Minneapolis

Worst weather, best people: a weekend at home!

Dorothy Gale hit the nail square on the head... "There's no place like home." I snuck back to Minneapolis the weekend before the Labor Day holiday thanks to an insanely good flight deal, and had a fabulous whirlwind 72 hours with my parents and best friends in the process! 

At first, Dick, Jodester and I had grand plans of spending all day Friday on Lake Minnetonka - boating, scoping out stunning real estate, and getting me in a Minnesota lake for the first time this summer. Instead, the forecast was for weather in the low to mid 60s and rain all weekend. Damn it, Minnesota! What was this bull? Fortunately, I have the world's best parents, and they planned a doubleheader Friday evening of my favorite places: Spoon and Stable and the Guthrie! 

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that Spoon and Stable is the best restaurant in the Twin Cities. And if you don't acknowledge that, I will fight you. No, I kid. But not really. We showed up nice and early to clock time at the bar with Elliot, who made me their Daily per usual. The feature of the day involved, among other things, bourbon and orgeat, a an almond-and-rose liqueur that was revelatory. I adored it. Then again, I've never had a cocktail at Spoon that I didn't adore. 

We sat down to dine, and right after our salads showed up, so did this little munch!!

LOOK at the chins on this pumpkin, my baby cousin Hugh Arnold! He (and his parents Jake and Brook, as well as cousin Matt and aunt/uncle Mary Beth and Dave!) had been down the street at the Hewing having happy hour, and popped over to say hello (and for snuggles/second base, obvs). Such a fun surprise - I hadn't seen Hugh since he was a tiny two-month old at the third Arnold brother Josh's wedding in Miami

My very favorite person at Spoon is our server of choice, Nikki, who is an utter delight and spoils us rotten at every turn, chatting all evening and surprising us with treats in the form of extra dessert. Papa Bear loves to debate the age-old quandary: would you choose greatfood and average service, or average food and great service? Fortunately at S&S, you don't have to choose, but the service provided by people like Elliot and Nikki is so outstanding that it's almost ruined me for normal dining experiences. I seriously love it there so much it's a bit absurd. 

After doing a fairly obscene number on the honey and cream cake (sue me), we headed down the street to my other fave place in the Cities, my beloved Guthrie, for their final performance of "Native Gardens!"

Having no idea what we were getting into, we were all blown away by the show, a comedy about neighbors warring over their yards and property lines. It felt shockingly topical and universal, and I think, based on the audience's response, we weren't the only ones who could relate. For me, the highlight was my dad laughing his ass off, which rarely happens in a theater!

I spent Saturday morning having a much-needed catch-up with my hairstylist Jen, getting colored and cut and cleaned up, before a reunion with my very own ride-or-die, Kelsie! We chose to spend the afternoon doing what we do best: an alcohol crawl through the Twin Cities, duh. 

We started at Rojo with margaritas and guacamole...

...moved to Tattersall for a peek at their totally revamped cocktail menu...if you go, I HIGHLY recommend the new 18th and Central or the Humzinger...

...And we wrapped up our day out at Indeed, where I drank IPAs (and a Mexican Honey, duh) to my heart's content! Look at the changes California has wrought in me...and it's only been two months! 

We headed back to the Schwegfam World Headquarters for a fantastic Inner Circle dinner with my parents, who love Kelsie so much that they actually use the hashtag #4thchild with her. Realistically, we've been friends for literally half our lives and I'm pretty sure at this point she's grandfathered in. My dad grilled us burgers, we drank plenty of wine, and had a blast catching up until late!

Sunday morning marked the first time all weekend that I'd seen Minnesota blue skies, and we celebrated by heading to Lake Harriet for a morning lap. While I'd been on-and-off nostalgic all weekend, this was the first moment that I really, truly felt like I'd left the Cities, rather than just gone on some bizarre extended vacation. Looking at the skyline on the horizon tugged at my heartstrings in a way that metaphorically screamed that that view doesn't belong to me anymore...it's incredibly weird, and I still haven't really synthesized it. More to come, eventually. 

We vacated the premises as storms loomed more seriously on the horizon, and I headed home to clean up and pack before meeting Hannah in Edina for coffee! We chatted for nearly two hours about everything from "The Bachelorette" to our love lives, and I was so engrossed that I didn't even bother to snap a picture. Shame on me! That said, she's coming to California in a little over a month, and I can't wait to spend a week catching up then! 

All too soon, it was goodbye to Hannah and time for a crazy-enthusiastic hello!!!! to baby Ryan Reuvers! 

