Archives for category: Minneapolis

This week we saw grass for the first time in months. Snow mold spotted our yard like bits of fur or feathers from a hawk attack. I’ve got that bird on my mind since I walked around the front of the house last week to see him sitting on our brick walkway. We stared at each other for a moment, this hawk and I – a moment longer than felt comfortable – before he flew up to perch on the street light. He stayed there while I chopped at the ice, made a path for the draining snow, and thought about the grass underneath.

Last night seven inches of snow buried all that work. All that grass and mold and possibility. Minneapolis, yet again, is covered. Even this lovely new sculpture by physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae, has been engulfed:

Spannungsfeld-MN

No one in my office is talking about snow. Usually, as good Midwesterners should, we like to talk about the weather. It shapes our lives, our thoughts, our concept of reality. This winter has sapped that desire to discuss and dissect. Snow is no longer interesting or beautiful or festive. Snow is oppressive. There is nothing more to say.

We’ll talk about the next kind of weather when it arrives. Just wait for that first thunderstorm, that first clap of thunder. You won’t be able to shut us up. God that sounds nice.

We are on the threshold of spring, the edge of that conversation. I hope.

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My current job involves being in an office for the most of my workday. Six out of eight hours most days. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Compared to many of my coworkers who spend their six hours in cubicles, I got lucky. This office has a door that I can close and a window where my sweet little plants can get some sun.

Even on a snowy March day like today:

Office Plants

Plants to improve my day, my experience of the workplace. HuffPo agrees.

I am content in my job. The hours aren’t bad. The pay is reasonable. Sometimes I get to help people with problems that seem big in their lives. The aforementioned plants seem happy here. But I’m not entirely fulfilled. This is not my dream job. I have not become what I wanted to be when I grew up (which was actually a comedian – that’s a story for another post).

Maybe that’s okay.

Instead of actively looking for a new job, I’m considering how much I need to be fulfilled by my job. Perhaps my fulfillment doesn’t lie with my career but rather with my family and my writing and my garden and my life outside of this not-too-bad office. Maybe contentment is exactly the level of fulfillment I need.

Then again making a little more money would be nice for all those other life events…

Daily Post

The first phase of spring arrived in Minneapolis last week. Not the kind of spring most of the country would recognize. We won’t see tulips and patio beers and open window Saturdays for months. This part of spring is kind of gross.

Our layers of snow and ice have begun to melt. Lakes of brown slush form at each intersection and in potholes big enough to separate a tire from your car. Mountains of snow relinquish the odd objects they’ve swallowed throughout the winter: hubcaps, bits of trash, tree branches, a single shoe.

With this melt, our sweet poodle could finally get a long overdue haircut. The first in three months. We waited so long (too long) because we couldn’t bear to remove those curls. We couldn’t bear to see her tiny body shiver before we’ve walked even halfway around the block. She needed those curls to keep her warm through this hellish winter.

I give you the poodle, before and after:

Haircut

Our fluffy lion turns into a delicate deer.

Two nights ago, I shoveled the driveway in a hoodie. The dog bounded through the snow like a giddy-Minnesotan-antelope. The wife grilled pork chops. We were full of hope. The combination of our deep snow pack, the warm air, and the poodle’s need for a haircut led to this situation:

snowpoodle

Worth it.

This morning, we woke to more than ten inches of fresh snow. Heavy snow. Snow that knocked out power to thousands of Minneapolis homes. Our hearts broke. The weather man’s advice for the coming weeks?

“Abandon all hope.” Seriously, he said that:

weather

I blame this weather, this lack of hope, for my inability to write. The bleakness of each day has sucked away my focus, my ability to string words together. Yes, that’s it. I’ll blame the weather. If you’ve noticed that this blog is suffering, blame the weather.

I do.

Daily Prompt.

We’re currently sitting at -7 here in Minneapolis:

weather

The sun is out; clean white puffs of steam rise from homes and office buildings. Looking out my window (and not at the weather readings on my computer or phone) the day has promise. The air doesn’t look deadly. You can’t see the wind that will rip at your cheeks and wrists and find its way between the seams of your clothes.

I’m not sure how much more I can take.

On days like this, this wife drives me to the bus stop. We sit in the car and wait until the bus comes over the hill. She’s a good and patient wife. I’m lucky. Even from the depths of this winter misery I know that.

