The following are the options on an Arizona fingerprint clearance card I have to fill out for my K-8 teaching license program:
Red or Auburn
I mean, I know they're going for total accuracy, but what if my hair is best classified as "aquamarine?" Or "chartreuse?" What about "baby-poop green?" The ever-popular multicolor look... "burnt sienna with rose highlights?"
How boring did I feel, checking the "brown" box.
*Looks around for some Kool-Aid with which to dye hair to make fingerprint application process more exciting*
Sunset pictures as promised/threatened yesterday. Not the greatest composition, but cut me some slack. I'm an amateur at best... and sunset pics are HARD!
Taken at the old airport, standing in the middle of what used to be the runway (this, I realize, means nothing to those of you who have never been to Quinhagak).
Also at the old airport, post-sunset. The flatness of the tundra makes for some fun sunsets. The sun here rises over the mountains... one of these days I'll grab a few shots of that. Perhaps this weekend... I'll ride out towards the NEW airport early in the morning and play photographer wanna-be.
Since 8am yesterday, when my thermometer read a balmy, sweaty, scorching zero, our little part of Southwest Alaska has, to a collective sigh of relief from its residents, begun to thaw. 40 degrees, still, at 7pm. Aah.
Maybe it's just a mental trick, but the sky LOOKS warmer. Clear, cloudless blue, just like it was on the coldest day of winter... but different. Bluer. Less icy. Not sending shivers down my spine at the sight of it. But, like I said, it's probably just a mental trick. I'm sure if you showed me a picture of one and a picture of the other, I couldn't tell the difference.
It doesn't smell like spring... or at least not like spring back home. Spring here smells different, I guess. But the air is charged just the same. Everyone's ready for the weather to change. Kids were "monkeybarring" with no coats on. People have already brought back ptarmigan for plucking and eating.
I'm sure we'll get another cold snap or two before spring springs for real. But for now, I'm going to head outside, enjoy the fact that the sun is still shining happily at 7pm.
This past weekend, I traveled north and west to the village of Nunapitchuk, AK to visit some friends (Former Roomie being one of them). Wacky good fun.
Upon my arrival, the wacky good fun ensued. Well, OK, actually, it didn't, at least not right away. I went to my friends' school and hung out while they completed their report cards and prepared for parent-teacher conferences. Pretty much what I would have been doing at home, although not really.
(I'm leaving out part of the story here to be re-told at a future date)
After the work day ended (two hours, of course, after the official "work day" ended, because... well... we're just like that), the wacky good fun continued at a birthday feast for a young child.
And was that enough wacky good fun for one day? No, no it wasn't. Not by a long shot. For next, we hopped on a snowmachine and rode to Kasigluk-Akula to watch a wee bit of the Native Youth Olympics (NYO) competition being held there.
Returned home to friends' house, slept like the dead.
Awoke and entertained myself at Friends' house for a while. Went and loitered at the school while Friends parent-teacher-conferenced. Ate bacon cheeseburger. Wacky good fun, indeed.
(part of story again edited out to be told later)
Friend from Kasigluk-Akiuk arrived. Sledding outing ensued. On a given run down sled hill, bumped heads with a child. Aforementioned child hopped up, said "Ow," and ran back up the hill. I, on the other hand, was left with a jaw that didn't want to open or close all the way. For the rest of the evening, yawning and chewing were quite painful. Wondered if perhaps I ought to go to the doctor. Wacky good fun was slightly tempered by vague possibility of having jaw wired shut.
Made pizza. Actually, munched on toppings while others made pizza. Ate pizza. Again, wacky good fun, but made slightly less wacky, good, and fun by jaw pain.
Went to sleep.
Awoke. Jaw pain still present, but much less pronounced. Now felt like teeth were able to fit together all the way rather than being a little "off" due to jaw oddities, decided not to go to doctor.
Got ride to Bethel on snowmachine driven by Former Roomie. Wacky good fun, once again, although the trail was a bit rough from all the blowing... A smooth trail would have made it wackier, gooder, and funner. Got to drive for a while, but my perpetual lack of circulation to my extremeties (read: very cold hands and feet all the damn time) commanded that I relinquish driving duties after a few miles.
Waited at the airport for 3 1/2 hours... but it wasn't weather-related for once. Decidedly neither wacky, good, nor fun, but there WAS a cute baby to look at.
