Sunday, May 28, 2006

Where do we go, from here?

So, I left.
I left the village that had been my home for the past year.
Leaving was harder than I would have thought.

And it’s not because I am an emotional person.

The river was semi-thawed.
Just enough liquid to require a boat and just enough solid to make it a pain in the booty.

At the beginning of the trip there was a corridor barely wider than the boat that was filled with large ice chunks. Gunning the motor we slowly pushed through.
We stalled often and occasionally found it necessary to jump from the boat and push free.

Twice when traveling down the current the boys had to hop out of the boat and push it across the slushy ice. I tried to help, but they told me to stay in the boat.

“It’s too dangerous” they said.

They stood half in the boat and half out. One leg in and one out. Pushing the boat with one leg but keeping themselves in the safe from falling through with the other.

More than once their outside foot stepped down and kept going. Grasping the boat they pulled out from the icy extreme.

This is my last picture of the village. All the white is ice and snow.
So long, Kasigluk!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Today I had to run to the post office.
To ship off the remaining boxes, the last of my possessions.

Now, to backtrack a bit, the weather has been in the high 50’s for much of the week. This type of heat does an interesting thing to the solid river that we have depended on for transportation for the past few months.

It makes it melt.

So, what do you do? Travel must still happen. With the post office, store, and airstrip 2 miles down and on the other side of, we still must use the river. In all its’ thawing glory.

So, I hopped on the back of the snow-go and headed off. We (I was not the driver this time, only a passanger) drove down the center of the river. On either side of this narrow passable corridor was water.
At first I was content with the delusion that all that water bordering us was actually just puddles, sitting on the surface of thick sturdy ice.

That comforting illusion was shattered when my driver, turned his head and shouted back,
“See that! It’s all open water.”
We were mere meters from the end of the ice.
Throughout the journey he found it necessary to laughingly point out the rapidly thawing areas.
I saw deep cracks as we sped along.

He drove fast. Bumpy paths bounced me around the back of the machine. With nothing to hold onto it was like riding a bull. My clenched thighs were the only thing holding me on at times.

As we stood at the post office, he started telling me stories.
“That ice out there, if you fall in, the ice will close around on top of you. My dad fell. He couldn’t get out the way he came in. But he had seen an open place. And he got out that way.”
And of course,
“A few snow-goes have gone in lately”
“We went over a few bad spots on the way. I hope we make it back”

He love’s to joke with me. But usually his jokes are the serious kind…

On the way back we stopped for a moment on the ice to adjust the sled.
The “ground” looked like a thousand crystals, growing upward, glittering in the sun.
Peaks of ice stuck out from the water around us, some clear others milky. All shiny.
I really wish I had taken a camera. Maybe tomorrow. (I think I get to go on another ride!)

It’s weird to think that it is the end of May and I am still traveling by snow-go.
Weirder still is the fact that I was uncomfortably warm in a very light jacket while standing on a sheet of ice at least 5 feet thick.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving On

I suppose an announcement must be made.

Next fall I will not be returning to the cold and remote village of Kasigluk, Alaska. I have chosen to leave this harsh and isolated land.

In just a few short months I will be teaching in, drum roll please…

Barrow, Alaska.

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of this distant state, it is the northern most city in the United States.

Barrow is over 300 miles north of the arctic circle.
It is the home of a few different animals, including cute and cuddly polar bears.
It is located on the bank of the Arctic Ocean.
And, from what I have heard, it gets a little cold up there.

Plus, this is the area in Alaska where you really do get the extreme daylight and lack there of. Right now they have 24 hours of daylight. This will continue until August. In mid November the sun will set and will not be seen again until late January.

Anyone who once thought I was off my rocker might have just been proven correct.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Here is a sunset.
I took it 2 days ago.

Before the snow came, and the clouds.
And made the sun go away.

I told you it was snowing.
May 20th... unbelievable...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Global Warming, my ass

It is Friday May 19th.
Spring has sprung.

Birds are chirping, grass is showing, and babies are prancing.
(or whatever the hell happens in the spring)

And, it's bloody snowing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Damn authors

There is suffering in my world. Suffering to such an extreme extent that I may die of it. My sister, however, may break out into a fit of giggles.

A book has surfaced in our library.

