North Dakota Ghosting | September 14, 2022

If you live in the upper-half of the United States and spend any amount of time on social media, you know that there is a long-running online conversation on the “Midwest Goodbye” – which is appropriate, as the Midwest Goodbye basically never ends.  In the words of a Tweeter (Twitterer?) named APHSarah: “A Midwest Goodbye is saying goodbye 20 times and standing around talking for another half hour while slowly inching your way out the door.”  The stages of Midwest Goodbye are such common practice – slapping your knee and saying “Welp;” engaging in at least two rounds of handshaking/waving; warning of impending weather and/or deer; moving your guests into your home and making them a legal part of your family – that you can actually buy t-shirts that say, “I survived the Midwest Goodbye.”  Kyle and I once held our visitors hostage for so long that we had to stop our farewelling and serve them a meal.  Fer real.

However, I’m not here to talk about the Midwest Goodbye.  Instead, I think it’s time to shed light on its quiet, subtle, 100% socially-accepted workaround: North Dakota Ghosting.

My eleven-year-old played in a hockey tournament earlier this spring; and so, naturally, all of the parents gathered outside the hotel to have a chat once the kids had gone to bed.  We had organized our lawn chairs in a large circle, as per lawn chair law.  As the evening ticked on, one-by-one a person would stand up, say they were going to the bathroom or to refill their cooler, and pick up their chair and leave the group.  Each time this happened, the remaining participants would shuffle their chairs closer together without breaking conversation or commenting on the individual’s departure. 

Finally, there were only a handful of us left.  Two of the dads – let’s call them Mark and Casey because I don’t feel like texting them to see if I can use their real names – were telling a story about a recent fishing trip.  Midway through the tale, WHILE HE WAS THE ONE SPEAKING, Mark rose, picked up his empty cans, folded his chair, and started to back away.  Then, with one foot in the parking lot, Mark said something like, “And you wouldn’t believe how surprised Casey was,” and disappeared into the night.  As Casey recounted his aforementioned reaction, I watched as Mark drifted in and out of the streetlights like Bigfoot through the forest.  A perfect North Dakota Ghosting.

North Dakota Ghosting is an ideal exit scenario because 1) unless you have been stuck in an entryway for so long that the homeowners feel they should feed you, saying goodbye generally stinks; and 2) North Dakotans like to leave their options open.  If Mark had returned twenty minutes later and sat back down with a wedding sheet cake and a single fork, no one would have mentioned it (if he had brought a handful of forks someone would have probably said, “Got some cake, huh?”).

There is a slight art form to North Dakota Ghosting.

First, you have to decide to leave.  This is difficult for North Dakotans because we are generally fine wherever we are, so needing to move from one perfectly good place to another is seemingly pointless.  Therefore, you have to say to yourself, “Self, I am going to depart.”

Second, you need to identify a direct route to your exit.  There’s no greater opportunity of being stuck in a Midwest Goodbye than to wander around the universe checking out someone’s new tires or grabbing a snack for the road.

Third, you need to move with purpose.  Not quickly; that would be concerning.  Not slowly; that would be super weird.  The best North Dakota Ghostings are accomplished with a confident, yet casual, stroll.  Something that says, “I have to pee, and I’m gonna make it.”

Fourth, you can’t let anyone stop you from your path.  If Casey had shouted to Mark, “What was the name of that guy with the fish?”  Mark’s only course of action would either be to completely ignore the question, or to point in the direction of Casey as if to say, “Hey, there you are,” without ever breaking stride.

Finally, you need to wait an appropriate amount of time (up to one day) to communicate with the people you recently ghosted so they know you are alive.  This is typically done with a text saying, “That was fun, let’s do it again.”

My little sister lives in North Carolina, and so we generally only meet in person a couple of times a year.  It sucks.  It especially sucks saying goodbye because she and I know it will be a while before we see each other again.  Therefore, our goodbyes are hefty; in fact, we’ve made it a habit to starting them a day early to speed up the actual exit.  We should really take a cue from our homeland and just – walk out.  Then, when we meet again several months later, we can pick up from where we last left off as if no time had passed.

