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, May 21, 2011


I've already written once about what "waiting" means here in the bush. Recap: to go to the city to wait for the baby to come.

And a funny update on that: One of Amy's 5 year olds told their mother, in regards to their new baby: "Maybe you should take that baby back to Anchorage."  Ahh, sibling rivalry.

But today's post is about the other kind of waiting. The kind that most of us do on a daily basis in a myriad of ways. Specifically, it's about the difference between waiting up here, and waiting over the summer.

Things you wait for, that I don't:

-The car to warm up
-The light to turn green
-Right of way
-Stalled trafic

-Lines at the grocery store
-Lines at the bank
-Lines at the laundromat

-Waiters, plumbers, road crew, tellers, cashiers, etc.

However, there are a couple things I have to wait for. Things that take considerably longer than most of the things you wait for. For example:

-Mail Order Groceries
-Mail Order Clothes
-Mail Order movies, video games, toiletries, Christmas presents, books, and fruit.

On the positive side of that, it's not like I'm actually sitting at the post office that whole time, waiting for my new clothes to come in.

-The dentist to come to town
-Airplanes - but I maintain that my waiting around for three hours wringing my hands to see if the plane is going to make it is far superior to your daily commutes.

I leave Shishmaref in a week, and all of my non-waiting will go away, and I'll join you all at the drive through. I'll be the one in the white pickup truck, with an exasperated expression on my face.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Last Day of School

Good Morning Everyone!!

Today is the last day of school for the students of Shishmaref School, for the 2010-2011 school year.

And I want to cry.

Usually I'm tired, cranky, and ready to be gone. Usually, I'm so fed up with my seniors that I'm glad to see them leave. I think they build in that 18-year-old attitude so we don't feel bad about them leaving. Unfortunately, this year everyone was sweet, kind, diligent, and hard-working. And I'm going to miss them!!

Actually, as I sit here, my first period class is coming in, and getting their work out to finish up and turn in before class is over. This is the LAST DAY of school, and we're on early release, and every other school in the country is cleaning out lockers, scrubbing white-boards, and taking down bulletin boards.

I'm not saying that isn't happening here. Brandi, for example, turned in her big, honking research paper yesterday, and I just didn't have the heart to make her start a new assignment. So today she's going to fix book shelves and put stuff away. Poor kid.

And while the rest of the school districts in the U.S. are having trips to the zoo, field days, and outside recess, we are still surrounded by this:

Sheesh. That's all I have left to say about this snow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Since when?

I once had the opportunity to travel to Elim, to visit a friend, Anna Squires (soon to be something else!!!!)

Their teacher housing has been made by gutting the old school, and building apartments in it. The old offices are now itinerant housing, and the old kitchen is now group storage. The other rooms got split up into bedrooms and had bathrooms and kitchens added to make apartments.

In the old school hallway, which is still the apartment hallway, one of the teachers hung up a big piece of poster-board, and they would write down when someone said something funny or insightful. One quote in particular caught my eye, and went something like this:

For the 2nd highest paid group of teachers in the country, we sure do dress like we're homeless.

I try to maintain a little dignity, but he's got a point. I've seen more sweat-pants, tattered t-shirts, and gym shorts on staff here than at any office or school I've ever seen.

Several of the principals have realized this too, and have started imposing dress codes on us. Usually the basic: No holes, stains, tears, inappropriate logos, etc.  As long as I can continue wearing denim skirts and embellished t-shirts, I'll be fine.

I hadn't really thought about this much lately, but today, while on Facebook (after 4, of course) I saw an ad on the side of the page:

Um, is this what you guys think we look like? And this ad isn't even for "stop being a cannibalistic serial killer and become a teacher" kind of people. No, this one is for CURRENT teachers, looking for their masters. 

Classes USA, if this is the sort of person you're trying to attract, I will not be calling you. Ever.

Friday, May 13, 2011

When I Get Home

-Watching the game with my dad (Which game? Don't care. Just wanna be there.)

-Facebook during daylight hours

-Going out to eat with friends

-Attending church

-Drive Thru


-Laundry in my own house

-Driving my truck

-Meeting new people

-Going to other towns on a whim, with no calling ahead to make sure their is room on the plane.

-Beaches that aren't covered in ice

-An abundance of accessible, fresh, and reasonably priced produce.

I can't think of anything else right now, but I'm sure more will come to me. SUMMERTIME!! Here I come. 

And for those of you not yet in the know, this is as picture I took this morning, Friday, May 13th, at 8:40 a.m.  There is a bit of a puddle started between the houses there, and the snow is pretty slushy, but there's still FEET and FEET of the stuff. I just want some solid ground to walk on. Is this too much to ask?!?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Ode To Facebook

Dear  Facebook,

You are like a friend. A true and good friend. And not only do you know me, but you know my family, friends, colleges, and acquaintances. Even the ones who have never heard of each other. You are there to pass on information about all of them, like a gossipy mutual friend.

You will show me someones entire summer vacation photos, with captions. Or, I can ignore all of them.

You keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, and current e-mail addresses. You know when people cut their hair, get engaged, and go on vacation. 

You allow me to send birthday messages, condolences, and funny remarks with little to no effort. 

Thanks for keeping me connected to the outside world. And thanks for letting me keep track of my kids here at home.

Love you,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Almost Done. Halfway. Almost Halfway Done!

I'm in the process of turning in a paper right now. It's "Loading." So I thought I'd wander over here and say hi to everyone.

As soon as this paper is done, I only have one more 15-20 page paper due for this class. And when this class is done, I'm officially halfway done with my Masters degree.  Which is nice. It involves a pay raise, and the overwhelming feeling of being done with it. Once I get up there on the pay grade, I can coast for another five or six years before I have to worry about moving up the pay scale again.

Not that I'm doing it for the money. The raise i get is negligible considering what these classes are costing, but in the long run, it will be profitable.

The real reason I'm doing this is because I've never really not been taking a class. After college, I had to take the Alaska history and multi-cultural classes. Once those were done, I was senior advisor by myself, which occupied all my time. And once that was done, I was at a loss. Sure, I was the cheer coach, but what was I to do with myself in the evenings and weekends? I'm just not comfortable vegging. Once this class is done, I'll have the summer to chill, and run around like a crazy person. The next class starts the first of August, then it's back to the grind-stone.