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Star of the North

Minnesota apologists will claim this is just a normal winter, like the kind we had when we were kids. But no. This extreme weather has all been happening in a more condensed window. We’ve already endured the 4th snowiest February on record and it’s only the 12th of the month. Minnesotans are complaining on social media about having nowhere else to put the snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. And most of this snow came after the brutal cold snap that shut down all the schools for days. This winter has been a mix of hunkering down at home, then poking our heads out when it’s safe, to resupply. But life is more than just survival, even up here in the frozen North Star State. Thankfully I made it out for a friend’s birthday party Saturday night. Sure, I’ve enjoyed bands in a variety of venues but in a hockey arena? That was a first. Particularly the hockey arena across the street from the house I grew up, in the suburbs. That’s where I first strapped on my own ice skates at an early age, and on a regular basis (at one point I was able to skate backwards). It was a nostalgia filled evening and loads of fun. Especially seeing our friends’ bands play there. Including the birthday girl’s band, McVicker.

Five More Good Things:

Sunday we had our friends’ wedding to attend but more blizzarding happened. My son and I made baked goods for the reception and had hoped to get a Lyft down to the venue, since the roads were terrible. And there are no snow day cancellations for weddings! Not in Minnesota anyhow. But no Lyft drivers would heed our call. Thankfully some good friends live nearby, were also going to the wedding and have an AWD vehicle with good tires. The timing worked out just right and they were able to transport us - and our cookies and ginger-pear crisp - to the wedding in time. Phew. Too many close calls lately. And what a wedding it was. Short but sweet ceremony, favorite friends everywhere, fright prop photo booth, karaoke and more. So glad we made it.

Emma at her birthday party

If Only Tonight We Could Sleep

We made it to the weekend, which should be a relief, but my nerves are shot. Anxiety is still spiking. If I could get through just one week without some distressing health, weather or financial concerns that would be peachy. Lately I’ve crushed by the unholy trifecta. Too much bearing down on me all the time. This week I skipped kickboxing sessions because I slipped and fell - hard - on ice Monday and my back is still tweaked. The extreme weather kept me holed up at home anyhow. I experienced another Friday of banking “excitement” with Wells Fargo. Yesterday morning my automatically deposited paycheck wasn’t appearing in my account. After poking around online I found a ridiculous workaround. Transferring just $2 from savings to checking caused my paycheck to magically appear. The Friday before it was rent. It appeared to be paid out to my landlord but Saturday morning the amount was back in my account. Then Monday it was gone again. Turned out to be a problem at a data center but why wasn’t redundancy built into the systems? It’s all a little too Mr. Robot for my tastes and I’m not feeling too secure in my bank choice. I’ve made some sales on ebay as well, and had forgotten how challenging it can be to deal with buyers in a post Amazon Prime world. These are challenges I could do without. But it gave me pause when this article popped up in my feed: If You’re Often Angry Or Irritable, You May Be Depressed

Personally I’ve felt far more irritable than angry. Or at least I’m not expressing my anger. As a child growing up in a volatile household, then later as a single parent, I learned to direct that anger inward. I still have plenty to undo in therapy. It’s a work in progress. In related news, a random reddit post led me to this: What’s the Difference Between Hyperacusis and Misophonia? THANK YOU. Clearly my diagnosis of misophonia was correct. This is a handy guideline I can share with people close to me to help explain/describe it.

Caturday morning

Reaching for a Hem

Didn’t quite manage a dry January this year (as I have the past few) but I decided to do a dry February - the idea to “Take A Month Off From Drinking To Improve Your Health All Year.” Yes, February is the shortest month of the year but it already feels like the longest. Especially this past week. As a friend put it, “it’s like we get all of winter’s greatest hits in one week.” Extreme cold, ice storms, two blizzards and a snow emergency and we’re heading back to extreme cold starting tomorrow. Tomorrow will make five days of weather related school closures for my son’s school in 2019. And I was supposed to teach my class at the college tonight but that’s been cancelled as well.

