Friday, February 27, 2009


I woke up at 6:53 this morning. I remember because like you, I couldn’t believe it either.

I figured I could get up, take a shower, wash some laundry, read the paper... ahhh the paper. Coffee and the paper, I thought. Perfect.

Like most days, the world is lucky if I wear underwear, let alone a made-up face and a fresh t-shirt when I open the apartment door to retrieve my periodical in orange plastic-wrap.

Today, however, my neighbor Scary Larry (who you may recall was the first person I met here, outside of my landlord and co-workers. Larry’s the one that likes to read and re-read the logo, emblem or Shakesperean quote on the front of my t-shirts... at least I think that's what he's doing. His yippie Chihuahua is so noisy I just HAVE to play Christina Aguilera at high decibels to drown it out) was knocking on Apartment No. 5, directly across from me.

Whoa, hey, good morning I said, thanking god for the invention of pants.

Hey, its cold out today, he said.

What a suprise, I said.

Yeah, my car won’t start. Cable TV says 19 below.

Oh no, is it that bad? I’d help you but I don’t have jumper cables, I said, closing my door and cursing morning newspaper delivery.

I do... he said, just before I locked, dead-bolted and duck-taped my door.

Oh, ok, I said, let me put some clothes on and see if mine starts, then we can try yours.

Sure enough, mine started (the one time I wished it wouldn't,) but we couldn’t get to Larry’s van because cars were parked on either side of his.

Why don’t we wait until after 8, Larry, maybe people will have moved their cars by then, I said.

Well, but I have to go to my son’s apartment to see if his car starts, do you think you could take me?

How bout you call him to see if his car works, Larry.

His phone don’t work.


So Larry and I hop in the Volvo. Yes. Me and Larry, in the Volvo, like old friends. Old friends who hardly know each other as Larry doesn’t even know my name.

Larry also doesn’t know how to ride in a Volvo as he couldn’t open the passenger door, nor could fit in the passenger seat. He even broke my cup holder. Broke it. How do cup holders even break?

So as we’re leaving the parking lot, the same parking lot that has claimed me three times, getting my car so stuck it takes two people and a wrecker truck, I realized it: this is my debt to society.

The night before, Jamestown got what the weatherman called 3-6 inches of snow but what I call 6 to infinity. I drove home from dinner just fine, but the same curb clenched me again. Luckily two passer-bys pushed me out.

One of the guys who pushed me didn’t have a job. I know this because we engaged in a nice little convo while un-hemorrhaging my Volvo for 30 minutes in the 30 below weather.

I’m the idiot girl that didn’t give the guy a little cash for his help and his time.

In fact, I’ve never paid anyone for pushing, pulling or otherwise unearthing my car, except for the commercial trucker service, and maybe I should have.

The people I talked to at work said you don’t have to, no one expects more than a thank you, but THEY WERE WRONG.

Paybacks are double, my dad says. It’s more likely that I’ll sport my bathing suit and TAN on the North Dakota beach tomorrow than this ever occurring again, but for the first and likely LAST time ever, my dad was right. Dad being right is like finding a sidewalk after a North Dakota snow storm, NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

But back to Larry and his son who works two hours a day and tucks his sweatshirt into his jeans.

Larry Jr’s car started just fine. Awesome, let’s get outta here, I thought. My car smelled. I figured it was Larry but it wasn’t. It was my own morning breath.

In and out they go, to the car, to the apartment, whatever.

Larry stumbles to my car and asks if we can get a pop for his son at the grocery store. Is that too much? he asks.

Are you serious? You took me out here to wake a grown man who’s car started so he can get to work on time? Why do I have to take you back at all? Why can’t HE take you home, why can’t HE jump your car and why can’t HE GET HIS OWN POP????

Ok, I said.

Sure enough, half the roads are blocked because the city doesn’t clear the streets until 5-9 business days after a given storm and in doing so, the crews clear snow to the MIDDLE of the street including the intersections. I don’t know why a state like North Dakota isn’t leading the nation in snow-clearing efficiency, but maybe the arctic temperature stunted their mind-growth, you know what I mean?

So finally Larry buys what looks like every Coke Zero bottle Hugo’s has on its shelves while I text a few friends. Texting, if you didn’t know, is my generation’s form of the pinch. When your enduring something you can’t believe, text someone, its less painful.

The pain of the pinch however, was nothing compared to the agony I was in as I had to return to the man with a hoodie in his trousers and wait while Larry turned off the ignition, dropped off the pop and surely wiped the ass of his 31-year-old son.

Finally we return to headquarters, but Larry’s car was still encased with two others.

Should I keep checking and knock when one of them leaves?

No, you should wait until your son gets home and have HIM do this, I thought.

Sure, I said.

I hopped in the shower and hoped I’d have to go to work before Larry’s vehicular neighbors moved.

Knock, knock.


OK, Larry, let me dry my hair. I’ll be there in a minute.

We moved my car and his started, no problem. He offered to pay me, but I didn’t want his 50 cents nor did I ever want this to happen again.

After a morning like this, my debt was paid. In fact, I think society owes me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Irish you never have to go through this...

Ok OK, I'm late I'm sorry. Apparently Danny Tats (the dude with a tatoo on his head) is more exciting than me biffing it on the streets of Omaha. Thanks a lot.

Ok, readers, here he is:

I thought I could say crazy creepers were limited to the streets of North Dakota. Maybe they fly south for winter.

Name: Danny Tats
Age: 27
Occupation: professional rugby player... anyone believe that?
Hometown: Council Bluffs... maybe that explains it...