This not-so-little cutie pie (and his amazing parents, Zach and Colleen!) met up with me at Tavern on France for patio mimosas and a ton of cuddles. He was so excited to finally meet me that he pooped straight through not one, but two outfit changes. I have that effect on guys, apparently ;) 

The side-eye says it all...I'm clearly ready for parenthood. It was beyond fun to catch up with Zach and Colleen and meet their little man, who is just as precious as they are...can't wait for more quality time when they head to the Bay Area in THREE weeks! 

My parents came and met me, we had a disastrous dinner at Al Vento, and before I knew it it was time to head to MSP and board a late flight back west. While the weekend was a total whirlwind of activities and socializing, it gave me exactly the boost I needed as I headed into Stanford's year-end. Minnesota is good for my soul, friends - or at least it is now. We'll see if my tune changes come wintertime, when my thin new-Californian blood has to deal with subzero temps again! 

Goodbye, Minneapolis

As you read this, my mom and I are somewhere in western Minnesota or South Dakota, in a black Honda Civic packed to the gills with three suitcases, two lamps, a potted plant, and every article of clothing that was once hanging in my Loring Park walk-in closet. I said goodbye to the Twin Cities this morning, although it feels like I've been saying goodbye for a lot longer. 

Since I decided on this move, I've been thinking so much about Minneapolis. How this city has defined and shaped me for the last six years as a young adult, but really for my entire life. I had an almost out-of-body moment en route between goodbye parties last Friday, when I passed the building where I started my professional career at Ernst & Young. The café table where I sat the morning of my job interview was vacant, and I could almost see myself...black Calvin Klein suit, turquoise silk blouse from J.Crew, headphones in and my pump-up playlist blasting as I sipped a Caribou cold press. I remember feeling like my whole life was about to start that morning, and I imagined it all taking place right there. 

To think that I'm taking such a sudden, intentional left turn and leaving this city, this state, behind...it's a bit mind-boggling. I will miss so much about Minneapolis. I will miss how it feels like I can get anywhere in half an hour or less. Similarly, I will miss being able to see the skyline from half an hour away in almost any direction, thanks to Minnesota's prairie flatness. I'll miss the stillness of the Lakes on a summer morning, and the sunsets over Loring Park. The way the snow squeaks under boots when it gets teeth-hurtingly cold, and watching flaming red sugar maple leaves fall on Cathedral Hill in Saint Paul. 

Spoon and Stable happy hours, Tattersall's patio, and exploring new restaurants with friends and family. The moment when Erin Keefe tunes the Minnesota Orchestra, or settling into the rose velvet seats at the Ordway for another opera. The view from the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie. Baking in the sun at Target Field every summer, and watching Notre Dame games with friends at the Crooked Pint (actually, I WON'T miss the Crooked Pint at all...). And honestly, those friends, and my family. These are the things I'm intentionally giving up in leaving here, and when I stop to really think about that, it's a bit gut-searing. 

I just realized that 3rd Street downtown becomes Central in Nordeast. Isles Bakery, my favorite little breakfast hole in the wall, isn't so little anymore after an expansion. Continually realizing and discovering little gems like that make me happy, and remind me that there is still so much about this city that I don't know and haven't explored. 

While I am incandescently excited to take this next step, I can't deny how bittersweet it feels to close this specific chapter. Saying goodbye (for now?) to the city that has played such a huge role in shaping who I am today breaks my heart, but makes me incredibly grateful to have had those moments. Four apartments, one broken heart, numerous friends, one first date at a VFW, too many cocktails, 57 Guthrie shows, two jobs, three promotions, and myriad adventures later, I think that I can comfortably say that the girl waiting in the lobby for her EY interview would be excited and proud and thankful to be where she is today. I am. And though I'm so excited for the next chapter in California, I'm completely okay with saying "Au revoir" instead of "Adieu" to the Twin Cities. 

Til we meet again, you lovely.

artichokes, alors

I needed artichokes.

I had an egg bake to make to use up a bunch of random crap in my pantry, and I needed one jar of chopped artichokes for said recipe. After a particularly stressful week – my last few days at work, trying to wrap up dozens (hundreds?) of miscellaneous little things and transition as much as possible, as smoothly as possible, my nerves were shot. Even making it through the doors of my local downtown Lunds felt like an utterly Herculean effort…one more line item to cross off the to-do list before three more mushroomed up in its place.

Basket slung over my arm, purse swinging off my other shoulder, I started working my way through the aisles of the store. It was a busy time to be there – in hindsight, I should have gone earlier or later in the day than the post-work rush. As my basket got heavier, my mind drifted away from the task at hand and on to other things…how to best pack my gallery wall pieces for safe transport? When the heck would the purchaser of my barstools commit to a pickup time? How does one actually clean a dishwasher? And I got careless. I reached up to grab a jar of artichokes, and my basket snagged on the shelf of jars below and knocked several of them off, which shattered – shattered, I tell you - all over the floor and my feet.

You know the feeling of everyone looking at you and quietly judging you? That urgent need to melt into an invisible puddle and just totally disappear from an utterly mortifying situation? I could feel my entire face flushing beet red from my neck up, hands shaking and the microscopic cuts on my foot starting to bleed just enough to look gruesome and alarming. Two Lunds employees converged on me to start cleaning up and make sure everything was okay, and immediately freaked out and started making a scene asking for a first-aid kit, as a concerned middle-aged woman came over and started proffering Kleenex and reassurance.

I, naturally, being a self-possessed and rational adult, burst into tears that probably made it look like what was happening was a lot worse than it really was, and apologized no less than twenty-nine times for breaking four jars of artichoke hearts. And they all started looking at me like I was certifiably insane, probably like “Okay, you loser, it’s four jars of artichokes, nbd,” but it felt like A HUGE DEAL at the time. Like – get your shit together, Liz, pay attention, who the hell just goes around breaking shit in a grocery store? And finally the little teenage Lunds employee who was sweeping up broken glass and artichoke juice put his hand on my shoulder and was like, “Dude, we have concrete floors. This happens six times a day.”

So I took a deep breath, and sucked in my quivering bottom lip and wiped my mascara tracks off my cheeks. I smiled, got my shit (sort of) together, and bought a pint of pistachio Halo Top (it’s totally the best flavor). And I got to the checkout line, and the middle-aged man checking me out started chatting (clearly having heard about the trauma, or just seeing that I was upset). We talked about random stuff while he rang me out, and he mentioned that his favorite pistachio ice cream came from Berthillon, in Paris. I perked up right away – Berthillon is the BOMB – and he gave me props for pronouncing it right.

“Zut, que vous avez une belle accent,” he effused, and I, being a self-possessed and rational adult (HA), responded in French. As one does. So then we had the most charming conversation about how hard it is to find French speakers in the Cities – though I seem to be doing a decent job of that lately – and how fun it is to find someone with whom to converse. And we wound the conversation down with lots of “a demain”s and “au revoir”s, and I figured that was that.

Then I went in there again last night after a family dinner to pick up some coffee (I’ve been out for days and it’s untenable), and he was ringing out. And the second he spotted me walking through the door, he bellowed “MON DIEU, C’EST LA PETITE PARISIENNE DE MINNEAPOLIS!” (My god, it’s Minneapolis’s little Parisian!) I turned beet red, but for such a better reason than shattering artichoke jars. And we chatted at checkout again, and I left for home with a smile on my face.

This is mostly a pointless and rambling story, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there are such wonderful people lurking in even the most quotidian places, especially in this bizarre and transient phase of life. Here’s hoping that you find one today, whoever you are reading this.

friday morning brain dump

Guys. I'm slowly losing it. Things are 100% crazy right now - winding up my job, preparing for a cross-country move, selling half my life on Craigslist, trying to see as many friends as possible before heading west. It feels like almost every morning I wake up and my first thought is "OMGWTFAMIDOINGAHHHHHH" before my feet hit the ground and I don't stop to think for the rest of the day. 

Bright spots in the craziness: 

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-- My parents are in Ireland and sending back absurdly picturesque photos of the castles in which they're staying and the sheep with whom they are frolicking and the scenery in which they are doing said frolicking. It's making me crave a Euro trip in the worst way. 

-- There's so much hilarity latent in trying to sell things on the Internet. I stumbled into a barter-type situation in trying to sell an old iPod, and was so tempted to ask him if he wanted to discuss how many camels he'd trade for my virginity. HA. 

-- In a totally serendipitous happening, I ran into a friend, Tien, at trivia last Monday right after I shared news of my move. She was one of the first people to reach out and wish me well, and seeing her was totally happenstance, as it had been MONTHS. We ended up chatting for a while at trivia, and then drank champagne on my roof on Tuesday night catching up on life.

It was the most inspirational conversation I've had in a long time - she, like me, is making some pretty radical changes in life, and hearing her excitement for and drive to make those changes galvanized me to continue striving to be and do better. We talked a lot about the impetus behind change, and ended up talking for quite awhile about Oprah...because, duh, Oprah is the original powerbitch. Not gonna lie, I stole some of Tien's mojo and started reading Oprah too...and found this list of Oprah quotes on success to be particularly inspiring going through the week. 

--These Hermione-centric Harry Potter titles made me laugh my ass off, right in the middle of the workday. I'm a particular fan of "Hermione Is More Competent Than Everyone Else While She Is In A Coma." Life goals, right there. Hermione and Oprah can be in my Powerbitch Club any day. 

--You know you've arrived when the Minnesota Opera puts you and your date in their digital invitation to the 55th anniversary Kickoff Gala. Which, naturally, I can't attend because, you know, I'm leaving. Here's hoping I can leave a similar mark on the San Francisco Opera...HA. 

