Saturday, July 31, 2004

It is done. Camp is over and the kids are home.
I'm exhausted. I stayed up all night (until 7:00am this morning) and now I desperately need some sleep. I took a 3 hour nap, but then got up to pack up my room and move out of the dorm. I'm staying at Anchorage House now for the next few nights and I have absolutely no plans for the next few days. If anyone wants to meet up between now and Tuesday night when my plane departs, I'm totally up for it. Although I'm sorta stranded here since I have no form of transportation. But it's all good...I'm planning to do a lot of sleeping and reading! I wish I could fly back home right now, but the cheapest flight I could get was for Tuesday night. I'll be flying to Seattle (arriving at 10:38pm), hitching a ride down to Portland with David (getting to my house at 2am?) and then starting work at my new job at TriMet the next morning at 9am. It's going to be a flurry of excitement and craziness. Also, Paul is coming to visit next weekend!!!!!!! I can't wait to see him again.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Silkscreen Fun!
So in the next 30 hours or so I'll be silkscreening some tshirts and I'm looking for a good design/pattern/phraze to put on them. Do you have any ideas?!?!?
Today was the last day of classes for the program. The students had a 2 hour science fair that I attended which wrapped up their science/math portion of the program. I was amazed by their preparation and oral presentations. Also, tonight we had a talent show. All of the kids were awesome and I felt like a proud mom. Oh....and I sang too! In Yupik, while one of the students danced.

I had a loooooooong night last night, for reasons that I cannot blog about. It was emotionally draining and uplifting all at once. Maybe I'll explore the general topic sometime in the future, it's one that I care about greatly and an aspect of some people's lives that I am particularly concerned with. As it is now, I have a little more to follow up on the situation, and I need to sleep.

I had a kinda strange impromptu interview today with the superintendent. But even though the two minute conversation completely confused me, I'm told that all is well. From what I hear around the group it sounds like I'm almost 100% in. And someone is fighting to share my time with them. Which feels pretty AWESOME! Things will work out, they always will. Once it's finalized I'll let you all know about the big (intimidating but exciting) plan.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

On My Mind

*When it comes down to it I'm a girl who likes to play by the rules. It's either you're fair and do the right thing, you screw it all and play like crazy, or you don't play at all. My personality is not the one that likes the inbetween. We've only played kickball twice here at camp, but each time has made me extremely agitated. On the one hand I'm a super competative person and I like to give things my all. I want to play on a team that wants to win, and I want all my teammates to try their hardest. But on the other hand, if that's not going to happen then I don't want to count the score at all, I just want cooperation between teammates, good sportsmanship, and to have fun. "Screw Integrity" is not how to play. Nor is it a good example.

*My future job prospects are looking up. But I'm not counting on anything until it's basically set in stone. I'll give you more details later, but just know that I'm pretty excited, but also nervous. I might be moving, we'll see. It's way to early to tell. The question will be if I'm moving across town, or up north. It may be a cold winter!

*I feel like I'm back in a niche that's right for me. No more depression, no more stress, no more Chicago. I'm in the educational mode, but this time more into a mentoring role--and I'm quite happy with it. Even though I'm still really interested in the Earth Sciences, I think that the route that I need to take in the very near future is more of a community-oriented one. Social skills, mentoring, counseling, communicating, organizing, planning. My other strengths have come back in full force, and my science brain has been given a rest. ;o) Somehow, I'm going to find a way to connect everything together into the perfect lifestyle & career.

*I realized today that one of the most important skills I learned in high school was how to mediate conflicts. I thought it was almost a joke when I was a mediator...the process of communicating and solving problems through peer talking just seemed so obvious and easy to me. But now I see the benefits of it, and exactly why & how it works. The mediation trainings & retreats always just seemed like a vacation to me, but now I look back on them and feel fortunate. Thanks Mr. Brooks!
Today was the worst day of the whole program yet. Disagreements.
One of the most essential things about being an RA and working with kids is being neutral no matter what. This hasn't been happening, and now there's problems that have resulted from that. Sucky.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Weekend Adventures
Saturday I drove to Seward, one of the most gorgeous towns in Alaska! It's about a three hour drive from Anchorage, but it's one of the prettiest ones that you'll ever do--around Turnagain Arm, onto the Kenai Peninsula, past lots of glaciers, mountains, and icefields, and over to the Gulf of Alaska. We ate lunch at the park next to the skatepark on the water (which I have to say is probaby the most picturesque skatepark in the world!), and then spent two hours at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Pretty cool. Fun seals, a friendly octopus, a Giant Squid, lots of fish and sea creatures...but the neatest of all was the puffins. I've never really given much attention to puffins before, but the SeaLife center had an underwater viewing area for the puffin exhibit which was so cool. One puffin just kept diving down to the bottom, yanking on some kelp until it was out of breath, zooming back up to the top, and then swimming back down again....and again. It was neat to watch.
Although we had to be back in Anchorage for dinner, we did quickly stop to see Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Overall, having to drive 6.5 hours to only spend 3 hours in Seward was annoying, but well worth it. It was a sunny, almost cloudless, and HOT (upper 70s?) summer day...pretty we were lucky.
Saturday night we treated the students to neon (cosmic) bowling. They had a blast.

