slubs in the city

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


Leave a comment

slub of the week: just try to resist hyperbole and a half.

When the five of us slubs decided that we’d write a blog about our year in service, I imagine we all thought it would be a magnificent work of literary genius. We probably envisioned that we’d write posts with admirable frequency, and that we’d have enlightening or witty or creative or compelling or hilarious things to say.

As you can see, our expectations appear to have landed a bit short of reality.

What does a blogger do when she falls – correction, recklessly dives – into a bought of writer’s block? Why, repost other bloggers’ work, of course.

To that end, we slubs are incredibly delighted to present to you all:

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF.

                               simple dog is simple.

Allie Brosh is straight up the funniest and most creative blogger I have ever read. While that’s not saying much (I don’t follow any other blogs but hers), I’ve got thousands and thousands of internet fans to back up my statement. People are completely enamored with this woman.

You’ll quickly see why.

If you read “Texas” or “Dogs don’t understand simple concepts, like moving” and don’t absolutely pee your pants, you are dead to me.

con amor,

shan

Advertisements


2 Comments

deck the halls

Dearest family and friends,

It’s Friday afternoon in the slub house, and everything is quiet. Nora has gone home to Iowa. Laura is snoozing away in her bed. Kat is heading down to her grandparent’s farm for a family holiday. And Anna is spending the season with loved ones in Palestine.

Christmas is right around the corner, and as this holiday time builds in a much-anticipated crescendo, I’m thankful for the quiet. There are so many words spoken during the holidays: words of blessing, joy and remembrance; words of consumerism and targeted advertising; words projected from the pulpit, through the telephone, by the radio. We read cards aloud. We laugh and relax with coworkers at office parties. We gather family together in noisy conversation. We sing much-loved hymns and carols and we smile.

There are no words left I could say to you that you haven’t already heard this December. Anna, Kat, Laura, Nora and I wish simply to convey to you our love, blessings and happiness during this time. We’ve decorated our house to reflect our enjoyment of Christmas, and in an effort to minimize the amount of words floating around this holiday, we’d like to share a few pictures with you (especially because some of our readers have never seen the inside of our home before!):

we don’t have a real tree, but our house still smells like one…

the stockings above the fireplace. plus a santa hat, because we only had four stockings.

isn’t this reindeer AWESOME?! kat hates it. if you like the reindeer, please leave your support in our comments to prove kat wrong.

kat’s childhood decorations on the fireplace mantel

looking from our dining room into the living room — the walls were bright red when we moved in. how festive!

slubbiest christmas tree

this snowman lights up in different colors. epic.

wreath over the kitchen

mini tree in the sun room

window clings on the hutch

laura’s artwork to the slubs

santa, you crazy

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

With blessings,

The slubs


4 Comments

why I choose to serve: living in solidarity

“Volunteerism benefits both the society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity, and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.” -UN State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, 2011

I am over four months in to my year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA. For those of you who do not know, AmeriCorps is like the domestic Peace Corps. Its three different branches work to fight illiteracy, provide disaster relief, improve health services, manage after-school programs, aid community development, resettle refugees, and strengthen volunteerism in nonprofit and government agencies across America. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), one of the three branches, strives to fight poverty by increasing organizational capacity through sustainable efforts. I want to take some time, as we navigate our way through the holiday season, to reflect on my experience so far and why I choose to serve.

Living at the poverty line

As an AmeriCorps*VISTA, my stipend is calculated so that I live at 105% of the poverty line. I qualify for and use food assistance. I have a scholarship to the YWCA. I can get discounts to local attractions ($1 for the science museum!).

The intention of this small stipend is to allow us to live in solidarity with the community we serve. The idea is that we will come to better understand the difficulties of living in poverty, so that we can better empathize and better serve low-income communities.

Goodbye lattes…

Practically, this means that I have had to be more conscious of where I spend my money. I have to budget so that I have enough gas money to make it across the Cities and back for work. I have stopped frequenting coffee shops and Banana Republic.  I have been more frugal as I begin Christmas shopping. But, I must stop and ask myself…is this poverty?

Applying for food assistance at Hennepin County may be the strongest glimpse at what living below the poverty line is like, although I would still argue I had an unique experience. Hennepin County is a large, crowded, and confusing building. When a person goes to apply for assistance of any kind, they can expect for it to take upwards of two hours. Luckily, I had the flexibility to spend that much time there. Can you imagine doing it while employed, with children, and lacking access to transportation?

Hennepin County Social Services Building. It is huge, crowded, and confusing.

