slubs in the city

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


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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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taylor swift ain’t got nothin’ on this love story.

If I approached my love life like popular culture suggests a woman my age typically does, I’d realize that it’s probably time for me to dump my boyfriend and try out a few drunk, crazy, liberating one-night stands. I’m 24 and I live in a big city (although Minneapolis holds nary a candle to NYC), so I guess that means I should really relate to the romantic trials and tribulations of the characters in Girls on a very deep and intimate level.

Except that I don’t relate to those characters, any more than I can relate to Lena Dunham, the media-proclaimed “voice of [my] generation”. Ms. Dunham is an incredibly talented artist who has managed to capture the story of a particular youth subculture in an effective and entertaining way, and who has fortunately made a living from doing so. But Ms. Dunham’s story isn’t my story.

okay, so i guess i can relate to these girls in one way — i’ve totally taken a fake laugh group photo before. awkward. [image credit: here.]

I frequently browse the New York Times’ column Modern Love, a series of articles submitted by big- and small-time authors alike that aims to holistically reflect on the meaning of love as it is understood in our day and age. The submitted articles are sometimes uplifting, sometimes painful; they are all candid, and for the most part do not boast to reveal anything more than a subjective experience with one of humanity’s most basic and primal emotions.

Yesterday, while perusing Modern Love, I stumbled across an article written by a man who, four or so years ago, was a senior in college. His submission, titled “Let’s Not Get to Know Each Other Better”, is well written, witty, and in many ways a fairly accurate glimpse into what it means to be a 20something navigating the social scene with other 20somethings. Musing on his colorful dating history, Mr. Walkowski asserts, “For my generation, friendship often morphs into a sexual encounter and then reverts to friendship the next day. And it’s easy as long as you don’t put yourself on the line or try too hard. Don’t have a prospect? Check Facebook. Afraid to call? Text.”

And therein lies the problem: I am part of your generation, Mr. Walkowski, but your love story is not my love story.

My brief and arguably vanilla history of amour includes a handful of dates, a couple of fantasy courtships that existed and played out entirely in my head (I’m looking at you Joseph Gordon-Levitt), one short summer fling, and one very long relationship. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18, and in the six years since that relatively embarrassing but forever memorable occurrence, I have only kissed one other person. If hookup culture is actually a thing, I wouldn’t know – in fact, I’m still not exactly sure what all the term “hookup” implies.

jgl

zooey deschanel may have passed you up, but i never will, JGL. just so you know. [image credit: here.]

Regardless of my own lack of experience, I don’t believe that my peers’ ability to love casually, freely and openly can be easily classified as either a bad or a good thing. It just is. We have a myriad of ways to find someone to date, and relatively few social taboos that regulate how we go about dating that/those person(s)  in a manner that fulfills our needs. We all have so very much love to give, in a variety of shapes and flavors and colors and forms, and it would be tragic if that love were confined exclusively and selectively to one other individual for the duration of our short and unique lives. It is not my place to judge the way you love, just as it is not your place to judge the way I go about achieving the same dream.

Still, my love story can’t be tracked according to Taylor Swift’s biggest hits.

it’s okay t-swift. you just do your thing. [image credit: here.]

Neither, however, can it be defined solely by the man who has shaped my notion of love for the past eight years.

I know that there are couples among us who were high school sweethearts, who have only ever dated each other, who got married when they were barely into their twenties even though people told them they were “too young” and are still together and in love. There are people who instinctively know, upon first meeting someone, that they will marry that person – even if they don’t know much else. Some teenagers meet their one big love as a freshman in college and are done forevermore with the entire dating game. I’m aware that this kind of ell-encompassing romantic attachment exists because I’ve read about it, over and over, in its countless iterations and manifestations. I’ve also been fortunate enough to witness the beginnings of big life love in at least one of my very dear friends, and it has been inspiring and comforting for me to watch her grow as a woman in such an environment of commitment alongside her partner in crime.

It’s quite possible that I met The One when I was a socially awkward 15-year-old and sat near him in AP English. Tomorrow he could choose to put a ring on it or to break my heart and move on, and that uncertainty keeps me on my toes more often that I would currently like it to. But in the end I know that my love story can’t be explained by an episode of Sex in the City any more than it can be summed up by a Nicholas Sparks novel.

And to me, that’s the very point of modern love.

If we all love differently, then no one relationship is “right” – which means that, for all the movies and poems and articles and novels and artwork and songs and plays composed about love, none of us really has any idea what we’re doing. We need shows like Girls and the Modern Love column to help us process our own feelings and emotions related to love, because our desire to create and maintain affectionate relationships – in their dizzying variety of forms – is what compels us, in part, to move forward with our lives. But we can’t assume that we’ve learned everything there is to learn about love simply by viewing another’s experience, nor can we pretend that our own knowledge on love can even come close to fully conceptualizing the idea.