An author I enjoy, Jasper Fforde, has a new book coming out next week. The timing for Early Riser is pretty perfect with all this very wintry weather:

In a world where winters are long and brutal enough that 99.9 per cent of the human race choose to hibernate, naive-but-intrepid Charlie Worthing takes a job as a novice Winter Consul, part of an elite force tasked with the safekeeping of those slumbering through the season.

No hibernating for me just yet even though this is all wearing me right out. Tomorrow is Friday, at least. And the divine 2 Dope Queens will have a new special on HBO. Saturday night I get to see Boy Harsher again and this time with Kristina Esfandiari’s NGHTCRWLR. Sunday two of my loveliest friends are marrying each other and my son and I are baking some of our specialties for the wedding. Got to get those sparks of joy where I can.

Snowy selfie

Drive for the Conditions

We made it through the polar vortex intact, more or less. I am fortunate to have a garage at home, and a parking garage at the office as well. Last summer I shelled out for a software upgrade for my car to disable the constant draw on the battery (a satellite radio related quirk) that often left my car battery dead in the winter. After last week my car was fine. Our neighborhood bakery wasn’t so lucky. Dulceria had a couple of pipes burst. They put up a gofundme campaign:

Our priority is to pay staff for all cancelled shifts, even though insurance won’t cover most of it, we made no sales at our store, and cancelled and reimbursed paid pre-orders. We also expect repairs costs to impact us, not to mention we still have to cover our monthly expenses. And did we mention our brand new oven also needed repairs?

Thankfully that’s been fully funded and they are planning to reopen by Thursday. But this week has its own weather woes: Ice takes down Blue Line during miserable morning commute: Crashes piled up on mainline roads as pedestrians slipped and fell on icy sidewalks and Minnesota Weather: Roads Are Slick Monday Morning. Ya think? I wiped out walking to my car and hit the back of my head on a concrete step. Got in my car anyway, a little dazed and I’m definitely going to be sore. My driveway is on an incline. When reversing I nearly lost control and skidded into the neighbor’s garage. Only narrowly avoided it. Side streets were terrible. Main roads were ok but go slow. There’s black ice everywhere. The Twin Cities turned into a hockey rink this morning. There was another round of school delays, but not outright closures, and cancellation of after school activities. Returning home I was unable to get enough traction to make it back up my driveway and had to park in front of the house. I am ready to sleep it off until Spring.

Rather than my usual Five Good Things let’s file these under “Something’s Got to Give” :

Inner glow

Why So Negative

It’s been a surreal week. I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life but am not down with this polar vortex business. The actual air temperature was in the minus 20s to 30s. Even the postal service suspended deliveries today! And my son’s school has been closed all week. I’ve been working from home, staying safe and making sure our pipes don’t freeze. Which happened to the neighbors on the other side of the duplex. Naturally we’re expected to have a seventy degree swing by the weekend, with highs in the low 40s - above zero - and possible rain. Photos from around the state don’t properly convey how this extreme cold feels. On social media I shared a few resources for area warming centers, along with this: How To Help Homeless People Amid The Freezing Cold Polar Vortex. I am extremely grateful my son and I have shelter and groceries, and that I’m able to work from home during these extreme weather conditions. Speaking of, today’s Five Good Things will all be weather-related:

Is this the new normal? I sure hope not but who knows. Hopefully we get back to normal-ish soon. Though that has involved massive blizzards in late Spring the last few years. My car got stuck in a snow-filled alley last April. I could do without that. Stay safe everyone!