Laura and I in our business casual clothing stood out like sore thumbs. We received a lot of “why are you here” looks. My caseworker talked to me like a peer, not a client. She told me about her bad day and how they were understaffed, but overworked. I haven’t had a problem with my EBT card or account yet.

While it went smoothly for me, for my roommates and friends it was often times a struggle. We have reflected on the fact that we all had trouble filling out the application and navigating the bureaucracy… and we are college-educated, native English speakers (see how we are constantly surrounded by our privilege?). And this is just a small glimpse into what it is like to live below the poverty line.

Living in solidarity

I am not trying to undermine what AmeriCorps is trying to do. Honestly, I think living at the poverty line is a great experience. I believe it is so important to understand and try to relate to the population I work with.  But, again, do I really live in poverty? Probably not, because poverty is not simply a lack of money. It is a lack of opportunities. A lack of access to the most basic things like healthcare, childcare, jobs, affordable housing, networks… but I have access to those services. I have my parents, who have graciously lent me their car, kept me on their cellphone and insurance plan, given me gifts in the kindest way possible, and always been there for me in a pinch. I have an incredible network of St. Olaf alums. I have a college education. I have met fantastic professionals in the nonprofit field. I have opportunities. I know my situation is temporary.

Yes, let’s live in solidarity. But not a solidarity based on what we earn. Not a solidarity based on the color of skin. Not a solidarity based upon our religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, native tongue, etc. Living in solidarity is so much deeper than that. Instead, let us live in solidarity based on our common humanity. An acknowledgement that we all deserve access to basic needs and beyond. That by working together we can all thrive. This is why I choose to serve.

I want to leave you with a quote for reflection that was introduced to me by one of my favorite college professors, Tom Williamson. This is a quote that really encapsulates how I feel about service and how I strive to serve others. I would love to hear our readers’ comments.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland, 1970s (Lilla Watson)

Thanks for reading. -Kat


Leave a comment

yeeeeah…definitely a youtube moment.

What I’m about to say isn’t revolutionary: our lives are a delicate balance of ups and downs, lights and darks, goods and bads. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When God closes a door, he opens a window. It’s all about the yin and the yang.

I’ve been riding on a high these past couple of days. Slugging through a large volume of work has translated into an extremely productive month, and Christmas festivities have me feeling unusually social. Our entire Marketing Development department took the StrengthsFinder test this past week, and yesterday was spent bragging about our relative talents and binging on Christmas sweets.  It’s been a very good couple of days. But this, dear readers, is because Monday was a very bad day. The good must always be tempered by a little bad.

I’ve been informed I’m a decent story-teller, so here’s a story for your pleasure:

I’m a member of Snap Fitness, which is a big deal for me because I’m gracelessly un-athletic and prefer being a slub to being fit. The benefit of Snap is that members with a key card have access to any participating gym across the nation. Another benefit is that there’s a gym on the first floor of Thrivent’s building, so I really have no excuse for skipping an evening workout.

On Monday I waltzed past Thrivent’s gym on my way home because I was “just too busy” to work out. Later, at the slub house, I felt like a total ass for being so lazy. To appease my guilt I decided to go to the Snap on Hennepin. I had only been there once before, but everything had gone as well as was to be expected, so I didn’t feel concerned working out there again.

While I was ellipticalling away, I thought of two things:

  1. My lazy ass will soon be transformed into the ass of every girl’s envy. So that’s pretty cool.
  2. However, it’s slightly awkward that everyone behind me can see me doing intervals, mostly because I’m getting quite tired and sweaty.

I was very distracted by these thoughts, so when I had finished swishing away on the elliptical I didn’t pay attention to stepping off the machine properly. Surprised that the ground wasn’t where I had left it, I stumbled over thin air and launched myself backwards, careening towards the row of bikes directly behind me. Thankfully I caught myself before I actually hit anything. Unfortunately, there was a man on one of the bikes who witnessed it all.

I brushed this incident off, transforming my stumble into a pathetically dysfunctional half-swagger as I retreated. It happens to everyone. I’m a young employed professional, so even after diving backwards off an elliptical I’m still doing better than the 99%.

I moved on to the weight machines. Shockingly, this was the least eventful portion of the night.

I decided to end my workout with a little jaunt on the treadmill. I had been stalling to see if the guy who had watched my elliptical fail would leave, but he was intent on becoming TOTALLY RIPPED ARRRRGH and didn’t seem like he was going anywhere soon. So I clambered onto the treadmill and started jogging away – again, in front of the rest of the gym.

