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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Piano Lessons

School has started again, meaning it's time to pick back up on the piano lessons that I let slide last spring. Okay, so my last lesson was in January. It just kept not working out, either I'd be out of town, or busy, or at work, or Lindsay would be. And, as we all know, I only do things when there is a deadline hanging over my head. Because of this, my poor piano sat abandoned all summer. Poor piano.

Lessons are on Saturdays, and I do most of my practicing for my lessons on Friday night and Saturday morning. Yes, I know, shame on me. This week, in an effort to not waste this opportunity I have, I actually practiced today, Monday. I also printed off a set of flashcards, because I should be able to recognize notes at this point, and I can't. It's really embarrassing when I hit a wrong note, Lindsay just looks at me, and I try to figure out which one it is without counting up from middle C.

Last year, when I was taking lessons, I'd sneak off to the coffee shop to practice a couple of times a week. When I moved into my current house, I was able to pick up a piano for free, because it needs some work. The piano tuner only comes out once or twice a year, and all she could really do is figure out how many keys were broken, and what parts she needed. There was no point in tuning the piano at that point, since it would need to be tuned again once the new parts were put in anyway.

For right now, I'm only playing in C and G position, so none of the broken keys are within my range. Unfortunately, some of the keys that are within my reach are horribly out of tune. Like, don't-practice-when-others-are-in-the-house out of tune. On more than one occasion, I've gone in for my lesson, played a piece on Lindsay's nice piano, and realized I recognized it once it was played correctly.

I'm not very good at what I'm doing. Like all art, I prefer to appreciate it as opposed to create it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the "and crafts" part of "arts and crafts." It's a trait I've picked up living with my family. I can mass produce almost anything once I can take it apart. I think my past seniors and the 800 Valentines Day cookies we used to make are a testament to that.

I may never be a concert pianist. I may never even be good enough to play for sacrament meeting, but I'm glad I'm learning, if for no other reason than to entertain myself on the long Alaskan nights that are coming up.

We're past the equinox now, and are back under 12 hours of light a day. Here in Nome we lose about 6 minutes of daylight a day, so we can get down to the three hours we get on December 21st. It's already getting colder. I'm sure Daphne wishes I'd turn the heat up. I just can't bring myself to give up on the idea of summer yet. Not just yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The two sides of my life

When I lived in Shishmaref, there was just my life. I felt no real split between my work life and my social life. It would have been near-impossible anyway. My roommate worked at the same school I did, most of our friends worked at the same school, and those that didn't were parents of kids from our school. When it was time to sit around in the evening and share the highs and lows of our days, they were all focused on our shared kids, shared administration, and shared activities.

In Nome, there is a large divide between my work life and my other life (church life? home life? social life?)

My personal life consists of Daphne, the cabin Fosters, everyone at church, Erin Forton and her circle, and the random people that I have met and befriended while living in Nome. (I'm looking at you, Nellie from Airport Pizza.)

Work has it's own set of people, situations, acronyms, and problems. And even my work life is split into two areas: those that work for Kawerak: Wellness, Headstart, Community Planning, IT, Accounting, etc and those that work for other entities but share cases with the Child Advocacy Center: Child Protective Services, Alaska State Troopers District Attorneys Office, Behavioral Health, Sexual Assault Response Team (nurses), Department of Juvenile Justice, etc.

In general terms, I can talk about anything I want with all of the above people. However, if I want to name names, give details, or get opinions on the more difficult parts of my job, it has to be someone from the second set of work people. It's not only wrong to burden my visiting teachers with the details of my day, it's also illegal. And for those who haven't worked in social work, it's hard to explain why I continue to do what I do, when everything I say about the job sounds depressing on the face of it.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this. Well, here it is: Since I choose not to discuss even the public aspects of my job (I'm sure it bleeds through, but it's accidental), and I'm no longer taking classes to use as conversational fodder, I sometimes feel like I'm stuck with the banal aspects of my life. Travel plans, who likes who, who said what about who, how I was told by a girl who was told by another girl that she asked a boy if he would date a certain girl, and he said no, and what that implies for everyone involved. (I would like to say that was a joke example; it wasn't.)

Because of this, I have decided to expand my mind in the following ways:

-Finish reading the "College Bound Reading List" given to me by Kathy Reim, my 11th grade English teacher. It is an impressive list, and I've highlighted the books off of it as I read them. I am, however, only a quarter of the way through the list. I'm starting up again with Wuthering Heights, based on the fact that it's already on my bookshelf.

-Start up on stained glass again. I unpacked my boxes with Sarah Hofstetter the other day, because she needed some glass for a project. I forgot how much fun I used to have making projects with glass. I'm gonna carve myself out a piece of the shed where I can start working on projects again. This will help fix the problem two ways: 1) keep me away from the situations where I find myself over thinking things and getting gossipy, and 2) give me things to work on inside when everyone is hanging out together. And yes, I mean setting up a stained glass Pinterest board.

-I feel that something about world news, politics, or scientific advancements should go somewhere here. Umm, I'm going to outsource that to the vlogbrothers.

Hopefully, with these changes, my personal life will stop feeling like a Jane Austin novel, and I'll find ways to de-stress from the job. I think these are positive changes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nome supplies

Here is a barge very similar to the one that brought my truck up in the spring:
Mine had, among other things, a couple boats, a camper, and a giant pile of lumber on it. This one seems to be mostly containers.

Here is a tanker. It may be bringing us our winter gas. Right now, because of hunting season, gas is on sale from $6.10 down to $5.97. We were all thrilled, and filled up our cars.

My guess is this: Gas doesn't go on sale. It doesn't have to. There are two places in town to buy it, and it's the same price at both. I'm guessing that the tanker is here to fill up the storage tanks, and they realized there was too much gas in them from last winter, so they're trying to sell off the old stuff before they fill up the tanks with the new stuff. But that's just a guess.

This guy has been sitting out on the horizon for several days. It must be frustrating for the men on the boat to know that they're this close to restaurants, pretty girls, and beds that don't rock, and still not be able to come in.