slubs in the city

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


2 Comments

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


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

hey you. stand up and vote.

This morning, a friend of mine posted the following status update on Facebook:

“While waiting in line to vote, the father in front of me was explaining to his precocious 6-yr-old why only adults were allowed to vote and why it’s important. He said voting is our most important act as a citizen. It is a privilege and is one of the most freeing things we can do in the US. Wise father.”

Both the father in her story and my friend are completely right. Participating in our democratic process is a privilege, one that many Americans are correctly taking advantage of today.

VOTE TODAY. [image credit: here.]

Here are some interesting statistics about the 2010 election, for your pleasure*:

  • In 2010, 41.8% of the voting-age population reported having voted in the election. Interestingly, 59.8% reported having registered to vote.
  • More women than men reported having voted in the 2010 election – 42.7% to 40.9%.
  • 69-year-olds were the most likely of any other age to vote in the 2010 election; a full 63.1% of them reported having cast a ballot on Election Day.
  • More New Englanders reported having voted in 2010 (48.2%) than any other geographic region in the country.
  • 58.4% of Maine’s citizens reported having voted in the 2010 election, the highest turnout of any other state that year. Only 31.4% of Texans reported making it to the polls, representing the lowest turnout rate of any state that year.

During the 2008 election – with the presidency contested between Barack Obama and John McCain – voter trends reflected a more responsive citizenry.

  • 58.2% of Americans reported voting in the 2008 election.
  • Same news on the gender front, though: 55.7% of males reported having voted, while 60.4% of women participated in Election Day.
  • The age group that was most likely to vote during the 2008 election? 77-year-olds (at 72.8%). If a 77-year-old can get to their polling place, you can too. No excuses.
  • During this election cycle, more citizens from the West North Central region (65.9%) reported having voted than any other geographical region. Exactly which states comprise the West North Central region, you ask? I have no idea.
  • More Minnesotans (70.8%) reported turning out on Election Day in 2008 than any other state. Take that Maine. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, only 46.8% of the population reported having voted, presumably because they were enjoying lounging around in the warm tropical breezes that Minnesotans could only bitterly dream of in November.

We tend to think of our right to vote as a hallmark of the American experience, but representative democracy hasn’t always been egalitarian in our country’s voting history. In 1776, John Adams – a signer of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd President of the United States – held the following beliefs about popular enfranchisement:

“…It is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their right not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.”

Strong words, Adams.

Despite our 2nd President’s warning, in the century following the Civil War, a variety of Amendments were passed which allowed for the broader enfranchisement of a significant portion of American society.

  • In 1870, the 15th Amendment guaranteed to black men 21 years or older the right to vote.
  • In 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women’s suffrage.
  • The 23rd Amendment allowed for citizens living in the District of Columbia to vote in presidential elections as of 1961.
  • The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, prohibited the use of poll taxes and allowed all voting-age citizens the right to a free vote.
  • In 1971, the 26th Amendment expanded the right to vote to citizens aged 18 or older.

It has taken us a long, long time to establish the right to vote as it is currently appreciated in America. As a citizen of this country, it is your duty, your freedom and your responsibility to participate in the electoral process. The polls are still open – please make sure that you cast your vote today!

If you’re still uncertain where your polling place is located, visit this link for important Election Day information: http://www.vote411.org/.

con amor,

shan

*Voting trend data for the 2010 and 2008 elections can be found at the United States Census Bureau’s Voting and Registration website.


2 Comments

baby in a pumpkin suit.

I’m a huge fan of dressing up in costume for any and every occasion, minus the Renaissance Festival. I have never done that, and I don’t believe my life is any bit the worse for it.

Here is a random sampling of past costumes.

80’s night at the bar.

arrested development party. tobias (duh), rita, lindsay, and lucille.

harry potter midnight premier. sirius, hedwig, and fawkes.

religious figures party. buddy shanus (i am my own religious figure…the spanish inquisition would love that) and michael jackson.

parks and recreation party. ben, jerry (that’s a damn fly party shirt), tom, and ron.

dressed up for the Enlightenment Salon junior year of high school. lookin’ fly.

So imagine my delight when Halloween eventually rolls around and I have yet another excuse to pretend to be something I’m clearly not. This year, I dressed up as a zebra and was part of a 5-woman zebra herd. Contrary to general trends in women’s Halloween costuming, I was not a sexy zebra. This is because zebras are not sexy. In fact, zebras kind of resemble donkeys and donkeys are definitely not the lookers of the animal kingdom.

zebra in the middle of grazing on a twizzler.

Another thing that I love almost as much as dressing up in ridiculous costumes is The History Channel’s website. In fine fashion, they’ve been putting out videos and articles and photo slides and infographics galore about the tradition of Halloween, from when it supposedly started as a Celtic celebration called Samhain to its current family-friendly form.

