Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Embrace Minnesota

The following is a reprint post from my days as a guest writer at Central Snark. A handful of you people may have seen this before. Sadly, Central Snark is no longer with us, but its memory lives on forever.

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With the exception of a few minor embarrassments such as Jesse Ventura, Vikings football and the fact that we’ve become known as the gay bathroom sex capital of the world, Minnesota is a pretty nifty place.

And one reason is that Minnesota has a lot to offer, such as our beautiful 10,000 lakes, our stellar medical industry and our ginormous mall - formally known as the “Mall of holy crap, this place is so frikken huge you’ll have to walk 8 miles just to shop at 4 different stores for a pair of gloves!” which of course didn’t fit on the sign (or denote a very positive message for that matter), so they instead claimed it as the representative mall of the entire western hemisphere and shortened it to “Mall of America."

logo from earlier ill-fated attempt at naming our mega-mall

So, even though we have a lot to offer, there are many people who innocently find their way here completely unprepared for life in Minnesota. As a Scandinavian Minnesotan, I am genetically programmed to slog my way through winter and pretend it doesn’t bother me, that’s what we do here. But please don’t be naive - this place is not for everyone.

That’s why I’m here to give those of you who have yet to make the migration to our hardy state some tips that will hopefully help prepare you for the things they don’t tell you in the tourism brochures.

IF you feel you have to live here, you’re much better off embracing the things you can’t change, rather than fighting them to no avail and inevitably regretting your decision to move here in the first place.

For example:

Embrace the seasons - This is what we tell ourselves once summer has ended after only four weeks. “But the colors are SO beautiful in the fall here. THAT’S why I love Minnesota so much!” Learn to adopt that phrase.

Embrace God’s little creatures - Ok, who am I kidding, I’m talking about mosquitoes - who miraculously emerge with the spring thaw (in June) and stay with us until every living crow has been infected with West Nile Virus sometime in late August. But you’ve heard the argument… without mosquitoes, there would be no food for the birds and bats. Without birds and bats… (insert food chain here)… the world would come to an end. We certainly don’t want to be responsible for that now, do we.

Embrace the winter activities - Honestly, how could you NOT be excited about the prospect of fishing for eel pout while sitting on a pickle pail in the middle of a frozen lake in -10 degree weather?

Embrace your auto mechanic - No literally, give him a big hug. Because he will become your best friend and most important ally in the war against winter.

Embrace December 22nd - By the time December 21st (the “shortest” day of the year in terms of daylight) rolls around, some people are tired of going to and coming home from work in the dark. That’s why we celebrate December 22nd as being the “first day that the days only get longer from here on out” day. I know it’s not officially recognized on the list of holidays, but it sure as hell means more to us than, say - Arbor Day.

and finally…

Embrace Lutefisk - Pfffttt, just kidding - that was a sick joke! Except for a few ancient immigrants from the old country, I’ve never met one sane Minnesotan who willingly eats this slimy crap. Recently the word got out that this stuff is actually soaked in lye before it’s cooked and well, that just kind of took that fun out of it. And the taste.

Yes, there are many more “special qualities” to Minnesota that aren’t listed here, but these should be a good start for the screening process to help you decide if you have a thick enough head skin to live here.

But don’t get this confused with what we call the screening process… you know, the process to patch all the holes in our screens - so God’s little creatures don’t get into our houses.


Elizabeth said...

Hey, we have “first day that the days only get longer from here on out” day too. I believe it is an officially recognized on the list of holidays here in Alaska. Was that actually a picture of you ice fishing?

Michelle said...

Wait, what's wrong with the Vikes?

And ummm I actually calculated on Thursday exactly how many more hours until it finally started staying light longer. And I'm only in Chicago!

People in the Sun said...

I hate malls, seasons, mosquitoes, and misplaced optimism (what's the point of celebrating longer days when the weather is still going to get colder? I hate January!)

I'm sorry... It's just that my feet are freezing here and I'm too lazy to go upstairs and get socks. I'd rather not think about the possibility of living in a warmer place.

You know those weird old Floridians with the bad tan and the hair implants? That's me in ten years. Okay, twenty.

April said...

No, thanks. I'll embrace the 70 degree weather here, though. I mean, really - I'm tired of my warm weather clothes!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I could tolerate the Vikings, and probably the bitterly cold winters, too. But if I had to live with Michele Bachmann as my representative, I'd probably be an anarchist by now. Or worse, a Ralph Nader supporter.

