Tuesday, March 28, 2006

grumble grumble

I currently have an angry little girl in my classroom for detention.

She is sighing loudly.
She is slamming her book on the desk and glaring at the clock at regular intervals.
She just attempted to get my attention by “accidentally” knocking over a near-by chair.

I continue to stare stonily at the computer screen, watching her huff out of the corner of my eye.

Ah, my lack of rapt attention has her thinking… she might be able to sneak out.
She pushes her chair back.
Straining to slowly slide her chair towards the door her hopes are high.

A bright smile begins to creep across her face.
Just a little farther.
A few more inches.

Without looking up, without moving my eyes from the screen I remind her “time not reading does not count as part of this detention. That was a sliding 6 minuets of wasted play.”

Her chair slams back to the desk.

Still looking at the screen, I smile.
I love teacher vision.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

dancing queens

dancing queen
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Today was the fifth and final new-teacher inservice.
The last culture class.
We watched a video about Eskimo dancing, discussed the different types of celebrations, and were treated to a buffet of culturally common foods.

There were plates of dried salmon, vats of caribou stew, and Eskimo ice cream (which is actually a misnomer owing to the fact that it is not cold and contains no cream. Only crisco, berries and fish parts)

To end the day, we wrote and performed our very own Yu’pik dance.
Ours was entitled “weather permitting” and told the heart wrenching story of how we tend to travel… slowly.

Here is a shot of Jodie and I, hamming it up.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The greatest purchase ever made

The greatest purchase ever made
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
It is a well-known fact that I enjoy shopping.
And that I do it quite a lot.

However, I would like to present the purchase that has out shined all else that I have aquired recently, maybe ever.

These goggles are a life-saver. I can actually go on a snow-go ride, keep my eyes open, and arrive at my destination with my nose still attached.
It’s so cool!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Adventures in Visiting

Today I woke up to blowing snow, cold temperatures, and about 20 feet of visibility.
I was in Nunap. A snow-go ride away from my computer, lesson plans, grade book, and clean undies.

At about 1 o’clock we decided to make an attempt at the necessary journey back home. Two of my good snow-go owning friends offered to brave the storm and drive us back.

Geared up with GPS and enough clothing to make a person sweat, we hit the trail.

The storm was raging, limiting our sight to only a few precious meters.

We rode on for 15 minuets. The entire ride should take about 10.
Eventually, the leader of the pack came to a stop.

We were in the middle of a white out.
We had lost the trail.
We could not see. Anything.

Imagine looking before you are seeing only white. No definition between the ground and the sky. No shadowed shades of gray.
It is a truly odd feeling.
A vision of nothing.

We knew not what lay ahead of us, where we were, or even if we were headed in the right direction.
In the cold and blowing snow we discussed our situation.
One of our party ventured forth into the blank canvas of our environment, attempting in vain to see if walking those few extra feet would show us the way.
For a few seconds, when he was 30 some feet away, he disappeared.
White out.

The only thing we knew for sure was how to get back.
So that’s what we did.

Hours later, after nearly tearing my hair out for fear of missing school the next day, the weather cleared. We could see distances greater than the span of our arms with great clarity.

Once again donning our gear we hit the trail.
The last few days, weeks, dare I say months, have covered the tundra with a deceptively think layer of snow.
Much of that occurred in the past couple of days. The blowing snow created drifts that are nearly impossible for a snow-go to transverse.

Riding along we, again, were hindered by a lost trail. This time it remained within our sites but was a drift or two away. Once again the caravan slowed to a halt.
“I don’t know how deep the snow is, so if we take it, we have to drive fast.”

The faster you go, the less likely you are to get stuck.

The drivers gunned it over the drifts and back to the trail.
The passengers, myself and my fellow Kasigluk resident, walked to lighten the load.

(By “walked” I do mean “waded” through the, at times knee to thigh deep snow)

The ride was successful, in a matter of minutes we were back in the warmth of our homes and my bag’o lesson planning goodness.

Through all this, I have to say, I love snow-go’s. I truly do want one of my very own.

Sweating to the soap suds

Yesterday I straddled the back of a snow-go and made the 8-12 minute journey to Nunap where I visited friends, watched Harry Potter 4, had some amazing pizza, and went to the maqi.

What is a maqi, you ask?
The maqi is like a sauna. Lots of steam, high temps, and shampoo.
In the tundra, where running water is not a common household commodity, the people have their own way of bathing.

It begins with a steam. Stoke up the fire, pore on the boiling water.
Warm up from the frigid climate and sweat.

After that you lather up with soap and shampoo and rinse off with bowl of cool water.

Saturday night I went into my first miqa. The prospect of stripping naked and sitting in a small hut in the middle of the village with a few friends was a bit daunting.
Not to mention the common transmission of boils from sitting without the comforting protection of a towel.

I pushed the tummy twisting aside and went for it.
And I learned three things from this experience.
1. I am not nearly as self conscious as I had thought.
2. The western world might have easier methods of bathing, but the Yupik people have a much more relaxing one.
3. Getting dressed while standing on a layer of snow is not a pleasing experience.

Friday, March 17, 2006


I need a man that can cook.
This is becoming a more and more urgent situation.

Why, you ask?

Not only am I a terrible cook, but, it has proven dangerous for me to even be in a kitchen.

I was making Tapioca.
Simple, microwavable, Tapioca.