According to THC, the custom of dressing up for Halloween could come from a few historical practices. For example, during the Samhain festival, partygoers would disguise themselves in various ways to make their true identities indistinguishable. The thought was that malevolent spirits wouldn’t know who you were if you didn’t look like yourself, and would thus be less likely to mess with you. Today, some women dress like farmer zombies in flannel and overalls to achieve the same repelling effect on men. Other girls don’t quite get the point.

wut is this. [image credit: here.]

Another popular thought is that the costume idea stems from a practice called “guising”, where young children in the UK would get dressed up and go from door to door, accepting treats (such as food, coins, or wine [alas, it was much easier for a 9-year-old to get drunk back in the good old days]) in exchange for entertainment. When I was a senior at Olaf I went trick-or-treating with some of the international students in Northfield. One of the neighbors wouldn’t give us candy unless we sang Beautiful Savior, which is a hymn any good Ole should have memorized by heart. I didn’t know it. I would have failed at guising.

On Wednesday night I am going to be sitting on my front porch, decked out in my zebra onesie, with a jack- o’-lantern at my side and a huge bowl of candy on my lap. I’m very much hoping that I’ll see a few children running around dressed up as dinosaurs and princesses and Spider Man. A baby in a pumpkin costume would also be acceptable.

definitely yes. [image credit: here.]

None of that above paragraph was intended in any way to imply that I am a creeper.

What is your favorite Halloween guise?

con amor,

shan

[Additional photo credits: muh freendz and muh instagramz.]


Leave a comment

interesting. mclovin appears to be more successful than i.

Some rare days, I’m quite productive. Earlier this week I went to work and contributed my thoughts and talents to the greater Thrivent good, and then I went home to drop off my dry cleaning, go grocery shopping, clean my room, and pay a dental bill. And then I rewarded myself for showing some initiative by watched the Bachelorette.

First, if you would like to understand why I watch this show, I will refer you to this post as it explains my feelings about the entire Bachelor(ette) franchise. And let’s not fool ourselves by pretending you don’t “occasionally” watch guilty pleasure trashy TV.

To acquaint the audience with the contestants on the Bachelorette (and undoubtedly force them into a subtle yet undeniable emotional connection to one contestant over another), the show’s producers regularly flash the name and age of each contestant being interviewed during their regular video diary session. At the beginning of the season, when viewers are still trying in vain to recognize any of the multitudes of faces on the show, the producers also display the occupation of each contestant.

This season of the Bachelorette introduced us to “One F” Jef Holm, who is vying for backwoods hoodrat Bachelorette Emily Maynard’s heart with a powerful hipster combination of skinny jeans, skateboard skills and a killer bouffant. A few years ago Jef founded his own social enterprise, People Water, which provides clean water to one person in need for every bottle of People Water sold. Jef is 27 and actively working to change the world.

basically true love. their individually perfect hair alone screams chemistry. [image credit: here.]

I find this depressing. Some days it’s very difficult for me to do simple things like brush my teeth or change out of my pajamas or crawl out of bed to eat lunch. But I have the rest of my life ahead of me to make a name for myself and my pajamas are more comfortable than business casual anyway.

Apparently, however, there are many people – I’m looking at you One F Jef – who get off on achieving big at a young age. And to them I say, with only the smallest amount of envy: hats off.  

5 notably accomplished young people:

  • Tatum O’Neil is the youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Award, having received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1974 at the age of 10. By the time she was 23, O’Neil had been involved with 8 film productions.
  • Blaise Pascal discovered Pascal’s Theorem in 1639, at the age of 16. When he was 23, Pascal was busy conducting experiments with barrels to establish Pascal’s Law, also known as the principle of transmission of fluid-pressure.
  • William “Willie” Johnston is the youngest American to receive a Medal of Honor, earning the award in 1862 when he was cited as the only drummer boy to bring his instrument off the battlefield during the Seven Days Battles. Johnston was 11 at the time of the citation and 13 when he was presented with the Medal.
  • Joan of Arc played a folkloric role in aiding the French army to victory during the 1428-29 siege of Orléans, when she was about 17. This historic triumph paved the way for the July 1429 coronation of Charles VII. Two years later, at the age of 19, Joan was burned at the stake for heresy.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart“penned” his first musical composition, Andante in C for Keyboard, in early 1761, when he was 5. The piece was notated by his father, given his youth. At the age of 23, Mozart had composed over 300 of his eventual 626 musical works.

    one badass french peasant. [image credit: here.]

