Monday, April 30, 2007

Who needs a wake up call?

I am quite sure that, by now, you are sick to death of my “static sucks” stories.
Hell, I am sick of them and I am the one writing.

Actually, I am more sick of the static than the stories.

I almost didn’t write this one, thinking that, “they get it, there’s static up here. One more tale of woe won’t do much.” But this tale, this story of sparks, is one that could possibly have a real and disastrous effect on my daily life.

For years I have had the same alarm clock. It has nearly always been faithful, reliable.

There is duct tape residue along the back from when I had taped it to the wall back in my freshman year of college.
There is shiny purple nail polish on the buttons from one-day, years ago, when I had fancied myself an artist.
There are even dents and scratches along the side from being thrown across the room on too many early mornings.

It has been a part of my waking life for far too long.
And now I fear its days are at an end.

Two days ago I woke up to the blaring noise of NPR. I flung myself from bed, eyes still closed, searching for the snooze button. As my hand neared the clock I felt the tingling of static, the resulting spark was enough to rouse, even me, from sleepy-land.
It was bright.
It was blue.
It was ouchy as heck.

It was enough of a shock to shut down the radio and chang the time on both the clock and the alarm a full 5 hours and 37 minutes.

The radio is still offline.

This morning I woke up to the buzzing alternative to NPR. I approached the alarm with some trepidation. Scared of what my charged fingers might do.
I reached.
I touched.
I shocked the hell out of myself, yet again.

The buzzing stopped.
The time changed.
(This time on by 1 hour 42 minutes.)

So far I believe that the alarm will work tomorrow morning. But with less than two weeks left of school I am forced to wonder, will my alarm last?
And if is does, will I survive the electrical forces?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I mentioned before that sometimes my kids bring in interesting thing.
The skull that was brought in before prompted another head.

Something bigger. With huge teeth.

It’s a polar bear.

Well, it used to be…

To give you an idea of size, here is a picture of the Polar Bear and our happy wolverine.
He's a nippy little guy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A week of children

Wow, it has been a long week.
One full of unusual circumstances and experiences.

This week, I babysat.

Go ahead, lets here the screams of terror and tacky comments like, “did you remember to feed them?” I know exactly what you are thinking. “Those poor kids.”

Believe it or not, it was actually a success, or at least not a failure.
Which is a win in my book.

Now, I am quite sure you are all chopping at the bit for some sort of babysitting blunder. A story of suffering to fill your day with laughter.

I hate to be the barer of bad news, but there are no stories. It was fairly uneventful. The kids behaved, I feed them actual food (or at least the fried equivalent), and I got them to bed at a reasonable hour each and every night (as long as you consider 6 am reasonable).

There was the one incident that involved a very large cooler full of water in the middle of the living room surrounded by every bit of make-up, lotion, hair products, nail polish, and several rolls of paper towels in the house.
But that all turned out fine in the end.

That was how my week began.
It ended with many more kids. This time dressed, for the most part, in formal wear.
Once again, I donned my camera and was the photographer for prom.

Prom in the Arctic Circle is a little unlike prom in other parts of the world. Without the benefit of department stores and cute little boutiques to buy dresses the kids here do what they can to make a memorable prom night.

For the girls, we saw variety of dress styles.
From classic prom to Sunday bests. Some even came in jeans.

Most wore tennis shoes.
It is muddy out there after all and mud does hellish things on stilettos.

The guys were a little less formal. There are, of course, no tux rentals in the frigid north.
There were a few that pulled out all the stops, with tux like outfits, silky ties, and shiny shoes.
Most wore jeans or khakis with button up shirts. Some went the classic hoodie route.
There was even one who wore a cute/stylish tee-shirt printed like a tux front, you know the kind. My personal favorite was the hot pink Converse All Stars on a classy suit-wearing teenager.

It was all pretty fun. Plus, I got to take a ton of pictures. Over 300.
In just 4 short hours.
It was a tiring, and interesting evening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Skull and crossbones

The coolest thing about teaching in the tundra is the interesting items that end up in my classroom. Every time we start a new topic I something new and strange finds its way to my desk.

Today brought the skull of a wolverine.

