Monday, December 28, 2009

Traditional North Dakota Christmas

According to my 2009 winter holiday itinerary, I was supposed to leave my apartment around 0600 hours Thursday morning. The promise of snow accumulations hip-deep, however, kept me North Dakota bound.

High winds and record snowfall created blizzard-like conditions throughout the state, closing Interstate 94 in North Dakota and Interstate 29 from Canada to Iowa.

No matter, the Cowboy said. You'll spend Christmas with me.

He failed to mention that by "Christmas" he really meant the day prior and three days following.

Cowboy has a large family. And by that I mean moms, dads, grandmothers, stepparents and stepgrandparents. To him, the seasons aren't properly greeted without overindulging in turkey and glittered cookies at the residence of each relative.

So Christmas Eve began at his grandmother's house where I mopped floors, wrapped gifts and stirred fudge. We didn't stay long, anticipating an evening with his mother before heading back to the farm of his grandmother the morning after. Although I've failed many a theology test (does that mean I failed God?) I've never been this wrong: Cowboy and I were stuck and his mother and stepfather's house for FOUR days.

Lucky for me, they like playing cards. And sipping alcohol.

So here is my Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza gift. If you plan to spend a winter holiday in the Northern Plains, here are things you must do:

* Learn pinochle. Where I come from, pinochle is like Cadillacs, crochet and dentures: reserved for those  who age exceeds their weight. The card game, however, grows on you once the white wine festers inside you.

* Learn other games too. Sequence, Scrabble and euchre were played by the window with care, but not Life, as we didn't have one.

* The best part of waking up is Bailey's in your Foldger's cup.

* As opposed to my holiday tradition of "White Christmas," "It's a Wonderful Life" or the latest movie release, North Dakotans entertain themselves gazing out the window and into the snowy somewhere. There, they'll see their neighbors and comment on the size of his pick up, state of his affairs (extramarital, financial, etc.) and who is most in need this holiday.

* Do not mistake the phrase "let's make grands" as meaning "let's make grandchildren" as that is just uncomfortable and not for the faint of heart.

Here's hoping your holiday was as merry as mine,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cruel and unusual punishment: deer hunters beware

As you can see from my previous posts here and here, hunting season in North Dakota is a voluptuous woman dressed in tube tops and mini skirts. She steals the attention of all the boys and even some tom-boyish, get dirty kind of girls. That bitch.

So it only seems natural to punish law-breakers with penalties sure to discourage such criminal acts again and also punishments in which the state doesn't have to pay for. Unlike incarceration, fines, fees and community service provide the wallop of discipline without the expense to the state.

They're pretty strict up here...  it's almost as bad as Guantanamo Bay or Chinese water torture. In the Upper Plains, they take away the major prize, the deer-hunting trophy, if you will, all at minimal expense to the taxpayer. However, the devastation to the offender just might land him or her in the care of mental health professionals.

In North Dakota, if you use a fake ID to shoot deer, the law not only fines and fees ya, but it forces you to forfeit two sets of antlers too.

And no wrongdoing is worth that.

In other news: wearing a hoodless sweatshirt with the face of a deer on it, is, apparently, no crime. Now where's the justice in that?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving: only baking a cake to jump out of and not eat would make it better. Part I

I buckled my seat belt in anticipation of the road trip ahead. Both a smile and a worried eyebrow decorated my face like a Christmas tree with blue lights: pretty until your eyes squint and brain spasms.  The trip I'd planned included seven hours in a two-door car neither of us owned, on a path we n'er had traveled. Scratch that. The seat belt wasn't enough. So I wore a hockey mask and football pads as well.

It was the eve of Thanksgiving Eve. For the trip, I'd packed what seemed like my entire apartment into a a Diadora soccer bag and headed west.

West: where the North Dakota plains become hills, although you still can't tell the tallest from the shortest.

High on four hours of sleep and amped on weeks of lying to my parents, I didn't notice when Cowboy missed the turn for the interstate... within my city of residence.

Me: Colorado is that-a way... me thinks.
CB: Right. Gotcha. Thanks.

False starts, dark skies, house projects, blog writing and Christmas decorating weren't enough to keep us in North Dakota for the holidays. For Thanksgiving this year, I headed home. And I brought the Cowboy with me.

Freshly shaved and sporting a new haircut, the trip was one the Cowboy wasn't sure he'd make. But when he finally accepted the idea, he studied up on ESPN, namely, Notre Dame football, just so her could partake in man-conversation. Some girls need poetry, some girls need jewelry, but me, all I need is a Saturday in South Bend. Swoon.

Cowboy'd met the fam before. Perhaps you remember July... when my mom was all like, so what sort of genes are you passing to my grandchildren, how much money do you make and PS you'll be needing to run all your house plans by me. Then my dad, who likes to ask strangers how they smoke their crack, was all like, silent. And it wasn't even football season. 

One of the best things about living so far from your family is you can tell everyone your everythings, and your parents never find out. Like, that one time I spent a night in jail. Mom still doesn't know (maybe I'm kidding about that?)

All the co-workers (and by all, I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. in my office of 50), law enforcement officers, county employees, neighbors, gas station attendants... They ALL knew the time of my departure, the route I was taking and what I'd packed for snacks. Oh mah god, they'd say, you're mom is going to be soooo excited. She might even cry. I hope so.

Ever since I wore diapers, I wanted to recreate the Folger's commercial. You know, the one when Peter surprises his fam and awakes them with the slow-roasted brew.

If this commercial doesn't make you tear, then you probably kill kitties and eat babies too.                      If so, GET OFF MY BLOG.

The only problem was, my mom had the day off, a detail not accounted for in my hour-by-hour, turn-by-turn Google map. She's a teacher so she never works. :) the day before Thanksgiving is a holiday.

So when my brother acted weird (i.e. cleaned his bathroom, vacuumed the carpet, planned a shopping excursion complete with lunch date) she knew something was up.

But that didn't keep her from doing her hair, a process that takes 45 minutes on a good day and an hour in a half when "White Christmas" is on.

In anticipation of our arrival, I awoke at 6 a.m. Wednesday in our hotel room in South Dakota.

