Friday, December 31, 2004

Time Zones Suck, Chapter II, or, Jet Lag and You: Why Having a Spherical Earth is Murder on the Internal Clock

So, for nearly a week over break, I was in the Central Time Zone with my body on Alaska time. Wanted to stay up way past all the interesting TV. Now, I'm in the Alaskan Time Zone and my body thinks I'm in Minnesconsin. It's 10:30, and attemtping to make it another hour and a half to see in the New Year just seems like a fool's errand.


Happy New Year

Well, ladies and gentlemen, 2004 is just about kaput. 2005 is bearing down on us. It seems like the year is ending on such a downer note, with the Tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia and all...

Since the most wise and beautiful Chickscumalready said a bunch of good stuff about the disaster, I'll not repeat what she said. Read it, I'll just say "ditto," except for the part about a tornado messing up the apartment complex, that never happened to me, and I'll not lie and say it happened.

Insane numbers of people lost their lives. Quite frankly, I can't quite wrap my mind around it. It's thought that on one Tamil-controlled island, 3/5 of the population was wiped out. Think of your five favorite people. Poof, three of them gone. I really think it's worse to think about it in those terms than to try to imagine 60,000 people.

I'm not going to be all depressing and morbid. It's New Year's Eve. To quote the hooker from Forrest Gump, "Everyone gets a second chance." Bad things happen. This time it was a natural disaster, but often, it's not bad luck and acts of nature, but we ourselves who make bad things happen. Seems to be an historical pattern we can't break, but I'm going to play eternal obnoxious optimist in the face of reality and say: maybe 2005 will be our year.

For those of you who are so inclined (and who, more importantly, have the fundage), the Red Cross said that they'll use all money donated to the International Response Fund to provide relief to the victims in Southeast Asia. To make a donation, click here. No pressure. I've been broke, too. Whether you donate or not, let's all try our hardest to live life like it could be washed out to sea tomorrow.

To quote Colonel Potter from M*A*S*H (what's with me and all the pop culture references? Hey, at least I'm off my Harry Potter kick), "To the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old."

Kick some ass in 2005.

Hmm, maybe I'll give up swearing in the new year.

Naaaaaaah. What's the fun of hitting your head on something if you can't cuss in a most undignified manner after you do it?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Typing with no glasses on

It's a fun adventure, really. New glasses hadn't arrived yet when I left, and my contacts were bugging me. To be close enough to really read what's on my laptop screen, I'd have to hold said laptop too close to be able to type. Let's see how accurate my typing skills really are... oh my seventh grade keyboarding teacher would be so proud (or maybe ashamed).

Arrived back in the YK Delta (couldn't make it all the way out to the village; I'm in Bethel) more or less in one piece. Why did it take me four days to get away from work and only one to get back? Bleh.

(Honestly, I have no idea what I'm typing right now. Fuzzy lines. Great fun.)

For the first time since I moved to Alaska, my luggage arrived at my final destination on the same flight as me. I feel like I won the lottery or something. Is baggage handling really that bad, or am I just unlucky?

A family that I know from the village was on my same flight from Anchorage to Bethel. I twas nice to see familiar faces after an entire day of anonymous stranger interaction.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

So Much Beer, So Little Time

Beer at Anchorage airport. Mimosa with Katie Monday Morning in Mpls. Beer with Chanda when I got stuck in Mpls. Beer with parents upon arrival at home in Wisconsin. Beer with friends at doofy Point bar.

I seem to sense a pattern here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Four Days Later...

So I've been attempting to get home since Saturday; I finally made it home at about 9:30 tonight.

Satuday: Couldn't get out of the village. Was upset, but hey, I was at my house in my own bed so it was all good.

