Sunday, August 31, 2008

Confessions of a 2nd Year Teacher

Even though I had a pretty good short trip to Bethel for a Special Education inservice (I was inspired, and challenged, and I truly was full of life and new knowledge), I awoke this morning in a depression. I know this blog is called "Radiate Warmth" and I usually try to help people through sharing the good things of life, but today maybe it should be called "Wallow in Self Pity." I don't really know what it is. I just don't really want to be here right now (and by here I mean on this giant igneous rock in the middle of an abyss of a sea), and the year has only begun, we have so far to go and I feel like so many people are depending on me and all I want to say is "Deal with it!" I don't even really feel like teaching this week (is that wrong), all I want to do is go home or lay in bed and watch movies. Maybe I need you guys to send me some love to get me straight, or maybe I should just get over it.

I didn't experience this feeling last year because I was too bright eyed and bushy tailed and busy trying to save the world and make it a better place. Unfortunately I also have a way of swimming into the center of the dilemma and now that I further begin to understand my place in this village/district/state I feel less and less like I am supposed to be here, or that I can really accomplish anything or make a lasting impression. Kind of a disconcerting thought to tell you the truth. Trying to make a difference in a foreign place takes fitness. What I mean by fitness is that not everyone can just come up here and go day in and day out, over and over, putting their hearts out on the line, sacrificing themselves and their life and their comfort and their preference and their time and also be expected to be sunshine and lolly pops all the time. Sometimes we wear out, and today is one of those days.

Since these days have been few and far between over the last year I'm going to just let it be for now and hope that tomorrow is better. These funks we get into have to run their natural course like a flu, right now I have a funk'll pass.

I feel like this next poem is possibly some of my best work to date (whiny self pity is good for something). I wrote it last week when this feeling in my stomach began. Maybe it will become a song. I hope you will take the time to respond.

Awkwardly Simple

Our silver arms,
At least act like you made me.
Always a new plow
Scares us. Can you hear me?
You asked to come in.
What kinda way is this?
What kinda way is this?
You came and saw,
No right to’ve saw.
Oh no. Now way.

How scared was I?
And I have to spring on.
Who will apply
On the yearning seafloor?
You don’t scare me.
I’m walking away this time
I’m walking away this time.
I can’t decide how far it goes
House cleaning and slow lies
House cleaning and slow lies
But I decide my own worth.
Oh no. Oh.

Invested years,
And loosened ears,
You can’t get out,
Or run down it.
I ache about it.
Follow me down.

I live in times
Without kisses.
What is my plan
To undo steep hands?
Is that me rocking?
Is that knocking
In me so simple?
Awkwardly simple.

I fell off like
A flipping fall line.
I’ve done this highlight.
Now let go life.
In the aura
You push too for it
At last.
Were you shoved in?
Have you climbed over
A four leafed clover?
I can’t get out
I want the out.

I live in times
Without kisses.
What is my plan
To undo steep hands?
Is that me rocking?
Is that the knocking
In me so simple?
Awkwardly simple.

This poem is kind of about a conversation with yourself and how you can feel so deeply about the future and past simultaneously while also being completely caught up in the moment. Its kind of where all of time swirls together.

The Weekly Update is below.

Weekly Update...Sigh

I'll have more to say at the end of this.

Musical Artist of the Week: To accompany my deepening melancholy I have bought the newest and greatest Sigur Ros album "Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust." This Icelandic band has been with since I was a freshman in college and everytime I feel like simmering in my own sadness they have been there to say what I need to hear. The most incredible thing is that all the words to their songs are made up and don't mean anything. This allows a type of emotion to shine through the music that other lyrics might ruin. They convey exactly what they want to say without the use of real words. Check them out on iTunes or just go and buy the album.

