Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Evening Ramble-Rooni or Stayers and Goers

So its high time for a good old fashion life ramble-rooni. I've always said a good way to start writing about something important is to start writing about how you have nothing to write about, which, in this case, I am currently doing right now, so disregard this section if at all possible, but of course if you're reading this then you can't disregard it as you're still reading, in that case don't fret this section is almost over.

That being said there are things happening in life. Really, you have to believe me.

Its raincoat season here on the island...yaaaaay, nay, double yay with a double scoop of sarcasm. I have a trusty Carhart forest green raincoat that I get to wear for maybe a few days of the year before it immediately turns to parka weather (I like my parka way more although I bet I could spraypaint my raincoat cool). I'm kind of enjoying the rain though, I'm enjoying the pissy fall weather, it suits the mood of my students and this damn town.

Time is passing so quickly too. I can't believe its already almost October. With the coming winter I always think about the fact that I turn a year older in December. This year the big 26. Thats right, I officially have 2 years till I'm old and uncool. Well I better live it up then...and no better of a place to spend your crazy twenty something years than alone on a dry eskimo village in the middle of the Bering Sea right? Take tonight for example, I'll probably watch a less than satisfying HBO movie, mix stimulants (coca-cola) and depressants (Thera-Flu) for a chemically induced extravaganza that leaves me feeling just about even. I'll also watch said unsatisfying movie while simultaneously lamenting about how I could be using my time so much more wisely if only the day's gauntlet hadn't wore me down to the blunt nub of a man I am lately.

In happy local news, we had an oil spill on the island a couple of days ago. The barge that brings in all kinds of supplies hit a boulder and seeped about 60-200 gallons of diesel fuel right into the mouth of the river. Fortunately the captain is a moron and returned the ship to our shores and didn't report the incident, a local had to (did you pick up that sarcasm? good cuz I'm laying it on pretty thick) Also in another fortunate turn of events the Coast Guard never responded, the barge didn't have a long enough boom to contain the fuel and they didn't have enough pads to absorb it up. Oooh, and the fuel got into the river and surrounding waters and killed a lot of sea plant life, jellyfish and who knows what else...awesome! The barge people left two days later in the middle of the night! Yes the same people who ran a barge aground in light of day left in the middle of the dark void of night. Regardless, it falls nicely into our Ecology unit on Environmental Problems. But I digress, my main point of bringing this up is that most people aren't really in touch with real life environment atrocities and now you can say "Hey, I know this kid up Alaska, and the same ol' shit that has always been happening is still happening today...man." People still don't give a crap about the environment, especially when it costs money.

In more personal news, I, apparently, rarely give a crap about my apartment these days. I've always been a "cyclical" cleaner. Whats I means is that I lets the shits piles ups and thens I cleans everythings alls ats once. Floors, bathroom, dishes, clutter, laundry etc. All in one furious tornado of sponges mops detergents, just one job, there's not doing the dishes, or cleaning the floor, just cleaning or degrading. Basically I just let life fall apart around me until even I can't stand the chaos and I have put on some Kylie Minogue and get my boogie down cleaning to semi gay British diva techno. T hats right, if I want to get my life back on track I need candy coated britpop. There I said it. Then right afterward, I don't feel so bad for throwing my clothes on the ground or a dirty pan in the sink, just deep shame for having such a good time doing it.

Ok, I like where this is going, I haven't just forced myself to write without reason or purpose in a long time. The fact is I can't get internet at home so I do waaaaaaay less out of school writing, and I don't really do any of my good metaphysical outerspace amazing thinking inside the walls of this institution, because this is my WORK. I guess I could start writing on word and pasting it but there is a certain feeling I get when I pop up that publish post window. Pasting it in just seems like cheating, if I just type it up on the spot it feels more visceral, more real.

I'm having a really hard time calling this blog Radiate Warmth lately. Do you suuuuper faithful readers remember last year when I was so full of hope, and talked about "Energy" all the time and the amazing purpose of life, and the endless possibility of the great infinite experience of being here in the moment??? Everything was so "NOW" and "WOW" and so emboldened with purpose and saving the world. I don't really feel like that much lately. I have to admit, I've been worn down. I don't know how other teachers are, but I used to have such a fire, I lost it somewhere.

I know all the kids tricks, I know all their bullshit, and everyday they try to pull it is one more day I care less and less. Its sad and its cold, but I fucking killed myself over these kids last year. Killed myself. I stayed here at this school till all hours of the night trying to make it the best year of their lives (and mine too). And we can all sit around a warm happy campfire and sing songs and pretend like we make a difference and believe it, but what if we don't. No one ever talks about that. No one ever talks about the process of becoming a dried up teacher, or a disenfranchised educator, or how someone could give up on the kids. How even if you give your all as a teacher it still might never be enough. How it feels to work on a student for years and have them still never get it or get better or care at all. "Do it for the kids" they say. "You'll never know how much you affect them." Aaaaah. That kind of gives you a warm fuzzy don't it?

Well it gives me a stomach ache. Like the one I always have when I think about what the heck am I really doing here. Its not a sadness. Its not really a regret. Its just, so, whats the phrase I'm thinking of here, FREAKING RIDICULOUS! Yeah thats it. One of my all time major thoughts about the non existence of "God" is: Who the hell would think up this whole tangled pointless mess anyway? It could only be the product of chaos.

Also, You know when you sit in high school and they make you write where you'll be in 5 years. In 10 years. Well what I constantly want to know is how the hell did I get here, why am I here, and what am I supposed to do next?

I think the important thing is that I ask these questions. I mean from my experiences so far I have to believe that life is just one big constant swing back and forth between a great feeling of concern from wondering if you're doing what you're supposed to do (assuming we're even supposed to do something) and a great contentness and satisfaction from knowing you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing (and that life is about doing something). Last year I knew that life had a purpose and I was DOING IT BABY! This year I'm not so sure there is a point to this whole charade and if there is I'm definitely riding the wrong train.