Sunday I went to ChangePoint for church and then in the afternoon I meandered around the Alaska Zoo. The Alaska Zoo is much the same as other zoos, with a ton of different animals (elephant, polar bear, bald eagle, etc.), but at the same time there was some distinct differences about it. There were many arctic creatures present, such as the Tibetan Yak, the two-humped Bactrian camel, musk ox, reindeer (caribou), moose, etc.
The best part by far were the babies that were present!! An orphaned porcupette, a baby musk ox, & two orphaned baby brown bears. The brother and sister baby bears were so cute...I must have watched them play for at least an hour. I was about 4 feet away from them and they were both playing around in the water in a little bathtub that someone had just donated. They loved to fool around. They wrestled and splashed and kicked each other while biting each others ears every few seconds. Little brown balls of fur...they were seriously so tiny and adorable!
After the zoo I took some of the students over to ValueVillage to have some fun thrift store shopping. I found some green pants for $5 to replace my favorite pants that I split last weekend while backpacking. Then I spent four hours watching Along Came Polly and Starsky & Hutch before bed. :o)

Friday, July 23, 2004

i just spoiled the shot for an olympic commercial being filmed. hehehe
more later
A Will Guthrie parody featuring Bush and Kerry:  "This Land", by JibJab

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Rape, STDs, no sexual, drug or alcohol education, incest, killing, accidents. And no one to turn to for help. NO ONE deserves this. EVER.
I am so proud of them for becoming empowered, fixing their life. Smiling, laughing and being an amazing friend. It makes me cringe and cry just to hear the stories, that they tell so lightly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Today I was at the Alaska Native Health Center with a student, and while we were in the waiting room we played cards. I asked her what game she'd like to play (after we'd played Mo, Chicken Mo, and Casino) and she said Goldfish.
Hmm, that's a new one, I thought. "Go Fish, you mean?"
"No, Goldfish"
When she explained how to play I started giggling and she joined in as I explained how she misunderstood the name. It's funny the words that people get confused, I do things like this all the time.
So, readers out there, what funny slipups have you made?

Monday, July 19, 2004

My friend Amanda just started as a PeaceCorp worker in Kazakhstan.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

My Weekend & Two Days Off
6 students, 2 instructors and me. One instructor had biked from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska all the way down to the southern tip of South America. And one year trek, solo. He's a fun guy and the students respect him so much. The other, a petite lady in her mid-twenties (?), who used to be an Outward Bound instructor and is now a social worker. Both very interesting and exciting people.
For two nights we camped out on the tundra. Friday night we hiked in about 2 miles and up into a hanging valley to camp. The students all pitched tents, but the rest of us slept outside. I was by myself about 150 feet off from camp. I found this tiny little flat spot on top of the tundra that suited me perfectly. The tundra is actually really soft; it's made up of lichen, berries, low-lying plants such as juniper, and other short grasses. It's like a big comfy feather bed when it comes to sleeping! My head was very close to some juniper bushes and the smell was incredible. (it's one of my three favorite scents: sage, juniper & peppermint). I went to bed after 11pm just as the sun was slowly decending behind the hills nearby on the other side of the canyon, and the light became dim. Not dark, it's funny because since we're so close to the Arctic Circle the sun barely dips below the horizon before it comes back up again. So you know that dusk-light that happens during sunset? Well, in the summer Anchorage and southern Alaska never recieve darkness, only "dusk" for a couple of hours each day. I woke up the next morning and looked across the stream from where I was. On the other side of the hanging valley, just across the stream and slightly lower in elevation from where I was, was a female moose meandering along. So pretty. Although moose are viscious and dangerous, I really think they're great! They're so powerful.
Saturday morning after we had breakfast we headed back down out of the hanging valley and hiked up Eagle River towards Eagle Lake & Symphony Lake. The last mile or so was on a moraine scrambling over boulders. Then we set up camp for our second night out. We let the students decide where to pitch their tents and they choose spots along the moraine between the two lakes, on the shore of Eagle Lake. A GORGEOUS spot. Both lakes are glacial-fed, and even though they are only a few hundred feet apart they are quite different in color. Eagle Lake has a much more lighter blue color due to different amounts of sediment in the water reflecting differnet colored blue wavelengths (this is why glacial water is always bright light blue).
We had lots of berry fights. The little berries were super tiny, but they were everywhere. Because they were so small they were hard to see when people threw them, and to and unsuspecting person you would find them hitting your eyes, nose, face, chest--everywhere. Also, on the seat of your pants, as well as the mouth of your friends, you would find stains of berry-juice. Mostly there were black-berries, otherwise known to some as "bear berries"; they're very tiny, like small blueberries, and as the name would suggest, they're black. They taste a bit sour, but they're really good. I mostly bit into them, sucked out the tiny amount of sweet juice and spit out the skins. Occasionally we found cranberries and blueberries tucked into the mesh of tundra foilage. All so good to eat! There's nothing like picking fresh fruit and putting it straight to your lips!
Saturday I hiked up a hill to an elevation of 3,000+something feet and saw a marvelous view. I wasn't planning on going all the way up, and I had my rainpants on (lined with fleece) so I was sweaty and gross climbing up, and my leg muscles were yelling at me, but I made it. It was neat to look down the valley at Eagle River where we had hike in, and at the two lakes, with our three little blue tents next to the water. Saturday night was a little troublesome. It started to sprinkle and it continued raining for much of the evening. The problem was that us three adults did bring tents because we planned to sleep outside. So we had a fun time rigging up the two small rainflys that we had brought along "just in case" to some small tundra brush. The problem was that none of us had brought any string or rope to use to tie it down with. I improvised by using my lanyard that I had my keyes on, and the other gal undid her shoelaces to use. We eventually got a little rainfly up over a small patch of tundra that just fit two sleeping bodies under it, as long as we put garbage bags over the bottom part of our sleeping bags that were sticking out. The other instructor slept outside in his sleeping bag a little ways away and used the other rainfly to cover most of his body, with his coat covering his feet. Very luckily, it never completely poured, but there were some medium-sized showers that came down on us off and on during the night. I love the rain, and it was perfect weather--in the 60's with partial clouds and soft rainshowers, but at the same time it was a little troubling to know that if the weather changed I would miserable for another 24 hours. Luckily, I stayed pretty dry and this morning woke up happy and not soggy! We slept in til 10am (!) and then spent the afternoon hiking back to the van. A little Baskin & Robbins ice cream, and a couple dozen miles later and we were back at the APU dorms here in Anchorage. A great weekend "off".

