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Instagramming My Last Month Before The Move

26 Apr

I’ve always been a huge fan of instagram, and now that I have access to a much higher quality lens than my crappy little iTouch,  I can now capture life in much better detail. I’m a complete photography nut, mostly because I like the concept of documentation. A simple curiosity sparked years ago has led to a full-on obsession, complete with multiple cameras, countless rolls of film, scattered memory cards, and external hard drives stuffed to the brim with RAW files. I will also love my DSLR, but I do like the convenience and stealth of camera phones. They’re small, compact, handy, and getting better and better in quality. They perfectly suits my need to document life around me. Especially lately, as I’ve been documenting my last month in the city I’ve called home. For the past 6 years here, I’ve been so wrapped up in college that I rarely took the opportunity to indulge my social life. The first part of college I was very sick, resulting in constant exhaustion and nearly dropping out altogether, which was followed by depression and anxiety over my health and failing academics. Once I had regained healthy, stability, and my labs, the second part of college was filled with stating my passion for science. I willingly spent late caffeine-fueled nights in libraries and diners, pouring over textbooks, notes, and flashcards. I loved the material so much that it never fully occurred to me how much work I actually put into it until I graduated. I simply enjoyed it to much to notice the workload. Now that I’m transitioning from full-time college student to full-time lab geek, I’ve been working on my “Stuff I’ve Been Meaning To Do, But Never Got Around To Doing Due To College” list. Yeah, I actually have a list. And a camera to document it. Drinking coffee. Well, I always insane amounts of drink coffee, but now I have the means to enjoy high quality pressed coffee at home, instead of crappy diner coffer, burnt lab coffee, and annoyingly shitty espresso shots made by baristas who were hired for their secondary sexual features in lieu of any actual culinary skill. My tongue is much happier.

Learning how to crochet. I’ve been making several scarves as good-bye presents for  my friends. It’s fun and provides some much needed relaxation. Despite what a certain family member claims, moving is actually incredibly stressful, and crocheting is super-awesome productive stress-relief.Watching friends invent nerdy drinking games.

Learn how to cook. It’s still a huge work in progress, and these super-delicious blueberry pancakes shown above were actually morning-after treats made by Kim. But watching her make them has made me realize that pancakes are no longer intimidating, and she showed me a absolutely delicious whole wheat pancake mix. I also figured out pork chops, lentil soup, burritos, and chicken pesto pasta. I even bought some cookbooks! They look so pretty sitting on my bookshelf I simply can’t bring myself to open them. Oops.I even learned out to make hummus!Sooo delicious!

Celebrate Easter without all those annoying religious overtones.

Give a gift of narwhal necklaces to one of my closest friends, Darlene, who completely changed my life 5 years ago, and I will never be able to repay her for everything she’s done. My degree, my job, my self-esteem, several awesome boyfriends, and a wonderful social circle are directly due to her.Spend quality time with my bestie, Kim, depicted here in her fanciest fancies.Attend New Dances! Actually, I’ve attended New Dances every year for the past 3 years. But this year I had 5 friends who choreographed dances, and nearly a dozen who danced in it. It was phenomenal. More cuddle parties! Tea time with Dad. We actually get together for tea or lunch fairly regularly, but more often now that I have the time. I always hated the days when I had to cancel our plans due to projects, studying, or exhaustion from all-nighters. Make more science friends. Here is Tom explaining neutrino imaging to a fellow coffee shop patron. Or maybe to an imaginary friend. Imaginary friends are excellent listeners.Enjoy my last First Friday downtown with Corrie, complete with silly tourist participation nonsense.
More late night diner gatherings! This happened a lot in college, but it’s way more fun when you don’t have to worry exams and papers the following morning. And when the table isn’t cluttered with textbooks and lecture notes, there’s actually room for food! Amazing! And mustache doodles on fingers! Spend more time laughing with friends.
Survive the snowiest winter in the history of Anchorage! We even had April 8th snowstorm. My last winter in Anchorage was the snowiest in history, bringing in over 133 inches.  Of course, this was the one winter I decided “Nah, I can totally survive without snow tires this winter.” Oops.Skiing! For the first time since high school. I still can’t downhill ski to save my life, but cross country skiing adventures are some of my favorite high school memories. Welcome a very sloshy spring breakup! Have a surreal experience involving a wedding, a roller derby, belly dancers, and awkward public prayer!
And, of course, spend more time with people like this:

Microbe Painting

20 Apr

While in college, I spent a few years working at an art gallery. I absolutely loved it. It was an excuse to get out of the lab and meet people, and many artists appreciated my insatiable passion and constant pursuit of what I loved, even if they didn’t know what the hell a Gram’s stain was. Either they appreciated it, or lovingly put up with it. Either way, it rocked.
Right before one of my coworkers left to pursue greener pastures in another state, he painted me this incredibly adorable microbe painting.

I want to hug it forever!

Eddie Izzard

20 Apr

I’ve been a fan of Eddie Izzard since high school, though I never dreamed I would have a chance to see him. Shows like Eddie Izzard are too big for Alaska, which due to our location has a hard time time attracting big names and is notorious for having shows cancelled. In the past few years, White Stripes, Lamb of God, and Godsmack (in Fairbanks) are among many cancelled shows. Even our own Jewel has cancelled on us twice. It’s just one of those things you come to terms with when living up here. (Fortunately we have a fairly dedicated music community which has pushed for big acts, and the recent filming of movies here has expanded our name as an entertainment venue). We also have a pretty religious and conservative community. Anchorage has a pretty strong progressive community, thanks largely to the university, but even that population wasn’t enough to pass the recent controversial Prop 5, a proposed law which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation for housing and jobs.  In 2012 Anchorage, Alaska, one can be denied a job based on their sexual orientation. It’s not right, but it’s how it is for now.

Given the conservative atmosphere and our less-than-desirable venue, I would have never of dreamed of seeing Eddie Izzard’s act in Alaska. But the concert board of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) brought him up. Tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes. So they offered a second show. Those tickets sold out in less than 1 minute, even with a “two-tickets-per-person” restriction. I didn’t even try to get a ticket; I didn’t want to get my hopes up. But the super awesome Margherita surprised me with a ticket, which has earned her eternal hugs.

Our show started at 10:30 pm, but people were already lining up by noon. When I arrived at 7:30, over 20 people were waiting. It really encourages me to see so many people with my kind of humor. I found these super awesome people armed with board games and tauntaun sleeping bags. 
I grabbed a spot near the front of the line, armed with ALL THE COFFEE!!!
Soon my friends arrived and joined me (bringing with them more coffee, because they’re awesome and they love me).

We were all quite excited.

His nails were fabulous, his goatee was adorable, and his act was brilliant, based mostly on history, religion, Atheism, and the stupidity of creationism/intelligent design. My face hurts from laughing so much. A few of my favorites:
 “Anchorage, what kind of a name for a town is ‘Anchorage’? That’s like naming a town ‘Bus Stop’.”
“Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin lived two vowels away from each other on alphabet street.”
“We have to hunt in packs! Like cigarettes!”
“Can we kick animals in the bollocks?”
As well as watching him fight an invisible badger on the stage.

Oh, Mr. Izzard, you have made my life complete.

Coffee Pun

19 Apr

I saw this on my coffee today. It took me 15 minutes before I could start actually drinking the coffee because of all the giggling it induced, because all I could think about is how Sir Cumference probably had an epically dapper mustache and would do mathematical measurements on the circumference of boobs.
Yay for 2 days without sleep and unexpected science puns!

