Monday, August 29, 2011

Visa Fiasco

Got a call from the visa service agency this morning to inform me that my application has been denied! This is just what I need with a flight to Shanghai scheduled for Saturday morning and bunch of other things to take care of before then. I had no idea there was a difference between visa pages and pages for notes and comments. I only had one left on my passport and it wasn't good for the visa. So now I need to rush to get a new passport and a visa all before Friday! Lots of least $800 when it's all said and done. Of course, the number one thing right now is to get everything in time.

On the bright side, when I was a lot younger I always thought someday I'd be ready to settle down when I have at least one passport full of stamps. Life rarely turns out as planned. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Year in Isolation

Just a few days shy from my one year anniversary of moving here from Rochester. I could think of couple of other words for the title in place of "isolation" but I'm in a nice mood today so I'll just leave that to your imagination. After all the travel and excitement I've had in my early 20s this year has been rather anticlimactic. If this is what it is like to be a responsible adult I sure am glad that I spent the first half my 20s being irresponsible. Not to sing my own praises but I am one of the most adaptable, independent and strong willed person I know. One year is more than long enough for an assessment period. I've given it a fair chance and if I can't be integrated into the community or make any friends in a year there is no hope. Whatever the safety word is now is the time to call it out.

There are a few large moving pieces going on at the moment. The last couple of weeks have been extremely stressful but now I'm starting to get things under control. Thursday I walked to the gym, did squats and walked back. 6 miles easy. Last night I walked around town randomly for 3 hours. It's a great way to enjoy the crisp early fall weather and get my mind off of things.

My big trip to China is coming up in a week. I will be flying out of MSP to Shanghai next Saturday Sept. 3rd and return on Monday Sept. 19th. Sort of a long trip by American standard but still not long enough to off set the long flight. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Wedding Receptions, Two movies and Loads of Anxiety

With no computer/internet I went to one movie each night on Fright and Saturday: Crazy Stupid Love and 30 Minutes or Less. Both were enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised by the movie theater in town. There are only two screens otherwise I probably would have watched more movies.

I attended two wedding receptions on Saturday. Just something to do and an excuse to wear my new dress. I'm addicted to online shopping.

Don't we look cute in pink and purple?!

Lora and John
The happy goofy couple

Today I finally broke down, drove to the Best Buy in Grand Forks and bought a new laptop: HP Pavilion g4. It's about time to get a new one. My old computer hasn't worked for a week and it was really stressing me out. These days the computer is easily the significant other. I got a pretty good deal on sale so if this thing breaks down in couple of years I won't be too hurt.

Tomorrow we start another week. Loads of Anxiety... my back is so twisted I could barely move my head. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Minnesota Nice

All little girls growing up listening to fairy tales sooner or later comes to terms with reality. As adults we'd like to believe our thoughts and actions are independent of external influences especially in the form of Hollywood movies. That's what I thought until I moved here. Obviously I bought into the warm and fuzzy image of small town America depicted in so many movies. I couldn't have been farther from the truth. In additional to the whole small town misconception there is also the urban legend of "Minnesota Nice," which I've only heard from the Minnesotans. Today a Minnesotan was finally able to give it a proper description, "Minnesota nice is when people wave at you as they leave the office parking lot on Thanksgiving to go to their big family dinners while knowing you'll be going home by yourself." That was precisely what happened on Christmas even last year. Never have I met so many people who cared so little about others. The whole time I've been here no one has ever invited me over for a meal and I know I'm not the only outsider who feels this way. I've made the effort to invite people over a couple of time for homemade meals but the favor was barely appreciated and certainly not reciprocated.

On a separate note, I stopped in Amazing Thai in Uptown for the lunch buffet. The selection wasn't as big but everything was delicious: green chicken curry, vegetarian tofu curry, Pad Thai, fresh spring rolls, etc. Overall a great weekend in the Cities. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lunch with Claire

Beautiful Sunday in the Cities. Met up with Claire for lunch at Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. The place was packed with line extending to the outside of the door. This independent eatery with uniquely creative menu focuses on utilizing locally sourced organic and fair trade ingredients. All the wonderful things Claire is passionate about and is quickly rubbing off on me. I had the "Sweet Corn, Kale & Cheddar Waffle 11 made with bacon lardoons, egg, melon salsa, tomato basil butter & marconas." The food was absolutely delicious even though I've never been much of a waffle person. Three hours flew by once we started to talk about topics evolved around things I desperately miss for being out of middle of nowhere:  revitalization of the cities, urban development programs, non-profit organizations and corporate responsibility. This is my idea of a perfect Sunday: comfort food for the conscious and inspiring company/conversation for the soul. Claire will be moving to Madison next week to start her MBA program on Supply Chain Management. I'm thrilled for her and extremely envious at the same time. Best luck to you Claire and hope we'll meet again soon!

I stopped by Midtown Global Market after a neighborhood stroll with Claire. East Lake St. is a bit rough on the edges and some corners resembled little Mexico with signs in Spanish and colorful murals. The Global Market is situated in a large commercial building with dozens of independently owned ethnic eateries and shops. You can find everything under one roof here from Italian Ice to Halal meat to fresh sushi, hot bowl of Pho and creamy hummus. Although I didn't get any food since I just had lunch I enjoyed the visit nevertheless. Just another thing I miss from civilization.

The evening was spent dancing tango to live music at the Loring Pasta Bar, a special treat for me since I usually drive back to TRF on Sundays. The restaurant in Dinky town has a dramatic setting especially for a milonga with dinner tables pushed to the side to form a round dance floor, tall industrial ceiling with exposed steel beams, second level open balcony with additional dinner seating and dark oriental wall accents and decorations. Music from the band is fused with bustling sounds from the open kitchen and soft murmur from the diners. I danced away as the last ray of sunlight gave way to soft ambien lighting, flickering candles and the occasional flames from the kitchen. A beautiful night. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Breath of City Life

If there is such thing as predestination I'd prefer not to know it. Some people find comfort in knowing and meeting the expected societal norms, a natural progression. I like the unexpected, the possibility of something new around the corner, the potential to be anywhere in the world a year from today. After all, life is about discovery; experiencing the world and finding oneself. Living among an exclusive group of 8,410 people is an experience I wouldn't have had otherwise and hope never to repeat again. This is my eleventh time here in Minneapolis, a much needed breath of city life.

Spicy lamb at the Tea House. Finally, a good Sichuan  restaurant outside of Chicago.