I noticed something odd about my delicious desert as the seconds counted down.
Curious, I opened the door.

The world fell into slow-motion. My hand entered the microwave. A sputter of tapioca juice spurted from its container, foreshadowing what was to come.

Suddenly, a sonic boom filled the room. Boiling tapioca sprayed forth, instantly coating my hand, my hair, my clothing, my floor, and my table with its sticky heat.

As quickly as possible I scraped the molten confection from my skin but it was too late, the burns were already evident.

Almost a full week later I have still not recovered from sensitive and itchy 2nd degree Tapioca burns.

Anyone who thought that microwave cooking was fool-proof, obviously never met me.

This is why I need a man who can cook. Think of it as a mission of mercy. Allowing me to continue to prepare my own food could be considered criminal negligence.
So, any merciful man out there wishing to save this poor sap from her-self, I am always taking applications.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bouncing round the room

Tomorrow there is a funeral in my village.
One of the elders passed away.

Tomorrow we will have an early dismissal so that the family members (many of the family members can pay their respects.)
Today during our daily open gym an odd sound rang out.
Or rather, didn’t.

When there is a death in town people are not to bounce balls until the body is buried.
First the first time in memory, the sounds slapping, shouting, pounding sounds of basketball did not fill the gym.

Asking some of the kids who are currently pulling, I mean braiding, my hair, I find that this is the only thing that is really prohibited during the wake.
How did bouncing a ball become something to avoid.
Something disrespectful.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dating Rules

According to my students…

My love life is filled with secret loves,
Twisted crushes,
And affairs that make me queasy to think about.

Currently they have me:
Married to a teacher in another village,
In love with our 60+ year old married principal,
Engaged to the 50+ year old substitute,
Crushing the 40+ year old social worker,
Dating several male teachers that have had the good fortune of chaperoning teams here.
And, of course, romantically linked to each and every man that walks into the building.

Oh yeah, and there are still those that claim that I am gay.

Honestly, I am not sure how I function with all these conflicted and torrid relationships.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

a little snow

According to the weather-man, yesterday we had mid to high winds and blizzard conditions.
According to the view from my window we had 50-meter visibility, knock-you-on-your-ass winds, and horrendous blowing snow.
This morning we had a new landscape to contend with.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Evil Doll

Sometimes my students surpass me. I simply cannot entertain as they can.
Here is the final copy of a story written by one of my angels. I left all the grammar goodies just as she wrote them for your enjoyment.

The Evil Doll
By. C.T.

Once upon a time there was a doll I bought 7 years ago. I was going to throw it then it got evil (4 years later). The doll was following me every-where. I went and it kept on hiding and saying “I will kill you very bad”

Then I said, “you can’t even kill me. I can run away” While I was at my house I was scared the doll will kill me at 1 o’clock at Akiuk Memorial School.

The doll said “If you don’t go to the school I will go to you house to stab and scratch your face”

Me, Minnie, and Mikayla went to the school with a snow machine then Minnie said “We should bring three knifes to the school”

I said “Plus a holy water so it will get burned”

Then Mikayla said “Yeah that is an awesome idea”

But the doll had a razor and we killed it very fast after we hid in the porch, Minnie took the knifes and threw the knifes in the dolls brain Mikayla on her legs and me on her small heart. Then we were all happy that we killed it. Whenever brought any dolls again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I believe that there is an evil plot against me.
There is no feasible way that my little angels can be this horrendous this astoundingly difficult without an all-consuming plan. An evil design.

Here is the scene:

Evil guy from the future: Jody has foiled my plans of world domination! What can I do to stop her?

Evil guy’s evil sidekick: (while stroking his chin in a evil cliché way) I know! We could go back to the past to a time when she was a first year teacher. We will disguise ourselves as her students and gradually drive her over the edge of sanity!

Evil guy from the future: That is a brilliant plan! This way when the time comes for her to become our formidable foe she will not even be able to lift a finger against us from the confines of her little white padded cell! Muh hahahaha!

So they hopped in their shiny and very futuristic looking time machine, turned on the flashing lights and beeping buttons, and spun their way through time.
Landing in the year 2006
In Alaska.
As 11 year-old girls.
As two members of my reading and writing class.
As bloody pains in my arse.

In the back of my classroom.

Evil guy from the future disguised as an 11 year-old girl: I do believe that we need to increase our efforts! She is not yet bending under the force of our wrath!

Evil guy’s evil sidekick disguised as an 11 year-old girl: But how? We already are throwing paper wads at her head. We have called her fatty and ugly at every opportunity. Not to mention the time that we poked her incessantly with a ruler! Maybe she is stronger than we had originally thought!

Evil guy from the future disguised as an 11 year-old girl: I have it! A plan that cannot fail! I will tear up this long detailed unit project (that she spent hours planning) in her face and toss the pieces in the air so that they rain down upon her in a shower of disrespect.

Evil guy’s evil sidekick disguised as an 11 year-old girl: Excellent!

Evil guy from the future disguised as an 11 year-old girl: And you can make “the most annoying sound in the world” every time she opens her mouth to speak. She’ll be in that padded room in no time flat!

Together: Muh hahahahah!

Flash forward several hours: Another teacher finds me in the fetal position under my desk beating my forehead against the cold cruel tile floor. Eyes glazed and unfocused. Humming a tune from the future…

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