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dinosaurs Duluth Manhattan mayors shoes

Duluth, Minnesota, Versus Manhattan, The Island

Groom and I have been feeling lately that we have too much time and money and not nearly enough stress. It’s all “wake up late, stare at the lake, water the seedlings, play some Doodle Dice, go for a trail run, grill a pork roast, read in Jeffrey Toobin’s THE NINE about the appalling politicization of the Supreme Court, sit on the curb and chat with the neighbors, and hunker down to await the next hawk migration.” Frankly, with the low blood pressure that accompanies such an easy pace, we fear we may live to 95.

And if we’re alive at 95, there’s a very strong chance that the next Bush generation will have had time to ascend to power. Clearly, we’d go to any lengths to avoid witnessing the reign of facism carried out by “Governor Jenna of Ohio.” Indeed, rather than face this prospect, it might be time to undertake some lifespan-shortening.

So we’re thinking of moving to Manhattan. There, we could feel the pain of wallet-strapping restaurants, chest-clutching rents, X-ray-thin socialites, and gasps of toxic air–tradeoffs that could kill us younger but still leave behind grinning corpses.

Because His Groomishness and I like to make well-informed decisions, I’ve been compiling a list of comparisons between Duluth and Manhattan. When the list has reached its final, exhaustive stage, I fully plan to let it slide off the kitchen table and fall behind the radiator, where it will live for three months until the next sweeping up. After the compilation is completed and lost, I’ll head outside to lay on a blanket and play Skip-Bo under the apple tree.

1. Hell, the first big difference would be the quality of footwear. In Manhattan, we’d be under constant pressure to have well-shod hooves, no matter the cost or teetering involved. On the other hand, the only pressure in Duluth is to wear water-ready shoes that proudly proclaim, “We ain’t afeard of the uglies.”

2. Transportation in Manhattan is all yellow, dirty, and jammed. In Duluth, we’re more about not slamming into the forest beasts while mentally figuring out which color of wax to apply to our cross-country skis once we get to the trailhead.

3. New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is an old richie fogart who serves as trustee at the Museum of Modern Art, while Duluth’s mayor, Don Ness, is an avid skateboarder who recently learned to finger paint.

4. In Manhattan, $325,000 will get you a solid chunk of urban grit, while the same, in Duluth, will net a house that serves as a realistic backdrop for games of “I’m Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mistress, and he does so like it when I sport my feather boa atop a saucy smile.”

5. Schools are competitive in Manhattan. If your kid is lucky enough to score an education, it will be spotted with French lessons and staid craft projects like this:

In Duluth, however, we get real with the craft projects. Our preschooler classes work cooperatively and messily to create near-life-sized dinosaurs which are subsequently, upon completion, raffled off and sent home with the “lucky” kid whose name is drawn from a basket woven out of our region’s ubiquitous icicles.

Guess what? In our case, the slip of paper with the words Niblet Paco Dinko fairly leapt out of that icicle basket during the drawing, and before we could shout, “Holy Monty Hall, we didn’t actually want you to reach in that basket and pull out our kid’s name because, fer Christ, even in our relatively-spacious Duluth home, where the pajeebus are we going to put a huge dinosaur?” the thing was loaded into the back of a pick-up truck and driven to our address, where the aforementioned Paco Dinko of Niblet Fame stood jumping and clapping on the front sidewalk as the thing was unloaded, hardly able to believe, at age five, that this life he was living was really so very magical and wondrous.

In true “we don’t squawk here in the Midwest but just remain stoic in the face of whatever comes, again and again and again, whether it’s the latest Bush generation to seize power or an unexpected preschooler project come home to roost,” the Groom and I looked at each other, shrugged, and squeezed the carnivore onto the front porch next to the scooters and trikes.

Try toting this thing home on the Subway, Manhattanites!


Her name is Lily Sparkly Sparkly, and if you err and mistakenly call her Lily Sparkle Sparkle, you will be soundly reproved by an indignant five-year-old who hugs the old paper mache gel quite protectively as he scolds you.

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Clearly, then, all the list-making and pro-ing and con-ing was for naught. We’d never manage to fit Lily onto an airplane seat, even in First Class, to make the flight to Manhattan.

Plus, she has a rather sordid history with Michael Bloomburg; should she turn up in his city and sell her tales of pomegranite martinis and ripped camisoles to the tabloids, he’d have to resign.

