September 03, 2009

Like water for chocolate...

I’ve only been a ‘northerner’ for a few weeks, but I’ve already made a few observations that will take awhile to get used to…right now I’ll just focus on relationship status and nutrition.

Relationship status? This is one I really wasn’t expecting. Ok, people are generally curious about the ‘new face in town’, but this goes beyond that. It’s true, most southerners have a significant other – whether here or long-distance – but not everyone. I’ll have to depend on myself to get things done, but that’s part of the adventure. Come on people, give a girl some credit; I haven’t left the grid up here, I’ve just moved closer to the edge.

Back to the point. In the last four days I’ve gotten four inquiries. No, not anyone who is interested…just concerned people. Even my supervisor in Iqaluit thought it would be good if I met up with her friend because she, too, is single. It’s like the ultimate shunning table at the wedding where the seating plan mixes those who would most prefer adult interaction with the children. What’s up with that? Do people really think it’s that difficult?

Anyway, my boss was #1, my supervisor was #2, my neighbor was #3 (he’s set on fixing me up with the RCMP officer), and #4 was a co-worker… apparently my particular breed of southerner is hard to come by up here. I wonder if it makes people uncomfortable – perhaps they feel obliged to fix it? Paa-leez.

On to the next topic: nutrition. Perhaps it’s not as ‘sexy’ as relationships, but I think it’s more important. Since I arrived north of 60, I’ve tried not to concentrate too much on the price I end up paying every time I swipe my card at the Northern. I expected everything to be more expensive, and it is. It’s all about expectations. ‘Lays’ chips can put you out about $7.50 and, before the sealift, soft drinks can put you out about $4 for one of those ‘stubbies’. With the exception of one summer when I was about 16, I’ve never been a regular consumer of chips or pop, so I don’t mind going without them. $8 for 2L of milk, $7 for a small block of cheese, $6 for a few tiny apples…those are the things I think about when I enter the store.

Moving along…

After my first 2 weeks here, I couldn’t believe how many people were lined up at the check-out with all this junk food. My first reaction was ‘wow, that person must have a lot of money to be able to buy all that…I can't afford to buy treats! I wish my mom had bought me and my brothers that kind of stuff when we were younger instead of all that fruit’. Then it occurred to me (as I’m sure it already has to you): no one was buying the healthier food to balance it out. Fresh meat/fish, produce, various types of bread (other than the white ‘Wonder’ bread)…it was just going bad on the shelves. I was so sad. I know this is not new information and that ethnographic research has been done on this as recently as last year - a good friend of mine just spent most of her PhD years going to more northern communities than I know the names for, completing surveys and collecting anecdotal evidence related to this problem - but it was still heart-breaking to see. I'm not a health nut by any means, but the common sense of choosing certain types of foods over others guides my diet. **I have no idea why that last part changed to italics, but I'm too tired to figure out why it won't change following the usual drill.**

Don't get me wrong...I don't count calories and I enjoy a good ‘Hungry Man’ now and then (the entrée, not the guy sitting at your table or on your couch), but I’m only willing to pay the $12.99 needed here (in Pang) in very special circumstances. It’s a guilty indulgence and it always has been (even in the south).

Relationships and nutrition…I didn’t expect those two issues to be the first to smack me in the face. All about expectations…


Christa said...

Oh my goodness, this was one of the first things to hit me when I got here (the nutrition thing). My food that I lugged up with me did not show up for the first few days I was here, so I had to go to the Northern right away to get some food (I showed up with a can of hot chocolate and some spices, because the bags that made it were the ones that didn't have any food in them). I grabbed some apples and chicken breasts and a few other things and went to the line up where I saw nothing but pop and chips and jerky and chocolate... it was so shocking. But it did make the shock of how bad the students teeth are a lot less because I expected bad teeth after seeing people getting nothing but junk at the store!

Of course, they do hunt and fish a lot here, so they do get fresh fish and meat very often. Also, many people get their vegetables by food mail as they are fresher and go bad less quickly (one reason things are rotting on the shelves is because they show up half rotting already and are over their expiry date.. be sure to check that everytime if you haven't been already) and are a bit cheaper to boot.

As for the relationship thing, I am in one (long distance) and people keep asking why I don't already have kids. Many many of the high school students have kids, and everyone has MANY kids here, as many as they can in most cases. Also, despite being in a long term relationship people keep making "offers" to me about dating their son/cousin/brother/crazy neighbour.

Morena said...

I think that living up here can be very lonely when you are single especially when it gets cold and dark and people are hibernating more. I would suspect that's why people are concerned. It's good you have other singles there to hang out with. And I say go for the RCMP guy, they make great husbands! (lol, I'm a little biased though) :) Welcome to the north!