5 people whose accomplishments at the age of 23 represent the stuff my dreams are made of:

  • Orson Welles directed, narrated and starred in the infamous radio broadcast War of the Worlds, terrifying millions of listeners and landing him the cover of the May 9th, 1938 edition of Time – 3 days after his 23rd birthday.
  • Alexander Pope published one of his earliest poems, An Essay on Criticism, at the age of 23. The poem includes two still-famous lines: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”, and “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. Behind Shakespeare and Tennyson, Pope is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
  • Jane Austen had written initial or final drafts of three novels by the time she was 23 – including her two arguably most famous works, Sense and Sensibility (published in 1811) and Pride and Prejudice (published in 1813).
  • Jack Nicklaus is a professional golfer who won his first Masters Tournament in 1963 at the age of 23. Nicklaus holds the record for the most Masters won (claiming victory a total of six times) and for being the oldest winner of a Masters when he was 46.
  • Isabella I of Castille ascended to the Spanish throne of Castile and León in 1474 when she was 23. Along with her husband, Fedinand II, Isabella would go down in history for completing the reconquistaof the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim kingdoms collectively known as Al-Andalus and for financing Christopher Colombus’ famous 1492 voyage.

    just convincin’ our terrified citizenry that aliens are attacking. nbd. [image credit: here.]

And for your pleasure, here are 10 modern-day 23 year olds who are more famous than you and I will ever be:

  1. Julianne Hough, dancer… and country music singer? And actress? Really Wikipedia? (born July 20th, 1988)
  2. Princess Beatrice of York, royal and first female in the line of succession…but fifth overall for the crown (born August 8th, 1988)
  3. Rupert Grint, Ron Weasley…er, actor (born August 24th, 1988)
  4. Candice Swanepoel, Victoria’s Secret model, like whatevs (born October 20th, 1988)
  5. Emma Stone, my personal favorite young actress(born November 6th, 1988 – one day before me, which puts my life in dismal perspective)
  6. Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore (born December 27th, 1988)
  7. Elizabeth Olsen, actress and apparently related to the more famous Olsen twins (born February 16th 1989)
  8. Chord Overstreet, trouty-mouth Gleek (born February 17th, 1989)
  9. Chris Brown, singer on many peoples’ shit list (born May 5th, 1989)
  10. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, only known as McLovin (born June 20th, 1989)

23-year-old, cute, spunky redhead — emma or shannon? you decide. [image credit: here.]

con amor,

shan


Leave a comment

oh hey, remember the golden rule?

Sometimes I wonder how people who have never worked in the service industry come to internalize the word “nice”.

The real world teaches us that being nice to someone can be shockingly difficult to do. We all have stressors that set us off at random times. The fuse for some is significantly shorter and more flammable than for others, and it can be less morally disquieting to be rude to a stranger than to someone you care for and interact with on a regular basis. For a certain reason, at a certain moment, we have all put our foot down in direct opposition to somebody else’s bullshit. And we feel justified in the act.

If you have never worked in the service industry before, it’s hard to understand the intricate dance that requires an employee to balance his or her delicate sense of self-worth with a capacity to provide exceptional customer service. People can be incredibly mean.

EXHIBIT A

I spent two summers working in retail sales in high school. At the register one day, I was approached by a woman who wanted to return a garment she had purchased for her daughter. To complete the return I asked for her address, including her zip code. When she answered with a code that included letters, I was a little confused.

The woman was Canadian and in her estimation I should have known that. I’ve never been to Canada. I had no idea their zip codes include letters.

The woman scoffed at my ignorance. She condescendingly informed me that I should “really know better”, as if my extremely vapid 16 year old brain had purposefully blocked out this one insurmountably important detail of Canadian culture. I was then curtly informed that I shouldn’t disrespect the multitude of Canadian shoppers that frequent the Mall of America, because they supply the majority of the revenue to the stores in America’s largest shopping center.

Now, I don’t have solid facts to back up this assertion, but I’m pulling the BS card on crabby Canadian lady. I’m fairly certain that the majority of revenue generated by the Mall of America stems from Americans.

The way I see it, by the time Canadian lady reached my store, she had been thoroughly harassed by the entire MOA experience. Her patience was running thin. Reason would have told her that it’s not necessary or personally offending for a teenage girl to have little knowledge of the inner workings of the Canadian postal system.

But reason be damned; she just didn’t feel like being nice. And as an employee on the receiving end of her unpleasantness, it was my job to be self-deprecating and pretend like I gave two shits about her zip code. And now, 7 years later, I can still recall that particular exchange almost to the word.

Being treated like an unintelligent or lazy scumbag by customers has broken many a service-oriented employee’s heart. It’s not fun to get shouted at for attempting to do your job. Working at a bakery and for American Eagle, I had it relatively easy. I can’t even imagine the soul-crushing experiences of customer service representatives, telemarketers, or sidewalk recruiters.

But dealing with mean people as an employee has taught me to be incredibly patient and understanding as a consumer. (I say this as a generality; I am only human and have admittedly been less than accommodating to people in the past.)