The journey from Jamestown, where I live, to Colorado, where the fam lives, is about 800 miles or 12 hours. Since we left Tuesday after work, we decided to split the departure into two days.

For me, 6 a.m. is more likely reserved for coming home from the bars, rather than waking and beginning one's morning, but on days like Wednesday, time didn't matter.

Until I waited for mom's hair to dry.

See, my mom is the kind of lady who vacuums the oven on Christmas morning. If Jesus is coming, the windows must be washed, the ceiling spackled and all dust mites accounted for. And that's just for Jesus. It gets worse for her daughter's boyfriends.

So if Cowboy came over and her hair was in pins and curlers, she'd beat me with the flat iron refuse me the peanut butter balls she bakes ONLY at Christmas. And that punishment, I can not bear.

By 1:30, we'd arrived in Loveland, a mere five minutes from the Ryan abode. Don't come home yet, my brother said via text message, she just got out of the shower.


So we gassed up the car, bought a wash and didn't eat all the snacks I'd packed so as not to spoil the lunch I promised my brother I'd share with them.

By 2 p.m., the mom still wasn't ready, so we drove to the nearest bar for Bloody Ceasers -- a drink customary in the northern regions. It's made with clam juice. And tastes like salad dressing with too much pepper. Dislike.

At 2:30, she still wasn't ready but I WAS so we drove over anyway.

I get antsy in my pantsy for surprises and always ruin them. I think I was born with the defect. Like, when I was four, my dad took me shopping and when we got home I said MOM! I'm not going to tell you we got you a GREEN COAT for Christmas.

So when Cowboy and I parked the G6, I could barely hold my pee I was so excited to knock on the door. So instead of knocking, I rang the doorbell. Over and Over and Over I rang the doorbell. When she still didn't answer, I just walked in, to the house I've never lived, and asked where she kept her cafe verona.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The writers of 'Let it Snow' must have been high, or from Texas

The sky is falling in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, etc. (meaning they got two inches of snow... boo hoo), but that's just a fall day for us up here.

I feel compelled to tell you that I broke out the big guns yesterday.

Current temperature: 4 below.

I wore a coat that adds 37 inches to my waist line. The coat is so obese, it makes me look like a portabella mushroom, wide body, short legs. Wearing that beast means I need a seat-belt extender, just to ride in my car.

I've also taken to wearing two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks and two, if not three, pairs of gloves. I also wear an ear-band on top of my flat-ironed hair and beneath the hood of the sweatshirt and I sport over my work clothes. On really cold days, I wear the coat's hood as well. Think of me as a mushroom with a pointy center.

Getting dressed for the outdoors takes so long, I need half an hour just to take the garbage out.

Despite the wind, snow and 42 pounds of winter-coat insulation, winter will not get the best of me. Sure, my green coat may resemble the mold of edible fungi, but at least I have a fashionable scarf to wear with it. Note: the scarf is buried beneath the rolling tundra of faux fur, but knowing it's there gives me warmth no parka can muster.

Although the weather has convinced me to forgo my vanity and feign a 50-pound weight gain, I will not be broken. On some matters of wardrobe, I will not negotiate. I will look good no matter what the temperature. I will defy the snow, the ice and the broken ankles.

No matter what the weather man says, I will wear pointy-toe boots with heels. And Mother Nature can not stop me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Boxers? Nope. This one is briefs.

I've got a long (see: length of House Bill 3200) update on the way. I promise. But in the meantime, allow me to update you in brief.

* Cowboy and I drove 788 miles in a borrowed car to visit my family for Thanksgiving.

  • Said family wasn't expecting us.
  • I should have majored in lying... oh wait I studied PR. 
* While visiting, Cowboy flashed his house plans like a pedophile on the playground. 
  • My 23-year-old brother questioned why a person would chop trees to cook food in an oven kept in the living room. A conversation regarding wood-burning stoves and their heating capabilities ensued.  
  • Framing for Cowboy's house begins this weekend. If you have a hammer, you're invited. Double points if yours is pink (like mine).
  • I was a little embarrassed by my brother's city-dom until...
* We ran out of fuel 40 miles from home and couldn't fill up because it was after 6 on a Sunday. Even on one of the biggest travel days of the year, small town gas stations in North Dakota CLOSE. Cowboy said we could call Triple A. I disagreed. Now, Cowboy's left ear is slightly longer than his right. I'm going to blame it on his bling, despite his un-pierced ear. 

* Cowboy asked if our roadside badger-sighting "blew my mind." Yes. Much like my reaction to Einstein's theory of relativity, Beethoven's fifth and Pluto's dis-planet-ness, so blown is my brain right now. Kind of like yours, if you could just hand me your deer rifle, please.

* For the winter holidays, Cowboy said he'd prefer a makeover to traditional gifts like hammer saws and bathroom slippers. I'm starting with his wardrobe. Next time you see him, he'll be wearing a paddy cap and argyle sweater vest. 

* We played Nintendo 64 like it was 1996 again. I got so aggressive, I "rammed the shit" out of Princess Peach's face. 

Oh yeah. Don't miss that one. 

PS: Here's a shout out to the person/people in Tanzania who read my blog for 64 minutes yesterday. Jambo to you :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas shopping: What to buy someone you hate

Dear mom,

If you are shopping this Black Friday, please resist the urge to buy this.

Although its star-studded frames are charming and rustic, I'd prefer frames like this:

Happy holidays,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I am woman, hear my rectum

So, something happened the other night as I slumbered at Cowboy's grandmother's (his GRANDMOTHER’S! PG thoughts, please). 

And just as a forewarning, I wasn’t going to post this... but I feel its my obligation, nay, responsibility as a woman and a blogger to let these issues air. Women have come a long way since the days of corsets, voting rights and emergence into the workplace. But the lives of men and women are not equal. No, no, no. Not until we can pee standing up, will we achieve equal pay and equal stature. It’s all about the bowels.  

Anyways, Cowboy wakes every morning at 5. And at 5:08, 5:15, 5:23 and 5:30. 

In the midst of the 5:15 to 5:23 slumber, at his grandmother’s house, mind you, I did one of the most terribly awful, no good, downright disgusting things a girlfriend can do. This was worse than stealing all his ex's e-mails and sending viruses to make their iTunes play MMMBop over and over. And much more horrifying.  