One of my students found the former head out on the tundra and thought immediately of me. We have been learning about the skeletal system and what better for “show and tell” than this

It is in great condition, the jaw is still firmly attached and movable, it does not smell, and most of the brain has been eaten by tiny scavenging creatures.

Excitingly enough this particular student offered for me to keep the brain box.

She already has enough skulls in her back yard.
Plus, wolverine skulls are so small that there is nothing you can do with them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Shopping for bankruptcy

I have had some recent complaints about a lack of pictures. I, therefore, made a concerted effort to take my shiny new camera out for the day and take a few shots.

The sun is out for extended hours now and the temperature is rising above the zero mark on a fairly regular basis. The time for good photographs has finally arrived.
I pulled on my trusty winter coat, stuffed some memory cards in my pocket, and headed out on the town.

Or at least out on the village.

Wandering on the beach, camera in hand, snapping all sorts of shots, I realized something depressing. There is nothing to take pictures of.
Sure the sun is shining, illuminating all the interesting Arctic-like things.
Large expanses of white.
Nothing but white.

Snow covers everything. The ocean is a snow-covered sheet of ice. Mounds and mounds of nothing but white-y whiteness.

I kept wandering. Looking fruitlessly for amazing pictures.

I found the one. The image that shows better than everything else what it is to live in the Arctic Circle.

The AC store.
The only grocery store in town.
Wonderful things.

Reddi Whip. One of the most expensive items in the dairy isle.
Who would have thought?

It makes ice cream sundays all the more exciting.
And Whip-its suddenly become a designer drug.

More cheese please.
I love chedder. But I dislike the need to take out a bank loan to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

(If you are having a bit of trouble reading the prices on this picture, I will give you some assistance. The amounts range from $12.00 to $26.00. Yum!)

This would be the impulse isle of the grocery store. I can't tell you how many times I have run in the store for a gallon of milk and ended up with a Glock Nine and a carton of amunition.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pick me a Winner

I look to the future like a confused toddler. I have no definite plans for the summer or the fall or the rest of my life.
I have no idea what street corner my cardboard box will reside.
I have no idea whose couch I will crash on once the box gets moldy.

I just know that there are a few sheets of shiny white paper that state my dreams of sun and warmth and pavement, with the word “Resignation” in bold letters at the top.

Yes, I resigned today. It’s official with signatures and seals.

Now I am scared. In a few short weeks I will once again pack up all my belongings and return to the world of homelessness.
On the upside, there is the joy of knowing that I just turned down an offer of nearly $50,000 a year plus benefits to, instead, wallow in uncertainty.

What is wrong with me?

Ok, enough of that. There is no need to spend more time than necessary contemplating how well duct tape can be used as cardboard box waterproofing.

I have a story to tell.

One of my favorite nostril obsessed students sat in the back of my classroom with a pencil up his nose.
He was twitching his face in such a way that the pencil bounced to the beat of his own very private drum.

Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

I had a hard time not losing my place in the lecture and just staring at this most interesting sight. But history has shown that if you try to get one thing extricated from his naval cavity he just gets annoyed and adds more.
And more. And more.

So I tried to ignore.
I avoided looking in that direction when he pulled the pencil from his nose, wiped the wipe-ables off and then jammed it back there.
I averted my eyes as he learned to move it from side to side without using his hands.
I even turned my back as he made attempts to write math problems with the pencil that was sticking out of face.

After a several minutes it became clear that I was not the only one that had noticed the nostril circus. However, the rest of the class was not nearly as adept at avoiding distractions as I have grown to be.
They began staring.
The kind of staring that comes with a pointing and a growing side of snickers.

Pencil boy looked up and saw that all eyes were on him.
Suddenly he was enraged.

“Stop it! Stare-ers! Why are you looking?”

Then the giggling started.
More anger and more yelling.

“Why you staring!”

The pencil jiggled in its’ nose-like residence.

“Oh, student of mine, did you forget you had a pencil half way to your brain?” I asked in a very joking manner.

His face turned red, he uttered an embarrassed low chuckle, and he pulled the pencil from his nostril, hiding it under the desk. “I forgot it was there…”

My students are the brightest little knives in the shed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sweating to the words of a different beat.

