Currently living/working in: Well, we’re still in limbo job-wise, hanging in Healy and literally cannot conceptualize where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing beyond May. We’ve done lots of coloring outside the lines to piece together a livelihood over the years, and it’s worked well to juggle 10 “jobs” at a time as a safety net. The freelance writing bit is something we’ve done over the years that was never our main source of income (especially since the payout takes months). But our goal this winter was to expand and vary our bylines. Little did we know those fruits of labor would be our lifeline this spring.
Current mood: While everything about our personal—as well as the world’s—future is uncertain in this global pandemic, my coping mechanism has been to pivot with adaptations when possible and to focus on the things I can control. This month, we became terrified of the reality of our underemployment grieving the expected loss of our renter/income/health insurance while holding on hope for a job we committed to, then in the next moment, celebrated new projects. I find if I appreciate the here and now, it is all very good. We are all on different places of this wild rollercoaster, so while we’re not alone, what works for one person may not work for the next. We can’t compare our suffering, but can recognize no one is unaffected to keep it all in perspective.
Currently not excited about: The bad news: We had an awesome renter lined up to move into our cabin 4/15, but we had to push her back since we didn’t know (and still don’t know) when and if we’re leaving Alaska this summer. She ultimately had to pull out to move forward with a plan for herself. We understand, but it stinks nonetheless.
Currently thankful for: We are so dang lucky to live in Alaska, which has the lowest population density in America with one person per square mile. Staying safe in our small town has been simple. Following stay-at-home orders in our cabin has been a cozy haven, not to mention a solid reset mentally. Our Alaskan backyard is full of nature. We really can’t complain.
Current guilty pleasure: Visiting our PO Box once a week has been a guilty pleasure! This month’s haul included: lots of cards from friends, Virginia’s very best donuts from The Apple House, homemade cookies from Justin’s mom, a lotto ticket from my mom and lots of random goodies from my sister (she found some DVDs while cleaning her basement she thought we’d like, she resupplied our hand sanitizer and she sent us blackout curtains someone was giving away for free in her town). We’ve been trying to send more mail to people too—gotta keep the post office in business!
Currently worried about: Does anyone have a spare ankle bracelet from a jail? My mother has not been very good at New Jersey’s “stay at home” rules. It has my family scratching their heads because my mom has been the epitome of a homebody before all this. Suddenly in the last 2 months, she apparently needed potato salad one day and to deliver her church donations the next day and milk the day after that. She is as stubborn as a mule and refused grocery delivery and neighbor assistance. She did start wearing a dish towel as her face covering, and thankfully, some stranger came up to her and said, “ma’am, that’s not going to work. Here are a few face masks you can have.”
Currently proud of: Somewhere out there, I am sure there is an Alaska Newbie Handbook, detailing all of the “Alaska Skills” necessary to not just survive, but thrive. While I know we’ve only been Alaskans for a short period, I’m pretty proud of surviving our first winter! And what a record winter it was … between the constant sea of snow and more than a month of consecutive below zero temps. I’m also proud we didn’t just hibernate (all to Justin’s credit, who would have been out there winter camping if I agreed). It took many experiments and lessons in layering systems, but I found something that worked pretty well to determine our temperature cutoff for aerobic activity as -15. My hands will always be my circulatory system downfall, so even 3 pairs of gloves/mitts and hand warmers and constant movement to push more blood to the extremities can’t allow me to plunge deeper into the low temps. But I digress. I didn’t know if we were fully equipped to be Alaskans before buying our cabin, but I had an inkling our prior remote living situations prepped us. You always hear stories of people who try out Alaska life, only to hightail it back to where they came from. I am way more confident after our first winter that we made the right choice. Anyway, I feel like I can now confidently call us “Alaska grade.”
Currently regretting: When we packed to come up to Alaska in December, we thought we’d be leaving by 4/15. Which means, we did not bring up any spring/summer gear! We are the people with ALL THE GEAR, except, once again, we are separated from our gear. That is the whole purpose of our storage unit in Colorado; we swap out seasonal gear/clothing as needed. But seeing as we won’t be going to Colorado anytime soon, I guess we’ll go hiking in our snow pants???
Currently amazed by: Unemployment! We are among the 30+ million people who filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 crisis hit America, and our first payment just came through last week. I realize there are financial repercussions and consequences of this widespread unemployment, but the rescue device has been appreciated as we tread our tumultuous waters.
Current confession: Everyone is baking. At the beginning of the winter, I purchased some gluten-free flour to experiment, but have been failing more than succeeding. Honestly, I think it’s because I don’t have ALL the necessary ingredients, like arrowroot powder and multiple types of gluten-free flours. Can’t really just sub anything out or make sacrifices, but I’m also not willing to invest the money in supplies when I don’t bake that often. Losses: plain bread and banana bread. Wins: Snickerdoodle cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies.
Currently reading: Both Justin & I finished Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere—we didn’t love it, but an easy read. I also finished Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and also didn’t love it; I don’t know why I continue to read fiction. I moved onto The Accidental Adventurer: Memoir of the First Woman to Climb Mt. McKinley by Barbara Washburn and loved it!! She is so nonchalant and modest about her accomplishments. Justin finished the 459-page book, No Barriers by Erik Weihenmayer, so I’m thinking that will take me all of May to read.
Currently watching on Netflix: We don’t stream, so our month’s worth of downloaded shows and movies included the infamous Tiger King, Season 3 of Ozark and Season 1 of Longmire. But more than Netflix, we have a suggestion for Survivor fans out there. You need to watch the All Stars season (Season 7) of Australian Survivor! Our Survivor buddy, Jonny Fairplay, claimed it to be the best season of Survivor of them all and told us we’d never stop thanking him for the suggestion. You have to go through a bit of a song & dance to download the 25 episodes through the Daily Motion ap (reach out to Justin for more specific instructions). But dare I say, Jonny Fairplay was right! If you are a Survivor fan, get on this.
I leave you all with this quote from Charlotte Bronte. I think it sums current life up well: “I avoid looking forward or backward and try to keep looking upward.”