Thursday, June 30, 2011


The hot pot get-together was a big success except one guest refused to partake due to sanitary concerns. No need to sweat it as everyone else seems to have enjoyed the new experience.

For the first time I understood why kids in small towns hangout at Walmart. Tonight I was one of them. Summer are the best with all the comfy lawn furniture on display. I sat idle for half an hour starring aimlessly into shelves full of garden hoses. This is perhaps the closest I've been to hanging out at a cafe in this town. Next time I should just bring my own drink and kindle to complete the experience. As much negativity as there is out there for the mega corporation, I'm thankful we have a Walmart here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Root Music

When it comes to people there are ones who float you up and ones who bring you down. More important than gravitating towards positive people with commonalities is to find one who truly inspires you.

Sunday is best spent with a friend in a cozy cafe. A circle of bluegrass musicians started playing around 11. Claire and I grabbed a table next to the window and conversation ranged from birth control as an integral part of female equality to rural-urban divide and recycling and sustainability. We made friends with the adorable little Adeline, who enthusiastically showed us her color books. Before we knew it the morning flew by. Some moments just can't be captured on Kodak.

We parted ways in the nearly afternoon. I made my usual stop at United Noodles to stock up on groceries and acquire ingredients for the hot pot gathering I've been planning for the upcoming week. With a stuffed belly and cooler full goodies I left the city happy and content. Best weekend in MSP yet. Good company makes all the difference. Thank you Claire for restoring my sanity, however little there is left.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Catching Up

The distance between Thief River Falls and Minneapolis is just about the same as Rochester to NYC. Of the 13 years I lived in Rochester I've driven to NYC total of two times. This weekend marks the eighth time I've driven to Minneapolis in the last nine months! If this doesn't show just how desperate I am here I don't know what would. Other than getting a taste of civilization this weekend I also get to catch up Claire, a good high school friend who I haven't seen since 2002.

We made a quick stop at an auto body shop in the morning to touch up on a few scratches on my bumper. A coworker was kind enough to reach out to the shop she used to work at to get me some pro bono work done. It's always good to know people, however few I know here. Claire showed me some of her favorite neighborhoods and fair trade stores like Ten Thousand Villages on 867 Grand Ave at Victoria Crossing West. We exchanged travel stories over coffee and pastries. No schedule, no big plans. Just pleasant conversations. Claire is very much into hiking and camping. I couldn't stop telling her how beautiful Patagonia is, especially El Chalten around Fitz Roy.

We made our way to Quang's for lunch (2719 Nicollet Ave.). It's a popular spot for a quick bowl of noodles in hot broth or typical Vietnamese dishes. My rule of thumb is always to order the dish with most number of peppers next to it. This time it's #511: Bun Bo Hue- Hot and spicy beef and pork hock noodles soup. It's even more delicious at $6.95. There are numerous good eateries and Asian grocery stores on Nicollete. We stopped in the Chinese store across the street from the restaurant for some fresh lychee fruits, a rare treat for this part of the world.

The afternoon was spent around St. Anthony Main, the city's historical waterfront on the Mississippi. We decided to catch the 4:40pm showing of the latest Woody Allen film, "Midnight in Paris" and had no problem filing up another hour and half worth of conversation at, Aster Cafe, a neat place next to the theater. The movie was absolutely delightful. As the protagonist is transported back to Paris in the 20s we come face to face with Picasso, Dali and literary figures such as the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. It's a movie that makes one want to go pick up a few books from the library.

Later on we strolled down the only stone arch bridge on the Mississippi River and enjoyed the view from the endless bridge on top of Guthrie Theater. On the way back the Mill City Museum lit up perfectly in sunset. I kicked myself for not bringing my camera on the trip. I've seen more magnificent sights but for now I am perfectly content.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Day in Paradise

Focusing on health and fitness has worked well for me for the last two months. I averaged 5 gym visits a week and have for the most part stayed off of carbs. I feel more progress than what's visible. It was also nice that I went to the tanning salon last month and added some color. All together, very positive and motivating.

Despite my positivism, the reality is that the only thing worse than being a human out here is being a four-legged animal, at least no one is stuffing me into a sack and finishing me off with a shot gun. That's how unwanted kittens are handled. Last time I checked animal cruelty was a crime. Apparently not in this part of the country. No one thinks twice about shooting a dog behind the head and tossing it into the river. And these are the pro-lifers. This is a dead zone in every way possible. People have nothing to do but to eat and breed, which in turn result in obesity and unplanned pregnancies. Unfortunately, people never seem to fuck enough to counterbalance the over eating so eventually people eat their ways out of fuck. If people here didn't reproduce this much there would be a higher proportion of people with compassion in the world. This is kind like that movie, Have you heard about the Morgans?, except if you were really sent here on a witness protection program you'd probably wish you were dead. Since i'm ranting already I might as well add that I can't stand people who say "oh, I love Chinese culture!" WTF, just because you've watched a couple Jet Lee movies it doesn't make you an expert on Chinese culture. A bit harsh? There are always a few days in the month when my attitude is just down right shitty. Today is one of those days.

I better have dinner and get to the gym.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Day in Grand Forks

Grand Forks Art Festival