Personal Art Update: With great sadness comes good art I suppose. I just wrote a couple new poems that I will put in another post after I finish this. I continue to enjoy playing my new Lanakai ukulele and have recorded a couple new songs on it. I'm going to keep writing poetry as much as I can and I'll share it with you (but I never get any feedback on the poems so we'll see how long that lasts)

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Up Sh** creek with out a paddle." This is one of my favorite ways to tell someone tough luck/too bad/SOL. Just the image it brings to mind makes me smirk a little.

Bush Recipe of the Week: Tired of drinking concentrated orange juice out of the can that totally sucks? Well here's a trick my parents taught me to make that crap palletable (it totally works I swear).

Orange Juice From Concentrate That Doesn't Suck:

First, make your sucky orange juice like normal
Second, when you're done add in a capful of "Vanilla Extract"
Third, Stir and let chill.
Last, Drink your not as sucky orange juice from concentrate.

Readership Update: Still at about 40 visitors a day and about 250+ a week. I always wonder just who you are though.

Other News: A special thanks to Alisha, Chandra and Avery for all the hospitality and friendship this weekend, I had a great time (probably too great because I feel lonely now without all the people and dogs). Also, Erin thanks for being awesome company at Grant Aviation and on the flight out, it was so good to see you too and made me realize what good friends I have (if only they weren't all so far away).

Also: I cut my hair this morning, about 10 inches. I trimmed my beard too. I like it, or at least it fits how I feel. Time for a semi new start I guess.

Have a good week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Looking Back: Summer 08 "Flomotion Summer Meltdown"

Ah. Summer Meltdown. Its my favorite festival of the summer. It showcases my favorite band of all time, Flowmotion, it takes place at the beautiful Whitehorse Amphitheatre in Darrington, WA. Only about 2500 people come and you get to camp only a hundred yards away from stage amongst tall pine and evergreen trees. There is a clean cold stream running in the woods behind the stage to clean up in and a 3 homey stages to entice your musical pallet.

I didn't take very many pictures unfortunately. I was too busy melting down. Me and my brother and Katie got there early for fan appreciation night on Thursday with our special "golden tickets." We got an amazing campsite and set up tapestries and hammocks and tents to solidify our space. Later that evening Hal's friends Leslie and Kali arrived and the crew was complete.
Leslie and Kali were knitting and selling hats and we all wore them as walking advertisements. Because of this we termed ourselves the "Mad Hatters." We kept asking people to "Slap one on their melon" and try one out, it was funny as hell.

Flowmotion played a calm and collected set with no encore that night and we all got our boogie down while also conserving energy for the big Saturday night.

Highlights of the weekend included Lucky Brown and the Boogie Down Band (I love the funk), That One Guy (actually his name) and his magical pipe (unbelievable to see...look at the pic), Tea Leaf Green (soooo epic), the Staxx Brothers and the Dream Science Circus (thanks Kali for staying up at the late night tent and experiencing that with me!).

Of course the highlight of the weekend was Flowmotion. They opened with two Beatles songs on saturday night which is probably the only way I'll ever enjoy a Beatles song. They had That One Guy, the singer/keyboardist from Tealeaf Green, Blake Lewis, and a crazy asian rapper on stage for the encore and I freaking went nuts!!!! Josh and R.L. did a guitar only "Wild Eyes" It was so incredible to be there with two of the people I care about the most (Hal and Katie) dancing our hearts out, feeling young, free and alive. I felt like I was in heaven if such a place existed. (Don't hate on the pics they're cute!)

I just want to say that I couldn't have asked for a better send off to Alaska than hanging out with Katie, Hal, Leslie and Kali. We had the best time together and made an on the spot little family.

All I really have to say is "Meltdown (high fives)...Yeeeeah!"

Looking back: Summer 08 "Hawaii"

Two weeks before I left for Alaska the Iverson family headed out to the big island in Hawaii to stay for a week in a small town area called Puako outside of the big town of Kona. We rented a condo across the street from the beach and basically went to a different beach everyday to swim, play paddle ball, sun tan and relax (see pics of me and my bro hal lounging).