As the bus arrives at the University, the chatter falls silent. Hearty Minnesotans around me prepare for battle. Sleeves pulled over mittens. Scarves wrapped. Hats replaced. Hood pulled up. There is weight to their shoulders, a reluctance to exit the comparable warmth of the city bus.

bus

At least in this melancholy there is a little beauty in stoicism.

Minneapolis is full of hipsters. Uptown in particular. Tattoos and skinny jeans abound. Boys with beards ride bikes on our major roads even in the depths of winter. There is a smell that follows behind some of them. Less cigarette smoke, more unwashed hat.

Since we bought a house outside of Uptown, since we grew up a little, I forgot how it felt to be among these people. One sunny afternoon back, I felt uncool in all the ways. Hipster girls with bouffant dues looked at me like the fat kid in middle school. Suburb boys glazed over us like suburb boys do. Maybe I over read it all. After a beer and a half, it didn’t matter.

pats

I watched a man older than my father but younger than my grandfather walk to the bathroom. The man was short but sturdy. The kind of man who may have been a farmer. Or maybe his father was a farmer or his father’s father, just like the rest of us. The bathrooms beside the vintage skee-ball machines were labeled “Anna” and “Otto”. He looked at Otto at walked to Anna. Looking back and forth he paused. He chose Anna.

Atta, boy, I thought.

We hit twenty degrees by noon today and rejoiced. The poodle even found a stick within the waist high snowpack.

image

That’s one saving grace of subzero,  Polar Vortex weather; even below freezing weather feels promising. This glimpse of the future, this dose of hopefulness makes a little more winter seem bearable.

Just a little more though. Ok, mother nature?

As much as I love Tom Hanks, he wasn’t the reason I wanted to see Captain Phillips. You may have heard a couple of Minneapolis boys sort of stole the show. Barkhad Abdi has even been nominated for a supporting actor Oscar:

cptphillips

I’m proud of him. I’m proud of this young man whom I’ve never met, who lives in a city that isn’t even my hometown. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing. Not many of us leave. Even fewer of us rise to stardom. When someone does it feels like he has done it for all of us.

But I digress, back to the movie, if you ignore the real life controversy, Captain Phillips is an exciting, completely watchable film. People try to succeed in life. Some win. Some lose.

The best part of the movie though was where we saw it – the Riverview Theater.

If you live in Minneapolis or happen to find yourself here for a couple of days, please go to the Riverview. Tickets are $3 (with $2 matinees), they use real butter on the popcorn, and the community atmosphere is what we’re all looking for at the movies – even if we forget sometimes. Everyone talks before the film and respectfully quiets as the curtains rise. Then, when the credits begin to roll, everyone claps.

Everyone claps. I fucking love it.

Yesterday I only left the house to shovel. The poodle helped. She lunged after each scoop of snow, chasing them into the yard where she sunk above her neck before racing back to catch the next scoop mid-air. When she was thoroughly snow covered I sent her inside. She watched in style as I finished the front walk:

shirley-snow

The sky was blue in Minneapolis – that winter kind of blue, sharper than seems normal – but the wind howled and drifted snow steadily over my morning’s work. We curled up to nap and read, the poodle pressing every possible inch of her body against my wife’s leg, absorbing her warmth. The wind rattled our windows and crept through crevices. For a moment I could imagine that our house stood alone on the prairie, nothing to protect us. Only for a moment.

We were warm.

The sweet Swedish forecaster here in Minneapolis said we wouldn’t break zero today. Even our optimistic, south-facing thermometer agreed. Worry not, dear reader, we planned ahead.

The plan today was to simply not leave the house. Errands all completed yesterday. Weekly meals planned. Walk and driveway shoveled. Car washed. Books and puzzles at the ready. Like a couple of good Midwesterners we were ready for a snow day. Even the poodle doesn’t seem to mind:

lazyday

This kind of shut in day is my best argument for winter. My best argument for a Midwestern life.

We have no guilt about staying in. This is a rational hermitage. Our only logical choice, really. This is for our safety. Frostbite can occur within a matter of minutes in these conditions (don’t google pictures of that malady, just trust me on this one.)

A life in a milder climate doesn’t allow for such extremism. A day like this would feel like a waste in kinder weather. You should mend that fence or walk the dog a little farther or simply get your lazy ass off the couch. Not me. I’m just gonna sit here.

When it’s 22 degrees next week maybe I’ll wear shorts.

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