slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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minneapolis skyway: a series of haikus

These hiakus are dedicated to the Minneapolis skyway system.

a study in skyway. [image credit: ]

a study in skyway. [image credit: Pete Sieger]

I.

Out of the woodwork 

Pregnant women everywhere

Sea of baby bumps

II.

Hey with the cat call

No, I won’t be your girlfriend

Kindly f-off bro

III.

Oh, The Burger Place

My arteries say, “Don’t go!”

But my feet say, “YES.”

IV.

A skyway storefront

Banana Republic, why

Must you tempt me so?

V.

Enter if you dare

I judge your restaurant choice

Do you judge mine too?

VI.

Oh my God. Monday.

Caribou, my only love

Give me caffeine now

VII.

Lazy slow walker

I want to run you over

But that’s not kosher

VIII.

Bad fashion choices

Do you know “What Not to Wear”?

Take a look, sweetie

IX.

Hey skyway singer

That lipstick lesbian song

Is kind of strange, man

X.

Where the hell am I

These skyway maps are hopeless

What building is this

con amor,

shan


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i am minnesotan. talk weather to me.

Reflecting on Minnesota’s weather this morning (as Minnesotans are wont to do at intervals throughout the day), I realized that if and when I move away from my beloved North Star State, I’ll have to readjust the manner in which I approach reacting to climate conditions.

If Discovery’s breathtaking show North America has taught me anything, it’s that our continent is home to wigged-out bipolar weather patterns. Minnesota is no exception to this rule (as slub Kat pointed out in her weather post a few winters ago), a reality which has turned many of us people in the Land of Sky-Tinted Water into something of weather elitists. I’m aware of believing, at times, that Minnesotans have the market cornered on strange atmospheric phenomena; still, the rational side of me understands that every person feels as though their state has seen the craziest shit out there by far.

My personal situation may lead me to move to North Carolina at some point in the future – a land of rich and varied geography whose climate differs markedly, in many ways, from Minnesota’s. With this in mind, I’ve collected a list to remind myself of the many ways that I, as a Minnesotan Yank, can strive to be weather-conscious around North Carolinians and Southerners in general.

1. Respecting daylight hours.

I will: go about each day accomplishing great and productive things and contributing as a whole to society, regardless of when the suns rises and sets.

I will not: directly correlate the amount of time I spend in my pajamas to the amount of time I can see the sun. I will not cry tears of joy when the light comes early to the North Carolinian landscape on the Winter Solstice and lingers brightly for a full 9 hours and 47 minutes, as opposed to barely glinting for a measly 8 hours and 46 minutes in the Minneapolitan tundra. Neither will I cry tears of sorrow when those same warm rays bid adieu to Charlotte after 14 and a half hours of sunlight on the Summer Solstice, but stick around 15 and a half hours strong to party with Minnesota.

GLORIOUS SUN, I WORSHIP THEE. [image credit: here.]

GLORIOUS SUN, I WORSHIP THEE. [image credit: here.]

 2. Taking advantage of available natural resources.

I will: actively enjoy the nautical opportunities afforded by the three significant and beautiful bodies of water in Mecklenburg County: Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, and Mountain Island Lake.

I will not: turn into an urban water snob and bring up Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake Independence, Medicine Lake, Lake Minnetonka, or any the other 90 or so bodies of water in Hennepin County…at least, not too often.

3. Being sensitive to the “cold”.

I will: listen with polite silence, if not complete empathy, if a Southerner compatriot mourns her chilly fingertips when the temperature dips into the 30s on a particularly cold winter day.

I will not: scoff at her pain, inform her that she doesn’t know real cold until she’s experienced tear-frozen eyelashes and crystalized bones after laboring to free her vehicle from its snowdrift grave on a -50° windblown morning, and haughtily throw a pair of thickly lined gloves at her unprepared feet.

don't even talk to me about this. [image credit: ]

don’t even talk to me about this. [image credit: here]

4. Remaining cognizant of social norms.

I will: bring up the weather and its peculiarities when the topic is of particular saliency and I feel my listener would be open to exchanging a few words on the subject.