My love cannot be contained within a sociological oversimplification of the way my generation functions. Neither can yours.

Isn’t that an amazingly freeing idea?

Sometimes I think about all that I could experience if I played the field, dated around, met new and exciting people to share my life with. Sometimes I get jealous of my friends who are engaged or married, and wonder if there’s something wrong with my own relationship. But when I’m feeling restless, it’s helpful for me to remember: wrong or right, my love story is my own.

For the record, I think I’ll stick with my current catch. He’s pretty fantastic. Unless you’re reading this, Joseph Gordon-Levitt…in which case, we should talk.

con amor,

shan


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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


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cooking, slub style

As you may have gathered, the slubs love to eat. There are few things better than good meals shared with great friends. We firmly believe this.

I also love to cook. I cannot speak for all the slubs here, but I almost like to cook more than I like to eat.

Why I love to cook:

  1. Cooking and baking are great ways to show someone you care.
  2. Cooking is a great stress reliever.
  3. Cooking is a creative process.
  4. Finishing a meal or baking project means I have at least completed one project that day. Some days, I need that empowerment.

But, let’s be real. I am not the world’s best cook. I have had my fair share of horrible meals. Luckily, my housemates are kind enough to not say anything. (Side note: I have never had a batch of baking powder biscuits rise. Ever. I have never had yeast bread fail. My cakes always rise to perfection. But baking powder biscuits? The fail proof recipe for delicious homestyle goodness? I can’t do it. Anybody willing to show me what I am doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate it). Hence, it is always nice to have recipes on hand that you know that everyone loves and that are hard to ruin.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful, nearly fail-proof, recipes that the slubs love. That we make all the time. Most importantly, all of these can be made on a budget, from stock pantry ingredients, and often from leftovers. Oh yes. The slubs know how to deliciously stretch a buck.

Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Breakfast Burritos

slub food

Okay, maybe not all of you have the following ingredients on hand all the time. The slubs do. Our go-to dinners tend to be Tex-Mex themed. We always have salsa, tortillas, and cheese. And when I say always, I mean when we actually remember to grocery shop. We also usually have green bell peppers and onions on hand. Bam! Dinner.

For Quesadillas, heat up a large nonstick skillet. You don’t even have to grease it, which means no added fat. You’ll get enough of that if you use the proper amount of cheese. Put a large tortilla in pan. It may have first been smothered in refried beans. If it was from the slubs, it definitely was. Place this side facing up.

Cover in lots of cheese: cheddar,Monterey jack, queso fresco, cotija, Chihuahua, mozzarella, feta, or a combination thereof. Slub commandment: Love all cheese. For example, after a night out dancing we put fresh chevre into a quesadilla and served it with pesto. YUM. Lesson: don’t discriminate against your cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients like diced green peppers, onions, scallions, tomatoes, summer squash, black beans, corn, cooked ground beef, and/or jalapenos. Sprinkle with just a tad more cheese. Add another tortilla. When the bottom browns, flip the quesadilla. Let the second tortilla brown. Flip onto large dinner plate. Cut. Enjoy with salsa.

Enchiladas. Put all or some of these above ingredients in a large tortilla. Fold tortilla around ingredients so it forms a snuggly pocket for the delectable ingredients. Put in a baking dish. Smother in enchilada sauce. Bake in 350 degree (400 if you are impatient, which I often am) oven until sauce starts to bubble. Serve with rice and beans. Slubs often make two enchiladas each. Usually because we think we can each eat two. We can’t. Enchiladas make excellent lunches.

Breakfast burritos. Wrap up favorite ingredients plus freshly scrambled eggs in a tortilla. You may even add leftover rice and beans from the enchiladas earlier on in the week. You would be right to do this. Enjoy on a Saturday morning or a lazy weeknight.

Homemade Pizza

our pizza always looks this good

Ordering pizza can be expensive. Especially when one of our favorite pizza joints is Galactic Pizza. Heavenly. Definitely not cheap. So we often make homemade pizza. This is great because it allows everyone to specialize their own individual pizza and use ingredients we already have in the house.

Because we usually make last minute plans, this is the best dough recipe I have found. 30 minutes and you have pizza crust:

Dissolve 1T of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt into 1C of warm water. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Frothiness ensues. Add 2T of oil and 2 ½ C of flour. Slubs usually make this crust with whole-wheat flour. If using all wheat flour, replace the sugar with honey. Trust me. Combine and knead for about 5 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Roll out into individual pizzas (this makes about 4-5 decent sized individual pizzas). Bake at 450 for about 5 minutes or until the dough is no longer outwardly dough-y. I know. It was like I was born to write recipes.

Add sauce. You can use homemade or store-bought pesto or red sauce. We often used left over spaghetti sauce. An easy red sauce can be made by sautéing onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil. Add a can of plain tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Simmer. A little bit of sugar, butter, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano finish this sauce off.

