Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good day

I woke up this morning to the sound oh howling winds and the pitter-patter of snow banging headlong into my building.

The radio said that we were on a blizzard warning until 6.
But as much as I hoped and begged and crossed my fingers, school was not canceled

I walked to school with 40 mile an hour winds chaffing my nose. The hood of my coat was pulled down so low that it completely covered my eyes as well as the rest of my face.

Not that being able to see was all that important, owning to the complete lack of visibility from near white out weather.

By noon the weather had gotten a bit worse. More wind, more snow, and more cold.

Then the most exciting thing happened. An email from the powers that be popped up on my screen.

Early Release!!!

The children went home early.
And so did I.

It might have been a little late.
I do love weather!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I am currently cleaning bits of brain out of the carpets. There are skull chunks on the overhead projector. Blood splatters on the whiteboard.

My head exploded today.

My favorite class full of my favorite students was “working” on their assignment.
Though math was on my lesson plans, they had other ideas.

One decided to stab his paper, rip it to shreds, and take a nap on the floor.
One decided to giggle manically at his pencil eraser for over 20 minutes.
One decided to fall off his chair no less than 12 times.

One decided to glue his homework to his desk.

There was a hissing noise. It was similar to that of a pressure cooker building up.
Then there was a pop. It was faint. As if from a long distance or muffled by a big fluffy pillow.

That pop was my head exploding.

Do you know how to get gray matter out of wool?

Monday, January 29, 2007

What happened to the Bite marks...

“Alright class, can I have everyone pull out their homework from yesterday?” I said in my loud teacher voice.

There was the general rustling of papers, unzipping of binders, and grumbling by those that still seem surprised everyday when I collect the homework sheets.

A hand flew into the air.

“I don’t have my homework!” A very frazzled looking young girl squeaked quickly.

“Ok. Can you get it?”

“No!” she shook her head.

She’s one of those, obsess about homework, every problem always done, not understanding instructions is cause for a melt down, kinda kids.

Her face is flushed, eyes pried wide. Clearly on the verge of a freak out.

“Where is it then?”

“I caught it on fire!”

I gave her a quizzical look.

“I didn’t mean too! I put it on the stove when I was done with the problems. But my mom had left the stove on.
But I didn’t know that! I swear.
And then I went to watch TV. Cause I am allowed to watch TV after I get my homework done. And my mom was not home but she’s the one that left the stove on.
And then I smelled smoke! And I was scared and I ran to the kitchen and my homework was on fire.
And I got the, um, you know that red metal thing that puts out fires?” She managed to say this all in one, very anxious, breath.

“Fire extinguisher?” A fellow student assisted.

“Yeah, and I took that and put out the fire. And then my mom came home and I am grounded for two weeks.
But I swear! I did my homework.”
She looked close to tears.

“Ok, not a problem, I have an extra sheet you can follow along on.”

“You can see where my hair was burned in the fire if you don’t believe me!” She held up a shorter section of her hair, one that almost looked like it could have singed in a terrible homework burning accident.

This is much better than the dog excuse.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Dream

In honor of Martin Luther King Day the student council (of which I am the advisor) has decided to create a “Dream Wall.”
It is a great expanse of bright blue paper covering a wall in the cafeteria. Silver and blue glitter spell out the words “I Have a Dream.”

The student body, during their lunch can write their dreams of little paper clouds to be stapled to the sky of imagination.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

On a Lighter note...

My sincerest apologies for the lateness of this post.

As of two days ago,
We once again have sun.

Today it should grace us with its presence for a whopping 45 minutes.

I have not yet seen it.
Due to a misplaced cloud and fog covering the sun as remained hidden. But at least it’s making its way over the horizon.

Maybe today I’ll catch a glimpse…

Monday, January 22, 2007


It is very cold up here.
So cold, in fact, that some small creatures choose to avoid it.

Their absence is not something you notice strait away. It takes a few weeks for it too dawn on you that there is something missing from this unusual environment.


We have no bugs.
There are no flies flitting around the garbage cans.
No ants marching on the sink.
No cockroaches scurrying under the counter tops.
No bugs.

It’s weird.

My students have grown up knowing little of the insect world. Sometimes in the summer on the tundra you might get misquotes. Or a few flies here and there.
But nothing like the bug situation of the lower 48.
Even the big dumb flies of last year would be very out of place here.