I farted.

Not even kidding. Air attack, anal acoustics, after dinner mint-- whatever you want to call it. I did it. Seriously, I'm not even sure why he hasn't dumped me yet.

It wasn’t the silent kind or the one you can pass off on the dog or the house settling or something. It was a rip resembling a ketchup bottle almost empty.

Kind, sweet Cowboy said nothing and feigned sleep. 

I'm in the clear, I thought, unmoving, pretending to snooze and promising to yodel for Jesus if only to keep the smell away.

Cowboy didn’t say anything that morning. He went to work and I too did my... business. 

But Cowboy's generosity lasted only until evening when he met me for burgers and quizzed me on the after-effects of our shrimp dinner the night before.

"I've been gassy all day," he said. "Did you feel that way too?"

That’s the thing about boys. They can totally toot and the world applauds. But should a lady break wind, you might as well give her facial hair and remove her uterus. She is no longer female.  

"NO," I said, a little too eagerly. "But maybe that's because I ate a handful whereas you consumed ohh... the entire Pacific Ocean."

"Maybe," he said.

So later, just as our food arrived and our starving bodies could re-nourish, Cowboy blows the gasket.  

“So last night, I don’t know if you remember, but I think I heard you...”

Horrified and no longer hungry, I blamed the cat. I blamed the bed spring. I even blamed a drive-by shooting. But since his grandmother lives near nothing, he knew it wasn't true. 

"You don't have to make a stink about it," he said. "I thought this was proof of our comfort with each other. Why are you so embarrassed?"

"You couldn't be a gentleman and not mention it?" I asked. "I would never do that to you. I would NEVER-EVER-NOT-IN-A-MILLION-YEARS-HERE,-AT-HOME-OR-IN-MY-BLOG tell anyone something like that. I don’t even SAY the word ‘fart.’ Musical butts belong unspoken."

"Sorry..." he said.

I shouldn't blame him. Where he comes from, parents teach their children to pull fingers and belch the ABCs. 

Many people may blush or say "excuse me." But at the sound of oral and anal emissions, one local 2-year-old instead says "beeeep." Which is funny and cute until men in their 30s fart out loud ON PURPOSE just to hear the child’s response. 

I'm pretty sure the only other human to hear such a babel from my backside is my brother. And since we’re getting all share-y here, I should probably tell you that back then, I did it on purpose, and... on his head. Sorry brother.

I only find the audacity to write this from and her recent post:

And from my mom, who said her coworkers had a conversation about colon calamities and how they were such a faux pas. Well, ladies, it’s time to be silent no longer. We will pass gas and men will hear it.  

So I tooted. And then I blogged about it. It’s like my generation’s way of burning bras. 

So dear readers, it’s time to air it out, shoot the shit, make cheese. Are women still feminine if they fart? What if they just TALK about farting? Do you pass gas in front of your man or does your lovely lady launch a wiffer in front of you? And if so, is it cute, gross, sexy? What do you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blood, guts and Bambi

Guts, gore and innocent blood on his hands.

One shot. And he was dead. A carcass, warm and alone in an empty field.

That's what I witnessed Friday night.

My boyfriend: The Horror Movie

Here I am, La-De-Daa, my boyfriend's great. I call him Cowboy and he helps flooded people. Isn't he swell? Wowie, he sure is cute in that Ace Ventura costume. The world is all unicorns and butterflies and rainbows shooting out of asses.

Gee, do you think Katie might (gasp) be in love?


The other night, Cowboy's dad, Cowboy Sr., shot himself a "five-by-five somma bitch" a.k.a. a boy deer with five points on each antler.

With knife in hand, Cowboy braced himself before the buck's testicles, screamed yee haw, and suddenly skin, head and gizzards were flying wayward across the prairie.

What did I get myself into?

Picture this: I drive to the middle of nowhere and before I even exit the vehicle, Cowboy launches a vest at me.

Cowboy: Put this on.
Me: What? Why? Orange isn't exactly my color...
CB: This is the country, Kate, we don't take chances around here.
Me: But I'm in a driveway, with a horse pasture. Is it even legal to shoot here?
CB: Kinda hard to argue that when you're dead.

Deer gun season opened Friday. In the country, or even semi-cities like Jamestown, schools cancel class and hold parties and beer sales in its honor. Like I said in the blog before, it's like Halloween, but the only appropriate costumes are that of Irish Protestant and Yellowstone National Forest.

This is how it started:

Boom. Smash. Pow.

CB: Here that? Someone's shooting out yonder.
Me: Neat. Can we pet the horsies now?

Suddenly the phone rang and we hopped in the pickup and headed to the even middler of nowhere, to fetch the fallen fawn. Except it wasn't a fawn. The alliteration just worked better. Get over it. 

Anyways, Cowboy and Cowboy Jr. loaded the carcass into the pickup just to unload it again into the gutting pile. Yep. It has a name. The gutting pile.

Wanna help us hold his legs, Kate? Cowboy called.

You've got to be kidding me.

After they'd excavated all the intestines, heart (which Cowboy assured me he'd fry) and liver, the boys REPACKED poor Bambi and took him to the butcher shop.

(If you want pictures of that, I'll send them to you. I don't mind writing words like "testicle" and "ass" but I'm afraid skinless deer might offend some readers. That and if you really want to see bloody Bambi picture, you're a perv, and I don't really want you reading this blog anyway.)

At the butcher shop, the Cowboys hung Bambi BY HIS HIND LEGS and skinned him like I did to the cat in biology class. Except I didn't skin it. My partner did and I just took notes.

I stood outside the butcher shop doorway, taking pictures because I knew I'd need evidence. The FBI readers would SURELY need proof of this one.

You can come inside, Cowboy Sr. said. There's enough room here.

Thank you, but I prefer to remain far away for fear the dead deer's soul will haunt me.

"There's nothing impure we're doing here," Cowboy said, his hands the color of MacBeth. "Where do you think you're meat comes from?"

Uhhh... the grocery store... duh.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shooting spree hits North Dakota!

