Although I made it well past the five years I agreed to live in Minneapolis, it is not because I fell completely head over heels about my new “home” location. Every area of the world has its own little issues that give residents reason to complain and keep the population under control. Imagine if Seattle had beautiful weather; the whole world would live there. Minnesota has many positive things going for it; however, the following list outlines the reasons why I will not retire Minnesota:
It is quite tiring to hear people talk about how easy winters are these days and how much worse they were in the early 90s, the 80s, the 70s, etc. Maybe this is how everyone deals with the miserable winters; make them out to be better then they really are. Three things make the winters in Minnesota horrible. First is the unbearable cold; there is just no way to describe the bone-chilling feeling of death that is -20F. I can still vividly recall like it was yesterday walking 6 blocks from the car to the Metrodome on an evening with a -35 wind chill reading and wishing the lord would just end the misery and take me someplace warm, and this was nearly 10 years ago. Then there is the snow which does not come until February or March, when winter is all but done in most of the world, because it is too cold to snow in January. Snow is beautiful around the Christmas holiday, not Easter. Adding insult to injury, the beauty that is fall in Minnesota, my favorite season, is cut far too short with winter coming well before the solstice and lasting beyond the Spring Equinox. The bonus issue with long harsh winters is how they destroy roads, leading to everyone's least favorite season, construction season, when roads are closed for months on end to repair winter's damage.
Jokingly known as the state bird, the lakes and humid summer conditions create the perfect breeding ground for the mosquito. Mosquitoes could easily band together and pick up small children and animals; carrying them clear cross-state. These little blood suckers grow to the size of dinner plates and their bites leave larger welts on your skin then if you were hit by a Johan Santana fastball. A good run of West Nile or worse would create a health epidemic of monumental proportions.
Minneapolis is ranked as the 13th most “Humane City” in the United States by the American Humane Society. It is well above average in most animal-friendly indicators; few pet stores sell puppies (stores “stock” dogs through puppy mills), low number of fur shops and heavy regulations on “show-animals” like those for circuses. The one thing that drops Minneapolis to 13th in the rankings is the hunting culture that is prevalent across the state. I will never understand how people could kill animals for pleasure and live with themselves. I am from NY, we don’t shoot animals, we shoot each other; chances are the animal did not deserve it.
Minnesotans are very nice on the outside, however, beneath the surface lies the real truth to all the smiles and niceties; Passive-Aggressiveness. Passive Aggressive is loosely defined as behavior in which damaging emotions, especially anger, are expressed indirectly through negative conduct and disguised resistance to the demands or expectations of others. No matter how upset, angered, frustrated or pissed-off a native Minnesotan gets at a person they remain stoically silent, avoid showing their unhappiness and even go so far as appearing agreeable to the person or actions that get their panties in a bunch. Locals will sit and watch a light change green a dozen times and never use their horn to wake the person in front of them up. A co-worker will make a bad decision and no one will say anything to correct them, instead complaining to others in the meeting after the meeting without fixing the situation. Any sign of directly expressing your opinion or speaking your mind is considered rude. As you can imagine, being from a passionate Italian-American New York family, where survival is based on your ability to stand your ground, makes me much (Minnesota) different then everyone around me and the transition to living amongst the passive-aggressiveness very (Minnesota) interesting.
I'll be home for Christmas
I grew up in a close-knit family with my parents and two sisters, only about 2 miles away from my Grandmother, aunts and most of my cousins. Those in the family who were not within the 2 mile radius could be reached in less than 30 minutes. While most of my family still lives within an easy drive of each other, I live over 1000 miles away. I am fortunate to make it home for most major holidays and a few other visits during the year, but what I miss is Sunday dinners, popping in unannounced for coffee, meeting close friends and family for a beer at the local watering hole, random family events and casual BBQs. It is very hard to see the life you once had disappear and everyone going on without you; people all but forgetting to include you in events because they assume you will not be in town. I really cannot say I hate Minnesota, I just hate that it is so far away from those I love.
Growing up in a community dominated by those of Southern European descent made being a 5’ 9’’ blonde with blue eyes incredibly fun. It is easy to stand out in a crowd when most of those around you are a half a foot shorter. Mostly everyone comes from a Scandinavian, Baltic or German background; they are tall, blonde, fair and beautiful. Frankly suddenly being average is quite annoying.
93% of the people who are born in Minnesota die in Minnesota, with most spending all the time between their birth and death solidly planted within the state boundaries. This situation allows natives to develop incredible longtime friendships but makes it quite difficult to be a transplant. Luckily I am married to a Minnesotan and his friends have let me in their inner circle, but most are not so fortunate to have this avenue to break in and make friends.
To say the taxes in Minnesota are high is like saying Brittany Spears is going through a little rough patch. We pay state and local governments through the nose but in return get America’s best schools, plenty of parkland filled with playgrounds, locally subsidized after school programs and enrichment activities. All wonderful things if you have children, which I do not. So my taxes rarely support things that I could actually use like better roads (you should just see the disgrace of the street I live on), a local dog park (Minnetonka is surrounded by cities with dog parks but does not have their own!), and adequate public transportation. Just to go off a little more on the tax situation I still cannot believe that taxes do not include trash pickup (have to hire that yourself), sewers or streetlights (which we pay for additionally as well even though we have neither on our block).
Lakes are pretty, but nothing beats the feeling of water as far as the eye can see, the smell of salt and miles and miles of sandy beaches. When my life becomes overwhelming with mounting responsibilities and issues I am overcome by a feeling of claustrophobia; like the walls of the world closing in on me. My cure when living by the ocean was simple; take a walk on the beach or sit on a rock overlooking the open water and enjoy the beauty of the sea. Calmness displaces insanity the instant you breathe in the ocean air, listen to waves crashing against the shoreline and feel sand tickle your toes. Without that release, I am unable to break a feeling of entrapment.
Where’s the Deli
Oh, how I miss a good NY deli; a place where you can order a mile high made-to-order pepperoni sandwich on crusty bread with all the fixings, a good potato salad, a fresh kosher dill pickle, a pound of deli meat, piping hot knishes, homemade rice pudding, a full chicken dinner, the newspaper, a 6-pack of beer and a lottery ticket. A few places outside the northeast have attempted to call themselves a deli, but they always fall short. As a self-proclaimed “foodie” I miss both the convenience and quality of deli food the most, followed closely by Italian bakeries, pizza joints that sell amazing pizza by the slice, good Chinese food that delivers and Wise potato chips. Lucky for me alot of this is easily solved with frequent trips home and very big luggage.