slubs in the city

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


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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