Speaking of which, this story has come to an end, so…welp…

The photo above is of me was taken by Kyle on our daily (eveningly?) constitutional.

This week’s news has inline skaters and the Queen’s pen pal. Read on.

Park River’s Adele Hankey, born on the exact same day as Queen Elizabeth II, exchanged annual birthday cards with the Queen for 70 years. (Grand Forks Herald)

The North Dakota College of Science Wildcats have a new 49-year-old nose guard named Ray. (Valley News Live)

The 11th annual Rollin’ on the River Inline Marathon in Grand Forks attracted 100 skate-and-bicycle racers from across the US and Canada. (KVRR)

Hay there! (KFYR TV)

The Wahpeton community raised $13,000 for the Out of the Darkness walk. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Ope, Norsk Hostfest is looking for volunteers. (Minot Daily News)

Grand Forks’ Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are being inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame. (Grand Forks Herald)

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Ma and Pa Kosior go to Las Vegas | August 24, 2022

Kyle and I just got back from a weekend anniversary trip to Las Vegas.  At least I think it was a weekend.  If you have ever been to Vegas – this was my first visit – you know that is a place that completely exists outside of the realities of time, space, and society’s expectations about liquids consumed by the yard.  The whole thing is so wackadoodle that at one point I was standing next to one woman clad head-to-toe in a Louis Vuitton sweatsuit and bucket hat and another woman wearing nipple tassels and what I think was a bathing suit bottom with “It doesn’t eat itself” written on the tush and my very first thought was, “Only one of these two people is dressed appropriately for the heat.”

For a brief period in my Boston twenties, I was cool.  Well, cool-adjacent.  My glamorous and exotic best friend and former roommate spent six years extricating me from my pile of chinos and proclivity towards exclamations like, “Oh, my word!” and “Holy buckets!” and into a lifestyle with dark eyeliner and the knowledge of the right and wrong place for a glass of champagne.  However, you can take the girl out of the Gap but you can’t keep her from Internet ads for sleeveless pink polo shirts; and my move back to North Dakota twenty years ago (after which I married a guy who has a standing text chain with his friend to share Dad Jokes) started an aggressively deep slide back into The Mom I’ve become today.

Anyways, and as such, it became pretty apparent immediately after stepping off the plane that Kyle and I were not really the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s poster children for their updated catchphrase, “What happens here, only happens here.”

First of all, Kyle and I look like our idea of a wild time is to research and shop for new bathroom cleaners.  They were handing out shots of this chocolate mint-flavored whiskey in the airport, and the beautiful whiskey girl – everyone who works in Vegas is gorgeous and incredibly fit, which…how?  Is there a talent agent who travels the United States looking for The Venetian Walgreen’s next hot checker-outer? – said to the tattooed guy nearby, “This is the perfect way to start off a night,” and then had to really rack that beautiful brain of hers to come up with this pitch for us: “…This is good…to go…with…a cup off of coffee after dinner.”  Then she smiled apologetically because of course we two nerds wouldn’t have a stimulant before our bedtime at 5:30pm.

Our taxi driver from the airport to the hotel further hammered home this fact when he offered up a completely unsolicited warning.  “Pot is legal here,” he said, “So you know, don’t freak out if you smell it.”  (This was a helpful head’s up, by the way, because pot smoking is a competition in Las Vegas and everyone is out to win.)

Second, neither Kyle nor I gamble.  I mean, we did gamble a little; Kyle put $25 down on various sports books and I played (and lost at) video poker for twenty minutes before I realized deuces were wild.  We also spent about $20 in various slot machines, but came out net ahead after I kept finding abandoned poker chips on the floor because who doesn’t go to Vegas to admire the wide variety of carpet patterns?