I’m envious of people who run. Personally I hate running, but apparently (according to the StrengthsFinder) I have a competitive streak and won’t settle for sucking at something other people enjoy. Over the past month I’ve been observing the beautiful, fit women who use the treadmill at Thrivent and attempting to emulate their ways. I found the perfect opportunity to show people how cool I am when, while running at the Snap on Hennepin, my stupid water bottle started making loud clanking noises from where it sat on the treadmill.

To my somewhat disillusioned mind, this noise was far more embarrassing than anything I had ever experienced in a gym before. I decided to jump on the sides of the treadmill while the belt continued to run and place my water bottle on the floor. This would make everyone else more pleased with me, I was sure, and would also show them how I am the master of all treadmills (even if I am a dunce when it comes to the elliptical).

The water bottle having successfully been moved to the floor, I prepared to hop back on the machine. Without holding on to the sides. Without slowing the track down even a notch.

This is what almost happened.

I jumped. I pedaled hysterically to catch my footing. I regained my balance. Then I burst into a maniacal peel of laughter because I was mortified beyond description, and my mind was reacting to the situation in ways I couldn’t control.

There I was, the pasty white girl who had mere minutes previously fallen off the elliptical machine, cackling uncontrollably as I ran and desperately watching the TV above my treadmill (tuned to the Military History channel, wtf) in an attempt to regain composure. At that point there was really nothing for it, so instead of leaving Snap with my tail between my legs I continued jogging like I was the undisputed queen of the gym. The girl who was on the treadmill beside me would have undoubtedly argued the point.

As I ran I grew more and more emotionally confused until finally I decided the entire gym was a piece of crap, so after jogging a mile I got off the machine and called it a day. I left Snap in a disgruntled huff.

5 minutes later I returned, defeated, because I had forgotten my water bottle.

You guys: I am officially that girl.


4 Comments

real small furry pink pigs

This is a post about pigs. Take two.

None of us slubs thought that our first post about pigs would generate much excitement. We thought it impossible that  everyone could love pigs as much as we do. But you, dear readers, do love pigs! You love them a lot. In fact, you love them so much that pig search terms are the number one search engine terms to refer people to our blog. Some of these terms include (sorry for the grammatical mistakes, I did not write these): miniature pig(s), baby pig, mini pig, pigs as pet, miniature pigs pictures, pet pig that stay small forever, tiny baby piglet, miniature hog, and my two favorite: fuzzy baby sleepy pig and real small furry pink pigs.

So, because you, our readers, asked for it (okay, you didn’t specifically solicit us to write another post about pigs, but we are going to assume that you won’t mind) here is a post about my two favorite pigs. But before we start, here is an adorable pig in rain boots.

Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web

Ah. The classic children’s book by E.B.White about a pig and a spider. I suppose Charlotte, the spider, is the true hero of the story, saving Wilbur from being slaughtered and whatnot by her insane ability to weave words in her web. But no one likes spiders. Wilbur, on the other hand, is an adorable pig, who overcomes adversity and America’s love of ham to triumph and, um, well, not be slaughtered. He also makes friends with spiders. Look at that: promoting literacy, eliminating racism, saving pigs. Now, that’s some book.

Piglet from Winnie the Pooh

Now, if you have never read the books by A.A.Milne and have only seen the Winnie the Pooh movies, stop reading this post and go enjoy the literary genius of these stories. They are not just for children. Seriously. Go… Piglet loves haycorns and is Pooh’s best friend. He is timid and shy, but still hunts woozles and heffalumps. He is kind and considerate, letting Owl have his house when it blows down. He is awesome. Here is my favorite quote about Piglet:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet.” ” Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” –The House at Pooh Corner A.A. Milne

But why, are we slubs, so fascinated by pigs? Why are we so in love with the adorable creatures? Now, I could try  to connect these wonderful pigs above back to the slubs’ greater world ethic: we like literacy, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. We value friendship and sacrifice, etc. But, no.

Sorry for the disappointment, but this is not why we like pigs.

We like pigs because they would make a most unconventional, yet unusually convenient apartment pet. This is why:

1. They come in miniature form. Perfect for our duplex. Perfect for our love of miniature things: mini cupcakes, mini shepherd’s pies (ask Laura), other mini pies… Okay. We like mini food. We would not make our mini pig into mini bacon though. Why? Everyone wants more bacon, not mini bacon.

mini pig. keeping clean.

2. Pigs are clean animals. Between our love of stretchy pants (read: love of slubbin’ around) and our busy lives, the slubs barely have time to clean up after ourselves. Yes, being an adult is hard. But pigs can be house trained and, according to wikipedia, keep themselves “exceptionally clean.” We would become cleanliness winners. Maybe we could teach the pig to clean the bathroom.

