Sunday, May 15, 2011

Minnesota Is Sexy

When people hear I'm from Minnesota, they usually look very confused, and I think this happens for a few different reasons. 1) I live in New Hampshire and go to school in Connecticut. It literally does not make sense to people, apparently, to be from one area of the country and live currently in another. (I've gotten the question "Why Connecticut?" so many freaking times. The only answer I want to give is "Well why the hell not?") 2) If people have any expectations of the midwest at all (and many just don't), they think of endless farms, thick accents, and a society about lagging about ten years behind the rest of the country. 3) "Where? Honestly, I don't even know where that is."

And while I mostly resent these questions and stereotypes, I have to admit Minnesota can be pretty hilarious, and my life there was actually pretty rampant in cliches that I can't even fight.

-The mother of a teammate I had once, who happened to grow up in South Dakota (where there's even less of anything than there is in Minnesota) explained to me how she, and many of her childhood friends, got drivers' licenses at about age 12... so they could drive tractors.

-The Minnesota State Fair, a very big deal in the state, includes not only an entire arena filled with show livestock, but also holds an annual sculpture contest... where the material used is butter. Think I'm kidding? Hardly.

And oh yeah, that second one is the bust of the winner of a local beauty pageant. Yep, one of the perks of winning the yearly pageant is getting your face carved into some quality, fresh Minnesotan butter.

-Here's a nice little anecdote from my own history- About five years ago I was supposedly planning on going to the Sadie Hawkins dance with one of my good guy friends. (I say "supposedly" because I have very little recollection of this happening. But people say it did, so I'm going with it. I mean, I think I would remember. I liked this guy a lot for a long time. Always will a little, probably. He's hot. But ANYWAY.) We actually didn't end up going together because... he went hunting with his dad instead. So I was ditched for the chance to sit in 7 degree weather for twelve hours, some camouflage pants, and the possibility of a few dead deer. Look me in the face and tell me that's not hilarious.

-While I've only seen "Drop Dead Gorgeous" once in my life, I've heard that movie is where a lot of people get their information on life in Minnesota from. And even I'd love to say "That Minnesota is not where I lived," I can't. The main town in the film is "Mount Rose" and one the towns that neighbored my own was "Rosemount." And you know what? The town is filled with farms. True facts.

-One of my former teammates picked the number 7 for her uniform just because that is Joe Mauer's number for the Twins, and he is a sexy, sexy man.
COME ON. This guy is pretty much a god for Minnesotan women.

Also, this guy is new to the Twins and kind of... just look.

-Despite not really being a part of "the west" or "the south," there still exists a strong love of country music in Minnesota. I mean, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" played at EVERY SINGLE school dance I ever attended, and I sang along to "God Bless the Broken Road" into my date's shoulder during prom. I still hold strong to this love that was established there, and two of the three pre-set stations in my car right now are country stations. I might have even audibly gasped when I found the second station while browsing. I didn't think more than one existed in the entire region of New England, let alone New Hampshire.

-I've been to the Spam museum. That's a real thing that exists. And you know what? I LIKED it.

I guess everyone's hometown has its own weird and embarassing stuff. These are just mine.

Oh, and that second one? Yeah, that's me stuck in a snowbank. This is my life.

Tennis Ball Guy

In the middle of the particular set of townhomes where I currently live, there is a pond. I assume this pond was man-made to make the area of identical houses and close proximity to dozens of strangers more palatable. The children of the heavily-smoking adults who live here (of which there are many) congregate around this water on every decent afternoon and go about their (loud and annoying) childhood shenanigans behind everyone's homes. Now I have many problems with this, but that's a rant for a different day. It also just so happens the window in my room overlooks this pond, lending itself to plentiful creeping opportunities, which of course I take advantage of. I love creeping.

A few evenings ago, I was sitting at my window on my bed, trying not to slide off because the top mattress is quite loose. Anyway, I notice at the pond's edge, right behind our house, a teenage guy with a baseball bat and a tennis ball. He was alone, oddly enough, considering it was a nice night. Maybe all the munchkins were off eating their dinners of dinosaur chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, whatever. DANG that actually sounds really good, doesn't it? As I'm watching from my second-story window, this guy tosses the ball up and takes a swing at it. It was obvious he was trying to hit it clear over the pond (I don't know why though, the other side consists of a bunch of construction...). Despite his attempt at impressive manliness, the poor guy only tapped the tennis ball about two feet into the water, not even far enough to make him stretch to get the ball back from the edge. I can't lie, I laughed. I really shouldn't have, because I have experience throwing to myself and trying to hit, and it is DAMN HARD. Seriously, try it. If you don't have baseball or softball experience, you will fail. Inevitably. Anyway, I don't think he heard me laugh, but I quickly returned to my book just in case.