I will not: discuss atmospheric occurrences with anyone I meet – stranger or friend – with a vigor normally reserved for more globally accepted conversations, like sports or politics. In almost every other part of the nation, commenting on the weather is a way to create risk-free small talk when you don’t know someone well enough to analyze Desiree’s choices in Bachelorette man candy. In Minnesota, however, bringing up the weather is a signal that you’d like to have a deeply personal discussion with another individual on a topic of intense mutual interest to you both, and that you expect, in the course of the lengthy conversation, to cover your feelings about the temperature, the current state of your vehicle, your epic journey in venturing from Point A to Point B, and whether or not your house still has power.

5. Preparing for the heat.

I will: recognize that, in moving south of the Mason Dixon, I have now resigned myself to ridiculous humidity and suffocating heat on a regular, consistent basis. I will thusly approach summertime dress and activities like an enlightened adult.

I will not: mention to my Southern friends that Minnesota can get pretty sticky and unbearably hot once in a while too, because I’m sure their heat-hardened souls will dismiss my long-winded weather stories as they pour SPF 80 sunscreen on my head and leave me to sizzle on the frying pavement.

i have accepted my fate. just leave me here on this hot sidewalk to die. [image credit: ]

i have accepted my fate. just abandon me here on this hot sidewalk to die. [image credit: here]

When the time comes, wish me well, my fellow Minnesotan brothers in arms.

con amor,

shan


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wherefore art thou, summer?

Yesterday’s Daily Prompt was all about never — things you won’t ever write about, or forbidden places you’re not allowed to go. I’d like to think I’m an open book, or at the very least that I could be, if prompted. The only concept that ‘never’ brings to current mind, then, is a general sense of lacking. And in this Minneapolis moment, what I am lacking is sunshine.

Minnesota has been mired in chill for too long and the winter stretches on. It makes me feel like summer will never come.

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even the elephant candle holder is unamused.

con amor,

shan


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on abusing the concept of entitlement.

Regarding the business of being an American:

Recently, I read an opinion piece called 10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America”. I was caught by the title – I thought that the article would uncover some little-known, fascinating facts about our nation, of which I’m sure there are many. In this case my instincts were off. The author of the piece, Mark Manson, is an American reflecting on his home country through the lens of a world traveler, and he uses his platform to address the knowledge gaps he perceives in Americans’ own self-awareness of their place in the world. A quick scan of the article’s comment section reveals that, although Manson tries to stress his own personal biases, his beliefs are highly polarizing.

The list itself is worth the read, but in essence, Manson is driving home an oft-repeated message: Americans think too much of themselves and of their situation.

In summary: we don’t really impress anyone, mostly because other people don’t think about us on even an occasional basis when they’re making daily decisions. We’re ignorant about the rest of the world. We can’t express gratitude or affection because we’ve been socialized against it. Our quality of life isn’t actually that stellar, especially because the rest of the world isn’t actually a slum. We’re paranoid because we fear losing status and attention, which are two of our main life goals. We are an unhealthy population and, moreover, we’re unhappy because we overvalue the ease of comfort.

Manson uses the following video to polish his assertions with a Hollywood sheen:

In the video, Jeff Daniels’s character waxes poetic on all of the things that used to make America great but (according to the character) no longer typify our society, asserting that “the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.” Manson echoes this piece of wisdom, claiming, “There are things I love about my country. I don’t hate the US and I still return to it a few times a year. But I think the greatest flaw of American culture is our blind self-absorption.”

 While I have many thoughts about the video (most of them negative) and about Manson’s statements (some positive and some negative), my largest reaction to the entire piece was: this isn’t anything that, as an American, I haven’t already heard.

Are we Americans self-absorbed? You could argue the point either way. But I do not believe that we are unflinchingly blind.

