Thursday, September 30, 2004

Me likey...

OK, so it's cheesy poetry. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate it.

After Awhile

You begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.

And you accept your defeats with your head up
And your eyes open
With grace and not grief
And you learn to build all your roads on Today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans.

After awhile you learn that even the sun burns
If you get too much.
So plant your own garden
Decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you see that you can endure
You are strong and you do have worth.

--Author Unknown

Anyone have a citation for this one? I couldn't find an author.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Tonight we're ordering from the one pizza place in town. Well, it's not so much a pizza place as it is a family that makes pizzas in their kitchen and then delivers them to your house. But it's a legit business, nonetheless. Two classes from our school got a tour of the place and a little demonstration of how it works, so we figured the least we can do is buy something from them to show our appreciation.

I like ordering from them because because, unlike ordering from Dominoes or even one of the smaller places out in the "real world," here I know that the person freezing his/her ass off to get me a hot pie is going to reap the profit. Just like Spokes pizza collective in the Twin Cities, only smaller, and a Yup'ik family, without the piercings and tattos or a place to sit down and eat. OK, so they're nothing like Spokes. But they're cool like Spokes.

Not eating out at all really is good on the budget. Not having the option makes it easy.

Not that I wouldn't crawl through mud (and it's been raining for a day and a half... there's a lot to crawl through) for a big ol' veggie fajita burrito from Chipotle or a veggie burrito from Burrito Loco. MMMMMMMM... GUACAMOLE!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Something About a Picture Being Worth a Thousand Words...

Click Here for the view looking east-ish from school. I took it on Monday, while there was still a little snow on the ground.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Yes, Virginia, You Can Impulse Buy Online

Being hundreds of in-flight miles from the nearest mall doesn't make one immune to the irresistable magnet that is consumerism... lucky for me most of my online shopping sprees have been fairly low-budget and limited to books. I wouldn't think twice about walking into a bookstore and coming out with two or three new books, so I figure can take the place of any real bookstores in my life. OK, so I DID buy some new basketball-style shorts and a pair of sweatpants, but honestly, I really did need them!!! I swear! Besides, going to the post office and finding something you've been waiting for is about as exciting as things get around here. Not that I'm complaining... there's something to be said for finding a simple routine and sticking with it.

After a year of constant schedule-shifting, insanity-inducing flux, not being able to establish strong relationships at any school or in any community, I'm just glad to be able to settle down and just live. Not worry about "Well, in two weeks I'll be done with this student teaching placement and leaving behind everyone I know here to go on to establish an equally meaningless (in the grand scheme of things) teacher-student relationship at another school, before quitting that and going back to college classes and talking about what it all really means." No more "Wake up at 6, be at student teaching placement by 7 (assuming a 15 minute commute), stay there until noon, go to university classes from 1 to 4, then work from 6 to 8... oh, and don't forget to do lesson plans, write papers, and look for a job. And maybe somewhere in there you should try to have a relationship or at least a few friends and maybe communicate with the people who brought you into this world and raised you, but really, is that stuff necessary? You've got stuff to do."

Constant excitement, complete with bells, whistles, fancy restaurants, perpetual entertainment and a constant feeling of "I've got to be somewhere doing something talking to someone or something's wrong" is an addiction I'm working on overcoming. That's one thing I really like about living here (among other things I like and some things I don't like): people are very social. "Visiting" is common... you just drop by and see what's up. No one just sits around doing nothing, but neither does anyone expect anything wild, crazy and fun to be planned out for them. Fun is picking berries or fishing with a sibling or friend. Fun is getting some friends together and watching a movie. Somewhere along the way we got the idea that we don't have the things we need within ourselves to make our own lives complete. We look outside ourselves and our friends. Life itself isn't satisfying enough... we need something more to make us happy. Except it never really makes us happy.

What the...

My roommate comes in this morning from letting the dog out and says "Hey, have you looked outside yet this morning?"

Well, I've lived enough years in Wisconsin and Minnesota to know what that means... first snow. Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, about a half inch of the precious white sh!t was awaiting us when we woke up this morning.