Sunday: Got out of village. Got out of Bethel into Anchorage on an earlier flight than I had planned. Had time to drink a beer at the Anchorage airport. Plane left an hour late

Monday: Arrive in Minneapolis at 6:55am (only 45 minutes late; we must have had a tailwind or something). Katie brought me a mimosa (hehehe). Katie slid her car on the ice. She dropped me off again at the airport. Get to gate for flight to Central Wisconsin. Are told that pilot is caught in ice-storm-related accident and therefore late. Wait around for over an hour. Pilot arrives, we get on plane, get buckled in and seated, and are promptly told that Central Wisconsin is experiencing bad weather. Get off plane. Get scheduled for a flight the next day. Call friend Chanda. Chanda comes to pick me up with new baby. Baby is hella-cute at 3 1/2 weeks. Go out drinking with Chanda.

Tuesday: Get to gate for flight to CWA. Nice smiley blond woman asks us if any of us would like to be bumped as they've oversold. The phrase "Hell no, are you f-ing nuts?!" comes to mind, but I hold my tongue. Spend the next 45 minutes obsessively worrying that I'll be one of the nine who need to be bumped. Find out that obsessive worrying is, as usual, not necessary. Get on plane, fly to CWA. Land, discover that luggage has not made the trip. Go to youngest sister's basketball game (they won, very good), stop back at airport to check for bags. Still no bags. Fill out baggage claim. Am quite pissed off because my parents' very cool Christmas presents are in the luggage.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Weathered in again. Instead of getting in at 10:30 am on Sunday, I'll be getting in at 10:30 am on Monday. It's too warm up here this year... cold weather is much better for flying because there isn't the fog or freezing rain to deal with. I guess this year the planes have been weathered in more than in previous years... why do I get all the fun?

The only other "new" teacher (she's a second year teacher) and I were invited over to have lunch at the kidnergarten teacher's house. We got over there and she informed us that she had just heard that all planes out of Bethel were on hold. I'll admit it, I had to fight to hold back tears. A few phone calls later (one with a crabby guy at Northwest Airlines who ultimately got the job done but made the whole task kind of unpleasant) and I'm all scheduled for the same flights a day later, which is decent news. Weather's supposed to clear up tomorrow, too. All my stuff (toothpaste, jammies, etc) is packed away, though, which is a bit of a pain in the arse.

Instead, I knitted and watched Harry Potter DVD special features (really, I'm not as Harry Potter obsessed as my blog as of late makes me sound) with said Only Remaining Fellow New Teacher. Not a bad evening, I guess, all things considered.

I want a beer because I couldn't get out of the village as scheduled. I can't have a beer because I'm still in the village. Who will make a bold sacrifice and drink a beer for me?

Time zones suck

Not that I'm complaining about people calling me, but for chrissake, the phone started ringing at 6am (didn't answer that phone call, sorry Katie) today and didn't stop until about 9am. I stayed up late knitting and watching "The Last Samurai" with coworker/neightbor/friend last night, so waking at 6am was not entirely necessary.

Not that I don't simply adore each and every person who called this morning... except Roomie's parents, who are cool, but I won't say I adore someone I've never met in person. Well, OK, Brad Pitt. But we all agree he's a special case.

I'm flying out of town in about an three and a half hours (weather permitting). I get to fly out of the new airport, which is somewhat exciting just because it's new. It's also five minutes out of town, which is something like forever in village distance.

See you in the Lower 48!!!

I really should start packing.


Friday, December 17, 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I just did one of those whole-body yawns

You know the yawn where your entire body gets into the yawn? Most undignified and ugly.

My brain is tired. My body is tired. We just finished our school's Christmas Program. One and a half hours of quasi-controlled chaos. Virtually no attempt was made to control the kindergarteners or first graders, so they kinda ran amok and chattered through the whole thing. Whatever. Tomorrow's a half day and then I've got two weeks off!!! WOO FREAKIN HOO!

