I’m writing this from my new bedroom in my new house, which currently smells pleasantly like lilacs as I am burning a purple candle on the windowsill. This gives the room a spring-like air, although it is about twenty degrees and two feet deep in snow outside, passing for a ‘warm day’ by Twin Cities standards. I drove here two days ago, on Saturday. It was strongly snowy, requiring speeds no higher than 55 on the freeway, from Detroit to Chicago (during the stretch of which I stopped for a late breakfast with the great Casey and later marched around a snowy, frozen Lake Michigan beach.) Once I left Chicago, driving up through Illinois and cutting the corner of Wisconsin, the snow stopped, but as the sun set and I continued through inky-black Wisconsin, I watched my car’s temperature reading drop lower and lower. Soon it said -3. I pressed my hand to the inside of the window and my fingertips came away with a thin skin of ice. I turned on the radio and there was an interview on NPR with a young woman living in Minneapolis who said she was reading Dante’s Inferno and thought this winter in the Twin Cities was its own kind of hell. I turned up the heat in my car a notch.
I arrived just before midnight on Saturday. It was my first time in St. Paul, my first time anywhere in Minnesota except for driving along Highway 2, my first time seeing the house and meeting my roommates. My housemate Kyle and his girlfriend Angela were here – they gave me a quick tour and we had a chat before I unfurled a blanket in my new room and passed out. The house is chilly as hell, but mostly I have lots of positives to report. Kyle, Angela (who lives nearby), and my other two housemates (Karen and Eli, who were gone for the weekend and I briefly met last night) are incredibly friendly and also ecology nerds, which is huge boon in my book. I went along to a Super Bowl party at Angela’s house last night and met a bunch of their friends – all goofy, outgoing, friendly ecology people and architects. (We drank beers and had snacks and almost no one watched the actual football game. I tried to remember everyone’s names.) The house was built in the late 1800s and is beautiful – all hardwood floors and stained glass windows and curvy wooden bits. My roommates have also decked it out with all kinds of cool artwork and antlers and giant pinecones and plants and shelves of field guides.
Sam Case is also here for a short while, staying with his parents before he leaves to study birds in China, which means I got to spend yesterday afternoon with him: talking, eating falafels, drinking ‘hoity-toity’ coffee, looking for books on China in a great bookstore, and meandering around uptown Minneapolis.
As a result of all of these Super Bowl parties and Sam Case catch-ups, also the fact that I have really no bedroom furniture to speak of, many of my boxes remain unpacked.
Today was supposed to be my first day of work, but a new Zoo policy requires that I am fingerprinted, so today I had to take a paper card and get inked up by a professional, and now I have to wait for those to be processed. (The first time I was fingerprinted I found it rather exciting, but this was like time number six.) I did, however, get to meet my boss, a few others, and take a small tour of the zoo. “So this is our office,” my new boss would say. “You’ll hear the tigers roaring in here. That wall there is the edge of their enclosure.” He showed me some of the classrooms, one of which shares a glass wall with the penguin house – we saw some penguins swimming by. I saw snow monkeys grooming one another, a hissing cockroach laying an egg sac, a group of otters asleep in a cuddly pile, and two grizzly bears wrestling. I am still finding it hard to believe that this is my new place of employment.
I am going to go keep unpacking now, but please send me some cheery hellos, as I still know hardly anyone here and it’s weird.
(I also didn’t write anything about last week’s family trip to Chicago (with parents, brother, Aunt Kathy), which was fantastic. We spent all day at the Field Museum and the Aquarium, ate amazing Mexican food and very satisfying pizza, played silly games (I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my aunt laugh that hard), and spent hours on the train. My family rocks pretty hard. So does Chicago.)