Wednesday, October 10, 2012

happy anniversary!

Guess what today is?

If you guessed October 10th, you’d be right. If you guessed that it’s the one-year anniversary of this blog, you’d be extra-right. Sure enough, it was one year ago today that I sat in a Caribou Coffee shop on Minnesota Avenue and wrote my very first entry.

When I wrote that first post, I was almost a month into my job with the state government. I had just settled into my Sioux Falls apartment after three weeks of commuting from Brookings (one hour each way) or Ellsworth (one hour each way). I was internet-less until CenturyLink sent me a router, hence sitting at the coffee shop. I was also super poor from driving 100 or more miles per day with a car that got mediocre gas mileage, so my three dollar latte was kind of a splurge. On the upside, I was enjoying my first paid holiday EVER: it was Columbus/Native American/whatever you want to call it Day, and I had the day off. I’d never held a job that offered paid holidays before, so this was something new and, let’s face it, totally awesome.

Let me tell you, a whole hell of a lot has happened in this last year. Three major things stick out: a new job, an engagement, and a new car. In February, I exchanged my state government job for a job at the public library. My library job is nothing like I expected it to be, but let me tell you, no two days are the same. There’s definitely something that can be said for that. And who doesn’t want to be surrounded by books all day? Score. Plus, my degrees are in English and Art History, so at least I can say that I’m sort of doing what I went to school for, right? Right?

In June, my college boyfriend James asked me to marry him: easily the highlight of my year. 
James knew me well enough to skip anything that could be construed as a romantic proposal and instead proposed to me in Dinosaur Park in Rapid City.
The stegosaurus loved my engagement ring.
 The next day, we pet baby alligators and went down an alpine slide. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

After years of lusting over the redesigned Ford Fusions, I finally put my money where my mouth is and got one of my own. With the help of my dad, we found a spectacular deal on a six-speed manual in Nebraska. I even successfully negotiated the price – I was so proud of myself.
Hello, gorgeous.
This last year hasn’t been all milk and honey, but it really has been a good year. Thinking back, the worst thing that’s happened to me since last October was probably when I passed out on the sidewalk after giving blood. If that’s the worst thing to happen to me in one year’s time, then I think I’m doing pretty well.

In that inaugural post one year ago today, I did a little whining about coming to live in Sioux Falls. I had come from Minneapolis, and I was worried about living in a town with a relatively teeny population: Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota, has around 225,000 people in its “metro” area, while the Minneapolis/St Paul area (and all their suburbs) boasts more than three million. The verdict after one year: I miss Minneapolis like crazy, but Sioux Falls isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The arts and culture scene Sioux Falls doesn’t hold a candle to Minneapolis, but Sioux Falls does what it can. I went to Germanfest and the Sidewalk Arts Festival on the same September weekend, and the Festival of the Bands (a marching band competition – AWESOME) was just this past Saturday. I’d be a lot more satisfied with the activities in Sioux Falls if I had the good sense not to listen to MPR or flip through the Minnesota Monthly magazines at the library. Then, I wouldn’t even know what I was missing in the Twin Cities – like the Internet Cat Festival at the Walker Art Museum in August (yes, that’s a thing). Woe is me.

My Sioux Falls apartment is much nicer than my Minneapolis apartment – it’s cheaper, more spacious, and hasn’t suffered a single centipede invasion. However, the location of my Minneapolis apartment is hard to beat: it took me ten minutes to walk to the Nicollet Mall, and from there, all of downtown was at my fingertips. Walking in the opposite direction would take me to Uptown and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and if I headed west, I could spend a day in the Sculpture Garden or in Loring Park. Sioux Falls is quite a change from the hours I used to spend exploring Minneapolis by foot. The Japanese Sculpture Garden is within walking distance, but other than that, my options are mostly sleazy bars or fast food restaurants.

I know I’ve been grumbling about Sioux Falls so far, but it really does have all sorts of hidden benefits. First of all, everything is so much cheaper in Sioux Falls! Gas is always less expensive here, and parking is cheap, if not downright free. If you go out in Sioux Falls, you’ll pay less for your drinks, and you won’t have to wait nearly as long (if at all) for a table.

A huge upside to living in Sioux Falls has been its proximity to my family. Sure, not everyone WANTS to be within reach of their parents, but I actually really enjoy it. During the summer, it’s especially wonderful: the less time I have to spend driving, the more time I get to spend on Lake Poinsett. I also get to do things with my parents that I never would’ve been able to do in Minneapolis: I get to have supper with Dad when he’s in Sioux Falls picking up parts for his truck, and I get to go shopping with Mom when she takes a trip to Sioux Falls on her day off.

Living in Sioux Falls has been immensely helpful now that I’m planning a wedding. I’m getting married in Brookings, which would’ve been my location of choice no matter where I was living at the time. It’s been incredibly handy to zip up to Brookings on my days off and look at the church and the reception hall and work on getting the dress fitted and all that stuff that goes with planning a wedding. I can’t imagine trying to do all that while living in Minneapolis. Double bonus: Mom works in Brookings, so she’s able to come with me most of the time.

I did leave behind some awesome friends in Minneapolis, but I moved closer to equally awesome friends in Sioux Falls. I will say that getting together with friends in Sioux Falls is a lot easier than in Minneapolis: even if you and your friend live on opposite ends of Sioux Falls, it’s unlikely that it will take you longer than half an hour to reach them. On the flip side, if you live in Minneapolis and your friend lives in St Paul, heaven help you if you try to get together during rush hour and/or construction season.

Of course, the whole reason I moved to Sioux Falls was because I got a better job. For the first time in my professional life, I had a job that not only provided benefits, but provided paid holidays, sick leave, and vacation. At my job in the Twin Cities, the office would be closed for major holidays, but if you didn’t want to lose a day of pay, you’d better find a way to make it up. I couldn’t help but feel a little like Bob Cratchit on Christmas Day, as I had to be there all the earlier the next morning. (That job, by the way, will be the subject of an incredibly lengthy blog post one of these days. I promise it will be worth the wait.)

Yet another really great thing about moving to Sioux Falls was being closer to James. He and I had been living three hours apart for more than a year which, frankly, was total bullshit. By the time I moved to Sioux Falls, we had been dating for just over four years, and the distance between us shrunk to one hour. After nearly a year of that (which was better, but still sucked), James moved to Sioux Falls. We now share my Sioux Falls apartment, and friends, life is pretty grand.

The bottom line is really that it’s really not fair to compare Sioux Falls with Minneapolis: apples and oranges, I tell ya. I’ve been back to visit the cities a few times in my year away, and absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder. Maybe someday I’ll move back there, but maybe I won’t. Personally, I think James and I should move to New Orleans, but he’s not sold on the idea.

Anyway, it’s been a good year, and I am so glad that I’ve gotten to test the blogging waters. Thanks to you, my wonderful family and friends, I’ve gotten more support than I had ever imagined. I really enjoy sharing my goofy stories from my goofy life, and it’s even better knowing that there’s someone out there reading them. Here’s to another year!

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