Right now, though, I just want a nap. For some reason, I woke up at 6am today, but not the "OK I'm awake let's start the day" kind of woke up. It was the "Oh man am I tired, why am I awake, just lemme get back to sleep" kind of woke up. The kindergarteners (my first class of the day) were all tweeked out on crack, or at least acting like it. That was a *great* (please note sarcasm) start to my work day, and it only got better. The Christmas Program was enjoyable, but I really could have just as happily slept the day away.

Hmm... maybe if I deny myself a full night sleep tonight, and tomorrow night, I'll be so tired I actually SLEEP on the plane. Then again, maybe I'll be that tired and then NOT be able to sleep on the plane, and arrive crabby. It's a gamble, either way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Testing, testing, one two three...

Never mind. I am HTML stupid and cannot post pictures. Sorry.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'se learnin me all sorts of new stuff part II

I just have to share this, and then I will go to bed. We had our night with the four kids we cook dinner for every Tuesday... and I learned... how to make balloon animals! For some reason, Roomie has a bunch of the long skinny balloon-animal-making balloons and a ballon-animal-making-balloon-blower-upper. Girl has the most random and cool stuff just laying around. I made a poodle, a daschund (actually, a poodle that didn't quite go right), and a sword. Again, you may bow in reverence before my glory. ;-)

I am available for parties, as long as your idea of good balloon animal entertainment is two animals and a pirate weapon, all made VERY SLOWLY with that holding-the-balloon-far-away-scared-it'll-pop look (you know the one) on the performer's face. Also, you have to pay for me to fly to wherever you are.

I'se learnin me all sorts of new stuff

I learned how to bead last night. I'm not that great yet, but it's something I can totally see myself getting into. I'm totally hitting up the craft and beading stores while I'm in the Lower 48...

I'm turning into such a domestic goddess. Knitting, crocheting, beading... Worship me, it's OK. Go ahead.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

More Harry Potter Foolishness...

I've been sorted, ladies and gentlemen... I was a bit surprised. I really thought I'd end up in a different house, but the hat knows all.

Now your turn! Take the test, reply to this post and tell us what house you're in!

i'm in gryffindor!

be sorted @


Let's all give a big round of applause to CHICKSCUM for surviving her first semester of law school. Have a beer, girl, you deserve it. Have another for me... not that I deserve it, but have another and say it's for me.

Long, long ago, we were the "rockstars" off a certain triathlon website that shall remain nameless. In many ways our titles of co-rockstars were unearned, but we held the titles nonetheless, if only in name. Now we're "ladies of a certain age" (OK, we're 25) who are getting responsible and stuff.

Anyway, congrats girl, you're one hurdle closer to using your powers of law for good (YOU'LL USE THEM FOR GOOD, RIGHT?! YOU PROMISED!).


(1) You know you order too often from when they give you free upgrades to priority mail on every order. I console myself by thinking that these are things that I would buy anyway were I not hundreds of miles from the nearest bookstore.

(2) Planning for the last week before winter break is difficult. Not only will the kids be all twitchy and ready for vacation to start, but so will their ELD teacher. Friday morning, I predict, will be a total loss, academically.

(3) The sun is nearing the horizon (it's 1:45 PM, not sunset just yet, but nearing the horizon). If I hadn't run over my digital camera with the school van, I'd totally take a picture and post it.

(4) I really like our school schedule - We have an extra hour of school Monday-Thursday, then the students get out at noon on Friday. Teachers have a student-free Friday afternoon to plan for the next week. It's not bad, even if I DO have trouble focusing on work at that point...

(5) How much STUFF can I fit into ten days of vacation? We shall soon find out. I have numerous people to drink a beer with (Shibby - is our table reserved at Guu's? Katie - got your Nalgene bottle handy? Too bad there's no parade to watch at MSP. Dz and J - we really need to meet up in the Twin Cities while you guys are there. Matt, Aimee, Mel, and Kelly - Bring on the FRE!), family Christmas stuff to do (popcorn and cranberry stringing, you know, all that Norman Rockwell jazz), shopping and mailing to do (a must when visiting civilization), and maybe might want to sleep a little somewhere in there.

