Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Just a warning

I'm not going to post much this summer, I don't think... at least not as prolifically as I did during the school year. I know, you're probably saying THANK GOD. THAT CHICK NEVER SHUTS THE *$&# UP.

Few reasons for my anticipated slowdown in production...

1. Babysitting for a 6 month-old is a little time-consuming. She's napping now, but was NOT happy when Mom wasn't around and she had to drink from a bottle, which is NOT her most favoritest thing in the world. We even wrote a little song titled "Bottles Suck, Boobies Rule," but it didn't seem to soothe her all that much. Go fig.

2. When not babysitting, I'll likely often be drinking and hanging out with friends, which does not need to be chronicled for future generations.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

So... Two Days In...

Yeah. There has been beer on multiple occasions, but thus far no drunkenness. There has also been one gin and tonic and more meals eaten out than the past ten months put together. All the options are almost too much. I found myself staring at restaurant menus and wanting one of everything. Mostly things with bacon. We never get bacon in the village. I never really had a big love for bacon, but apparently, I missed it.

I'll admit it, I miss village life in some ways. There is just SO MUCH going on, especially in the Twin Cities. I had to drive a rental car away from the MSP airport this afternoon and it was just too much visual stimulus, too fast. Driving at the airport flustered me back when my driving reflexes were honed to a citified level of competence, just think how bad it was this afternoon. I was scared-old-lady-white-knuckling it on the steering wheel. I seemed to get back into the driving groove after a few minutes, though.

I'll miss village life, but it's going to be a great summer. I'm babysitting for a friend's kid three days a week, and in exchange get to live in her house in Minneapolis, which is right where I want to be.

Random: I just looked up at the ceiling in the room I grew up in (well... from 5th grade on...), and the glow-in-the-dark stickers that I put on the light fixture are still there, as is the little fuzzy dude (remember those? little puffball with feet and googly eyes?) I stuck up there. Suppose those'll have to go if my parents ever move...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Briefly and without grammar

Arrived safely and without traumatic incident in MN. All is good. Moderate amounts of beer have been consumed at various Minneapolis establishments. Further update to follow. Time to sleep.


Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday, dear Sara
Happy Birthday to me.

I would like to congratulate Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines for managing to get me all the way from Bethel to Minneapolis without once offering me a real meal. Not that airline food is any good, but sheesh.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Food, Mostly

Just made my last flight reservation for tomorrow (the little hop between the village and the hub city, Bethel). Other Teacher #2 and I will be flying out at 12:30, which will give me three hours, weather permitting, to go to the bead store (they have a great selection I've yet to find equalled Downstates) and grab some food for the journey.

Speaking of food, I attended a birthday feast for one of our school aide's daughters. There I had what will probably be my last taste of akutaq (eskimo ice cream), walrus, seal, caribou, and dried smoked salmon strips where you have to peel them off the skin. Diet food it ain't, but I've really developed a taste for it... even the "weird" stuff that I only tried for the sheer adventure of it.

Seal meat is surprisingly "meaty" (as opposed to fatty) and not at all what I would have expected, at least when cooked up in a pan. Walrus, on the other hand, is unlike anything I've ever eaten. It's so... smooth. So many dense (and probably horrifically fatty, but who's countin?) calories... I ate a little around noon yesterday and wasn't hungry until well after 7. Caribou is a lot like venison. Dried smoked salmon strips are the beef jerkey of the Eskimo subarctic. No wait, better. Jerky is a pain to eat because it's so tough, but dried smoked salmon strips (or simply "strips" as they're known in village English) is fun. Grab a hold of the meat with your teeth and hold on to the skin. Now peel. It takes a certain flair... I'm now to the point where I get everything off but the skin. Dogs LOVE the skin for a treat, but only if they're outside dogs, because salmon skin dog farts are the epitome of disgusting.

Christ, I have been an obnoxiously prolific blogger over the past week. If anyone actually reads all this, kudos to you, but I certainly don't expect everybody to do so. For me, it's been a sort of personal housecleaning of my thoughts... hence the stream-of-consciousness style writing.

This should be my last post for a few days. I fly out tomorrow, weather permitting, at 12:30-ish. I'll turn 26, assuming the flight boards on time, at 12:07am... 48 minutes before my flight out of Anchorage is set to depart. I'll make it to the Twin Freakin Cities at 11:45 Tuesday morning, Central Time. While it looks like I'll be spending 23 hours in transit, if time zone changes are taken into account, it's only 20. ONLY.

