*That's* graphic, eh?
I'm back to school. I have fifteen kindergarten students. Three of them have been a bit sniffly. Nose-picky. Wiping slime across faces with bare hands, sleeves, or shirt hems. Naturally, I am now sniffly. Snorky. I sound like this: "I hab a code (snork, blow, wheeze, cough)." Never fear, I use Kleenex. Appropriately. And I dispose of used tissues immediately. Ibuprofin and Sudafed have kept me company for the past twenty-four-plus hours. Halls coughdrops (honey lemon) have stood on the nightstand at the ready. I've been napping/sleeping between magazine browsing...Somerset Holiday, nap. People Magazine, nap. Good Housekee----SNORE.
Next week three or four more students will experience nasal drainage issues too, necessitating bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer, boxes of kleenex, and strategically placed trashcans to be deployed throughout the room. Blech.
Being an Alaskan in Kansas, I've been asked by a few friends, parents, and colleagues about Governor Palin. I've also heard (and read) a lot about Palin and Alaska via the news, tabloids, newspapers, blogs, emails, and chit chat. There's something I've noticed: lower 48'ers (everyone living outside of Alaska or Hawaii) tend to believe that their romantic mythology of Alaska is the "real" Alaska. You laugh and smile as you tell me how much you love watching Northern Exposure reruns, or how you got to pan for gold with friends at some tourist trap in the Interior, and you express wonderment that Alaskan residents receive a "bonus check" from the state just for living there.
I've heard Republican representatives tout Governor Palin as being a "can-do" kind of woman because she has a "big gun, a moose gun." As many of you are NRA members, you should know this: it's called a rifle. You should also know that many Alaskans, Republican, Democrat, Independence Party or undecided/don't care/don't vote, male or female, own and use guns too. Palin is not exceptional for her familiarity with or use of firearms. She merely lives in a state known for its subsistence lifestyle and large man-eating animals.
Alaska is also full of people who purposely left the Lower 48, not just to find their riches, but to get away from the status quo, to get away from cookie cutter expectations, cookie cutter experiences, and in some cases, cookie cutter laws. As a result, Alaska is full of diverse, socially colorful people, "characters," you might call them. Alaskans like the fact that their state constitution safeguards their privacy: Article I, section 22 states that the "right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed." The Supreme Court of Alaska further expressed Alaskans' "natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" when it stated that "at the core of this concept [of liberty] is the notion of total personal immunity from governmental control: the right 'to be let alone.'" Breese v. Smith, 501 P.2d 159, 168 (Alaska 1972). (Thank you, Alaska Law Review)
Alaskans are not always team players- but they are individuals who will give you the shirt off of their back (or more importantly, your truck a "jump" at twenty below zero when you're stuck on the side of the road) and will leave before you ever have the chance to thank them. Instead of thanking or paying us, stop and help someone else when you see a person in need. We don't wear $300,000 worth of designer clothing and ritzy jewels to "attend functions," we wear Carhartt's and bunny boots to weddings. We make poor financial choices just like you. Our dividend check? The heating fuel relief money? Most of it was spent on new flat screen televisions or snowmachines, televisions for the long cold winter, and snowmachines for transportation and recreation.
Racist comments? Yep, you betcha. We're human in that arena too. Sexist? Not so much- after all, women have to be pretty tough in Alaska to make it through long, cold winters. A favorite event at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics is the tug-o-war between Native Women and White Men. The women win every year, and they win it *fair and square.*
It will take you extra work, and extra research if you want to really get to know our present governor. Like most, Alaskans feel state pride when one of our own is recognized. But while our state is the largest in the union, our population is one of the smallest: we KNOW one another. If we haven't met one another yet personally, there's a very good chance we know your Aunt Ethel and Uncle Bob from Anaktuvuk Pass. Being outspoken Alaskans, we'll dish the dirt. Knowing your Aunt Ethel and Uncle Bob, we'll choose to bite our tongues to outsiders- after all, we're going to pass our neighbors, their family and friends in Fred Meyers, Dimond Mall, or at W.E.I.O., while journalists are far away via phone, e-mail, etc. and are merely seeking out cute, kitschy Alaskan-ey sounding taglines for their "reports."
We have a state big enough in which to hide bodies folks. Who needs concrete shoes when we can feed the fox and wolves?
Good rule of thumb for life and present-day elections? Don't believe everything you read or hear. Don't believe everything you're told by a person whose job it is to sell him/her self to you. Take some time, check a person's public records, and question why she or he is trying to distract you with rah-rah's and put downs when what you need and deserve to hear are the details of plans that are going to make your life better. No, we don't live in igloos. Yes, there are peak months in which you can see the Northern Lights. No, we don't have a light switch to turn them on. The mosquito is our not-so-inside-joke state bird (because the real state bird is the willow ptarmigan). Yes, it's pretty dark and cold during the winter, and sunny during the summer. Our autumn and spring are short lived and can be identified from winter and summer by the amount of MUD that covers your vehicle and boots. Eskimos are not the only "native Alaskans" that live in the frozen north. No, Governor Palin does NOT "control" the oil pipeline, nor will she "control" the gas pipeline once it is built. Yes, she probably does know Santa Claus, all Alaskans do: he lives in another famous tourist trap location called North Pole, Alaska. My own children loved visiting him each Thanksgiving when out of state family came to visit.
We'd like you to know: Alaska is a real state, full of real people. It is not an election prop. While many of us are proud to see "our" governor out there playing with the lower 48'ers, just as many of us are wondering why anyone bothered asking her to come outside in the first place.