So... apparently I'm my school's union representative.
I have no clue how this happened.
Well, OK, I have a clue.
See, of a teaching staff of 15, only two of us are union members. In most districts, union membership is required... and that's exactly why I opted for union membership. I'm one to bitch a lot if forced to do something, but I'm generally pretty good at volunteering for stuff. Other Union Teacher (OUT because intials are fun) is a veteran staff with a lot on his plate; I am a second-year teacher only one inch further from drowning than I was last year.
So there are two of us. Most sites have a lot higher membership, but we don't. Every site is supposed to have a "site rep," but we don't. OUT was somehow "picked" as our site rep, even though he neither volunteered nor fell victim to nomination. He started getting e-mails and such. He e-mailed them back, telling them in no fond terms that he was NOT our site rep.
So... they started sending me the e-mails.
I haven't had the guts or the need to correct them. I can be more than a little anti-confrontational.
I just hope they don't ask me to, you know, do anything.
That was it. Two words made up one end of an entire conversation. A student wanted a parent to come pick her up at school. I had to guess at what the other end of the conversation sounded like:
It’s not Shakespeare. It’s Village English. It’s beautiful. It’s quirky and clipped and utilitarian. Allow me a hypothetical “standard” English (Wisconsin) version of the same conversation with my maternal parental unit:
“Hi, Mom, it’s Sara.”
“Um, could you come pick me up from school? It’s freezing out and I don’t want to have to walk.”
“Sure, no problem. Be waiting outside the front doors like usual.”
“No problem. See you in a bit.”
If you think about it, there’s so much unnecessary information in that conversation. Of course my mother knew it was me… or at least that it was one of her daughters, since we all sound the same. And, duh, I’m at school. If I’m not at school, I’m in trouble, and why would I be calling her to pick me up from wherever I went when I skipped school? And, duh, it’s cold and that’s why I don’t want to walk. And if she always picks me up in the same place, then why clarify? So, really, the “nonstandard” dialect in this case is much more user-friendly. Not that it'll change the way I talk.
Shaun is gone (Hey! Rhyme!). I put him on a plane this morning. Actually, I put him in a van to go to the plane. Actually, he put himself in the van, I just smooched him good-bye (sorry, Mom and Dad, I really did smooch him).
He left a ring on my finger.
Which is very, very cool.
He took some fun pics on his camera; maybe he'll be nice and share. 1 3/4 years and I've already forgotten what's photographable for someone who's never been here.
Wow only 1/4 of a school year left. WACKY. My second year has flown by. I can hardly believe it's almost April.
Of course, the below-zero temperatures make it HARD to believe it's almost April.
One problem: I didn't drink last night. I haven't consumed an alcoholic beverage since New Years Eve, as a matter of fact.
If I'm gonna have a headache in the morning, I should have a fun evening to blame it on. But nooooooooo, I'm a good little teacher-in-a-dry-village... I don't touch alcohol while I'm here. Know what I did last night? Dishes.
I have a dish-washing hangover. That is just wrong.
According to my FireFox weather thingymabob, it's 16 degrees. It's measuring temperatures 50 miles away and inland.
According to the National Weather Service, it's NULL. They don't measure current conditions here.
According to my thermometer, it's 55 degrees. It's measuring conditions on the sunny side of a metal wall.
Accurding to me, it's all a bunch of bull so I'm going to stop caring what little machines say.
I'd estimate the actual temperature to be around 35 degrees. It's sure not 55, and it's sure not 16, and it's sure not NULL. My neighbor with the really cool thermometer weather station is out of town, otherwise I'd ask him.
Three hours, umpteen tries, and one e-mail to Blogger support later, I can post a picture.
It's not even that great of a picture, really. I mean, the snowfort is cool by kid standards, but worth all that hassle to document for posterity? Hellz no.
And, to be perfectly honestly, Blogger support didn't even get a chance to help. It just sort of magically fixed itself, like in junior high when I would ask a parent for homework help, only to figure it out on my own the SECOND they arrived at my side.
Oh, well. There you have it. A picture. A picture of a snowfort, a shed, the end of a house behind the shed, two dogs, and another house in the background. The dogs were being cuter just before I shot this pic. Ah, hell, who am I kidding? They pretty scruffy dogs.
