Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day CXIX: Minnesota Nice

Years ago, when I traveled in Europe for school, I maintained a travel blog. It was one of the more rewarding experiences I've had as a writerly person, and I sometimes backtrack through old posts for ideas, for inspiration, for thoughts.

Today, I thought I would reblog this old entry, as it has a lot to do with my mood.


(I wasn’t originally going to talk about this topic, because it really had no connection to travelling over here in London, and that’s primarily what this blog is all about.  Yet, within the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve had instances that have really touched me as a human being and have made this post much more relevant.  So: I’m gonna write about it.  Well, by the time you’re reading this, attractive and funny and brilliant reader, I will have already passed the writing stage which would make the previous sentence moot.  But I can’t very well say that I am going to post it either as that would have happened already too.  OMG.  What am I going to say here?  I’m stressing out now.  Have I written about something in the future verse even though it’s already happened?  Does it happen often I have just noticed it now?  When did I get this neurotic?! 

I need coffee.)

Not to toot my own horn, but when I wrote my Scotland blog I think I discovered something revelatory.  Then again, it’s only my own revolution so there’s nothing particularly engaging about it for anyone else.  Oh well, Amer-I-Can (pronounced: ‘a mare, I can’)! 

I realized that my blog here in this great big city is something of an enormous, far too in depth personals ad or something.  Really, it’s just an epic profile of whom I am as an individual and who I think that I want to be.  It made me uncomfortable at first, in all honesty.  I sort of realized that anyone, literally anyone with an internet connection, could stumble upon this little blog—a gem of a thing, really—and could pretty much ascertain anything about me that they wanted.

What does he look like?  See picture.

What are his hobbies?  See ‘about me’ and nearly every other entry detailing the loves of my life.

What are his dislikes?  See any blog about flying or about frowny, whiny human beings.

Where is he from and what is his family like? See initial post and any post about missing the family and friends back home.

Is he funny or smart?  Incredibly.  Er…See blog.

I guess those are just the basics, but holy crows’ feet!  This is a vulnerable place to be, especially on the World Wide Web!  Yikes.

And then, more importantly, I realized I don’t care.  I don’t really want to waste my time not letting people know who I am or what I am like.  I don’t want to be someone who cares what you think about me or changes because you think something is off.  I just want to be me.  I just want to be an orange apple. 

But there’s an issue in bearing it all to the world.  I have this disorder that a majority of people have where I am from.  It doesn’t break out all over your skin, it doesn’t prevent your body from functioning normally (I don’t like the word normal, but my vocabulary is suffering right now), and it doesn’t stop you from doing most things in life that require a clean build of health.  It’s called Minnesota Nice.  You may have heard of it.  Hell, you might even have it. 

Please check yourself for the following symptoms:

A)    You can’t help but smile when you’re walking, even when it’s raining or windy or cold.  You have a perma-grin.  It makes you look jolly and it makes you terribly approachable.
B)     When people are sad or hurting or crying for no reason on an uncomfortable couch, you just want to help.  You want to do anything to take away their pain or discomfort and make it your own, even if it means over exerting yourself and suffering for it later.
C)    You form relationships quick!  You get connected to people too fast because you cannot help but see the overwhelming brightness in all people.  Sure, there are individuals that just don’t radiate great energy, but with Minnesota Nice, you are guaranteed to try and see the smile in a person, regardless of how far down it might be inside of them.
E)     You suffer from crippling episodes of friendliness.  You just want to make someone’s day so you buy them flowers or chocolate and slip in under their door.  Even something as mundane as chapstick or a cupcake can make an individual’s life much better, so you constant have hyperdrive urges to put a smile on someone’s face.  Then, if you don’t follow through with your plans, even if that idea wasn’t going to happen if you hadn’t seen someone having a rough afternoon, you blame yourself for their terrible day and attitude.  Later you realize that it’s not your fault they had a bad day at work or had trouble with a test and that your lack of cheering them up has nothing to do with how they were already feeling.  And that’s when you realize you’re insane.
F)     You listen well.  You can carry on conversation that is sometimes over-the-top because you’re terribly genuine and love other people.

