As I type this, THE SUN IS SHINING. We’ve had roughly 100000000 grey days in a row this spring and I tell you what, it starts to wear on a person – like a hat with bells which seemed like a whimsical idea in the store but turns out is the equivalent of self-induced tinnitus. I like rainy days and cozy darkness just like all women on Instagram, but I was one more set of clouds away from getting a Vitamin D lightbulb to sit under it while I shopped for a plane ticket to Yuma, Arizona – the sunniest place on Earth. These big, beautiful blue skies have completely cleansed my soul, like the feeling you get when you throw out a hat with bells on it. — click to read on.
The Academy Awards are my annual reminder that my eighteen-year-old self would be incredibly disappointed with my job choices. Twenty years ago, I made the decision to pivot from the entertainment industry to the hotsy-totsy world of architecture and construction. Prior to that, I had one career goal: to plan The Oscars.
This wasn’t one of those dreams that began and ended with a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio on my wall (although I did have that); I went to college for Public Relations – the degree-of-choice for the discerning event planner – and interned throughout college with movie and television studios and their related partners. It was those internships that made me realize that I was more cut out for popcorn and Leonardo DiCaprio posters and less Paramount paychecks and Disney business decisions because, when it came to working in the entertainment industry, I was two thumbs down.
This week, my company is moving out of our long-time downtown office space to a fancy new building about two blocks away. The whole thing has been a little weird for me because I have worked in our old building – the Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange – for 17 years, which is two years longer than I’ve lived in any one house.
While I typically don’t like to talk about my job on here (I can’t imagine my coworkers would be pumped to know they were associated with this nonsense), I feel I owe it to the Merc Exchange to give it a proper sendoff. Plus, I work for an architecture firm, and if anyone would forgive me for telling a building story it’s a bunch of architects.
We have reached the point in winter in which North Dakotans adopt the age-old adage, “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and park like you’re the only car in the lot.” From the months of April through December, a driver will identify an empty gap between two uniformly-striped parallel lines and maneuver their vehicle so it is placed between those two lines. From January to March, however, it’s less “neat and orderly lines of cars” and more “uffda, whatever.”
There’s a mathematical equation for when this occurs, which is [Amount and Color of Snow + Number of Previous Days Below-Zero] x [Everyone’s Feelings of Doneness in Regard to Winter]. When that result is greater than the number of North Dakotans traveling to Arizona, Florida, or Mexico, society’s laws of parking no longer apply.
This is typically the time of year when I take up running. I am right type of person for running as I own a pair of sneakers, belong to a class of bipedal organisms, and say things like, “I can’t do a chin-up because I prefer cardio.” Also, my natural state of movement is akin to a speedwalking 1980’s businesswoman – elbows up, emphatic stride, power skirt and sports socks – so it’s only a hop-step more to turning that into a light jog.
I have a habit of becoming a February runner because I look at a calendar and have an unproven surge of hope that I will soon look unbelievable in a bathing suit. By July,
Our six-year-old recently announced that he is a vegetarian. As a self-professed vegetarian, he has determined that his diet will be thus:
Hot dogs, bun optional
White carbs (all)
Every kind of candy ever invented
Fruits and vegetables
To protect his vegetarianism, Six has taken to stating that he is allergic to anything not on the aforementioned list – which is often a surprise to people who will watch him eat a hard-boiled egg, only to be “allergic” to scrambled. Also, he is only a vegetarian on weekends and evenings because he likes his school’s pizza and walking tacos.
It is cold. Cold, cold, cold. Obviously, it’s not a surprise that we have low winter temperatures in North Dakota (“Warmer than Outer Space!” is my favorite weather-related headline); however, I still shrivel up like a helium balloon whenever I step outside and am hit with a blast of that brisk fifteen-below air.
My ten-year-old recently played a hockey game at the Bill Jerome Arena in Devils Lake, North Dakota. If you’ve never been to the Bill Jerome Arena, one of the first hockey arenas ever built in the state, it is a beautiful barn with curved white-washed trusses, natural ice, wooden bleachers, and an ice resurfacer (aka Zamboni) made out of a yellow tractor. It is also the coldest place on Earth.
Kyle and I are those kind of people who take a funny (“funny”) Christmas/Hanukkah card photo every year. This year, our ten-year-old took one look at the final result and said with a level of exasperation expected from a child forced to dress up in a suit and sit in a Jacuzzi tub full of bubbles holding a lacrosse stick (“funny,” as you may recall), “Can’t we just do a normal picture at a farm or whatever?”
