brain, and I know that I'm not getting the worst of it. Mike had a lot of good lifelong friends and a very solid, loving family. I cannot and do not want to imagine what those people are going through. What I do know, though, is that Mike was my co-worker and true friend for only three years, and his death is having a profound impact on me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Into the WILD

I went camping with some friends on Friday night. You may remember the weather on Friday being less than desirable, and if you don't, I'll remind you. The weather on Friday was less than desirable. Typical Juneau wetness has a tendency to make even my bones feel soggy. But we hiked out to Cowee Meadow Cabin anyway. Once there, the five of us began eating and drinking—a lot. Darkness fell before 7pm, and I remember thinking to myself “this would be perfect if it were three months earlier.” It was the severity of the blackness outside that kept us from building a campfire, roasting marshmallows and exploring the meadow. In fact, the only trips that anyone took outside the cabin involved peeing—quickly. October darkness is just creepy, I guess.

Now, this is not to say that I didn't have fun in the cabin. I did. With good friends, fun comes naturally (even though “someone” may have thrown up in the bunk next to me, making the entire cabin smell like vomit) but I will say that I was very pleased in the morning to see daylight once again. I could finally appreciate my surroundings. On the hike back from the cabin, I realized that the problem with camping in the dark is the barrier that forms between us and nature.

The entire reason people go camping is to feel close to nature; to understand wildness by being in it, observing it. But when I can't see nature, I have a hard time feeling present in the wilderness, and thus the reason for camping becomes lost in the darkness. That is exactly what happened Friday night. Nothing was particularly captivating because nothing was visually available, and feelings of comfort with my surroundings were replaced with uncomfortable uncertainty. Were there any bears around that I couldn't see? Was a porcupine gonna get my ass while I was peeing? What about zombies? Vampires? Darkness kept me on edge and prevented me from feeling the breeze, smelling the trees and enhancing my understanding of the wild. I learned that to get the most out of a camping trip, it is a good idea to make sure I can see my surroundings. Otherwise, I might just end up a little tipsy and paranoid--with no visual or emotional connection to the wilderness that I love.

Oh yeah and I'm scrapping the picture thing. I drink like 4 cups of coffee a day and countless cups of Earl Gray, yet I'm still always a little lethargic. It's strange, but not worth a picture with every update.

Monday, October 11, 2010

No coffee?!

Okay, so I made a vow not to write in my blog unless I'm drinking coffee. I wanted to stay true to the vow, I really did--but it's inching towards midnight right now and I can't sleep. So I'm blogging, and consequently breaking the coffee vow. Meh...
The reason I can't sleep is because I slept in until noon today, which is honestly pretty typical for a Sunday. What else is there to do? I'm a kidless, jobless, full time college student. We tend to be sleepers; and I am no exception to that rule.

I just realized that I don't have anything else to say about sleeping. Perhaps it is because I am sleepy. Regardless, it's time for a subject I'm going to write about an amazing movie I saw last night. It is called "A Single Man." Allow me to gush...

Different movies affect people differently. "Inception" rocked the socks off of nearly everyone I know, but I personally thought it was only alright. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. So I don't expect the entire world to go nuts over "A Single Man," but I sure did. The film (2009) was the directorial debut of Tom Ford, who is (get this!) a fashion designer. Every single frame in the film was a piece of art; it was truly astounding. But honestly, the sheer gorgeousness of the movie was just icing on cake. The real beauty, the part that tugged on my heartstrings in a way few things can, was the story.
"A Single Man" is based off of a book of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, and at its most simple level, it's the story of a man dealing with grief. The entire film is set within one fateful day, and is a fascinating look at how death and love can profoundly affect someone. I won't go into more detail than that because I don't want to bore you with a plot summary, but I really appreciated this movie. It was visually amazing, contextually fascinating and Colin Firth is just so dreamy (what is it about average looking British men that I find so attractive? I'll never know). As soon as I can pencil in some time for "fun" reading, I'm going to devour the book. It is movies like "A Single Man" that make me glad I broke it off with Jennifer Aniston when I did.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My carbon footprint is smaller than yours...

I'm a bus-taker. A slave to the Capital Transit Bus system. It's...whatever. I live at point A, walk for a little while, get on the bus, get off the bus, walk for another little while, and I'm at point B. It's effective enough and keeps me from burning my weight in natural resources every day. I also don't have a driver's license.
Gasp. I can't believe I just admitted that on the internet. Everyone in Juneau seems to have a driver's license, but not me. Upon hearing this absolutely earth-shattering information, I'm often presented with a very typical follow up question: why not?
For a while, I didn't have a license because I didn't want one. I was fine not driving because it didn't appeal to me (I also failed my learner's permit test twice when I was a teenager). Now, I don't have a license because I just don't. Too busy to learn, too broke for a car. Same old story. So, I take the bus.