And with thoughts like this I have to turn to the constants. What has always been the one thing that has meant something to me? And its family and friends. If Alaska has taught me anything this year, it has taught me how much I love and miss my friends and family. Last year I was so immersed in my predicament that all of the amazing people in my life ebbed away slightly as I pursued my "next big thing." And in truth, I was running away a bit. I'm a runner, its what I do when shit gets heavy. This year though, I carry around a great pain in my heart, that I feel all the time, knowing that I am here, and they are there. I am exhibiting all the major symptoms of homesickness. How did it take till the second year to set in? Maybe if I had gone home and had a shitty summer it would have made coming back easier. But my summer was incredible, the people were amazing, and I left it all for this.

And the really upsetting part is that I know for a friggin fact, a FACT, that when I move back to the lower 48 with all my friends and family around I will start to put things in place to go on another big adventure. Because, I will get antsy, and familiar, and comfortable, and stable and all that crap and take off again to go "discover" myself in some new location that will yield yet another insight that will probably entail wanting to go back home. It truly is a sick cycle, the grass is always greener, whoever wrote that should be given a medal or a shiny new sports car. I mean, If you stay home you're missing the big bad world of endless infinity, if you go out into the abyss of unknown fate you miss the solid rock of home. One person constantly yearning to become a newer changed person, the other person hurdling through the dynamic world grasping for something stable and familiar like home.

And yet the enlightened person meditates on a stupid exotic pillow with incense burning wearing fisherman pants in perfect cross legged fashion saying "Just meeeeeeeellow man, breath in, breath out, and live in the moment." I hate enlightened people sometimes. Do they even exist? Do I want to be that person that figures it all out anyway...?

You know what I think. I think its our nature (or at least the nature of a percentage of our species) to not accept happiness, to not be happy with OUR grass, to look at the OTHER shinier, somehow different and better grass on the next knoll over. Maybe some people are evolutionarily predisposed to happiness. They are meant to stay put, be happy, make babies and be in that spot. And maybe some of us are meant to question everything, be cynics, searchers, wanderers, wonderers, ponderers, explorers, adventurers, movers and shakers.

I think of the first humans radiating out of Africa. Some would say (in a aboriginal dialect no longer spoken) "Hey its ok here man, lets just stay man, you know man, like, I like it here man, like seriously lets just stay man and keep doing things like we always do." And they would stay and do what the stayers do...not go anywhere and be happy not doing anything. And some kinda different dude or chik in the group would be like, "No man, lets see whats over that hill first man, anyone coming with me man? You? You? Anyone? No? Yes? Ok well lets go man!" And those people would take a sandwich for the road and go on doing what they do...which is something, the goers, if you will. As Ken Kesey used to say, "You're either on the bus or you're off ."

And its been going on like this for thousands of years until humans have covered almost every square inch of this damn planet. And the weirdest part is that now that we've covered every part, we want to go back and see the parts we passed up on, and even more messed up is that when the goers go to other places where the stayers are they don't know why someone would ever stay there or oppositely why someone would ever go anywhere else.

And maybe not every stayer is really a stayer. Maybe they are just a wussy goer and the best way to leave where you're staying at with out really going anywhere is to get your headspace changed. You don't have to physically go anywhere but you definitely, given the right substance, can go somewhere right? And maybe inside of every goer there is a tiny little part of them that knows they will have to stay someday. But its sooo hard to pick, and there isn't anything worse than a goer who stays somewhere they never wanted to. Those are what we currently refer to as assholes. And just as bad are stayers that never tried being a goer...EVER. And we commonly refer to those people as assholes too.

And so it goes. The stayers and goers. The blacks and whites. The pluses and minuses. The odds and evens. The ups and downs. The lefts and rights. The rights and wrongs. The mens and the womens and the he-she's and the shims, and the old and the new and the happy and the not. And in the end it all really comes down to whether or you can go to bed every night with a happy heart or a heart ache, and also if its still that way when you wake up the next day.

So on the topic of this being called Radiate Warmth I still just don't know.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Update


Another week in the books my friends.

Musical Artists of the Week: This week the cold has really hit and the fall colors are starting to show. Every fall I like to revisit my senior year of high school musical favorites because they are so telling of the fall and the changing of time.

MUSIC MIX goes as follows:
1.) Belle and Sebastian from "Tigermilk" oh so melancholy and happy simultaneously
2.) Pinback from "Blue Screen Life" so melodic and moody and solitary.
3.) Deathcab for Cutie from"The Forbidden Love E.P." wanna feel like you're 16 again? This band didn't used to suck (although they rocked at Sasquatch this year)
4.) Built to Spill from "Ancient Melodies of the Future" daunting, plodding and forward sounds of change
5.) Modest Mouse from "Everywhere and his Nasty Parlor Tricks" this band has a way of saying in music how I feel most of the time.
6.) Nick Drake from "Pink Moon" oh Nicky D, why do you have to make the rest of us singer song writers look like shit? If I could just write one song that good before I die.

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Hang yer hat on" I guess if something is important or well done you could tell someone that it is something they "can really hang yer hat on"

Weather on old Nunivak: After a couple of beautiful cloudless days we finally had our first frost this very morning! As we wheeled up to the trout pound the ground was covered with frost, the puddles encrusted with a thin sheet of ice. You know what frost means? CRANBERRIES! yes!

Art Update: None I'm in full berry/fishing mode.

Political Update: None I watched 30 seconds of the debate, (two old guys yapping at each other of the same crap over and over again, or a beautiful sunny day out in nature harvesting the bounty of the land) you make the pick.

Lack of Fitness Update: Since I've been rooting around on a 4 wheeler all weekend my muscles are pretty soar (check out this gnarly action shot from a mud crossing), I think I might take my brother up on his idea that I should get into yoga again. I took a class in college and loved it (when I didn't sleep through it 9 am ouch). Monday night open gyms with the high school kids have been physical too.

Subsistence Update: I have totaled out about 10 plus gallons of assorted berries including blue, salmon, black, crow, and cranberries. I have three silver salmon, 12 large trout, and I plan on picking berries and fishing right up to till it snows.

This weekend for instance was Another Great weekend of subsistence lifestyle out here on the ol tundarooni. I picked two gallons of black and cran berries, I also caught another good mess of trout in the morning fog this morning with Kevin my co-teacher in high school.

When I get close to being done for the fall I'm going to lay out everything I have gathered and fished for myself just so I can really see how much I've got (look for pictures to follow).

