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September 2008 Archives

Never Been to Boston in the Fall

September 30, 2008

I'm sitting in the Learning Resource Center on campus. Having completed the written portion of the French test I missed while in Boston, I am waiting until the professor is free and can read the listen-and-understand portion of the test. 70 minutes until that happens. There's free wifi, which is great, but I only have 10% of my iPhone battery left. Which is un-great. So I'm writing in my notebook instead.

Boston was fun, but not as FUN! as we had hoped. Boston, in and of itself, was a tad disappointing, actually. No one talks with a funny accent (save the few vendors in the heavily-touristy areas that I'm certain were hired actors). The historical buildings were pretty, but very well-kept and not looking old at all.

Boston sky

Damon and I got a vacation rental instead of a hotel, which not only saved us money but also gave us each our own room and a full kitchen. The rental was located in the very artsy (read: lesbian) little community of Jamaica Plain. It was a few miles from city center, but very close to the subway. I would definitely stay there again if I ever found myself back in Boston.


(Someone just brought hot ramen into the study area -- I do not miss the smell of being young and broke. Yech.)

We got tickets to see Swell Season in concert, and because we bought them the night before the show meant we magically got front row seats. I would highly recommend the front row, if you can swing it.

A security guard told us that professional photography wasn't allowed without a press pass, and that our cameras classified as professional because the lenses were exchangeable. He finally told us to not over-do it and respect the artists. We got some great shots, enjoyed the wonderful music and the energy of the musicians.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

We took a ferry one day to the very tip of Cape Cod and spent the afternoon wandering through Provincetown. Then night fell and we thought it would be "fun" to walk to the beach before catching the ferry - it was only about a mile on the map. Only the map had been squished, drastically misrepresenting the distance to said beach.

And when people talk about the blackness of night? It doesn't get like that in Alaska. But in Massachusetts? On Cape May? It very much does. The crickets sound like Hollywood sound effects, and when noises rustle in the trees Damon screams and Valette almost pees her pants. It was pretty "fun".


Most of the way through our stay in Boston we discovered that the city publishes a list of abandoned properties! With addresses! It was a gold mine for our photography instincts, so we packed up our equipment and my iPhone GPS and headed out.


One our way to one such building, we were stopped by a man named Thomas. He had some questions about his camera as well as some tips on where to jump fences. We spent a good bit of time with Thomas talking nerd-photography talk on the sidewalk outside his store. It was a really great random connection, and I completely forgot to give him my card, so have no way of contacting him. And the fence-hopping tips he gave us were spot-on, resulting in an awesome shooting location.


I had a great time reconnecting with Damon, and we didn't try to kill each other. Not even once.


I should do this vacationing thing more often.


September 22, 2008

It's Melissa's anniversary today, and I'm feeling wholly unprepared. I don't have something ready to post, don't have a photo to go along with it, and am having to type this on my iPhone. The biggest reason I decided to go on this Boston trip in September was for her anniversary, a way to celebrate her life. And yet the anniversary has seemed to sneak up on me.

When Lacey died this summer, the grief of Melissa's death returned to help me grieve Lacey. Is this what subsequent periods of grief will be like? Shadows of past grief returning as bit parts of the experience? But it did help remind me that things get easier, things get better, I get better.

I miss my sister just as much as I did the day she died, but the ache isn't as sharp or consuming. I would still give anything to have her back.

Jet Setter

September 16, 2008

Yesterday after work Steve and I stood at the deli counter of our grocery store and asked for a half pound of this, a quarter pound of that. I admit that we had a lot of this and that to pick from, but the resulting three pounds of meats and cheeses should not have taken an hour (AN HOUR I am not even exaggerating).

I was needing some ham and cheese to snack on the airplane, and Steve needed some sandwich fixin's so that he won't starve while I'm gone.

Where am I going? Oh, right.
To Boston.
For a week.
My plane leaves at 2.30am.
That's less than four hours from now.

I had won some airline miles from my previous employer, and I needed to use them before the end of the year (or before I quit, whichever came first).

I broached the topic of these free miles with Damon and proposed we meet somewhere fantastic, just the two of us. We had a very complicated and arduous method of choosing a destination that brimmed with fabulousness, but discovered that Alaska Airlines doesn't fly to Quebec. So we started over, only this time we used the list of destinations the airline flies to.

We crossed off all the cities in Alaska (even if I did have a desire to see Bethel, why would I waste free air miles to get there?), all of the cities in California, all of the cities that required too many miles (anything with sandy beaches and coconuts), and the other cities that he or I have already been to. This quickly narrowed it down to a handful, and Boston worked its way to the top.

Neither of us have been to Boston, neither of us really know much about it. Damon knows more, but only because I haven't made the time to do any kind of research for this trip. Which is pretty stressful, because I like to be the one with Lists and Checkmarks and Itineraries.

Last night I had a little emotional meltdown there at the Fred Meyer deli counter. I've been really busy at work with the travel to Juneau and reasons surrounding that. I was feeling very overwhelmed with this new trip because: holy hell! It was only one day away! And I hadn't even thought about travel food, let alone made any Lists!

