Tag Archives: Minnesota

Home is Here.

“You excited to go home?”

It was a simple question, meant to be answered with a quick yes.

But my answer was not simple.

Was I excited to see my family in Iowa and celebrate Christmas with them? Yes, of course, I was.

I love my family. And we get along like families do, which is to say, most of the time.

My problem with the question wasn’t about being excited, but simply the idea of home.

Do I consider Iowa home?

Growing up, I felt like an outsider in my hometown, a square peg in a round hole.

My pants were too baggy. My hair was too black. My shirts were too short. I was too quiet. My feminism was too loud.

I was always too something.

And when you are a young person in this world, especially a young woman, it is hard not to fit in. Though I wasn’t exactly trying to be part of the crowd, I wasn’t exactly trying to ostracize myself either.

So I had friends. And my friends weren’t all trying to fit in either. There were a surprising amount of square pegs in a town of twenty-five hundred people.

My best friend, James, was one of those square pegs. James is gay, which made him an automatic outsider. The squarest of pegs in my hometown.

When I was away at college, I came back to visit my parents one weekend. I stopped at a gas station in my hometown. The woman behind the counter gave me the up and down, as I made my purchase.

“You aren’t from around here, are you?”

I wasn’t even wearing anything that outlandish. I had on a black slouchy top and turquoise eyeshadow.

“Actually, I grew up here.”

After college, I moved to Brooklyn to live with James. NYC is nothing, if not a refuge for those who don’t fit in anywhere else. It is a city of misfits.

I was happy to learn, to see, to taste, and to drink up as much of NYC as I could while I lived there, but it never felt quite like home.

I am a Midwest girl at heart. I like a slower pace of life. I like green spaces and room to roam. I like cheese on everything. I like board games and slippers and fires.

I am grateful that I grew up in Iowa. Grateful I sledded down a hill at the local church every winter. Grateful I ate fresh corn on the cob every summer. Grateful I had a paper route and delivered newspapers on my bike. Grateful I met my best friend and many other wonderful people.

I am also grateful I left. Grateful I lived in NYC. Grateful for the people I met there. Grateful for the things I learned. Grateful for the incredible beauty I experienced.

State of Minnesota on a mitten.

Home is Minnesota.

Most of all 7 years + later, I am grateful I moved to Minneapolis. Grateful to be a square peg that fits right in this little, big city. Grateful to have found home.

This week’s video is “Bangarang” by Doomtree. And for those of you unfamiliar with Har Mar Superstar, this video will give you a little taste of  Har Mar, a wonderfully square peg and a Minnesota native.

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P.O.S Is (Not) Ruining My Life

I first saw P.O.S perform, when he opened for Cursive. It was May 2009, and I had moved to Minneapolis a few months before.

P.O.S had just put out the album Never Better. But I didn’t know this. I didn’t know who P.O.S was yet.

I had discovered The Current, a public radio station that plays an insane mix of independent music, classics, and local bands. So I was hearing his songs, though I didn’t know that yet either.

There is a line from “Savion Glover” where P.O.S raps, “Get your A.C. Slater on.” I remember hearing this line on the radio, and wondering who this rapper was. But as the next song played, this thought passed from my head.

Man Man was slated to open for Cursive. (I still have the tour poster hanging on my wall with Man Man’s name printed below Cursive’s.)

For some reason, the band couldn’t play. Before the show, The Current announced that an unnamed artist would replace Man Man. (Unnamed due to legal reasons with the label.)

So there I was, crushed into the crowd at First Avenue, the venue that would soon become my favorite place to see a show. And there he was, P.O.S up on stage.

I have a confession. As much as I like going to see shows, I don’t get into a band/musician if I am hearing their music live first. I like to be at least a bit familiar with the music, before I see a band perform. It makes it easier for me to access, I guess.

But then P.O.S started spitting rhymes. He was clever. He was funny. He was political. And he was punk as fuck.

I was hooked, and this show served as my introduction to the Minneapolis hip hop scene. For those of you that don’t know, Minneapolis has one of the best hip hop scenes in the country.

Soon, I would learn about the rest of Doomtree crew and fall hard for Dessa. And then Brother Ali. And Atmosphere. And most recently, GRRL PRTY and Lizzo.

Seeing P.O.S on stage that night was my gateway drug. And I am happiest when I get another fix. Luckily for me, he plays a lot of shows around here.

Tonight he is playing with the oh-so-fun GRRL PRTY and Mixed Blood Majority at First Avenue.

So if you’re at First Avenue, I’ll be the girl bobbing her head up and down, dancing until the sweat drips down my back, and mouthing all the words to my favorite P.O.S songs.

This week’s video is “Optimist” by P.O.S, which is off the Never Better record. It is a fun video, my friends. Enjoy.

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Help #EndTheStigma and Join Me for a Reading Event at SubText Books This Saturday!

The event honors Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day of remembrance for those who have lost someone to suicide. It is at 2:00 pm at SubText Books in St. Paul.

We’ve also added a writer! Poet Sierra DeMulder is a two-time National Poetry Slam champion and also the author of The Bones Below and New Shoes on a Dead Horse. DeMulder will join poets Matt Rasmussen and Michael Kiesow Moore along with writer Scott Long.

Canvas Health is co-hosting the event along with SubText Books. I volunteered to coordinate the event because of my own experience with suicide loss. I lost my brother Karl to suicide just over ten years ago.

The topic also has personal significance for the writers. Rasmussen won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets for his book, Black Aperture. The collection of poetry is about losing his brother to suicide.

“It is a subject matter and cause which I consider incredibly important,” Rasmussen said.