The Snowiest Winter

17 Apr

Way back in September, I decided that this was the winter I would go through sans-snow tires.
Every Alaskan, at one point or another, is tempted to do this, for various reasons. And I certainly had a list of reasons. I’d been driving through Alaskan winters for over 7 years with relatively little damage. The past few winters hadn’t been too snow heavy and I was good at regaining control of a car on ice. I  leave plenty of space between me and the person in front of me, especially at stoplights. I don’t have much in the way of road rage. It’s typically neighborhood roads that are the iciest and worse to navigate. The main roads are usually just fine, and my home was directly adjacent to a main road, eliminating my need to navigate those  pesky neighborhood roads. Besides, I lived close enough to the university that I usually walked.
Yes, I decided smugly, this winter I would be just fine without my snow tires.

Unfortunately, Nature had other ideas.
Nature decided it would be just dandy if this winter was the snowiest winter in recorded history, bringing in over 133 inches. The picture above was taken during a snow storm. During the second week of April.  April!
Of course, this was the one winter I decided “Nah, I can totally survive without snow tires this winter.”
Murphy is laughing in his grave right now.
On the plus side, it gave me the opportunity to explore cross country skiing again.

It was my first time on skis since high school. I still can’t downhill ski to save my life, but cross country skiing adventures are some of my favorite high school memories. (Right after dissecting cats, shooting rifles, and doing interpretive dances for French class. My high school was pretty awesome.)

It was a beautiful opportunity to enjoy the last remnants of winter and welcome a very sloshy spring breakup!

I finally purchased XtraTufs, which are an actual fashion statement in Alaska, especially Southeast Alaska. It’s not uncommon to see women wear them with skirts. I bought them because they’re one of those things that you never appreciate until you need them, and also because my parking lot is completely flooded, as shown above. I literally can’t get to my front door without going through 6″ of water. I really, really want to release a horde of rubber duckies in my parking lot.

Super Awkward Roller Derby Fun Time

16 Apr
This weekend involved one of the most surreal experiences in the history of weird moments.
It started with a roller derby.
In an odd little Alaskan town named Wasilla.
(Yeah, that Wasilla)

Wasilla is a very peculiar town, prone to strangeness and idiot policians.
The game itself started out normally, with a pledge and singing of the national anthem. Followed by a insanely awkward public pre-game prayer.
After that, they did a roll call of the junior derby girls, presumably to bring attention that even though this is an adult game, there is a junior league which you should totally enroll your girls into. The only problem is several derby nicknames of the junior girls (ages 10-17) are quite innuendo-laden, including one named “Pound-Her-Puff Girl” and another called “Jack-In-Her-Box.”
After that though, the real derby started and was actually great fun. One of my friends who is involved with the roller derby informed me that my new home has no less than three leagues. I may look into participating. I think my derby name would be Plague Babe, or Ebola Girl, or some other painfully delightful science pun.
At one point I decided to seek coffee, which resulted in me wander about the sports center looking for the sole coffee stand. At one point I found myself under the bleachers and discovered a wedding reception.
A true, honest-to-god wedding reception.
In a sports center.
Under the bleachers.
During a roller derby.
And, at one point, belly dancers joined the derby players. Because it’s Wasilla, which has a perpetual motto of “Screw logic, we do what we want.”
To add to the entertainment, I was in the company of several good friends, who are just as strange as the town we were visiting.

Cookie Adventures

10 Apr

Midnight is the best time for cookie shenanigans.
Tom was patient with me and my lack of cooking skills.
Him: “If you keep eating the cookie dough, we won’t have enough to put on the cookie sheet.”
Me: “It’s a mouth tax! To appease the capitalistic cookie gods.”

We also tried out my new mustache cookie cutters (“Munchstaches”). But they’re better suited for sugar cookies and gingersnaps, as opposed to the lazy pre-made chocolate chip dough we bought, which expands upon cooking.
We ended up with fat staches.

Still, it was all good fun. The mustache cookie molds are fun, easy to clean, and make great props for ironic photos channeling one’s inner hipster: