On My Own: Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Edition

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In my teens (particularly in high school), I never would have gone to something like this by myself.  I would have wanted to be with my family or with a group of friends.  Not because I feared crowds or for my general safety in public, but rather because I would have wanted to look like I belonged, somehow.  Like I was the kind of successful person who had back up, who had peeps, who had voluntary companions.

In my twenties, I’ve discarded this particular security blanket.  I have studying abroad to thank for that, and a certain icy roommate who seemed to either think that I was a swamp monster or entirely nonexistent.  That sort of treatment, rather than crushing my spirit–cue Oprah monologue–forced me to be independent, self-confident, and to chuckle to myself at the horrendous awkwardness of the situation.

An example of my claimed immense self-growth: a few evenings ago I went to a concert by myself.  I drove to Minneapolis (though I’ve always liked driving); ran up on a curb while attempting to park on a smart, residential street; and walked along Lake Harriet until I reached the band shell where the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians would be performing.

I then stood for an hour and a half at the back of the band shell’s lawn listening and periodically patting the head of my standing neighbor’s small black dog.  I enjoyed the music, and the general splendor of being near a great mass of water and seeing the occasional bright-sailed sailboat race across it.

Photo credit: Jana Freiband

Photo credit: Jana Freiband

The only discomfort involved in the outing–aside from when I jumped the curb with witnesses–was that when it comes to classical music, I hardly know what I’m hearing.  There a movement has ended, there the sound is building … that’s about the extent of my knowledge.  I greatly admired the young woman near me who had her eyes closed the entire time and was softly swaying her body as if in a great, music-induced trance.  I would have done the same, hoping for epiphany, but bad things tend to happen when I close my eyes.

You can see me in this photo!  It's tough, but if you look straight back from the man sitting center in the green shirt and Twins baseball cap, I'm the girl turned sideways with an orange-ish scarf on and a bun in my hair.  It's a little embarrassing that I'm not even watching the concert in this photo.  But hey--maybe I'm petting the dog?

You can see me in this photo! It’s tough, but if you look straight back from the man sitting center in the green shirt and Twins baseball cap, I’m the girl turned sideways with an orange-ish scarf on and a bun in my hair. It’s a little embarrassing that I’m not even watching the concert in this photo. But hey–maybe I’m petting the dog? Photo credit: Jennifer Simonson

Truthfully, until I arrived at Lake Harriet, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into.  I knew it was a Minnesota Orchestra concert, and that it was free.  But I didn’t realize that these were the Minnesota Orchestra musicians who have been locked out of the Minnesota Orchestral Association since October 2012, following a labor dispute.

Good for them for continuing to perform, despite the lack of steady salary.  Good for them for refusing to let their orchestra become anything less than the world-class group it’s always been.

After the concert was over, I pushed my way to the front of the band shell where buttons and t-shirts were being sold.  I grinned hugely as I bought my button and pinned it on, so much so that the woman at the table asked if I was a musician myself.  No, ma’am.  It just felt good to support a cause again.  Not good as in, my word, I’m such a Good Samaritan, but good as in, my word, even though I’m by myself, I’m part of this large group of happy people who love music and come to listen to it and buy buttons to support it.  What was left of my trembling high school self shrank three sizes that day.

If you’d like to learn more about the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians, their cause, and their upcoming concerts, here‘s the link to their website. The Star Tribune write-up of the Lake Harriet concert and the current lockout situation can be found here.

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Out East Road Trip Days 4 & 5: Washington D.C.

You can see a lot in two days.  Especially in D.C., where the streets overfloweth with monuments and museums.

Because it would take me about three years to write a witty paragraph about every place we visited, here is a pictorial representation instead, for your convenience and mine:

The Library of Congress, complete with outstanding Civil War exhibit.  I was cruising through it, not very interested in accounts of battles, when all the sudden there was a letter Walt Whitman had written.  There was the signed Thirteenth Amendment.  They aren't overly showy with their authentic artifacts in D.C.  It's up to you to pay attention and discover what's there.

The Library of Congress, complete with outstanding Civil War exhibit. I was cruising through it, not very interested in accounts of battles, when all the sudden there was a letter Walt Whitman had written. There was the signed Thirteenth Amendment. They aren’t overly showy with their authentic artifacts in D.C.; It’s up to you to pay attention and discover what’s there.

Outside the Newseum was a display of state newspapers.  Minnesota was solidly represented.

Outside the Newseum was a display of that day’s front page from every state’s newspaper. Minnesota was solidly represented.

So, there was this house.  And it was white.

So, there was this house. And it was white.

The Capitol, where Minnesota's own Amy Klobuchar set us up with a tour led by one of her interns.  Also, I randomly spotted the Speaker of the House walking into his office, flanked by a few security guards.  No big deal.

The Capitol, where Minnesota’s own Amy Klobuchar set us up with a tour led by one of her interns. Also, I randomly spotted the Speaker of the House walking into his office, flanked by a few security guards. He stopped to chat about the upcoming Bachelorette finale.  He was team Brooks.

The Smithsonian First Ladies' exhibit, where we saw Michelle Obama's  inauguration gown (and shoes, which were refreshingly Holly-sized).

The Smithsonian American History Museum’s First Ladies exhibit, where we saw Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown (and shoes, which were refreshingly Holly-sized (aka about a 10)).