3. Pigs are smart. Apparently you can train them to do fantastic tricks.  Further research on the all-authoritative internet  told me that we can train our teacup pig to do the following: sit, bow, play the piano, play golf and soccer, slam dunk a basketball, jump through hoops, push a toddler’s pram (finally. someone to walk the baby), shake hands, and wave hello. Slubs could have our pig entertain guests, do laundry, put on puppet shows, play competitive sports, etc.

slubbiest pig.

What more do you need in a pet: small, clean, smart. We could even buy our pig a pair of stretchy pants so it could join the slubs on the couch to watch 30 Rock. Pigs are the slubbiest of all creatures, whether they are our fictional friends or our real pets,  and we love them dearly.

Wishing you the most love-filled, slubby, pig friendly (try vegetarian for your family meal!) holiday season,

Kat

 


5 Comments

to infinity…and beyond

When I was about 7 years old, my parents took me to tour the Johnson Space Center.

Though my family and I were living in Houston at the time, it probably took us about an hour to drive cross-city to the Space Center. (Everything’s big in Texas.) But my parents must have known – even then – how deeply appealing that trip would be to me. 15 odd years later I don’t remember much of our visit, except for vaguely sketched images of a giant pool where the astronauts trained to experience zero gravity. Returning to the Space Center is on my bucket list.

Sophomore year of college, in order to fulfill one of two dreaded Science requirements, I enrolled in Astronomy. My professor was a young, enthusiastic, recent graduate of the U. She had studied dark matter, the subject of which (she assured us) was a bit too complicated for our level of education to handle. Because she avoided talking about her graduate studies, the entire concept became shrouded in a sexy kind of mystery for the students in the course. Professor Reisetter was genuinely passionate about her subject material, even in the face of our largely apathetic student population. We covered the creation of stars, their life and death cycle (mapped out on the HR Diagram), and the subsequent evolution of new stars and entire solar systems after they went supernova. We talked about the different types of galaxies and about the expansion of the universe. We covered well-known constellations both in and outside of class – and once every month we stood on top of the old Science Center, looking at nebulas through telescopes and tracing out star patterns with a laser pointer. We watched videos, studied diagrams, and viewed slideshows filled with vivid and unimaginable pictures of celestial bodies. I accidentally smashed a banana into my Astronomy textbook when both were crammed into my backpack, but it’s the only textbook outside of my majors that I kept after graduation. I cried after our final, not because the test was finished, but because the class was officially over.

This past January I traveled with a good high school friend through Arizona for a week. We dedicated an entire night to exploring the Lowell Observatory, where the (one-time) planet Pluto was first discovered in 1930. The telescopes had been set up for the night, and we viewed the surface of the moon through the largest one. The surface was more pockmarked than I could have imagined; the night was clear, and the moon shone an icy, metallic white through the light of the telescope. The view was exhilarating.

I’ve stared out at the universe from below a cloudless, limitless night sky all across the world: in Kansas, where the gentle farmland is far enough from any major city that you can experience the full impact of a velvety night punctuated by hordes of bright stars without the interference of light pollution. In Wisconsin, where I stood ankle-deep in snow on a frozen lake and clearly viewed my favorite constellation, The Pleiades. In Morocco, where the red sands of the Sahara Desert provided a cushioned seat for quiet stargazing. In Australia, where I attempted to map out a southern night sky with constellations markedly different from those found north of the Equator. How can we describe how it feels to be one small person, peering through our atmosphere at an expanse of space we can’t even fathom? Though my feet are firmly tethered to the ground, sometimes I look out at the horizon – which, if the view is unobstructed, clearly follows the wondrous curve of the earth – and can almost feel our planet sliding through the universe.

The concept of space is fascinating to me. It is thrilling and terrifying and painfully beautiful.

On November 9th, Thrivent hosted Jim Lovell and Fred Haise. The two veteran astronauts talked about their experiences on Apollo 13 with shocking detail and clarity. Their tale was almost difficult to comprehend as they described their small spacecraft navigating the expanse between the Earth and our Moon. While they spun their story, I tried briefly to look through their eyes as they left our planet 50 years ago, hurtling towards our world’s oldest and most loyal companion. This blog entry has slowly been forming in the back of my mind ever since.

This post has been a long time coming, and while it’s been nearly a month since our last update, the slubs continue to thrive in Uptown. Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with us. We all hope you had a heartwarming Thanksgiving, and we joyously welcome the holiday season!

con amor,

shan