Archives for posts with tag: 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:


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.


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:


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:


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:


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.


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.


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.

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:


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:


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.

There is a bar near our house, a burger joint really – I’ll leave out the name to protect the innocent. The bar is a classic dive. Cheap beer. Deliciously greasy burgers. Red vinyl booths. A single gruff but genial waitress working her ass off. We went to our sweet dive for dinner a few nights ago.

Walking in, I noticed something sitting on the ledge just beside the door: A 24-hour sober chip.

My heart sunk. A 24-hour chip sitting outside of a dive bar. I didn’t even know they made 24 hour chips. That must be for someone who really needs encouragement. Someone who is still working on the whole one-day-at-a-time part of things. Shit.

We went inside and grabbed a booth.

Not long after we ordered a family of seven came through the door. Kids with ipods, parents in pea coats: not the typical clientele of our sweet dive. The man of the family surveyed the room and saw a man of about sixty sitting alone in a booth. The family man asked the other man if he would mind moving to the bar. The man obliged.

The man picked up his paper and his beer and moved to the bar. This move lost him a clear view of the football game and a seat with a back. He didn’t seem to mind but the family didn’t seem grateful either. I felt an irritation with the family, probably greater than I am allowed. These little brats were coming into our neighborhood, our bar, disrupting this man’s nice evening. While that may not have been their intention it was clear they didn’t see the repercussions of their actions.

Worry not, dear reader. Someone (not the family) bought that kind man a beer for his troubles.

Two or three days a week I ride the bus to work. The stop is a seven minute walk from my house and the ride never lasts more than fifteen minutes – even with steady traffic. Buses have the right of way after all.

Three stops after mine a woman gets on the bus, let’s call her Katie. Katie looks a bit like a librarian – well, most people on my bus do. Most of us work at the University. We wear professional yet durable clothes. Every morning Katie carries a ceramic coffee mug onto the bus. Not a travel mug, not something with a lid, a regular ceramic coffee mug. The impracticalness of that choice astounds me.

Katie has “bus friends”, her term not mine. She seems genuinely excited to see them each morning though, from what I’ve gathered, they don’t know each other beyond that short ride. Katie is getting married soon. A week from today actually. She doesn’t care for her girlfriend’s brother. He can’t throw a bridal shower to save his life, “not a balloon in sight.” Katie wants to open her own store. This university gig is just for now, just until she can get that store idea worked out.

Katie doesn’t know who I am.

If Katie’s voice didn’t carry like it does, if she didn’t talk from the moment she gets on the bus until the moment she leaves, I wouldn’t know these things about her. I’m not sure I should know all of this about her.

While I was away for the weekend, the dishwasher decided that instead of draining the water like normal it would just go ahead and put all of that nasty water onto the kitchen floor – and some in the basement for good measure. Luckily, my sweet, quick thinking girl and her super poodle were there to mop up the mess. And call a plumber. And momentarily question why owning a home seemed like a good idea.

The plumber showed up yesterday to put our fears at ease. It wasn’t such a big deal and the poodle loved him, as you can see:

She doesn’t usually care for strangers. Maybe this guy had a good vibe. Maybe the smells of what he pulled from the depths of our drains entranced her. Or, maybe she knew the work he did would make us a little friendlier in the days to come.

Today really might have been the last warm day. All of Minneapolis seemed to be outside. Running. Biking. Walking the dogs. Yelling in the streets. (Our windows have been open all day, maybe that’s why the yelling seems so prominent. Kids these days.)

Then, we bought the dog a Halloween costume. I think she loves it.

You’re welcome.

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