My classroom has become a torture chamber. We have a rack of grow lights and plants.
Everything from hot peppers to basil grow right before the children’s eyes.
They “ohhh” and “ahhh” as flowers bloom and peas shoot.

But there is another, more sinister, side to the garden.
Something that causes the young ones, the macho ones, and the tough ones, to squeal in terror like little furry kittens.
The garden is a haven for little tiny gnats.

The horror!

Small flying invaders buzz around the green leaves, they sneak through the soil, they flutter about the flowers.
They occasionally fly through the eye line of my students.
Screams ensue.

“Oh my God! A bug! A bug!”
“So gross!”
“So cheap!”
“It’s touching”
“I never like bugs!”

Screams and shrieks, running and hiding, flailing and waling.

My kids. The kids that can chop up seal without a tummy churn.
They can kill a lemming with their bare hands.
can eat whale meat still raw and warm.

But a bug will cause them to shake in their boots, or flip-flops*.

*You would think that with a wind chill of -40 the children would wear something sensible on their little toes. But no, they are just as “fashion” stupid as every other teenager.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I had just sat down at the table with a few of my more challenging learner.
Trying to make them understand the finer points of finding the percent of a given number.
I was still a long few minutes away from pulling my hair out.

When another educator tap tap tapped on my door.
I motioned for her to enter.

She had a big smile across her face, as if she had a secret just busting through. As if she was suppressing giggles

She leaned toward me and said, “I’ll watch your class. Go to the copy room.”

“Why?” I queried.

“There is a guy here, he is fixing the copy machine. You have to see him!” She almost blushed.

She was actually covering my class for a few moments so that I could check out the copy guy.

I grabbed a workbook to “copy” and headed out the door.

“Take your ponytail down!” she hollered behind me.

Ah, not only was she covering my class for the sake of man scouting, but I was getting a side of fashion advice as well.

Suddenly I felt dirty. In the real world this would be a terrible thing.
It would have a menacing title, like,
Sexual harassment.

But in our own defense, we live in a tiny place. Isolated from the world. With little “new blood.” You have to take every opportunity to acquire eye candy.
Even if those opportunities are a little… inappropriate.

As a side note, he was quite the looker.
But not quite enough to make me give him a special photocopy.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


One of the coolest things about living in this crazy isolated place is the style.
The style of a native village straining at the seams to be modern.
To be part of the world outside.

To be Pop

One of these styles is a “grill.”

Gold plating and Rhinestones on the front teeth.
Top and bottom.

Now, as I have often lamented, you know that dental care is not all that great up here.
So “not all that great” that you would be right in assuming that we don’t have the caliber of dentists could actually create such a glaring look.

Instead, the children plate their teeth with foil mostly of the aluminum nature.
Which brings to mind the thought of chewing on aluminum foil.
Cringes all around.

One of my little angels is much more hard-core than the rest. He actually has a set of shiny metallic teeth coverings. They slide right on, making a statement of style.
And making it almost impossible to communicate without the use of wild hand movements, a variety of colorful markers, and appropriately placed “gangsta” head nods.

The bling-bling makes my heart sing.

I look around the room at all my wanna-be gangsters that have rarely set foot out of their isolated, rural, coastal, Eskimo village. With their sparkly strait-billed baseball caps and their 3 sizes too big hoodies.
All underneath a traditional fur trimmed parka.

Oh yeah, fashion is key.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I have a little girl in my class. She is sweet as pie. One of those kids that make you happy to be a teacher.
Unlike my gaggle of miscreants that make me want to stab myself in the eye for even considering such a profession.

So, anyway.
One of my happy little students stood before me. Just before I left school for the day.

Let me describe my outfit for a moment.

A pair of blue jeans
A pair of black snow pants
A green polo shirt
A gray wool blazer
A big down-filled green winter parka with coyote fur ruff
My little red shoes.

I swear there is a point that.

My student is one of the younger ones. She still holds onto the elementary mentality that hugging and leaning and pawing on your teacher is just peachy keen.

It drives me bloody bonkers.

Today she just stood in front of me playing with my blazer while I finished a conversation with another teacher.