Do you have school today? I thought so. Throughout North Dakota, most districts don't.

Despite popular belief, no. It isn't winter yet. School was not canceled due to weather. Actually, it's a temperature many North Dakota's consider too hot.

With the exception of my Northern neighbors, no one calls calls 60 degrees "too hot." In fact, 60 is the IDEAL temperature for all things softball, basketball, football and golf. Swimmers may balk at its sweat-shirt requiring nature-- but they're indoor people anyway.

The first Friday in November is a holiday by state standards-- one like Halloween where to trick or treat, one must act the part. Costumes are limited for this celebration, however, as participants may only dress as pumpkins, construction cones or an overgrown thorn bush.

Liquor stores stock up on beer, bars add more employees and accidents occur inside the gas station as all the patrons are in camouflage and therefore, blend together.

Today, is a day of bonding for many families. Today, there is no vehicle but a pickup and Today, 14-year-olds may handle firearms.

Happy Deer Gun Season Day.

To see the effects of deer gun season on local businesses, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hollow weenie

I haven't written in a while. I'm sorry. It won't change. Not until December anyway.

I'm working on a novel... 50,000 words written in haste. My only goal is to have a beginning, a middle an end and some conflict and resolution in between. More on that some other time.

To make up for my lack of posting, I'll share some Halloween photos for your judging pleasure. I haven't even facebooked these yet, so congratulations! You get the first look.

For Halloween, I tried to be the scariest thing I could think of: a cowgirl. Some co-workers say there's no way my outfit would pass for a cowgirl, but rather, it's the outfit of a farmgirl. Uggh. What's the dif?

Me as a cow/farmgirl minus the shoes. I bought Cowboy boots for the occasion. Cowboy suggested I wear them on days that aren't Halloween. 
I told him they'd be better thrown at his face than worn on my feet. 

And Cowboy? He's Ace Ventura. Because he balked at the frat boy of my suggesting.

Alrighty then.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

You know you're NOT from a small town when...

a deer in the road scares you into rolling up the windows and locking the doors. And... the fact that there's a deer in the road.

Friday, October 30, 2009

No, I was not drunk when I wrote this so you can imagine what it would sound like if I was. PS: this title's pretty long. That must REALLY annoy you.

SO yesterday the meteorologist said: 8-12 inches bitches. Except that he didn't really say "bitches." He just inferred it when he cackled after every news update.

Anyways, the whole town panicked and filled their gas tanks, bought bottled water, dug out mittens and scarves OhWaitThisIsNorthDakotaWeDidThatTwoMonthsAgo.YesAugust, updated their living wills, etc.

And then...


We got like A snowflake and it totally melted on impact.

It did rain a lot though. Like, had I left a bucket outside (which would require foresight and frankly, I don't have any... why would I be here for a THIRD winter if I did?) but had I left a bucket outside, I could have saved myself the 50 cents it costs to take a shower in the morning. I'da just taken the bucket, dumped it on my head and called it good.

There's a lot you can do with 50 cents, so don't knock it.

Aside from the obvious gum balls or handful of Mike N' Ike's circa 1985, you can also use 50 cent to start your rapping career. Pretty soon you have a criminal record, eight gun shot wounds and sing about fat kids loving cake. All that from 50 cents.

So suck one, haters.

But anyways, in some cities, bathing in rain is probably dirtier than no shower at all, but that's only because they have acid and smog and pollution. North Dakotans aren't necessarily any Earth friendlier than other states, but we Northerners just have a lot of fresh air. The only contaminate here is the breeze from our bowels. And methane. But then experts said methane could power the world one day. So that means the rain totally isn't dirty. And therefore clean. AND energy-efficient. We deserve a medal or a clock or something. Upon receiving it, we'd have to freshen up a little, the governor would probably appreciate it, but that's no problem because we'd have our shower buckets at the ready.

But now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure my landlord pays my water bill anyways. So showering costs me nothing. Amazing. All the money I spent on beer PG movies when I could have just played rubber ducks in the shower every Saturday night... landlord really should have mentioned something about that in my contract. I blame the meteorologists. Where were they with the bucket-idea in the first place? Now I'll have to move. But not before shaving my legs.

Uffda! Where's my loofa?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You know you're NOT from a small town when...

* the waitress at the town bar asks for ID.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Take you for a ride on my big red tractor

Thoughts of tall buildings, parking meters and sidewalks filled my head as I watched country boys lift 50-pound rolls of soppy sod from a factory-line belt to a pallet with broken limbs.

See, yesterday, I drove a tractor.

* Impatient for articles like "a, an" and "the" North Dakotas skip them entirely. "I fixed fence" "I drive truck (for a living)" "She's taking interstate." Ok fine. But I just live here, I'm not from here. So for me, "a, an" and "the" all stay. I am from the Midwest, however, so I'll still end my sentences with prepositional phrases when I want to.

But back to the story...

I drove a tractor... it was red with a radio and a heater and windshield wipers (I had no idea farmers were so happenin' p.s.).... and didn't run over any small children. Just the adolescent ones. But they're annoying and smelly and belong before video games anyway.

The assignment: harvest sod
The task: hum the melody to Kenny Chesney's "She thinks my tractor's sexy" while Cowboy steers and compacts the sod seedlings beneath us.

Attached to the tractor was what probably has a perfectly appropriate and agricultural term. Since I'd prefer to deny that I participated in such a country act, we'll stick to a vocabulary I've nearly mastered: the words of the culinary world.

Cowboy took me for a ride in a big red tractor. Behind him, the tractor pulled a 500-pound rolling pin.

The goal: smoosh grass and ground together so another tractor can chop it like Christmas cookies the shape of granola bars. After the sod is cut and sent through the factory-like line, it shapes itself into a jelly roll. Then, another country boy packs the sod on a pallet, against each other left and right and top to bottom. A third country boy then secures the two dozen Hostess ho-hos with a roll of saran wrap so sticky it puts marshmallows out of work.

The morning began with Cowboy behind the tractor's wheel and me riding shotgun. But I soon grew tired of a game I like to call, arm-rest-in-butt-crack, so Cowboy offered a switch.

I don't know if that's a good idea, I said.