You know what? There's supposed to be a photo, right HERE, of a snow fort made by my junior high-aged neighbor. But Blogger.com is a fantastic piece of crap and denied my picture-uploading efforts. So... imagine a snow fort. It's cool, and stuff.
I apologize for the pitiful lack of photographic love around these parts as of late. My camera has been on loan to one of our high school teachers for use in his journalism class. I could reclaim it every day, then return it the next morning, but it's just far less effort to leave it where it is.
Besides, the journalism class's newspaper entertains me. And while pictures may entertain YOU, dear reader, I am a selfish person. Where else can I find out what the giant pole over by the fish plant is for (measuring wind to see if it'd be adequate for a windmill or two or three),
Yes, homies. I just said homies. I am white and I live in Alaska, and I said homies.
Anyway, bush teachers love bulk ordering. If we can buy it by the case, chances are we will. You wouldn't believe all the stuff you can buy by the case. Canned goods, feminine products, you name it. If it's non-perishable, chances are you can buy it in bulk.
So, bush teachers and other people who like whole foods but live far from the nearest co-op or grocery store with those cool bins that you can scoop food out of into bags, if you're looking for grains, nuts, etc, check out: bulkfoods.com. I got quinoa, popcorn, wasabi peas (I had to restrain myself from eating them while putting them away over my lunch hour), nutritional yeast (great for making stuff taste cheese-y without the added gastro-intestinal distress), and whole red peppers that I will string for a functional AND decorative addition to my kitchen. I started out with the small size (1 lb is the smallest size for most of their stuff) for almost everything, but will probably order "bigger" next time, now that I've gotten a feel for sizing. Shipping was pricey (but when is it not?), but I'll be able to eat a lot healthier and much cheaper now!
Those of you who know me also know that I spend WAY to much money on Amazon.com and Powells.com.
I'm a fast reader, what can I say?
So rather than spending a bunch of money on stuff I'll only read once, I've enrolled in this. It's like a local library for people in Alaska without local libraries. Basically, you fill out a "general preferences" form, and they send you books and movies they think you'll be interested in. You can also request specific books.
Should save me money on books, in any case. I don't need to be buying books new just to find out I don't like a specific author.
What I had for dinner tonight (and yeah, no protein, I know... meat involves effort and I was thrashed after a long day... although I caught some trout a while ago and they're just meditating, trout-like, in my freezer):
Salad: Baby spinach, tomato, avocado, freshly grated parmesan cheese, homemade vinagrette that came out a lot better than I expected
Sugar-Free "Dessert": Yogurt with... wait for it... cranberries. Can't help it. They're all I have left from this fall's berry-picking extravaganza, and walking/4-wheeling it to the store to buy FROZEN fruit when it was -10 degrees just seemed kind of... well... not what I needed to be doing. Better than I expected once I mooshed up the cranberries to spread out the tartness and turn it an unholy shade of pink.
Glass of soymilk.
Oh, who am I kidding, another glass of soymilk. Stuff's addicitive.
Maybe a little more yogurt.
Some cottage cheese.
A little more salad, sans avocado and tomato, since I had already washed the knife and put the veggies away.
OK, some more soy milk. If you insist.
All told, dinner lasted like three hours of casual picking. Can you tell I did a massive grocery spree last weekend in Bethel? I did a lot of walking today... I think it kick-started my appetite.
My Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire DVD found its way to my PO box today. Now, I'm a Harry Potter fan, but I apparently have NOTHING on my students, most of whom haven't read any of the books.
Upon my return from the post office, I am spotted by a second grader.
Student #1: "Sara. It's March 7th. Did you get Harry Potter in the Goblin on Fire?"
Me: "Ummmmmmm... Yeah, Harry Potter came."
I deliver mail to teachers and we discuss Harry Potter in an adult, teacher-y way.
On my 3/4 mile walk home, I run a veritable gauntlet of young movie watcher wannabes who have scrambled down from snowpiles to get the scoop on this most important event. Apparently I have the only copy in town at the moment.
Student #2:"Hey, Sara. Did Harry Potter come?"
Me: *sigh* "Yes, it did."
Student #2: "Can I come over and watch it tonight?"
Me: "That would be a big fatty NO."
Student #2: "Why not?"
Me: *tries to think of a diplomatic, kid-friendly way of saying "because having a herd of third grade boys over at my house is NOT how I envision spending my non-teaching time, and you are, quite frankly, not the first person I'd choose to have near breakables"*
I walk on for a few minutes and come across a group of three boys (two fourth graders and a very small kindergartener).
