Innies and Outies…

In between watching the coverage of the inauguration and that of thousands of women in pink hats marching, life got a little too Life-y for me and so, to escape, I took an online quiz. Lately, there has been one floating around on social media that is supposed to tell you what kind of personality type you are simply by having a look at which of your fingers on either side of the middle one is the longest. Call me crazy, but this doesn’t seem like a very valid measurement of much of anything but fingers. According to the test, I am not an extrovert. Really, Internet? My fingers told you that? Uff.

However, this news did get me thinking about all the marriages in our family and how with just a couple of exceptions, it seems that the Innies of the family found other Innies to marry and the Outies married other Outies. Now, you might think that those unions would logically create more of the same. That the introverts would create other introverts and that the extroverts would pair up and create a bunch of really outgoing babies. Well, this is not always the case, based upon our own extended family. Certain Outie pairings have produced at least one somber-eyed baby who hangs back and quietly sizes up situations while some of the Innies have ended up with babies who seem to spring forth from the womb tap dancing and singing show tunes.

And so, my personal  Innie/Outie hypothesis appears to be a false one.  The need for further study is clearly indicated.

In other news, my dear sister, who happens to be an extrovert, and I are taking a short trip to Florida this week. Here’s how I know she is an Outie. She can do superhuman things like actually SING in front of people, for starters. She also throws big holiday parties every year that she invites me to and I never attend because, well, there are people there I might not know that I might actually have to speak to. My poor sister. I don’t know how she puts up with her Innie sister’s penchant for avoiding large gatherings of people, but I’m awfully glad she does. It will nice to sit in the sunshine with Sister.

But let’s be real. I think we both know who’ll be chatting up strangers on the beach, now, don’t we?



Living the dream

No person has the right to rain on your dreams.

Rev.Martin Luther King Jr.

His is a family of eleven people.He works full-time and takes one class per semester in pursuit of his dream of one day teaching English. His wife has her own dreams; she is studying to be a nurse. They share nine children ranging from kindergarten to college age with nine dreams of their own, no doubt. The day he and I speak on the phone, it is -13. He tells me that the weather is better in Mogadishu where he was raised, but that the people in Minnesota are nice. I smile at my end of the line when he says this. Yep. We might be freezing to death, but we are nice.

She emails me to tell me her assignment will be late because of an emergency with one of her foster children the night before. I have been at this teaching gig long enough to be able to discern which students try to set an imaginary dead grandmother before me like a cat with a mouse to get an extension and which ones don’t. The fact that she is a foster-mother tells me pretty much everything I need to know about her strength of character.

I mention in my own introduction to one class that I am an adoptive mother of children from South Korea and discover that I have two students in one class who were adopted by white parents, too. And then, there are the students from the south side of Chicago and White Earth who tell their classmates that they are the first in their families to go to college. Other first generation students reply in discussion threads, “Me, too! It’s scary. We’ve got this!”

There are the young, single mothers. The recently widowed or divorced, starting over at mid-life. There are the physically impaired and the ones who’ve survived domestic abuse. There are the young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Students of every race, color, and religion with a singular goal. For me, it never gets old, this learning of names. This bearing witness to stories and dreams. At times when I feel hopeless, their stories give me hope for us all.

Because these are Americans with the most American of stories.

Each one cradling their own American dream.




Update from Hoth

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

-16th Century Nursery Rhyme

In the “Star Wars” trilogy, the planet Hoth is the outermost planet of the remote Hoth system. A small planet with a climate much too cold for intelligent life, Hoth was located near an asteroid belt and meteors regularly hit the planet. I’ve always wondered whether George Lucas visited Minnesota and came up with the idea for that planet after spending a little time here in January. As for any intelligent life on Hoth?  Of course there wasn’t. The smart ones all left.

For the past week, I have been watching the skies for meteors above our own little slice of Hoth. It’s been so cold that the dog has resorted to doing her business in the one spot that is protected by the back steps, flatly refusing to venture any farther into the yard. Every morning, her mournful hound eyes implore me as if to say, “Really? You’re REALLY going to make me go out there again?”  Beagles were not built for places like Hoth.

And so, for now we are both stuck here counting the days until spring like two wild-eyed, twitchy, cell mates. It takes a lot to get me out of the house at this time of year. My good friend, Liz, lures me out with promises of lunch dates and rooms to paint. This is good. Leaving the house is much healthier than six days straight of not leaving it, which happens to be my current record.

It remains to be seen whether something like a Women’s March with thousands of other cold, crabby, women is on the list of reasons I might actually put on my long underwear and venture out to search for signs of intelligent life in the universe this month.

A nasty case of Cabin Fever can make a woman do some pretty wacky things in January. Anything’s possible, actually.  Even on Hoth.

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Bowling alley pizza

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

We all celebrate the birth of a new year in different ways.

My grown kids, for example, are still at the age where they think getting  all dressed up and going out on New Year’s Eve is fun. This is probably because a hangover in your twenties is NOTHING like having one when you’re closer to sixty. I don’t know this for a fact, but can only imagine how lousy I’d feel the next morning if I had more than a glass of wine in one sitting. Maybe I’m lucky. Any more than that puts me to sleep within an hour.

Which is why, like all years, the most thrilling thing I did on New Year’s Eve is watch the ball drop in Times Square and contemplate how it is possible for a million souls to crowd into an area before 9 a.m. just to stand until midnight to yell “Happy New Year!” before they run like crazy out of there to find the nearest bathroom. Because that’s exactly what I’d have to do if I stood in the cold that long, let me tell you.  A few years ago I remember reading about how many of the revelers in New York City wore adult diapers so that they could, um, “revel” until the wee hours without fear of going you-know-what you know where.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square? Thanks, but no. Just…no. I’ll pass.

Diapers or not, it is a bright and shiny new year, though, so that’s good. We all need one. The holidays are over and most of the fudge is gone. Our kids have gone back to lives more exciting than the one we are happy living. The ornaments are packed away for another year.I’ve pretty much exhausted all creative options for reintroducing what’s left of the Christmas ham, and I’m craving bowling alley pizza. I hear that there’s a snowstorm heading east again this week which means more shoveling and sliding around on roads than I’d prefer. You don’t get everything you want in life. Especially in January in Minnesota.

But it’s still good, isn’t it?  This sitting by the fire-reading a book-watching the snow fall time of year? This time of bundling up and waiting it out?  Maybe if we’re feeling particularly adventurous we go a little nuts and venture out for a pizza with good friends who aren’t nursing hangovers or wearing diapers either.

We all celebrate the birth of new year differently, it’s true.

I like my way the best. Happy 2017!