Thursday, December 29, 2005

The losing battle for my dignity.

This long and arduous journey back to Cincinnati is almost over.
I have maintained a poor disposition for most of the many flights.

On my last leg I was involved in a passive-aggressive fight.
It was the battle of ages.

I specifically wanted, picked and paid for a window seat for that 6-hour flight.
But, much like the three bears, by the time I boarded someone was sitting in my chair.

Damn Goldilocks.

In this position you have two choices.
One: explain the situation and force the switching of seats (upsetting the napping center seat in the process not to mention the line of tired people waiting to move past me)
Two: glare. And then take the aisle.

I chose option two.
I glared.
But, I glared with force.
I glared with all my might. I focused all my travel frustrations into a glare that could go down in history.

Goldilocks responded by narrowing her eyes, slyly and silently admitting that she knowingly perpetrated this heinous crime.
Then she smiled.
Daring me to do something about it.

Anger bubbled.
My blood boiled.
And, like a wounded puppy, I tucked my tail between my legs and backed down. Taking the seat I had objected to I began to plot my revenge.

I plotted and planned.
Thinking of medical-ish terms to describe the debilitating condition that required me to look out windows.
I worked with my pen, attempting to make it explode in an arc that would clear the sleeping center and hit her square in her too heavily made-up face.

I even worked up a daring scenario involving oxygen masks, tray tables, and those little glass liquor bottles. This one had a lot of potential, but depended too heavily on peanut allergies.
In the end I ended up abandoning my plots in favor of viciously passing her drink and making sardonic comments about manners to my snoozing neighbor.

It all left me with a bad taste. I feel ashamed to have been intimidated and overrun by a ninety-year old woman.

A few flights later:

Bad News: there is a small child sitting behind me on my third flight in a day and a half.
Good News: the small child sitting behind me is peacefully off in la-la land.
Bad News: The mother has already informed me, in a sincerely apologetic tone, that when the little angel wake up she will begin to pound the back of my seat with her tiny shiny Mary-janes.

With every turbulent bump I wait for that surprise kick in the kidneys.

I am now staring out the window. Cincinnati is in my sights.
The pilot wants my to turn off my electronic equipment.
Landing shortly.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Getting back to the Natti

Getting to Bethel is always an interesting process. There are so many transportation options.
Planes and snow-goes I have weathered.

This time I choose to travel by a different mean.
A taxi.
More specifically, a River Taxi.

The rivers and lakes on the tundra are, for the most part, frozen.
And these solid waterways become the perfect highways.

Unfortunately, they don’t plow these roads.

The ride was beautiful.
Cruising down the rivers, in the comfort of a heated car, I watched the sun set over the tundra.
Colors filled the sky and were reflected in the glossy prisms of snow and ice.

However, 2 hours of rough ice and busting through snow-drifts makes your bum a little sore.
And, about 10 minutes into the drive, I realized that I had to pee.

Now, In Bethel again, I wait for my flight tomorrow that will take me away from the bush and into a populated place full of family of friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Almost there...

The first semester of my first teaching job will end in 34 minutes.

Golf claps please.

I can look forward and grimace at the massive changes and over-hauls that my classroom will soon be going through.
I can also look back and smile at the successes and failures that were the past few months.

Staring at the screen, I realize that my mind is numb. The upcoming several week break is turning my brain to mush.

The first semester of my first teaching job will end in 14 minutes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Steamy Shower Scenes

Every good story should have a shower scene.
Picture this.

Me, this morning, in the shower.
Massaging shampoo into my hair.
Water cascading down my back.
Getting exciting, huh?

I look down. Water is beginning to cover my feet.
The shower is not properly draining.
Check that, the water is not draining at all.

Drawing back the curtain and peeking around I see the gradually growing puddle of water expanding through my bathroom.

The inch and a half lip of my shower stall had been compromised. Now the water, desperately needed to wash the soapy suds from my hair, is spilling forth onto the floor.


The next few minuets of my broken morning ritual are spent bailing out the base of my shower stall, while wrapped only in a towel with soapy goodness still clinging to my head.

I come to find out that everything in my home is an add-on.
(It all used to be a glorified closet. Then they put in the bathroom and “kitchen”.)
There are occasional problems here and there with freezing pipes and the like.
This is one of those occasions.