Me out on the ice

Me out on the ice
Originally uploaded by smacca.
Just 'cuz I can finally easily and successfully post pictures, and I like this one, I will make you look at it! I didn't take it, but you can see me out on the ice (the ice being Kuskokwim Bay of the Bering Sea). Roomie, Other Teacher #1, Social Worker (who visits once a week or every other week as he's social worker for several villages) and I took a trip out to the beach back in... March? I don't quite remember. I could easily look up the date on the pic but that would be mucho effort.

I think the picture illustrates the vast weirdness of the beach in winter. There were four of us out there, not a mile from the village, but with the wind whipping and the oddness of the terrain (ice cracked and pushed and pulled and whatnot into odd configurations by the tides), you could just wander away and think you were the only person on the face of the planet. I did just that, and apparently got my picture taken in the process.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


How does packing ALWAYS sneak up on me? Like I haven't been counting the days to summer vacation!

*dutifully but crabbily goes back to laundry and packing and cleaning...*

'Tis the Way it Goes

I'm only now getting to the point where I feel really comfortable with village life. Don't get me wrong... I've been happy all year, with a few normal day-to-day exceptions. I've been happier, really, than I've probably ever been. Having a job I can call a career and a house I can call a home for as long as I want to call it such have given me a sense of permanence I haven't experienced since... wow, probably since high school.

My seven years of pathological impermanence went as follows: Four years of college - different dorm or apartment each year. The year after college, for various reasons that don't need elaborating at this point, I did not have my shit together in the least. Found a job I didn't have much passion for (followed by a job that can only be described as hell on Earth) and an apartment in my hometown. Became pretty miserable after a year, mostly because of hell-job and the fact that none of my friends lived in said hometown. Found a wonderful job in the Twin Cities, took it, moved back. Unfortunately, it was an AmeriCorps job, and those are by definition, to be held for a maximum of two one-year stints. They're also, by definition, below-poverty-level-paying. After that year, I entered the Masters in Education program at the University of Minnesota. Another new house, another occupation (student again).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm ecstatic that I'm staying where I am. Aside from what I need to survive for the summer, I DON'T HAVE TO MOVE MY CRAP! I don't have to get used to a new job next year. I don't have to deal with the stress of change. Woo-freakin-hoo!

Yeah, we'll be getting a lot of new teachers next year. Happens every couple years out here in the bush... there's a big teacher turnover. As a result, next year might be stressful. However, I'm going to already know 90% of the students I'll be working with. The vast majority of the new kindergarteners have at least one brother or sister that I already know, if not teach. One year being the same as the last (in some ways) is not necessarily a bad thing.

Yes, definitely less stress this way.

Friday, May 20, 2005

For the record

Mom and Dad!
Originally uploaded by smacca.
I have two very awesome parents. Awesome in the way that normal, regular people can be amazing parents. Anyway, they did a great job raising us and never wavered in their support. I owe them more than is humanly possible to repay (and I'm not just talking about money).

Side note: Aren't they cute?

And did I just refer to someone in my family as "normal" and "regular?" Wow.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


As I may or may not have remembered or felt like posting, I met secret weight goal #1 about a month ago. Since then I have neither lost nor gained any weight... which I guess is neither good nor bad news.

I'd love to work out, I really would. As little talent as I have for it, I came to enjoy running quite a bit a few years back. And I could totally run here. Unlike other villages in the Y-K Delta, we've got a pretty extensive system of roads. Most other communities just have boardwalks. It's a trade-off, though, because those other (smaller) communities, for the most part, have flush toilets in their homes, an unimaginable luxury for all but a few lucky souls here.

But this just isn't a running kind of place. Well, that's not entirely true. I coached cross country last fall (Wow, remember that? My first or second blog entry? So long ago...), and the kids on the team loved running. They even wanted to continue holding practices after all the meets were over and done with. So people here like to run. However, when I suggested that they run on their own or in small groups, they looked at me like I was crazy. "So embarrassing," they said.