Freddy, an indoor cat
Olive, an indoor cat

I Wanna Be Adored

So fickle. Minnesota doesn’t care if we’ve made plans. Schedule a wedding on a Saturday in June? You’re gonna get a thunderstorm and maybe a bonus tornado. Sign up to have a booth at an art fair in July? One year you’ll get chilly weather in the 50s with rain and the next will be a heat wave with air quality alerts. And if you even think about having events in winter - indoors or out - you’ll get a surprise half foot of snow dumped on you just because, followed by bizarrely cold weather and dangerous snow-covered icy roads. “Coming our way: Up to 11 inches of snow, then dangerous cold. Windchills of up to 60 below are possible in rural areas.” Cool. If I’d realized what lay ahead I would have made more of an effort to get to some events earlier today. Like the 43rd Annual Saintly City Cat Show, the 18th Annual Winter Kite Festival or the 12th Annual Art Sled Rally. At least I did make it out to a portion of the 6th Annual Drone Not Drones last night at The Cedar Cultural Center, and am live streaming the rest of it from the safety and comfort of my own home.

Five Good Things:

My special man friend and I had a productive face-to-face conversation the other night. He opened with “I’ve handled this poorly.” Understated yet accurate. We discussed communication and expectations and anxiety and patched things up. Everything is peachy now. Hopefully we can prevent unnecessary angst in the future. If not we can part ways, for real, but only after some more respectful discourse. Not via email.

008-Alan Sparhawk of Low joins the drone

No One’s Easy to Love

It happened again. Unexpectedly wound up with someone when I hadn’t been looking for a relationship. This was the hardest I’d fallen for someone in a decade and the happiest I felt in ages. We were spending quite a lot of time together and joking about “cuffing season” - a term we’d both just learned. We went to the movies and out to eat but mostly we laid around my house, cuddling and enjoying TV together. But I went from hopeful to heartbroken overnight when he dumped me suddenly. By email. Really? So that happened. Let’s call it When Pillow Talk Turns to Real Talk, The Sharyn Morrow Story: How My Latest Attempt at a Relationship Failed the Same Day I Shattered My iPhone, Again. Not the best day. And my phone is still broken (along with my danged heart). Though the rest of the weekend had been stellar. I am currently grieving and pretty much skipped over denial and went straight to anger. But onward and upward, right?

It’s for the best I was already fixating on Sharon Van Etten all of a sudden. She’s been around for ages but I never paid much attention. Maybe because she spells her name the way mine was originally (I legally changed it in 1997). But this latest album, dang. I heard Your Shadow and was hooked. I’ve had Remind Me Tomorrow on repeat. It really speaks to my current emotional state. She will be performing next month at First Avenue.

Rough day but a good walk, self-portrait

Listen Until You Know What To Say

Minnesota winters are tough but we’ve grown to be tougher. Though some days I feel downright fragile in this bitter cold. Somehow I made it out for a second consecutive Friday night. To see the amazing Lala Lala in the Entry with Sen Morimoto and The Miami Dolphins. And last night to two of three events. First, our Conspiracy of Strange Girls group art show. I was thrilled by the turnout for the opening reception of Liminal on such a frigid night! The show is on display until January 27th. I pulled volunteer duty at the bar for a couple of hours before heading back to Moon Palace to continue my fantastic evening. Especially enjoyed listening to Zak read from Folrath, his autobiographical account of the time in his early twenties. Highly entertaining and dredged up a lot of memories. We are roughly the same age but had somewhat different adventures in our early 20s. At age 18 I was hell-bent on creating a stable home for myself (for the first time in my life), getting my own apartment and the first of many day jobs with health insurance. My life was still enmeshed with the punk scene but I was straightedge and a safety conscious nerd. Sure, I would go dumpster diving and occasionally sleep on floors at out of town punk houses. But I left it to my more free-spirited friends to go train hopping and live in squats. Motherhood grounded me even more. I’ve had a few regrets but mostly look back and feel content at how it all shook out. And I’ve got more than a few stories to tell, as well all do. Great night catching up with old friends and thinking about other ones. And that was a heck of an introduce to Jessie and the Jinx!