Throws off my lesson plans a bit... I had vague plans for "first snow" lessons, but (a) some of the required equipment (an air popcorn popper... don't ask unless you're a teacher and like messy lessons) is just leaving WI today and (b) I really hadn't thought that it would be THIS WEEK.

Oh well, this snow is likely going to melt off today anyway. Maybe I'll do my snow lesson for the "first snow that sticks."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Now I See Why Some Teachers Suck...

Doing boring, prefab, worksheet-based lessons really would be easier than putting time into doing a good job.

Fortunately for my students and unfortunately for me, I'm way to picky when it comes to the worksheets I'll give them. Oh that I were lazier and less motivated... I'd really have less work to do after hours.

And now... back to stapling a photocopying. Yeah, I could use a boring reading comprehension packet, but isn't it more fun (for me, of course) to use Shel Silverstein poems as a supplement? Yeah, but it's also more work.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Some days...

You just can't do enough to help everyone you want to. So you do what you can, go home, and try to enjoy your evening nonetheless.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Oh so Very Introspective...

Someone on TNO (Can't remember who! Sorry!) has this quote in his sig. I really like it. I think it not only makes a good point, but paints an exciting picture. You can just see how he wants to finish his life. I'm big on description. Maybe it's because I have an artistic streak but am terribly uncoordinated and can't paint, draw or sculpt worth crap. I like pictures painted with words.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

--Hunter S. Thompson

Man, I love that quote.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Stripes, Plaids and Paisley

Today is "Clash Day" at school. Just thought I'd share the fact that I'm wearing blue pants, a red striped shirt with a brown plaid blouse and a green and pink paisley scarf.

I'm so good-looking today it hurts. Eat your heart out, Angelina Jolie.

Someone Call Hell and Check the Temperature

Has hell dropped below 32 degrees farenheit (0 degrees celcius)? Because I played basketball last night. And enjoyed it. Please, close your mouth. Your slack-jawed, mouth-agape shock is kind of annoying, quite frankly ;-).

For those of you who don't know me that well, let me set this up by saying that I haven't played basketball since they made us play in 6th grade gym. Since then I have dutifully avoided it due to my complete and total lack of coordination. That's... um... lemme see... oh jeezice da math hurts da brain... 25 minus eleven... 14 years. 14 years of going out of my way to avoid basketball.

OK, so I didn't play an actual game, but just shot around with Carey (one of the other teachers) for two hours. Then the guys started coming in for open gym and we hightailed it out of there. Let's just say I'm not a skilled player, but I suppose for someone who has never played, it was not the worst showing... but I still didn't want people who'd been playing since birth to see me in all my suckiness.

Maybe with a little more practice I'll play with the women.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Oh, Poop and Fart

So... our school has been operating since the start of the school year (over a month) one special ed teacher short. This means that not only are not serving our students as best as we could, but we're overburdening the one special ed teacher we do have, as well as the aides. To their credit, they're doing a great job.

We supposedly had a special education teacher arriving this past weekend. Signed contract,t he works. He just needed to finish up his masters or something, then he was going to come. Apparently, though, he's decided not to come. I say "apparently" because he didn't or write and hasn't answered phone calls from our principal or the district office. Now, I understand changing your mind and not wanting to come. This kind of environment is not for everyone; it really takes a certain personality type to be happy here. But have the common decency and respect to let us know! All this time the personnel department could have been looking for a new teacher, but since we thought we were good to go, there was no reason to do so. Now the school year has started everywhere else and most teachers are employed.

I guess it makes me more sad than anything. I'm sure he has good reasons for not coming and not calling. Or I hope so. But there are some high-need students who aren't getting the education they need. Not to mention the not-so-high-need students... they're really getting the short end of the stick because they're not completely nonfunctional in the regular classroom, so they just don't get what they need.

Maybe there's a good explanation. Maybe he'll call. Maybe he's from Florida and his phones and electricity are out. Maybe his arms are in a cast and he can't dial or pick up the phone. Maybe...

Anyone want a job? Do you enjoy gale-force winds ripping off of the Bering Sea? Is your idea of a dream date a long romantic walk through massive mudpuddles to the honey bucket dump? Would you like to work with a quirky, but well-meaning staff? Do you have a strong dislike for fresh vegetables?