I've gone out jogging a few times, but it's such an oddity that it generally attracts so many kids that I'm forced to either be rude and ignore them (which I don't want to do because they're good kids, for the most part), or stop and talk. That someone would just go out for a run for the hell of it is something that I have to take the time to explain. Add that to my generally lazy personality and you've got a recipe for tub-o-lard.

Soon I'll be back in the Lower 48, where running doesn't attract a small throng of pint-sized curiosity seekers. Then I'll have to either get my act together or find a new excuse.

Hopefully I'll get my act together. I DID register for a sprint tri in July, and given my lack of natural athletic ability, I should probably put in at least a few miles beforehand.


Just taught my last class of the year. Actually, not "taught" as much as "damage-controlled." The kids are pretty wound up.

*Dances around the empty classroom*

*Shakes her groove thang*

*Remembers all the filing she has to do tomorrow and weeps for a brief moment*

*Resumes groove thang shaking*

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This Does Not Bode Well

In honor of the new Star Wars movie opening tonight (which Roomie will get to see, since she has to go to Anchorage for a meeting; I have to wait until I get back Downstates), I thought I'd take one of those silly online quizzes to see who I am. Turns out...

Take the quiz: "What Star Wars Character Are You?"

Anakin Skywalker
Watch out for your temper...it could get you into trouble the way it did Anakin. You have enormous potential to be a great Jedi, but stress has made the dark side seem that much more inviting...

Great. Destined for the Dark Side, it would seem. Oh well, at least I get to die an honorable death saving my son and the future of the universe.

I'm cautiously hopeful when it comes to this last Star Wars movie. The first two prequels sucked donkey wang, but hey, maybe they'll strike cinematic gold this time. I've heard good things, I guess. Kevin Smith (of Clerks fame) said good things, and I like his movies, so maybe, just maybe...



Monday, May 16, 2005

Somewhere Inside

Deep inside the heart of every instructor, even the most honey-voiced sweetheart of a pushover teacher, likes the Evil Psycho Bitch Teacher. Most of us are disciplined enough that our students rarely, if ever, have to meet Evil Psycho Bitch Teacher. We can be Evil Teacher, we can be Psycho Teacher, or even Bitch Teacher, but we keep Evil Psycho Bitch Teacher hidden deep within the caverns of our souls. I occasionally catch a glimpse of the Evil Psycho Bitches (and men can be bitches, too, just as frequently as women) I could be, and that glimpse is generally frightening enough to whip me back into shape.

Today, the Evil Psycho Bitch Teacher catalyst was... wait for it... KIDDIE PROM.

So all students who weren't old enough to go to prom (5th grade and under... although we have some pretty darn old 5th graders) get to dance and eat cookies and drink Kool-Aid in the gym for an hour. So you have cute little innocent (heh heh heh) kindergarteners and 13 (!) year-old 5th graders and everything in between, all sharing a space. The kindergarteners want to jump and dance and hit balloons around. The 13 year-olds are generally *ahem* behaviorally and academically challenged, and want to (a) sneak out the back door, (b) whine that I'm not playing rap music, or (c) push the little kids around.

Somehow I ended up dealing with the worst. Then the sound system went all wonky. Then kids were climbing on the stage. I'm not sure why, but today it was just too much for me.

Evil Psycho Bitch Teacher made a brief, if spectacular, appearance. Luckily, I was able to contain her under a merely stressed-out veneer until I was alone in the closet of a room containing the stereo equipment. Well, almost contain it. One student who I caught trying to sneak out the back door probably didn't deserve as harsh a reprimand as I gave her, but then again, she WAS trying to sneak out of school, so I don't feel too bad.

Anyway, it's over. Next year, if I have my way, there will be no Kiddie Prom. If they want to have some kind of party, fine, but I'm not in charge. Kindergarteners and 13 year-olds do NOT enjoy the same things. Throwing them in a gym and putting on music is just silly. Who's dumbass idea WAS this?

*takes deep, cleansing breaths*

*turns off Evil Psycho Bitch mode*

Friday, May 13, 2005

Prom, Middle-of-Nowhere Style

Combine your senior prom with your 6th grade middle school dance, and you've got our prom. All students, 6th grade and up, are able to attend. 18 year-old girls in prom dresses they mail ordered and pre-pubescent 6th grade boys, all mingling against a backdrop of the usual bad dance music and an incessant strobe light that is going to drive me to seizure.

Wow, what a fun night.

