Two Years.

Today marks my second year living in Minnesota. Yep, two years in the working world, living hallway across the country from my family. Two years of making new friends and adapting to city life. Two years dealing with weather extremes and its effect on my hair and skin. Two years without a car, learning bus etiquette and giving the stink eye to those who do not respect said bus etiquette. Two years that have gone both fast and slow. Two years that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Yes, I miss home. Terribly. I wish I had my family, the lack of weather and general comfort of it all. But when I decided to move to Minneapolis, and stay, it was to challenge myself and grow in my career and as a person. I didn’t know what a challenge I was in for (-40 windchills, anyone?), but every challenge thrown my way in Minnesota has helped shape by experience here into a positive one. I don’t know what the next two years hold, but I know I’m better prepared for it thanks to these last two years. Thanks, Minnesota!

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Progress

While my California family and friends are suffering through the worst drought since the 1970s, I’m over here in Minnesota wishing I could send some snow and cooler temperatures their way — it would be beneficial for both parties. The Twin Cities has had a fair amount of snow, but it’s the cold that has caused schools to close 3 times (probably a 4 as of tomorrow) already this month. When the air temp hits -20, schools close… the more you know. I’ve got so used to those temps, that I’m not as concerned as I was during the height of the polar vortex about bussing to and from work. I just need to move quickly and I probably won’t die.

Thankfully though, there have been some 20 and 30 degree days peppered in throughout the month. These few and far between “warm” days have reminded me that I need to get out and play while I can. Last week, I went to the Hockey City Classic, which is 40,000 people standing in the U of Minnesota football stadium attempting to watch a hockey game occurring in the middle of the field. This week, I went snow tubing with my roommate and her 13-year-old brother and cousin. Now that was a blast. So much speed. So much laughter.

That surface was SLICK, which means I got to go my favorite speed: fast.

That surface was SLICK, which means I got to go my favorite speed: fast.

The Minnesota Winter Bucket List is really making progress!

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I may need to stay inside some days to avoid frostbite and hypothermia, but on the relatively warm days, it’s all about getting out and playing while we can!

Revisiting the Minnesota Winter Bucket List

It’s wintertime in Minnesota, which can only mean one thing. It’s time to revisit my Minnesota Winter Bucketlist.

When I called it for the winter in April 2013, this is what the original bucket list looked like:

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My roommate, Bekah, made it a personal goal of her own last year to help me achieve these life experiences. She alone helped me accomplish all the events I was able to checkoff last winter. And this year doesn’t appear to be any different.

In fact, the bucket list has grown, thanks to Bekah. She has added several new adventures to my Minnesota Winter Bucket List, including a makeup for my not legit snowman last year (no face or twigs. decapitated within 36 hours).

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I’m happy to report that I already have plans to skate on a pond and to go to the NCAA Hockey City Classic (an outdoor hockey game held in the TCF Bank Stadium). Sadly, an ice fishing trip still eludes me. But this winter should be another one for the record books!

Today, I lived my nightmare.

When I moved to Minnesota and began to obsess over the weather, I had one situation in mind. This potential situation, or day rather, caused nightmares and hours of preparation. One day, so cold, even the natives would be scared. Windchills would be in the negative double digits. It would be touted as the coldest day Minnesota had experienced in 20 years.

That day was today.

Yep. When I woke up, it was -23 degrees out. Windchill was -48 degrees. There was ice on the INSIDE of my window in my apartment. Needless to say, I took a cab to work. The bus, more specifically walking to the bus stop, was not happening this morning.

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This is NOT okay.

Here is a list of everything I wore when I walked outside to meet the cab today: Underwear/bra, long underwear, jeans, two pairs of wool socks, sweater, sweatshirt, scarf (wrapped around my face), gloves, mittens, moon boots (yep. moon boots.), a stocking hat and my parka. Believe you me, I looked GREAT. And the long underwear stayed on ALL DAY. I switched from moon boots to Uggs when I got the office.

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Say what you will about the style, but my feet were toasty today.

Weird thing? It looked beautiful and completely non-threatening outside, when I was safely tucked inside. That kids, it what we call a false observation.

Tomorrow and the next should be pretty frigid as well. But Thursday? It’s going to be in the 20s. This weekend? In the 30s. When did my brain become so warped that I rejoice at the thought of a warmup when I saw temperatures in the 30s?

But you know what? I survived today. Take that, Polar Vortex! A California girl can survive you. Neener neener neener.

A Tale of Two Falls

Unrealized benefit of living in one state with my immediate family in another: I get to experience Fall TWICE.