Yeek. When I put it that way, doesn't it sound appealing? ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Quinhagak Cross Country Race Report

I continue to be inspired by my students. They took on a very tough race in Bethel and emerged unscathed.

They flew out right after school on Friday (school lets out at noon on Fridays here). I wasn't able to go with them because of new teacher inservice, but I did run into them at the store after the race. We had 12 students decide to go to the meet. Two chaperones (one male, one female) made for a total of 14 people... and since no plane that can land in Quinhagak is big enough for 14 people, it meant chartering two planes. I saw them off at the airport; I'm pretty sure I was more nervous than they were.

The race was very diffcult for them. The terrain here creates a new definition for the word "flat." We can only really run on the roads, because the tundra is all squishy. In bethel, however, they had them running on the sand and over hills. NOT what they were able to train for. Next year... we run stairs. And more beach runs. And maybe start sooner. And maybe learn something about cross country before the season starts.

Bethel (a town of about 7000) took nearly all of the top ten spots in all four categories (high school and jr high, girls and boys for both). Some of my runners placed top 20, which would put them top ten if we only raced against other villages. Next year, I want to either attend (if such a race exists) or host a meet consisting only of villages, so the runners from my village and others can compete against each other and actually have the joy of placing. Next year, next year, next year... remind me next year to do all this stuff, will ya?

And finally, a HUGE thank you to all who donated equipment, money, and/or time. Rumor has it that after the race, several of my runners could be found in the bathroom WASHING the sand and dirt off of their shoes. When asked about it, they stated that they had been doing this pretty much every night after practice, to keep the shoes looking new and spiffy as long as possible. The water bottles have been wonderful, and will be used for basketball and volleyball and Native Youth Olympics (although it doesn't look like we'll find a coach in time). Again, I say...


And on a totally unrelated note... my duck soup was good.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Plucking Ducks for Graduate Credit

To my SLC Cohort people on Nicenet (if any of you guys read this crapola): I apologize for the duplicate entry.

For an introductory activity for our monthly new teacher inservice/college course, our instructor (who is one of my coworker's moms, interestingly enough) had us perform activities that those who live the subsistence lifestyle out here do every day... namely gutting salmon and plucking birds (ptarmigan, duck, and something else I couldn't quite identify). Let's just say that for all my education, there are some things that I am just not very good at... and plucking ducks appears to be one of them. There're enough fish in my area of the Delta to have done the whole salmon-gutting thing (very poorly, I might add), so I chose the bird activity.

Well, if school is as foreign to my susbsistence-living students as subsistence living is to my pasty kass'uq self, I totally understand why they have trouble in school. I'd never plucked anything before. My grandma will be so proud... or wonder what the hell this world is coming to when a 25 year-old woman can get to that age without ever having plucked a bird.

However, I did get two (very tiny) ducks out of the deal. One of our assignments for next month (in addition to a literature review and an interview of a village elder) is to cook what we brought back and share the recipe with the other new teachers. Sooooo... tomorrow I'm making wild duck soup. There were carrots and celery left over after the retreat, so I baggied them up and took them back to Quinhagak. I also bought a bag of onions while in Bethel. This soup will have fresh veggies, not canned or frozen (and then thawed, and then refrozen, and then thawed, and then refrozen)! A big deal... the store hasn't had fresh veggies (even onions! or potatoes!) since I first got here... and the weather hasn't even interrupted plane service yet! This could be disastrous or really good. I'm going to be cautious and prepare for disaster, but hope for culinary success. Tomorrow I'm going to the store to buy a big new soup pot!

"Magic Freezer"

Our instructor for our Alaska Culture class told us today about her concept of a "Magic Freezer." If you share what you have when you have a lot of it, you end up with more, and a greater variety, than when you started, because people share back. There's also a strong spiritual connection... kind of a "what goes around, comes around" or karmic kind of thought process, although she didn't define it in those terms. I love the idea both from a practical and spiritual perspective... not just "Do onto others as you would have them do to you," but rather "Do onto others and it shall be done unto you."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Ooga Booga

Standardized test make teacher go crazy. Me no read more student essays. Me want no go Bethel. Me want sit on butt do nothing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I got paid today!!!