Friday, July 16, 2004

Paul just called, which makes me so happy. I love hearing his voice. It's funny, because even though he's hiking the Appalachian Trail for 77 days from Maine to Georgia this summer, I'm speaking to him more often than I ever did when he was at camp.

Tonight I leave for Symphony Lake on a 3 day backpacking trip. It won't be strenuous, as 7 students are coming along (my green group!), but it will be really fun. And I'm hoping to get a lot of rest this weekend. Technically, this is my weekend off, but I've volunteered to go with the group. I have nothing else better to do in Anchorage, and I really love backpacking. It's still gorgeous here in southern Alaska on the coast, sunny and warm. This place is gonna be awesome, right in a beautifully curved glacial valley.
Today I hiked over 12 nonflat miles and participated in a SURPRISE wedding in the forest along the way. Each student picked a flower for the boquet. One was asked to be the ring bearer, two others as witnesses to sign the official document. And one of the other teachers acting as a Wedding Officiant. Once you're certified any public citizen who's an officiant can marry someone only once in the state of Alaska. I was the last second photographer. Toasts were given with sparkling grape juice, and a wreath of flowers was made along the way as the students did a free-write for class. The most laid-back, but beautiful wedding.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Monday, July 12, 2004

A Brief Encounter with Russian Orthodoxy
This morning I went to the St. Innocent Cathedral for church. It was my first time attending a Russian Orthodox service, and although I was confused about some aspects of it (well, many aspect of it really), it was good. I went because two of the main villages that many of the students are from in the Program, Kalskag (sorta near Bethel, pop.250) and Tatitlek (pop.107) are both predominantly Russian Orthodox and so two of the students requested to attend services this morning and I volunteered to go with them. I didn't kiss the icons, light any candles, or kiss the father's hands, but I found all of this, as well as the singing and chanting (in English, Russian and Yupik) fascinating.
Everyone has such a different concept of worship and faith. It's interesting to me that there are so many ways to worship and form a community based on the same amazing God. Some people need the strict structure and physical reminders (kissing, acting, movement in the service, chanting, incense, candles, elaborate paintings and carvings, elegant chapels) of an orthodox faith, while others need an evangelical, more contemporary and laid-back approach to worshiping God. Both ways are valid and important for certain aspects.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed again.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Today someone asked if I was pregnant. Again.
It's sad, but I can't really help it. My stomach is just disproportionally bigger than the rest of my body even though I'm a petite girl. Nothing has helped to change that.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The plural of goose is geese.
The plural of tooth is teeth.
Why isn't the plural of moose, meese?
I think it should be! But here's why it's not.
While my fellow RA fell asleep in front of me on the couch I proceeded to paint his toenails pink. I'm so gonna get it in the morning when he puts on his sandals. I wonder when he'll notice. The hardest part is stifling the giggles and smiles. :o)
I really don't want to start a practical joke war or anything, but it just had to be done. And my other fellow RA egged me on and brought out her own fingernail polish for me to use.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I introduced a new game to some of the students last night. Playing CatchPhraze with Alaska Natives is fun, and quite different. There are some unique facial expressions that only native alaskans use, and also some words are explained in different ways than how people in the states would assume. For instance:

"Oh! You all know this! We all have it at home....helps prepare salmon."

"Grows on the tundra. A fruit."

Monday, July 05, 2004

blogs have become my bedtime stories

Saturday, July 03, 2004


Friday, July 02, 2004

Mailing Address for July1-Aug1 2004:

4101 University Drive
EXCEL Summer Camp
Anchorage, Alaska, 99508