To say that we, as Americans, think that our nation is greater than it is would be to put words in our mouths. That is the problem with leveraging generalizations to make a point, however useful or applicable those generalizations may be. We are a people who have a personal awareness of our own, personal situations, and that awareness manifests itself on a more global scale depending on the individual – just as it does for Finns, or Ghanaians, or Turks, or Peruvians. Education is essential to expanding our awareness beyond our front porch, and as a global community, I believe that it is our responsibility to think critically about how our actions affect others. But the beauty and the difficulty of education is that it can be an emotion-driven experience, and we must be careful about how we label the problems we’re attempting to get others to recognize.

I do not believe self-deprecation will induce most Americans to gladly hop onboard the CHANGE AMERICA NOW train. I also don’t believe that shouting at us to wake up forwards the dialogue for the many Americans who would see our generation succeed in a society that we understand as being flawed. What we need now is a way to redirect the conversation towards unburdened progress, a progress that learns from and respects our history but is not strictly beholden to or punished for it. We must recognize that we are a citizenry that has been endowed with a rich set of values which have differentiated and aided us in the past, a values system that has continued to shape our present – but that we are also a citizenry that must actively work to transform our values for the future. This process of metamorphosis is not helped by those who would criticize us; rather, it is nurtured by those who would share with us an alternative path, recognizing that our way of doing things might naturally be different.

I am proud to be an American, regardless of the faults that others perceive to be inherent in that classification. I will be even more proud as our society rises to the occasion and greets the critique of others, not with defensiveness, but with a willingness to learn and the confidence to grow.

con amor,

shan


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to my future child, from your millennial mother.

To my dear future chubby-cheeks:

Lately, your future mother has been hearing a lot of noise about how her narcissistic generation needs to get over feeling like we’re anything special.

You see, a few years before you were born, I attended a Citizens League discussion titled “The Looming Intergenerational War”. The purpose of the dialogue: can entitled, liberal Millennials, ignored and indifferent GenXers, and social security-hogging Boomers sit in the same room without feeling the need to rip into each other for perceived affronts to their dignity and lifestyle? (Am I perhaps being hyperbolic, you ask? Pffft. As my child you should realize that I am never sarcastic. Ever.)

Say nothing about the conflict in Afghanistan: as I write this letter to you, my Millennial comrades and I are currently locked in a brutal socioeconomic fight to the death with our Boomer parents and even our GenXer older cousins. Why, you ask? Mainly because many major news outlets, politicians, and the Twitterverse have trumpeted in no uncertain terms that we are, in fact, at war. How can I possibly look at your grandparents now – my sworn enemies – without being moved to openly weep at the cruel fate that has placed us at opposite ends of the cultural battle field?

Future baby, here is the supposed plight of my Perez-loving soldiers in arms: our older coworkers call us lazy because we refuse to put in our time at the bottom of the employee food chain – after all, we’ve been so used to receiving trophies and accolades for our mediocre work that we now scoff at positions we deem “below us”. They say we whine incessantly (and unjustifiably) about Boomers leaving us to inherit a bleak economic future, even as we’re simultaneously instructed to get our s#!t together because Lord knows we won’t have social security to fall back on when we contemplate retirement. (Someday you and I will have an enlightening conversation about what that s-word means. Today is not that day.) We are looked down upon for being coddled, for having everything from grades to smartphones that we don’t deserve, for being unmotivated. Sometimes, we aren’t even called Millennials or Generation Y – our hugely inflated egos are more likely characterized by the moniker Generation Me.

Okay…seriously though, baby. I want you to know that, regardless of our age and generation – Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, what have you – very few of us today actually believe this crap.

Grandma and grandpa are not perfect (despite what they might tell you), but both your uncle and I will strongly assert that they brought us up in the best and most loving way they knew how. If my mom and dad have ever told me I’m good at something, it’s because I legitimately am. Listen baby, your momma is fully aware that she’s a hot mess when it comes to math and science. My pride has been kicked down a notch on more than one occasion regarding my (lack of) athletic and artistic abilities. So why is it such a complete and utter travesty that I’ve ever been encouraged for being good at something, like possessing a knack for written communication, or having talent with a musical instrument, or being able to think critically and objectively?