Kids behaved much better today!!!

My runners rocked today!!!

Welcome to exclamation point hell.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Pasame el Dunce Cap, Por Favor...

I spelled privileged wrong in an earlier post. BAD, BAD SARA!

Yeah, sure, it's the Internet. Who cares about spelling, right? Sadly enough, I do.

EDIT: Edited to correct spelling AGAIN. I must have learned to type this word incorrectly because I SWEAR I know how to spell it.

As a teacher, it's only fair that I give myself some remedial typing/spelling practice:

Privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged privileged.


My last post was pretty bitchy. So... Here's some randomness:


2. Fresh salmon is yummy. Envy me, go ahead. It's OK.

3. I want it to rain more so (a)Alaska stops burning itself to cinders and (b)I can actually wear my rubber boots. Very dorky, I know.

4. I could really go for a Moose Drool beer right now. Oh, boy, could I.

5. Do not send my said Moose Drool because it could get me fired. Thank you if you even considered it, though. If you didn't consider it, WHY THE HELL NOT?! DON'T YOU LOVE ME?!

6. Did I mention I GET PAID TOMORROW?!

7. Talked to Chanda's boyfriend Raul when I tried to call her today. My Spanish has gotten pretty rusty.

8. My roommate cooked and it smells good so I'm ending with 8 instead of the 10 I planned on.

One of Those Days

Ever pondered that phrase? One of those days? "One of WHICH days? Oh, One of Those Days."

Yes, indeed, it has been One of Those Days. If it were not raining and cold outside, I would crawl under a rock and maybe hibernate there for a few days, to emerge rested and much less cranky.

I can't go into too much detail. It was just One of Those Days. I can point to a few specifics that increased my misery, but all in all, it was just a crabby day. Little things kept happening, little tidbits of news kept appearing on my radar. Nothing today would have been bad enough to ruin an entire day, but all of them in combination made me have to lock my door for five minutes at lunch time and shed a few tears. It was at that point that I realized that I haven't cried since the night I got into Bethel for the first after 12 hours in transit only to find my luggage... well... only to NOT find my luggage. Since then, though, nothing. Not a tear.

I think I needed the release. I felt much better afterwards. I'm still feeling the after-effects of One of Those Days, but as a whole, I feel much better. Ending my day with cross country is a good thing. The kids on that team are just wonderful and they are always up for anything, even a run in the miserable cold rain, like today.

They are awesome and great and excellent and wonderful and cool. Are they fast? Eh, I really have no idea. I know they work hard, and they're faster than they were when we started.

Just writing about them makes me feel better. But don't tell them that... don't want 'em getting too cocky. ;-)

Ladies and Gentlemen, May I Have Your Attention Please

You are privilaged to be present for the premiere of my latest work... a series of poetic masterpieces devoted to the literary muse that is the honey bucket. FYI- These works of art contain several blatant references to poo (scat, doodoo, shite, #2, caca, merde). If poo offends you, then may I suggest you perhaps scroll down and not partake of my poetic genius. Remember, though, poo is a fact of life. Poo poo poo poo poo. Poo.

A Limerick
There once was a bucket of honey,
Whose contents were sadly quite runny.
I opined with a shout, "OH I MUST TAKE IT OUT!"
And emptied it quick as a bunny.

A Haiku
Sweet honey bucket
Its pungent aroma wafts
Please, friend, poo at school

A Nursery Rhyme

Little Miss Mucket
Sat on her bucket,
Pooing the old-fashioned way.
Then along came a spider,
Nay, it did not fright 'er,
But the smell chased that spider away.

Free Form
the can.
no longer a place
for magazine reading
and thoughtful introspection.
the clean, flowing woosh
of a simplistic flush
now not a right,
but a privilage.
a quarter-filled
five gallon bucket
of nominal irony.
It sure doesn't smell
like honey.

Thank you and goodnight. Tip your waitresses well and take a hot bartender home.