We went to five different beaches altogether. I wish I could remember the names but there were too many mooka lakka leekees and what not. It all sounded the same to me but I do remeber Hapuna Beach, Koa Bay, 69 Beach (don't ask), and some other ones!

We would go out to dinner at night and come home and relax on our little lanai porch and watch the big dipper dive toward the sky. If it wasn't clear enough on the porch we would go down to the beach and sit late into the night watching the shooting stars and big dipper disappear.

We spent one day in Hilo. We went to the farmers market and later that day we ate tropical Hawaii infused Thai food that made me wish I lived there. I bought a baratone ukulele that I've recently named Gertrude and then later that night we hung out with real surfer kids that were friends of my brothers high school friend. They were so laid back and chill until the sushi and sake got busted out. After some spring rolls and rolling laughter we headed to the most bizarre karaoke bar I've ever been to. You had to stay seated in high backed booths and the sight of our big group definitely annoyed some locals. I talked philosophy and books in the middle of this mess and it was a riotous time for all. We went home and stayed up half the night playing ukulele and telling dirty jokes.

We visited some cool jungle falls outside of Hilo the next day in the rain, it was still cool.

We were also able to connect with a high school friend of my dad's named Steve and his wife Laura. He took us out on his charter size ocean boat to fish for mahi and ahi ahi and a bunch of other crazy fish and we struck out. It was awesome to see the island from the ocean view though and not catching fish wasn't the worst thing in the world.

The last day of the trip we returned to the first beach we went to, Hapuna. As we sat absorbing out last day at the beach before returning to the cold reality of Washington my brother exclaimed aloud, "That's Natalie Portman!"
I looked over and sure enough there she was! The actress Natalie Portman. But to add to that I noticed she was with her folk rock star boyfriend Devendra Banhart. They were on a private lovers get a way and hanging out at the same beach as us! I couldn't believe it. They went swimming in the ocean and me and Hal ran in and swam nearby. As Natalie Portman came in she waded past me and I blurted out awkwardly "Hey what's up?"
She said "Heeeey," back but implied "Hey bearded creep don't drown me."
I was heartbroken. She's my number one all time favorite hottest most beautiful celebrity female and she thought I was creepy. Oh well.

As we left I waved to Devendra Banhart (who I've mentioned on this blog multiple times) and he gave me the old "You know who I am" salute.

My mom got photos of them making out, I thought about selling them to People magazine to help pay off my 40+ thousand dollars of student loans (thanks to the overpriced UPS MAT program), but my respect for both of them artistically prevented me from following through (and the photos were blurry hehe).

So Hawaii, um, yeah, good tan, big turtles, good times, I'm a creep to Natalie Portman, and a Devendra Banhart salute.

No Net

The internet has been down since Friday. It has been a huge pain in my ass. I have lots and lots and lots to tell you all about. But it will have to wait as, alas, I still have to teach some book learnins to them thar childrin.

Things to come:
Halibut Fishing
Berry Picking
and all that jazz.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Overalls Friday!

Hey, alright! Its overalls Friday once again. Why is it so special? Well overalls are great and so are Fridays and that a perfect match. I wear overalls as a sign of the weekend. I don't think I've ever earned a Friday like this one in my life. Last night was beautiful and I went fishing with Ralph. He caught a good sized silver but I struck out again. Dammit. But a shi**y day fishing beats a good day at work, or thats what they say. The weather was beautifully sunny and warm and after fishing my new SA Gary and I spent an hour driving the 4-wheeler down to the airport to learn how to drive the 4-wheeler, we only got it up to 51 but it was still exciting. I hope this fog burns off today so that I can get some berry picking done. And this weekend I plan on getting around to that Hawaii/Meltdown post (I'm so sorry guys).

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Poem

Life Through Death

Its all time and movement,
Moments that own us,
Currents that overthrow us,
And Oceans of emotions,
And rhythms overflowing,
Of feelings and growing.
I once asked a girl:
“How do you make it
In a world that has marked you?”
And she replied:
“Why you gotta love where you’re at
If you want to get where you want to
And it struck me,
And thrust me,
Back, back, back
And into the sea.
To think all along
Its in a smile or song,
Or a day in the life
Of a child of the dawn,
Or a man of the light,
Or a lady of the night.