Sprinkle with your favorite toppings and cheese. We like artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta/goat cheese, green peppers, onions, summer squash, pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, etc.

Bake until cheese is melty and starting to brown. If you’re feeling flush that month, enjoy with a spinach salad topped with pears, cranberries, sugared walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. If not, enjoy with a spinach salad minus the fussy parts.

Garbage Soup

I love soup! It warms you up on a winter day, and is perfect to take to work the next day for a delicious lunch. I love the flexibility of soup as well. It is such a great way to use up vegetables that are going bad or grains that have been sitting in your pantry forever. Just throw everything in a pot. Done.

Ingredients you must have: onion and vegetable broth.

Ingredients that would be great to have: garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, grain/legume of some sort (I love farro, but you could use brown rice, lentils, quinoa, etc.), beans, kale (you can use spinach or another green, but we have found that kale holds up the best through reheating…also, it is delicious)

Ingredients that you don’t necessarily need, but make the soup awesome: diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, zucchini, squash, corn, parmesan rind, parmesan cheese (splurge for the real stuff for soup…it melts so well), for meat eaters add turkey meatballs

Sautee things. Add broth. Add grains, beans, tomatoes, and any frozen ingredients. Add parmesan rind for extra flavor. Season with things like basil, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and peppers. Simmer. Serve with grated cheese and homemade bread, preferably fresh out of the oven.

Splurge recipes. Once in awhile the slubs like to make amazing meals when we have extra money. Here are some favorite splurge recipes:

Risotto

Here is the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for risotto. It is wonderful because it uses goat cheese instead of mascarpone. Heavenly. Ree suggests about adding wine if anything goes wrong. This is very true. If you were to happen to add half a bottle of wine, or more, while cooking, you wouldn’t be alone. We’ve done it, too. And it was spectacular.

Cupcakes

We love cupcakes. Check out Laura’s post about cupcakes on her blog. Laura is the best cupcake maker ever. Although her cupcakes usually look too good to eat, we eat them anyway. Here is one of the slubs’ favorite cupcakes from this year:

yes. they taste as good as they look.

It is like a high-class camping trip in your mouth.

Finally, always enjoy your home-cooked meals with friends, a glass of wine, and laughter. Once in a while, eat until you are uncomfortably full and roll into the living room. Turn on 30 Rock, New Girl, Downton Abbey, or Lord of the Rings. Complain about how you are too full to move ever again. Get way too into the program you are watching. And then eat a cupcake.

slub love,

Kat


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slub of the week: Minnesota

For those of you who live in the lovely state of Minnesota, I’m sure you’ve noticed something strange lately: the weather. (Don’t live in Minnesota? Recap: it is unseasonably warm. Read: mid-30s, very little snow).

Now for those of you who don’t know, we Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. For other places in the country weather is an awkward small-talk conversation, in Minnesota weather is good conversation. When it is bad, i.e -40 degree windchills or 123 degree heat indexes, or when it is good, mid-70s and sunny, we have to talk about it. Because it is probably an anomaly (not really).

But, I’m sorry, Minnesota, I’m calling you out. You are being downright slubby. Too lazy to snow. Too lazy to dip into negative temperatures. Minnesota, you have put your stretchy pants on and curled up on the couch watching 30 Rock re-runs. And I applaud you.

Whereas in other Januaries I have had to cover every piece of skin and blow-dry my hair so it won’t freeze on the walk to my car, today I left the house with wet hair and wearing a fleece. It is January 4th. And I felt fantastic.

In honor of Minnesota’s slubbiness, here are some wonderful slubby winter weather facts (kudos yet again to wikipedia):

1. International Falls, MN average ANNUAL temperature is 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Coldest in the nation. The ten coldest counties in the nation? Also all located in Minnesota.

2. Lowest temperature recorded: -65 degrees in Embarrass, MN in 1996.

3. Earliest recorded snow: August 31, 1949 in Duluth.

4. Latest recorded snow: June 4, 1935. Yes, that’s right, MN has had snow every month but July, our warmest month. Yes. I know. Mind. Boggling.

5. A New York journalist vising St. Paul described Minnesota, “Another Siberia, unfit for human habitation.” The quote spurred the beginning of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculptures

Here’s to you Minnesota! You’ve worked hard the past few years providing us with more snow than we could ever want and the coldest weather in the nation. So this year, please be slubby all you want. Don’t snow. Stay in the mid-30s. My boots and winter coat need a break. Grab yourself some chocolate-hazelnut-raspberry baked goods, a netflix account, yoga pants, and a comfy arm chair. Settle down and store up all those great slubby feelings so you can give us a beautiful spring. Minnesota, I love you. I love your slubbiness.

Kat (my office may be freezing, but Minneapolis is a balmy 36 degrees!)


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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


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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