I'm sure my radio silence had you all worried. My apologies. The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated, I was merely entertaining The Canadian, supporting Mason through History Day
competition, and seeing "Avengers: Infinity War" (part 1).
Gods, so much to recount.
Let's do this somewhat out of order. First of all, Mason has been working on a ten-minute documentary about the Kent State Shootings for History Day for several months now. I linked to an "about" page regarding History Day above, but, basically, one is competing for the best project on theme. The topic is wide open. You can research anything that turns your fancy, but one of the ways that you're judged is how closely you stick to theme. This year's theme is "Conflict and Compromise." Students also pick the format of their project out of a pool of options. Mason picked documentary, despite it being highly competitive and something he's literally NEVER done before. In the past, he's made a website, which is another option. You can also write a research paper or write and perform some kind of performance (like a play, skit, or, one presumes, a stand-up comedy show or a speech? This is one category that seems a little baffling to me.)
While I was out with my Canadian doing the Art Crawl (more on that in a moment), I kept getting texts that read: "Passed this round" and then finally "Made it to finals!"
My Canadian and I hopped on the light rail and made it in time to see Mason pick up his topic award from TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) for $500.00.
Mason also got an honorable mention in his category, but didn't medal. (First and second place go to Nationals, third is an alternate, and fourth and fifth place get medals.)
He was initially kind of bummed about this, but $500 is an unusually high amount for these awards. In fact, it seems like, according to the website, anyway, if you GO all the way to Nationals and win second place you get the exact same prize ($500.00). I mean, my travel bug is probably most bummed about not getting the trip to Washington, D.C., because D.C. is one of his most favorite cities in the US (so far, that he's been to.) But, I reminded him that this was THE VERY FIRST TIME HE EVER, full stop. First time he'd scripted a documentary, first time competing at the Senior Level (which means he was up against veterans of this competition), and first time he's even used iMovie for ANYTHING.
However, the metaphor that I used that I think really got through to him, though, was "This is Season One of the History Day anime, you can't go all the way in the first season. No one would keep watching."
Okay, now returning to chronological order and moving forward from last Friday afternoon....
My Canadian was given a tour de force of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The first thing we did was hit MT Noodles in Brooklyn Park with her mother in tow. The restaurant was as authentic Vietnamese as advertised... in fact, I'm fairly certain I didn't eat my food correctly. But, it was delicious all the same.
After dropping her mom off at the hotel, I took her to my favorite coffee shop, Claddagh, where we promptly ran into my Friday (used to be Wednesday) women writers' group. I introduced my Canadian around and then abandoned her long enough to pick up Mason from school, Shawn from work, and to deposit them both at home.
Then because "see the Mississippi" was on her list, we took a little walk along the river walkway in downtown St. Paul. Because the wind was chilly we ended up at a Caribou Coffee where we chatted like dear old friends, which, we have been, ON PAPER, but I was pleased that it worked out IRL as the kids would say.
We went to a couple of the remote venues for the St. Paul Art Crawl on Friday night, too. We hit the Carleton Lofts and the Pottery store
that was on Front Street (both of which being places I wanted to see the insides of since forever, and was glad to have an excuse.) The pottery place is a funky little storefront:
Inside they had a lot of pottery for sale, of course, as well as some clay for kids to play with in the back and a potter's wheel for adults to try out. They were also serving soup in handcrafted bowls (did you buy the bowl as part of the food? I'm thinking so.)
But, I wanted to show off more of what the crawl would be like, so we also hit the Carleton Lofts
, which was more typical. There were 50+ artists of all variety (including a puppet builder--yes, the very one who built the puppet of me, and a novelist who had a sort of sad display and a desperate look in her eye.) I ran into a woman who runs a tarot collective, who offered to let me join, and we saw the world's CREEPIEST dolls... oh, sorry, they're not creepy (or so said the artist) they're for dark side HEALING. Yeah, no. They were CREEPY. I was, in fact, too afraid to take pictures.
That evening (with a random stop at Office Max for my panicked History Day family for printer paper), we went to hot pot at Little Szechuan
. I have never done hot pot before, so I let The Canadian take the lead. If you've never done it before, it's kind of a weird process. You get a checklist menu where you fill in what you want (and the amounts, as in half order or full,) and it's things like 'fish' and 'prawn' and 'beef' as well as a fairly wide variety of veggies. Basically, you cook each one in a broth, but they all mingle together so you kind of want them to sort of all go together? A pot comes out with broth--ours was divided between plain and spicy and then it sits on a stovetop on your table and boils. Once it's roiling you start dropping in various things you want to eat, watch them cook, and then fish them out. It's a lot of fun and tasty as all get out. We mostly did fish and veggies so it was quite delicious.
We had a helluva time getting the Canadian back to her hotel thanks to closings on 94 (and my fierce need to pee), we blamed it on the creepy dolls.
Mason and the rest of us were up until 3 am dealing with technical difficulties (and my perfectionist son's inability to think 'good enough'--which I guess paid off, so there's that.)
On Saturday, I dropped Mason off at Coffman Union. Actually, at the stairs on the River Road that lead to Coffman, because the only directions we had on the History Day packet presumed that we would be parking. Maybe because so many of the participants can drive themselves? Or maybe because there's just that many parents who wanted to be along for the whole day?
I collected my Canadian and we did the traditional walkabout Lowertown. I ditched my car here at home and she and I took the light rail in to Lowertown using the Art Crawl transit pass she printed out for us. The whole day was a whole lot of looking at odd art and checking out people's apartments/studios, because basically that's what you do. There's just a ton of people who open up their homes and set up art displays. I'd been hoping we could catch lunch at some food trucks, but we ended up at the very trendy Biergarten Germania
instead for lunch.
A sample of some of the art we saw during the crawl. This one is entitled: "Super Fan," which give that I am very much a super fan of Bleach, I appreciated a great deal:
As I noted above, we ended up dashing to catch Mason's award ceremony, and then, because we had tickets, we BARELY made it, but arrived only a few minutes late for "Pounded in the Tingle"
at Bryant/Lake Bowl in Uptown. That was... well, let's just say there was shadow puppet sex.
We stayed late at the bar drinking (me a Coke and her a craft beer of some sort) and talking. We had some kind of debate about how money works and the social construct somewhere near midnight on the way home, so I'd say the day was a success.
I had thought she only had the two days, so we were slightly at loose ends on Sunday. My Canadian is a thrifter/antique shopper so someone (magenta
, I think?) suggested the Minnehaha Mile
and so we hit the Falls for a classic tourist destination, walked a bit of the trails, and then "thrifted" through several of the stores along the mile. I'm not a huge fan of shopping, but thrifting is really about window shopping and looking at all the weird/cool vintage stuff and I had a lot of fun. We stopped at Dumpling
for a light early dinner/late lunch.
I was pretty worn out at that point and luckily the Canadian also felt the need to spent a bit more time with her mom, so we called it an early night somewhere around 5pm, which meant I could go home and see my family a bit over the weekend as well.
It was SO MUCH FUN.
And I was super-glad that a text based friends worked so very, very well live and in "meat space."
Edited to add that I will address my thoughts on "Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1)" in a separate entry.