Being an Urban Alaskan #1 – Why the hell do you live in Alaska?

Last Saturday morning as I crawled out of bed and rummaged through my social media notifications from friends in more civilized timezones, I tossed out the idea of a blog about the urban Alaskan experience. This was followed immediately by positive reception and encouragement to consider a series of posts. So, here I am. These blog essays are going to be relatively short and focused on one general topic. As I proceed through my stories of the Urban AK experience, if anyone has a story to share, I’ll post it in the series.

I live in Alaska because this is where I grew up. While I wasn’t born here, this is home. From my earliest memories until I was about ten, I lived in Anchorage then we moved to Wasilla. My college years were spent in Fairbanks with a couple summers in Seward. After college my wife and I moved to Maryland for a year then we were back to Seward, then Anchorage and finally Wasilla, in the home we’ve lived in for twelve years.

Even though I wasn’t born here, I don’t remember the time before and so I consider my year long adventure in Maryland as the only time I’ve lived out of state. While I’m about to go on in a whole pile of posts about how much urban Alaska is just like everywhere else, I’d be lying if I tried to tell you moving from Fairbanks, AK to Ellicott City, MD wasn’t a shock to the system. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there is a real, tangible difference between east and west coast culture.

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The truth of it is that I had a great job in Maryland. It was super interesting, paid well, and had excellent prospects for advancement and long-term career stuff. However, neither Stacy or I could handle the bustling ocean of humanity or the unfamiliar pace of life. After several months, we started looking around us and gazing into the future in that lazy manner twenty-somethings do. It’s a place we’d have to go at some point, but not just yet. In that gazing, we realized that life was going to be more or less completely unlike either of our childhoods. We weren’t going to have a cute little house with a creek out back and maybe some chickens and things. Living in Maryland meant we’d be crammed into a row-house, neighbors stacked so tightly on either side that we might as well be dried, salted, and packed in oil. Even then, it still took about a year before I realized that happiness wasn’t going to be in work. We were also going to have to be happy with where we were. So, we packed all of our things into our Subaru and a little trailer and scuttled back up the highway. Neither of us had a job, our savings amounted to just enough to get us through a month, and yet off we went.

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Of course, we found good jobs, a nice house with the creek and eventually chickens. Really, we could have gone anywhere find this. Even in Maryland, had we really really looked and made some concessions, we’d have found something similar, but the pull to home was strong and so here we are, and hopefully, here we stay.

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Next up: What’s it like to live in Alaska?

Sick days & fever dreams

I was out sick yesterday. It wasn’t awful. Didn’t have the plague or anything, but I did want to sleep in and then spend the rest of the day basically sitting around. Really, I just felt tired and didn’t want to get anyone else sick, plus a bit of rest can go a long way in feeling better. Anyhow, that’s not the interesting thing. Last night I crashed out a little too late and I had odd dreams. Last night’s dream involved me talking to someone else, also me. The writer part of me. He reminded me of a story  idea that I’d come up with some weeks ago and failed to write down. Then, we proceeded to have a discussion of plot and characters and research methods. It was so vivid that I remember it even now after getting up, coughing my guts out and downing most of a cup of coffee – and also being chased round the house once by the geese. It was odd seeing the writer side of me personified and telling me things that I couldn’t remember the night before.

Anyhow. That’s my writer update. I’ve got a new concept on the sketch pad and I’m stalling on Dark Queen because, well, I want it to be an awesome story and don’t want to rush it. It’s sitting at 90K right now with a plotted target of 110-120K. In other news, I just submitted a short story to a self-pub anthology effort. The deadline is the 31st of August, so hopefully I’ll have more news on that as it progresses, but it might be a while. Now – on to chores. They don’t pause for sick days 🙂

Still Jobbed

As of Friday, I’m still jobbed! Yay – I like my job and my co-workers, even when they call at 2:45 on a Friday with a problem that really needs a solution before Monday. I can get behind the mission and the need. Unfortunately, we’ll be going over this again next year. This is only a one-year reprieve. Even though I just got my job back not six months ago, I’m once again considering jumping ship, but out of state. There are some opportunities that would let me work 50/50 AK and ‘elsewhere’. Last time I looked, this was incredibly lucrative too. However, I’m not super chuffed about it. Anyhow. That’s where I’m at, saving until next year’s layoff.