13 Ways of Looking at Minnesota

Figure 1. Pablo & me, walking on the pond, winter 2015

Figure 1. Pablo & me, walking on the iced-over pond by my house. Pretend it’s a glacier and we’re stalking seals for dinner if it pleases you.


In graduate school, there were so many professors and classmates who focused on “writing about the land.” I always figured that wasn’t my thing because I hate camping. But I might be doing just that right now? I dunno.

1. I like taking long drives through my state. It’s very contemplative and beautiful, in all weather. Farmland in summer or winter is kind of masterful to behold. Our state feeds a lot of creatures. It’s kind of cool to contemplate, though I’m not sure I’d want that for my own life. Anyway, a long drive in Minnesota, in any season, never falls to cheer me.

2. This time of year is particularly trying. You are house-bound, and parka-wrapped, and stuffed in giant boots, talking to people from behind scarves, melting and sweating and freezing – all in the space of two minutes, sometimes. The days are slowly getting longer, but the wind is brutal. The excitement of new snow and shoveling and gregarious neighborly snow-plowing has worn off. You know at least a few people who have had furnaces go out or pipes freeze and burst. You know more who have gotten into car accidents. You’ve helped jump their dead batteries or pull them out of snowbanks. Winter is all a giant pain in the ass. Summer is so easy and bright. And short.

3. Not many bears. I don’t ever want to live anywhere that requires bear-proof trashcans. Bears terrify me. This is why I don’t live in Northern Minnesota. I think we need to go ahead and let bears own the wilderness and the mountains. Being the largest land carnivore, I think they’ve earned it.

4. Also no poisonous snakes. We’ve got mosquitoes but only in summer. The poisonous snakes thing is nice when you consider things like “water moccasins.” SWIMMING SNAKES? Sweet Suffering Jesus.

5. This is the place for people who don’t need a lot of topographical excitement. I don’t give a shit about mountains (see #3, in part) because I hate walking uphill (AKA hiking) and mountains seem kind of like a bad idea when it comes to survival. They mainly seem like a place you could fall off of or where your car could stall and then you’re fucked. If it were up to me, you’d drive AROUND mountains. Their majesty and stuff is wasted on me. Yall may enjoy them as much as you want. Maybe that’s why you’re in Colorado? Besides the marijuana?

6. Still, in terms of nature, our state has a lot of that. This is the place to ski and hunt and snowshoe and fish and swim and canoe and whatever. Apparently we’re quite bike-friendly, too? I really don’t recreate outdoors that much. I like my nature in dosages the size of my backyard, actually. Or in my local park. I guess I only bring this up because in some cities I’ve visited, it feels like you are breathing everyone else’s smoggy exhalation and there is no green space. Or really any space at all. We have a lot of space here in flyover land.

7.  Compared to the rest of the nation, you can go to public school in Minnesota and get a sweet, free education. I myself have a teaching license for this state, which took over six years of schooling to obtain. Minnesota don’t play when it comes to teacher licensure. I remember aspiring Phy Ed teachers getting pissy that they had to take a class on “Teaching Reading” and I remember laughing at them. Everyone in the school building must support literacy, yall. What the hell else are you gonna do when it’s 30 below in the winter, huh? You’ll be a reader if our state has anything to say about it.

8. This is a good place for people cowed by oceans (like, surprise, me). Lakes are oceans on a more useable scale. You can swim in them and not get stung by thousands of jellyfish. There are no eyeless Leviathans in their depths hoping to eat you whole, nor floating barges of plastic or trash. Nor pirates (which may be considered a demerit by some). Also, lakes don’t tend to foster hurricanes which is undeniably a big plus.