And damn it if the young Barbara Bush wasn’t overheard last week in the Oval Office, yawling, “Daaaady, I shore would like me a mayorship in some big city somewheres, you know, where I could live in a mansion and shop at Barney’s and gather ’round me a circle of Wall Street beaux. Any ideas, Daaaaaaady?”

To avoid that troubling possibility, we’ve decided to stay put in Duluth, where we’ll continue to wear our ugly Keen shoes; teach our mayor to use scissors; knock about our cheap and crowded house; dodge moose on the roadways–and keep a muzzle on the sparkly dinosaur.

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babysitting Duluth Iceland images meme Pepsi

Shaking the Magic Google Ball

I’ve been socked this week by a stack of research papers, student yowls, and end-of-semester freak-outs. So the writing time? Very small. You know what that means, right? Memetime, lads and lassies!

Thanks, Lone Grey Squirrel, for inspiring this meme: typing my answers to the following prompts into Google Image and then choosing a photo off the first page that pops up. Images are the perfect antidote to a week when I am tapped out and my words are–how you say it?–not having way.

Photos it is.

1. Age at My Next Birthday:-

I’ll be the cost of sending you a piece of junk mail. Hell, I am junk mail.

It’s not the size of the dream, my friends. It’s the quality.

2. Place I’d Like to Travel:- Bulgaria. I heard they have soup there.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral stands near the center of Sofia. It is dedicated as a monument to the Russians who liberated Bulgaria from nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule in 1877-78.

3. Place I’ve Been:-

Akureyri, Iceland

The thing about Iceland is the towns have swimming pools in the schools which are open to anyone, including travelers; these pools are heated thermally, by local hot springs.

I should have gone to high school in Iceland. My pours would have been thermally tightened, and then all the fellas would have been clambering to take me to the Winter Formal.

4. My Favorite Food:-

I’m full of suprises.

5. Place where I was born:-

Billings, Montana. I drank a lot of beer on those cliffs (known as the Rimrocks or “Rims”). One time my cousin, Luke, was so drunk he fell a couple hundred feet off one of ’em. My dad got to put on his trench coat at 3 a.m. and go bail him out.

I miss my dad.

6. Place where I live:-

Duluth, Minnesota

We’re all about bridges, ore boats, and splashing.

7. Name of Past Pet:-

This is Professor David Dandy of Colorado State University. I wish our poodle had been named Professor. Or David.

But if we’d shaved Dandy really close, he’d have looked like this guy–although maybe a tidge less manic.

8. Best Friend’s Nickname:-

“Groom” wore no jacket, tie, or boutonniere when we got married. But he did wear a vest.

And that’s all he wore.

9. My First Name:-

As if Blogger Jocelyn would ever strike “The Liberty” pose in a gym full of seething hormones. Instead, I keep my posing restricted to home base, where I’ve perfected the high-flying Hand on Remote Control stunt.

10. My First Job:-
When I was 10, Mrs. Baker across the street came flying over, breathlessly telling me she had to go pick-up her older child from an emergency situation, but her 10-week-old baby was sleeping in the house…and she needed me. She needed me for money. Thus, a twenty-year career in babysitting was launched.

And if you don’t want to count babysitting as a “real” job, what with the non-taxed pay, then this was my first job: The summer when I was in 8th grade, the Pepsi Company of America ran a promotional contest, where drinkers of their beverage could, upon opening a can of fizzy sugar water, check the pulled-off tab (not like this new-fangled one in the photo) for a letter of the alphabet. Players of the game would then collect letters on tabs until they could spell out words (“S-O-D-A”) or, for the ultimate prize, a phrase…something like “Pepsi Rocks the World.” Woefully, the Pepsi Company Factory of America made a little error and printed, instead of a handful of tabs with the elusive “R” (the letter that would bring about a big-money win), about a thousand of them.

For you math majors out there: a thousand x Big Money = A Quathwajillion of dollars. The Pepsi Company of America did not want all those “R” letters hitting the public. So I and a couple of my pals were paid to sit in a warehouse and open pop cans, eight hours a day, for weeks, our eyes trained for “R”s.

I never did find an “R,” or surely I would have pocketed it and would now be sitting in my mansion that cost exactly one quathwajillion of dollars.

Instead, I sit in my modest home, grading my 44th research paper on “the obesity trend in our fast-paced society.”

Apparently, my students inform me, we Americans drink too much Pepsi.

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