Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 31

9:34am, somewhere driving in Montana

“Yesterday was a ball-buster: from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Great Falls, Montana. ... In Milk River, a Canadian town a bout 20 miles from the border, we stopped to take pictures of a huge fake dinosaur. It was jawesome to say the least.”

10:47pm, Holiday Inn, Rapid City, South Dakota

“After Lewis & Clark National Forest the road got flat and straight again. … Montana is full of ranches. Wyoming is full of hills. I haven’t been in South Dakota long enough to figure out what it’s all about.”


And here is the picture for the day: we had just started out when we pulled over and took these pictures. I don't think we pulled over just to take pictures. It was a good idea, though, because the hood of my car had popped. Thank goodness for safety latches otherwise we would have had a "Tommy Boy" experience.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 30

I was too tired to write anything in my journal. What a coincidence, because last night I was up later than usual doing homework and didn’t have time to prep this post. Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of the 30th and 31st.

I will give you this,though:


This is Calgary, Alberta. Ma Mère drove through this city. I had tackled Edmonton earlier. Doesn’t it have a Canadian-Fresh look?


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 29

10:16pm (new time zone), Service Plus Inns and Suites in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

“Mom mostly drove through the mountains which was a winding, hilly road. She’s been getting sassy. She’ll sass to herself and me about people who don’t pull over to let us pass. We took a piss and stretch stop right outside of Fort Nelson where I took over the wheel. We went through an A&W drive-through and got chicken strips and fries. They were pretty tasty. Fort Nelson was larger than I expected.

“After Fort Nelson, the road became straight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such straight roads. These straight roads have taught us two things: you can go about 10 miles over the speed limit and passing people is necessary. (I think these two things helped us get so far.)”

along the AKhwy

This is somewhere along the last stretch of the Alaska Highway. Ah, if that doesn’t make you yearn for mountains, I don’t know what would. That last stretch, right in the mountains, is some of the most gorgeous scenery I have ever seen. If anyone ever offered me the opportunity to drive the Alaska Highway again, I’d do it without thinking.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 28

7:13pm Iron Creek Lodge (20-40 miles out of Watson Lake)

“We woke up today with frost on the car windows. It took a while for the windows to defrost. The drive around Destruction Bay was gorgeous. The sun was shining pretty much all day. We saw a bald eagle on the side of the road that had a decapitated rabbit. The Teslin Lake bridge was super-scary. It wasn’t a concrete bridge. It was a metal grate. As we drove across, the bridge made a clanking sound. I chanted, ‘Nobody come. Nobody come,’ hoping that no one would come onto the narrow bridge from the opposite direction.”

Dog at DBay

There was construction along Destruction Bay so we were stopped for awhile. Ma Mère and I enjoyed the view. We saw this dog kind of wandering around. It obviously belonged to the flag person. I turned to Ma Mère and asked her if she thought the dog would come if I whistled. I can’t remember what she said, but I rolled down the window and whistled. Sure enough, it started to trot over. I rolled the window back up, frightened, and pretended like I didn’t do anything when the flag person looked over to see why her dog was running towards our car.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 27

8:41pm (new time zone), Kluane Wilderness Village in Yukon Territory, Canada.

“It’s going to be a long ride—Ma Mère retold me a story I told her near the beginning of the day! I had to remind her that I had originally told her the story. It was funny because she told it with enthusiasm.”

Matanuska Glacier

The Matanuska Glacier. It is about 60 miles north of my hometown. Now that I have been out of Alaska for a year, I can really appreciate the scenery.



P.S. Today at work a father and teenage daughter bought a bunch of Atlanta maps. The father instructed to tell the girl where she got lost today. "Downtown," she replied. I told them about the time I really got lost in Atlanta and I finally had to pull over to consult my map to figure out how to get home. Most streets lead right back to Peachtree and if I'm Peachtree, I know exactly how to get home. The father commented that I must not be from Georgia. I told him I wasn't and that I came from Alaska. They were impressed and then I told them I drove here and that it was tons of fun. The girl said, "How can that be fun?" Oh, Atlanta!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Year Ago Today
August 26

Today a year ago was my last full day in Alaska. I worked a full day at the summer job I held throughout college. I’m gonna go ahead and say the people at that job set the standard. Sometimes I think that my co-workers there were a whole lot more fun than the people at school—a creative school. Who would’ve thunked it?

