Sunday, March 27, 2016

on this day in 2005: excerpts from a journal, March edition.

I have to tell you: I'm getting a big kick out of re-reading these old journals. Some are excruciatingly embarrassing, but that's the nature of the beast. I had also forgotten so many of these little details, and it is pretty delightful to spark my memory with something ridiculous that I had totally forgotten about.

A little background: this entry takes place during spring of my senior year, and my family had gone to Disney World with our neighbors. And... ACTION!

27 March 2005

On Friday the 25th, we got up early and caught our plane to Chicago. We had a creepy flight attendant named Armando, who sported slicked-back hair and a single rubber glove. In Chicago, we got on our plane to Orlando. I ended up sitting next to a crazy woman and her son. They were both very irritating, but the lady gave me some gum. On the plane, I listened to Newsboys' Shine: The Hits. Unfortunately, I enjoyed it; I hate it when Bob's right (for the longest time, he's been saying, "I know you'll like Newsboys"). I especially liked "Shine" and "Breakfast."

When we got above Orlando, we couldn't land because of an electrical storm. The pilot told us that we may have to go to Tampa and get fuel, but luckily, we could land. We got our rental cars, checked into our condos, and went to bed.

We got up early on the 26th and went to the Animal Kingdom. We went to a Lion King show (we waited in line for an hour, and I was the poker champion - eight out of twelve games won), and that was really cool.

After the show, it started to rain. Darrah, Mitch, Dad, and I went on a roller coaster, and we got absolutely soaked. It was like the State Fair all over again. (Editor's note: I had gone to the SD state fair with friends over Labor Day 2004, and we got rained on THE ENTIRE TIME.) All of us went on a different ride (for which we stood in line for over an hour), and then we went to the Epcot Center.

The Epcot Center rocked; seriously. We visited all those little countries. Mexico was first, then Norway. We went to the Norwegian bakery and got all sorts of confections. (Editor's note: yes, I really used the word "confections.") We then went into a little shop, where I bought a silver ring. There was a really good-looking guy in a Norwegian outfit, and I told Mom to tell him that she liked his socks. So she did! Except she mentioned that I liked them. I walked by him a couple of minutes later, and he said, "I like your socks, too." So sexy!

At the Chinese place, I bought an orange bird puppet for Meagan's birthday, a blue handbag for me, and a chicken for Mom's birthday. We visited Japan, Morocco, France, England, and Canada. By this time, it was about 830, and Mom and I went back to Norway to see if I could get a picture with the sexy guy and his socks. He wasn't there, but I took a picture with someone else.
We went back through a gift shop, and I found Bob some mouse ears. The cashier said I could get them embroidered for free at MGM studios. Then, Mom and I made it back in time for the fireworks, which were really amazing.

Before we came back to the condo, we went to Walmart for supplies of the food variety. The line to pay was an hour long, but we stood by some really nice (but odd) people from Cincinnati who let us share their cart. We didn't get to bed until nearly 1.

And today: Easter. We drove to Clearwater Beach, which was four hours away. Upon arriving, it was cold and windy, so I didn't swim. We were at the Gulf of Mexico, so I picked up some shells for my friends (I also got them airplane peanut and am working on other fun stuff). We didn't eat lunch until 5, and when we got back, I ate frozen grapes for supper.

Our condo is nice; it's got two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a kitchen. I'm on the hide-a-bed, and it's fine. It is, however, located in Ghetto Florida. Everything is so trashy around here. On Thursday night, we all went to a little shop to get a few foodstuffs, and Taylor and I found personalized condoms... one of them even read "Grandpa"... yikes. One said "Mom," and Taylor said, "Why would you buy condoms for your mom?!"

We're going outlet-malling tomorrow; yay!

Current music: "Pay You Back with Interest" by the Hollies

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

the story of the coupon.

Let it be known that I am a saver of things. Toys from childhood, books that belonged to my grandma, every card or letter that anyone has ever sent to me... I save things.

Let it also be known that I don't save nearly as many things as I used to. As a child, I kept things with a tendency akin to hoarding. (Not that I was ever crushed by towers of old newspapers or found myself surrounded by rotting food.) The things I kept were my "collections." Among the stuffed animals and Barbie dolls were little plastic boxes (usually empty baby wipe containers) filled with seashell fragments, neat-looking rocks, colorful erasers, and even crayfish claws (and you can imagine the smell when you opened up THAT box).

It was my collection of paper artifacts, though, that have proved most interesting. I retained all the drawings that my brother and sister made for me, even though - at the time - I wasn't particularly fond of my brother and sister. My elementary school artwork is stored in paper boxes at my parents' house, as are some of my old papers and projects from high school.

Since I am a grown-ass adult with my own house, I have (slowly, slowly) been working on cleaning out some of the junk that I still have at my parents' house. Thankfully, they are quite patient with me - I haven't officially lived there for more than ten years, and yet, my old room looks pretty much the same as when I left it.

It's tough to clean out all that old stuff for myriad reasons. Allow me to lay them out for you so I seem like less of a deadbeat. 1.) I don't live that close, so when I come to my parents' house, I am usually there for a reason that does not include cleaning. And I sure as hell am not going to miss out on a day at Lake Poinsett in lieu of sorting out my old toys. 2.) My house in Luverne is tiny, which means I cannot house all of my old stuff. That in turn means that I need to get rid of TONS of things, which is time-consuming and has the potential to be emotionally draining. 3.) I suck at being an adult.

In spite of my roadblocks, I have spent a few days going through my old things - and I have discarded garbage bags full. Go me. But as I mentioned in the above paragraph, it takes FOREVER. I saved EVERYTHING, and of course, I have to look at each and every thing and reminisce. That's just how it goes.

During one of said cleaning sessions, I came across a veritable treasure: a small orange piece of paper that I had socked away for who knows how long. Written on this small orange piece of paper was a note from my brother.

When we were growing up, my siblings and I would often give each other coupons for things, as they were great gifts for children low on cash. I was a prolific pop-drinker back then, and Mitch undoubtedly gave me this coupon assuming that I'd use it up on huge bottles of Mountain Dew.

Mitch was wrong.

I wish there had been a date on this note, as I have no idea when he wrote it. I left for college at age 18, and Mitch was 12 then - so he could not have been any older than 12. If I had to guess, though, I would say that he was younger still. In any case, Mitch gave me this coupon, and I put it away and forgot about it for YEARS.

I rediscovered my little orange coupon several years ago. I showed it to my family, who could not believe that I had not only kept this coupon for so long, but somehow managed to find it again. When I dug up this coupon, Mitch was not yet 21 - I think he was 19 or 20. I made the decision then and there to hold off on this coupon for a couple more years... until Mitch turned 21.

You'll recall that the size limit on these drinks is 24 ounces. 24 OUNCES. This coupon was going to prove to be quite valuable.

Sure enough, I hung onto my precious coupon until Mitch turned 21. It was January 25, 2014, and I spent my first drink on Mitch’s and my very first time in a bar together – seems appropriate, right? We were in Wooden Legs in Brookings, and I had some sort of hard apple cider. The drink was less than thrilling, but the fact that my freshly-21-year-old brother was buying it for me was truly delightful.

Since that first cider, I have been carefully rationing my remaining drinks. The second drink I crossed off my coupon wasn’t until May 8, 2014. Mom, Mitch, and I had gone to Arizona to visit Darrah, and we were having lunch out at Joe’s Crab Shack. I cashed in on a peach honey smash (some kind of whiskey peachy minty concoction in a jar), and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS: vacation drinks that someone else buys for you always are.

It took me nearly two years to choose my third drink, and I chose one very special occasion. Six of us Bjorklund cousins had miraculously lined up our schedules/lives and had met for a long weekend in Boston. I (the planner among us) had read up on Boston in my handy Lonely Planet book, and they suggested a bar in Charlestown called Pier 6. It was relatively unknown, so it wouldn’t be crowded, and it offered a view of the sun setting behind the Boston skyline – and it was RIGHT on the harbor. I was sold.

Our evening on the balcony of Pier 6 was indeed chilly, but we ordered our drinks and sipped them over good conversation and with one hell of a view. 

My drink was called the peach pit: homemade vodka, peach puree, mint, and tea. Despite the cold breeze coming off the harbor, my refreshing fruity drink made it feel like summer. (Sort of.)

I have two drinks left on my coupon, and I am going to use them wisely. It’s a goal of mine to make sure at least one of those drinks is actually 24 ounces (the maximum size as dictated by the coupon). Las Vegas, here I come?

Whatever happens with my last two drinks, it’s downright amazing that I’ve been able to use it as such. Who knew that a little lost-and-found orange scrap of paper could bring me so much joy? I guess good things really do come to those who wait… or accidentally hoard a coupon for a decade and then miraculously find it. Whichever.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

baseball stuff!

Like basically everyone ever, I look forward to summer with rabid anticipation. Winters in the Midwest drag on and ON, and the promise of summer is the only thing that keeps us going. All it takes is one day above zero degrees for us to ditch our winter coats and staunchly declare that spring is here.

It’s only early March, and the possibility of more blizzards is all too real. We’ve had snow in MAY before, for crying out loud. However, this first week or so of March has been downright glorious. Our snow has all but melted, and I have given up on wearing a coat altogether – and I’m weaning myself off socks. I was at HyVee the other day to pick up some food to grill, and I waited in line for FIFTEEN MINUTES at the grill case. Everyone had the exact same idea as me, it seemed. We Midwesterners start our summers as early as possible.

I love everything about summer – the lake time, the road trips, the beer… EVERYTHING. Summer makes me feel like a person again after a long winter of just existing. And today I want to talk about one of my new favorite summer pastimes.


It should be noted that my interest in organized sports is quite recent. (Or, organized sport, to be more accurate: baseball is the only thing I care about.) And maybe “interest” is too strong a word. I don’t play baseball, as my hand-eye coordination is a tad pitiful. I’m not dedicated enough to listen to baseball on the radio or watch it on TV or learn stats and the like. But I love watching baseball in a stadium.

South Dakota doesn’t have a baseball team, so most everyone in my home state roots for the Minnesota Twins. When I was younger, my family would make the occasional summer trip to see the Twins play in the Metrodome. I went once or twice, but was never that interested. I was also a grumpy teenager and not interested in much of anything, so there’s that. Even by the time I was done being a grumpy teenager (at age 17), when offered the chance to see a Minnesota Twins spring training game in Fort Myers, Florida, I chose to go shopping at the outlet mall instead.

I did, however, love baseball movies. Baseball movies are clearly the cream of the sports movie genre crop: A League of Their Own and The Sandlot come immediately to mind. Rookie of the Year wasn’t bad, and I have vague memories of Angels in the Outfield being an ok way to pass an afternoon. But those first two? A League of Their Own and The Sandlot? LIFE CHANGERS.

Movies alone weren’t enough to make me want to watch a baseball game. A regular old baseball game didn’t have the heart-stirring stories and life lessons that my favorite baseball movies did. So what was it that changed my mind about baseball games? I can tell you EXACTLY what it was. And by what, I mean who.

Joe Mauer.
 When I was a sophomore in college, I took an absolutely useless speech class. I was toying with the idea of becoming an English teacher, and my friend Sara was thinking about a major in speech communication. We both signed up for a 3000-level speech class during the spring semester, and we quickly realized how ridiculous it was. I had taken a harder speech class in high school. HIGH SCHOOL. I think we only gave two speeches during the  course of that class, and I have no memory of what they were supposed to be about. I do, however, remember that one girl did her speech on Joe Mauer. I don't recall anything about that speech except for one thing: Joe Mauer and I have the same birthday.