Monday, September 13, 2004


Ever had one of those days where you just CAN'T deal with everything? Work just totally overwhelmed me today. To add to my normal duties, I had to finish making the plans for our cross country team's trip to Bethel this Friday for our first (and second-to-last) meet. Planning a sports trip here is somewhat of a big deal: charter a plane, get permission for each kid, figure out what grade each kid is in (our school doesn't use traditional grades, but we still have to use them for labeling purposes... which is a royal pain in my white ass. Add to that the fact that my "regular duties" are not entirely clear... there are only two new ELD (English Language Development) teachers in the district, including myself. I think the more experienced staff forget that things that they know from last year are not necessarily obvious to a yahoo from Minnesconsin.

I'm in a very introspective mood this evening. Our teacher-mentor visited our school today, and we invited her over for dinner. She's working through some partnership with UAF... or is it UAA (U of AK Fairbanks or U of AK Anchorage)... but anyway, a partnership with one of those universities and the state of Alaska to increase first-year teacher retention rates. She was pretty much just here to get to know us, but she asked my why I came to Alaska. I told her the whole "Well, I was at this job fair..." story and she listened and then said, "Sure, but why did you come to Alaska?"

That is a damn good question.

Don't get me wrong. I don't regret my decision in the least. There are a few things I wish would have gone a little more smoothly, and there are definitely people I wish I could transplant to Quinhagak to hang out with me. But all in all, I think I made a good decision. It bugs me, though, that I can't put a finger on the why of it all. Or does it really not matter? I'm here, I'm happy. Things feel normal already.

First Year Teaching as a Rite of Passage

Seriously, folks, this is some tough shit. Every day consists of at least one little mini-panic attack. Just a small, internal one.

I've never done a more difficult job than this. I've had much, much more miserable jobs in my life (night shift at a Del Monte bean cannery, now THAT was miserable), but nothing has come even close to comparing to my first year as a teacher. Seasoned teachers have a bag o' tricks to reach into, lessons that worked last year to just pull out to work on whatever objective needs meeting. First year teachers have yet to build all of those ideas and materials. I know it's a matter of time, and that next year will be easier, and the year after that will be easier than the one before it, and so on and so on and so one, but first year teaching really does suck.

I see it as a rite of passage. So many teachers quit in the first few years, and now I totally see why. The first year is a mad swinging pendulum of ups and downs. A lesson goes great and I'm on top of the world. The next hour, things fall into chaos (or my idea of chaos, which is far less chaotic than most people's idea of chaos) and I'm questioning my choice of profession. If I make it, I'll be a damn good teacher. I'm sure a lot of people who quit teaching and move on to other professions might have been good teachers had they made it over the hump. Or... maybe they're the people who wouldn't have been any good, and they got weeded out. I really love this work, and have no plans to wash out.

Moderately funny story... our first- and second- year teaching staff is (until next week) made up of 100% single females, four out of five (including yours truly) under the age of 30. Apparantly one of the other schools in our district is in a similar but reversed situation... their young staff is overwhelmingly young and male. Apparently our principals were talking about "getting us together." I think they were mostly joking... But I gotta admit, a few eligible bachelors might increase "employee morale" a bit. It is a problem here... many teachers would be willing to stay, but choose to leave because romantic options are very limited in many of the villages. Interesting.

I'm still waiting for culture shock to set in. I know that the other new teacher is deep in the throes of it, and I'm still waiting. Maybe I'm slow in adjusting. Maybe I'm too dense for it to get to me. Maybe I experienced it and just didn't notice. Who knows? I'm "supposed" to, at some point, break down. Be totally blown away and uber-conscious of the differences between my own culture and that in which I'm living. It just hasn't happened yet.

On a positive note, I've lost five pounds since getting here, which is a major accomplishment since I've had little to no time for exercise.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

To Blatantly Steal Content...

The indescribable, unsupressable law student Jen Dz (What the hell is she doing lately? Read her blog, for chrissake!) recently posted a quote that I used to love, but had forgotten all about, and now love once again:

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am -- a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.

-Ed Abbey

I love that quote. It has a habit of motivating me, if quotes can be said to have habits.

Another Reason I Like the Alaskan Bush...