9. We are the birthplace of Target. Suck on that for a while, why don’t you.

10. People continually underrate and underestimate you if you come from here. You’re not expected to do more than drive a tractor or act like a simpleton from dumbassed Prairie Home Companion. So if you do anything halfway decent, everyone’s kinda knocked out. Once my husband was at a party on Nantucket Island and he told people he was from Minnesota. “And you’re an engineer?” they shrieked. “They have those there? I thought all of you were farmers.” Oh, Nantucket! Never change! (Not that you have or ever will…)

11. Minnesota is a very practical location for human survival. This is according to my non-farming engineer husband who likes to take apart car engines and makes his own hooch and bullets. It’s not on “a coast that might swallow us” like New Orleans or Miami. Unlike Arizona or California, “the 10,000 lakes offer us plenty of access to water.” Also, there’s nothing that great here, so “no worries about being a target of terrorists.” Plus, we’ve got “good soil for farming our own food.” Thank you, dear heart, for these important points.

12. For a state known for its large-handed Swedish laborers and stoic German farmers, we sure do have a lot of diversity. You wouldn’t think so, would you? Every Christian denomination makes the claim that this is their doing: “Our missions group went to ______ and brought the ______ people here!” Certainly church sponsorship is part of it, but who really cares? We’re the home of some of the largest Hmong, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Somali and Mexican populations in the nation. We’ve always got new folks coming here to keep it interesting. Which brings me to my last point…

13. Minnesota is a state that people are from but often leave. They leave for places like Colorado or New York City or California or the Pacific Northwest. To those people, I wave goodbye. Come back and visit. But in my plodding dull way, I just don’t understand them. Why do these people want to be “from” Minnesota, but not “of” it? I don’t see the need to uproot and move. You’re the same goddamn bastard wherever you live is my motto. Maybe that’s Minnesotan, in itself?




Let Us Now Praise Menstruation

Figure 1. Oooh, lookit, seekrit lady innards!

Figure 1. Oooh, lookit, seekrit lady innards!


Though I didn’t enjoy getting my first period the day we were to leave for vacation up north at my grandparents’ cabin the summer before I turned 10 years old, for many years, getting my period has been a kind of comfort.

Some reasons.

1) Good to know that none of that sex was successful! I mean, goodbye Foiled Sperm! Especially the wily ones that slipped free of the condom! Thanks for playing! There is NOTHING like the kind of relief you have after having Sex With Sketchy-To-No Birth Control and finally getting that beautiful red stain in your underpants.

2) Nice to feel like my body was progressing forward, thickening, thinning, building up, sloughing off. Doing it’s business. Nothing was getting clogged or jammed up in there.

3) Nice to reframe all sorts of misanthropic or life-is-pointless thoughts in a better perspective of “whoa, hormone dump” or “guess I needed my carbs.” Not always am I a heinous person with shitty opinions and terrible eating habits.

4) I like the predictable routine of my body. The lack of hunger during the week of bleeding itself. Then the week of nothing. Then the week of ovulating – maybe there’s that clear discharge or some hurty mittelschmirz but usually not. Usually it’s a nothing week. Maybe I rarely ovulate? I don’t know. And who cares, now? And then the week of clumsiness, rampant hunger, irritability, weariness. Then: BLOOD. Oh, right. THAT’S what’s going on. Oh-kay.

5) Such a splendid excuse for not having to do anything extraneous.  Instead of me saying, “I don’t want to go out because I’m a hermitty, lazy, introverted dickhead” like I would any other time, my period whooshing out of my nethers enables me to sit on the couch with an authentically bedraggled expression on my face and say, “I’m bleeding like crazy. Can’t we just stay in tonight?”


13 Ways of Looking at Outlander


Figure 1. sweet sweet gingerbread boy

Figure 1. Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, our sweet sweet gingerbread boy


1. The title sequence has AWFUL music. It sounds very Ren-Faire, with this sort of soaring dorky singing and pan pipes and whatever. Though the visuals are lovely, don’t get me wrong. But the song makes me embarrassed to be watching. I totally FF through that shit when possible.

2. Catriona Balfe as Claire Randall has that Insanely Luminous English Skin. Good lord. Do she and Michelle Dockery have the same facialist?