I know it's a tad childish, but you can't deny that you automatically like someone better if you find out that they have the same birthday as you. It's just a fact of life. I had a couple of pretty great birthday buddies - Dudley Moore, Tim Curry - but Joe Mauer? He was a hometown hero.

That is the one and only thing I gained from that speech class in 2007: Joe Mauer and I have the same birthday. And that was enough to pique my interest in the Minnesota Twins.

Still, it was quite a long while before I actually went to a baseball game. One needs money to do these things, after all, and I had none. I didn't go to a Twins game until 2010. They were in their new home at Target Field - and it was AMAZING. My dad, brother, and aunt came for a game while I was living in Minneapolis, and they invited me along.
I had to buy this Twins shirt ON THE WAY TO THE GAME. The first of a whole drawerful of Twins apparel.
It was an evening game in early spring, and I loved the fresh air and the palpable excitement emanating from the crowd. It was intoxicating, and I finally began to understand what the big deal was about baseball.

The first time I went to a Twins game of my own accord was... wait for it... my honeymoon. YES REALLY. Of all the people to go to a sporting event on her honeymoon, no one would've guessed that it would be me. While planning James's and my Winnipeg road trip honeymoon, I got a wild hair to swing home through Minneapolis and catch a Twins game. James - who cares even less about sporting events than I do - wasn't so sure. But he was easy to convince: all I had to do was ply him with ballpark hot dogs and beer, and he was on board.

We picked a day in early August, and the weather was downright glorious. Minnesota summers can get stiflingly hot and humid, but our wedding and the week or so following it hovered at a beautiful 75 degrees. James and I had purchased nosebleed seats, but no matter. I had my first ballpark beer, and let me tell you, it was the most delicious beer I'd ever had in my life.
On that day, I decided that Twins games were an essential part of my summers. Granted, living nearly four hours away from Target Field makes that more difficult to accomplish than I'd like,  but I still wanted it. Oh, how I wanted it!

2015 was a fabulous year for Twins games. In April, I traveled with my parents and James to Kansas City, where we met my sister and went to a Twins vs Royals game. But that's not all: we went with Dad's crop insurance underwriter WHOM HE'D NEVER MET BEFORE! She knew Dad was a Twins fan, and Dad knew she was a Royals fan. They'd sprinkle their crop insurance emails with comments about how either team was doing, and Dad decided that - should schedules align - we needed to go to a Twins v Royals game in Kansas City. So we did.
Kansas City was one of the most wonderful places on earth - the people were delightful, and the food was phenomenal. And so was the baseball! It was a close game, but the Twins lost. If you recall, though, the Royals ended up being the 2015 World Series champions, so it makes sense. It was there that we learned the rally cry for Mike Moustakas ("Moooooooooooooose!") and that people in Kansas City will feel absolutely terrible if you get barfed on. (Yes. That happened to us.) Barfing aside, we all loved Kansas City so much that we're going back for another Twins game this April. 2016 is your year, Twins!

James and I went to a wedding in Duluth in May, and we went to a Twins game with James's brothers the next day. Our seats were way WAY up there, but honestly, I don't think there's a bad spot in Target field. We were so far up there that we had a little cement ledge to put our drinks on. It worked out beautifully. 
At that game, the Twins gave out embroidered pillows! That was my first game with freebies, and those smushy blue pillows are all over our house.

The last Twins game I attended in summer 2015 was in July, and it somehow worked out that my parents, brother, sister, James, and I could ALL GO. A minor miracle, indeed. We had great seats, great weather, great everything. The Twins won – and they’ve won every home game at which I have been present. It must be me.
Bonus: we got a picture for the Christmas card.
 Now that I have a few Twins games under my belt, I’m thirsty for more. I still don’t know anything about baseball stats, nor can I name all of the players (but I know Brian Dozier now, and he’s important!). But I understand the fundamentals of baseball, and I understand what’s so great about it. And I want to experience that as much as possible.

Besides, it's on my bucket list to be circled by Bert. I can’t do that without being physically present at a Twins game, so there’s another reason for you.

Take me out to the ball game.