Moore’s book of poetry What To Pray For focuses on bullying and teen suicide.

Long is a MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Minnesota. He will read a short story about losing a friend at a young age.

The topic also has particular significance for Minnesota residents. State data shows Minnesota’s suicide rate increased 29 percent from 2003 to 2011, more than twice the national average increase. For Millennial and Generation X Minnesotans, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Senator Harry Reid proposed the resolution to recognize survivors of suicide loss to the US Senate in 1999. Reid had survived his father’s 1972 suicide. When it passed, Congress designated the Saturday before Thanksgiving National Survivors of Suicide Day. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention later dubbed it “International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day” because suicide knows no geographic boundaries.

This week’s video is a live version of “Poison Oak” by Bright Eyes. It is a beautiful song that reminds me of Karl.

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9 Things NYC Is Missing, But Minnesota Isn’t

“Do you ever think you’ll move back to New York?”

It’s a question I’ve been asked more than once. I used to dance around it.

“I don’t know. Maybe someday.”

But the truth is, I will never move back to NYC.

There is much to love about NYC and Brooklyn in particular, which is where I lived.

I love that the subway makes nearly the entire city accessible by train. I love walking down the sidewalk, sun on my face, headphones in my ears, and stopping to get a slice or a cluster of ripe tomatoes.

I love the endless array of stores that sell an endless array of items. Have you been to the lighting district? Or the flower district? And let’s not even talk about shoes. Saks Fifth Avenue has a shoe floor with its own zip code.

There are the beautiful buildings that divide the sky into patches of blue and glass and granite. The musicians. The art. I could go on and on.

In many ways, NYC has it all.

But when I left, it no longer felt like home. It did for a time and then it didn’t.

When you leave NYC, people tend to look at you as though you failed. It suggests you couldn’t make it in the city that brags, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

NYC has a lot to offer, but it doesn’t have everything.

It doesn’t have more than 10,000 lakes. It doesn’t have Minnehaha Falls. It doesn’t have First Avenue. It doesn’t have The Loft Literary Center. It doesn’t have Hunt & Gather. It doesn’t have The Current. It doesn’t have Rock the Garden. And it certainly doesn’t have an Internet Cat Video Festival. Or cheese curds. Fresh cheese curds might be reason enough to stay in the Midwest.

Rock the Garden 2015

Rock the Garden 2015

You can afford to buy a house here. There is so much green space, and so many things to do. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the concerts and art shows and readings and new places to eat.

That is what I love about the Midwest too. When I get overwhelmed, I just take some time out and lie in my hammock. Or grill out on the deck. Or take my dog for a walk. Or curl up and watch some Game of Thrones.

The pace of life is slower here. It is less about competition and more about collaboration. People generally want to help each other, and they want to see you do well. People just want to enjoy life.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of collaboration in NYC too. And people there help each other. I would also argue New Yorkers get a bad reputation for being unfriendly. I mean some of them are, some of them aren’t.

It is a different vibe in the Midwest. My life is more peaceful since I’ve been back. And I like peaceful.

The truth is I’m a Midwest girl at heart. And if that makes me soft, I guess I’m soft.

I own a house in Minneapolis. It’s not far from Minnehaha Falls and Lake Nokomis. And it’s right off the light rail, so I have quick access to the rest of the city when I don’t want to drive.

Minnehaha Falls in the winter.

Minnehaha Falls in the winter.

It is a good mix of city life and serene, outdoor space.

When I was thinking about writing this blog, I jotted down a note, “Minnesota fits me like my favorite pair of jeans.”

And it does. Minnesota fits like home.

This week’s song had to be “Say Shh” by Atmosphere. Atmosphere is a Minnesota guy to boot.

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How to Kill Kill Blog Writing or at Least Try

Some of you may know I am working with James on his new blog over at http://www.thepaisleyfields.com/blog/. As part of a site redesign, I suggested he create a blog. (The site redesign has yet to be launched.)

James is a great writer. His life as a country musician and a recently married gay man is not unheard of, but not exactly the standard either. His blog offers a way for him to share his unique perspective and connect with people on topics like heartbreak, love, acceptance, and of course, country music.

When he sends me the blog to edit each week, I feel so thrilled he wanted to write a weekly blog. I am also continually impressed by his writing. Then after all the hearts-exploding-into-flowers-and-stars moments, I feel guilty. I asked James to commit to a weekly blog, but I have not done that.

From the beginning, I have been VERY sporadic about posting. Partly, it is because I am busy. I have my job, school, writing fiction and poetry, editing, and volunteering to occupy my time. Then, of course, I also like eat and drink and, well, go see L’Assassins. (I saw L’Assassins this weekend, and the surf and rockabilly-tinged, garage rock band is fabulous.) I mean I live in Minneapolis. I like to see bands.

Another reason for neglect was that I was not ever sure what I wanted my blog to accomplish. But working on James’ blog, I started thinking more about this blog. To employ good content strategy, you need to define what your writing should accomplish. Do you want to make people laugh or cry? Do you want to inform them? About what? And what people?

I have always wanted this blog to be about writing and the importance of language. I mean, at least loosely. I have veered off course at times. But now I am planting my flag here. This blog will be about writing and the importance of language. And to amuse myself and hopefully some of you, I am going to include a link to a music video, inspired by my mood or the post that day.

So check out the L’Assassins’ video for “Kill Kill” below. I can assure you, it will make you want to dance.

An update on the last post I made, I did write 30 poems last month. Not exactly one poem every day, but there were 30 poems by the end of the month. So let’s hope I can keep the one blog post a week thing rolling…

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