This must be the hardest part of any generic blog: now that I’ve set the scene, what story is there, really, to tell? I suppose the easiest thing to do would be to go about this like journal entries. It still seems kind of conceited to write about my normal life like it’s important or interesting, but here we go.
This week, I finally became an official Alaska “citizen” by registering to vote and getting my driver’s license. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I did fail the multiple choice driver’s test the first time; though in my defense, those tests are tricky when they come out of the blue, and certain rules of the road are ever-so-slightly different between California and Alaska. At least the Alaska DMV is kind enough to let you retake the test as early as the next day, so after some time studying a driver’s manual I was able to pass that test with flying colors.
So, at last, I have a driver’s license photo that looks like the handsome, bearded twenty-something I am, rather than a scrawny 16-year-old who’s about to cry. I was so nervous when I took my first behind-the-wheel driver’s test that as I pulled out of the DMV with the instructor, and he said “turn right”, I turned right… into the (fortunately empty) oncoming traffic lane. Obviously, that was an automatic failure right there, but the guy was nice about it, and suggested we take the license photo that day anyway. A nice gesture, but it didn’t do anything to help the mood of that crushed 16-year-old who had just made a massively boneheaded mistake. So my California driver’s license (which I would show you, except the Alaskans confiscated it) always had a picture of a kid staring pitifully into the middle distance, trying to hold back the bitter tears of failure.
Anyway, back in the present, we had our first snow of the winter this week, so I guess Alaskan fall is pretty much over. The snow didn’t last long, to be honest (I didn’t even get a picture of it), but all the snow on the ground definitely made me nervous driving down the mountain to work that morning. We get frosts regularly now, and the water left outside for the rabbit hutches always has a thin layer of ice in the mornings. Most of the leaves are already shed, and the snow caps on the mountains are edging ever closer to our level.
The change in weather has kind of shaken up the routine. Beyond the obvious stuff, like getting out of the house early enough to scrape the frost off the car in the morning, Katrina and I have been seriously looking at apartment availability in Anchorage and Eagle River (basically a suburb of Anchorage these days). That thought of driving down the snow-covered mountain every morning doesn’t just concern me, apparently. We’ve still got a few weeks, maybe a month, before the snow is here to stay, but getting out on our own somewhere in town before winter really sets in would be a good idea.
Work at GameStop is starting to get busy again; the first big titles of the season are starting to show up, and the early bird Christmas shoppers with them. Pre-orders for Nintendo’s new console, the ludicrously titled Wii U, were filled within days of being available, so you just know that’s what all the little kiddies are going to want this year. Godspeed, parents.
Unique to Alaska, however, is the promise of the Permanent Fund Dividend, a check from the state government given to every Alaska resident who qualifies. The money comes from oil profits, and the qualifications are pretty basic, though you do have to reside in Alaska for a “calendar year” before you can be eligible, so I won’t see one of my own until 2014. This year, the dividend is $878, which is apparently less than normal (I’m told the average is around $1,000), so there has been a lot of whining and complaining about that. And they think we’re entitled! “Oh, boo hoo, I only get almost $900 for free!” Talk about First-World Problems.
The PFD’s aren’t out yet, and people won’t see them until later this month, but that doesn’t stop people from spending like they’ve already deposited the check. After the announcement of the amount, there was a noticeable uptick in business at our decidedly disposable-income-based store. I shouldn’t judge, I suppose. I’m not sure I would wisely spend $878 that practically fell out of the sky.