What’s more, some of the best praise I have ever received has come to me in the form of criticism. A story (and you’ll probably hear this one often, baby, so listen up): when I was a freshman in college, I pulled an all-nighter to write a large research paper for one class and a one-page literary response for another. Both were deplorable examples of scholarly work. However, when I received a check-minus on the one-page response (the symbolic equivalent of “at least you strung some letters together on a piece of paper…”), I was indignant and felt I had been misunderstood. I went to my professor’s office to plead my case and prove that my argument was clearly articulated and supported by textual evidence. He replied, “No, it wasn’t. You were wrong. I know what you’re capable of producing, and I will always expect more of you.” I thank God for that professor, and for the lasting impact he’s had on my self-esteem, because he was right: I can do better. Remember this, baby: regardless of your strengths, you should never assume you have learned all you could learn. We can all, always, do better.

Generational war is largely a myth, child of mine. Your generation will struggle to find its place in the world when you grow up, just as my generation is currently working to build a successful future that we can claim as our own. Rest assured that your grandparent’s generation, and generations of ancestors before them, has done the same. History can give us context for our decisions, but the only person responsible for your life is you.

Someday, baby, you will grow up and leave me. I can’t promise I’ll be the coolest mom in the world, and I can’t promise I’ll always do everything right by you, but I swear that I’ll raise you the best way I know how, just like your grandparents raised me. I will help you to recognize and to grow your talents, because without them, you won’t know how to establish your place in this huge world. And I will encourage you to surround yourself with people who are more talented in other ways than you, and who will give it to you straight when you need a slice of humble pie. You are not perfect, baby, and while you should be bold in the knowledge of your strengths, you must never forget to be vulnerable and open in your weaknesses.

And most of all, baby, I vow that you will always know that you’re special…because to me, you already are.

With love,

Your mother*

*Nope, I’m not currently pregnant. Hope we’re all on the same hypothetical page here.


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are there any desserts that pay tribute to redheads?

Here’s an explanation for my train of thought concerning the title of this post: you’ve got your blondies and you’ve got your brownies, so are there any desserts (potentially having to do with strawberries?) that redheads everywhere could champion as their own? Not the most enlightened question that’s ever crossed my mind, surely, but valid nonetheless. Tip: do not search Google for any combination of the words “dessert” and “redhead”. You will only find porn. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Based on all the food blogs I’ve browsed in the past few months, here’s the formula I’ve deduced for posting about the culinary arts:

Quippy opening commentary + artsy photographs of the food prep process + drool-worthy picture of the final results + recipe and building instructions buried somewhere obscure within the post = successful blogging about food!

My commentary is lame, my recipe is front and center, I have too many crappy and unnecessary photographs, and I’ve included the nutritional content of this particular dessert, but none of that matters because these blondies taste awesome.

Blondies with Chips

Prep/Total Time:

  • Prep: 5 min.
  • Bake: 20 min. + cooling

Yield: 1 dozen (yeah right, more like a half-dozen if we’re being realistic about how big people normally cut these babies)

Nutrition Facts:

One serving (1 bar) equals:

  • 133 calories
  • 7 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 18 mg cholesterol
  • 67 mg sodium
  • 17 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 2 g protein

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

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In another bowl, whisk the egg, oil, honey, and vanilla.

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Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until blended.

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Stir in chocolate chips (batter will be thick).

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Spread batter into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.

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Enjoy!

con amor,

shan

[Photo credit: all me baby.]


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a field guide to understanding your introvert: PART TWO.

Do you have a friend, relative, spouse, and/or companion that you suspect of being an introvert? Are you a self-described extrovert that desires guidance in navigating the inner workings of your more reflective mates (we humans are such funny and complex creatures, aren’t we)? After reading Part One of this field guide, are you still perplexed by this quiet yet extraordinary culture of people? Please, take a moment – remember how we did it quietly last time? – to sample this second part of a comprehensive field guide to the introvert, compiled entirely from the author’s own enlightened, first-hand experience with this most subdued of sub-species.

