For one, I'm easily amused these days by the simple pleasures offered by "Big City Living." I spent much of my Minnesota trip feeling a bit like an educated version of Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies.
As I wandered the streets of Minneapolis's Dinkytown neighborhood, near the University of Minnesota campus, I was mesmerized by the sheer diversity Urban America has to offer in terms of lifestyle.
I also realized how much I miss living in a diverse area.
In Dinkytown, there were street artists and homeless gutter punks wandering Bob Dylan's one-time home, gay college students holding hands while working-class guys stared from barroom windows, pretty girls with pixie haircuts shopping at music stores and patchouli-scented stoners perched near the local head shop.
Baton Rouge had places like that, as did San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and even Greeley, Colorado.
Oxford is about as diverse, culturally and economically, as a Klan Rally in the Hamptons.
One night in Dinkytown, a Persian-American goth/punker/Riot Grrl stopped me on 4th Street and asked me if I could spare a couple of cigarettes. A simple conversation was sparked by a comment I made about the 21-year-old's vintage TSOL tee-shirt.
We talked for about half and hour about politics, the woes of the local music scene ("becoming too mainstream" was the big complaint), her ever-changing hair color, and me being a librarian (Goth kids LOVE libraries) before she invited me back to her apartment.
We sat in her apartment for a couple of hours chatting. At one point I suggested that I leave because it was getting late, and I didn't want to keep her from whatever she had planned.
I guess she invited me back for something more than an argument over the cultural significance of the Beats and the worthlessness of most infotainment technologies.
Cute girl. Very intelligent. And she fit the physical and intellectual profile of the kind of women I usually get involved with. But I just wasn't interested in a fling.
Been there, done that, and I've already sent those fucking tee shirts to the Salvation Army.
I may not know how to read some signals, but, well, some women are relatively easy to read. And I'm starting to realize that I tend to give off a vibe that I'm some sort of sexual free-spirit, the kind of guy who just likes fucking-and-leaving. Nobody really enjoys that, at the end of it all, because one eventually realizes, on some level, that one-night-stands are nothing more than masturbation with company.
A friend called and left a voicemail, so I had an out. Goth girl asked if it was my girlfriend...
Okay, so I lied and said the person calling was indeed my significant other. A lousy thing to do, but, hey, it simplified things a bit.
NOTE - There is someone reading this post who will soooo get a kick out of this, because she was my excuse.
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Two days into the trip, mom and I hit St. Paul, the other half of Minnesota's famed Twin Cities.
The highlight? The Science Museum of Minnesota, which managed to become one of my all-time favorite museums in just under five hours.
The museum is currently hosting Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds exhibit, through Sept. 4.
Composed of more than 200 actual human cadavers, carefully contorted and preserved through the Plastination (a technique that replaces bodily fluids and fat with reactive plastics), the exhibit is one of the most controversial in the world. In Scotland, police were set to stop a showing if they received complaints over the inclusion of a dead child as part of the exhibit.
It's also been reported that the exhibit is actually banned in several cities, and rumors continue to circulate that von Hagens has been using the remains of human beings acquired through less than official channels.
Sickening and yet fascinating.
Did I actually learn something from seeing skinned corpses posed as archers and yoga instructors? Probably. Did it bother me a bit to see actual human remains posed as archers and yoga instructors? Certainly.
Versions of the exhibit are also on display in Houston, through Sept. 4, and Denver, through July 23.
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I have a rather sordid history with women who work in the healthcare industry, a history I rarely discuss on this blog.
Put the ZenFo Pro in one of America's most popular collegetown watering holes with a group of said health workers, and somebody's getting completely shitfaced.
Grain Belt Premium, cheap.
Has anybody seen the stash of business cards I keep in my wallet? Or my lucky steel bracelet?
Really need to learn how to not flirt so much...
Nurses are too much fun.