I will admit that I wish I had taken a day or two off before my departure. I remember coming home from work around 5pm, to an empty house, and immediately heading off to the car wash to give my car a nice scrub. Because my family was scattered that day, I don't remember eating dinner, just a cookie that Ma Mère had bought me at the state fair (usually the cookie stand produces excellent cookies, but this one was too crispy). And, I pretty much spent the entire night doing last minute packing and lugging boxes and suitcases into my car.

To celebrate the 1st Anniversary of my road trip from Alaska to Atlanta, I’m going to post an excerpt from my journal and a picture each day. I have no quote today, but I will give you this:


These were given to me amongst many other things as “Lessons from the OC.”

Tomorrow, Ma Mère and I hit the road.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Book Recommendation

“Give yourself permission to speak.”

This is what I wrote as one of three New Year’s resolutions for 2005. Those three resolutions have really turned out to be life resolutions, but when I first wrote them I was addressing incidents that happened to me in the latter half of 2004. Mainly, having a professor quasi-pursue me—by not coming out and saying what he wanted, just calling me almost every day until I finally got it to end. The resolution keeps coming up, though. At my new school, it was telling people I was dissatisfied with the classes.

Now, it’s not about school. It’s about me. Life hasn’t been feeling so great. It’s felt a little off—if I even know what life that isn’t a little off feels like. I’ve known for a long time that something was wrong. A long, long time, but I’ve ignored it. “Nope, not my problem,” I tried to tell myself. Since I moved 5,634 miles for a change of scenery, I’ve come to realize, “Yep, it is my problem.”


Read this book: The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome: A Step-By-Step Guide to Discovery and Recovery by Wayne Kritsberg. Okay, so it’s copyrighted 1985, maybe it’s outdated, but never have I read something and the entire time checked off all the little boxes as “Been there, done that.” Never have I realized that maybe I’m not a horrible person who doesn’t deserve friends. Never have I had the hope that maybe it’s not me, just my situation. Before, my defense of “not my problem” made me carry all the blame for feeling shitty, for feeling like no one ever understood or even could. “That’s just the way I am,” I thought. And, honestly, I don’t like it. Now, I realize that no, it’s not just the way I am.

In the tenth grade I could clearly articulate that I lived a double life. In second period, I was quiet as could be and only spoke when I needed to. Third period would roll around and I’d chatter away with friends and joke around. I never wanted my worlds to collide, I would joke. In school I always played “the game.” That’s all school ever was for me. Shut up, be the quiet girl, do the work, do it well, and everything was handed right to me, no obstacles. I was voted “School is Life” my senior year. I couldn’t grasp it. I hated high school. My seasonal jobs meant more. I played “the game”—only doing the work because I knew it would pay off in the end (and it did with scholarships). I had a double life. A side no one at school really knew about.

Blow up this high school situation to a larger proportion and you have my life. There’s a side that no one ever knows about. A side I don’t think anyone would ever understand. A side so secret I don’t tell anyone. And because I can’t tell just anyone about this, it feels hard to make friends. Who wants to be friends with a two-faced person?

In the sixth grade, I could articulate that I had no one to talk to and that there were certain things that I just couldn’t say to anyone. I remember this clearly. However many years later, I’m giving myself permission to say this: I’m fractured. Two lives. One no one knows about and the other people question if they start to get that close. I don’t know if I want to disclose that first side completely to anyone, but I will disclose that I’m fractured.

The best quote from the book: “Recovery is a way of living, a quality of feeling, and a mental attitude.” I know that the two sides won’t miraculously mesh together, but I’ve got hope that someday I’ll be able to live with them better.



