Twin Cities bucket list

Oh, yes, she will be mine.
Oh, yes, she will be mine.

I’ve been keeping a mental list of things I want to do before I leave Minneapolis in August. Why not write it down? It’s not a long list. I think I’ve done most things I really want to do. And yes, a lot of these are food-related.

  1. Minnesota Zoo. I wasn’t that interested in seeing the zoo until I started practicing Spanish with a dude from Bogotá. We started sending each other articles to practice reading in Spanish/English and to have something to talk about. (Incidentally, I really want to visit Bogotá now.) We talked about zoos one day, and I was like, oh, this place has changed a lot since I went that one time when I was 12. My friend said that I could go with her family, which will be fun–her kids are delightful and a great age for visiting the zoo.
  2. Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar. They put cheese inside the hamburger. I really don’t know how I missed this.
  3. Raptor Center. This is another one that came from Spanish practice. I think it would be cool to see a big ol’ bird in person. There aren’t many places like this in the world.
  4. Bell Natural History Museum. I’ve never been there, and it seems interesting. And as it happens, they’re doing a special event this Thursday (including a screening of a movie about bees that looks interesting), and I’m pretty sure I don’t have to work. Hm…
  5. Brunch at Victor’s 1959 Cafe. I have at least one friend who can join me for mango pancakes on a weekday. The place is tiny, so I’m extremely reluctant to go there on a weekend. But mango pancakes….
  6. Blucy Lucy from Blue Door Pub. Yes, another burger with cheese in the middle. But this time it’s blue cheese. That one is second-tier. I can make a burger at home, after all. Still sounds pretty great.

Only six things! I must be living right. Of course, I’ve been here for nearly 18 years, so I’ve had some time to get out there and do stuff. If you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments. But not too many–I only have 3 months left.



yes no excuse me

Cherry Blossom Festival.  That's kind of awesome, right?
Cherry Blossom Festival. That’s kind of awesome, right?

I have been thinking about my first night in Guatemala. I had been traveling since midnight that morning, transferring from planes to a taxi to three chicken buses to a boat to a tuktuk. It was pouring rain and I got lost from the boat dock to my school. I don’t do well on little sleep. I arrived at my host family’s house at about 5 pm and went straight to bed. As I tried to relax enough to drift off to sleep, I thought, “I wish people here would just speak English. I know they aren’t doing anything wrong, but I’m just so damn tired that I want to hear English.”

That feeling did pass, and I’m not here to advocate for Esperanto or universal English. But I know that there will be moments like that when I live in Korea. A blog I follow called them “Starbucks Days,” where you don’t want to go do something fun and culturally interesting. You just want the comfort of home.

I’m starting to feel freaked out as the reality gets more and more distinct. People ask me, “Are you excited?” And I’m like, “Right at this moment, no.” Right now I’m worrying about missing my cat and missing my friends and family. I’m worried that I’ll lose my documents. I’m worried that Koreans will think I’m fat and gross and old. I’m worried that my doctor will find something at my next physical that means I can’t go.* I’m worried that I’ll hate teaching and/or that I’ll have a mean co-teacher.

I have started studying Korean by listening to Pimsleur CDs in the car. It’s a little tricky. Yes, no, and excuse me are the words I know most consistently. Oh, and hello and goodbye, and maybe a few others. All audio–I haven’t even begun trying to read written Korean. I also have a Korean dictionary with some exercises in it, but I haven’t really looked at it (my home life has been very stressful lately). I mean, it’s more than I knew two weeks ago.

All other things being equal, yeah, I’d stay in Minnesota. I like living here. I like speaking English. I want to travel, but I like having a stable home. But I think the easiest way to get where I want to be (teaching) is through getting teaching experience. If I can’t do it here, I’ll go somewhere else. It doesn’t have to be forever, although it could be.


*And maybe that’s ironic–scared of going, scared of not going.

Opting in, out, and otherwise

I don't know. Punch a shark?
I don’t know. Punch a shark?

A group of friends and I had an online discussion last week about work-life balance. The impetus was some comments by a friend of a friend that rubbed my friend the wrong way. In a nutshell, the offending guy’s comments implied that work-life balance is not so hard, and if you don’t have, you’re doing life wrong. This guy, and other guys like him, have wives who do not work outside the home and manage the household duties and childcare. Is it POSSIBLE that that’s why they find achieving balance to be so much easier than the rest of us? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

Some of our thoughts included:

  1. Household duties are often invisible and thankless
  2. Having someone to manage these duties is a privilege that this ding-dong is obviously taking for granted
  3. For whatever, reason, men don’t worry about whether or not they’re prioritizing incorrectly to the extent that women do
  4. It’s hard, especially for parents

I found the discussion interesting in a mostly anthropologic way, since I’ve opted out of a lot of the choices my friends have made. No kids, no house, no really nice furniture, no partner, no advanced schooling, no career ladder. I’m practically Roger Miller in the song King of the Road compared to most of my friends, who are admittedly a talented group of intelligent women.  I don’t feel the pressure of being measured against my peers because I’m using a whole different yardstick.

Is this a great option for most women? No, it’s terrible for most women. I am missing out on a lot. But I don’t miss the things I’m missing out on, so that’s cool. And I’m sure they didn’t want to go to Korea or run a business (however half-assedly) as much as I did, anyway.

I remember another conversation shortly after my divorce. I asked my friend, “When am I ever going to be good enough?” And she replied, “Uh…you’re good enough right now.” And I was like, but I’m SO not! But I was, and I am, and I don’t feel that way anymore most of the time. Even though I’ve had way more failures in the years since that conversation.

It’s been a real project to learn who I am, what’s important to me and what isn’t, and to let go of what I don’t, and to realize that I can’t have everything and don’t want it anyway. I’m sure it will continue to change throughout my life. Some people learn this a lot younger than I do, but I don’t know, I’m slow or something. If reincarnation is real and we’re gifted with the wisdom of our past lives, then I’m a new soul fresh out of the package. Hey, it’s cool, you have to play the hand you’re dealt.

So, what is my point?

  • I want to know what I’m choosing.
  • I want to be aware that my choices are the best choices for me. If someone else chooses something else, they can make that decision for themselves, too.
  • I want to be aware of any privilege that make my choices possible, as well as any obstacles that will make them more difficult.
  • If people don’t like any choice I make that doesn’t harm anyone else, I’m going to give their opinion the respect it deserves. If it’s a trusted friend or family member, I may take their advice or not. Anyone else…pffft.