My blazer was twisted around my body, tucked into snow pants, and covered by a huge coat and a heavy backpack.
This little sweetheart took no-never mind to these facts. She had her heart set on buttoning every button of the blazer.

She got the middle one done with only a little effort.
The second one is where she came to a problem.

“Ms. Mac,” she said, try to get my attention.
“Just a second.” I said distractedly, still engaged in a conversation, ignoring completely the child hanging on my shirt.

“Ms. Mac!” She insisted.

“What?” I responded with some hint of irritation.

“I know why your coat won’t button!”

“Why is that?”

“Because your boobs are too big!”

There are no words. No way to properly respond to such an explanation.
I just stared, searching my mind for an acceptable answer.

The teacher I was talking with stared as well.
Before she started laughing. Cackling, Howling.
Getting in some good giggles at my expense.

The student took off running. Off to her friends.
Her older friends, to ask why we laughed when she commented on my boobs.

I now have half the 7ths grade girls making comments about my huge honkers every time I pass them in the hall.
What a good day.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spark Notes

One more odd thing about this land in which I live.
Beside the boogers, ice cream headaches from a short walk in the wind, and the all too often injuries to my buttocks, we have:

Static electricity.

Not a new thing. Everyone has encountered surprising shocks at one point or another.
By scuffing your feet on a carpet and touching something metal you can create a fun little shock that will amaze your friends and annoy your enemies.

Sometimes, in the winter, you might have a regular habit of creating these little shocks in your everyday activities. You might even see the effects of displaced electrons in your hair or clothing.

But, until I moved to one of the few places on earth that have a desert, an ocean, and far below zero temperatures, did I encounter the kind of static that forces you to take great effort to work around them.

Allow me to explain.

The woman across the hall was sitting on the couch when her phone rang. She jumped up from her seat and scampered to the table in her socks. She reached for the phone and upon contact with its internal metal parts created a brief static shock.
The spark fried her phone.
No more calls for her.

A friend was lying in bed. He rolled over to his computer and reached out to check his email. The spark resulting from his electron charged hand cause the computer to shut down.
And never turn on again.

And my favorite story.

A friend of mine has a habit of walking around the house without a bra.
It’s very comfortable and worth doing when you live alone in an isolated place such as this. And even if you don’t.
Because of tight quarters she is forced to turn sideways when going through a particular entranceway. This entrance has a metal binding in one corner. On a dally basis, contact with this underlying metal creates a nifty little spark.
Directly onto her nipple.
Yes. I said nipple.
She was an interesting crimson color when she told me this story.

Since living here, since the dramatic increase of hopping electrons, and since the onset of winter, I have found myself doing the strangest things.

Before I touch my computer I absently touch the lamp. It usually hurts.
Before I touch the TV I thoughtlessly hit a near-by doorknob. It’s usually bright and blue.
Before I touch the DVD player I unthinkingly graze I logically placed knife. It’s usually ineffective. My DVD player has taken a beating lately.

Static is stupid.
And ouchy.


I have a student.
He is quiet child.

He has not been in school for a few days.
Just under a week.

We just found out why he has been gone.

He has had a hang nail.

I love the little children.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Pink Piggys

Sometimes in the morning I hear a weather report so astounding that I feel the need to post it.

As if you truly care about the weather up here.
Lucky for me, it’s my site and I will talk incessantly about the weather if I wish.
Or about kittens.
Maybe about kittens in inclement weather.

But, this post is not about kittens. It is only about meteorological conditions.

Without further ado, here is today’s weather report as heard on the morning radio.

“It is a ‘nippy’ -23 out there today.
With a wind chill of -63.”


That’s the kind of cold that makes you really regret your choice of footwear.
Little red tennis shoes are no match for this type of chill.

But I walked it anyway. I made the long journey* without proper foot attire. I braved the risk of frostbite to my “little piggys” out of shear laziness.

Boots require tying laces.
My Merrills can be slipped on. No knots necessary.

Toes are so cold.
Kind of like frozen kittens.

* like, 4 blocks!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Change in Plans

It seems like things are changing faster than my brain can handle. As soon as I get a grip on the status quo, it up and switches on me.
It very stressful. Mildly confusing. And makes me a little dizzy.

My newest change in living conditions was quickly followed with a change of living conditions.