So, its dinner time, Sunday night, I've goofed off all weekend and not done any planning for the week. I better get to work and you better have a good week too!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Overalls Friday and not a moment too soon

Overalls Friday high and low lights.

Beautiful sunrise, sliver moon, stars and clear skies today.
Fun new math activities had students engaged.
Awesome art mosaics in progress by students
Friend Erin from Oscarville still clinging to Mekoryuk Visit possibility.
JH science kids Aced quiz
Ecology Class Tundra walk in the sun

Student inappropriate use of computers (I have a remote desktop surveillance program now)
Students throwing berries, kicking rocks and not paying attention on Ecology Tundra Walk
Erin having to cancel Mekoryuk visit due to no rides
Massive petty coworker soap opera drama for no reason
Awful chili and rice lunch made students extra gassy

I can't wait to get the hell out of school so I can get away from these people into the freedom of the tundra, with its sunshine, earthy smells, and bountiful berries. Normally my Fridays start of shitty and improve as the day goes on and the prospect of Freedom nears, this Friday however started off incredible and has gotten shittier as the day wears on. The pinnacle of this nonsense fast approaching. ANYWAYS I'll keep you all posted (so much I wish I could share with all of you).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shat Weather and Food...mmmmmmm.

I want to subsist. I mean, as the locals say, "I want to GO berry pick." I guess a real tough person would go and pick anyway, rain or shine. Its just picking with gloves is stupid, and its a wee bit nippie out there for my mits to be bare, rainy too. But subsistence is addictive. Once you start to tap into the ultimate bounty of ol mama earth, you just want to keep gathering more.

I don't know when or if I'm going to do it, but I want to see if I can make it like a month off of food I subsisted myself. Mostly salmon, trout, and berries. I mean I'll probably get super sick of eating the same thing everyday, but how cool would that be to know that I gathered enough food to feed myself for a month.

Farming is cool, Hunting is ok (up here its a little bit more noble), Fishing is admirable I suppose, but GATHERING is so much cooler. I wonder if there is a diet called "Gatherer" (probably more like scavenging). But it could include things you could Gather like wild plants (tubers and grass and berries and so much other stuff), mushrooms, muscles, clams, crabs I guess, (fishing almost fits in) and other sea foods. Like "gatherer" foods are just there for the taking, you don't have to really hunt it, or grow it, just find it!

Anyways that was a thought I just had, whoa...weird.

Also, I just want to say: Banana Bread + Peanut Butter= My Dear God Thats Good! (had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday and breakfast and lunch today thanks to Dirk and his generous loaf of friendship).

I love redefining meals. Like why do we eat breakfast foods at breakfast, everyone knows breakfast is better for dinner, and Dinner is better cold and leftover for breakfast, and lunch is just a half assed wild card, you never know how that'll go. Do you ever just make a lot of something and eat it like 3 times in one day because its so good?

Why am I talking about food anyways? Oh yeah, its dinner time and I'm hungry. Tonight I think I'm going to clean my apartment to some newly purchased Pinback, make pancakes bacon and eggs for dinner, bake some cookies with tundra berries, and listen to some NPR This American Life podcasts. Sounds domestic and lame? Well its cozy to me.

Anyways...I'm rambling...sorry...Tomorrow is Humpday so get your hump on...oops...I mean I hope your day is humptastic...wait no thats all wrong...try this...don't let anyone take the hump out of your day...no thats just awful...here how about this one...tomorrow, I hope you're on top of the hump...gross...nevermind.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Update

I spent so much time on the fishing trip blog yesterday that I didn't get any time to do the weekend update, so here it is, belated as it may be.

Musical Artist of the Week: Zach Gill from his first solo album "Zach Gill's Stuff." This album is on the Brushfire Record Label (Jack Johnson's Label) and Gill is one of the founding members of A.L.O. (Animal Liberation Orchestra). It is the perfect transitory album to usher you softly from the waning summer into the coming fall. Its got funky poppy morsels and sentimental juicy melodies and lyrics. Gill's sleepy voice kind of seduces you to let go of your stress and laugh at yourself. Please let me know if anyone else has picked up this gem? Also I have a ukulele by Lanakai the same company as the one he has...how cool!
Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Rarer than hen's teeth" First of all, I'm a biology teacher, and hens have beaks not teeth, which means for a hen to have teeth they would have to be a mutant chicken crossbred with some sort of lizard/mammal or something. This makes hen's teeth very very rare. Let me make an example: A WSU Cougar football team win this year is Rarer Than Hen's Teeth.

Weather on Nunivak: The NOAA Mekoryuk weather station is reporting mid to upper 40's with wind gusts up to 30 mph today, it certainly is windy. The fast moving skies have an ominous feel lately as fall is deteriorating and winter is close by.
This Week in Politics: I can honestly say I don't have a clue about whats happening in America. Even with a TV and full satellite cable it has been over 9 days since I've heard even a single nugget of information on the elections or America. I vaguely feel like I heard something about a failing economy and Federal intervention but out here the economy has always been failing and times have always been hard (and intervened) for these people so I'm not sure its so different.

Art Update: I worked on my short story "Leonard K. Humple" a little this weekend. Its been so long that I don't imagine anyone even remembers what its about, but I do, hopefully I can keep the story going...be weary though, its a dark story with drugs and murder. I'm probably going to try and write some poetry tonight too.

I've decided we are going to have an end of the semester art show, with sparkling cider and cheese and stuff, student showcases, like a mock gallery opening before the Christmas break. The students lit up when I told them about it, so I am excited for that. I definitely need to step it up on the music though, I'm slacking heavily.
Lack of Fitness Update: Still not working out. I'm active though, open gym basketball on Mondays with the HS kids, fishing and long bumpy 4-wheeler rides on the weekend plus fishing, and being on my feet all day teaching these knuckleheads. I need to find some sort of inspiration to take it to the next level. Any thoughts?

Kale's shi**y bush recipe of the week: Awesome Chicken Salad Sandwiches
So this seems pretty simple, but here are some things you can add to your basic mayo and chicken breast chicken salad to make it a special moment for you and yours.

