Friday, July 30, 2010

Alaska Journal

So, here we are. Amid the natural beauty surrounding this city is the fact that oil drilling, transporting, and exporting is a big part of what makes this state tick, despite its fairly recent, halfhearted efforts to change.

A Juneau paper Dan found on our first day in Alaska had John Minge, the chair of BP exploration in the state, taking pains to reassure all the Alaskans employed by his company that their jobs wouldn't go away just because the corporation criminally screwed things up much farther south. It's a "nothing to see there" attitude that burns me up, because it's working here. Up here, BP is the good, philanthropic, environmentally friendly neighbor sponsoring everything from the Imaginarium's kinetics room at the Anchorage Museum to the Alaska Native Heritage Center to an example of creek restoration near a trail edging the Cook Inlet. Distance and money make hearts here less likely to be sympathetic to the oiling of the Gulf of Mexico's shores, sea life, and bird life - well, except for the folks most affected by the Exxon Valdez spill in all the years since that day in 1989.

We move from this hotel to another in Anchorage tomorrow, where I'll hopefully be spared the sight of BP's Alaska exploration headquarters from our hotel room window, nor will I see any electronic agendas in the lobby containing dates and times of BP meetings. It felt good to give that building my middle finger as we passed it by earlier this evening - but their hold on Alaska won't be easily loosened.

Today was marked mostly by my son's general misery - not that it was a complete concoction of his stubbornness. He awoke in hurt, complaining of pains in his hip joint, which instantly had me thinking, "Oh, NO. Not again. Not here, not now," as I stumbled out of bed. He's had joint problems before, and I hoped the complaint was of that nature. An ice pack in the right place seemed to be of help - until we were off to breakfast and his misery really began.

The worst part of today was trying to juggle my husband's semi-dogged adherence to the trip's agenda and the little guy's physical ailment dictating how much the kid was into the day's activities. Truth be told, I lost it. The kid was milking his pain some as an excuse for not wanting to check out the Alaskan Native Heritage Center, but I also wasn't sure of Dan's approach to the kiddo's discomfort-into-major misery, which was to act like the whining and crying were no reason for the little guy not to walk around some and take in the exhibits and performances. I felt stuck, powerless to do very much except to try to smooth some sharp edges in the head-butting between them and to try not to lose my own mind - but I lost it anyhow when it came to going to Friday night services.

My feelings were irritated in general by the kid's attitude towards attending Friday night services anyplace; he'd have behaved the same way if we'd told him the playroom had disappeared from our synagogue back home and he had to attend the service with us. The whining and the cries got to me and I lashed out at my son. By this time, he seemed to have mostly gotten over his joint pain, even walking on some trails edging the Cook Inlet with us and playing at some playgrounds along the way. I thought he was being ungrateful and insulting to his upbringing and told him so. Anger coursed through me, lingering even after Dan told him we were going anyhow and our son ran to the bathroom, cried it out, then joined us in the car, a look of still-not-quite-pleased resignation on his face.

As it turned out, the kid conked out part way through the service...just when the rabbi was sharing his theory concerning what he really thinks the Exodus is - an allegorical retelling of Jeroboam's triumph over Judean king Rehoboam in the days after King Solomon's death...but, over the centuries, the allegory was held up as the major epic on which Judaism (and Christianity, to a different extent) is based. "Egypt" replaced "Judea", Moses took the place of Jeroboam - and the only clues that the Exodus might not have much to do with Egypt are in comparisons of the geography mentioned in Numbers 33:1-37 with what we've found, archaeologically, in the present about those places - all of them far, far away from Egypt.*


Also mind-blowing? Taking my son out to a bench to finish his nap, a bench in view of the windows looking out onto the front parking lot and the gardens - and then spying a mother moose and her baby walking amid the shrubs and chewing on the leaves as though their lives depended on it, all while everyone else was grazing at the oneg Shabbat in the room behind me. Just incredible.


*Michael D. Oblath, "Of Pharaohs and Kings: Whence the Exodus?" - article in The Book of Kings in Recent Research, Vol II


Cold Spaghetti said...

Sorry the little guy is feeling unwell. We went through transient synovitis, which usually lives in the hip joints, so hip pain is a worry push-button issue for me. Hang in there and have a great time!

Leigh C. said...

Yeah, that's what we've gone through with the little guy. Nothing major, just joint pain resulting from the tail-end of a virus. He was fine after that day.