Monday, August 30, 2004


So my crazy schedule over the past few weeks finally caught up with me tonight. I've been staying up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late, mostly just watching TV or a DVD. My roommate has the entire "Sex and the City" show on DVD, and I'll admit it: I have a new addiction.

No TV for me tonight, though. Got home after coaching, did some match-ups of shoes with kids through the Recycled Miles Website ( ate a little dinner, and promptly fell asleep. I really need to keep a better schedule; this go-go-go until I crash is not the way I work best.

Things are going GREAT at school. Having my own classroom for the first time definitely has its challenges, some of which I was prepared for, some of which were total and complete surprises. What I lack in wisdom, experience and planning I make up for with blind enthusiasm, a willingness to work to get things right, and a tendency to enjoy what I'm doing. Hopefully I can, over the years, gain the former three without totally forsaking the latter.

And with that sleepiness-induced quasi-deep-thought, I hit the sack.


Sunday, August 29, 2004

Well Whaddaya Know...

This is the most amazing thing. I mentioned (both here and on my runners and how they do a great job with virtually nil for equipment, and the response was freakin amazing!

I have offers for sports bras, running shoes, financial contributions... my head is spinning. I seriously can't thank Dz and Josh enough. They were plugging steadily away at my cause while I was still sound asleep in bed (time zones DID come into play, I swear). Josh set up a quickie website ( to gather names and equipment availability. People on TNO also jumped aboard before I even know what was happening. And for that, I have two words...


I again stand in awe of the overwhelming niceness of humanity. Just when I start getting jaded and bitter, people go and do something nice and I get to be happy with the world again. You people are wonderful!

Read the blog of one of the superstars helping my team out: She's a law student (but we love her anyway :sloppy) and an ironhottie and a guinea pig afficionado and smartie and a lot of other things. She's got good stuff to say. Read it, I command thee!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Nekkid Coworkers???

Took my first Maq'ii last night. A Maq'ii (pronounced, more or less, "Mah-KEE") is a Yup'ik steam bath. Basically, you go into what can only be described as a tiny, two-room wooden building on stilts. You enter into the front room, (doors are tiny and you have to duck to get in/out) where you take off all of your clothes and put them on a bench. Then you go into the other room, and sit on the floor. In front of you is a big woodstove, sunken into the floor somewhat. There are hot stones on top of it.

Then, basically, you sit and sweat. It's like a sauna on steroids. Seriously, these people like their heat. I'm a big sauna fan, but this is something totally different. You pour water on the stones and you sit and SWEAT. Maq'ii are always gender-separated, so it's a great opportunity for girl time. My housemate and co-worker and I were invited by one of the local women who also works at the school (and I teacher her daughter in my high school speech class) to Maq'ii with her and her sister. I have to admit, it's not everywhere that you can sit around nekkid with your coworkers and students' parents. The conversation was great and it really helped clear up the lingering sinus effects of my massive illness earlier in the week. There's something to be said for "girl time."

After being in and out of the steam room (and into the front room to "cool off") a few times, I got somewhat accustomed to the heat. Our host even went so far as to ask me "Are you sure you've never done this before?" She said I was pretty good for a gusuk (white person, actually any non-native). Go me. After sweating out for a while, you take a big enamel bowl of water and a washcloth and wash yourself. They swear that it gets you cleaner than a regular shower because you sweat the ickies out of your skin. I have to say I agree.

We walked back to our house after two hours of maq'ii. The moon glowed red, presumably because of the fires ravaging various parts of the state. I could breathe out of my nose for the first time all week and my skin felt soft and clear. The cool air felt great after the extreme heat of the maq'ii. I went home and slept really, really well.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Let Me Tell You a Story About High Speed Internet and Honey Buckets...

So in World Wide Web has made it to Quinhagak. We've got high-speed (or at least medium-speed) internet access, which gives us access to not only e-mail, blogs and chatting, but also the savior of the bush teacher...


Seriously, it's great. The fact that pretty much anyone, anywhere, can order something from anyone, anywhere is pretty f-ing cool. The fact that I can take a job in what can fairly accurately be described as the middle of nowhere and still buy high fashion clothing (were that my thing) is kind of mind-blowing, if you think about it. You can sit on your toilet and the world's stuff is at your fingertips.

And SPEAKING of toilets, we've got high-speed internet, but no flush plumbing. Well, most of us don't... Tim, one of the teachers who's been here forever and has a big family, just got a new house built with flush plumbing. He likes to hold it over us to induce our jealousy at staff meanings. We've all got running water in kitchens and bathrooms, but no flush toilies, except at school. I try my best to #2 at school.

A honey bucket consists of the following: In your bathroom, where the toilet would be, sits a wooden box with a hole on top, covered by a regular toilet seat. Under said hole and seat you place a bucket lined with a strong plastic bag. And that's it. Voila, that's your honey bucket. Enjoy. When it gets about 1/4 of the way full, take it outside, tie the bag up, and put it in the little dumpster next to the big dumpster.

Next time you use a flush toilet, take a second to appreciate it. It really is quite luxurious.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Can't Get Away From Coaching...

Somehow I'm the cross country coach. I'm not sure why, or how, but I indicated at a staff meeting that I have coaching experience (swimming, mind you), and all the sudden I'm the new coach. Coaching in the Alaskan Bush is different than coaching elsewhere. Mostly it's harder. Most of my kids don't have running shoes. They run in their basketball shoes, or in some cases in their casual school shoes. Many of the girls don't have sports bras. They have to skip practice to go hunting or fishing with their families to put food on the table. Going to a meet involves finding both a male and female chaperone, chartering a flight, making sure each student has a sleeping bag and other stuff for the overnight trip, and maybe getting "weathered in" at wherever the meet is. My team ranges in age from 11 to 18. That and I've never coached cross country before and am a joke of a runner.

All that said, it really is more fun than coaching, for example, in Minneapolis. The students totally appreciate the opportunity to be on a team (even if we only really get to do two meets this year because of scheduling and the impending Alaskan onset of winter). The fast runners don't look down on the slower runners. The older runners look out for the younger runners. A few of them are pretty fast, but honestly, at this point, I could care less.

Next step: Procure sports bras for the girls. I'm not even going to try for running shoes.