Friday, February 8, 2013

Displaced, Disjointed and Just Diss'ed...

I stay in Germantown, Maryland for the time being.
I don't really live there. It's too small to be a proper state. I bide my time until I can leave. Heck, I get out of the landing pattern and I'm over Pennsylvania. It's more like existence outside the realm of reality. Yes, Virginia, sadly I'm another displaced Alaskan who wants to go home! And I will.
My husband and I have been “outside” for four and a half years now, and I plan every day to head my car north and start driving. Sometimes I plan it more than once a day! My car has other plans and somehow I always end up stuck in gridlock on I-270 South headed for work.
But after twenty-three years in the land of the midnight sun, I will never be content until those wonderful northern lights turn my skin zombie green and my heart is freezing and happy once again.

Like Char Chaffin’s blog stated, once you’ve lived there, you won’t be satisfied anywhere else. And it’s true. I knew it from the first time I stepped out of the Anchorage International Airport that beautiful sunny day in 1984, took one look at the mountains and said to myself, “I’m home.”
I count myself an Alaskan. And after all those years, Alaska changes a person. I found a world of freedom in the far north. I found the love of my life and my soul mate. And I found a place to belong to, a place where I fit in. In fact, there are still two long troughs down the ALCAN where my heels dug in as we left Tok headed for Seattle!

First to Concord, California, then to Bethesda, Maryland, it’s been a long haul. Each day I wake up and promise myself humor will get me through, but living 'outside' has been hard on this Alaskan gal.
So here’s a little humor to get you through. Or maybe it’s just because misery loves company.
When I say “I love halibut”, the butcher hands me a three inch wimpy slice of flounder. With a smile! It’s been frozen three times and floats in some creamy colored liquid and wiggles like Jello.

*  When I tell someone I miss flying my plane, they invariably look incredulous and say “You’re a pilot?” That’s when I begin to feel like I have two heads and four purple tentacles.
No one ever said that to me in Alaska. They asked what kind of plane I had and if I wanted to go to Talkeetna for ice cream.
When the guys are planning a fishing trip and I ask for the date and time, they start to shake and tear up. They’re such delicate flowers here on the 'right' coast. And by the way, did you know Alaskans live on the 'left' coast? I've never understood that little intellectual jewel.
The local folks aren't extremely flexible when I expound on my perspective from the far north looking down on the lower 49. Maryland is about as far left as you can go before you hit France.
There is just no appreciation for expanding the mind, I guess.

It’s 40 degrees outside and I come to work in a light sweater. I stand out in the crowd of fellow commuters, bundled to the max in down coats, heavy scarves, sub-zero gloves and all manner of hats.
Why don’t they melt?

When it snows (Ohhhhhhhhhhhh - God forbid it snows in the DC area!) an inch, or even less, the entire eastern seaboard shuts down and people buy everything off the shelves of the grocery stores.
So, I ask you, what good does it do to buy ten loaves of bread, all of the canned soup and five gallons of milk for a winter dusting that lasts a day and a half?

Children don’t know what snow angels are, but they pray to them anyway. So do their parents.
They have a freeway, called The Beltway, that circles our nation’s capital. The speed limit is 65 mph. It’s about fifteen lanes wide.
I’ve never been able to do more than 25 mph on it.

*  One police officer writing a ticket on I-270 South at 6:30 in the morning can back up traffic for ten miles. Needless to say here, in this land of rich history and high powered politics, road rage is a life style!

When the President goes somewhere there is a big traffic alert on the news. He can tie the place up for a day just popping out for a Subway sandwich.
He seems like a nice guy but is he worth all that? At $3.54 a gallon for gas?
Thank God he stays on the 'left' coast. Or is it the 'right' one?
Why doesn't Subway deliver anyway?

The word MERGE really means stop and watch the traffic for about three minutes, scream something in Swahili, then pull slowly out in front of an on-coming Mac truck.

I can go to COSTCO and never hear an English word, even at the check-out stand. Apparently there is something magical about the parking lot that transports you to a foreign market high in the Himalayas.
The WalMart greeter speaks English on Thursdays.
On the flip side, I do get to practice my Spanish and Russian.
However, I still kick myself for not learning Pakistani.