On most plane flights, you can't even bring knitting needles. On our flight from Bethel to Quinhagak today, the pilot (think quintessential bush pilot character, scruffy beard and all), after giving us the "In case we crash on the tundra, survival gear is under the seat" schpeel, added "And there's a gun under there... take that, because survival food sucks." After the flight, debate ensued... was he implying that we could actually shoot and cook some game (giving our marksmanship and survival culinary skills far more credit than probably due), or was he implying that we'd have to go all ape-shit and survival-of-the-fittest-and-most-ruthless on each other? One can only imagine...

Anyway, it is nice here. Touching down on the runway in Bethel and seeing PAVED roads for the first time in a month was interesting. I found, however, that gravel is in many ways superior around here. Because of the frozen ground conditions, ALL of the paved roads in Bethel are hopelessly bumpy and in constant need of repairs. Gravel just seems like a much more viable option in a lot of ways, although I realize that it wouldn't work in Bethel because of the size of the town. Landing on a gravel runway for the first time is a little odd, but it's amazing how fast our minds adapt to a new state of "normal." Lots of things were odd to me when I got here, but now the reverse is almost true. When I return to the Lower 48, will I be able to squelch the urge to walk down the middle of the road without a care? Will the fact that kids there don't regularly run from teacher house to teacher house to "visit" seem as weird as the practice first seemed when I arrived?

Normal is totally a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Loss of my Mental Capabilities

Greetings from rainy, chilly Quinhagak! I had something really great and insightful to write about. I swear I did. Or at least I thought I did. I thought of it at some point today, most likely while teaching. Unfortunately, I neglected to write it down, and that lone thought apparently either died of loneliness or gave up the ghost and fled my mind, because I have no recollection of precisely what I was going to say. So... I'm just going to write whatever the hell pops into my head.

Our heat is broken. This would not be a big deal, as it's not all that cold yet and our house is well-insulated, except our WATER IS HEATED THROUGH THE FURNACE. No furnace = no hot water. So it's either shower at school or a cold shower. My roomie and I also somehow forgot to let the maintenance guys know of our little heat problem, so we're stuck with no hot water when we could ostensibly be con agua caliente at this moment.

More goodies for the cross country team arrived today. This has been wonderful! Nearly every runner has a new (or semi-new) pair of REAL RUNNING SHOES. All of the girls have sports bras, and we have a bunch left over for basketball and volleyball and NYO (if we have NYO this year... still haven't found a coach). Most of the kids got at least a new t-shirt to practice in, which is way cool. Some got new shorts, also way cool. They've all got water bottles now, again... way cool.

It is now 7:45 pm. Wanna make a bet that I'm in bed by 9:00?

Monday, September 06, 2004


So tomorrow makes a month... a month without alcohol of any kind passing my lips. I don't think I've gone a month without drinking since I started college. Interesting that I didn't think about it until today. For those of you who don't know, alcohol is illegal in the village I'm living in and I could both get in legal trouble and get fired for bringing in alcohol.

I don't want to get drunk, dear readers. Oh no. I want to drink a beer. Maybe a dark, nutty brown. It's getting cooler now (at least here), winter is perfect for dark beers. Or perhaps something lighter... very, very cold. I've heard that Minnesota is getting a nice last blast of summer, so I can just imagine myself sitting outside at some bar, or on a front porch, sipping something cold, alcoholic and carbonated. Heck, I'd even take one of my parents' crappy Bud Lights.

Thanksgiving in either Anchorage or Fairbanks (the decision has yet to be made by my coworkers/friends) had better include at least one stop at a bar or pub of some kind so I can savor the greatness that is beer. Just one. Or maybe two.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

OK, a Few More Sentences...

The youngest brother of a good friend passed away last week. I just found out about it yesterday. While I had only met him once, briefly, about five years ago, hearing about a young person passing away definitely puts a new spin on life. I learned a while ago that we're not guaranteed a long life, that youth doesn't equal immortality, that good people can get taken away from us too soon. Every once in a while, though, we get a reminder. Be good to each other and yourselves, enjoy what you have, and don't spend too much time worrying about what you don't have. In the end, you can't take it with you. No one's tombstone reads "Work 60 Hours a Week" or "Pulled in Six Digits" or "Drove a Kickass Car."

