I have to admit my viewpoint on this subject is slightly skewed. I am a lifelong Alaskan, over 60 years now, who wouldn't live anywhere else. Nothing much gets my dander up like my acquaintances, who blame Alaska for their problems. I'm not saying its perfect, but with all its imperfection, it is not the cause of their problems. I don't blame those who truly do live here and cheerfully pay their "cold dark" dues for taking a vacation in southern climes during the coldest darkest part of winter.
I'm talking about the people who say they live here, but complain constantly and act as though it wasn't their idea in the first place, that Alaska
is some sort of big prison (made of money, ironically) to which they were "lured" and can't escape. As the song says, "If you don't love it, leave it," and I sometimes wish they would. They come in an assortment and combinations of types:
The first type frequently moans "I can't take the cold." In the midst of one of the warmest winters in the two decades I've lived on the peninsula and still you aren't happy? What part of the name "Alaska" didn't you understand when you moved here? Did you look at a map and think Alaska was on the equator? It actually appears there on a lot of maps; surely a "global view" would have straightened out your thinking. Or were you looking at the dollar signs and ignoring the entire concept of where you were moving or what the living conditions would be like? No, you can't wear your tank tops, shorts and Birkenstocks in January.
Duh! Get real. You aren't a hippie on a California beach. I heard someone say they wouldn't even apply for a perfectly good job here because "It's too cold and I don't like to shovel snow." That's another "Duh!"
How about this: take the job, buy a house with a heated garage, keep your car in it instead of your surf board, pay somebody else to shovel the snow, buy a warm jacket, real pants and boots. Get over yourself and quit pointing a finger at Alaska as if Alaska had a darn thing to do with you or your
miserable presence here.
The next type says, "It's too dark in the winter." Hello? What part of "Northern Hemisphere" don't you get? The world is governed by a force called "Mother Nature." Alaska is no exception. If you can't adapt to the cold and the dark and the fact that you can't change either one, you should probably use your very last permanent fund dividend check to get yourself out of here to somewhere you think will be better. We'll be standing out by the highway or along the runway -- if we have time -- waving goodbye.
We might even welcome you back when you return, as so many of you do.
The third type complains, "There's nothing to do." Let me tell you, if you pick your sad little head up out of the pity pit you've dug for yourself and look around, there is so much to do you wouldn't be able to fit it all in if there were 24 hours of daylight all year long. There are activities and charities and classes and organizations and libraries and schools and animal shelters all crying for people to help. And guess what? Once you get outside yourself and get busy, you won't notice the dark, you probably won't notice the cold. You'll be too interested in things outside yourself to worry about your light/dark, hot/cold issues.
Buy light bulbs and turn them on, paint all your walls white, take down the curtains and blinds on your windows, get out from in front of your television or computer and get involved.
The last type lives here, but nothing makes them happy. If it's summer, there are too many tourists, too many mosquitoes, too much rain, and no room to fish on "the river." Or, here's a good one: "There is too much light, I can't sleep."
If it's winter, there is either too little snow for their expensive motorized toys or too much ice for their skis. It's too cold, it's too dark, it's too boring. I get the impression that this type just likes to hear themselves complain.
While we might have too much of some things, like cold, light, dark, snow, ice and tourists, there are many things we don't have too much of, like people, traffic, air pollution, tornadoes, hurricanes, snakes and big hairy spiders, to name a few. What is a little earthquake now and then stacked up against that list of pleasures?
And I apologize, there is little surfing in Alaska except on the Internet. Might as well plant that surfboard in the yard as a lawn ornament. The moose might like it. But to any positive suggestion I make, you will have a matching negative complaint, you know who you are, complaining right now about me writing this article.
Guess what, folks? Alaska is not the problem. You are the problem. If you live here, live here, don't act as if you got on a bus to Hawaii and somewhere it made a wrong turn. You made the choice for whatever your reason. Blame yourself, but don't blame Alaska. And don't look at those of us who love it here as if we are nuts. There is nothing you can do somewhere else you can't do in Alaska. It might take a little more effort on your part, a few less excuses and a little less complaining, but its doable.
Okay, I'm done. I feel so much better. I might even go out and cut the grass; after all, it is February.
Marilyn Wheeless is a self-proclaimed "lifer" and lover of Alaska. She is an active member of Central Peninsula Writer's Group and Pioneers of Alaska. She currently works at the Law Offices of Cowan, Gerry & Aaronson in Kenai, and lives "almost" on the North Road with husband John "Ozzie" Osborne, two cats, a dog and a greenhouse; in a house with lots of windows, white walls, no curtains (to speak of) and a heated garage...all of which come highly recommended.
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