Everything is beautiful. Even the dead deer I pass on the highway every morning. You can’t hunt them. You’re not supposed to feed them or harass them. They’re like squirrels – everywhere!
But the good thing is they are small, so when you hit them you can keep going with little damage to your car.
(Unlike moose and caribou that can total a Chevy S10)

Women are restricted from learning anything about car maintenance, let alone touching 'ooh-icky stuff' that involves machinery of any kind.
Like Xerox machines. Or printers. Or office refrigerators. get the picture.
But they wear great shoes!

While we’re on the subject of women and shoes, here they do everything in four-inch spiked heels. 
They shop, they ride the Metro, they work and walk around all day. It makes for some sick humor watching the interesting and unusual gaits that appear about 3:00 in the afternoon.
It's kind of like a cross between the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Nenana Ice Classic.
From the look of things, it’s got to be really painful, with long-term disabling effects. I can’t even get my feet to go into four-inch spiked heels. My toes crawl up into my feet and refuse to come out!

Like in Alaska, lots of people have dogs. But here, dogs are generally tiny and live inside, rarely seeing the street of day. And if they should do a 'doodle' while on parole, the owner is bound by legal statute and neighborly disdain to pick it up in a county approved biodegradable, green plastic bag, wrap and tie it off and place it in the appropriate receptacle for 'doggy doodle'.
DO NOT PUT IT IN THE GARBAGE. There is a fine for that.
DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GARBAGE. You can be arrested for that. They take their 'doggy doodle' seriously here in Maryland.

They take their plastic bags seriously too. In fact you have to pay five cents for every plastic bag you get at the store. The people of Montgomery County must have been asleep when the politicians passed that one. Then again, politicians can be pretty darn sneaky here in the land of congressional aides and lobbyists...and plastic bags!

Every seven feet there's a National Park of some kind. Now, I have a fond place in my heart for National Parks, like, say, Denali. Big open spaces, glaciers, wildlife, fresh air, clean water… right.
My husband and I honeymooned on the side of Mt. McKinley and it was hypoxic heaven.
I never knew a National Park could be a broke-down stone barn with a pile of rubble off to one side. I guess when you have a bazillion people living in cramped quarters, you have to down-size.

Did you know that humidity on the east coast can exceed the temperature? And when that happens you can count on a power outage. They just seem to go together.
For example, July 4th last summer; it was 104 degrees and the humidity was about 300 percent. The out-of-doors smelled like a men’s hockey locker room after a three day tournament. People moved from air-conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to the air conditioned malls and restaurants. You didn’t dare really go outside.
Then the power failed. For four days. It was a moist sight. All the years I lived in Alaska, I only lost power three times. Go figure.
Here’s a little trivia for your humor bone – PEPCO is the most hated and least dependable power company in the United States. Guess who my provider is…

*  The plumbing in many places is so old it still trickles through original lead pipes from the 1800's!
They actually placard the drinking fountains to warn the unsuspecting public.
“This water may contain lead. Not safe to drink.”
Really? Isn't that rusty, smelly thing specifically for drinking water?
And what percentage of the individuals in this area can read English? What about those pesky children who have yet to benefit from public education? What about the blind? What about the entire younger generation who never take their eyes off of their iphones, ipads, iwhatevers?
I think it’s a definite plot to increase retardation in our nation! We need more people on unemployment?

*  Millions of people live in these things called apartment home communities that start in the LOW $700,000. Basically a high-rise. We used to call that a “project.” Like everywhere in the US, housing took a hit here as well. Those cramped project apartments dropped a good half a million. And the spin stops where?

Well, the spin never stops on the east coast. The pace never slows down. People never look beyond the three-piece suit and Lincoln Town Car.
And we spend more time in traffic than anywhere else in the United States!
You wonder why I want to come home?

Now all I have to do is convince my car!

--- Miriam Matthews

1 comment:

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Hang in there, Miriam! I'm sure they'll let you come home to Alaska someday! :-)