When I braved another look to check his progress, he was gathering his pride and giving it another go. This time he swung and actually connected, but unfortunately the tennis ball splashed into the water about a yard short of the edge on the other side. It bobbed there a few times, with the guy just standing there, considering his options. He then nonchalantly sauntered around the pond, pretending like he wasn't doing something inexplicable and kind of weird and possibly embarassing. On the far side, the guy attempted to use his bat to swat the ball closer to him, but that only seemed to aggravate the thing into not cooperating. His next move was to step onto some kind of mini-island a few feet into the water. Honestly, I have no idea what that thing was. Frankly, it looked like a crocodile. So we're going to assume now this kid keeps a pet crocodile in the pond outside my house. That seems like the logical next step. So from the back of his crocodile Timothy, he was able to once again retrieve his tennis ball. Obviously, so far his endeavours have not been entirely fruitful, but did this stop tennis ball guy? Of course not.

But it should have. He gave the ball another hit, but this time I think the thing was just vengeful, because it fell right smack dab in the middle of the pond. At this point, I start laughing again, and return once more to my book, because my window's open and I don't want him to know how much he just embarassed himself. I took another few glances over the next few minutes, and found him angrily throwing nearby rocks in the general area of where the ball floated, in the vain attempt of getting it to float to an edge. When I looked again after a few minutes, and the guy had gone home with his ball still floating out of reach. Poor guy.

This post didn't really have a point, but I just kind of wanted to share that story.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can I be interesting without London? Probably not, but let's see.

And so it begins... the chronicling of my life without the twist of Europe to make it interesting. Let's see how this goes.

So it doesn't make sense for the name of this to be "A Term in London" anymore. Instead it is now "A Termin(a)l on Don."

Don't worry, he's not crushed or anything. He's just waiting for his flight.

So anyway. This post has a point.
Almost exactly a year ago, I was home in Minnesota, visiting my best friends, whom I hadn't seen since I moved to New Hampshire a year before (WHOA that sentence. Whatever, not fixing it). It is no secret this move was hard on me, and my first year away from my home and my friends was probably the hardest I've ever had. I didn't realize when I left Minnesota that I was truly LEAVING and so I didn't get the closure I needed. That was what the visit last year was for; I needed to say good-bye.
I touched down in the Minneapolis airport knowing and accepting I needed to do this, but is was still greatly overshadowed by excitement, understandably. I spent the three-hour flight wanting to get out and push the plane to get it to move faster (not bothering to think of, you know, Physics.) while listening to the special "Minnesota" playlist I had set up on my Ipod. (Yes, I'm the person who does stuff like that.)

As I was walking through the airport to baggage claim, I was greeted and ecstatic to see familiar markings I grew up with: Caribou Coffee, Boundary waters ads with loons. I finally got to the escalator that brings you down to baggage claim, and waiting at the bottom I saw my two best friends in the world. And immediately broke out in loud, attention-grabbing sobs. Anyone who knows me at all knows I'm a cryer, and so this is not hard to believe. But here's the thing- I've been thinking about this trip a bunch over the past few days, and wondering how I'd react if I took this trip again.

A lot has happened since I took that homecoming trip last Spring. And while I still love my Midwestern friends just as much as I used to, possibly more, I don't think I'd be quite the public spectacle upon seeing them this time around. Another whole year has passed with us separated, and I've found how I can get on with my life. And this past semester saw me having some of the best times of my life with completely different people: people who think endless farms when they think "Minnesota" and others who think Texas is in the Northeast corner of the U.S. No, seriously.

Don't get me wrong- I still love Minnesota more than I can really say. Whenever I listen to Daughtry's "September" my mind creates an internal photo collage. Here's a snippet, BECAUSE IT'S MY BLOG AND I CAN DO THAT.

How the time passed away, all the trouble that we gave, and all those days we spent out by the lake.

Of all the things I still remember, Summer's never looked the same.

In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain.

Yeah, we knew we had to leave this town, but we never knew when and we never knew how.

See what I did there? "Play" as in music... picture by a lake... sentimenal pictures without getting too close to anyone's face who might not want it here. I'm so good.

Also, I realize this is incredibly tacky and sappy. But if you haven't discovered by now that's kind of my thing, you haven't been paying attention.