Friday, October 07, 2005

28. On the positive side

Some people in Deering felt that my blog is unnecessarily negative. I asked some people that can be objective, since they neither live in Deering, nor are me. (Yes, I know that I live in Deering, so I do not need to add the second category, since I am included in the first.) The results:
……….33% did not answer
……….33% said yes
“Well you sound kind of blue, but things will get better once you get to know more people”
“I should also note that a blog is not a private diary -- it's posted in a public forum, and its contents are available to anyone who stumbles on it.”
……….17% said no
“No not at all .. it is a mixture .. clearly you are excited about being there .. but also kind of lonely.” (ellipses are his)
…………17% said no and then changed it to maybe
“We in the lower 48 want to know how everything is going, and want you to tell everything. But there are some things that if someone in Deering read, it might hurt their feelings. It’s a tough line to draw.”
(Totals may not total 100% due to rounding, but actually here they do.)
I do suppose people (and possible me) have a tendency to kvetch when things do not go well, and when things do go well, we just go along our merry way. It’s like the fact that newspapers do not print the names of banks that did NOT get robbed.
Also, sometimes when I just say something as a matter of fact, some people feel that I am complaining. For example, I mentioned on the phone to someone that I was awakened from my nap by a student who came by to find out that the homework was. He said “Well, you’re just going to have to get used to that.” But I had not been complaining, I just mentioned it because it was so different. (He did not come by at an inappropriate time – meaning late at night or during Desperate Housewives) In Portland, a student would never come by or call a teacher at home to get the homework. I would, however, get visits from people raising money to save the hefelumps or whatever, people who feel the need to warn me that I will go to hell unless I follow their way, or students who are selling magazines but won’t come right out and say they are selling magazines but first go into their shpiel about how they have to learn how to approach people and are being graded on our feedback how do I feel he is doing. A student asking about the homework is fine with me. The others make me want to call the cops (which there aren’t any of here, so it all works out.)
So, let me dwell on the positive.
Teaching here is so much more pleasant than teaching was in Portland!!! It is partly the class size. I can give more personal attention to the students who need it. I think it is also partly the students; since I was the new teacher in the school in Portland, I was given the hard to teach groups. I spend most of my time here being a teacher, not a disciplinarian. My students here generally do their homework! During a class I might think about how much better it is, and I feel my blood pressure drop. (And don’t tell me that it is not possible to feel that, because I do!) Also, in a school this size, we don’t have a lot of the political misuggaas that you find in larger schools. And since teaching is a pretty big part of my day, this is a pretty big lifestyle improvement.
The other biggie is how friendly everyone here is. When I walk down the street, people wave or say hi. I received a large package in the mail, too large for me to carry home, the other guy in the post office drove it to my house on the back of his ATV. If I look confused, people ask what is wrong, and can they help. As I mentioned before, a couple of people brought me chucks of meat from their hunting kills. One couple let me have their VCR, and then brought me a bunch of tapes or me to watch. People smile at each other when they pass on the road.

With all my comments, I don’t really mind most of the problems. (I admit that I would mind the sewer being out if I couldn’t get into the school which has a back-up sewer.) It is all part of the experience. And my house may be a dump, but if you add some books and a subway map and groceries and a schnauzer, it is a welcoming dump. (Anyplace is welcoming with a schnuzer doing a happy-you're-home dance)

Actually, the only thing that gets to me is the lack of a Jewish community, but I knew going in that there wasn’t any (or I would have named this blog something different.) I think it might just be getting to me because of the Yamim Noraiim and the fact that Sukkos and Simchas Torah are coming. (BTW, if you are in Portland, Portland State University is putting up a sukkah this year.) No one would build a sukkah in Deering, anyway. Well, maybe Chabad.

A local Mensa chapter here would be nice too!


*tail wag*
Your blog unnecessarily negative? NO, definitely not. I'd call it 'balanced'. Few people are even tempted to do what you did. The experiences you write about are a reality that I, for one, find intriguing, for both the negative and the positive.

It is your blog name, "The Northernmost Jew", that led me to check what 'that' is all about. Up to then, I thought the northernmost Jew was an American with a Finnish wife, who blogs from a university town in northern Finland. I don't know which of you is truly 'northernmost'. Since it seems that you'd appreciate the Jewish connection, this is his blog:

Being from NYC, I suppose you know of this blog: It's not so much a blog as it is a collection of local NY Jewish news stories. Even though I'm in Dallas, the scope of vosizneias is mind-boggling.

Anyway, %%%%, this comment is a means of introduction. I'll continue to read (and occasionally comment on) anything you choose to blog about.

%%%% - somehow I've missed any mention of your first name. It would help me relate to your blog entries if, in the distant background, there were a name to associate with them. :-)

L'Shana Tova

Post a pic of jack the labradoodle! Also pix of school! I read the website of the Deering High School and I really enjoyed it, especially the interview with the school cook. Maybe the school cook can give you some moose and caribou cooking lessons. Can they update the school website to include you?

The view of the sound is beautiful. I do not think you were too negative--it is understandable for you to be upset the first few days in a new place. I can also understand people's feelings getting hurt. I'm certainly very proud of my own home town.

What is the name of your time zone? How many hours behind New York?

Do the young people speak Inuit? Do the older people speak it? Have you learned anything about the language? Are there othe native languages spoken in the area? Are people teaching the languages to make sure they are continued in the next generation?

Is school open on Rosh Hashone and Yom Kipur?

What denomination is the church? What have people heard about Jews?

Fresh picked berries in October? Yummy! Sounds like the climate is pretty mild.

Your heater turns itself off? YOUR HEATER TURNS ITSELF OFF?!?! What if it does that when it's really really cold out there?

The library book--HAHAHAHA! (Folks, please understand that this joke is about New Yorkers more than it is about Alaska; the rest of the world does look different to us)

I have been looking at a lot of maps of Alaska. I only used to think of the boxing-glove shape as being Alaska, but I never noticed before that there is this really long coast that goes almost to California.

Post soon!
gut vokh,
I think, Amy, that you'll find you're developing an audience with genuine interest on what life is like in the environment you're living in. Hopefully the communications link that blogging offers will offset much of the isolation one can feel from being in the far North in the darkness of the winter months. And then there are the Northern Lights that most of us '48-staters' just never get to see. Thanks for that link, btw.

Whether you happen to be on 'the positive side' or 'the negative side', you'll most likely find blog readers who will be supportive. That's the beauty of the internet.

Chocolate Lady:

Inuit isn't a language, more, just a term used for Northern aboriginals. The natives in Deering and the group of villages around Kotzebue are mostly Inupiaq Eskimos (one of the two major Eskimo groups in Alaska .. the other being Yupik). Their language is called Inupiaq or Inukutuk (I'm not positive if I have the second name exactly correct).

The language is Inupiaq, "Inukutaq" is a word for a group of tiny people who live in the mountains and underground that hardly anyone knows anything about. the Inukutuks, there are different stories all over alaska, and they have differnt names for them in their language, they say some help and some kidnap.
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