Monday, March 25, 2013


Being the only adult in a world of 3-5th graders can sometimes be daunting. Even though we think alike. I mean, who doesn’t love a good fart joke? But sometimes they aren’t old enough for some of my references in history or pop culture. They haven’t lived in a world where people went to record stores to see if Springsteen’s new record came out yet. Or they have not had to live through the time-consuming efforts of filling out their NCAA bracket by hand. Or having to painfully wonder what their BFF is “doing” at any particular moment in a day because texting had not being invented yet.

Sometimes I feel like the guy in a current TV commercial. The commercial has a male adult sitting at a small table surrounded by four kids, asking them if faster is better. I think the commercial is for ATT, but it could be for a laxative. A fast laxative seems like it would be better. If it is a commercial for a laxative, I’m not sure why kids are there, because I’ve never heard a kid complain about being constipated. To be fair, I’ve never heard an adult complain about being constipated either. That is something I’d remember because I’d probably get punched for laughing at them. So I guess we’re all in agreement that it’s for ATT.

The commercial is like my real life. It starts innocently enough; me asking a simple question. Like, “Who has ever found a box of fireworks and a lighter?” Then one child goes off on a tangent, telling me a story that is not related whatsoever to the question I initially asked. This will then remind another child of a totally unrelated story, usually having to do with eating candy, that we have to listen to. It usually ends with “ ...and I forget the rest”. Then just silence. The kids look exhausted from their efforts in storytelling. I feel exhausted from my efforts of listening to their storytelling. It is true, kids do say the darnedest things. They also say the strangest, disturbing, and most unintelligible things. But Art Linkletter didn’t think that title would sell any books.

Last weekend we were in a world of over 70 elementary students. Our school hosted a tournament for elementary basketball teams for 7 teams from our district schools. Our entire school population, K-12, is under 70 so we had to close our school for a day and a half in order to have room for the extra players. Not only do we need to use the gym for the games, we had to use all of our classrooms. All six of them. When teams travel in our district for games, the hosting school puts them up in the school for food and lodging.

Monica and I were at the school by 7:30am to help set up breakfast and headed home at 11pm after helping cleaning up after the late night snack. We played 12 basketball games in one and a half days. On the third day I made 13 trips from the school to the airstrip hauling basketball teams and their luggage to meet their planes. This was not all at once, but from about 10am-4pm. The tourney was a success in many ways and the reason was because of all of our staff working long hours to ensure it went smoothly. I am lucky to work with a staff that is willing to volunteer their time to make sure events like this are fun for the students.

We finished our third quarter last week also. We have already bought our plane tickets for our trip home in May, which is about 50 days away. I can assure you that I will not be sitting at a table surrounded by youngsters, listening to them drone on and on about one time they kicked a ball. That is if I get to move up to the adult’s table at family gatherings. I was promised that when I turned 40 I would be allowed. Maybe this will be my lucky year.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Living in a remote village in Alaska means that if an emergency arises, you may have to wait a week or two before the problem can be addressed properly. Last week we had a
This is Nunam BBQ. Pulled pork for dinner tonight. 
scary encounter with a terrifying event. Spoiler alert: we both survived.

The ‘we’ in this emergency scenario were my pants and me. I tend to have a good
relationship with my pants. I make sure they’re washed regularly and my pants do their
job of covering what needs to be covered, giving me a place to store my keys, and
providing me with modest protection from the elements. The crisis came when the pant’s main responsibility was compromised.

A student asked me a question, so as a kind and caring teacher, I squatted down to assist the student. As I did, I heard a disturbing sound coming from my crotch region. I had a combined feeling of relief and terror all at the same time. Relief that the sound wasn’t coming from my body and terror realizing it was the sound of my denim quitting on me. My student and I looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity. He politely looked back to his paper and I stood up gingerly. My undercarriage suddenly became much cooler and I realized I would have to stand for the rest of the day for reasons of modesty.

At most places, this would be a temporary problem. Up here, it is more complicated since there is not a store were I can buy new pants. To make matters worse, my other pair of jeans had given up on me a week before in a similar fashion. I was confident I would be able to make it until the end of the school year with my only pair of Levi’s intact. But the pressure of being the lone pair of jeans was just too much to bare (I know), so I was left with a problem. My next move would be important.

I called my mom. When she answered the phone, I told her I had ripped my jeans and needed a pair sent up ASAP. Her motherly response was to laugh out loud in a malevolent tone. I waited until she had finished and told her of the size of Levi’s I needed. She began her laugh all over again. But, being the caring mother she is to her only middle child, she agreed to send me up a new pair the next day. She also sent up Easter candy, so she is forgiven for her mockery.

The real hero in this situation was Monica. She promptly grabbed one pair of the quitter jeans and cut out a patch. She then used a needle and thread to sew a patch on my Levi’s so they could return to the starting lineup. I was saved from having to walk to work in sub-zero temps with air conditioning or wear Dockers to work. Both equally disconcerting.

So the pioneer spirit lives on. Monica has crocheted me a pair of socks, I wear a hat made from dead animal hides, and I walk to work every day. In the case of a medical emergency, I’m fairly confident that Monica can take out my appendix if the need ever occurs. And she’ll use old Levi’s to patch me up.