Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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08/17/2006: "Leaving Alaska"

So, what becomes of the "Alaskan Artist Blog" when the artist doesn't live in Alaska anymore? So many people have said "Don't Go!" but what they don't realize is that as beautiful and magical as it can be, Alaska is a hard place to live year round. We have had an incredibly rainy summer and now we're entering our real rainy season...and honestly, I need a break.

SoÖ it's official; this afternoon I told J (who will be my new supervisor) that he has a commitment from me. I felt a certain amount of relief after hearing myself say it out loud, tinged with the inevitable panic that comes with so much change. I came home to the realization of the enormity of my possessions, crammed into every nook and cranny of the home Iíve come to love.

My plan is as follows:

Iím going to fix up my house over the course of the next several months, all the little things Iíve ignored over the years. Iím also going to start selling and/or giving away all but my most cherished possessions. Iím going to put all the ďmove to WAĒ items in one room and try to empty out as much of the rest of the house as possible.

I am not 100% decided but I think Iíll keep my house and just rent it out on a year lease with a property manager to collect rent and take care of little things like a broken garbage disposal etc. That way, if I stay a couple of years in Centralia and I canít seem to make the town or position workÖI can always try to relocate back to Juneau.

J said that many people who live in Centralia commute from Olympia, which is where Iíd really like to live. It is an adorable little town that reminded me in some ways, of Juneau. I canít decide if I should try to sell my sailboat or trailer her and bring her with me. There are still a lot of unknowns, and driving home I already felt nostalgia at everything I saw, and wondered if perhaps Iíd regret this decision, if not today, then tomorrow or maybe next week or next month (Iím still here for awhile after all)Öbut, Iíve given my word so thatís that. Iím goingÖI just hope that those of you Iíve gotten to know through this blog will still come along for the ride!

Replies: 21 Comments

on Thursday, August 17th, Joan said

I, for one of many, will be "here" for you - supportively and dependently! I've enjoyed checking up on your site on mostly a daily basis. You are an inspiration in many ways - vicarious living, a distraction from my day (in a good way), a much needed (moreso in some times) reality check that the world is far larger than my life, and seriously - entertainment - you are a "guilty pleasure" of mine. Hopefully, I understand that concept and you are not insulted by it! I wish you the best in your new adventure. And you can be assured, you will have bad days ahead, but they are in no manner a reflection of your decision. You would have had those bad days one way or another. That is a lesson I have learned. Welcome back to the lower states!

on Thursday, August 17th, greg said

You could always use the "displaced wandering Alaskan" angle, and blog about how you miss fair Juneau, wax romantically of yer nomadic hardships, ad infinitenauseum... :P

My best buddy lived many yrs in Olympia, Dept of Ecology, and he knows all the neighborhoods, and even some artists there. I can have him tell me and I can pass some neato Oly-town (where Nirvana really first started) info on 2 yas! I think he knows the waters too, thereabouts. Ah muddy Tokeland!

Wow so you're really gonna do iT!?!

on Thursday, August 17th, subi said

oh, I will ALWAYS be here!!! I am really impressed by your decision!!!! it must have been so difficult, and I think the decision of holding onto your house is a good idea...just in case, or who knows, maybe you'll want to do both at some point, half year in Ak, etc... either way, I wish you the best of luck elise!!!

on Friday, August 18th, Kasia said

You are so brave:)) Sure i will be here for you always, even if you decide to move on the moon. :) But my first thought after reading this post was : Oh, no.....:))
Good luck!!!!!

on Friday, August 18th, Maren said

Your moving? That's it...our friendship is officially over! But, I might be able to rethink that decision if I get a commitment from you of an at-least annual visit, you can stay with me but be free to see others if you choose, and I in turn will make an annual visit to That New Place. Those are my conditions....I know you know about that :)....think it over and get back to me.

on Friday, August 18th, Elise said

Joan- I'm actually quite flattered to be considered a "guilty pleasure" :P

I have really taken what you said about "you would have had those bad days one way or another" to heart. It's very true that no matter where we are, there will be challenges, just different ones.

Greg, I would love to hear about the different neighborhoods in Olympia or get a lead on some artist friends in the area so...feel free to pass whatever you find out on to me! (and thanks!)

Subi, I know you'll ALWAYS be there and I know that you have my best interests at heart, you are so very dear to me even all the way off in Switzerland. Who knows, now that I make a bit more, I may even be able to afford to finally come and see you!

Kasia, same with you...I plan to travel more since I'll be in a location that's so much easier to fly out of so, I'm making a list of all the places I'd like to visit and Poland is one of them.

And Maren, of course we will still see each other several times a year. Think of how many times you make it down to Seattle in a year, and I really will be quite close (by Alaskan terms).