Obviously, you don’t have to gamble or look rock-n-roll to have a good time in Vegas.  Here is what we did when we weren’t drinking airport whiskey and learning about the perils of marijuana:

  • We went to several excellent restaurants and one buffet; and the buffet had so many food choices that it actually grossed me – ME, the QUEEN of BUFFETS – out of buffets for possibly ever.  The restaurant (“restaurant”) had something like ten different full buffets, the most popular of which being the seafood spread.  Every single person in line walked away with an ocean’s worth of fish, which they devoured like a shark frenzy.  The waiters (they brought the drinks and were the only normal-looking waitstaff in all of Las Vegas) would wander table-to-table, eyes glazed over, scraping chum and plates onto a rolling cart while simultaneously making a feeble effort to keep their souls from leaving their bodies.
  • Attended a show called Absinthe. The advertising for Absinthe said “If you only see one show, see this!” Which is the type of confident advertising that I automatically immediately discredit.  However, the models on the poster were enticing and Kyle booked the tickets so we went.  We sat next to two drunk ladies about my own age who shared my level of pre-show skepticism at the promised amazingness of Absinthe.  I don’t know if it was the free-flowing alcohol or the fact that the performance had a lot of mostly-naked men, but those ladies, and this lady, were all converts to the awesomeness by the curtain call.  My review is, “If you only see one show and you like acrobatics and dirty jokes and you’re okay with getting splashed with water and there isn’t another show you want to see more, see this!”
  • Went to this thing that was either called “Meow Wolf” or “Omega Mart” which is a thing I found on a list of “If you only do one thing in Vegas, do this!” I think Meow Wolf/Omega Mart was an interactive art exhibit; although my thoughts really didn’t matter because Kyle and I were 100 years older than 100% of the other attendees and about 4,000,000% less aware of what was happening.  You enter into Omega Mart, which is a mind-bending grocery store where the products on the shelves are all what the kidz would call “ironic.”  If you dig deep enough (specifically, open the freezer or go behind the deli counter), you enter into another world that was a little like if Pandora was run by Big Pharma.  Or something.  In addition to being 1000000000 years older than everyone, we were the only ones not taking constant selfies (one kid near us never once looked up from his phone).  Despite our total uncoolness stinkin’ up the joint, we thought it was great.

The very best thing we did in Vegas, though, was talk to the staff.  The young and hot (and incredibly nice) waitstaff were always happy for a chat, probably because we reminded them of their parents’ friends.  One waiter kept saying, “It’s your birthday, right? *wink wink* Because we have dessert for you,” and “It’s also his birthday, right? *wink wink* Because you get free drinks.”  We closed out a French restaurant because the bartenders invited us to stay.  The morning before we left, we went for breakfast and were greeted by a (hot and young) chilly waitress.  She took our order, and came back a few minutes later.

“Are you from Minnesota?”  She asked.

“North Dakota,” we said.

“Oh, I’m from St. Paul!”  She said, warming instantly.  “I figured.”

The photo above was taken at Omega Mart.  I don’t think I’m supposed to be smiling.

This week’s news has Williston’s first triplets, a Bachelor, and Weston Dressler.  Read on.

Bismarck’s Weston Dressler has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Plaza of Honor. (KFYR TV)

Halliday’s Dante LaPierre took third place in a 24-hour, 100-mile endurance race through California. (KFYR TV)

The Chahinkapa Zoo has a new baby girl gibbon.  Congratulations to Effy (Mom), Sprite (Dad), and Poppy (Sister)! (Wahpeton Daily News)

The first triplets to be born in Williston are turning 70 years old. (KFYR TV)

New Salem is getting a mural relating the culture and history and Morton County. (KFYR TV)

Grand Forks’ Baylee Bjorge got a special video message from “The Bachelorette”’s Logan Palmer. (US 103.3)

Two bits of good news: Dickinson’s Ian Vesey is expected to recover from brain cancer, and Make-a-Wish North Dakota is sending him and his family to Alaska for some salmon fishing. (Dickinson Press)

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Parking Like You’re the Only Car on the Lot | March 2, 2022

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 Midwesterners traveling to Arizona, Florida, or Mexico, society’s laws of parking no longer apply.  Many people think it only has to do with the amount of snow on the ground – I mean, how can you park in a spot when it’s under an unmolded snowman? – but in actuality, a North Dakotan will actually attempt to remain within the (invisible) lines until it gets so cold that their car auto-start becomes self-aware and just keeps itself running 24 hours a day.  After that, it’s Jeez, Louise to any semblance of order.