Student #3: "Sara, did Harry Potter come?"
Me: *cringing* "Yes."
Student #4: "Can I borrow it?"
Me: "Tonight? I just got it."
Student #3: "Well, you can watch it with us." (right, yeah, that was TOTALLY my plan for the evening)
Kindergartener: "Harry Potter gots a MAGIC STICK!"
I returned home, to find two students had left messages asking about the movie. Another called while I was on the can (not taking my roommate's "Um, she's in the bathroom" as a reason to not ask "Can I talk to her?") wanting to come watch it with me.
It's the movie. I'm sure as hell not this popular on my own.
BUT... for the first time since coming to Alaska and starting my teachign career a year and a half (or... holy crap, where is this year going... a year and three quarters ago) ago, I was able to keep the illness from knocking me flat on my arse. They say that your fist two years of teaching are the worst while every illness the little snotty-nosed darlings bring in makes its way past your immune system, but I had my doubts as to the veracity of the claims that stated "It totally gets better after your first two years." Thus all those claims about the phenomenal immune systems of elementary school teachers.
Here's hoping... Being at some stage of illness ("coming down with something," "walking dead," "totally feeling better but still feeling a little stuffy/tired/hacking cough in my chest") 50% of the time got old really, really fast. This time around, I was stuffy and a little tired for a few days, then I (and here's the miraculous part) RECOVERED. Completely. Quickly. Without lingering symptoms.
Watch, someday I'll move someplace where the germs are totally different than Quinhagak germs and I'll be forced to go through the process all over again...
I know what you're thinking... Smacca, aren't you a godless heathen? Nope. I must be Catholic... I give things up for Lent! Besides, some of us have wedding dresses to fit into... I figure this will put me one step farther away from looking like a big white lacy heifer on the big day.
For some unknown reason, I started waxing nostalgic this evening. I started thinking about the strangest stuff. Good stuff, from childhood. I pulled a few lessons from these memories:
1. All parents should play a game called Giggles with their children. There are very few rules in the game of Giggles. It's a cross between tickling and professional wrestling. It goes as follows: Parent tickles child. Child tries to get away. Parent does not let child get away. Child shrieks as he/she is pulled back. I said there are FEW rules, but there are TWO rules: 1. No giggles near breakables, and 2. No giggles right after dinner; vomit is bad for the carpet.
2. It's not cruelty if your little sister asks, nay, BEGS to be dragged up the stairs in the bottom of a sleeping bag.
3. Water, Liquid Dial, toothpaste and shampoo mixed into an old film container does NOT make a "super cleaner" than can be used to wash hands, brush teeth, and wash hair. I know, I know, it seems like a good idea. But no need to try this for yourself; I did the research as a seven year-old... although I never got around to trying it on my hair. As a toothpaste, it fails on taste alone.
4. If you're going to go skinny dipping, DON'T let anyone take a picture of your bare self in an inflatable boat.
5. Sometimes it's better to do your own thing. While you may THINK that dressing up alike makes you cool, when that means wearing athletic shorts, tank tops, Rainbow Brite caps, and suede ankle boots, you're better off asserting your individuality.
6. Nothing beats an inflatable pool on a hot summer's day. Unless someone throws your aunt in and busts the sides. Then your sister cries because her pool is broken and the day kind of sucks.
7. If you eat your sister's birthday cookie while she is in the hospital with a concussion, she will keep bringing it up well into adulthood. So just resist the urge to mow down and save yourself years of whining.
8. If a boy sits next to you on the kindergarten bus and asks if you want to play with his He-Man dolls... er... action figures, RUN AWAY, because he's about to kiss you.
9. Ice cream is best if you stir it.
10. Used wrapping paper tubes make good light sabers. First, you go down into the basement and smack each other around with them. Then you sit in aforementioned basement and try to move stuff with your mind. It'll keep you busy and out of your parents' hair for a while.
I am now officially done teaching for what could be a month.
My students will get no English Language Development class and I will be a cranky teacher (although calling me a teacher, "one who teaches," when I don't actually get to teach anything is a bit of a misnomer, I suppose).
Why? HAPPY FUN TESTING EXTRAVAGANZA OF THE LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY VARIETY!