And old man once told
The words that I live by:
“When you wake in dark of the morn
you have one decision to base you day on.
Will I have a good day or will I have bad one?”
Those were the lasting words
of grandfather
to a grandson.
And I try so hard to live up to those words,
but they’re truer than any of the others
I’ve ever heard.
Because it all comes down
To how you deal with your life.
You either swim or you drown.
Time cuts like a knife.
One minute your eleven,
The next your twenty seven,
Then you wake up when your forty,
Next thing your in heaven.
If you believe in such a place,
What if its just a bandage on the face
Of the fact that we might become dirt in the end.
So I say drink up and give love to your friends.

When its all over
I don’t want to be
Anything less then I was meant to be:
A messenger, a vessel,
A brother, a threshold,
A gateway, a lover.
We all can discover
Through death

Don’t forget to breath.
Don’t forget to see
The forest that is hiding
In between the trees.

I wrote this with a happy heart so don't think its depressing. What I mean is that through knowing its all going to come to end some day we can be happy in knowing that each day counts. Make the most of your day!

Wednesday and I'm almost dead...

I have been wearing too many hats this week. I'm teaching two High School Math classes, one JR High Science, one High School Fine Art class, and High School Ecology. If that wasn't enough, I'm also trying to teach myself Special Ed and have been reviewing our students IEP's to make sure we are offering the right services.
On top of that topped that, I have become the "Tech" guy at our school and have spent the last 3 days repairing, troubleshooting and fixing the entire school's internet service and interschool airport network.
If that wasn't enough, I also have spent the last 2 days reviewing student records and transcripts to make sure their classes are what they need for them to graduate on time. It is ridiculous.
I have been running around like a nut, nay a crazy focussed bad ass nut, doing the best I can to help everyone out that I can. It would be one thing if it was just me, but its not, its everyone else is working super hard too. Our new Site Administrator Gary is working his ass off everyday. Our secretary Alice is keeping everything held together somehow (she's amazing). Our new (as well as old) teachers are working above and beyond the call of duty just to get this damn school off the ground.
It appears that it might be taking flight (barely and with lots of cargo). We have some pretty important issues to hammer out on Friday staff meeting but, dammit, I think we can do it.

In other Nunivak related news, I have been so friggin' busy that I haven't had the energy or time to do any berry picking or fishing yet. This pains me, pains me greatly in fact. A daily stubborn fog has been here since my arrival also, not the sunny wonderful Mekoryuk of last fall.

I also haven't had the time to talk about Hawaii or Summer Meltdown. I PROMISE THOSE ARE COMING TOMORROW! I'm friggin swamped out here so just give me a second chance ok?

I can honestly say I've never had to battle this hard to make it to humpday. Wow, only 177 days left of school. If I live through it. Have a good one y'all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekly Update Revival

Thats right kiddies, the weekly update is back. There were a lot of features to the weekly update I'd like to keep and some that started to bore me so check out the news in My Brain lately.

Musical Artist Of the Week: Miles Davis from the album "Kind of Blue." I've never really invested a lot of time in this album before but I'll tell you what, the long spaced out melancholy jazz jams really have been speaking to me this last week. I get into my room and me and Miles get to work you know? Dig that cats, dig that for sure.

Personal Art Update: I've started learning some cover songs of artists I admire. Right now I'm learning a couple Matt Costa songs "Yellow Taxi Cab" and "Oh Dear," the goal being that by spring I can play from memory over 15 songs by other people. I haven't had time to paint, draw, write, or express myself much lately because of all the teacher work that is ruling my life. Eventually I should get back on track.

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Fit as a Fiddle" Can you please tell me just how fit fiddles are? Why do old people constantly refer to their health in comparison to a 4 stringed instrument? Old people, so funny.

