My Thanksgiving started Wednesday, and I want to point a few things out.
After a full day of teaching only a handful of students in each class (because for a student, Thanksgiving begins on Tuesday night, I think), I met some colleagues at the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. ARAC is growing — we moved from being a three-person shop to a four-person shop with an additional vibrant, paying internship program. Wednesday’s meeting was about growing the organization’s structures as fast as we grow our programs. I hope you’ll check out our calendar of events to see what is up.
After that, my Wednesday haunt to see Darin Bergsven at Dubh Linn. I brought fellow ARAC board member Michelle Ronning with me to enjoy the smooth sounds. Michelle wanted to hear Lou Reed, and Darin made it happen. At least, a few bars, in his own style. Michelle will be displaying her jewelry at Julebyen 2014, a holiday festival in Knife River.
After that, a conversation about where to have dinner with my friends. An out-of-towner liked the idea of Canal Park Brewery. I often bristle at Canal Park eateries, especially the ones which make you pay for parking. (CPB will never get my business in the summer for this reason.) We went, and I will admit, I was surprised. Surprised badly, I am afraid — one of my friends ordered a burger, took one bite, and hated it. The server came back, asked how everything was, people nodded vaguely. He returned one more time, clearing every plate except hers (because there was still a burger with only one bite out of it). He came back one more time, asking whether we wanted dessert, still saying nothing about the uneaten burger. He didn’t ask whether she required a box. I think he knew that if he did, she would have sent it back. The entire evening was an exercise in tension — she being too miffed to complain, and the server being too afraid to actually address the issue. Ugh.
Thursday, though it was the holiday, I went out into the world. Morning coffee at Caribou. Thank you, army of young college students (some of whom have been my students), for staffing the coffee shop. I feel less creepy about someone working in the morning on the holiday if I know they are far from family. And Caribou closed by 4 — so still time for a good dinner.
After coffee, I met friends at Barker’s Island Inn for a buffet. Tasty. But better company. There are so few reasons to get together across generations, and Thanksgiving is one of them.
After that, Big Hero Six at the movie theater. I recognized more students. Thanks, guys. Nearly everyone was cheery. I make sure to thank everyone for working on the holiday. It’s never enough, I know.
Friday, Kate and I sipped frappes at Barnes and Noble for a few hours. We ran into colleagues from work, we ran into the new cafe manager, one of the finest men I know, and we ran into the community relations manager, Ann H. I would normally bristle at mentioning a big box retailer, but this big box retailer hires a full-time person to create fundraising opportunities that benefit local schools/libraries/nonprofits (including Wildwoods, which will have a book fair on Sunday, Dec. 7). They work to support local authors. They work to support local readers by hosting events/discussion groups. It’s a win-win for the store and the community. I remain committed to the idea that Barnes and Noble is lucky because they get people of incredibly high caliber who simply want to work with books and work with readers. As long as they cultivate those employees and the community, I will keep singing their praises. And sitting in their cafe using their Wi-Fi.
After that, a trip to Collector’s Connection, where we ate Chipotle burritos and talked about the cool new original art from Iron Man comics hanging on the wall.
I got home and the snow started to fall. I wrote a little poem-thought on Facebook:
When it snows like this, flakes as big as nickels or more, at once, I appreciate the company of good friends, the warmth of the whiskey, because I also think of the size of the tears these flakes would be if the weather were warmer or the friends were absent.
Earlier that day, I had made plans to see a friend and colleague. We agreed to meet at the Zeitgeist at 8:30. As I waited, I texted a few friends, kind friends. When Scott arrived, we went to the Renegade Comedy Theater. I have not been in a long time — the theater is usually packed, too packed for a temperamental introvert like me. But over the holiday, I hoped, attendance might be slighter. Special kudos to Jody Kujawa, who makes me laugh uproariously.
At the show, a beautiful young woman was brought to the front to participate in the improv show by giving suggestions to the comedians. She froze. Her first suggestion was merely the word “shit,” uttered not as a genuine suggestion but (I think) as a sign of frozen panic. By the third suggestion, she was silent. The comedians ate this up, and we laughed like crazy. But she was visibly uncomfortable.
She was sitting behind Scott and me. At the intermission, I turned around and said: “You know, you did exactly what they wanted you to do, what they needed.” She stammered to explain why she froze, she didn’t know what to say. I replied: “They don’t want someone who knows what to say. Someone who gets up there and wants to be a comedian, with them, alongside them, doesn’t play as funny. You gave them exactly what they needed.” We talked a little more, I won’t give you the transcript because I was less clever and insightful the longer I talked. But if she’s reading this, I’ll say it one more time: you were awesome, and thank you for being brave enough to run up there.
After that, a long walk home. A good holiday.
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