Why not? he inquired like Dennis the Menace or one of The Little Rascals. What could POSSIBLY go wrong with this scenario??

Soon he was showing me how to brake with two pedals and switch to third gear. Seriously, where's the cruise control? I asked.

It doesn't have one. Now stop and let me out, I want to stretch my back, he said.

Hells to the naw, I said, remembering the story of my dad's first driving test and how the instructor knew he was a farm boy because he could drive in straight lines. Had I been tested under similar circumstances, I would fail, EVEN TODAY.

I'm not ready yet, I said.

You'll be fine, Cowboy said. Like operating a machine with tires larger than the average adult female is big deal, he seemed to shrug.  A 69-year-old with special needs usually handles this, Cowboy said. If he can do it, so can you.

You don't understand, I said. When it comes to seeds, dirt and growing seasons, I'M developmentally disabled, I cried.

Seriously. Stop the tractor, he said. My back hurts.

I DON'T KNOW HOW, I wailed.

All you gotta do is ClutchBrakesNeutralOffclutchNeutralParkingbrake and... PRESTO! he said. Understand?

Sure. Whatever. Get out. You're going to feel bad when I run this thing right over your face.

What was that?

Nothing. Carry on, I said. Already switching the radio station and belting Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova."

"He's a good time, Cowboy Casanova
Leaning up against the record machine
He looks like a cool drink of water
but he's candy-coated misery"

Soon, country boys from the middle of all sorts of nowheres pointed their fingers and clutched their bellies. A city girl drives tractor. Puh. But I didn't mind. I just gave them the one-finger wave and carried on.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

snow and tell

Don't worry. It doesn't look like this anymore. But it did when I left for Denver six days ago. Yikes, was that a scary drive.

Prior to my life in North Dakota, the first snow was always a happy occasion. First snow meant it was time to think about winter break, cardigan sweaters and white lights that twinkled. Children wrote wish lists for Santa and adults baked with gingerbread and cookie cutters. Finally, you could break out Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you" and people's faces would turn from "the eff, Katie?" to "the hell, Katie?"

Three years ago, four to five inches of snow meant you had school, because crews could plow, push and melt that before the 8 a.m. bell.

Here, its an event of disastrous proportions: like, leave work early or you WILL NOT make it home. FOUR TO FIVE INCHES.

My snow anger melted, however, when I saw the green trees and their snow-covered branches. I don't care how Grinch-y you are, those saplings sure are purdy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Going through the big D

I'm going through the Big D and don't mean Dallas. That's because I mean Denver.

To get there, I must travel through Jamestown, where a dozen tree branches fell from heavy snow and caused power outages throughout the region; Valley City, where the buses are running two hours late; and Fargo, where streets have actual traffic and I'm not sure I remember how to drive like that, especially in winter.

This vacation is due.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

first snow

I'm not looking forward to snow this year. In fact, I still have nightmares about last winter... since it ended in May and all.

But Mother Nature, let's make a deal: If you stick to light dustings through March, I promise I won't complain. And I'll buy you that personalized Budweiser mug you always wanted.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winter wear with a side of ugly, please.

"Sometimes you have to give up a little style to stay warm," Cowboy said to me, hammer in hand and tool belt around his waist.

I shook my head.

"I don't believe in that," I said, remembering the days of hiking two-foot snow drifts in two-inch heels.

"What about ear muffs?" I said, rummaging the closets of Cowboy's grandmother, preparing for an evening of garage wiring and light installing.

I'd offered to help install lights and wires yesterday in a senior citizen's two-stall garage. I assist because it gives me an excuse not to do laundry. And so I can show off the blisters on my middle fingers.

The garage was built for Cowboy's grandmother this summer to shelter her freezer and a teal-blue mini-van. But she can't. Not until the place has power. Naturally, Cowboy, an electrician by trade, waited until the evening of the area's first hard freeze to install it. He'll tell you his excuse is the flood and the sandbagging and losing his house and all. Hogwash. I blame Fantasy Football.

But I digress...

"I might have a stocking cap you can wear..." he offered.

My face contorted with the thought of static-y helmet hair. "Maybe I'll just do without."

Sure. I could've worn winter wear of my own. I'd arrived sporting black mittens and a green pea coat Grandma D deemed "Sooo cute. Does he tell you how you look in that? So cute!" 

So while the coat of evergreen is probably replaceable, no garage-wiring project is worth the risk of its demise.

"Here," Cowboy said, wrapping me in a men's size XL letter jacket with hood made of sweatshirt material. "You can cover your ears with this."

I pulled the hoodie over my deliberately-messy ponytail and checked myself in the mirror. This isn't too bad, I thought. I've looked worse.

"Wait," he said, tying the hoodie's shoestrings in a bow. "Protect your ears."

"Nooooo!" I cried as if he'd dropped an antique tea cup my Irish ancestors brought with on the boat to America. "That's ugly."

"We gotta prepare you for the weather up here," he said, leading me outside and promising to protect me from woodchucks, badgers and feral cats.

"Listen," I said, pointing my finger and pausing for effect. "This is winter No. 3. I don't need you. I've prepared myself."

"Ok, but these temperatures can kill you," he said, daring to question the abominable Katie the Lady.

"I survived last year. I can do it again," I said, pumping my fist and showing off the sculpt of my guns.

"Right," he said, rolling his eyes. "You'll be the hottest dead chick in town."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why wearing boxers to the grocery store is almost worse than showing up naked

Creighton University, Tilt-shift time-lapse from ArtsyFartsyTim on Vimeo.

It's a little early, but soon, Creighton University will gear up for its annual Christmas at Creighton ritual. The ritual itself was only important because of the hot chocolate and cold-weather camaraderie. Chances are, students walked to the whirly-gig water fountain with a friend, but ran into people unseen since freshmen year in Gallagher Hall.

Together the students caught up, reminisced and complimented each other's cozy winter wear. Oh yeah, and the t-shirts. Everyone bought a t-shirt. A campus event was nothing without a cleverly designed and ill-fitting short-sleeve crew neck tee.

After the Christmas at Creighton event itself, the campus glowed with white lights in the leaf-less and evergreen trees. Except for the token Bluejay tree. That one twinkled the same color as the blue trim on the V.J. and Angela Skutt Student Center.