All of that stress mixed in with a healthy dose of low blood sugar and you get a Valette who alternates between almost falling asleep on her feet and eyes brimming with tears.

In other words, it was pretty awesome.

But now I'm all packed (more shorts than sweaters since the internet tells me it's been in the 60s and 70s, which is way warmer than anything Alaska has seen this summer), I've taken my 365 shot for the night, printed my boarding pass, Asked Metafilter what we should do while in Boston, turned in my French homework and gotten the assignments for the classes I will be missing, and charged my ipod and cell phone.

I'm really tired and would like nothing more but to crawl in bed, but I know that a 2 hour nap would just make me grumpier and the likelihood of my deciding to not go at all would increase dramatically.

However: Boston! What are we going to DO there for a whole week? I have no idea. But as much as I am going to miss Steve and Olive and my pillow, I am looking forward to it. If at least to cut down on the frequency of my meltdowns.

Capital City

September 13, 2008

My trip to Juneau was surprisingly enjoyable. I met approximately 3million people, 2.96 million of whom I already can't remember which names were attached to which faces. I was able to tour most of the facilities down there, giving me a much better understanding of one aspect of the job.

It also somehow happened to be a tour of facility bathrooms, which isn't as exciting as it may sound. But if you ever need to know which bathrooms are the nicest (there's one on Douglas Island that is decorated nicely with flowers and distressed wood furniture) and the worst, just ask.

The rain let up for a few hours on Thursday, and I was able to walk around downtown with my camera. I was surprised at the number of jewelry stores, none of which are locally owned and all of which board up their windows when the last cruise ship leaves for the winter. Is there really that big of a demand on diamonds when on an Alaskan cruise?

Reserved parking

But once I got away from Shiny Tourist Trap Hell, I quickly became enamored with all of the moss-covered rust. Giant, crumbling buildings against a backdrop of mountains and fog? Beautiful.


I was starting to think I could live there and be happy until I visited the Foodland Market. Uh, yeah. I thought selection and prices in Anchorage were bad.

On Friday I drove out to Mendenhall Glacier and amused a handful of cruise ship tourists by taking self portraits with my gorillapod. It didn't even occur to me to ask for their photo until I was leaving.

Almost 317/365

But I did overhear one child ask his father why the glacier was so dirty. And the father couldn't find an answer. I wanted to interject with the only answer: it's called Nature, kid.

Business Trip

September 10, 2008

On Monday we were informed that of our section's staff members in Juneau will be transferring to another department on October 1st. As part of my duties at the new job, I will be flying down to Juneau tomorrow to train with her and hear her job inside and out in two days so that I will be prepared to train her replacement. Two days to learn as much as I can of another position in a different office.

It should be... "fun".

I am looking forward to seeing Alaska' capital city for the first time and putting faces to all of the telephone voices and email signatures of people in my division. And to not have to clean up Olive's accidents. And to not have to look at Steve's growing mountain of socks next to the couch.

I'll go back to Juneau at the end of the month to hopefully conduct some interviews and offer the perfect person the position. It all happened so quick, it's weird to be the kind of person who goes on business trips, has a business credit card, rents business rental cars.

To help balance all of this adult business, I intend to jump on the hotel bed a lot and maybe even eat M&Ms for breakfast. Look out, Juneau, I'm about to go crazy-wild.

Olive, Jesus Dog

September 6, 2008

I seemed to have lost my voice somewhere in one of Thursdays night's dreams. Yesterday morning the entire area where my voice had been was traumatized and in pain.

I only noticed my voice was MIA when attempting to encourage Olive to go outside despite her being full of sleep at 6am. As I squeaked out some gravelly noises - I can't possibly call them words - she sat six feet from the open door and tilted her head this way and that, back and forth, trying to determine when I learned all of that Klingon.

Olive is looking less monkey-ish and more otter-like these days. In the (3? 4?) months we've had her, her nose has grown in, her legs sprouted like weeds, and her torso stretched like putty.

I expect the vet to tell us on Monday that she's now well over 10 pounds, which is a lot considering she wasn't even 2lbs when I first brought her home.

Her ears still flop at their tips and her tail still curls over her hind end, both of which I hope stay floppy into adulthood.

Excited for the walk

Which isn't to say that living with a puppy is all sunshine and butterflies and Cute Overload. Blue Heelers are herding breeds, and she gets really upset if Steve and I are in separate rooms. She likes to run right under our feet in annoying attempts to keep the pack together.

She's peed on the bed a few times, including twice last weekend when she also managed to pee on the ironing. All at the same time. I'm pretty sure these were out of spite due to her disrupted schedule from the long weekend. Which doesn't excuse the five extra loads of laundry I had to do because of her precious puppy urine.

Olive's catch light

I keep expecting a middle name to become apparent, but all that has surfaced so far is a string of curses and the occasional "Puppy Butt." Because that's how we do terms of endearment in this house.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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