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.

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