Fundamental Truths

  • In war the best policy is to take a state intact.
  • Too Much is the Same as Not Enough
  • Fear is the Mind-Killer
  • All Warfare is based upon deception.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Home

I live in a marvelous place. A legitimate checklist for my Saturday follows-

1. Check ammo status.
2. Sharpen Kukri.
3. Don gunbelt, pack knapsack.
4. Pay off The Russian.
5. Ride into the mountains.
6. Tea and sandwiches on a mountainside.
7. Shooting practice.
8. Ride back into town reeking of cordite.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Well Hello Again.

It's been a while, hasn't it? Pull up a stump and don't mind the fish heads. The lady from the dog yard hasn't been by yet today.

When last we met, I was eulogizing my late Grandfather. Before that, I was basically pinwheeling my arms wildly and waiting for my job to begin.

A lot of water under the bridge since then.

As intended, I packed my worldly goods up and shipped them and myself off to a spectacularly scenic little corner of the Northwest Arctic, finding employment as a schoolteacher.

And oh, what a clusterfuck it has been. And at the same time, what a marvelous decision.

The bad is almost all job-related.

I don't know if I'm a good teacher, a bad teacher, or perhaps the sort of teacher who burns his entire community to the ground. It's early yet- we just finished our second week of classes.

What I do know is that any and all time spent learning about the ancestral culture of the locals is wasted. Simply and utterly wasted. Because it has sweet fuck-all to do with the students. I've gotten more mileage out of the childhood tales of some of my more colorful friends than any amount of Native Heritage study. And thank whatever deity is listening that I actually appreciate casual brutality, or I would find living here to be a chore.

As it is, the teaching is difficult. My students, bless their enlightened little hearts, do not give a shit. They ask me "why we gotta read?" And while I have answers to THAT one, some others are trickier. For example, Health Class. It's a load of shit. They know it, I know it, anyone who has ever taken Health knows it. I'm reasonably sure even the Sex-Ed part is Abstinence Only- in other words, it's an hour every day that serves as torture for both the class and for me, while teaching nothing that's going to stick.

So some classes are awful and some are good- and they all have the unusual problem that they go off every day, instead of rotating like they do in larger schools. And then we have the real gravy part.

As a small school, we have a staff of five... or should. Four full-time teachers, and one Teacher/Principal. Until the end of the first week, when our Teacher/Principal, impelled by drama from last year, transferred to another school. Yes. The pigfucker gets in one week's worth of time-wasting, then rides off into the sunset, leaving us high and dry. As of this writing, we're not completely sure what the hell is going on or who will take over. This will be a semester dictated by who manages to fail the least. It's going to be a long, hard slog.

So much for the job. I get my first paycheck soon, and so much of it is already spoken for it hurts to think about.

But the place... the place is another story altogether.

The river runs by the front of the village, rich with fish and a lot of fun to boat around on. On all sides, there is nothing but empty space. An old mine lies about fifteen miles out of town, easily reached by 4-wheeler, nestled in the mountains. The village lies on flatlands immediately south of the mountains, hemmed in by forest and tundra in a delightful mix. Caribou pass by so close that hauling their carcasses back to town is a short trip, and every day I feel as if I've woken up in a postcard. It's also a place that, in spite of the rampant alcoholism and abuse, or perhaps because of it, accepts little things that I enjoy. When I walk down the road with my kukri and my .45 on my belt, the only questions I get are "what kind of gun is that?" and "where did you get that knife?" When a small child lands a pike, no one so much as blinks if I use my kukri to finish the fish off. If I come back into town with an armload of bones or antlers, no one feels a need to comment. If someone wants a dog put down, there's no song and dance about animal cruelty... someone just takes the mutt out to the airstrip and shoots it, then hauls its corpse to the dump.

In other words, it's a place where folks leave one another alone unless they're invited over or unless they need something. It's a place where I run the risk of being the most sentimental man in town.

And it's a place where I can watch old women dress out fish with an ulu in less than fifteen seconds. Where fish racks dot the riverside, and where caribou bones lie under nearly every house.

In other words, if I can stand the teaching for few hours a day, it's possibly one of the best places in the world for me to be.