Fashionista Flashback: Normal American Girl Edition

Happy Independence Day!

Later today, I’ll be going to a Twins vs. Yankees game, enjoying a dinner of pizza and beer, and watching fireworks. What could be more American than that, you ask?

How about…THIS?

Sugar Beet days

It’s possible that you would like some context.

I am from a small town in southwestern Minnesota, and like all small towns in southwestern Minnesota, mine celebrates its heritage every summer. We have a parade, a street dance, flea markets and games. We used to have a Junior Miss pageant that was exactly like the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous, minus the murdering, but sadly no longer.

In DDG, the theme of the pageant always incorporates America (“Amer-I CAN! Proud to be an American! Buy American!”). In my hometown, the theme of the entire celebration incorporates our town’s key crop: the Sugar Beet.

Look, anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it, including a week of celebrating beets, okay?

The pageant was always my favorite part as a kid.  But my second favorite part was the kiddie parade.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: all the kids in town are woken up early, dressed in costumes made by their aunts or mothers, and encouraged to walk down Main Street carrying signs incorporating puns on the word beet. Then they turn around and walk back up Main Street because it’s only about a block long. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes and is a general confusion of cuteness and tantrums.

Pictured above: the “prize winners” of the Sugar Beet Days kiddie parade in about 1989. My brother and I are on the far right, dressed as Polyester Captain America and a Precious Moments figurine. No, actually, according to our sign, which we must have ditched at the end of the street, we were “Uncle Sam and the Pioneer Spirit.”

It actually just occurred to me this morning that the Pioneer Spirit might not be a real character. Google seems to think the Pioneer Spirit is a bunch of buffaloes, not a four-year-old in an over-sized bonnet and what appear to be tap shoes.  My mom made it up just to give me a reason to walk down the street with my brother.  Again – anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Anyway, I think we came in second that year, between Mr. and Mrs. Sugar Beet (who still haunt my dreams) and the three little pigs (who were the other kids who showed up).

The kiddie parade still goes on when there are enough kids to participate. The Uncle Sam costume (made by my aunt) actually made its third appearance a few years ago on another generation of my family and once again took home a prize.

What I’m trying to say is that my hometown is weird in the way that all small American towns are weird. Nothing ever really changes, and that’s comforting. I biked every street within that one-square mile. I swam in that town pool a thousand times, then walked to the Malt Shoppe or the pharmacy to spend my twenty-five cents on candy. I didn’t worry about politics, or war, or whether or not I’d be allowed back in to school in the fall because I was a girl. And of course my school would still be there, and no one would stop me from going to church every week, and there would always be food in the fridge and I’d always be safe and happy and free.

Anything can seem normal when you’re raised with it.

Happy birthday, America. You are weird and flawed and my home. Thank you for my happy childhood.

Well, mostly happy childhood. I think I was pretty over the parade scene by this point.

I will end you

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Social/Life

A while back, I went to a totally not embarrassing concert and mused about what the experience would have been like if I’d been able to “live-Tweet” during it. Would it take away from the experience, or would it add to it? At the time, I didn’t have a smartphone, so sharing the experience while it was happening was not an option. Well, now I have one, and after figuring out the basics I’ve managed to become a slight oversharer.

Instagrammed photo of bird poop on my car

“I appear to have deeply offended a large bird.”  Okay, a huge oversharer.

I keep making vague promises to myself that I’ll settle down, but the honeymoon phase between me and my new friend Siri has overlapped with the start of summer. Like any true Minnesotan, I’m not about to let this all-too-brief season slip by. What people in less volatile climates do in a year, I’m going to try to do in three months.

That’s not anything new; last summer, you may recall, I did plenty of things. The difference is now I can share my nonsense in real time.

I think we can all agree this might not always be a good thing.

Dog of Censorship

Someone needs to invent a “Dog of Censorship” App ASAP.

Anyway. Last Saturday, I took myself to another totally not embarrassing concert at the Target Center: Aerosmith. And because I love Aerosmith for no and beyond all reason, my guess from last year’s NKOTBSB concert was not far off – once Steven Tyler hit the stage, I basically just went “Squeee!” and forgot about the ability to share/brag beyond one fairly good picture:

Steven Tyler Instagram

Instagram gets the save on this one.  Some of that confetti is still in my purse.

That (amazing) experience over, I thought I’d answered my own question about how I’d use social media at events. I’d managed to do some sharing while staying in the (really amazing) moment. And anyway, I’d blown my summer budget on that (really, REALLY amazing) ticket, so I didn’t expect to get the chance to try it out again for a while.

Less than 24 hours later, I found myself enjoying some Trampled By Turtles from the comfort of the terrace view at Target Field. Since I didn’t know about the bonus concert until I got to the Twins game, and since I was an hour early for the game thanks to my pops, I had to share the news of my good fortune.

All the mascots at the Twins Game

I was too disturbed by the presence of literally all the mascots to take a picture of TBT, however.

This caused a tiny uproar amongst some die-hard TBT fans I call my friends, but more importantly, it made my pops wonder why I kept looking at my phone. As much fun as it would have been to keep spreading the joy/jealousy of a bonus concert (not to mention a 15-inning baseball game), it was more fun to enjoy Father’s Day with my pops. (We actually only made it through 11 innings and I did respond to a few messages, but hey. We tried.)

After determining that “losing your mind to your favorite band” and “hanging out with your father” are not quite the right times to go live-Tweeting, social-sharing crazy, I struck upon a much better opportunity: the River’s Edge Music Festival in St. Paul on Saturday.