The lights stayed on. All day. All night. The lights made it so the 4 a.m. walks home from the Creightonian newsroom didn't feel so cold anymore.

Those are my memories of school.

Walking to an event like Christmas at Creighton with one friend and running into people you hadn't seen or spoken to in three years. Good memories.

But memories that are so unlike those of country people.

Unless someone is no longer living, country people don't go three years without speaking. They barely go three days without speaking. And their friends, they didn't meet each other freshmen year. They didn't sit behind you in that one philosophy class that one semester either.

They sat behind each other in every class of every year until someone moved or graduated high school.

So they know their classmates, classmates' siblings, parents, grandparents and cousins twice removed. And they know that Classmate A's mom is now divorced and dating the dad of Classmate B. And how Classmate C had an affair with the uncle of Classmate D. And how Classmate A's mom and Classmate D's uncle are brother and sister.

The connections are like a North Dakota winter: it feels OK at first but Jesus is it over yet? No... it lasts forever.

Sometimes it's nice to be anonymous.

Rarely do I want to dress appropriately for an outing to the grocery store. Pajama pants do the job just fine.

But should I even consider such a repulsive thought, my boss shows up along with the superintendent of schools, police chief and all five members of the Stutsman County Commission.

I have about the worst of both worlds. I know enough people to be recognized, but I still don't know the mayor well enough to be comfortable conversing with her while wearing the rubber-duck print on the boxers I'd just slept in. And since it's Jamestown, the mayor would likely recognize me and call me by name. Pretty much.

But when I go anywhere with Cowboy, be that on my home-turf of Jamestown of his home-turf of all areas south, he knows everyone. Every. Single. Time. It's like that. Bar, movie, grocery store, farm auction...

"I hate going to Wal-Mart," Cowboy said to a table of five the night he planned a dinner for two. "Even if I only want milk, it takes me an hour and a half because I know everybody."

It takes me a hour and a half too. But that's because I walked by an eyelash curler I had to have.

In a small town, everybody's pretty much a big deal. Everyone's famous. Or infamous. You can't make a mistake one decade and expect people to forget it by the next.

I guess that makes for more honest and loyal neighbors. And maybe makes people dress better too. Just kidding. Dressing up in this town means wearing black jeans instead of blue ones.

So I guess I have to adjust.

I just don't know how I'm going to tell those rubber duckies that they aren't allowed in public anymore...

Bravo to ArtsyFartyTim for the Creighton time-lapse video.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

man bag

Me: That's a cute looking purse you got there.
Cowboy: That's not a purse. That's my coyote-hunting sachel.

You decide.

Friday, October 2, 2009

the Wal-Marts

While shopping for a few items at the Wal-Marts, I jutted through the apparel section, the quickest route from point A (skin care products) to point B (cereal).

I don't want to get into the morality of Wal-Mart. You won't find those opinions here. But I do have one problem with the chain, and that's its speed of service. Why is it that when I walk into the Wal-Marts needing milk and toilet paper, I inevitably leave with ketchup, mustard, Christmas cards and the newest Miley Cyrus DVD? It took me a hour and now I have to wash my bum with newspaper.


Mid-jut, I passed a middle-aged man with gray hair and a beard. The man was rummaging through a stack of Wranglers and speaking like a sailor drinking an ocean of whiskey.

"I can't never find jeans that fit," he said, seeking condolences from the nearest living soul, be that a young lady or a talking Halloween decoration.

Nevertheless, I sympathized. I grew up in department store dressing rooms.

My jeans were always too long in the leg, too narrow in the thigh or too wide in the waist. So I tried every pair. Every pair of Levi's, Bongo and Mudd. Every Saturday. Until I memorized the markings on the wall and knew all the Kohl's associates by name.

"I know how you feel," I said, apologetically and pausing for a smile.

"Yeah," he said. "And they're never tight enough. These kids with their..."

I'm not sure what he said after that. I was too busy running.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does the boogie man haunt children in winter?

If last winter was a pacifier, it'd be in-side-out by now. That's how bad it sucked.

And I have to tell you. I'm not into it. At all.

Thinking about frigid temperatures, frostbitten fingers and cars un-starting makes me want to poop my pants if only to make my mom hold me. If you thought a firey hell was scary, try freezing it.

Last winter was an anomaly even by North Dakota standards. It was like Mother Nature overheard a "Yo Mama" joke and took it personally. Soon, she was pulling the winter equivalents of driving with a baby in the front seat, losing custody of her kids, shaving her head and dating a guy named Adnan Ghalib. And then she tried to convince me that Joe was the cutest Jonas Brother. Oh hell no.

Mommy's wack.

Last year should be a one time deal, but no one guarantees it won't happen again. And I don't think I can handle another seven-month winter. Not without gaining another 12 pounds. But I shouldn't complain. I'll lose it again... if not from my waist than from all the fingers I freeze off.

You think I'm kidding? Let's recap:

* My vehicle needed a new battery last winter-- no less than 10 months since I'd replaced it the time before.
* I used emergency roadside assistance so many times, my car insurance dropped me.
* More than once, I hiked through a driveway chest-deep snow, just to get to my apartment.
* I spent an hour digging my car out of its snowy coffin at the Fargo airport. With a shovel I packed. In my suitcase.

So you can understand my child-like fear and why I sleep with the lights on and a thumb in my mouth. If the winter of 08/09 was Freddie Krueger, than 09/10 promises scary of "I Still Know What you Did Last Summer" proportions.

Don't let your kids read these blog posts anymore. I don't want to be responsible for their nightmares.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

below freezing

Good morning.

The thermometer reads 30 degrees. Please send thermal earmuffs, wood-burning stoves and probably a furnace or two.

Winter cometh.

And if you're my mom, please send peanut butter balls too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

falling in love

with FALL, ya freak-os...

The weather around here is starting to smell of burnt leaves and apple cider. It makes me wish I had a kid, if only to take it to Vala's Pumkin Patch.

In the fall, patios should came standard with basement apartments.

