Poppi Iceland

Poppi Iceland
66N, the land of the ice and fire
November 11
keeper of history
hubby and six snow cats
viking princess, happy wanderer who still debates the value of growing up.


Poppi Iceland's Links

AUGUST 18, 2011 7:14PM

The Brave New Girl

Rate: 15 Flag

      "Please, try to behave, do not get into mischief, try to fit in! I do not want to be called to this school for your behaviour," my mother barked out the orders in Icelandic as she tied my hat strings tightly under my chin. "No nonsense young lady! Do not disappoint your father!"

      "Goodbye, mom, I will be fine"  I lied and ran out the door to meet Sherri, my escort to school.

       Sherri is twelve, she is also the "Best Babysitter on the Block" what ever that means.  I think it's because she can bake cookies for the kids and not set the house on fire.  She also like to clean.  She says she must be related to Betty Crocker.  I can't tell if they are, I haven't met Betty yet. Sherri talks about her all the time, she wrote a cookbook, which is a big deal in America, because, Sherri says not many people know how to cook. Especially since the feminists took over.  I guess it's a requirement to be in the Feminist Party, never ever cook.  It would be like someone in the Socialist Party pushing for capitalism. Or a labour party made up of people who don't like to work.  American politics are strange. There are only two parties, The Elephants and The Asses. But I am not supposed to say ass, it's a bad word in America. So why do the politicians call them selves the Asses if it's bad? 

      America is strange.  Daddy says I have culture shock.  I always thought you caught that in places like Borneo if you moved in with a tribe of cannibals and they expected you to eat a person.  I hope they don't do that at this school I am going to.  It's horrible enough that it is named after some man who had his head cut off.

     It's bad enough the principal thinks I am a bastard child.  I had to look that one up. Apparently kids have the same last name as their parents. My last name is my Dad's first name.  My mother's is her father's name. You are either your father's dottir or son. I don't see why these people don't understand it.

     The principal told me it was ok, it was not my fault my mother got pregnant with  me by one guy, then tried to make things right by marrying my father.  What a moron! I look like my daddy, we even have the same ears and nose.  Obviously she has never read anything about Anthropology. It's a basic rule, when babies are born, they very much resemble their fathers, that way the guy can tell it is his kid without having to go for blood tests.  I hate blood tests. Besides, primitive people did not have blood tests for paternity, they just went by looks.  If the baby looked like the father, everything was fine. If the baby looked like the man in the cave next door, well that was a big problem, especially since there were no magistrates back then.  I guess they just smashed each other in the head with clubs.   I'm still waiting for a reply from Margaret Mead about that one.


      Sherri brought me to the crazy principle, who walked me to the classroom and introduced me to my teacher.

      "Here she is, your new Eskimo girl from Iceland, her name is....uh well I'm not sure how to pronouce it, I'll leave that up to you," she handed the teacher my records and left the room.

     "Do you have a name little red headed Eskimo??  I never knew there were red headed Eskimos"

     "My name is Poppi,  there are no red headed Eskimo. Eskimo prefer to be called Inuit if they are from Canada, and Sammi if they are from the Nordic lands."  I replied in Icelandic.

      "Well thats a pretty name, Sammy!  Is it short for Samantha? she smiled. "Do you speak any English?"

      I stared at her for a few minutes, then replied in Icelandic, "No, but I can speak Chinese. Moo goo gai pan!"

     She gave me that look, you know the one you give people when you're not quite sure if they are insane or dangerous.  The stupid grin with the head nod.  This is going to be fun. 

     "Class, this is Sammy. She is an Eskimo from the north pole. Please make her feel welcome and say hello."

      North Pole?  I have a stupid teacher who doesn't know where the north pole is.  No one lives at the NORTH POLE!  What kind of teacher is this?

     "Hello, Sammy!"  the class replied in unison.

      "Bok Choy" I replied, thinking this is going to be fun. I placed my hands together and bowed like the Dali Lama, "Bok Choy"

       The teacher led me to a desk. I sat on top of it and crossed my legs.  She patted the chair and said "Sit here."   The class tried to stifle their laughter.

       "Fenugeek!" I said patting the desk top. I could hear her mumbling  under her breath, "sure they give me the new kids, she can't speak English and has strange customs"

       Then the girl who thought she was the smartest in the class started waving her hand and bouncing in her seat.

       "Miss Jones, maybe they don't have furniture in their igloos, that's why she doesn't know what to do."

        "Okay, Sammi, just stay there." Miss Jones sighed. "you maybe right, Melanie, she may not be used to furniture."

        Melanie smiled smugly. The rest of the kids tittered and stared.

        I kept myself busy with my school books from home.  My teachers were right, I was stuck in a baby class. When I tired of sitting on the desk, I sat on the window ledge and looked out at the snow.  November is an awkward time to change schools, nevermind countries.


         Sherri met me outside the classroom and walked me home.  She thought it was hysterical that I sat on the desk and answered questions from the chinese restaurant menu.  She promised to get me more menus to study and a chinese dictionary.  

         Mom asked how was school.  I told her fine. She was happy not to have phone calls from the teacher.

         Later at dinner, I asked Daddy when we were going home. Probably in May. That's a long way off and a lot of chinese words to learn.

        I want to go home. 


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For a newcomer to this country, you have certainly picked up on the tone of the politics--elephants and asses. That's cute and correct. Smile and be yourself. Soon you will make new friends and remember May really isn't too far away. There is no place like home.
Poppi: I love your Young Poppi voice! You are one of very few people who can make me laugh while sitting at the computer. If I could rate this one twice, I would. It is Double Happiness!
Your imagination made a safe place for you, eh? How long were you here?
Ho ho ho ho!

You not only sat on a desk in school, now you’re doing it here!!!!

I love it, love it, love it!

Bok choi, Poppi, bok choi!

I thought the introductory stream of consciousness was hilarious (let me know if you ever hear from Margaret Mead!). But the classroom scene is priceless! Delightful read, Poppi. Or is it Sammy?
Bok Choy! Moo goo poo poo pi!
Delightful Poppi. You know, you get a better view up here.
This was such a fun read, from beginning to end, Poppi. Lo Mein!

I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures. Kung Pao!
See what happens when you drag a seven year old to strange places.
As an "Icelandaphile," I am so happy to read your stories, many of which resonate with the tales of others who came from Iceland to the U.S. as well as Canada.

You are right about the Eskimo name.

Thanks for this lovely piece.
It is a little confusing isn't it? The elephants and the asses? Especially since so many elephants are asses and so many asses look to have come from elephants. Perhaps we should just remember elephant or ass, they all carry the hole in one.
bobbot you are too funny!
This was jut wonderful - whimsical and wise at once. Yup, culture shock doesn't always have to involve cannibals.... I really enjoyed this!
This delightful piece has me wondering why I didn't add you to my favorites long ago. An oversight, I guess.
Yes, trying to be invisible and just survive. How marvelous, you managed to find a very creative way.
Invisible was the best way to be in that shark tank.
This is the first of your works I have read and I'm confused. I'll be reading more trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Even though I didn't catch the gist of what, why and where, I enjoyed it.