I greatly apologize for my recent disappearing act.
It wasn’t an act exactly, I really did disappear. There was a cloak and everything.

31 more minutes.

Plus, I had the pain and suffering of standardized testing for much of last week.

Immediately followed by locking myself in my apartment for the entire weekend in order to type my freaking essay. As unbelievable as it seems, I think I might have actually finished my essay.
That’s right boys and girls, I am so close to completing it I can almost taste the envelope glue. And it sure does taste good.

As soon as I mail that sucker off I will give you full details on the purpose of such a tortuously traumatic piece of literary tribulation. Just a few more days of suspense.

22 more minutes.

All and all, time for writing in a non-essay related manner has been rather limited.
In fact, it is still limited. Severely limited.
So limited that I have been forced to multitask in the strangest ways.

Currently, I am typing from the cushy seat of an exercise bicycle. The wide high-tech control panel on my bike is the perfect height and width to perch a laptop computer and type while peddling.

13 more minutes.

It is a beautiful feeling.
Attempting to write an absorbingly interesting post while sweating profusely from every square inch of my body.

Peddle peddle peddle.
My arse is sore.

7 more minutes.

Breathing is becoming more difficult!
Excuse me for a moment while I engage in a stimulating heart attack.

2.5 more minutes.

Back from the attack, those defibrillators sure do tickle.

Beep Beep Beep Beep!
It’s over!

My sweaty self is going to home to die.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Where to sunbathe above the Arctic Circle. Or, the Asterisk's Guide to a Muddled Mind

Today I walked out of the school building after volleyball practice. It was nearly 8 and the sun was still making its shiney known. I hadn’t finished the gearing up process.

The zipping and hooding and gloving had not yet totally occurred.

But I did make a great exit. Doors swinging, unzipped coat flapping in the breeze, laptop bag swung determinedly over my shoulder, rhinestone sunglasses blocking that nasty snow glare.
It was almost like I should have been moving in slow motion with some cheesy soundtrack echoing behind me, announcing my entrance in the scene*.

So I was outside.
And my first thought, “Wow, it’s pretty damn nice out here!”

It was 14 degrees.

My second thought was, “spring has sprung!”

My third thought, “to hell with the zipping and gloving. It’s a bloody beautiful day!”

That’s when I starting thinking a little harder about my thoughts. This is the only place on earth that 14 degrees is warm.
The only place on earth that 14 degrees gives you a little spring in your step.
The only place on earth that 14 degrees makes you think, “I will have to pull out my thinner coat tonight”.

And as I strode home in the 14 degree spring, with my coat blowing open and the wind whipping through my hair***, my final thought before I sunk into the tunes of my ipod was, “Damn, I’m hard core.”

*How frickin cool would that be! If I had my own soundtrack! Hey and I could get my own laugh track too. That way people would have an auditory cue as to when they should laugh.
So people would know when I was making a joke, and also, they would stop laughing when I trip over my shadow
Or when I sit on something gross and messy**.

**That reminds me of a story. Back in college I had this great coat. It wasn’t really all that warm but it had pockets for everything. I kept an entire office supple store in my coat.
And still had room to stow a few books, a skine of yarn, knitting needles, and my lunch.

It was my lunch that caused a problem.
Being all health conscious, I decided to take a banana and some crackers to school on that fateful day. Somewhere after my morning class I sat down on a cement bench near my next lecture.
I sat, peacefully watching the people go by, thinking about all the homework that desperately needed to be avoided, when I felt a strange sensation on my buttocks.

It was like I had just sat on wet grass and the dew was soaking through my pants. But I was sitting on dry concrete.

I quickly jumped up and felt my arse. It was absolutely soaked.
So was my jacket, dripping with gooey grime.
My jacket pocket.

I had sat on and smooched my banana.

You have no idea how much liquid is carefully conceled in one of those.

*** For the record, my hair might not have been exactly blowing in the wind. Technically the hair was tied up in a bun and therefore not very billow-y. But I think my eyebrows might have done a bit of thrashing. So I stand by my words.****

**** Special prize to anyone who truthfully made it through my maze o' footnotes without to need to supress the urge to hit me in the forehead with a rather large cast iron frying pan.

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