(6) Knitting is fun.

(7) Lesson planning is not fun.

(8) When we run our washing machine, the house shakes. One of the many oddities associated with having a house on stilts. Not tall stilts, but about 4 feet off the ground. A lot of people store stuff under their houses. All that we have under ours is the old bathtub that a parent delivered a bunch of salmon in. He then left town without coming back for the bathtub. So now we have a bathtub under our house until he comes back. We say it'd be po' white trashy of us, but Roomie's half Chinese, so that wouldn't be entirely accurate.

(9) I have reached the point where salmon is no longer an exciting meal. Still delicious, but nothing special.

(10) Have run out of things to say but wanted to make it a nice even, divisible-by-ten number.

Harry Potter

OK, I'll admit it, I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay late hopping on the Harry Potter train. Late, but I got there nevertheless and can I just say HELL YEAH?! I finished the five books that are out right now in like a week and a half. You may stand aghast at my geekiness. I really don't mind.

You know how there are some books (and movies too, the movies are great, but I'm talking the HP books) where you get done and are just disappointed that it's not real? That's kind of how I feel after I close one of the Harry Potter books. Sure, they're SUPPOSED to be for kids, but dammit, I enjoy a good mental vacation from reality as much as the next person.

Kinda like when we were kids and Mel and I decided after watching Star Wars that we could move things with our minds... sitting in the basement concentrating on stuff, trying to get it to move. I've revealed too much and officially lost all semblance of respect, haven't it?

Ah, what the heck. It's Star Wars. You can't fault a kid for wanting to be a Jedi. Just like you can't fault me, at the tender age of 25, for wishing that Harry's whole alternate world really existed.

OK, back on topic (FOCUS, GIRL, FOCUS!). Read the Harry Potter books. The first one, at least. It isn't much of a time investment, so if it's not your thing, it's not like you've wasted 500 pages of your literary life.

A week from right now

A week from right now I will be on a plane to the lower 48 for Christmas.

Weather permitting, of course. Learned my lesson on that one.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

It's Official

The great state of Alaska has seen fit to grant me a teaching license, K-12 ESL. Arrived in the mail today (December 8), which is *cough* lightning-fast since I only sent in my application last August. I'm not going to complain, though... those of you who were with me through the whole license-application fiasco last summer (gives me an ulcer, a nervous breakdown and a stress-induced heart attack just thinking about how messed up the whole process got...) should be both relieved for me (because I know you're nice like that) and saying "See? What the hell were you so freaked out about?" Go ahead and say it: I told you so. You especially, Dad. Just say it. You'll feel better.

Anyway, It's nice and snowy here now (it's been flurry-ing for two days straight). Maybe by this weekend I'll be able to try out my new snowshoes! Then again, maybe not. I'm debating taking a solo mini-vacation for spring break, just somewhere in Alaska where there's more snow, or maybe just somewhere I've never been (which is most places). However, I also want to save up to buy a 4-wheeler, and might just want to save up my money at that point. 4-wheelers are not for recreation here as they are in some places (neither are snowmachines... er... snowmobiles), they're the preferred mode of transportation. I really don't like being dependent on getting the school van (old, scary, huge, broken down Chevy Suburban), coordinating when I want to go to and leave from school with four coworkers, having to ask the principal for the keys on the weekend to go to the store. It's like being back in high school sharing a car with my sister (although our driving ages never really overlapped that much), except in this case there are five of us. Getting my own wheels, even little 4-wheeler wheels, would make me like a real grown-up.

Again, with FEELING this time!

It snowed! Covered up the dirt!

OK, so we've had plenty of snow already. Problem is, our incidences of snow have been broken up by rainy icy crap that has beaten it down and kept things a delightful shade of mud.