Public transportation is a writer's wet dream. If I had a bit more sense in me, I'd carry a notepad on the bus and begin writing a novella. In an enclosed space under fluorescent lighting, everyone is fascinating...
I can never figure out where drunk people need to be in the morning, but more often than not, a man will get on the first bus of the day with a stumble his step and a lazy twinkle in his eye that indicates intoxication. The stink of his breath when he passes lets me know it's fresh. He can still taste the whiskey. Everyone else can smell it.
On the afternoon bus, the drunk man sleeps, but the schizophrenic woman is wide awake. She sits in the back, wears sunglasses on a cloudy day. Sometimes she'll mumble but she usually keeps to herself. I've heard that on a rare occasion, this woman will have a paranoid meltdown that really freaks everyone out. I've never seen it happen myself, but my boyfriend tells me it isn't pretty. He says that when it happens, she forces everyone on the bus to face a reality that we often ignore. Life isn't always beautiful. For some people, it's a terribly frightening experience.
The evening bus is the worst because it's rowdy as hell. Loud teenagers love to talk about sex, alcohol and drugs. I can't blame them, all are worthy topics for discussion, but I just can't stand the way these guys do it. They announce, with intimate detail, their sexual experiences at the top of their lungs; forcing the entire bus to listen. Boys feel like men, want everyone to know they're growing up.

There was a time when I saw the city bus as a window into the seedy underbelly of this town, but I was wrong. There is no such thing as a seedy underbelly, just differing realities. Everyday I spend time observing people who I would otherwise never come into contact with, and it serves as a constant reminder that there is a world outside my little college bubble. It is no better or worse than my own but it is very, very different.

Currently drinking re-heated coffee from this morning. Wishing it were Lady Gray...

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Last week, here in Juneau, we had amazing weather. Ten days of sun in mid-September. Unheard of. The man on the local news said the uncharacteristically good weather was due to a fluke-like change in weather patterns. The fluke has now passed, and familiar rain and wind have settled in. I've said goodbye to the blue sky of summer, and am trying my hardest to welcome back the Southeast Alaska gray. It'll be here for a while.
When I think about how quickly the weather changes between summer and fall, I cannot help but compare such changes to myself. It is not that I feel sunny in the summer and gray in the fall, but there is a certain transition that I find myself making in unison with the leaves.

I spend my summers working in tourism. For ten hours a day, I do a job that I can do in my sleep, one I've done for four summers now. A large part of my job includes talking to tourists--not about anything in particular, just keeping them happy. I tell them about Alaska and myself. When they talk, I listen. Hundreds of people per week.
When I'm not at work, I read fiction for fun, hike with friends and drink on weeknights. My job is easy and my free time is my own. The word 'homework' never touches my lips and academia stays far out of my mind. Yes, summers in Juneau are delightful. In a word, refreshing.
But, because I tend to be a 'grass is always greener' type of girl, I usually find myself craving intellectual stimulation by the time August rolls around. At this point, I begin thinking about school; and as quickly as the summer began, it comes to an end. Back in the classroom.

The transition from a life of partying with friends, hiking on beautiful days and reading whatever the hell I want to one of high expectations and responsibility shouldn't happen overnight, but it does. I talk less and think more, re-teach myself (for the thousandth time) how to format an MLA paper and keep my friendships on reserve for weekends. My free time does not belong to me, instead it is given to books, papers and power point presentations. Dishes pile up in my sink and even my eyebrows go un-plucked. All in the name of education.
Please don't mistake these facts for complaints, I am not complaining. I am only showing you, my reader, the stark contrast that I've seen every September since 2007. In some ways, it is difficult to adjust--but more than anything, it is rewarding. I am fortunate to have such wonderful summers, and likewise I am lucky to have an enriching education. If I didn't love this (caffeinated) life, I would've quit college long ago. But the truth is, I don't know who I'd be without the things I've learned and the habits I've formed in college.

Coffee: Home-brew. Third cup today. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh hi there

Hello Readers,

Welcome to This Caffeinated Life, a blog about coffee and college life. Honestly, there isn't too much I can say about coffee aside from the obvious: it is amazing. So instead of writing sweet nothings about my favorite drink on the internet, I vow to only write in this blog while I am drinking coffee (exception: right now, its like 10:30pm right now).
With my handy webcam, I will photograph myself drinking coffee before each post to prove my dedication to blogging on caffeine. It will be a lot like the photo below, except instead of proudly and awkwardly displaying a bowl of ramen, it will be a big steaming cup of joe. I realize this is narcissistic, but that is nature of blogging...

I created this blog for Eng. 461, Advanced Creative Writing. It is supposed to be personal, so I will try and be as honest as possible with my thoughts and musings on college life. I am excited to reflect on life as a poor, twenty-one year old full time student. There is much to say. Right now, I've got ramen to eat...