Ain’t life grand?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A week and a half

We have a wonderful week and a half until the semester is over.
A week and a half to pack in all the learn’in possible.
A week and a half to test these kids to the max and prove that I am not a substandard teacher.

It’s just not enough time.

We work on the phase system.
With this model we teach district wide material and subject matter. The kids must master these indicators before they can move onto the next level. Each phase should take a specific amount of time to complete, but since it is based on mastery, the time frame is different for every child.

There is no social promotion through the grade levels.
There is no illiterate student just being pushed through.
There are several different phases in each classroom.

This system of merit-based promotion is great for the students.
They are actually forced to learn or be left behind.
They can take their progress into their own hands.

The teachers, however, have a much more difficult job.
We have to plan for many phase levels.
Multiple ability levels.
Multiple assignments.
Think several grades in one classroom.

And so I saunter on, juggling small and large group instruction.
Hoping against hope that I am correctly assessing and moving students.
Hoping that I am the teacher my college transcripts say I am.

Just a week and a half…

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Drivers Wanted

Today, the itch of isolation came knocking at my door.
Yes, I know, mixed metaphors.

The world around me, stretching far and wide, seemed completely inaccessible to me due to my lack of wheels.
And the fact that I have no clue how to drive a snow-go.

So, I approached a fellow teacher and requested a lesson.
The lesson went like this.

Teacher: Here is the key to the school’s snow-go.

Me: Ok.

Teacher: You have to make sure the emergency button is in, flip the clutch, push the primer once or twice, and pull the starter cord.

Me: Ok…

Teacher: Need anything else?

Me: Ummm…

He walks back inside the building. I am left standing next to a large piece of machinery.

Here goes nothing.
Trial by fire.

The river was rough, there were deep grooves everywhere and the icy wind stung my face.
Several times I thought sure the snow-go was going over.

It was awesome.
I am now an experienced driver of the snow-going kind.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Other side of the World

I woke up to the sounds of panic on my radio this morning.

Fox News (thank you satellite radio) is on my alarm every morning.
It keeps me current, and conservative…

This morning all Hell was breaking loose.
Across the entire country the weather was going from bad to worse.
Temperatures were dropping, snow was falling, and traffic every where was screeching to a halt.

It was odd how the reporter kept using the terms “everywhere” and “the entire country.”

This morning I stepped in a puddle on the way out the door, while wearing a sweatshirt and jeans.
It’s a fairly warm day today.
The snow is melting.
You don’t need much more than a light jacket.

I just wanted to say:
Nah nah nah nah nah nah!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Normal Rockwell be damned.
The bed and breakfast that we stayed in almost made me think that I am not in the middle of the Alaskan bush


It's 19 below zero.
Pretty shiny trees.

We are the future of America


Once again in the big city of Bethel.
This time for a happy and non-school related occasion.

Smacca is engaged.

That’s right, we are losing one of our single-female number to the ball and chain commitment of marriage.

Luckily, the man is decent enough to be allowed.
He risked life and limb, or at least the potential for humiliation, by joining the bush teachers in Anchorage over Thanksgiving break.

He was, with little resistance, accepted into the fold.

Yet still, such an occasion must be marked by the consumption of alcohol and the giving of phallus resembling toys.

I must say that we rose to the challenge.

In the city of Bethel there is no easy access to porn. Nor are there bars. Nor are there liquor stores.

There are, however, squirt toys.
And friends with stock piles of yum.
And there are poster boards and markers.

Teachers for the bush can make a little become a lot.

Now we sit in the living room of a bed and breakfast.
Playing poker with several thousand dollars in play money.
Singing along to the soundtrack of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.


The quotable quote of the evening:

“You called me a prostitute and no one blinks an eye.”
“I say you make a squid limp and it’s a felony.”

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mom! I want one of those!

I am usually not one to post links to other sites or things that are not related my egocentric life in the Alaskan bush.
This article caught my attention and since it is Alaska related...

Albert Swank Jr., a 55-year-old civil engineer in Anchorage, Alaska, is a man with a mission. He wants to install a nuclear particle accelerator in his home.
But when neighbors learned of plans to place the 20-ton device inside the house where Swank operates his engineering firm, their response was swift: Not in my backyard.

(for the rest of the article... follow the yellow brick link...),1283,69726,00.html?tw=rss.TOP

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