I met Danny at a Dundee pub with Kelli M. She and I go way back to the days of actually living in Ireland, so in addition to natural curiosity about a index card-sized tattoo above a dude's ear, we actually knew what we were talking about. Danny, however, didn't.

Normally, I'd wait a drink or two before asking a stranger why he'd do something not only so painful, but downright absurd, but Danny beat me to the vodka-spiked punch. Soon, I was three shots to the wind, believing everything he said about cracking his skull, ski-diving over the Middle East and earning $1.3 million a year.

So tell me about your other tattoos, I said.

Off came his shirt and on came the story of Irish Catholics and their belief that when Jesus comes back, he'll be PISSED, he said.

Huh, Kelli and I thought, we're Irish Catholic. We've even LIVED in Ireland. We don't recall... we said.

Well, this is what it will look like, he said, pointing to Jesus and his bloody spatula dicing sheep and filleting them on a george forman grill.

Again, not what I learned in Sunday School and second, what's the son of god doing slaying sheep with a SPATULA? Couldn't he send an angel of death, swarm of locusts or at least an AK-47 or something?

The best part of the evening was the rugby player's business card which says nothing about rugby or any other sport but rather talks about some American arms company, complete with a handgun emblem in the corner. Only millionaires have handguns on their business cards. Sexy.

Oh I'm not done.

He hand-wrote both his NAME and his PHONE number on the business card. Now if your name, number and e-mail address aren't on your business card, what's the point of carrying one?

I guess I shouldn't make too much fun... I lied/omitted the truth too. I told him I'd go out with him sometime.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Apparently North Dakota isn't a state as much as it's a state of mind.

Case in point: I drove through Council Bluffs at 40 miles per hour Friday afternoon, careful not to slip and slide along the interstate. Omaha got a sloppy snow storm that day, closing roads and canceling class. I feared getting stuck although I knew I'd have no problem as I'm practically a native North Dakotan by now. We drive in snow like it's our part-time job.

I-29 posed no problem, but the streets of Dundee did.

The city only got six inches, a dusting in North Dakota terms, so boots, tennis shoes or galoshes of any kind were out of the question. Not to mention, such footwear wouldn't match my outfit. I took the classy route, dressing myself in pearls in black flats. In fact, I'm such a class act that after my flats gave way to the ice, landing me on my keester, I choose to swear in French instead of English, so as to protect the ears of small children.

You're welcome.

In other news, while North Dakota may be cold, this story is hot... AND spicy. Look out.

Kelli M. and I, a former Creightonian and current language tutor, helped three Burmese women learn English words for human body parts. "Hips" seemed the most difficult and "belly button" the most ridiculous, but I was impressed with the ladies' motivation and progress as well as Kelli's patience.

Burmese women are not just strong learners, they are also strong-handed, forcing us to dine with them, and at one point, even spoon-feeding us. Since they speak no English and us, no Korin (they're native tongue) we couldn't ask what we were eating, so we assumed it was chicken although the meat was just as likely to come from cat.

In fact, what one of the husbands said was pork and green beans was actually pork and green CHILI. The chilies were so hot, they burned a hole in Kelli's cheek as she took more than one in a single bite.

As for me, I stuck to the chicken/cat/frog substance. What I didn't know is the meat had yet to be removed from its bone. So I stuck a whole piece in my mouth and lost a tooth. That didn't really matter as I was already chewing on bone and couldn't tell the difference. More calcium for me.

Now, I don't know about you, but I had 10 seconds to determine which was worse: offending a 90-pound Burmese woman, or ingesting squirrel-femur. I'd have chosen the latter, but notice the dimensions of your two outside toes. Oh yeah, that was the size and shape of the marrow in my mouth.

I waited until Kelli spoke, hoping for a diversion. When they turned their heads towards her, I pulled the bone from my mouth, hoping it looked less disgusting than it felt (Although the meat, whatever it was, tasted quite nice). It didn't matter. They all saw. And if they didn't see me remove what looked like my own vertebrae from my mouth, they could see it on my plate as I had no napkin in which to hide it.

No matter, the women seemed to say, picking up a possum piece and biting it like a drumstick.

Huh, we thought, we may have taught you the difference between "button" and "bottom," but surely we got the more valuable education that day.


If you run into a man with an Irish flag tatooed on his head and an angry Jesus flipping lamb-burgers on his arms, it's best just not to ask.

More tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009


If you didn't already know Mother Nature was bi-polar, here's evidence:

Yesterday I drove to work with my windows down. For 30 minutes I stood outside snapping photos in calf-deep snow, but no hat, no gloves, no coat... temps read 31 degrees and suddenly summer was near.

Today the Highway Patrol issued a travel advisory because of freezing rain. Tuesday, that freezing rain will turn to snow and already, two snowplows and a wrecker also slid off the road near Arvilla, N.D.

In the words of my Aunt Melen: that bitch.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

the cold is good for something...

Since winter lasts for six months of every year here, I joined a gym to keep from getting stir crazy.

I just ran a mile in 6.5 minutes, which to you marathon runners, is no biggie, but to me, it's a world record.

Let it snow!

Monday, February 2, 2009


I walked out of my apartment yesterday after a weekend of huddling within my lined trousers and doubled socks.  After drowning my sorrows in hot chocolate, I'd convinced myself that at 30 degrees, surely I'm safe.


No sooner had I stepped foot on pavement than my feet flew like italian sausages on a pogo-stick, bruising both my ego and my behind. I didn't crack the concrete, but its safe to say I cracked my head as my zip code remains the same. 

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