3. Re: Dougal. I love this character, and because I’m of a Certain Age, I also find him sexxxy in ways that are complicated and will go unmentioned. But at first when they referenced him, I misheard it as “The Dougal” and thought, oh, is that some Scottish title or job, like being “The Laird” or whatever the hell. Now I can’t unhear it, so when he comes on screen, I think, “lookit, there’s The Dougal!”

4. Okay, so Frank. Let’s discuss first Tobias Menzies. They always make him play a dick or a bad guy. He’s got a pointy-chin Bad Guy face. Claire describes him in the book as being athletic and built “like a tennis player” but despite that I have trouble wanting to see him naked in a sex-having way. It’s not because he discusses history constantly or because he’s not all swash-buckling and brawny like some other people I could mention, but mostly because he gives off the Most British Hands-Off vibe ever. I’m fine believing Tobias Menzies was born in a three piece suit just like I’m fine with Frank Randall staying in the 1940’s, far far away from Claire.

5. The Wicca and the circle stones and the Magick. Well, okay, whatever. I mean, 1990’s Me woulda gulped that down like a box of donuts.  Or cakes and ale, as it were. But now, like the title sequence, it gives me a full-on body cringe.

6. In case you are reading the books and are an ignoramus regarding Scottish Highlander dress, here you go. Also, the “sporran” is the little furry man purse the dudes wrap around their hips. They keep their weed and golf tees and hacky-sacks in there, I guess.

7. When they are having the naked sexy times on this show and in the book, try your hardest not to think about this. It sort of kills a lot of historical romance novels as well.

8. I dinna ken that listening to lads wax on in the Scottish way would make me flushed and sweaty. Dear god.

9. Though it helps if they look like Sam Heughan:


Figure 2. Even my swaggy Highlander agrees: I AM READY

Figure 2. I AM READY (the motto of Clan Fraser, as well as  every virgin male)


10. Sam Heughan was born in 1980. He’s actually Scottish, but I think they make his hair red for the show because he’s actually blond. THE SACRIFICES HE’S WILLING TO MAKE YOU GUYS.

11. Roxane Gay’s recaps on are as pleasing as the show itself. I love how she calls Frank “boring Frank” every time he’s referenced.

12. I prefer Claire in 1700’s Scotland. Her hair’s better. I’m not a fan of the curled-under 40’s hair, I guess. It’s all uptight and boring.

13. Clearly I’ve been leading up to Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser which is totally the money shot of this post. OH MY SWEET AND CREAMY LORD YOU GUYS.  Such a goddamn babe. And the Scottish brogue! I could listen to him read The Bible. Okay, maybe not. Unless he was naked. Then I wouldn’t care. Strip down and Bible it up, baby. I am clearly insane, but it’s okay, because I’m happy and laughing at myself and nothing makes me more delighted than soaring goopy television and staring at beautiful men in kilts.


Figure 3. Being all Highlander-y and what not

Figure 3. Claire and Jamie being all Highlander-y and what not





13 Ways of Looking at Sleepy Hollow Season 2 Premiere


Figure 1. Nicole Beharie & Tom Mison, epitomizing perfection

Figure 1. Nicole Beharie & Tom Mison, epitomizing perfection


1. Nicole Beharie, stop being so beautiful. Actually, don’t stop. I love looking at you.

2. Okay, so we’re going to keep on with the gimmick of Ichabod never changing out of his Ye Olde Outfit? Because I just listened to this old Fresh Air interview about typhus and body lice and yeah. Not so adorable anymore. Putting the ‘Ick’ in Ichabod for sure.

3. “Crossbows For Everyone!”  — from a memo found in television exec’s recycling

4. “Franklin and his strumpets!” Tee hee.

5. It is so endearing how Abbie and Ichabod find not one but TWO dead headless bodies and yet they pause, in a semi-dark room, to rifle through the desk for “important documents.”

