Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Nome, Alaska, United States
After getting burned out teaching high school in a tiny Alaskan town, I have moved on to being a child advocate in a small Alaskan town. The struggles are similar, but now I can buy milk at the store.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Growing up

Dear Reader, as you can tell, I am a big fan of making lists. With that in mind, here is a top ten list for you.  So, with no further ado, The Top Ten Ways Being A Grownup Doesn't Live up to the Hype:

1. Can't call mom and dad to bail me out when I screw up.
2. Have to make my own doctors appointments, and then go.
3. Sure, I can go to bed when I want, but I have to get myself up too.
4. I can no longer use the phrase "I'm just a kid" to get out of trouble.
5. I can buy anything I want, but actually have to deal with the bills.
6. Paying for insurance.
7. Getting a rebate on taxes is nice. Paying taxes is not.
8. No one will take care of my when I'm sick.
9. Now that I'm old enough to cook anything I want for dinner, I know better than to just eat brownies.
10. I get paid sick days, but it takes more work to be sick than to just go to work.

So there they are. If anyone has anything else they'd like to add to the list, throw them in comments, and if they're awesome, I'll add them to the blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ode to a Maintenance Man

While some of you may think you have good maintenance at your place of employment, that is only because you have never know the joy of having John  and Warren as your maintenance men.

So today, in honor of them, I've created this little list:

-When pop came in for the senior store late on Monday night, John was out there hauling NINETY cases up the stairs so we could use the dollies to get them into the storage room.

-When I locked myself on the elementary side 
of the building, with no shoes and no keys, right before everyone left for Stebbins, and I was about to be left behind, Warren came and found me.

-When my house was colder inside than outside, and I was sitting in front of the oven, which was turned all the way up, in my sleeping bag, over Christmas break, John came and made the heat work again. Then he sat in the basement with a blowtorch to thaw the pipes, so I could function.

-This morning, when I opened my front do
or, and found 30 inches of snow on my porch, I just sort of froze. I couldn't imagine digging my way out through that drift. Then I saw Warren shoveling one of the portable steps.  I whistled at him, and showed him how deep my porch was. I figured he'd laugh, and that would make it all better, and I'd dig my way out. Well, I was wrong, he came over and started shoveling. So I did  too, and we met in the middle, and I was able to leave my house in a lot less time, and a lot warmer, than I had figured. 

-When the class I sponsor got to be seniors, we needed another chaperone. If it was a man, then we wouldn't have to pay for a second advisor and a chaperone, we could just do with just the one. Enter John. Cool like a kid, responsible like a grown up. And, since he has no immediate ties anyone on the trip, I can trust him to be impartial during arguments. 

-Monday, I stumbled to school, already tired, and took a shower. Then I realized that my keys were still at my house, and I didn't want to go outside with wet hair. Just then, Warren came around the corner, and let me in. Very nice. Very, very nice.  Any time I don't have to tell the principal about my incompetence is a good time. 

-They put a new water pump in my house when mine broke, so I could stop scooping water out of the reservoir, and just turn on the sink like a regular person. They also took the frozen pipes out from under my sink so I could catch my drainage in a bucket and take it out, instead of backing up a bunch of pipes which would start to smell.

In addition to all these specific moments, they also keep the school running, and the heaters at our houses supplied with oil. They bring in the mail, bring in the visiting teams, and bring in the clean water when the school is out. When their hands get cold from working outside so much, and their fingers crack open, they just wrap them with electrical tape, and keep going. 

I don't care if they can't fly, and I don't even care when they make fun of me for being dumb, they are my heroes. 

I was just reading over this post again, fixing some tense mistakes. I almost make my self look like an idiot. Well, maybe I am, but these are instances from the last four years, and like Jessica Simpson says: "I'm not really that dumb. Tape anyone long enough, and they're bound to make some mistakes."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Living in the Bush

I will, throughout this blog, refer to life "in the bush." This phrase may be unfamiliar to you. For the sake of clarification, I've devised this little scale:

-Large buildings, taxi cabs, ethnic deli, too many cars to make a left hand turn, busses, people who can tell the difference between Szechwan and Cantonese food, six lanes of traffic, something different to do every night. 24 screen movie theaters. = Urban

-Sidewalks, houses built on a theme, strip malls, people who can tell the difference between Chinese and Thai food, four lanes of traffic, something to do different every night if we count hanging out at the mall and going to the movies as two things. 12 screen theaters. = Suburban

-Irrigation ditches, cows, tractors, can cross roads without crosswalks, people have Chinese Food, two lanes of road, 1 or 2 screen theaters. = Rural

-Groceries flown in, people flown in, there's frozen egg rolls in the store, dirt roads in town, no roads leading out of town, "We get Netflix" = Bush

I'm sure someone will disagree with my classifications. There may be bush towns with pavement, or urban cities without ethnic food, but as far as I can tell, these about sum it up. 

It turns out that I'm not a city girl. I don't function well there. When I head home for the summer, I fly from Shishmaref to Nome, which, while it thinks it's a city, really qualifies as suburban at best. I have to monitor my behavior closely, as I'm not allowed to pick up any little kid I see at the store. In Shishmaref, I know them all, or at least they know me. In Nome, I'm just some odd stranger. 

When the plane lands in Seattle, the traffic scares me, everyone drives too close together, and too fast. The buildings are too tall, everyone is a stranger, and 'conveniences' are freakishly expensive. I don't breathe easy again until the bus hits the open road, and there start being more trees than cars.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Post

In college, I had friends who had blogs. However, most ended up being a continuous list of complaints. With this in mind, I would like to set these guidelines for myself for this post:

-I will stay upbeat.

-I will not say anything about anyone on here that I would not say to their face.

-This blog is to help others understand what living in Alaska, in a house without traditional running water, is like.

-This blog is to help the general population understand my students better, and, through them, me.

-Because I know that other people may be hanging on my every post, I will update on a regular basis, once I find out what sort of schedule works for me. 

This should be be enough rules for me to start with. Let's see how it goes together.