Story last updated at 9/26/2012 - 2:38 pm
Ever wondered about someone you pass on the sidewalk, see in the grocery store, or heard mentioned in stories? This is our attempt to track those people down, and grill them, lightly.
Think Tinkerbelle in leopard print, and that's about the image that Cassandra Jelinek possesses. She's undoubtedly cute, charming and spritely. She also has the ability to dish out some sass, play a wild card and tell you like it is.
Jelinek is 24 years old and works Chilkat Cove, an ice cream and chocolate shop in the Wharf building in downtown Juneau. She has a striking presence, partly due to her American Indian heritage, green eyes and her voluptuous hair.
"I'm a born-again ginger," she said, of her dyed auburn locks.
Jelinek was born in Sacramento, Calif., and moved with her family to Portland, Ore., when she was 10. She describes herself as an open book, a product of the 1990s and of "extremely lenient" parents.
"We all just did our own thing, but me and my brother turned out surprisingly well," she said. "For the most part we stayed in school. We stayed away from terrible things."
Jelinek was married when she was 21, and moved to Juneau with her husband. They divorced during her first winter in Alaska.
"Getting divorced sucks, but it opened me up to new experiences and traveling," she said.
Traveling is her number one priority. It was difficult for her getting out of that relationship, as everyone she was friends with knew her in that status. So she gave herself a prize.
"I was like, 'You know what, I want something that I'm working for,' so I gave myself a goal: I'm going to Egypt," Jelinek said.
She's been obsessed with Egypt for a long time, and believes in the law of attraction.
"Whatever it is you choose to accept, it will happen for you," she said. "I will travel in my life, and seek enlightenment."
And she is. On Nov. 1, Jelinek will leave for a two-week solo trip to Egypt, and will spend almost a week of it in a boat on the Nile River.
Jelinek likes to sew, reupholster things and she's obsessed with the color turquoise. One of her best qualities is her love of animals. The first time she tried to rescue an animal, a dog, was when she was seven. It was also her first lesson on extendable leashes.
"His owner was like 50 yards behind him," Jelinek said. "I had jumped out of a car, grabbed the dog, and then realized he was attached to something. So I always look for those now."
Jelinek has been working fulltime since she was 16. She's worked at a Dairy Queen and other food and beverage establishments. Despite beginning fulltime work at an early age, Jelinek isn't too concerned about developing an impressive resume.
"I don't want a career," she said. "I would rather work seasonal jobs for as long as I can. I don't want to look back and think 'my career was so fulfilling,' rather than say 'I helped dogs.'"
Again, her passion for animals was raised.
"Any kind of rescue effort, God forbid, I will be there trying to rescue animals," Jelinek said. "I've rescued dogs here, one was a bear attack and one was a lost dog. The bear attack one sticks out to me. It was a 120-pound pit bull bleeding from his neck. The dog was running rampant on the Douglas Bridge."
Before moving to Juneau, Jelinek worked at the Chanel cosmetics counter at a Nordstrom's store. Her experience at Chanel, where she witnessed one employee reprimanded for not wearing mascara to work, set her up for a big adjustment when she moved to Juneau.
"You should have seen me when I first got off that plane," Jelinek said. "Here, the people that definitely care about what they look like stick out."
She said that her friends from Oregon "would die here." But she's embraced the transition.
"My values have evolved," Jelinek admitted.
She was befriended by a local Chilkat Cove customer, and developed a romantic relationship with him. Jelinek had a fear of water since she nearly drowned when she was nine at a birthday party. Her new boyfriend taught her how to swim and the couple has plans to relocate to the Virgin Islands.
Ultimately Jelinek said she tries to see the good in people, and live one day at a time.
"It's hard for me to think long term. There's a lot of things I want to do," she said.
If you want the good in you to be recognized, hightail it to the confectionary shop before Jelinek is off to explore the pyramids.
Amanda Compton is the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.