-Curry Curry Curry, add this spice into your chicken salad and transform it into a whole new thing
- Finely Chopped apple: add these little nuggets of joy to and you have a odd but satisfying combo, try reds or greens for different results
- Nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cashews as work in chicken salad if they are chopped up
- Chopped bacon, you kidding me? Its a slam dunk, especially if the bacon is crunchy
- No mayo, use ranch instead and add lots of ground pepper, hey this is for ranch diehards only
- Cranberry sauce, can't wait for Turkey day? Jump the gun...c'mon go ahead

By adding all these or some of them in combination to some good healthy toasted bread, cheese, and lettuce/tomato, you can make a Chicken Salad Sandwich that far surpasses what a homemade sandwich is usually expected to live up to. Go ahead, try it!

In School News: I think I am in danger of becoming the "Mean" teacher. Because I learned all my high schoolers tricks last year, I don't put up with their tricks for getting out of work, laziness, apathy, sleeping or bullshit. This makes me less liked than last year when I was just the compassionate, student-first, softer side of the high school wing. Last year I consoled the poor babies when they got scolded for something I now realize was probably justified. Now as the high school veteran at our school I constantly find myself in the role reminding our rather aging high school students that their time to goof off has already passed and the time to start getting their shit together is now (or be a 18 year old freshman again). I guess this makes me the mean teacher. I don't think I've made this transition all the way but one of the parents of one of my students says I'm more "serious" and that I look like I've cleaned myself up. Who knew wearing a collared shirt and having expectations made you serious and clean. Kale Iverson: the serious educator, I don't like how that sounds. I just can't sit idly by and watch these little monkeys piss away another year dooping more transitory educators into letting them off the hook for their responsibilities.

Monday is in the books, and I should have gotten more sleep last night. Some key personalities have returned to school this week once again changing the atmosphere of the high school (or what I'm beginning to call it: "The West Wing"). I'll need to be sharp, on my toes, and ready for anything to make it through this one without incident. We have some fireworks coming up next week too. I really wish I could write about all that, but for now I'll leave it off the record.

Have a great week you goobers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fishing with Dirk

So My friend Dirk, a 7th grade teacher at Toksook Bay (across the water on the coast) came over this weekend to fish the mighty Mekoryuk River. I had told him tales of the majestically STUPID Dolly Varden Trout we had here and he wanted to see it for himself. He arrived on Friday and after some good good good veggie-table stir-fry compliments of the organic farm in Bethel and my mentor teacher Sally, we watched some TV and got some rest for the big day.

Early the next morning the weather was cloudy but on the verge of improvement. We traveled by bumpy and swampy 4-wheeler trail up to the trout pond for about an hour. Here is Dirk smiling as we arrived at what Dirk said was the perfect trout pond. Dirk is a fly fisherman, and a serious one at that, so I could tell how excited he was to be there.

We pretty much immediately started catching trout. Dirk was losing some as they kept throwing hooks. I imagine it must be much harder to flyfish. I felt bad sitting there with my big lunky rod throwing spinners and catching a ton of fish while Dirk artfully swept his flies across the water, working his ass of to catch fish. He waded across the river and tried his luck over there and I work my way back down the other side.

Even though the largest trout I caught was my first one I was still catching some good size 15-18 inch trout with good frequency. Then as I was fishing the far end of the pond where it breaks up into rocks I hooked into something much bigger than a trout. Next thing I new I was fighting a silver salmon from shore. I was out on a bunch of rocks that I had leaped out to and had to leap back while holding the rod with fish on, drag spinning wildly, I worked the fish upriver and finally got to a place where I could land it. What a beauty, all silver, no red, must have just arrived.

Later I caught 3 more silver salmon! Two were very red and another one was a beautiful silver. I caught 4 silvers from shore, I couldn't believe it, two on a pink beaded pixy spinner and two on a Mepps Long spinner with an orange hook tipper (a very small trout spinner to my surprise).

Later on a local named TomTom showed up and asked if instead of throwing back my trout I would give them to him to give to his mother. I was pumped because now I had a purpose to fish...feeding TomTom's mother, it was late in the day even though I had thrown back over 30 fish already I still caught TomTom about 7 more.

The only downside of the day was that one of the nice silver salmon that I caught was infested with some weird calcified parasitic white nodules. I found them when I was cleaning all my fish in the river and collecting salmon eggs out of them for ice fishing bait this winter. TomTom said that a couple of years ago they started catching fish like that and that they just throw them away because nobody know what they are, they just look unhealthy.

Dirk and I didn't want to stop fishing but it was cold all day, our hands were numb, we had a long ride back and there was college football to be watched (The Cougs won finally agains a very wimpy D-II Portland State).

I took Dirk to the airport for the evening Grant Aviation flight and that was that. I really appreciate the friendship and comradery that Dirk provided this weekend, thanks for the memories buddy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Soooooooo Overalls Friday

Teenagers defeated____check!
Friend coming to fish__check! (yay Dirk!)
Lots of Veggies to eat__check! (Yay Sally!)
College Football______check! (Cougs still suck)
Maximum Relaxation__check! (TheraFlu Maybe?)

After a long week of battling teenage stupidity, apathy and evil I am so ready for some off time. I love Fridays. I always have. They are like mini vacations every week. For one night you can officially forget about your life and just chill. Unlike a bad case of the Sundays where you have to simmer in your own self pity for having to return for not only a day but a whole week of work...eck! Fridays are so powerful that even Thursdays often ride their coat tails if the aforementioned Friday is a half day or day off.

On Fridays it doesn't matter if you half ass it...everyone else is just as wiped out and sick of all the bullshit so they are too. If you added up all the work that doesn't get done in American businesses, industry and school because of Fridays alone, you could probably end world hunger, disease, and poverty.

I'm guilty of it. "Hey don't worry about that uber important thing that you need to do, its Friday!"

"I was going to remind you what a huge moron you are but today I'll let it slide because its Friday and I won't have to deal with you for 2 point 5 days!"

Oh poor 9 to fivers (or in my case 6:30 to 5:30'ers), why do we do this over and over again? A constant cycle of Monday blues and Friday elation, our weekly bipolar undulation and frequency. Well I'm at the crest of this puppy!

Wish me luck fishing and good weather for Dirk tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some Recent Photographs

Rainbows YAAAAAAY!!!!!

Here is a hefty little patch of Tundra cranberries up close, I pick them unripe and let them sit for a couple of days. Then...put em in pancakes or bread and yum!