Those are the happy highlights. In winter it is even easier to feel down. And the surreal state of the world doesn’t help. Five recent tales of absurdity:

Tough to end things on a bright note when it’s doom and gloom out there. And personally? I’m in a temporary financial tight spot right now, partially due to external forces and my own poor planning. But somehow I’ve been enjoying some incredible experiences lately, with friends and family, that are helping me get through it all.

Zak Sally reading from his autobiographical Folrath series
Jessie and the Jinx performing music
Tears of My Lover by Bethany Grabert
Lala Lala

Where I Know Silence Should Have Been

Mid-week Five Good Things, the music edition:

  • After the recent anniversary of David Bowie’s birthday this bit of brilliance popped up in my feed: Why these sea slugs look so much like David Bowie
  • Bikini Kill will be playing four reunion shows! Tickets go on sale Friday but I probably spent too much on groceries tonight to buy tickets. Mom life is so punk.
  • Throwback 80s style troubadour Richard Papiercuts is at it again. His full length IF was incredible. It’s been a few years since then but he’s just put out an EP called Twisting The Night.
  • Meet Missy Elliot, the First Female Hip-Hop Artist Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • Lorelle Meets the Obsolete and their new album De Facto. I enjoy them but felt awful when they traveled all the way from Mexico City to play a nearly empty First Avenue main room (photo below). The great psych fest flop of July 2013. Amazing line-up. No attendees.

The weekend after next sees the return of Drone Not Drones. Once again conflicting with the Winter Carnival’s Saintly City Cat Show in St Paul. I’m determined to make it to both. Wish me luck.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete at First Avenue

We Are Because We Were

The latest thing making the rounds, posting your first Facebook profile pic side by side with your current one? I indulged. But it tied into something already top of mind, because of our upcoming group art show. The theme is Liminality, which can encompass very concrete rites of passage but I’m thinking more of other changes:

  • Passage from one place to another, such as moving houses, moving to a new city, etc.
  • Passage from one situation to another: beginning university, starting a new job, and graduating high school or university.
  • Passage of time such as New Year celebrations and birthdays.

All of the above for my son and I in the last year, and more to come in the next few. Raising a human to adulthood has been pretty wild.

Five Good Things on a Monday:

  • Clearly pregnancy loss doesn’t get filed under “good” but talking about it does: Why Women Reeling From Miscarriage Are Turning to the Web:
    “Guilt. Powerlessness. Failure. Many women who have miscarried are intimately familiar with these emotions and bear a secret shame. But more and more, women who have suffered pregnancy loss are opening up online.” Personally I had two late term pregnancies interrupted in 2003 and 2006. One due to anencephaly and the other stillbirth. Social media wasn’t a thing just yet but I had already been blogging for a while and on flickr. I posted to flickr from the hospital room because I needed to talk about it. And I’m glad I did. In the time since I’ve known of friends and acquaintances who have gone through similar losses but they were more open about it and felt less alone because of it, rather than suffering in silence like women of previous generations. This is progress.
  • From David Byrne’s reasons to be cheerful. Austerity Is NOT The Only Way: Portugal! I do hope to live in Lisbon at some point, if only for a short period of time.
  • Hope from Trista Harris, a philanthropic futurist: 2019 Philanthropy Predictions
  • Saturday night a friend and I went to an incredible performance the Walker. Our seats were front row center. Felt like we were getting a private show. Here’s an interview with one of the artists: Rabih Mroué: Life, Death, and the Digestive System
  • I enjoyed 2011’s film Hanna with Saorsie Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and others. And now it has been adapted by Amazon as a series. Cast includes Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos (reunited again, after The Killing) and the titular character is being played by Esme Creed-Miles. Series premieres in March.

Procrastination got the best of me again. Yes, the holidays were a balance of busy-ness and lounging, which I very much needed, and the new year has been action-packed already. But I could have been better at planning. Our art opening is Saturday night. Just yesterday I shot the photos for the show. And then rush ordered the prints, mounted on foam core. I wound up paying at least three times as much to get them rush printed and delivered. Thankfully I’m pleased with the two prints I’m displaying.

unfocused self-portrait