A book that will haunt me for the rest of my days, reminding me of my past.
Of that horrific event that took place many moons ago.

One time.
One bloody time. Yet the universe, more specifically, my students, have seen fit to punish me until the end of time.

What is this torturous book you ask?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Counting Down

For the record, one week from today is the last day of my first year as a teacher.
Totally awesome.
Totally creepy.
I believe I have successfully filled young minds with some of the knowledge and, um, stuff… that they need to navigate this world.
As I look around my classroom I see students sprawled across the floor, reading quietly, behaving wonderfully. I am amazed at what angels they can be when the put their minds to it.

I am also amazed at home quickly that all can change.
Class just released.
The quiet, wonderful, angelic kids turned suddenly into rowdy hooligans hell bent on my destruction.

Just one more week…

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hide and Seek

Spring is slowly sprung-ing here on the tundra. The birds are chirping, the days are longer, puddles are appearing on the river, and the snow is melting.
(yes, I said, puddles on the river. Remember, the river is currently in a solid state. Running water is now forming below and above our highway’s surface.)

Now, as the snow recedes things that have been hidden for the last few months are gradually coming into view. What we once thought was an endless plane of white was hiding something. Can you guess what it is?

This one is for my sister

Every Friday in writing class we have “Free-write Friday.” Instead of giving the kids complicated promts, I allow them the opportunity to write whatever is on their minds.
The following is from the pen of N.A. (a different NA that that of a previous debut.)

Yesterday I went egg hunting with erin and I found 4 eggs, erin found maybe 3 or 4. We didn’t even win anything because they had to have a ticket on them and some peoples won, not even once. Me and erin didn’t find any only plain cheap egg. When we went home we ate a egg and right after we ate a egg we farted a loud one.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I have mentioned before about my student’s need to set me up with every male that walks through the school’s doors. Apparently, I am not the only one suffering from these blind hook-ups.

The following is a story related by a fellow non-married teacher.

A student walks up to the teacher; “you should go to prom with Math Guy.”

The teacher asks cautiously, “Why should we go to prom together?”

“He’s a man, and you’re a women.” The student said with a shrug.

Friday, May 05, 2006

An asshole by any other name

This morning, as I sat down for morning duty, I was approached by our school’s librarian.
She also happens to be the mother of one of my science and math kids.

Before she could even sit, the words “what have you been teaching my daughter?” escaped her lips.

A number of things passed though my mind.
We have been teaching organ systems in science…

I slapped an innocent yet inquisitive look on my face.

She begins, “My daughter called her brother a sphincter yesterday.”

If I had been drinking milk, it would have shot out my nose.
As it was I was drinking coffee. Hot coffee. It was not comfortable.

A sphincter, for those of you who do not follow the details of human anatomy, is a ring of muscle surrounding and serving to guard or close an opening or tube, such as the anus or the openings of the stomach.
It is also a synonym for “Asshole”

The story continues:

“When he asked what a sphincter was, she told him it meant he was really good at playing games. He proceeded to prance around the room joyfully shouting ‘I am a sphincter’ until she told him the true meaning of the word.”

Unfortunately, much of the humor of this situation was lost on the fact that no one in the family knew what a sphincter was. Except, of course, for my devious student.

Long Days

This picture was taken at 10:47 last night.
The sun didn't set until well after 11.

We have a winner!

The question on a recent math test:
Which average would you use to report your profit? Why?

The answer:
17,000/15,000. Because I counted them, and my brain told me to write it down.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


High school boys are too cool for school.
Middle school boys truly believe that they are god’s gift.

And yet, as I sit in for morning duty, a strange sight is before me.
All the boys over the age of 13 are sitting on the benches in the gym, watching the smallest of the small play kick ball.

More than that that are laughing and cheering them on. I heard the phrase “So cute” slip from the lips of a 16 year-old hoolagan.

They giggled when the ball flew over the tiny heads.
They chuckled when the littles’ scampered back and forth.

“Awe! Look! So funny!”

These boys could, at times, rival Hell’s Angels in the “Devil Without a Cause” competition.
And yet, right now they are more likely to win “Aunt Betties Knitting Circle Award for Soft and Cuddly Kittens”.

Ah, the joy of teenagers. As much as they try to convince me otherwise, I think there might be some real people in that group.

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