Friday, August 18, 2006

How to Keep a Conversation Short

Mom asked me about my rules. I know a lot of you have already heard these from me, but here they are:

1. Don't make eye contact.
2. Answer with the shortest possible answers.
3. Don't ask any questions.

I just recently told these to a couple of friends. Their reaction was, "Geez, why would you not want to make conversation?" (like I was a mean person). So, I had to explain that I came across these rules while I worked in the visitor industry. I was only sixteen when I started working and was pretty shy. All of my co-workers seemed to get into these fifteen minute conversations with tourists about the state, the area, the lifestyle, etc.. Me? I could tell you in 45 seconds or less how to get to the nearest gas station and the laundromat that had showers. And that's how long my conversations lasted.

What the hell was I doing wrong? Plenty of old men told me that I had a purty smile, why wouldn't people talk to me? Finally, I realized that I wasn't making eye contact (because I was shy). I was answering questions the shortest way possible (because I was shy) and I didn't ask any questions (because I was shy). I decided to do the exact opposite of what I was doing and was able to chum it up with the tourists.

As I grew older, entered the college scene, I realized that my rules were gold because there's a lot of creeps out there. They work best in elevators, in lines at stores, and, well, at work.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I've Been Scammed

Today is my "weekend." I only have one class and today, in addition to going to class, I only had to meet up with a partner to do part of a project. So, being the "weekend" I decided I would start my quest to replace the shirts that have stains. You know, fancy up the wardrobe. I went to an Atlanta-esque strip mall not too far from where I live and patronized a couple of stores (nope, didn't find anything worthy).

As I'm walking out towards my car, I notice a man standing next to my car with a gas can on my trunk. Shit. I start to ruffle my feathers. I pull my keys out of my purse, remember that I have my cell phone, and no pepper spray. He sees me coming. He takes his gas can off of my car and steps a few feet away and is "talking" on a cell phone.

Once I get to my car, he tells me he's run out of gas and was just using my car to rest his gas can on. He didn't scratch it or anything. (But I did notice that my rear bumper has some new scuffs on it.) He tells me he was just calling his wife. Then, he points to my bumper sticker: "Alaska Girls Kick Ass? What's that about?" I simply tell him, "What can I say, I'm from Alaska."

I headed for the driver side to get in, but before I can get in he of course has to ask, "Do you have a couple of dollars you can spare so I can fill up my gas tank?" I tell him no.

First, that gas tank scam is the oldest trick in the book. I've seen this done at least three times now.

Second, listen, dumbasses, I drove the entire Alaska Highway without once running out of gas. What did people tell me to do before I started my trip? Carry a full gas can--there aren't many gas stations along the way. There weren't and the ones that were along the way had old-school pumps. I STILL made it all the way without running out of gas. I'm not sorry for anyone that runs out of gas in the middle of the city. Did you not notice that gas station to the left of you? Or that one coming up on your right? Oh, wait, 'E' means "empty?"

Third, if you're using a cell phone, there is no way on this concrete earth that you do not have a credit card that can buy you enough gas to get home.

I feel violated that the man was more than likely using my car for his old, unoriginal scam.

-T. Budnik

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I'm Being Watched, Part Deux

The man who recognized me for my bumper sticker returned. He walked up to my register and had a knowing smile on his face. Maybe I would have greeted him like I remembered him, but there's a bit of a creep factor about this guy.

Most of the time, you can't articulate the creep factor. You can only call it a bit of je ne sais quoi. Oh, but this guy I can tell you exactly what the creep factor is. Sunglasses. Plain and simple. The first two times I noticed he was wearing sunglasses--inside--but because it was sunny outside I excused it because I figured he just didn't take them off. Yesterday, though, it was cloudy. There was absolutely no reason to be wearing sunglasses. And there he was, wearing them inside on a cloudy day.

Thank the lord I have the ability to stop all conversation. And it worked. Shady shade man didn't say anything to me beyond the necessary.