No sooner had the last of the 63 boxes been unpacked and neatly stowed did a friend of mine from a village far far away arrive for a visit.

Suddenly, I had two new faces, and was completely out of sleep-able furniture.
Unless you count the bathtub.
Which I do not.
One night in a bathtub and you too will rule them off the sleep-able lists.

But, crowding aside, we were looking forward to a fun week of gallivanting around Barrow, good conversation, and work (at least for me and the boy… village friend was still on Christmas vacation.)

All of this is easy to deal with. My mind can handle several days playing the part of a host. Even with a new room-mate to deal with.

But, not a moment after the arrival of vacationer, the phone rang.

On the other end was a desperate administrator.

A teacher from another school did not return from break. They were in dire need of another instructor.
The boy was to fly out immediately.

Which means. After two days of unpacking,
Two days of re-organizing,
Two days of chair stealing,
My roommate days were coming to a close.

He was on the flight yesterday. With all his boxes and his video games.
Then the vacationing teacher hopped on a plane this morning.

My house is now empty.

And, sadly, I have my recliner back.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Living Conditions

It is official.
I now have a roommate.

A friend from a near by village is in the process of transferring positions within the district. While things are being worked out he needs a place to live, in my town.
He will be staying with me.

On my couch.

Since he is actually moving, all his stuff, all his belongings ended up in my tiny apartment.

Box after box after box.
Hours of unpacking.

The upside.
For the first time since, well, since I lived with my mother my kitchen is stocked with food.
Every nook and cranny is stuffed to the max with, stuff.

The downside.
I am weird.
I have been living alone for far too long and am fairly set in my ways. I have places for things. I tend to live like in a hermit-like manner.

You can call me the cat lady, without the cats.
Or urine smell.

To but it mildly, I have quirks.

And now I have someone in my space. Someone with many things. Someone who likes to play video games and sit in my recliner.

My Recliner!
I am currently sitting on the couch, something my tushy is totally not accustomed to. I keep moving to recline and nothing happens! I have, more than once, foolishly reached down to pull the little foot-stool handle thingy finding nothing in my grasp.

My recliner!

You might be asking yourself, “Why don’t you just kick him out of your chair! Reclaim that piece of your mental health!”
It is something I have thought about.
Something I have contemplated.
Something I have dreams of doing.

But already I have enacted to many insane rules.
No shoes in the house.
No touching my 430 knives.*
No disturbing the sprouts.
And no cleaning talking about kittens on every other Tuesday.

Taking the chair back this early in the game would probably cause problems.

I will be forced to loosen up, become less of the aforementioned cat-lady.

It might even be healthy.
But, just in case, does anyone have Prozac to donate to a good cause?

Or arsenic.

* I don’t really have 430 knives. That is an exaggeration. I thought for a moment about counting them to give an accurate number but I don’t have an hour to spare at the moment.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The weather outside is frightful

This morning the man on the radio told me something disturbing.
After 2 weeks of fun in the sun, with the temperature never dropping below 50 degrees.

I wake up to something much cooler.

-35 degrees outside.
With a wind chill of -45.

Very sad.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Happy 2007 everybody!

Unlike this time last year, I have no exciting tales of death and drive-by’s. But it was a good night regardless.

I finally found the Alaskan ration that everyone has been talking about.

We ended up going to a bar for a New Years. It was a good time.
And totally packed with guys.

At least hitting the 9:1 ratio everyone thinks of when they think of Alaska.

Ever since I moved here people have asked me if there are really that many men. If there are really more men than women. And until now, I never really saw a huge difference.

I guess I was just not going to the right places.

Everywhere I looked in this bar there were groups of guys, scanning the crowd, looking for the very limited numbers of females.

The only place in the expansive place that the ratio of men to women dipped in the other direction was the dance floor.
Which, was surrounded by boys, staring.

It made for an interesting evening.
I danced, I partied, I chatted.
I counted down to the new year.

Moving on from the evening’s excitement.

I am now back in Barrow. School starts tomorrow.
Believe it or now I am actually looking forward to going back to work. Although I dread the “work” part I am happy to be back to a routine. It’ll be nice to be back to the day-to-day grind.

So, I hope everyone had a good holiday!
And are looking forward to a Happy New Year!

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