Monday, October 24, 2005

16 observations written while leaving Minneapolis, Minnesota

1: It is not that Minneapolis is boring, but I think I am just tired of the place. I've been to the various cultural hotspots that one can attend to on any normal day and most of the others are closed on a Sunday. So I used the morning to explore a little bit more and then ended up taking the light rail out to the airport too many hours early to even count. The airport, in fact, seems to be a lot like the Minneapolis I was exploring this morning—the maze-like Skyway. It is what Minnesotans use to navigate the city when it is sub zero, I suppose. Such skyways were quite the thing in the 70s—a way of attracting suburbanites back downtown in a variety of cities since it kept them off the dirty streets and in an environment that pretty much mimicked their prefab stomping grounds. The Minneapolis Skyway is pretty much like that. The funny thing is, however, people don't really seem to use it, favoring the streets and their direct route to the needlessly arcane second level sidewalks. I'm sure all that changes, no doubt, when winter hits full-force and the wind is cold enough to intimidate even the most well-adapted Minnesotan of full-blown Scandinavian heritage. Then again I like to think of the average Minneapolitan as shunning the suburb in the midst of their happy city. Somehow, walking a block south of my hotel where the skyway ceases to exist, turnstiles disappear and normal, everyday bundled-up city resumes, proves to me that the folks of Minneapolis have a better insight into dealing with their winters than just suburbanizing and air-conditioning it our of existence.

In that neighborhood that was not commercial, and not too rich, but definitely inhabited by true city-dwellers, I saw folks who had a sense of where they were and the weather. "Is it chilly in here?" the cute waitress at Jerusalem's asked the couple who'd come in after me. The woman-half of the pair was bundling herself a bit.

"Yeah," the man said.

"Our heat's out, but its not like its too cold yet."

"Yeah, it'll be too cold too soon. I'll turn the heat up."

"Oh you don't have too. Just bring us a coffee."

"You bet."

2: The airport bartender is bored. He tells his co-bartender he wants to go watch Smallville. "Its how I take myself out of reality, you know." Both the bartenders are in their 60s. He made a bit of small talk with me, but now that I am engrossed in typing he doesn't bother me. I'm on my second "big one" of a fine beer—Schnell's Oktoberfest. I'm thinking about a third. It is good beer, and it is good to see the sun has come out as I look across the concourse. The people rush to their gate. When my time comes, I'll saunter.

3: The Vikes won their game by a literal last-second field goal. The bartenders are suitably unimpressed. "Now all it will be is we have a chance."

"Yeah you know."

4: A very attractive woman comes in with this guy. Immediately I want to talk to her. She's in a white jacket, has perfectly straight sandy blonde hair, a great face (no noticeable makeup, deep brown eyes, and I'm turned on by her. I gather she is not with the guy but knows him. They order matching beers. She orders first and he follows. He's flirting with her and I find myself getting stupidly jealous. I should be talking to her, I type (just now, and you witness it). Suddenly (as in now) I feel quite stupid. So I write about it. I change the subject and talk to Russ (the bartender—I now know his name) about the traffic that would have come onto the train from the Metrodome after the Viking's win. Apparently there will be folks floating in from the game into the airport shortly. People fly into town for football games?

5: I'm thinking about the woman I met on my first night in Minneapolis. It was a bold, shot-of-whiskey flirtation for me, but we had a great conversation and I've been thinking about her since then. She was cool--from MIT: a scientist studying acoustics. She was in town for some computer-fandango and she was attractive. Attractive. Oh yeah she was hot. I told her the truth about who I was and what I was doing but I still think she was not telling the truth. I'm sure she has met plenty of guys on the road who give her the writing center coordinator story. Yeah that's a big one to score with the ladies!

Of course I believed everything she said. The encounter has kind of depressed me for the whole conference. She disappeared, of course. What's new?

6: I think I both despise and love traveling.

7: I lie. I lie egregiously to a rich couple at a new bar in the airport. It is fun. I enjoy telling them about the amenities at a non-existent ski resort by Deluth. I am suddenly a ski resort reviewer, you see. My story checks out: ironic hoodie, SLC destination, the desire to have a Jaegermeister shot (and the completion of that) and my pity of Minnesota and its lack of terrain. Ah I suddenly feel a lack of personal terrain in my fabrication.

It is a joke for me. Pretend. You know: like Peter Pan or Mr. Rogers. Although Mr. Rogers freaks me out even more than Peter Pan, it is fun to pretend some times.

8: Usually I'm very non-pretentious and the previous part flies in the face of that.

9: 2 hour flight next to a woman who won't have a jot to do with me and a dude who is looking at the pictures in his 3 magazines. I moved my monitor so they can't see. Did you detect it?

10: I'm ordering a nice black coffee.

11: I'm kind of sad now. Excuse me. Yeah whatever. Fuck you.

12: See I am not a very good traveling companion. Ask Lis.

13: 12 makes me sad.

14: We've finally reached the generation of airplanes that no longer have ashtrays.

15: I like chasing the sun. I also like listening to the Eels and Wilco while doing it. I also like how Johnny Depp says "Wow" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

16: Sometimes I feel like Willie Wonka. Sometimes I feel like Charlie Bucket.


  1. Oh my, you've been very busy.
    I lived in Duluth, MN for a year when I was a kid. About all I remember about it was how damned COLD it was. I don't reckon you're thinking of moving there huh?

  2. I observed one of the great powers of literature in your post: it made me feel better about the little slump I'm currently undergoing. Not in an "see, my little slump isn't as sad as that guy's slump" kind of way--more in a "see, other people go through slumps, too" kind of way. Glad you're back.

  3. I've noticed myself trying to mimick that "Wow" from C and the CF. You're not the only fan.

  4. you are a good travelling companion. I'm just a grouch--especially when I'm at lame-ass Mall of America. What were we thinking?

  5. I found your list very amusing, on a stylistic level and content level. I am now inspired to make up some amazing story about where I'm going and what I'll be doing in Milwaukee. Maybe I'll be a reviewer of micro-breweries. That's a good cover story and allows me to sit at the bar.