A beer would really make the night go a lot better. I just keep repeating "10 days to beer, 10 days to beer, 10 days to beer..."

Oh, great. They're playing "Stacy's Mom has got it Going On." Please may I pickaxe out my eardrums? I bet I'd be good at sign language.


Our school held its graduation this afternoon for our two high school graduates as well as our kindergarteners. Kindergarteners in caps and gowns are hella-cute.

Sadly, it doesn't look like we'll have a graduation next year. None of our juniors will likely be ready.


Our junior high looks promising, though... so in a few years, it might be a different story.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

By the Numbers

In 12 days, I will be taking up residence for the summer in a house with TWO flush toilets. The sheer luxuriousness of it boggles the mind. Not just one, but two. Wild.

In 12 days, I will also turn 26.

In 12 days, I will also be allowed to drink beer and other alcoholic beverages again. Actually, in 11 days, because I will get to Anchorage on the 23rd and Alcohol is sure as hell legal there. There's a booth calling me at the Anchorage Airport Chili's Too. For a crappy chain restaurant in an airport, they have a decent beer selection.

In 11 days, I will bid the village goodbye for the summer. But I'll be back. I'm that craz... uh... dedicated. Like I said to my mentor yesterday, "I need this year to be over so next year can start." So goes the cycle of the teacher.

In 8 days I will be done with work obligations for the summer.

In 7 days, the students will be done for the summer. Well, they'll be physically done. Mentally, they've been done for a week already.

In 1 day, our seniors will graduate. A class of two. So it goes up here... They probably started out with 20 or so back in kindergarten...

4 hours until today is over with and I can enjoy the 61 degree weather.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


The state of Alaska has a wonderful (and that's saying a lot when you're talking about state programs) new teacher mentoring program. Basically, they pay veteran or retired teachers to be "mentors" to a whole bunch of first- and second-year teachers. In a lot of other places, you're assigned a teacher mentor who's also currently teaching. This means that it's up to both the new and veteran teacher to (a) give a rat's ass about a mentoring program, and (b) have and set aside the time to meet. In hiring people to STRICTLY mentor, Alaska's facing up to the reality of teaching: if it doesn't affect tomorrow's lesson, it can wait until there is no tomorrow's lesson to worry about.

My mentor is mentor to myself, three other young teachers in my school, plus a bunch of other teachers in other villages. She has taught in rural Alaska for years, and knows her shit. She's not a boss, she's not a student teaching supervisor. She knows that some lessons, on some days, are just not going to be awesome because you just can't take the time to analyze all lessons from every angle. The first day the mercury rises above 60 in the village, you're NOT going to get much done after lunch, unless you (a) are both a sadist and a masochist, loving both to torture and be tortured, or (b) do what a bunch of classroom teachers did today and decided that a science lesson on local birds or plants involving a walk to the river was on the schedule. Sometimes good enough really is good enough. Strive for the best, of course. Just don't get too down on yourself when you acknowledge that a nature walk is going to be much more productive than a classroom lesson on plant parts. At least you acknowledged it.

Anyway, yeah, mentors. Ours, awesome. From what I've heard from teachers with different mentors, theirs are also awesome. They basically gives us what we need. When I was in the middle of my hellish month of language testing, she made photocopies and fetched students. She's sorted books for people. She's taught lessons so we could observe other teachers. So much of my learning this year has come, directly or indirectly, from her.

See? Government programs CAN be productive!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I Really Hate to Brag

... But I only have eight more days of school left. Well, only a half a day left today. And Friday is a half day. Plus next week is a total wash, academically.

I feel a little bad that I'm so excited about the end of school. I love my job. My students are, for the most part, awesome. But damn if I'm not at least as hyper and spacey as my students are.

One of the second graders shot his first goose last week. The "first catch" is a big thing in traditional Yup'ik culture, and it's still celebrated to a certain extent. He certainly had cause to be excited. Students come in every day not wanting to talk about nouns and verbs and vowels and consonants. They want to talk about ducks and geese and cranes and swans and muskrats whatever else they shot the night before. As far as I can tell, the whole of summer is a "getting ready" season, where you hunt, fish, and gather plants. Even now, with our store and its neatly packaged Tyson chicken breasts, people manage to do an extraordinary amount of self-feeding. My students may be poor, but during hunting season, I'd wager they eat better than kids anywhere else.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

What is Your Favorite Tetris Block Shape?