I have kind of an unusual relationship with Santa. Probably the weirdest part about it is the fact that we have any relationship at all – because, you know, I’m Jewish. For Jewish kids, Santa is like your workplace hosting a doughnut party when you’re on vacation: it’s nice, but it doesn’t really affect you at all. In the winter of 1990, however, I wanted a sewing machine; and I went to Santa to get it.
My husband, Kyle, is a hockey agent. My little sister, Erica, is a movie/television casting director. Both of their jobs are about finding talented people and putting them in the right place(s) to maximize that talent. As everyone in the world has talent in some shape or form (not just related to acting or men’s hockey), I am going to share the one piece of advice that they both regularly give because it basically works across the board. And as my talent is stretching a story long beyond its necessity, I shall do that, as well.
I bumped into one of my old teachers at a concert the other evening. I say “old” in that she was previously my teacher, and also because she retired shortly after I was in her class (I have that effect on people) and when I saw her she said, “Give me a hand here, I’m old.”
She also said, “Amanda, you can call me Mary.”*
To which I responded, “Why?”
My ten-year-old and his buddy spent thirty minutes raking leaves a few weeks ago and henceforth decided to turn their newfound skill into a leaf-raking business. This was the conversation we had on the ride to school the next morning:
October 11 is Canadian Thanksgiving. Or, as they call it in Canada, Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is the exact same thing as American Thanksgiving except that it’s in Canada and on an October Monday and everyone says “Eh” a lot. Also, Canadians watch Canadian Football on Thanksgiving, not American Football. (Come to think of it, I don’t know if Canadians ever watch American Football because, as the name suggests, they have their own football league – which, like American Thanksgiving, is the same but also slightly different.)
I recently asked my sons and their friends to name off their favorite school lunches, and they said chicken nuggets, walking tacos, spaghetti, corn dogs, and sloppy joes. These, of course, are the wrong answers. As anyone who has gone through the Grand Forks School System will tell you, the best school lunch is turkey tidbits in gravy.
Kyle and I are tour people. We love tours. We will attend basically any tour that is offered to us. You could say, “Hey, listen, I’m giving a tour of my living room. To participate, you’ll need this painter’s tape and this roller and this can of ‘Marshmallow Heaven’ and the tour will consist of you painting my walls,” and so long as you also give us a storyguide headset and one of those little metal buttons with the folding flap, we’re in.
Anyways, today I’m going to tell you about my all-time favorite tour.
We just passed the one-month mark of living in our new house. At least, I *think* it’s our new house. Considering there are stacks of stuff everywhere, we may be living in a box fort.
This is the exact text conversation I had with a friend right after we moved in:
Friend: How’s the unpacking going?
Me: Slow. But my parents are taking the boys this week so we’ll have it all done by Saturday.
Friend: Ha ha!
Me: Ha ha!
A huge part of my job is understanding social behaviors; and if I had to use one word to describe all grownups right now, that word would be TIRED. It’s like being at a party where you were ready to leave 45 minutes ago but your ride is debating whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich with a large group of people, and so you sit there with your empty wine glass, avoiding a refill or a trip to the bathroom or anything, really, that would delay your exit, responding to all attempted conversations with, “Oh, yeah? Oh, okay.”
I recently came back from a work trip, my first since February 2020. The actual travel portions of my work trips are typically completely unremarkable – transport to destination, check into hotel, complain to coworker about the air conditioning/pillows/ice machine/Wi-Fi, sleep, eat breakfast, leave – but the universe wanted me to remember this particular trip (as well as remind me that I apparently do not belong in normal human society) because this is what happened in the span of about ten minutes:
My children are currently nursing a grandparent hangover after spending a week at my parents’ house at the second-annual “Camp Bubbe Zayde” (Bubbe and Zayde are the Yiddish words for Grandma and Grandpa, respectively). As you might expect, Camp Bubbe Zayde was a happypalooza – fishing, baseball, Valley Fair, the zoo and the waterpark, and casual texts from my mother that read, “The kids wanted a snack, so we got them two ice cream bars a piece. They must be growing!” Of course, there was also teethbrushing and vegetable eating, but even following the rules – such as picking up toys and being kind to your brother – was turned into a game, with the prize being a trip to Dave & Busters.