This is perfectly fine.  In my opinion, once your car is covered in a semi-permanent layer of snunk (snow and funk) and you’re worried about breaking a hip every time you set a foot on the ground, parking is the least of your concerns.  I mean, technically, if you put your vehicle into Park, your car is parked.

Plus, if we really think about it, we North Dakotans are cool with parking like we’re the only ones on the road because we are comfortable with everyone driving in a similar fashion.

When Kyle and I first moved out to the country, all of our neighbors welcomed us with both open arms and a warning: “Don’t speed through Thompson.”  What they meant was that we shouldn’t go more than one mile an hour over the posted speed limit anywhere on Main Street – because (back then) Thompson had one policeman, and he didn’t have a whole lot to do.

If you don’t count the millions of “Drive carefully”s and “Watch out for deer”s we hand out like tatertots to one another, that Thompson speed trap warning was probably the first and only rule I’ve ever received about driving from a fellow North Dakotan (who wasn’t employed by the DMV or one of my parents).  This is because North Dakotans are generally good with whatever is happening around them at any given time – driving or not – so if someone wants to go 10 MPH in a 40…well, they are probably early for a luncheon or uncomfortable on ice and should take their time.  You betcha.

(If you’re like, “Ha ha, that Amanda, always exaggerating” – well, here’s an exact instance of that happening:

I used to live in Boston.  Boston drivers are the exact opposite of North Dakota drivers, and so when I moved back to Grand Forks I brought with my Nokia flip phone, my framed poster of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, and my burning desire to go Mad Max on anyone in my vehicular way.  I was driving downtown to see my grandfather, and I found myself in an unusually long line of cars going 10 MPH on a major thoroughfare.  I swung my car out into the other lane – it was a two-lane road – and zoomed past a whole bunch of completely unaffected drivers who were totally fine with this unexpected slowdown.  Finally, I reached the first vehicle, putt-putting along without a care in the world.  I got my hand ready for the honkin’ of a lifetime – and realized it was piloted by my own grandfather.  He waved.  I waved back, and slowed down so that I could resume my spot in the back of his line.)

We North Dakotans are also fine with driving like we are the only car on the road because sometimes we ARE the only car on the road.  Our former house in the country was off of a long, straight gravel way that was used more as a way to split sections of farmland than as an actual vehicle bypass.  Kyle and I were holding down our driveway with two lawn chairs one Sunday afternoon when a truck passed by on the gravel.  Ten minutes later, another truck drove by, followed closely (or like another ten minutes) by a car.  “We have to move to town,” I told Kyle.  “The traffic out here is getting ridiculous.”

Anyways, springtime is in the air.  Soon the snunk will melt and we won’t have to think (or not think) about parking anymore – because everyone will be stuck in road construction on the way to the lake.

I was going to take a picture of the grocery store parking lot, but I didn’t want someone to see their car and think I was teasing them.  So, instead, the photo above is of a Fighting Hawk (not THE Fighting Hawk) at a recent UND hockey game.  He felt appropriate for this story somehow.

This week’s news has Consequences of the Soul and Youthful Yetis.  Read on.

Valley City students earned 371 feet of duct tape, which they used to adhere their principal to the wall. (Valley City Times-Record)

A dozen quilters in Bowman created their own fabric expression of the book, “The Book of Lost Names,” and those quilts are now on display at the Bowman Regional Public Library. (Bowman County Pioneer)

Bismarck’s Abigail Meier is representing North Dakota in the National Art Honor Society’s Consequences of the Soul virtual art gallery. (KX Net)

Austin Covert and Ryan Nitschke, two chefs in Fargo, are semifinalists for prestigious James Beard Awards. (KVRR)

Minot (/Scandia) artist Andrew Knudson will be painting live at a joint event by the Minot Symphony Orchestra and the Taube Museum of Art. (Minot Daily News)

Congratulations to Norma Nosek, Wahpeton Daily News’ Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

And congratulations to Samantha Vosberg, the Richland County’s New Monitor’s Citizen of the Year! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Dickinson’s Youthful Yetis rode 200 miles in a month in order to raise $4,300 for St. Jude’s. (Dickinson Press)