I managed to win free tickets* last week and took Lacy, another twenty-something with a smartphone, and we did it all. We admired the lead singer of Coheed and Cambria‘s magical hair. We blew our budgets on outrageously overpriced beer. We held a few inebriated souls upright in the Sublime with Rome crowd. We soaked in some much needed sun rays to the tunes of Blaqstarr. We lost our voices to Tool. We Facebooked, Instagrammed, Tweeted, sang and danced.

We shared a wonderful day with each other, and then we shared jokes about it on the internet. And that, #youguys, is the best balance of social media and social life I’ve found yet.

girls who look like girls

Just your average Tool fans.

*I won 2 single-day tickets through a Twitter contest, which is awesome. However, the publication which ran the contest was non-responsive about how to get my tickets until two days before the concert despite three attempts to contact them, then they told me (twice) to pick up my tickets at will-call at the River Centre (which is a place in St. Paul, but has nothing to do with the River’s Edge Festival). Finally, the tickets, which were not at the regular will-call at the event either but rather at the media tent, were not for “either day” as promised, but for Sunday only. Luckily two very nice Live Nation employees took my declaration that “75 minutes of Tool is infinitely better than 3 hours of Dave Matthews Band” seriously, and switched the tickets for me. Despite this rant, I did get in completely free, so thank you, Live Nation; less of a thank you, publication with really poor communication/customer service skills.

Best Things of the Week! (An experiment)

A little background: I started this blog a few weeks ago because my teacher told me to.  For maybe the first time ever, I have genuinely loved doing my homework; whether the topic is Twitter or Target, I just like to write.  But there’s one topic I’d really like to write about more: me. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a separate, me-in-real-life blog, but I can’t decide on a name (although top prizes to Sabrina for her submission, Rach-Elm Disease), and I also don’t know if the separation is necessary or if anyone would read it.  So this is my first (and maybe last) non-homework related post, an experiment in creativity — and by creativity I mean I completely ripped off this idea from my old friend theshooz.  Anyway.  Here goes.

1. The Boys

Last weekend, I went to visit two of my best friends, collectively known as The Boys.  They used to live in the Cities, but moved to Iowa a few months ago for work and school.  This was obviously a bad decision, and I’m still trying to get them to see the light and come back to me.

The Boys like comics (and comic book stores and superhero movies and games involving superhero characters) and karaoke, but mainly they like making jokes at my expense.  Sometimes I wonder why I put up with this abuse (or actively seek it out by driving for four hours) but then I remember that they once did this:

The boys as Gob and Tobias

The Boys dressed as GOB and Tobias for my birthday.

Clearly, they are worth it as people.

2. Free movie!

Constantly signing up for online contests and email lists paid off this week with two free passes to a preview screening of Horrible Bosses at the ICON theater in St. Louis Park.  Not only is that fast becoming my favorite theater in the Cities (the VIP section is amazing), I got to feel all kinds of important by seeing the movie a week before it actually premieres.

I don’t actually know why I was given these tickets, but pretending I’m a critic, I give the movie about a B.  I would recommend Horrible Bosses to fans of The Hangover or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  So…not my mom.  Probably not your mom, either.  That’s about all I can think to say about it — Roger Ebert, your job is probably safe.

3. “Free” Twins tickets!

On Saturday I ventured to Target Field to watch the Twins fall apart to the Brewers.  Despite the loss, it was a gorgeous day at a gorgeous field.  My favorite player, Michael Cuddyer, hit a home run for me.  And I got to sit directly behind this guy:

trifecta of cool

Jean shorts, cut off top, pink fanny pack: trifecta of cool.

The tickets were “free” in the sense that I donated money to the American Diabetes Association and they sent me tickets.  This is actually the second Twins game the ADA has sent me to this year (follow the ADA on Twitter!).

Sitting in the golden glove

Sitting in the Golden Glove outside of Target Field. Apparently my legs are half as long as my friend's.

So that was the week that was.  What do you think, should I keep up this “feature?” Do I need to pay theshooz royalties for stealing her idea?  Is the world just waiting for a Rach-Elm Disease blog?

#SocialMediaDay, or how Twitter is making me go broke

Today is Social Media Day.  The part of me that grew up in the ’90s kind of can’t believe this is a real thing, but I also realize that I now use social media on a daily basis (wrote Captain Obvious in her blog).  ’90s-Rachel also can’t believe I’m about to say this next part, but these days, Twitter is increasingly important to my life.

I started using Twitter for the most noble of reasons: to stay up-to-date on my favorite celebrities.  I gradually added in local restaurants, news outlets, stores, and more.  Within a few months, I realized the free service of Twitter was actually causing me to spend money.

There’s always something going on in the Twin Cities, and Twitter makes it easier to stay up-to-date on the ones most exciting to me.  A recent highlight was seeing Chuck Klosterman at the Fitzgerald in St. Paul at an event called Wits — not only did I find out about it through Twitter, audience members were asked to tweet during the show.  Would this appeal to everyone? Definitely not, but it appealed to me and other followers of MPR and Chuck Klosterman.

Another big coup was finding out about (and subsequently buying early tickets to) Paul Simon’s concert at First Avenue.  I took my mom for Mother’s Day, so thank you, Twitter, for making me daughter of the year.

The Twitter madness is not limited to arts events: this weekend, I’ll be cheering on the Minnesota Twins in Target Field thanks to tickets from the American Diabetes Association.  The ADA offered free tickets to anyone who raised a certain amount of money for their Step Out to Fight Diabetes event.  I was planning to donate to the event anyway, and I love the Twins, so this was exactly the motivation I needed.

Oh, and I also found out about the upcoming New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys concert through Twitter.  Now that’s something ’90s Rachel can get behind.

NKOTBSB

Dreamy.