Hello. My name is Chelsey Zibell. Last name sounds like a French person saying “The Bell.” But if you mispronounce it, you definitely aren’t the first and definitely will not be the last.
I come from a village called Noorvik in rural Alaska. Dirt roads, small population, everything closed on Sundays. This was where I lived until the fall after I graduated from high school, one out of five graduating seniors. I went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks as an English major, destined to become a high school teacher in my village. Eleven years later and I am still not a teacher in my village.
But that is ok. Because along the way I…
- Had an awesome child
- Graduated with a BA in English Lit and Iñupiaq Language
- Went to grad school as an MA candidate for English Lit
- Discovered that I like creative writing as well as analyzing the shit out of hoity toity books
- Graduated with an MA/MFA in Literature and Creative Writing
- Finally entered a teaching certification program
- Almost died from exhaustion and an inundation of gas station breakfast sandwiches while trying to become a teacher
- Finished the certification program
- am currently looking for a teaching job
Now, about the name of this site. Uqaluktuaqti means “storyteller” in the Iñupiaq language, which is my heritage language. I suppose I consider myself a storyteller, even though I mainly write stories about myself and poems about identity, culture and canned peaches. I have yet to publish anything, but that’s one of my goals for the (hopefully) near future. And now that I’m done with the teaching cert program and still don’t have time for anything, it is the perfect time to make a list of semi-achievable goals:
Goals for the summer:
- Read at least one book that has nothing to do with education or research
- Sew one atikłuk/qaspeq/kuspuk (pictures here if you don’t know what that is)
- Organize my daughter’s room (seriously, I’m afraid of getting lost in the jungle of toys)
- Finish the Shopkins craft I started with my daughter one year ago
- Run all the way to that sign
- Figure out how to get that bit of pink nail polish out of the carpet
- Expand my Netflixing beyond just watching documentaries narrated by John Hurt (although I’m pretty sure falling asleep to the disembodied voice of Human Planet is making me dream smarter)
Since this is my first blog post ever, I ought to inform you of my internet presence.
It is very boring.
I googled myself once and there’s not a whole lot of me to be had. But that is supposed to be very good for a wannabe high school teacher. This spring I had to sit through a seminar where I learned all the various ways that a teacher could possibly lose their license. That evening I sat in bed with a pint of vanilla ice cream and a mason jar of full of a totally teacher-appropriate beverage and contemplated my life choices.
But anyways, I occasionally get involved in writerly projects that show up on the web if you look hard enough. I did do a little bit of Iñupiaq translation for a BBC Radio 4 drama called Looking For Billy. Unfortunately, the audio is no longer on the website, but you can read the synopsis and see my name in small letters on the bottom.
I also did an interview for Anthropoid here.
I also have a Facebook that is equally uninteresting. My friends have been trying to turn me into a Twitterite but so far I’ve evaded such a fate.
Other than that, it’s just me, Uqaluktuaqi, a storyteller, sweeper of crushed Froot Loops, and navigator of the floor of lego pieces and Monster High dolls. I am glad to be here.