Two weekends ago I caught this monster dolly varden trout up at the pond. I thought it was a salmon when I first hooked it but then it started to fight.Here is a class mosaic my class drew. Each student got a square from a contemporary photo from the LA Times "Marlboro Marine." It turned out so good! The kids were really excited. So hope you all enjoy the pics of life around here.

Early Morning and the honeymoon is over.

It dark, cold, and early. I'm drinking the first good cup of coffee I've had in a while, my mentor teacher brought it and made it from civilization and if I could drink coffee like this every morning I might get up earlier just to sit and enjoy it.

Its Wednesday here in Mekoryuk and something is in the air, or water or who knows what. All the little personality deficiencies of the students are starting to come to a head. We've had more behavior issues in the last 4 days of school than in the first 4 weeks combined. Maybe its the equinox? Maybe its the fact that the honeymoon is over for a lot of students. They came in to school, ate the corndogs and sloppy joe's for lunch, checked their myspace for a couple of weeks, slept through a few classes and woke up realizing that they haven't changed all that much, or grown up that much either, and they're still as far behind as they've always been, bad habits still deeply ingrained in their daily life, and not much hope for change, because maybe they're scared to grow up, to succeed, who knows? With the mounting expectations, late assignments, undone homework, failed tests and bad grades, this is definitely the end of the honeymoon for some.

Other students are hitting their stride. They have their heads are down in a different way. They are down so that they can see the paper closer, to make sure that they get everything right, their heads are down because maybe it will tune out the obsequious banter all around them from less mature students more concerned with spinning a ruler around on a pencil or carving a skateboard company emblem in the wood of the table. The hard working students figured out long ago that their ticket off of this island was not defiance, but rather, a quiet steady diligence and compliance, not because they are giving in to "kassaK" or the "man" but becuase sometimes you have to do things you don't want to, to earn the freedom to do whatever you want.

Either way, they come in, sleepy, either proudly proclaiming with the expressions on their faces that this whole system is bullsh*t, or equally loudly proclaiming that its still bulsh*t but they aren't gonna give you any trouble. I just have to look for those moments where they let their guard down long enough to let out the secret that they really want to learn. And thats what I do, look and listen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend Update

Well after a long weekend of sitting on my arse, I have returned to school on Sunday to work...something that kind of makes me happy because out of all the days you're not supposed to work its this one, and I like being different and uncool.

"The only true currency in this corrupt world is what you share with someone when you're uncool" -Almost Famous Quote

Musical Artist of the Week: Michael Franti and Spearhead from their recently released studio album "All Rebel Rockers." My brother called me from the former Big Easy club in Spokane to remind me that the world is amazing and to let me hear just a little snippet of some life from the Franti show he was rocking at. Hal (my bro) told me that they played a lot of old stuff but also a lot of the new album so I ran in this morning and bought it without thinking twice. Now I'm two songs into it and it conjures up memories of summer, the Gorge, friends, love, purpose and freedom, all things that keep me going up here in this place, that at often times, makes me want to give up. Thank you HAL! Thank you Franti!

Old Person Phrase of the Week:
"Pleased as Punch" Well...I didn't know punch was so pleased...but apparently it is. I have had some punch's that did taste pleasing, but I've also had some that tasted like sh*t so I'm not sold on this one (although if you are going to say it you need to also clap your hands and smile like an idiot to really sell it).

Weather Here in Nunivak: Oddly enough I walked to school on Wednesday last week and a gust of wind sneakily crept up under my hooded sweatshirt and down my back. I turned around slowly and stared out to the Bering Sea past the sand dunes and mouthed "Hello Mr. Winter, I was wondering when you'd arrive." With that I can officially say I saw winter creeping around out here, he's not out of the shadows yet but he's here, its begun.

This Week In Politics: This is a new feature of the blog, I'm going to get political, by political I mean I'm going to offer up something each week that truly conveys how little of my mental energy goes into thinking about politics each week. Its kind of a non issue out here on our island and quite frankly I really don't care. So if you don't get it yet, stay tuned.
This week in politics:
I got a very nice letter from a cool relative asking my opinion on Sarah Palin. I haven't responded because even living in her state of residence I still could care less, I know there is some 'Troopergate" issue going around but in reality people get people fired all the time, people look out for family good and bad, people have teenagers with babies on the way, and people also suck the teet of the media for any dripple of drama that they can get to quench their thirst for something to make them feel better about all the shitty things they've done in their own lives. I'm not supporting her I'm just sayin...he who cast stones or some shit.
Here's a thought: McCain wins the election, McCain dies tragically of old age, soccer mom Palin takes controls of universe, lunch time nation-wide is proclaimed "Halftime" by the Whitehouse, everyone gets orange slices at "halftime" as part of a new government program...I'm just saying, orange slices are awesome (healthy and delicious), especially after you eat the orange and keep the peel in your mouth and smile like a monkey. A whole country of vitamin C rich orange peel smiling monkeys wouldn't be so bad (or so much different). Think about it people...no more dreaded scurvy.

Art Update: No update, I've hit the skidz. I'm trying to get WD-40 (the Eskimo Pop Country Band here on the Island) back together as a secret plot to play my own music with a back up band...sue me. I'm regaining strength though, with all your powers what would you do?

Fitness Update (or lack of): I didn't work out once last week. In fact I was even lazier than I've ever been to date. I ate awful processed food, drank soda pop, ate candy bars and homemade cookies and ice cream, and literally watched 13 college football games from the couch yesterday. Consequently I also lost 2 pounds since last week. Its a new diet I'm going to market in Hollywood. Its called the "Move to Bush Alaska, Teach High School, feel lonely and bored, eat like crap and lose weight watching TV" Diet. I don't think it will catch on though.