I'm a big fan of the long, skinny one... but I also have a certain affinity for the L and backwards-L.

I have decided that Tetris is the pinnacle of human technology. Think about it. It serves no purpose. It is 100% useless, but posesses a simple genius that keeps us (and by us, I mean me) entertained for long periods of time. It's been around for how many years, and it hasn't lost its entertainment value.

That I can waste hours dropping blocks on a little screen is kinda sad. That I flinch non-voluntarily when I drop a piece and it's not where I thought it would be is even more so.

Its genius lies in its simplicity. There's no "secret" to it. With so many video games, once you beat it, the challenge is over. You've beaten it, you know its secrets, the romance goes out of the relationship, so to speak. There's no "beating" Tetris, I don't think. You play until you lose. Then you play again, and maybe do a little better. You can always do a little better. Like playng Scrabble, you can learn little mental tricks and hone your technique, but your first game is just as challenging as your last.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Some Days

Some days you're the dog, some days you're the fire hydrant.

Bow Before my Old-Maidiness

I found out last night that my last remaining unmarried (close, female) friend from high school is getting hitched on Monday. None of us had heard from her in a while, so it came as a bit of a suock. However that means that I am officially the last single woman from that group (who I really don't see that often, but still...).

I outlasted 'em all! I am the old maid! What do I win? I'm hoping for the trip to Tahiti or a new car.

You know, a hundred years ago, I really would be an old maid. Nowdays I'm just another normal 25 year-old. Is it our lengthened lifespans that are pushing the marraige age back? The fact that women are more educated, more independent, and less likely to need to get married? The fact that we just don't find lifetime monogamy interesting? Is this a positive or negative trend. I tend to think it's positive, but then again, I'm not married and have never felt a desire to be married to any specific person. I do know a few women who just want to "settle down and get married," but most of the people I know are not looking to just get married. They want to marry the right person, not just marry.

I really think we're "settling" less. Getting married isn't a goal, it's (hopefully) a usually-pleasant result of a good relationship. I really think that this attitude, especially as it relates to the females of the species, is a result of our increased social and financial independence. Single women are able to take care of themselves better and in greater numbers than ever before. We have the luxury of waiting until we WANT to be married... be that at age 20 or age 40. We are not socially ostracized or pitied, at least not by most. Yeah, there's still that "single woman home alone with her cats" myth, but most people recognize it for what it is... a mostly-false myth.

Most of my married friends are happy. So are most of my unmarried friends. My married friends who are happy in their marriage were happy before they got married, and my unhappy married friends were unhappy before they got married. In these modern times, we have more choices than ever... and that makes the results 100% our responsibility. Having not been (and keep in mind I'm talking about the U.S. here; this is by no means global) forced, goaded, or out-of-options-ed into marraige, we succeed and/or fail on our own. If a marriage totally sucks, the couple can CHOOSE to stick it out or they can CHOOSE to end it. We're not forced (at least not to as great an extent as in previous generations) to stick it out for social and financial reasons. Is our divorce rate higher than it was before we had these choices? HELL YES. But I'd bet that there are more happy people (single, divorced, and married) than there were before those choices were available, too.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

No Title Needed

11 days of school, including today!

I just felt you needed to know that.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I'm trying my best to make social connections outside of the other "young lady teachers" in teacher housing... because all of them will be gone next year. Our school is experiencing the turnover that is cyclically a reality in these parts. We're losing the vast majority of our elementary teachers (although two are just taking a year off to work on their masters) and one high school teacher. Next year should be... interesting.

Anyway, I don't want to return next year and have to start all over, so I'm trying to branch out and make at least casual social relationships with other people. Last night, one of the teacher aides and I walked to the beach. Walking has become the cool thing for staff to do, since this nurse came from Bethel to do a diabetes presentation and gave us the opportunity to get free pedometers and participate in a "Walk the Iditarod" (metaphorically, of course) program. It was good to not only hang out with someone new, but with someone who has lived in the village all her life. We have a surprising amount in common, all things considered.

I can't say I'm looking forward to a whole new batch of teachers coming in next year, but even if it completely sucks, at least I'll get to meet and get to know new people, which is always fun.

Not Shocking

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

15% Yankee

0% Dixie

0% Midwestern