As a child, when the autumn leaves fell, so did the dollar signs in my parents' checking account. The spending was legit: school tuition, new tennis shoes and the St. Stephen the Martyr craft show.

Pictures like this make me fear the snow, the grey, the death.

But pictures like these tell me the world will blossom again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

country vs. city attire part II

I never thought t-shirts tucked in vs. tucked out was ever that big o' deal. Who cares, really?

That's because I hail from a land of Catholic schools where administrators removed a student's right to chose what clothing to wear and how to wear it, all in the name of Jesus loves you, but not if your skirt is too short.

Teachers used to give students demerits for unruly acts like untucked attire. The schools enforced it, but many a student with 10 t-shirt violations sat in Saturday school, awaiting the bell wringeth. That's how much they protested the shirt-in rules. Maybe that's why city people refuse, the untucked tails are our everlasting rebellion.

Of all the choices I get to make, though, skim milk or 2%? Black eyeliner or brown? whiskey or beer? ... whether to tuck my shirt in seemed pretty insignificant.

That was, until I moved north.

Here, tucked-in tops are so popular, some stuff sweatshirts into their shorts.

For Cowboy and I, this is a battle we've had before.

I, still of city mind, try to encourage variety. Untucked can be flattering, I try to persuade.

To him, untucked is too frat boy.

To which I say, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Apparently, some wars never end. See part I here.

Me: See, look at me. My shirt isn't untucked. It isn't the end of the world.
Cowboy: City people never tuck in their shirt. They never do, I don't know why.
Me: Well, cuz we're cooler than you. That's why.
CB: Not really. If I didn't tuck in my shirt, the girls wouldn't be able to check out my butt.
Me: Which girls are checking out your butt?
CB: All of them.
Me: All of them who?
CB: (pause) The jealous ones.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

driving to the east

For many people, a 5 a.m. wake-up call isn't too far from ordinary. Maybe they wake at 6 or 7, so while early, 5 a.m. isn't a huge stretch.

As someone who works as many nights as I work days, I'm more likely to bed at 5 a.m., than to wake at said hour.

So to be awake, alert and driving by 6 can be a painful experience, especially when the morning was foggy and the streets unlit. By 7 a.m., however, the sun had risen and the view looked like this.

I don't anticipate waking at 5 every morning, but that day it was worth it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

home furniture shopping

Only in North Dakota can a person sip a cocktail and find used furnishings for purchase as well. The dart board on the left is not for sale at this bar in Ypsilanti, N.D. The armoire on the right, however, it's selling for $175.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday football

Cowboy: I really miss my 46-inch LCD TV right now.
Me: (blank stare)
CB: See, this is how I'm really affected by the flood.
Me: What do you mean?
CB: People who watch their see-every-pore football games, they just don't understand.
Me: Well, would your TV fit at my house?
CB: Maybe. Do you get HD with your cable?
Me: I don't know.


Me: I wonder if they make "Sex and the City" in HD...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

omaha is my home-aha

Every return to the city of my childhood, I feel like I've been gone forever but also like I never left.

Samantha P. and I explored downtown. The weather changes, but that skyline's been the same since circa 2004.

One of the benefits of city living is diversification in cuisine, competition in business and if one store doesn't carry what you want, another is a mile down the road. The problem was, every Office Max, Office Depot, Staples and Bed Bath and Beyond was out of "over-the-cubicle coat racks." And every mom-and-pop cafe was closed for Labor Day breakfast.

One dining destination, however, remained open.

Alpine Inn: better than Nascar and Natty Light. Together.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

chin deep

Differences are more than chin deep.

They’re in our heads too.

I make fun of the silly things country people do and while they’re infrequent, I make fun of silly things city people do too.

But today, I’d like to share with you one of the biggest differences between people from cities and people from no where.

In the city, we learn at an early age to mind our business and not meddle in the lives of others. Sure, we read tabloid headlines and smut magazines as much as anyone else. But we don’t run around telling people how hung over we are and how we just can’t stomach curry like we used to.

But it’s more than that.

In the city, we don’t share the quirks and intricacies about ourselves that we find unflattering.

In the country, everyone knows all that about you. They know you were the pimply-faced kid in high school and they know your parents bought your back-to-school clothes second hand. But there, it doesn’t really matter.

In the country, men ask pregnant women questions like, “So, yer tits hurt yet?” and expect an honest answer.

Women berate their husbands in public and sometimes, they even play darts with their butts.

So, in the few months I’ve known Cowboy, I’ve tried to push his limits. How many relationships have you been in? Why didn’t they work out? What didn’t you like about them? What are your life’s ambitions? Why haven’t you conquered them yet? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think about religion? Who did you vote for? How do you feel about “Jon and Kate + 8?”

And he’s answered them. No hesitation. No sugar coating. Take it how you want, he practically says. This is who I am.

If I don’t like it, it’s better to know now right? I just find that so liberating.

Country people don’t limit their openness to pals, partners and girlfriends/boyfriends either. They share these facts... with CO-WORKERS. Letting the world AND your place of business know who you are, where you came from and not feeling ashamed... Laz-y Boys can’t rival that level of comfort.

So tomorrow I'm going to walk into work, announce my most recent bowel movement, and watch as my co-workers sigh in adoration. Can you handle that, rocking chair? Can you?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oma-holla back

When I return to Omaha, one of the first meals I consume will be at Alpine Inn, a bar-atmosphered restaurant in the north part of town where the loan entree on the menu is fried chicken.

There, dinner comes in a cardboard carton and napkins are dispensed from paper towel rolls. Coke comes in cans, checks are hand-written and patrons seat themselves.

"It's red neck heaven," as Jim D. put it. "Better than Nascar and Natural Light put together."

At Alpine Inn, people eat the chicken and feral cats eat the bones. Diners catch the action from the windows and even take pictures when the raccoons arrive.

This is why you can't take country people there. It seems like a a country person's city refuge, but be ye not so naive.

Country people wouldn't shoot the raccoons with their cameras, they'd straight up shoot them with their rifles.

Monday, August 31, 2009

brief respite

To all the fans of Cowboy: here's a post for you:

After a weekend of working on his house (don't worry, more to come), Cowboy mostly did little projects this weekend. I help by wielding hammers between him and his construction buddies... until they determine I'm too slow and chuck them at each other instead.