And on that somewhat depressing-but-deep note, I'm going to go do some laundry. Life isn't always exciting, but it is precious. Enjoy your laundry, everyone.

Just One Sentence Today...

I caught a kindergartener with chewing tobacco yesterday.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Workin' for a Living...

So last night I was reading in bed, trying to get sleepy, and I came across something that really started my brain turning. In a book about women's health and spirituality (yeah, I'm a big nerd, so sue me), the author spoke of the lack of real community in our world. My convoluted train of thought was as follows: We spend time working to afford nice things that we can't appreciate all the time because we're busy working. I've actually read a book entirely on this subject and it just fascinates me. We get nice clothes so we can get a certain job, but wouldn't need that certain job if we didn't have to pay for such expensive clothes.

Then I think about life here. People may not "work" in our modern sense of the word (meaning: exchanging labor for money), but they certainly "do work," (meaning: perform labor). Some people here work for money, some simply hunt, fish, gather, and maybe do a little work on the side to get stuff they can't get themselves or through barter. By modern standards, they're far, far below the poverty line. The reality, however, is that those things that you can buy with money (pop, candy, chips, white bread) are far less healthy than those that require no money, but more time (salmon, trout, berries, caribou, etc...). There are, of course, exceptions. Vitamin C, for example, is infinitely easier to obtain through a glass of orange juice than through native plants and animals. But overall, what you can catch is healthier than what you can buy.

Who determines what is "poor?" Do each of our kids really need their own bedrooms for life to be complete? Do we need two cars (or more) per family? Why are we considered "poor" if we get by without these things? If you work all day, catching fish, hunting, gathering berries, and by doing so feed, clothe and house your family for the year, yet make no money in the process, why are you considered poor? Aren't you just making a living the same as someone who works for cash, just cutting out the middleman? It only stops working if you factor in a continuous desire for more. If you're satisfied with a house that doesn't leak, a boat that floats well enough to fish in, and food that keeps the family growing, then you're set. But as soon as you want a fancy new car, or a bigger house than you really need, money comes into the picture. Now just working to live changes into something else. You live to work.

Don't think I'm getting all polyanna on how things work up here. There are disadvantages to any system. Right now I'm just thinking out loud...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The End of a Long, Long Day

So rumor has it (everything's "rumor has it" around here... I heard this one from a 12 year-old so take it for what it's worth) Quinhagak is getting a cell phone tower. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Having happily left my Sprint PCS contract to move here, I'm really not prepared to do that whole thing. However, I can totally see how it would be useful for people out fishing on the river, etc, to be able to communicate with each other. I just really don't want to deal with the whole mess. Anyway, either I'm at home or I'm at school, so tracking me down isn't exactly rocket science.

A few boxes of goodies arrived from Recycled Miles (J and Dz's idea to get people to donate stuff to sports teams in need, starting with mine...). The girls were bashfully excited about the sports bras. A few already have them, and those that didn't now do. The boys were whining about not getting stuff when the girls got sports bras, but promptly shut their traps when I informed them that they were more than welcome to a sports bra or two. Aaaah, the pre-teen and early teen years... I wouldn't go back if you paid me. Also, informing them that some shoes (men's and women's) and water bottles are on the way quieted the whining significantly.

I've already started looking forward to next year... getting a better, earlier start to the cross country season, stuff I can do in the classroom... I just hope my enthusiasm holds out. So many teachers come into these kids' lives and then leave. I really don't want to be one of them. So far I'm very happy, and catch myself saying "maybe next year" and stuff like that. Here's hoping nothing happens to change my mind.

You know what I miss, though? Pizza. Yeah, we can sometimes get frozen pizzas here at the store (at an exorbitant price), but man could I go for a Spokes pizza, or maybe something from Uptown Pizza, or that new place that opened up right before I left... it's near Lyndale and Lake... what's it called... Galactic Pizza. Sumtin' like that. Or Bill's Pizza in Stevens Point, WI. Or maybe all of the above.

Soon I get my first paycheck. 'Twill be nice to not be panicky about money for once.