In other news: My principal is from Texas, his wife and daughter hunkered down and made out fine from ol' Hurricane Ike. My college football team the Washington State Cougars are worse than they've ever been in my entire life. Tomorrow marks the start of our first full week of school (all 5 days) in 3 weeks...yippee

And Finally: Barring some horrific behavior from my kids, I think I might be pulling out of a little slump, after the honeymoon was over from returning to my village, I felt a little buyer's remorse for having made the decision to come back. Now that I'm stuck with this situation, I've gone through the summer grieving process, I can accept certain things. I feel like I'm sharpening my edges, getting my brain back on track, getting some of my humor back, and maybe a little spark too. I'm feeling better, its so weird that you blog readers get to experience the ups and downs of life right here with me. I never cease to be amazed by this effect of our shared experience of life, the ups and downs if you will. But hey, smoke em if you got em, and if you don't, don't worry it'll all turn out alright. At least know this from a good movie I watched this morning (Almost Famous) "Its All Happening" and so it is.

Have a good week, drop me a line, do something brash.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Kids these days" Rant...sorry I had to do it.

After showing me a small beam of hope yesterday, my students returned with awful ferocity for sleeping, being off task, annoying behavior, general apathy and unenthusiasm. I did jinx myself...dammit.

My Ecology class includes the sum of the high school (17 students). Last week they said that I was giving them too many notes, so this week I came out right off the bat with an art project followed by a group activity today revolving around making and showing a visual to the rest of the class. The art project went alright yesterday and today the group project was a disaster. People were refusing to work together, massive misunderstandings all over the place, and of course the ever lovable leaving the room with out permission to go and hide in the hall. What the hell, am I teaching high school or a bunch of kindergarteners ?

You see when you teach in a school as small as this, something that most teachers take for granted like simple "Groupwork" is a major chore and impossibility here. Even though it fails ever time I always try over and over again despite the long track record of failure in hopes that one day my class will resemble something orbiting the vicinity of an illusion of a regular Science class.

Every student is someone's sister or brother or cousin or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or enemy or nemesis or what ever the hell you can think of that makes it completely impossible for them to ever consider working together on something. Something like group work that takes place in almost every class in every school around the world becomes something that is completely lost on my students.

Sometimes I think "Wow! I'm really being challenged in ways I never thought possible up here in the ol' frontier of Alaska...Gee Willickers!" But more and more lately I've been thinking how nice it used to be to just simply split students up into equal groups and give them a cool project to do without having to analyze the intricate social interworkings of people who spend entirely too much time annoying the crap out of each other, I miss teaching an average normal class...isn't that sick? They drove me to it. I liken teaching in a small school like this to what a mother or father must feel like driving their kids in a car for a long period of time to an amusement park. Eventually there is only so much the kids can do in the back seat before they start poking and pinching each other and explode. Unfortunately I can't yell at my class, "If you don't knaaaack it off right now I'll turn this goddamn class right around right now and no one is going to ECOLOGY WORLD!!!"

Its days like today that keep foiling my plans to start working out. I am simply too friggin tired to work out after a day of chasing these immature monkeys around. I work out ALL DAY as it is. The thought of running or lifting weights makes me want to throw up. And with the addition of the new tv in my life it is sooo hard not to just go home and flop right onto the couch and pass out from exhaustion. I have to find some sort of way to maintain energy throughout the day even in the face of these little bloodsuckers. It has dawned on me that I have simply just become old and uncool. But if being young and cool is acting like a complete moron with no common sense, listening to awful music, and rolling your eyes at everything, then call me and old codger because I just don't remember it being this hard...

Why when I was in school I had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow both ways barefoot and hungry...not really but seriously these kids these days, what the hell?

Its like they think that by magically showing up intermittently, doing partial work, sleeping through the first 3 periods, eating school lunch, and checking their myspace pages, the school will miraculously shit them out at the age of 18 with a high school diploma into a magical fairy world where good jobs grow on trees with ripe bundles of money and happiness and good habits shoot straight up their ass from a luminescent rainbow blasting out of a chocolate river full of gumdrop pebbles made out of confectionery wisdom.

I just never thought teaching would be like this when I made the decision to become one about 3 years ago...not in my wildest dreams could I have predicted this...mind boggling really. I don't even judge them for being teen agers really, I don't judge them for being Eskimo or boys or girls, I judge them the same way I judge everyone else...on kindness, individuality, hard work and common sense.

More importantly than all of this frustration is the fact that despite all the crap they sling at me daily I still love them and care about them. It might be because I don't have anything else to do, or anyone else to care for, but I care all the same and seeing them piss their lives away on stupid shit and hopeless attitudes will never be something I accept. Life is too short for that.

I became a teacher to show students how beautiful the world is out there and I can't do that if I can't see it myself anymore...so I'm going home and I'm gonna make a tasty little dinner involving soup, and I'm gonna listen to some Miles Davis just to feel really old, maybe play some ukulele too, I'm gonna burn some Nag Champa and wear big oversized warm wool socks and sweatpants and my favorite hoody and drink Chamomile tea and pretend like this awful awful awful day didn't really just happen.

Goodnight, and good luck future America, you can rest peacefully tonight knowing that the future leaders of this country are firmly planted in front of an episode of Hannah Montana right now getting exponentially dumber.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What? A spark? A sliver?

Be it a miracle, be it a momentary glimpse into the what could be, be it a dream, my kids were on point today. They (being the ones that I worry about most) seemed to all work together today to make this skrewed up machine we have turning go smoothly and efficiently. My students are starting to understand their roles as self driven learners, some of my students are even challenging me to keep up with their demands for progress. Moral and spirits seem to be up schoolwide and there is a feeling of positivity starting to take root...knock on wood.

I don't know what the cause is, the absence of a key personality, the long restful weekend, or the hot oatmeal breakfast, but all I can do is hope for 2 in a row you know?

Anyone else hitting a stride out there with their kids?

I gotta go, I'm cooking Spicy Fettuccine Alfredo for friends (two of the three i have) and I don't want it to suck so I'll check in tomorrow.

Did I just jinx my good day?

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Poem

"A Feeling Out Loud"

To savor our yearning out there,
To tell them its not heavy,
Look how they pray to "him."
Something new to find out for you too.
You're coveting old copper weathered death counters.
To even old yard-dogs,
I do sit in the depth of it all,
Under evil oceans.
And all for me,
They walked in grass,
And I came on a far.
Yes, asking of me,
"We got no dark way now?"
Leave this poor livin' lie,
I couldn't pray to me.
I asked you too.
I gave more than I had to.
Without the moon the golden dark
Closes in.
Oh gather me in.
Oh sprinkle moon,
Not under evil oceans
An all for not,
And are you hearing me?
Hooks in your love
Dealing with your life,
Giving in.
I Can do with out,
Tho I sought it out,
Hiking angles up.
It was truly a numbing sound.
A feeling out loud,
When I made this crowd.