This is not to say that I'm a romantic snow-loving person. Really, it's purely aestheic at this point... winter in cold places, if it doesn't snow, is just plain ugly.

Also, if it's warm enough to snow, it can't be THAT cold!

Anyhoo, our mentor teacher is visiting for a few days. She's great. I really like that the state of Alaska recognized that new teachers need more guidance and support if they're going to stay in the field past the magical five-year mark. I also like that the teacher they found us (she serves a bunch of other villages in our district and others) has experience in the bush. Teaching here... the rules, the expectations, the responsibilities... is (and I feel like a broken record saying this AGAIN) totally different than teaching down in the lower 48... or even in anchorage... or even in Bethel...

Example: Roomie and I approached her with a specific predicament involving student-teacher boundaries. Now I was taught that the student-teacher relationship, while a potentially close relationship, remains somewhat distant, professional, and purely educational. I think I broke that rule my first week. That accomplished, I had to find my own boundaries, partly based on what was the community norm, partly based on what I personally want. Like most things in life, a compromise. Anyway (right, I was going somewhere with this) we approached her, expecting that (as a semi-authoritative figure, although now that I think about it she has no power over us beyond the fact that she knows a lot more than us about a lot of useful things) she'd advise we not get too personally involved. Nearly the opposite, however: she explained that she had been in strikingly similar positions during her tenure as a bush teacher, as had most of her colleagues, and that the rules aren't just more relaxed, here... it's an entirely different set of rules.

It's really hard to get things done without "knowing people." This is good and bad. As a (still) new teacher, I'm somewhat powerless. I'm at the far end of the news grapevine. I haven't figured out who's related to whom (which could be a job in and of itself, I swear). I do, however, know the postmaster (postmistress? she's a woman, but that sounds so... I don't know... never mind). That is one connection to have. She magically makes my orders appear from behind her mystical little counter. But it's still very person-based, not profession-based, which is actually refreshing in a Post Office employee. She lets me go behind the PO boxes to check our mail if I didn't bring the key (SHH DON'T TELL). She'll go digging through yet-unsorted mailbags to find a greatly anticipated package if there's not a line and we ask nicely.

Monday, December 06, 2004


My physical world is in disarray. My classroom has lost all sense of organization.

Some people thrive in chaos. Roomie for example. She can do fine with her physical space in total and complete disarray. Me, when my world is messy, my life gets messy. I totally take on the characteristics of my environment. I forget stuff. I stop thinking in straight lines. I become my surroundings. Cammoflauge, if you will. ;-)

Problem is, I just don't have the time or energy to fix it right now. The sheer amount of STUFF in my classroom (I'm blessed/cursed with a huuuuuuuge array of materials) makes any organizational attempt a colossal undertaking. I literally have a walk-in closet, a double sided bookshelf, two regular bookshelves, and a rolling cabinet full of STUFF. Naturally, having so much stuff makes it IMPOSSIBLE to find that one thing I need at the moment I need it.

My thought process: Hmm, I see I'm doing "modes of transportation" vocabulary with the kidnergartenders next week. Now, I know there was a cool little tub full of miniature cars, trains, boats, etc. It was small and round and... where was it? *Stands in the middle of the room and looks around hopelessly* I know I saw it when I was looking for... um... wait... I don't remember *gives up and prints up pictures of modes of transportation from the internet*.

Sick, huh?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Geekus Maximus

I am an enormous geek. This has recently been affirmed by a series of events: (1) I bought the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD. (2) I'm in the process of watching the extras on said DVD. (3) When I watched their little mini-schpeel about the upcoming Episode III, I actually got somewhat pumped up about it.

It looks pretty good, with a cool looking (if you can judge by the rehersal shots) light saber duel between Obi Wan and Annakin. Looks to be a lot darker than the first two, which pissed me off to no end by being way too cutesy. I guess it DOES have to lead into A New Hope, in which the Republic is kaput and everything sucks and is in despair and all, but I was still feeling fairly negative about the whole thing.