6. Naked Benjamin Franklin! Is that Michael McKean? Either way, it’s perfect. The best parts of this show are not the rampaging about finding the Horseman or Moloch, but in awkward moments like this. Also, Ichabod’s hair is ON POINT in this scene.

7. I know Henry’s evil and all, but he just looks like a grumpy Senator Al Franken.

8. See! This is why I’m the perfect viewer for this kinda show, the perfect mystery novel reader! I NEVER guess that something’s a trick! I never “figure out” whodunit or whatever. Totally bought the whole illusion thing. Maybe this is also because I kind forgot what all happened in the S1 finale?

9. Please Keep John Cho On The Show Forever Stop Killing Him Kthanx

Figure 2. John Cho

Figure 2. John Cho; More Than Just A Special Guest


10. In no other show is product placement such an absolutely organic delight as it is in Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod dithering with his cell phone, having heart-to-hearts with the OnStar lady in Abbie’s car – so funny and enjoyable. #NeverStop

11. I like how every second Catrina has to be flailing and running around in her dumb off-the-shoulder tit-popping gown. She and Ichabod are like cartoon characters who always wear the same outfit. Also, let her somehow fall in love with John Cho. Because I like her but we all know that Ichabod and Abbie need to get naked and be happy in love forever and ever amen.

12. Why are blandly handsome blond men always villains? I mean, I like a blond man. Not if he’s a rapey obsessive Horseman of the Apocalypse creep, like Abraham. But what’s “blond” got to do with EVIL?

13. No Orlando Jones! Dude. Come on!


Figure 3. Bonding with the OnStar customer service rep.

Figure 3. Bonding with the OnStar customer service rep.





Norman Reedus: An Annotated Filmography


Figure 1. Reedus as loadie

Figure 1. Reedus, consummate loadie



We have Netflix DVD and streaming service, plus HBO  for some unknown reason (we get no other cable channels, premium or not) so I’m using these tools to burrow my way through the filmic oeuvre* of Norman Reedus. I’m nowhere near finished but all good things take time; calm your tits.

Here are my thoughts thus far:

Tough Luck: he’s pretty tits in this one. Total dirtbag loser face. +1 for taking place in a seedy carnival. And that chick he makes out with? Is Patrick Wilson’s hot wife that totally killed on the reaction when people said that Patrick Wilson was too hot to get it on with Lena Dunham in that one episode of Girls.

Floating: Masterful. It’s like the companion film to Sex & Violence in a lot of ways. Even my sister liked it:  “That didn’t totally suck.”

Moscow Chill:  Ehhh. He’s handsome, though. Mostly makes me want to smoke cigarettes.**

Pawn Shop Chronicles: Here he’s a meth dealer who wears a gas mask and a welder’s apron the whole movie so it’s hard to see his face. However, he’s naked under the welder’s apron, so +1 for that.

Reach The Rock: Not worth it. He’s in it for one scene.

Messenger 2: The Scarecrow:  Don’t. I mean, you see him get all sexy a bunch but you’ll pull muscles in your face from cringing at all the “scary” Scarecrow bullshit. Also, he’s supposed to be a farmer. A FARMER. Hand to god.

Meskada: The Reedus is Liquid Sex in this one. Worth it to just watch him moooooove all serpentine-like in his hillbilly flannel shirt. It’s a boring movie, though.

Let The Devil Wear Black: This movie is also boring as hell. Though Reedus plays this sleazy dude who talks about blowjobs for one scene, so +1.

A Crime:  This is really a Harvey Keitel movie. Not that this is bad or anything. The Reedus is highly handsome here, however. +1 for having dogs.

Blade II: Ugh. I can’t get into the Blade franchise. My normal Vampire Kink doesn’t work on that movie. Also, he wears what looks like a hemp necklace. Maybe that’s it?

Hello Herman: Not done with it, but it’s not too bad, really. I mean, how much can one like a school shooting movie? Also, he strokes his chin a lot.


*I don’t know how to pronounce ‘oeuvre’
**this is generally true of all Norman Reedus movies