--I haven't touched a book for like two weeks, THANKS moving. That said, my "books to read" list is growing at an alarming pace thanks to the Reese Witherspoon Book Club account on Instagram. Turns out that in addition to being a new power producer in Hollywood, she's also an avid reader who gets books turned into movies on the regular. Can't wait to pick up a few of her latest recommendations! 

--Laura and I are already planning wine country trips for our new West Coast life, and that will have to include our furry roommate Fi. I've bookmarked these lists of dog friendly wineries in Napa and Sonoma, and can't wait to get drinking. Of course. 

--Laura also posted this amazing data mapping of "Hamilton" lyrics on my Facebook forever ago, and I'm not going to lie, I spent like an hour playing with it over lunch on Monday or Tuesday. It's delightful in every way for an analytics nerd like me. 

 

Twin Cities Love Letters: Part I

First of all, THANK YOU from the depths of my heart to everyone who has reached out this week to congratulate me, share advice, and offer Bay Area connections in light of the news about my upcoming move! Not gonna lie, I’m just as nervous as I am excited about this change, and hearing from so many people was an absolute joy. I am so lucky to have such great people in my life, near and far!

That said…oh man, with the countdown clock under a month, I’m getting seriously nostalgic about my beloved Twin Cities, and every day seems to bring to mind something else I’m going to miss terribly once I relocate. With that in mind, expect a few of these love letters to my hometown over the next few weeks…starting with my Lakes!

This time of year is truly one of my favorite seasons in the Twin Cities. Once we get over the hump (snow on 5/1, omg seriously just demoralizing in every way), everything seems to suddenly, simultaneously burst into bloom. Tulips, the pink trees, dandelions and fresh foliage compete with babies everywhere...fawns in our backyard, ducklings and goslings all over the place, you name it. I adore Minnesota's springtime vitality, and nowhere is it on better display in Minneapolis than around the Lakes. 

That said, brave Minnesota ducks never let a little ice stop them...nor do we intrepid Minnesotans, who will get out and get our miles in whenever possible. Kels and I did Lake Harriet a few times in February (to be fair, on unseasonably warm days, but still!), and last fall my parents and I went as late as November. I'm going to miss the sheer brute determination of Minnesotans to enjoy our weather as much as humanly possible...though I'm not sure I'm going to miss having to brace myself for subzero walks to work every morning. 

I will immensely miss the Lake Harriet Yoga Project, one of the most cherished parts of my summer last year. Waking up at the crack of dawn and catching the sunrise spilling over an empty Bandshell...

...and spending mornings stretching and centering myself, while the birds wake up, the breeze blows off the water, and the boats bobbing up and down. Those mornings were so relaxing and satisfying, and my foray into the world of "being a yoga person" 

I will miss hot, sultry summer walks, admiring the rainbows of canoes docked around each of the Lakes. 

And watching sailboats and canoes mingle with the ducks and loons, on the calmest and windiest of days! It's a moderate regret of mine that I've never actually gotten myself out on one of the Lakes...lord knows I've spent enough time around them. 

I will miss peaceful twilight evenings around the walking paths...watching the sun fading slowly over the Bandshell, the water reflecting it all right back, and things quieting down as we lap the water. It's one of the most peaceful places I can think of to enjoy a sunset.

I will miss Concerts in the Park...and randomly stumbling on them during outdoor book club, and most of all making my family be two hours early to the Orchestra's annual Lake Harriet performance just so we can be front-row for magic like this: 

(Don't even get me started on how much I'll miss this orchestra. I can't actually contemplate it without getting a little bit teary-eyed.)

I will miss the stunning fall vistas around Lake of the Isles, and the way that, on a clear day, it seemed like there were two sets of gorgeous old homes and churches to admire. 

I think most of all, though, I'll miss this skyline view. The years of memories around the Lakes feel even more special when I think of how they've been a constant thread through my six adult years here...coffee and chatting with Hannah or Kelsie, dragging anyone I can to Lake Harriet Yoga Project, meeting my parents for walks and hitting up Isles Bakery afterward...even heading over by myself for a few hours of solitude with headphones or a book. I've loved these perfect little pockets of relaxation right in the heart of the city, and I know there's no real replacement for them. 

My new life in California, of course, won't be without water. We're living right on the bay, out near Bair Island, a reclaimed marine area dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of a natural habitat. 

There are miles of walking trails, and should be plenty of wildlife to satisfy my urge to get away from the city, in my own backyard. I'm excited to explore a totally different world...while I'm a child of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, life by the ocean is a new animal for me!

That said...it's going to take a lot to fill the hole(s) in my heart left by Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake of the Isles. Friends, if you find yourself over there, snap me a picture and savor every minute of it! I'll miss it so dearly!