Kale's Bush Recipe of the Week: With limited supplies and low quality food, lets see what I can come up with to satisfy my ever so advanced pallet...psych.

Spicy Sausage Fettuccine Alfredo: Shi**y Style
-Fettuccine Noodles (or whatever you can get your mittens on)
-Alfredo Sauce (out of the jar is fine we're not Mario Battali here)
-SriRacha Sauce (Vietnamese garlic hot sauce use sparingly if sensitive to spice)
-Johnsonville Spicy Brats (can substitue with moose or whatever)
-Green/Red/Yellow/Orange Peppers (if you get veggies in your village)
-Onions, Mushrooms, whatever you got
-Chedder Cheese (or pepper jack works too!)

Obviously I'm no chef so...Grill the Sausages, Make the noodles, Heat up the sauce, grill the veggies and cut up sausages, add them in to the sauce, add the Sriracha sauce, spice to taste, add the cheddar right before you serve over noodles. It sounds gross but this is one of my favorite meals on a cold night because it really heats you up!

Readership Update: Despite my brief 2 month hiatus I'm still getting about 33 readers a day and over 230 in the last week. Crazy huh? So if you are one of those readers then say hello, I need to get a sense of who's out there!!!

I promise I'll make this better next week, but I'm slammed right now.


Have a good week you knuckleheads.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Welcome Backs and the Sleep that evades me...

Amidst the chaos a pleasant phenomenon has been taking place. Everywhere I go around town people are shaking my hand and saying "Welcome Back." People I've never really talked to, people I didn't think even knew me, people who never acknowledged me, all saying the same thing and shaking my hand.

With all the crazy stress of trying to get our school up and running (impossibly I might add) by Monday morning as well as the eleven o'clock setting sun I've found sleep to be somewhat elusive once again. I still really haven't got my new apartment up and running either.

I'm waiting to move a couch in so that I can fall asleep on it but until then I just sit in this lazyboy-esk recliner, unsatisfied, trying to become tired. My apartment is still in shambles and after a whole day of 10 plus hours of organizing and rearranging my classroom and school and preparing for the big day I just can't seem to muster up the strength to do much of anything, especially clean my apartment.

Then after dinner and possibly a lazy movie I find myself wide awake drinking tea and rewatching DVD's. The free Alaska "One" channel I used to get last year doesn't seem to be working and along with it my easy street to dreamland. Long ago when I was a kid my parents gave up trying to make me go to bed the old fashion way and let me fall asleep watching tv. Either I would stay in my room and scream and cry for hours or I watch 2 minutes of tv and fall asleep. Its the same way today, but movies don't work, I need boring, mind numbing tv.

Oh well...I forgot about the long sleepless hours part of Alaska, and the early mornings that follow. Tomorrow I'm sleeping in a bit, Sunday and all, a little gospel bluegrass, coffee and pj's, and then back to work, one day left till it all goes down.

I Hope I get to go fishing this week...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm useful in my overalls.

With the new year underway we are in complete triage with only two days to go before those little monkeyheads come blasting through the doors of the Nuniwarmiut School . We've been hit with a barrage of seemingly ridiculous challenges.

Today in my school news:

1.) Giant Freezers outside died a couple of days ago destroying weeks worth of food...still working on how we'll feed the kids.
2.) Library has been moved, unmoved, removed and is now in chaos.
3.) Attic containing important books has been hit by a magical tornado.
4.) This years school schedule is locked inside a computer being serviced for a spilled coffee accident in Bethel.
5.) 150$ of my groceries were misplaced by the stupid Hageland Bush Air service people...I ate chili with spam tonight and will try to reclaim my losses from John the manager tomorrow.
6.) My shower will only heat to luke warm...yay.
7.) I have to fit in 17 students into my mini classroom and I may have inherited a harder math class to teach...yipee.
8.) our school is facing major budget deficit meaning school sports may be impossible this year.

Helpful things I did today.

