Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Women

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving - we have so much to be grateful for. 

As I mentioned in the previous post, I just went on vacation!  My mom, my sister, and I just returned from a cruise through the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (we were supposed to stop in the Turks & Caicos, but the winds were too high for the ship to safely dock).  The fun in the sun was great, although the Florida humidity definitely reminded me of one reason I am moving to Alaska.

More on the vacation later this week, as the trip down to Florida was rather interesting.  I usually keep to myself in airports, especially in situations like last week where I had 20 papers to grade in only 2 days.  However, on my way to Ft. Lauderdale, I met two very different and very inspirational women that reminded me of so many things I will be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

The first woman I met sat down next to me as I was grading the LL.M.'s second drafts of their memos.  Her face was bruised, her nose was clearly broken, and she had lacerations everywhere.  It was clear by her demeanor that she was quite nervous.  As it turned out, the woman is a heroin addict who had overdosed not 24 hours prior to the flight and was on her way to a rehabilitation facility in West Palm Beach.  She has three children, and an ex-husband who has been sober for 3 years.  This overdose was her wake up call.  She doesn't want her children growing up without a mother, and she knows that she was on the fast track to disaster.  So, she decided it was time to get clean, and checked herself into an inpatient facility for a 90-day treatment.  As many of you know, I have an uncle who died earlier this month because of his addictions.  It takes a strong and determined person to take hold of a disease like addiction and dare to imagine their life without it.  It takes an even stronger person to work to kick the addiction.  Seeing someone make that decision was really inspirational.

The second woman I met could not be more different from the first.  She is an interpreter and a Spanish and French teacher.  Born in Cuba, she was airlifted to the United States during Operation Peter Pan in the 1960s.  She grow up with a foster family in Indiana and later studied languages in France.  She was on her way to a reunion of children who left Cuba in the 1960s through Operation Peter Pan.  While she normally doesn't go to these types of events, a friend who she hadn't seen since they were children in Cuba recently reached out to her via Facebook (the power of the social network!), and 50 years later, they will reunite.

I couldn't help but think of how brave these two women are - one facing her demons, the other embracing her very unique past.  It also made me think of how great our country is.  We are able to provide help for those who are ready to fight the demons inside them.  We have engaged in countless programs to take in people under political asylum and have given them the American Dream, which is unfortunately becoming less and less of a reality in current economic times. 

This Thanksgiving, these two very different but remarkable women reminded my of what this country can be about.  I promise, Thursday's post will have plenty of stories and pictures from the Caribbean, but for today I am off to study admin law and work on my Van Alstyne paper.  I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of what is now the holiday season, I leave you with this (one of my new favorite Christmas songs):

Monday, November 14, 2011

I have already received received a huge outpouring of support from friends and family since starting this blog less than a week ago, as well as some great advice.  The best advice so far is to purchase an engine block heater for my car here in the lower 48 as they apparently get back ordered rather quickly in Anchorage, and cost much less here.  For those of you southerners like me who, up until two days ago, had no idea what an engine block heater was, it is a magic tool that allows you to plug in your car overnight and keep the fluids in your engine from freezing in the cold weather.  I've also received some delicious looking salmon recipes, so keep those pouring in!

I am now in the process of completing my last executive edit for the semester and getting Volume 36, Issue 1 of the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review out the door.  I am going on vacation next week (yes, right before exams - more on that in the next post) so I am trying to get as much done as possible before I leave, including my edit.  As such, I stayed up a bit later than I normally would on a Sunday night.  I like to have the TV on in the background as I fall asleep, and am also one who rather enjoys the weather channel.  Lo and behold, Coast Guard Alaska was on!  It is just one of the rash of shows that have come out recently about life in the last frontier - Alaska State Troopers (my dad's favorite), Gold Rush Alaska, Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, and of course my favorite, Sarah Palin's Alaska).

(I couldn't help myself, look at those puppies!)

These programs show that Alaska has somehow captured the nation's attention.  Alaska initially captured my attention because of its beauty, its danger, and the fact that so much of Alaska is still wild and undiscovered.

What is it about Alaska that fascinates you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here We Go!

I am new to the world of blogging, so helloooooo interweb!  Last month, I made a big decision - to pack up my East Coast life and move to ALASKA!  I accepted a job in Anchorage, and I have 8 months before I graduate law school and start a completely new life in a completely new place. 

My decision was fueled by a number of factors.  I went to Alaska on a whim this past summer after spending a month in Tanzania and realizing that living the big city life that I have lived in the past (growing up in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, New York City for college, and Washington, DC, in between college and law school) isn't what I am looking for anymore.  I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful scenery, fun activities, and really down-to-earth fun people in Anchorage.  It has the perfect mix of city conveniences with easy access to complete wilderness.  This recent op-ed from the Anchorage Daily News that expresses, better than I ever could, what is so wonderful about Alaska.

I have lived a really wonderful life full of great friends and family. But still, I can't help but feel like I am in a rut.  I want something more, although I can't quite articulate what it is.  I hope you will join me through my final year in law school, preparing for the bar, moving to my new home, starting my new job, maybe making a new addition to my family (the current front-runners can be found here and here), and daring to imagine that my life could be something different.