We'll see.

And on to slightly less geeky topics... Two weeks from RIGHT NOW I will be (weather permitting) at the Anchorage airport, preparing to board my flight to the lower 48. I will get into Central WI at about 10am-ish, and will likely be tired and crabby as hell after a long flight, but I'm sure I'll be happy to be in a place where a house with a flush toilet isn't a complete fantasy...

Hooray for toilies!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Things You Take for Granted

The village's water truck is broken. So, while plenty of water theoretically exists, it can't get to our house. I suppose if I were really ambitious, I could haul water in a clean, just-for-this-purpose garbage can, but that would mean buying a new garbage can. So instead, I'll just conserve. I can always shower and do laundry at the school...

Look at the water coming out of your faucet? Where does it come from? I think so much more about where things come from and where things go now that I live up here. I know right where my garbage ends up. Today they burned at the dump, and it stanked up that side of town. I know where my water comes from, where it's purified, and where it drains out of the bottom of my house when I'm done. When we get meat locally, I generally know who killed it and sometimes get bits of ammunition as a reminder... All sorts of stuff that I didn't ever have to consider before. In some ways, we've gotten so disconnected from the day-to-day basics of living (food, water, shelter, etc) that we forget that we even need those things and that it could be a struggle to even survive.

Don't get me wrong, we're in no danger of starving to death up here. Were the planes to stop flying, people's lives around here would change, diet especially, but I think they'd be fine. One example: after 9-11-01 (from what I've heard; I wasn't here), even little bush planes couldn't fly, which seems a bit silly, but I guess a rule's a rule. No mail, groceries, no way out. What were the items to get bought out at the store? Not meat, frozen veggies, etc. It was all the stuff that people know they can't provide themselves... pop, candy, chips and the like. They were not worried about starving, adn that taken care of, they got what they knew could run out if they were forced had the planes been grounded for a long time.


Like an Elephant on Rollerskates

I have some serious issues with Tae Bo. Did you know they expect you to be able to control the movement of your feet AND your hands at the same time? In different directions?! With hardly any instruction? Ya right.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Incessant Ramblings of Sleepiness

It's effin' late. I was tired hours ago. The internet is an evil, evil place that provides many, many things to do when you least need many, many things to do.

Like 1:00 AM, for example. Lots of cool stuff to do on the internet at 1 AM. Friends' blogs to catch up on. Strange word combinations to Google. Final lesson plans to write (11 school days to plan before Christmas break!!!). Unnecessary e-mails to compose. Foolish blog entries to pen.

Anyway, all is well and good up here. Have talked with a lot of good friends and family members over the past week or so, and that, to quote Martha Stewart (or maybe to quote a Saturday Night Live parody of said household wonder, since I've never watched Martha Stewart), is a good thing. I had kinda fallen out of touch with a lot of people over the past month or so, and just recently realized that there are a lot of wonderful, very important people in my life... people that I don't want to lose touch with, ever. Others can come and go, but family and good friends are where it's at, I tell ya.

Abrupt Change of Subject #1! Got another book order today. Purchased the Star Wars Trilogy DVD (NERD ALERT! I know, I know. Please allow me my bastion of nerdiness without judgement.), seasons 1, 2, and 3 of The Family Guy (sooooooo inappropriate, soooooooo funny), and two books. Probably could have asked for both for Christmas but am all about immediate gratification when it comes to movies and books. Must own NOW. If I'm going to stay up here for another year (and I'm thinking I will), I should probably consider buying stock in I've said it before and I'll say it again... internet commerce is both the saving grace (entertainment-wise) and the achillies heel (financially) of the bush teacher. I realize that I probably spelled Achillies wrong but am way to lazy to look it up. Maybe tomorrow.

Abrupt Change of Subject #2! I want snow. The village is slushy and icy and wet. Gimme snow over this crap any day.