I will interject here to say that my favorite part of the entire D.C. trip was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s exhibit Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake.  I could have stayed there all day; I have a soft spot for anthropology, and an even softer spot for history and mummies and mysteries.  The exhibit was about the human remains found at early settlements such as Jamestown, and what the bones tell scientists about the person they belonged to.  There were about five different skeletons on display, but before you got to view them and learn their stories, you learned what physical clues archaeologists look for to determine how a person died, how they lived, how old they were, etc.  It was an extremely well-organized exhibit that allowed you to feel, for about an hour, like a real archaeologist.  Truly a dream come true.

The Lincoln Memorial, which we only found after an extended hike.

The Lincoln Memorial, which we only found after an extended hike.

The man himself, looking imposing.

The man himself, looking imposing.

Where MLK stood to deliver a rather famous speech.

Where Dr. King stood to deliver a rather famous speech.

The Vietnam Memorial.  The little girl in the distance was an accidental (but beautiful, in my humble opinion) capture.

The Vietnam Memorial. The little girl in the distance just makes this picture for me.

Other visited spots that didn’t allow photography: The National Archives (The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, LAND GRANT FILED TO CHARLES INGALLS, etc.), and the Holocaust Museum (exceedingly powerful.  Thoughtfully, provocatively arranged.  I almost burst into tears when I saw the piles of shoes which had been taken from concentration camp inmates).

Truthfully, I didn’t expect to enjoy D.C. as much as I did.  I knew I’d like the museums, but I didn’t think I’d like the city.  But it was lively and beautiful.  And filled with friendly people.  I certainly didn’t expect that, but let me tell you, Mom and I never stood on the sidewalk holding a map open for more than two minutes without a stranger walking over to help us find our way.  What’s more, when I somehow rubbed up against something (I suspect an escalator rail) and had black grease streaked across the rear of my white shorts, a woman stopped me to ask if I knew (I didn’t). What greater kindness is there?

Last First Day of School

It’s happened.  My last first day of school.  Class roster:

Civil War and Reconstruction

Shakespeare: Studies in the Bard

Feminist Theory

Honors: The American 1950s

Honors Capstone (project of my choice)

It should be a fun semester.  There isn’t one class on that list that I’m not taking by choice/because I’ll enjoy it.

Additionally, I think I should tell you that I didn’t get the Teach for America position.  Extremely disappointing, especially because the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that I could excel at leading a classroom, but I’ll survive.  I’m thinking now (in a rapid, Holly-esque turnaround) that I might like to intern in a MN congressperson’s office.  It’s a pipe dream, but I’d like to get into politics someday (even just the minor leagues), and this seems like a good place to start.

How about those Golden Globes, eh?

Tonight, I am Forever Proud of my Country

Yesterday, this happened on campus:

This happened on Facebook:

Seventeen-year-old that I’m Facebook friends with for some unknown reason: I hope you like your sister cus in about 4 years you will be able to marry her, because if it’s true love then who should be able to stop it… Americas logic.

Holly: This post makes me sick. You’re entitled to your opinion and your vote, of course, but the comparison you’re making is a terrible one. Same sex marriage has no connection with incestuous marriage.  They are NOT the same and it is NOT accurate to claim that allowing one will lead to allowing another. Maybe this is your idea of a joke, but even if that’s what it is, it’s these kinds of jokes that lead to ignorance and hatred.

I know, I know; I shouldn’t have let my anger get the best of me.  I should have been mature and realized that it’s the Internet, and that people say stupid things, and that it’s best not to get into an argument when you’re not face-to-face with someone.  But holy cow that kid made me mad.  And I couldn’t let it slide, not when he was so very out of line.  The conversation continued for several more posts, with him atrociously insulting LGBTQ, and me trying desperately (and sometimes failing) to keep my replies civil.

But everything was all right in the end, because then this happened:

(Obama won)

And this:

(The Voter ID Amendment failed)

And this:

(The MN Marriage Amendment failed)

I have never been prouder to be a Minnesotan, and to be an American.

Why I’m Not Voting for Voter I.D.

When I first heard about the Minnesota Voter ID amendment, I thought, “Yeah!  Let’s squash that voter fraud!”  I think many people thought the same.  But I’ve since learned a lot about why this amendment isn’t necessary (i.e. vote fraud is virtually nonexistent) and why it’s harmful (i.e. it will make it very difficult for senior citizens, low-income citizens, people of color, and students to vote).

Here’s a video made my by UMM’s MPIRG chapter that explains the further implications of such an amendment:

And here’s a video made by Sarah Silverman that explains the same from a national stance (and with much more profanity; you’ve been warned):

Bring President Obama to Morris

My darling little sister, who goes to school at the University of Wisconsin Madison, got to see President Obama speak today.

As in, after the debates last night, he and his suited minions boarded a plane and flew to Wisconsin so that my sister could wait in line for eight hours and then stand mere feet from him as he delivered a speech.

As in, love you Amy, but you weren’t the one who voted for him in 2008 (I’m disregarding the fact that you were at the time fifteen).

Why doesn’t Obama come to Morris?

Probably because it’s in the middle of Nowhere Western Minnesota, and because we have 1800 students, as opposed to 43,000.

But that’s just my guess.