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.


alisha said...

lots of things...

1st...love this post

2nd...are you trying to say that 28 year olds are old and uncool because if you are I may or may not be offended :)

3rd...you may not have the answers but at least you're asking the questions

4th...what was that quote that that sped kid at that conference in anchorage said to you? I think that applies here

5th...I think you should call them DOERS...the way I see it there are people that can list all the reasons why they should DO something (like teach in bush alaska), those are the DOERS...then there are all the people that can list all the reasons not to DO something (like follow their dream of teaching in bush alaska), how bout we call them the ANTIDOERS

6th...the kids cant take from you anything you're not giving, so if you are feeling dried up or tapped out then stop giving so much of yourself to them

7th...at least you did it! You ARE HERE. living your dream. you have done something people sit around and wish they would have done

8th...the grass is always greener...DUH!

9th...I'm with you on the genetically predispositioned to be unhappy with what you've got, to always want more. It is part of being human and I'm happy to hear you philosophizing on the evolution of behavior...those were always some of my fav posts. I think they're fun.

10th...Look in the mirror and say, "I've done the best that I can do today" and then smile and know the rest will still be there tomorrow...you've GOT TO let the rest of it go

Ok...i could probably think of 10 more, but it'll have to do for now. Do you know what my fav quote is? Have you ever pondered its meaning?

Domnule Ortgiesen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Domnule Ortgiesen said...

Your post brought a smile to the once grim and dispeptic look on my face. There isn't anything that I can say that you don't already know, maybe just remind you that black and white, goers and stayers, pluses and minuses are just two sides of the same coin. Just dont take any wooden nickles.

Anyway todays class almost brought a tear to my eye after I spent hours planning the perfect lesson and then my students decided they couldn't speak in the Past Simple. "Yesterday I eat to Hamburger?" I just had to laugh a little, and maybe that is a dim reflection of some timeless truth. To be able to laugh at the rediculous in yourself and the shit you get youself into seems... illuminating

Syd said...

You seem to as though you are running out of time, that you need to make a sudden decision whether you are staying or going Like you said yourself, time is passing quickly. The school year will be over before you know it and this experience will be another incredible story to tuck in your belt, a future “crazy uncle Kale” story to tell, about your two-year dwelling in Bush Alaska, in a small Eskimo village in the Bearing Sea. Educating younins’ about tons of useful things that they won’t ever forget (no-matter what you gather from their mind-set at the given point in time. As long as you can sleep at night, knowing that you are making a difference, you are changing lives, in your position you have the power to make or break a kids high school career. If I know you the way I think I do, then I know those kids appreciate Mr. Iverson day in and day out. Everyone who has the pleasure to meet you is inspired and elated. You can’t help but to radiate warmth! I feel it all the way down here in dark, dreary Seattle!
I read your blog daily for 2 reasons (…maybe more):
a.) I obviously am curious on what the heck your doing up there in your tiny Eskimo village from day to day.
b.) To be inspired and feel the warmth!

Even though you are questioning you’re radiating abilities as of late just know, and be comforted by, the simple facts. You are an incredible man (a human man) therefore it’s acceptable to feel whittled down and nub-like. I know I, for one, feel like a sorry excuse for a human being, lacking adventure and excitement from time to time(well, most of the time, honestly, because almost all of my friends are currently out there living outrageous fantasies and are in the world and learning, and experiencing). I read, and inhale what you share through your blog, your experience and journey, and I discover something new each time I read I want you to know (in case you don’t already) that you inspire me to my very core and I know that I’m not alone, you inspire many! I read Lindsey’s blog and am inspired, too, and captivated by the things that happen to her, and what she gets to do and see and Suzye too! You are a great writer, you are hilarious and poetic. You have so much passion and love. Maybe your kids are just blind to that in their adolescence. Don’t let it get the best of you. I agree with Alisha, don’t wear yourself to a nub for your kids. They all may or may not become as passionate as you want them to, but one or two might.
You haven’t lost the fire, the flames might have died down and now you are getting a glimpse of what you may be in for in the world of educating students. Some students are in it to win it, whereas others are just in it because they have to be. You are changing the world, Kale; you are making an impact whether you see it right now or not. Just look at how many readers you have everywhere! You can’t feel like the encouraging, optimistic, energized ‘Mr. Peachy-Keen’ all the time, I’d worry about you if that was the case; you would be the ‘enlightened ass hole’ :). There’s light at the end of the tunnel. You will find where you lost your fire.
Because you are just.that.cool (and you will be, still, in another two years).

Mr. Kale Iverson said...

Man, thanks Alisha! and Thanks Syd! (and Brett Too) I'm feeling the love a lot today, or as the kids say "I'm smiling real hard"

Maybe all I needed to do is spat all that stuff out so that I could feel better.

I love my readers!!!

Susan Iverson said...

And your readers obviously love you! It takes a special person to be able to affect the lives of others from so far away as well as up close. You are that special person and you have been that way since you were born. I should know! Love, Mom

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