1. Many introverts will complain excessively about their extroverted friends for a variety of reasons. Your introvert may find you to be any combination of noisy, compulsive, judgmental, exhausting, and/or unfiltered. If you are lucky, your introvert will have keen communication skills that she will utilize to explain her complaints to you. If you are unlucky, your introvert will find you annoyingly chatty but will never say so, and you will be left bewildered when she greets your detailed description of the 39 cat videos you’ve watched in the past hour with a disinterested glower.

Note: It is highly likely that your introvert is complaining about you because she is jealous of your social skills. Do not lord this reality over her. In fact, don’t mention to her that you think she’s envious of you at all. Females – regardless of their introverted or extroverted tendencies – do not like to be told that they’re “just jealous”.

2. Like the Moon to the Earth, introverts will gravitate to extroverts in an effort to reap the benefits of their superior social skills. Do you find it strange that your introvert prefers the company of extroverts at the start of a public function, as opposed to settling down on the couch with a red Solo cup and his best brofriend from the get-go? Your introvert, just like you, is highly aware of the social morays that dictate his world, and has no desire to find himself at the bottom of the food chain as a result of his introvertedness. Being a smart and capable individual, your introvert will have at least one extroverted friend in his arsenal of acquaintances who will be able to introduce him to others at parties and whom he can rely on to coax him into various socially acceptable activities throughout the night, like beer pong and spontaneous drunken dance interpretations of Gangnam Style.

Note: The introvert/extrovert relationship, while at times tempestuous, can also represent the perfect balance of yin and yang (SEE Part One, point 5). While the introvert can rely on his extrovert for a wild night out, the extrovert can likewise count on his introvert for a soothing night in.

3. Most introverts can trick others into thinking that they are extroverts by mimicking their extroverted companions’ activities, actions, and vocal volumes. The author of this field guide has surmised that this is because introverts are actually superheroes. By day, the introvert will don her Clark Kent suit and tie, mixing with the public confidently as she outwardly expresses her opinions, doles out her business cards, discusses retirement saving tactics and The Bachelor with her girlfriends over coffee, and busts out a painful rendition of Single Ladies at karaoke night. When she is finally alone in the comfort of her quiet home, however, the introvert’s true superpowers are at play. Donning her super suit (which, to the untrained eye, would resemble a stained t-shirt and a pair of ragged sweatpants), the introvert superhero will thoughtfully and methodically solve every single one of the world’s problems in the hazy twilight interim between asleep and awake.

Note: Introverts really are superheroes. It’s time the world knew.

an effective introvert super suit. [image credit: here.]

4. Introverts have the ability to sit in silence with other introverts and not feel awkward about it. This strange phenomenon is captured very effectively by Emily Blunt and Jason Segel in the movie The Five Year Engagement. Tom (Segel) has just had a fight with Violet (Blunt), and tells her that he needs to be alone with his thoughts for a while. Confused, Violet starts to leave their bedroom to give Tom the space he’s asked for. When Tom sees Violet heading for the door, he stops her, slightly incredulous, and says, “I don’t want you to go. I just need to be alone, with you here.” Likewise, your introvert genuinely enjoys being around other people, but is just as happy to be around them in silence as she is to be around them with conversation.

Note: If you watched The Five Year Engagement and didn’t understand Jason Segel’s character at all during the above mentioned scene, it might be a sign that you are an extrovert. It might also be a sign that you thought the movie was super lame. It is up to you to be the judge of that.

5. Introverts, like extroverts, defy categorization, and as such this entire field guide must be taken with a grain of salt. The author of this field guide, for example, is an introvert who expresses many characteristics that would typically be considered “extroverted”. Human nature is inherently incapable of concrete definition, which means that we are all beautiful and insanely infuriating subjects for science.

Thus ends this current version of A Field Guide to Understanding Your Introvert. The author hopes that it has been somewhat enlightening to extroverts everywhere, and that it will temper their thoughts and feelings about the quieter side of humanity. This list is not exhaustive, however; as such, the author readily welcomes additions and comments to enhance this field guide.

Carry on in peace, my introverted superhero brethren.

— shan