J52: The Great White North

Journal52 2015, Week 3.

Prompt: Conversation Starters.

The idea this week was to do a spread based on a conversation you had or over heard recently. This prompt came to my inbox the day after my husband went to a meeting for the Kativik School Board. We talked about what he had learned at the meeting and that conversation was still fresh in my head.

The Kativik region is Northern Quebec from the top of James’ Bay and up. It’s not the most popular region of Quebec to live in and the school board there is always looking for experienced teachers. Why are we applying for a teaching job there? The teaching market is saturated here and moving north would be smarter economically than moving anywhere else. The Northern Allowance you get for moving up North to work would allow us to save a lot, plus they offer subsidized housing, they cover moving expenses and three trips home a year. If need be, he could move there for a year while I stay here to finish school. It’s not ideal, but the Allowance would make having two households manageable.

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It would definitely be a lifestyle change. A small town means getting used to the everyone knows everyone thing. The Inuit culture would be more prominent up there. Things would also be more laid back. There is very little crime. Kids are out by themselves a lot. Sometimes it’s broad daylight at 2am there, in which case, all the kids are going to be out at the park. If you can’t find your kid, not to worry, it is likely he is in one of the other 10 house on the street.

One thing Hubby said they emphasized at the meeting was the landscape. There are no trees. They tell everyone who applies this, but when they get off the plane in Kativik, they are still astonished by how flat and barren the land is. No trees. No hills. Just tundra.

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Everything has to be delivered. Shopping is done from catalogs or the internet. My first thought was no more grocery shopping, awesome! You order groceries online and they are delivered to your door. The shipping is covered by the government apparently. There are small stores in the villages, but a bag of chips usually costs about $7. No thanks. Even water has to be delivered. That scared me a little at first. It is delivered daily on week days, so not a big deal…unless there is a snow storm! So, if there is a snow storm on a Friday, no showers or laundry for days because you aren’t getting another supply of water until Monday! EEK!

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The weather is another thing to think about. It will be cold and there will be even more snow than here in Montreal. They told Hubby the rule is if you can’t see your neighbour’s house across the street in a snow storm, don’t leave your house. There seem to be a couple reasons not to leave your house. They said it was common enough to get a call in the early morning just as you were getting up for work, telling you to stay inside because there was a polar bear sighted near the town or a pack of wolves roaming the village. Wow, that is different.

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So anyway, my J52 spread this week is dedicated to our conversation about living in the “Great White North”. I started with white gesso, did my lettering in blue craft acrylic paint and pasted some map bits on top with modge podge. I didn’t think about the lettering too much. I just kind of slapped it on there. I wish I had taken a bit more care now. I used a Crafter’s Workshop Stencil by Jamie Echt to do the handwriting you see in blue. I then went over everything in white gesso mixed with blue acrylic paint to mute the blue paint and colour in the maps. I was aiming for a cold blizzardy look. It’s not quite what I was imagining, but you get the idea. I used the same stencil with white acrylic over my blue tinted gesso, doodled some snowflakes with gel pens and wrote bit of the conversation with a silver Sharpie paint pen.

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Self-esteem Challenge: Day 29

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 29:
When you don’t feel good about yourself, what do you do to change that, if anything?
What do you think of your teeth and your smile? Do you like them and if so why? If not how can you view them more positively?

When I don’t feel good about myself, I distract myself. This usually involves cake, a movie or sleeping. It doesn’t always work and I guess it’s not the best idea either. Distraction is only temporary, it doesn’t deal with the real problem. Now if I only know the source of the real problem, then I’d be getting somewhere.

I am neutral about my teeth and my smile. There is nothing remarkable for better or worse about my teeth and smile. I have always wished my teeth were pearly white like the girls in magazines. I felt better when I realized most of those girls are touched up. 🙂


The Panic Devil and the Optimistic Angel

Those of you who have experienced depression know about that battle that goes on inside of yourself. It’s a constant struggle between the devil and the angel on your shoulders. The devil tells you you are worthless while the angel tells you to pick yourself up and get in gear. At the end of the battle, you are left exhausted and disappointed because you can’t just do what the angel says and leave the devil in the dust. It’s not that simple.

This scenario was triggered in me yesterday when the husband called after work. Bad news, that high school enrollment for next September is down and he’ll likely be out of a job. He’s a high school science teacher. This really threw me for a loop. I thought we were safe. He had just gotten tenure, meaning the school board would have a position for him. I guess if there are no kids to teach, they can’t very well have a teaching post for him. We are a single income (his) household, so this set me into panic mode. What are we going to do? I’ll have to quit my Ph.D. to get a job!

What if I did have to get a job? What would I do? I’ve got a M.Sc. in biology and I’m halfway through a Ph.D. in vision science. So I’m highly educated, but I have no skills and no experience. Who would hire me?  In addition, I live in Quebec and don’t speak French. I knew this would come back to bite me eventually. This rules out the possibility of working in retail or service industries. I have babysitting experience, but if I handed my resume full of conference presentations and cadaver research into a daycare center, I’m pretty sure they’d laugh me out of the building.

After some major panic, throwing up and a rather nice chat with some new friends I’ve made through blogging (thank you!), I came back to Earth. I tried to look at the situation logically. It’s not certain there wont be a job for him, so it’s not worth more panic….yet. There is a possibility of me getting a government fellowship. Please provincial government, fund me! I wont know about the fellowship until next month. So I can delay more panic until then.

This is the problem with higher education. You get stuck in a small bubble with all the other competitive, highly motivated students and professors and you forget that there are destinations other than being a tenured professor. You forget that there is a whole world out there that requires skills other than being an encyclopedia for a very specific field. It becomes hard to see a relationship between your specialized training and employment in the outside world. At least this is how I was feeling when I started my second round of panic.

Just as the panic devil was about to get me going again, the angel on my other shoulder chimed in. If this were true, then there would be an awful lot more highly educated, unemployed people. Of all the things I’ve done in grad school, there must be some transferable skills there. I was a teaching assistant for an anatomy lab. I dissected cadavers and taught students what was what. Unless I wanted to be a serial killer, the dissecting wasn’t going to help, but the teaching, that was good. I taught them about all the different nerves in the body and how to tell a vein from an artery. That’s attention to detail. Another skill! I was starting to feel better. What about all my conference presentations? There’s organization, communication and interpersonal skills. Alright! I was starting to feel like a rock star! Albeit, an unemployed rock star.

It’s important not to look at a situation through the devil’s eyes. You need to knock some sense into that angel too though. Singing empty optimism isn’t going to get you anywhere. What is true about the situation? I mean solid facts, not what you think you know or what you assume others think. Facts. Since I am being forced out of my academic bubble I have to make changes. I’m going to take my set of facts (knowledge and transferable skills) and go in a different direction.

I’m feeling better about this forced change. I know it’ll be hard and extremely unpleasant and part of me still wants to curl up in a ball and hide in the corner, but I know buried under all that theory, there are transferable skills. The thought of leaving my Ph.D. still breaks my heart, but I know I’m not doomed.

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