So....It occurs to me that people may read these poems and not really know what the heck I'm talking about/think I'm nuts. Basically what I do is listen to music (sigur ros is best) and just kind of let words come to me free form, not knowing what it will be about until I start writing. Then after a few lines I know what its about more or less and it takes shape. This poem is kind of like an internal monologue of a God who isn't so sure about how everything turned out in the world he created and how he feels about his subjects.

Hopefully you can wrap your head around that. Believe me, I don't set out to write stuff like this, it is just what comes out. Hopefully you are starting to see the same patterns I am in my writing. I feel like my poetry is really starting to take on a shape and sound and I'm kind of proud of it.

I still don't get many responses about the poems, so I don't really ever know what people think... but I think they are what I want to sound like, so I'm going to keep writing them.

To see other poems of recent note check out "Salty Symphony" or "Awkwardly Simple"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Weekly Update

Last week was the longest short week I've ever had. How bout you?

Musical Artist of the week: Don't anyone out there give me crap...but this week its Euro-Female Hip Hop master MIA from both of her albums "Arular" and "Kala." I saw her this summer and thought she wouldn't be anything special, then I had to secretly hide the fact that I thought she rocked the crowd into a frenzy. Then only recently I heard a song on the Magpie's blog and it sparked a renewed interest. I bought a couple of albums and I have been hooked all week. Also my students love her too. Most of her lyrics are hard to pick out but it all has such a crazy Brit/Afro/Guerilla electro crazy beat that its infectious. Check out this British/Sri Lankan sensation if you dare.

Old Person Phrase of the Week: "Split Hairs" A good one to use when you disagree with some one in a friendly way. "Well there Ted, on the issue of what is the best truck between Ford and Chevy, we'll just have to split hairs I guess." If we're not all gonna get along we should at least use antiquated metaphors eh?

Kale's Bush Recipe of the Week: Too tired to actually make a real pizza from scratchfor dinner? Too sick of crappy frozen pizzas to eat another bland under-topped value priced pie? Well sport, get what ever stuff you have around the old galley and spice'r up a bit. Try adding these to the top of that shitty freeze burned Red-Baron pizza:

whatever vegetables you can round up (onions, peppers, tomatoes)
some canned pineapples, artichoke hearts or olives,
pepper jack cheeze or other cheese
Hot Topatio sauce or Srirachu Sauce
bacon or ham
grilled chicken

The final step being adding a dipping sauce such as blue cheese or ranch dressing...
or you could just make it the way you always make it you unadventurous wuss.

Readership: Just check out all these dots! Man I can't believe the reach of this goofy little page some times

Weather on Nunivak: Starting to really enjoy the unpredictable fluctuation between beautiful sunshine and torrential downpours that have been happening lately. The clouds are so sporadic and intense, you just never know what it'll be like an hour from now. We mostly fluctuate between mid to upper 40's which always feels warm. My favorite outfit right now is my Crocs with fur liners, giant oversized wool knee high socks, khaki cargo shorts, a t-shirt, and a stocking cap. I'm one big walking contradiction.

Personal Art: I'm probably gonna keep trying to put my music on a separate artist's myspace page under "Kale Iverson Music" right now there is only one song on there but it takes a while and I want to spread my tunes out in a new direction.

Other News: I caught the largest trout of my life yesterday with my friend Joel. We went up to the trout pond and when I hooked it I thought it was a salmon it was so heavy. But it was instead a monster trout! Look for pictures to come.

Fitness: I will attempt (and let me re-iterate 'attempt') trying to get into shape. I'm really interested in getting up early and running instead of drinking 6 cups of coffee. I also might start lifting weights, I'll let you all know how "Fitness Week 1" goes.

Have a great week, I have inservice tomorrow to work on our Site Improvement Plan. Be ware, if your school doesn't pass Annual Yearly Progress you will have to sit in days of meetings writing a "Plan" as to how you will get your school out of the ditch. (The answer being not testing kids on useless crap).

Who's reading this?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Almost Friday and I feel like talking about school.

Its almost my favorite day of the week, Friday. Things have turned around some. I've had some student surprise attitude changes, some new students also, and some new challenges to accompany them, as well as some various other good fortunes. I've been working really hard burning the candle at both ends to try and become a better Special Education teacher. I am taking on more and more responsibility every day as well as starting to provide actual service to students on a daily basis. I work all day long and don't ever seem to even have a time when a student isn't in my room. As I had said a couple of days ago deep in my self pitying I didn't feel like I was really appreciated or needed around here. Yet, everyday I work my ass off trying to help these kids out.

Since some of you are teachers/friends you may wonder what my day is like.

I get to school at 6:50 am. After foggily making coffee I sit in my classroom trying to drag my mind out of the deep slumber it still seems to be in. After a cup of joe I get everything ready for the day, copies, smartboard notes, and generally making sure I have all the crap I need to get these little buggers up and running. If I'm lucky enough to have left overs I usually eat them in the morning but most of the time I just starve myself in trade for an extra 15 minutes of sleep.

I guess I could talk about all kinds of school stuff but I realize that many of the readers aren't teachers in the district so you might not fully comprehend what a complete disaster the "Phase" system is as our Core subjects curriculum (great in theory but ridiculous in real world application... kind of like communism). Regardless of my opinion, I have two math classes first thing in the morning that feature about 14 students in various stages of different pre-algebra learning Phases. Some students have been there for two years because they can't seem to pass this string of "standards" based tests that are supposed to align with their textbook. Unfortunately the tests only mildly resemble the practice they get from the book and are pretty culturally unresponsive as well. Other students get the "system" and realize they can just teach themselves math quite well. My math classes look nothing like the ones we all probably grew up with: A teacher does examples on the board, gives homework, gives time to work, checks work next day, practices more and takes a test. My class really resembles a private math tutoring time where the kids assign their own homework, run their own Phase programs/folders and are responsible for their own pace of learning. The problem with this being primarily how many teenagers do you know that are DRIVEN to learn Algebra (especially at the BUTTcrack of dawn)? I've had mixed results but with the shotgun mixbag of kids I have their is no other realistic options for how I can provide assistance to such diversity. And, its starting to improve now that I've added an electric water boiler and various teas to choose from. Somehow having something warm to drink in the morning helps wake up those math brain cells in my foggiest early morning risers. Last point, its an injustice to ask a teenager to attempt agebra at 7:55 in the morning, enough said.