EXHIBIT A

This past December, Santa brought me the best nerd gift I could have asked for: The Sims 3 – Pets. I was totally jazzed until I attempted to install the game on my computer and realized I had been given a faulty code.

Over the span of 3 weeks I tried reaching out to customer service on multiple different occasions. Each time I was informed that my problem had been solved (when it hadn’t been) or that my problem only existed in my head (when it clearly didn’t). Finally, on my fourth attempt, I connected with a friendly man on the East Coast. Patiently I explained my problem over again. And this time I was presented with a new, functioning code – and a 20% off coupon, in case I had been eyeing any additional products. I didn’t demand the discount. It was simply presented to me. And I’d like to think it was because I wasn’t a complete bitch to customer service representative #4.

EXHIBIT B

Last month, my boyfriend and I were flying from Denver home to Minneapolis. Our seats were in the back of the plane, but they weren’t next to each other. Living by the idea that it’s better to ask than to assume, Jaime approached the front counter at our gate and inquired if it was possible to switch seats, mentioning that we’d be fine with something in the exit row (he’s 6’6” after all). The attendant informed us that the seating arrangements were pretty tight at that point, but that we could purchase any available exit row seats for an additional fee. We thanked her anyway and went back to our bags in the waiting area.

A few minutes before we were to board, the same attendant called Jaime up to the gate counter. He returned with two tickets in hand. We had been given new seating assignments: two seats, right next to each other, in an exit row. No additional charge.

Before we got on the plane we approached the front desk one final time and thanked the attendant again, informing her that we really appreciated her generosity. She smiled and told us that it was her pleasure and that she hoped we had a good flight.

This is one of the most important lessons I will teach to my future children: even when you don’t feel like it, being nice is so much rewarding than being mean. Patience is a virtue and only the most truly enlightened employ it in liberal amounts.

con amor,

shan

[image credit: here.]


Leave a comment

share a smile

It’s been one of those weeks. You know, when it isn’t necessarily a bad week, but nothing seems to be quite right? Unhappy events take place. Like when your pancakes won’t fry up, so you turn the batter into a (very flat) cake that tastes mysteriously like cheesecake and you eat brussel sprouts for dinner instead. Or when you try to be creative and knit an afghan, but you end up starting over four times, before a failed 3 hours at trying to fix it forces  you to start over for a fifth time. Or when you forget your lunch at home, even though you took the time to pre-pack it the night before like an adult. Or when it rains, snows, and sleets and the sky is perpetually grey. Or when you realize that supervising people is  really difficult. These are just possibilities of what may happen to you. And you may be a bit flustered or upset. And you may decide you need a weekend away in Chicago to deal with it.

Let’s just say that has essentially been my week, with a few more misplaced keys, cards, and jackets thrown in there to mix it up. Yes, to you this may not sound like a difficult week. It really hasn’t been. But it has been…off. Until today.

Yes, today I forgot my lunch and stepped in a few puddles, but good things happened also. I showered and did my hair before work. I made it to work on time, even though I had to scrape my windshield. Rush hour wasn’t bad at all.

Most importantly, I learned today is Share a Smile Day AND National Pig Day! Today is about being happy and pigs. Today is a good day.

Although I love pigs, I am going to focus on smiling instead. Today, I smiled. I smiled a lot. Much more than I had all week. I hadn’t really smiled until I begrudgingly drove myself to Panera to get lunch today. I held the door open for these two women. They were extremely grateful, and I smiled saying, “not a problem.” They both then proceeded to walk through the door at the same time. The door frame was a bit smaller than the two of them. They got wedged in the doorway. It was hilarious. We shared a laugh. I couldn’t stop smiling. It reminded me of this Ted Talk:

Rod Gutman, the CEO of HealthTap, talks about the hidden power of smiling. It is absolutely worth the time to watch him speak! Here are some cool facts about smiling  that he mentions:

1. Babies smile in the womb. HOW COOL IS THAT? Well, at least it looks like they are smiling and content.

2. Children smile over 400 times a day. Have you seen people with more energy and joy than children? Probably not. Children definitely know their way around a good smile.

3. Smiling is contagious.

4. The brain stimulation of smiling is equal to eating 2,000 bars of chocolate or $25,000. Smiling is a lot easier, cheaper, and healthier.

5. Speaking of health, smiling can make you healthier, even lowering your blood pressure.

6. Smiling makes you look more competent. New meeting tactic! No longer will I look confused, I will instead smile. Easy.

So share a smile today. Look at miniature pigs online. Read a good book. Reconnect with an old friend. Commit a random act of kindness. Smile with someone who looks downtrodden today. You never know whose day (or week) you might be brightening.

And I would like to say thank you, ladies at Panera. You have had me smiling all day. Even at the prospect of ripping out my knitting tonight and starting over. Thank you for sharing a smile with me and truly uplifitng my week!

with a smile,

Kat