Friday, October 18, 2013

Time Is Not On My Side

And so began the countdown. 274 days left. Hell, it's even posted next to the Governor's Office how many days left I have until I get back on a plane to the U.S. (or where ever I'm going...). Well, that's kind of a lie. It's really about 300 days left. The countdown sign is for the start of the Micronesian Olympics, which coincidentally, also has a part to play in this post. I just got the random idea to have this post like the old t.v. show 24. You know; the clock. Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. Let's keep that theme.

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 17:54.06 hours.

One day as I stumbled onto the track on a Saturday evening, I noticed something peculiar. There were children. There were children running. It was amazing. The track and field had somehow sprung to life from the nothingness and soccer players that it once was. I knew something was up, but I had no clue. I saw the kids were running 400 meter dashes around the track and the track coach was timing them. I had every intention of running with the kids to show my support for them (and of course to show them who's boss). So I lined up with one group, and they sort of looked at me funny. "You want to join," one asked. "Let's do this," said a boastful Nick trying to pump up some indifferent teenagers. So we raced around the track and much to my surprise, I was fast. I was faster than I remembered. I ended up running the 400 meters in 1:04, which is decently fast. I beat the kids by about 100 meters, but they beat me in the aftermath. I thought I was going to faint. The world got dark and fuzzy. I couldn't stand. I sat down and tried to focus my remaining energy on not dying. In this deathly state, the track coach came up to me and said, "Okay Nick. You're on Red Team."

"I'm on red what?"

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 17:58.33 hours.

Then it all came into focus. I stood up and realized that my running the 'race' was signing up for the Nett Constitution Day celebration at the track, but I wouldn't be racing against kids. (Yes, Nett Municipality has its own Constitution even though it already existed before the Constitution was written. Anyhow, it's a day off of school, and there's athletics. I can't complain.) I'd be racing against, eh, let's just say some of these people went to the Olympic Preliminaries in the London Olympics. So I started training for my 800 meter and 400 meter race. I trained. Ha. No. I jogged. But, I held my own at the competition. My estimate is that 1,500 people showed up for the Constitution Day celebration. I ran a 59.75 second 400 meter and a 2:23 800 meter. I checked my times against some others online. Apparently if I got into an 800 meter foot race with the fastest 10 year old in the world, I could barely beat him. This feat actually got me some street cred in town. People now wave and call out my name on the road. "Teacher Nick!" Yep, that's me.

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 19:33.22 hours.

Then I got the craziest idea in my head after the race. Could I, an extremely WASPy WASP (minus the Protestant), do more with running. Could I, an average runner back in the U.S., be a part of the Micronesian Olympics in July 2014? I had just finished my second 100 meter dash at practice on Monday when I asked the track coach this preposterous question. Could I? Mr. Obama, please do me the honor. Yes. You. Can. For the past 4 days I've put my body through what I consider to be a moderate sprinters workout. I'm training for the 800 meter and probably the 1500 meter (almost a mile). I only have one question.

Will the Olympic torch be a coconut husk on fire?

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 20:13.09 hours.

School has been going well. My co-teachers and I work well every day, and oh how those kids are learning their letters. I've made it a personal vendetta to make sure every 6th grader knows the difference between D/T, B/P, G/K, F/V, and when to say the "huh" sound at the beginning of words that start with H. Pohnpeians don't usually differentiate between these letters which makes their English bad. Really bad. I mean the difference between craB and craP is huge, right? [They liked that example :)] The students have responded in a way I couldn't have imagined. They now take daily spelling class as a personal challenge to get better at their letter pronunciation. My students can now hear when their classmates are saying the letters wrong. Even my co-teachers are learning the differences. Spelling letters has now become fun, and even competitive. It's an all out war. They're saying the letters so well now, it almost makes me cry. Okay, now I'm crying.

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 22:35.22 hours.

I've recently started to write a book. No, it's not one of those touchy feely emotional books about my life's struggle through Peace Corps. It's an action/thriller book. All I can tell you now is that it's the story of a recently released convict who is now being set up for a crime he didn't commit. He now has to race to not be caught by the police and to prove his innocence by finding the people who set him up. It's turning out to be a great project. If you would like to be a book reviewer/editor, I'm all up to send you a chapter or two. I plan to publish this book. Ya, it's serious.

Bum. Bim. Bum. Bim. 23:55:52 hours.

Since Jack Bauer is about to solve the crime, I guess it's time to log off this post with some pictures. Enjoy, but not too much.

My students hard at work.

My bed is quite comfortable.

Lili - the wonderful woman who makes sure I get fed fried chicken, rice, or ramen for under $3.

Students attending to the school garden.

Recess is quite uneventful. The children are discouraged from playing and running. They mostly just go buy their food for lunch. Yes, I'll take one diabetes and 2 of those new obesity orders on the menu.