Other than personal growth, getting to know myself, becoming more independent and working at a great place, I’d say the Minnesotan Fall is one of the best perks of me living in the North Star State. In fact, I never really appreciated Fall before I moved further East. Most likely because Fall in California is about one week before Thanksgiving to maybe the week before Christmas. Not a wide window. Definitely not enough time the leaves to get all beautiful-like. In the two Falls I have had in Minnesota, I’ve learned how beautiful the season can be. Crunching leaves, crisp air, hot cider, apple orchards, pumpkin spice everything, leather boots, light jackets and the list goes on. I’m basically a walking Starbucks ad come September.

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Beautiful Fall colors along the Mississippi River, mere blocks from my apartment.

So that’s my Minnesota fall. What happens when I go home to California for Thanksgiving, right around the time winter starts to gain it’s grip on Minnesota? Crunching leaves, crisp air, hot cider, apple orchards, pumpkin spice everything, leather boots, light jackets and the list goes on.  Sure, the colors aren’t as vibrant and I have to drive significantly further to get to an apple orchard, but it’s still Fall. If I’m lucky, this is still going on when I go home for Christmas, making getting the Christmas tree a very pleasurable experience.

So yes, probably the most unexpected benefit of living in the middle of the state with family on the West side is two Falls and, I must say, it’s pretty phenomenal.

Zippin’ Around Town

If you had a car to drive for the first time in over a year, and access to free gas, what would you do?

Me, I went to Costco.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for ZipCar. I’ve known about the program since college, and I don’t know why I didn’t sign up for it sooner, but I guess I finally decided I was allowed to. Yesterday, I checked out a car for the first time, and promptly headed to the suburbs for some warehouse bulk grocery shopping.

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This is where my ZipCar lives.

I picked up my ZipCar, a Ford Escape, at a parking garage across the street from me (seriously, how convenient is that?), and started getting set up. With ZipCar, you have a ZipCard, which you use to unlock the car, since the keys are attached to the car and can’t leave the vehicle. Once in, I got the mirrors adjusted and tuned in the radio, and hit the road.

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90s on 9 for the road.

My trip to Costco was actually a bit anticlimactic, since I forgot I’m only one person and don’t need to buy food in bulk, but I was able to get my new winter boots which was exciting.

The best part of the Costco trip? When I was sitting in the parking lot and discovered this:

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Sun roof for the win. Party on.

I did make it to a regular grocery store and stock up on food of reasonably packaged proportions, which was phenomenal.

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And I shall cook for days!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was living an urban lifestyle here in Minneapolis. Well, in my opinion, the biggest drawback of this urban lifestyle is the lack of vehicle and being able to drive wherever I would like. I could buy a car, but at this point, it seems like it would be a real bummer to have to pay for gas and insurance, since I’ve gotten used to not having to pay for that.

Luckily, ZipCar takes care of all that. Yep. A car when you want it AND they pay for gas. It sounds too good to be true, right? For $9.50 an hour (and $50 a year, plus a $25 application fee), you have wheels when you want them. And they have locations literally all over the world.  I’m not saying I won’t ever be a car-owner again, because I will be, but ZipCar is pretty neat.

My city.

Last Friday night, I said something aloud that caught both me and two of my friends off guard. We were innocently watching What Not to Wear on TLC, and this particular episode happened to feature a Minneapolis woman. During some b-roll, they showed some video of the Minneapolis skyline and, without thinking, I exclaimed: “Awe, my city!”

Yep. “My city.”

I immediately slapped my hand over my mouth and looked at my friends in horror. One friend, a Minnesota transplant as well, returned my horrified look. The other, born and raised in the Twin Cities metro, started laughing. I mean, I proudly share my NorCal roots. I’m tried and true Californian. I sheepishly asked no one to tell my parents or post anything to Social Media, and tried to pretend the situation never happened.

The following morning, my Minnesotan friend/roommate and I walked to breakfast downtown, and I started to recall my frightening declaration from the night before. As we navigated the streets and skyways of downtown Minneapolis, I started to become less and less bothered by the fact that I had called Minneapolis “my city.”

Minneapolis is the first true city I’ve lived in. I suppose I could claim Sacramento as “my city,” but I’ve never gone farther than telling people I grew up near Sacramento (in fact, I say, ‘near Sacramento, but not in Sacramento’). I shared these thoughts with my roommate, and she reinforced my feelings. I moved to Minneapolis and got an apartment in the city, not in one of the suburbs. I work downtown. I shop downtown. I take the bus pretty much anywhere I go solo, and cabs at least once a weekend. I’m growing up and striking out on my own here. I’m living a pretty urban lifestyle, in Minneapolis. So yes, I think it is safe to say Minneapolis is “my city.”

I’d still like to note that I didn’t call Minnesota “my state,” or Minneapolis “my home.” Those honors go to Woodland, California. But, Minneapolis will always be my first city.Image