Anonymous said...

Oh Doug! Don't get me started on Michelle Bachman! AHHHUGGHHH

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

elizabeth - No, that's not me on the ice, nor has it ever been or ever will be. Bottom line... I don't do ice fishing.

michelle - Wait, what's right with the Vikes?

people in the sun - Florida sounds good. I hear the old folks prefer the west coast side. Less of them rowdy college kids.

april - Yeah, but how do you feel about the 100 degree weather? ;-)

doug - That is too funny. I wrote this before Bachmann went completely off the deep end so she slipped by my embarrassment radar. However, if I had been paying attention I would have realized she was always bat sh*t crazy.

charli - I'm with you on that one sweetie!

cathouse teri said...

Hmmm... my Minnesota grandparents never forced this "lutefisk" on our family. But my dad does continue to make fantastic lefse every Christmas morning.

Ed said...

Reuse? Reuse? Is this the new greener Jeff...recycling posts? ha ha. First Diesel, now Jeff! You know...I'm gonna cut you some slack though...only because Minnesota is funny!

Mom Thumb said...

There has been enough time since we lived in Minnesota to form fond memories of the nice parts. But you have just smacked me in the face with the crap I hated about it. Bill and Lois were the best part. :-)

Mooselet said...

How could I not be excited about ice fishing in below zero temperatures? Be still my beating heart... which, at those temps, just might happen. Will give it a miss and keep my ticker ticking along nicely thanks!

Anonymous said...

You were born too late to get in on the Christmas Eve dinners at Grandma's house, that were ALWWAYS lutefisk. Luckily for your Dad--she also served meatballs. But guess what? I like lutefisk!!!

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

teri - I don't actually mind lefse too much. Nothing says Merry Christmas like potato pancakes!

ve - It's either this or listen to me whine about how busy I am. I can only play that card so many times.

mom thumb - I agree. And everyone who comes to MN should stop in at Bill and Lois's house. Bill will tell you a story about something or another.

mooselet - You're getting spoiled now that you've lived down under this long. You could use a good cold dose of MN reality to make you REALLY appreciate Australia!

mom - Guess what? I worked at Antons and cooked that slimy crap for nearly 3 years. I'm glad you like it though.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

I heard that St Cloud is turning into a large gang city!

(( LOL! ))

I think that with a little less winter, and a lot less mosquito, MN could be the perfect place to live.

.... in the suburbs

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words Mom Thumb, but you know Lois is my motivation. Jeff tell your blogger friends they are welcome here. Also it would be fun to meet a few bloggers on our way to California in February, and I do fix things.

Roger Miller said...

I was thinking of moving there... No more!

Unknown said...

Jesse Ventura had a big mouth and thin skin, but his legislative record is sound.
I do the Dec 22 holiday. I hate the dark.

Maureen said...

So just replace the "innesota" and replace it with "anitoba" and you've described my home too. Well, except for the Mall....

But wait. If I moved there, I would actually be moving "DOWN SOUTH"!!! Whoo Hoo!

Sarah said...

I told you about the lutefisk! that made me giggle and point while saying "hey i told him that!" I'm embracing Mn quite well, except that it's so cold. Lots of layers and trying to stay inside. Staying in makes me practice more :)

Jess Riley said...

I know someone who eates lutefisk!

Wisconsin is..."special," too. Someday I shall post about it. A tribute of sorts.

bon bon said...

being part norwegian and part german, i'd like to approach the bench, your honor.

{pointing to lefse}
"you sir, are no potato pancake."

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Minnesotans, on becoming honorary Canadians... except for the Lutefisk thing -- that you can claim as all yours!

Mom Thumb said...

Bill, if you are going to California, I know you are passing through Oklahoma! There are more sights in Enid than Pond Creek, but the PC cemetary has a HUGE new headstone that has to be seen. I am dying to post about it on my blog, with pictures, but I'm afraid the guy who commissioned it would burn down my house. Seriously.

Jen - Queen of Poo said...

My uncle Dale eats Lutefisk. I don't know that I'd call him sane, though.

JD at I Do Things said...

Oh, I'm tired of the "food chain" explanation. Mosquitoes suck, plain and simple. I can't believe the entire evolutionary line would break up and disintegrate if we killed off all the skeeters. That said, I dare you to try lutefisk and write a review.

JD at I Do Things