1.) Figured out how to turn the propane tanks on for my neighbors
2.) Dropped off and Picked up people at the airport.
3.) Helped figure out the schedule crisis.
4.) Became the onsite tech advisor meaning I will be the contact for all internet disasters henceforth.
5.) Delivered complete, organized Writing Phase folders to new teachers.

Positive things happening in the face of crisis

1.) Unbelievably positive staff is united in facing possibly frustrating circumstances
2.) Maryanne and Ralph returned home today (congratulations on the marriage).
3.) Spam is good.
4.) All eleven of my fish survived the summer.
5.) People have been giving my a warm welcome back.
6.) I got 3 unbelievable care packages from my mom.
7.) I have a lot of TheraFlu.
8.) I subconsciously wore overalls today not even realizing it was friday!

There is seemingly so many obstacles to overcome right now that I am actually more at ease knowing that I can't/we can't possibly overcome them all before 8 am on monday morning. It will be a different kind of start this year...a slower, more disfunctional one maybe, but a positive one none the less.

Well Well Well

I'm back in Alaska now. My brain is overwhelmed with thoughts of summer memories and love and conquering the rush of returning responsibility that is teaching in the bush. I have so much to catch up on about the family vacation to Hawaii, Flowmotion's Summer Meltdown and much more but I'll get to that in due time.

Right now I'm sitting in my crappy new apartment thats set up and built like a 'L' shaped architectural skrew up drinking pomegranate tea and listening to "This American Life" feeling melancholy and alone. The butterflies I felt last year didn't happen this time, but rather a odd sense of familiarity for a far away land that no one can really comprehend without seeing it for themselves. I had to explain all about my life up here so many times to people over the summer that my sense of wonder and pride of the life I've built here became abstract stories of my mind that I sort of resented. Now I'm back in this bizarre world with a new principal, a new set of colleagues and new set of disasters and challenges to deal with.

The positive thing is that my blog is back, I packed my summer so full of adventure that I didn't have time to document it, rather just live life. I think Neal Cassady once told Jack Kerouac that there are two types of people in the world, those who document their lives and those who just live them so fully that they cannot. It appears I've made the switch back to the former.

I don't know how many readers I lost over the summer, but I'm grateful for those of you that stuck around and held on knowing that I would return once again to the type of place where intense solitude can produce the type and volume of life realizations and commentary you have all grown so use two. I'll do my best to continue providing this service to you while also servicing that internal need I have to rationalize my life through sharing words with all those that care to listen.

I'm trying hard to redefine my role here in Mekoryuk. I've realized that I'm needed and appreciated here in the District and school. I also worry that people will feel the void of my absence if I choose not to return for a third year. But with no prospect of friends my age, romance of any kind, or a community that I can never truly become a empirical part of, I have to acknowledge that this might not be the best place for me to spend the greater part of my waning youth. So for now, my goals are to effect what change I can in the district as well as teach those around me how to carry the lessons I believe so heavily in even in the absence of the person that showed them how to look at things in a different way. I want to teach my students self reliance, how to affect change in a broken system, and how to advocate for their needs. The major goal being that if I don't come back, they can carry on regardless. I'm not that important but I can already feel the guilt and guilt is no reason to stay in a place where you don't feel complete.

Who knows...? Maybe this will be the best year of my life, maybe I will become a dedicated bush teacher hell bent on coming back for twenty years. Right now I just don't know though.

In my short life I've not always been known for my positivity, only here in Alaska people really seem to feel that is the case. This blog and the accountibility that comes with authoring a concept such as "Radiate Warmth" has been a constant reminder to practice what I preach. So I need to remember that I am a positive person, I can be one with practice and that moments of somber feelings like now don't last forever. After all positivity in the bush is a necessity as real as a good parka or dry socks.

I'm gonna get back to my recliner and my radio programs. Is anyone still out there? Is anyone still reading? I hope so and I hope to hear from all of you soon once again.

Peace my friends.
to view my other blog OUT OF THE CLOSET ATHEIST click HERE