These photos are from the job site.

Basically, you're looking out his soon-to-be windows. Which is better than looking in his windows, as that's just creepy.

Cowboy's great-grandparents pumped water with this windmill. It's not exactly in working condition, but it's not something he wants to tear down either. I can't blame him.

I give North Dakota a hard time, but at sunset she cleans up nice. Maybe she had a date or something...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

the addict returns

I'm traveling this Labor Day for a girls weekend in Omaha.

I'm pretty sure I can handle the traffic and navigating streets with more than one lane again. But don't let me in any malls.

Should I visit a Gap, New York & Company or Victoria's Secret, I don't think I'll ever get out.

Friday, August 28, 2009

purple people eater

Ok so I don't have the house-building post yet, but it's coming. In the meantime, LOOK AT MY FOOT. It's totally going to win me a Pulitzer Prize someday.

Note the middle toe and how magically purple and delicious it looks. It's pretty much the Barney and Friends-iest of all feet so I'm hauling it to Hollywood to launch its music career. (Heads up, Britney and move over Beyonce.) Look for This Little Piggy on the soundtrack to "Saw VI: Revenge of the Hunting Dogs."

My toes'll be signing autographs in no time.

The cosmetic change is because someone (i.e. me) thought it be fun to step on a dog leash to keep said animal from running away. The problem was, I was shoeless, and the pooch is about 78 1/2 times stronger than me.

Frankly, This Little Piggy is lucky to be alive.

Many city people own hamsters, cats, dogs, bald eagles, etc. ... but I was never one of them.

The first pet I ever owned was a fish. I named him Sunny. He was dead in three days.

Animals weren't allowed in my house, so I don't really know how to care for them. I can pet fur and fill water bowls, sure. But when dogs bark, I scream. And run to my mommy still, but please don't tell anyone.

So when this vicious creature stopped over last night, I'm pretty sure I thought my middle toe could take her.

I thought wrong.

I also didn't think about how ridiculous I'd sound yelping "Ow! Ow!" in front of a man who regularly comes home with scars in irregular places (like his belly button or the underside of his elbow).

Cowboy says he's an electrician, but I'm pretty sure that's just code for "raccoon wrestler" or "coyote slayer."

So I shut up and prayed my toe was broken so I'd have an excuse. But it wasn't. Damn.

That dog is a pooch, but I am a major pussy.

Right now I'm sure you've dislocated your shoulder in an attempt to raise your hand, so allow me to answer your questions:

1). Yes. That is Cowboy's dog. You're meeting her before you meet him. Sorry. But the wait is SOOO worth it, I promise. PS: Her name is Lacey.

2). Yes. I specifically painted my nails for this picture. And then I photoshopped all the edges I'd messed up. You win.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fear ye

For some people, you need doctors, nurses and hallucinations to tell they're crazy.

For others, you just know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Country picnic

At city potluck picnics, children play, men show their muscles and women dress in summer clothes and gossip about the neighbors and friends who didn’t attend.

Summer clothes: Apparel that is totally unsuitable for outdoor activities, namely short dresses, beaded jewelry and sandals with heels. If you don’t believe me, check out these stiletto-savers, designed to protect your sandals from the sand. Seriously.

In the country, both women and men where t-shirts and jeans shorts.

Jean shorts: Apparel no city girl EVER wears because the clothing is too short, too long or too unflattering. Unless she’s 7, denim in that pattern does not occur naturally on city-folk. Jean skirts maybe. Or capri shorts. I don’t even know a store sells jean shorts for women. But really, they aren't unflattering and jeans shorts may even be practical. But that still doesn't mean I'll wear them...

The country girl in my told me to wear capris. They’re more sensible. They’re more conservative. And they’ll hide your pale skin, she said. But the city girl in me wanted some sun (tan). And she knows how to bust some cap.

So a dress it was. With polka dots. And a necklace so long it caressed my belly button. And white, chucky-heeled sandals accessorized my "Pistol Packin' Pink nail polish.

No one stared at me when I arrived, but maybe that’s because they were wearing sunglasses. And tennis shoes.

You can’t be playing softball in that, they said.

(Not "you can't play softball," rather, "you can't be playing softball" in that)

But my question was: Softball?

Where I come from, the boys play softball and the ladies drink lemonade and talk about where they got their hair highlighted.

What do you mean softball?

That’s OK, they said. We’re playing egg toss first, anyways. Husbands and wives are on the same team.

(awkward pause)

And, er... boyfriend and girlfriends too.

So there we were. Me in my dress and Cowboy is his cut-off sleeves, throwing raw eggs at each other.

Don’t mess up, Kate, I whispered to myself. DO NOT mess up.

The first tosses were fine. Toss. Catch. Baby step back. Toss. Catch. Baby step back.

One couple down.

Phew, we didn’t get last, I thought.

Then another. And another.

Pressure’s on, I thought.

Standing 12 feet apart, Cowboy lofts one to me, 5 feet short.

Oh four-letter-word, I said, recalling my days as a tomboy and diving for that egg like it was a Hail Mary Pass and I was in the end zone.

WHOOO HOOO, they cried.

She caught it! heels! one said.

Now put that picture in the paper, said another.

After a victory dance mimicking that of Chad Johnson, Cowboy and I had two other teams to beat. If we made it this far, we might as well aim for total egg shell domination.

At least until it was my turn to throw.

Suddenly, I didn't care about the mud in my toes or the wind flying up my skirt. It didn't matter that the breeze had blown the curls out of my hair or that mosquitoes were biting at my legs. I didn't even notice the pink rings on my shoulders left from a cocktail of perspiration and red spaghetti straps.

My arms, by the way, are made of steel, just ask those 40 pound sandbags. But tossing an egg 15 feet is well, quite a feat.

So instead of tossing the egg and letting it land short, I side-armed the egg like a baseball, chucking it from Point A to Point B.

It broke.

Egg yolk all over Cowboy and his cut-off sleeves, staining his t-shit and soiling his redneck dreams.

He’ll need new clothes, I thought. ...So if this is country, I dreamed, hand me another egg.

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