My Junior High Science Class is amazing as always. Teaching this age of students makes me realize I probably should have been a Middle School teacher all along. I love the content level of JH because its right before everything gets serious, you can just teach science for enjoyment, nobody is watching (state tests and all that crap). I can still show students about all the cool stuff in the natural world with out wondering if big brother is watching. Also, my juvenile toilet humor and sarcasm seems to be funniest with this age group and comedy in the classroom is essential to keep the day fun. Plus, JH students don't usually have that High School "Who the hell are you" attitude which usually wears down thousands of teachers a year around America. Also I only have three students and with that little to worry about I've even had success making the "Rock Cycle" really really fun.

Our school has its first elective besides "Cup'ig" in like 4 years. And, I get to teach it fourth period. The class is Fine Art 1 and its my favorite class by far. Its only 6 students but they are all so new to art that I really have a chance to start from scratch. I haven't taken "formal art" for a really long time and I'm really enjoying reteaching myself about all the introductory art skills. Plus what kind of an Arsehole is going to put "Phases" or State Standards on Art? I mean really, "Little Bobby Joe Student must meet this rubric of expressing his soul through this color wheel exercise" is friggin ludicrous. It doesn't mean we slack off, I actually give more homework in Art than in any other of my subjects but I don't ever hear any complaints. We've been working our way through the elements of design and have already done some cool projects. When learning about line (and the beginning of art) we learned about "Cave Paintings" and I put a giant butcher paper (black) up on the wall and let them go at it with chalk pastels encouraging them to go Cro-Magnon by playing Tribal drum music. After a tentative start they went nuts! Here is the result. Thanks to my mom I was also able to give them professional quality Sketchbooks and pencils which they love and treat with respect and responsibility. To finish off some negative space/form stuff tomorrow we'll be completing our silhouette vases faces and learning about ol' Henri Matisse. I can't wait...look for pics to follow.

In my monster High School Ecology Class (18 students 13-20) things have settled into a nice little routine. Although the majority of them bombed a vocabulary quiz today I still feel like they're doing alright. They take wonderful notes, have been completing assignments, and seem to still be paying good attention to what I have to say. With the complete lack of real science class essentials (sink, fume hood, microscopes) I'm usually limited to ridiculously rudimentary experiments. I can tell they are getting antsy to do something "cool" or out of the norm. Right now we're starting to learn about aquatic biomes and eventually the ocean. I gotta think of something really good but I was thinking maybe looking at plankton from our waters here under a microscope (3 microscopes per 18 students...what? It could happen!) Oh well, at least I have A microscope right?

After that I have a study hall/sped time/planning period followed by another hour of Special Ed planning and service time. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to solve multiple issues simultaneously. Thank goodness my SPED students are great and I don't mind them at all. Its really all a bunch of politics and law anyways, or at least thats what its become, I just like the face to face time with the students so I put up with it.

The biggest thorn in my side this year is a little thing called "Homework Club" the last period of the day Since our kids our so awful at doing homework we scheduled an hour at the end of the day for them to receive help on their assignments as part of the school day...a study hall if you will...BIG MISTAKE. Its like locking up a bunch of caged animals. Further more, our "proxy" doesn't filter internet content that well anymore so they are very good at looking like they're doing what they're supposed to while actually just checking email and myspace (a tactic I often do when old farts blabber at me useless jibberish in large meetings so I can't really complain I guess).

Then after that I usually run an after school art class or open gym. After that I return back to my room to sip coffee, work on the next days plans, get my blogging in (no internet at home this year), chat with friends on skype, and surf the net.

At about 7 ish I stagger home a broken fragment of the man I started the day as. I make some shi**y dinner and collapse on the couch. If I have energy, I make/record some music, write some poetry or watch a movie...until last night that is! I got satellite TV for the fall so I can watch college football. For 40 bucks a month under the table I get like thousands of channels. Its ridiculous but all I really want is ESPN, FSN, and ABC for college football, Showtime for "Weeds" and HBO for "Big Love." As an added bonus I get "JamON" and the Grateful Dead channels as well as others on Sirius satellite radio. This is a major difference from last year...TV. We'll see if I get stupider...if so let me know and I'll get rid of it...after college football season that is.

I usually fall asleep around midnight listening to Sigur Ros on my headphones and trying to make the flashing images and spinning thoughts of the day go away. Then I get up and do it all over again.

Its exhausting, its odd, its my life, and I don't know why I do it sometimes, but I do, and I do it well usually, so thats something right?

For all of you blogging friends...I'd be interested to see what your daily life consists of, its weird to go through it in words as an exercise for yourself...maybe try it and get back to me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Subsistence Iverson

Look at my berries. Look at the bounty of the tundra

Look at my fish. Look at the bounty of the river.

Look at my hair cut. Look at the bounty of follicular regeneration.

Look at the sunset. Look at the bounty of the heavens.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Poem "Salty Symphony"

Salty Symphony

Isn’t this only knowing
That these arms will not hold
The Gliding Drastic?
Oh great garden full of
Skinny unkempt endings.
Thought I was perspired
In this gift.
Your bitter old dull eyes
Passing slowly the years.
Oh a salty symphony.
Oh You,
Who’s bitten and tired.
Used to know eyes clear
Soaring up and climbing.
Oh you,
Who’s bitten and tired.
Soon you’ll still bind it all.
Spring can listen to you.
Linger silty eyes,
Give up the why, listen to you.
Oh the color of you,
You feel me.
You, so calm,
A greeter who carries me
A hollow feeling.
You’re hinting along
Passing slowly the years.
Oh a salty symphony.
Oh you,
Who’s bitten and tired
Spring can listen to you.
Oh you.

This poem is pretty much about an old man that is passing away and reflections on how he lived his life.
to view my other blog OUT OF THE CLOSET ATHEIST click HERE