So, I accept your demands.

on Friday, August 18th, Judy Vars said

Hi Elise,
If you keep your house in Douglas you'll be some of the elite who are snowbirds and just come in the summertime and leave when old man winter comes. Is it unrealistic to sail your boat to Washington? No matter what keep up the painting and keep blogging so we can watch your progress.

on Friday, August 18th, marja-leena said

Oh, congrats on your decision! I'll still be reading about your adventures of moving, settling in and so on, never fear! Maybe you just drop the "Alaskan" and keep on going. I rather like the idea of summers in Alaska, winters in WA, with maybe a visit to Vancouver, Canada enroute, hmm?

on Friday, August 18th, Elise said

Well, it's a year-round position so I doubt that snowbird status will be mine anytime soon.
And Marja-leena, I would love to come up to Vancouver BC sometime and see your work in person though I may need to get my passport renewed...I think it's harder to cross the border into Canada than it used to be.

on Friday, August 18th, marja-leena said

There's a lot of misunderstanding around these days. You don't need a passport to come to Canada, or Canadians to the US - yet, though it's coming in the future. Security is tough everywhere though.

So, how are you gioing to be moving? I seem to remember you saying you can't drive anywhere from Douglas. Is it an option to take a ferry with your vehicle south to Prince Rupert, then drive through BC?

on Friday, August 18th, Elise said

That's a possibility but what would the roads be like in late November early December? I can either take the ferry down or sell my car and fly down. I have 2 cats to consider too, I want them to be as unstressed as possible.

on Friday, August 18th, Howard said

I don't think that would be the best time to be driving through northern BC, although there is a ferry that will take you to Vancouver Island from Prince Rupert. Then you could drive to Victoria and hop another ferry to Seattle.
It all might be a bit too much for your cats though. If it was at a better time of the year it would make a really nice trip.

on Friday, August 18th, Elise said

I think you're right about it being too much for my two cats, they have low-adventure thresh-holds.
I just used google maps to see roughly how long it takes to drive from Centralia to Vancouver and it says 4 1/2 hours. By Alaskan Standards that's nothing! When I lived in Anchorage we used to go up to Denali for the weekend sometimes and it was about 7 hours each way.

It would be fun to come up some time and see your work and Marja-Leenas. Do you have any plans to exhibit in the next year?

on Friday, August 18th, berry bowman connell said

Mind you, I'm only happier because yer
a lil closer, and if I get
lucky on any of the competitions
well, then, visiting Dan in California, riding up to Carmel
(which I've always heard was good t'artists)
Maybe i would actually get t'meet you!
That would be a treat, fer sure.

And, about the cats....
Cats HATE the travel
(a few actually like it' but yowl just to be like their peers)
BUT, all cats have the innate ability to adapt
when taken to a new place
kepp their young butts in the house fer a week, at least
and let them out on "approval" and supervised,
soon, they'll be Oregonites.



So, what DO they call them?

Indiana, we's called Hoosiers.
But, being born in Georgia, I call m'self a Peach!

on Friday, August 18th, berry bowman connell said

If I don't win or sell enough
I'll send m'secret family recipe to you
if y'promise not t'tell anyone....

(1/4 cup italian dressin' and 1/2 cuo of wine, cover and simmer fer an hour at least)

on Friday, August 18th, holly said

I'm really happy for you! A new start in a new place is good for the soul. I think holding on to your house for the time being is an excellent idea as well. Congratulations!

on Saturday, August 19th, Elise said

Thanks for the secret recipe Berry, I won't tell anyone.

And, I'm glad you think I did the right thing Holly...I'm still having moments where I wonder if I've made a mistake but we'll see...the wheels are in motion now.

on Saturday, August 19th, RR said

Fantastic news and of course I'll still read. I love hearing what you've been doing you are such an inspiration, especially with your art. I'm so excited for you. :hehe:

on Saturday, August 19th, Elise said

Thanks RR...glad you'll stick around after I leave Alaska, I doubt my photography will be quite as interesting but I still plan to paint as much as ever!

on Saturday, August 19th,">grumpa said

Have been in AK for 35 years--came up for 2 yrs., and forgot to leave. Live out on Norton Sound--to us, winter in SE is like summer out here; in fact, SE seems part of WA. Had 2 kids go to The Evergreen State U.--also known as Barista U. The cranes will be flying soon--they make us all want to go with them. Good luck.

on Saturday, August 19th, Elise said

Hi Grumpa!
Norton Sound eh? I can imagine that SE does seem fairly mild in comparison...but I think I'd prefer cold, sunny days to warm, rainy ones. I'm just sooooo sick of the rain. I think we've broken records for monthly rainfall in April-July so far (that's unofficial, someone told that to me and it *feels* right).

WA is close, and not too different from SE so I think the transition will be much easier than if I moved to...DC for example.