     G)    You’re a good kisser. (Okay, fine, this is more of a sub symptom that just happens to be prevalent in some individuals with Minnesota Nice…Having suffered from this part of the disease all my life, I can say it’s quite taxing.)
     H)    You always use three positives to answer questions.  Example:  Person asks, “Can I borrow your pen?”  You respond, “Yea, sure, of course!”  (or) Person asks, “Would it be okay if we took this chair to our table even though I just saw your friend get up and wander off to the bathroom and when he gets back there will be an awkward moment when he or she realizes you gave away their seat?”  You respond, “For sure, absolutely, you bet!” 
I)       Your eyes sparkle with stories every time someone makes eye contact.
J)       You spend too much time worrying about things you’ve done wrong and never really understand that, often, things out of your control cannot possibly be your fault. 
K)    Finally, you have the accent.  The vOwels Of EAch wOrd bEcome tOO much for mOst pEOple tO hAndle in friendlY convErsAtion.  It’s too adorable for words, the Minnesota dialect.  And even though it’s one of the more common side effects of Minnesota Nice, it’s definitely appreciated for what it is.

So that’s the sickness I have; that’s the disease that many Minnesotans share.  And the reason it’s a problem is this: when people ask you something like, “why are you being so nice?” or say “you can’t do that, it’s too much!” I don’t understand why he or she is so surprised by what I’ve done.  It’s just what I do.

I am (currently) sitting in Starbucks right outside of the South Kensington tube station drinking some drip coffee out of a mug that I think must have touched thousands of pairs of lips and it makes me a little apprehensive.  Then I realize that I just want some coffee.  Also, did you know that Starbucks started dealing in fair trade beans?  I’m a little impressed!  Anyway, it’s here that I got the last push of motivation to write this little blurb. 

It's tough being me :)

A couple came in with some of their extended family and they were looking for a place to sit down with their high volume of small children and caffeinated beverages.  I was the only one sitting in the comfortable study room and, for the most part, the rest of the shop was empty.  So, I offered them the room so that they could all sit down together. 
“Oh my god, no, no!  Absolutely not!” the eldest of the bunch pushed.  “You’re doing work!”  I wasn’t, I was on Facebook because I have a problem, and reading a book for pleasure.
“No, really, please, I would love to move, you bet, absolutely!” 
“Are you sure?” 
“Of course, yes, definitely.  I can sit at the coffee bar and get another cup.  It’s empty.”
“That’s too much.  That’s so nice.  You Americans, you’re great.”
“You can tell I’m American?”
“The accent always gives you away,” she smiles and winks.
“Every time!  Do you guys want a picture of you all with your holiday cups?”  Starbucks already has their traditional red and white cups out for the season.
“Oh, would you? What a great idea!”
So I take a picture of them and they all are just full of smiles.  I smile too.  What a nice family.

The other instances over the last few weeks have been pretty similar as far as dialogue goes:
“Why are you being so nice?”        
“Do you always do things like this?”
“You’re the only person that has stopped and I’ve been scrambling for, like, 5 minutes!”

"I'm a Hoover"

The last one there had lost his spreadsheets in Russell Square and it’s not like I had anything better to do than run around and pick up the paper rolling over the still green grass.  Plus, I got to pretend I was the hoover from The Brave Little Toaster or the guy in the money machine on TV in the film adaptation of Matilda.  (For the record, this as an instance of over share when I realize I am a fucking weirdo, an orange apple.  Whateva!)


It just always catches me off guard when people are surprised the niceness in other humans.  It’s especially jarring when they are surprised by the niceness in me because I’m one of the nicest people on the planet!  Seriously, I am.

Maybe orange apples are just the nicest fruits?


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