For Amusement

I grew up directly under the flight path for any planes heading West out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. My parents' house is close enough to the airport for the planes to be extremely low when they pass over, yet far enough so that certain people think I'm from Edina. And going to college in northern Minnesota, the last thing you want the camouflage-clad locals to think is that you're from Edina.

Coming this far north for college made me realize where I'm from. In my college orientation class four years ago the professor asked how many students were from a small town, and I almost raised my hand. I thought about the population sign I had passed so many times as a kid on 35W:


population 34,439"

I hadn't considered the context. Sure, Richfield is about seven miles from East to West and something like three miles from North to South, but that seven miles is the border to a city of a half a million.

It took me a few months in Bemidji to realize that I'm really from Minneapolis, when it comes down to it. Since that time I've done two things I had never considered in the first eighteen years of my life; I've fired a shotgun and become a functional ice fisherman. I would say that I've experienced the best of both worlds -- I've enjoyed the conveniences of city life (I was an expert in public transportation by my early teens) as well as the many attributes that draw city kids like myself up to this part of the state.


To Help People Become More Aware

Your teenage children probably aren't where you think they are, at least if they're anything like I was.

I got a cell phone when I became a freshman in high school. I also got my driver's license and a beat up 1991 Pontiac. My parents thought, Well, it's important for him to have a cell phone if he's going to be driving. What if he breaks down and needs to call us? Little did they know, they were creating the type of situation that parents all across this country create when they use that sort of logic. Here's what the car and cell phone combination really did for me: The car allowed me to go anywhere I pleased, and the cell phone allowed me to lie about where I was.

In the days before cell phones, a parent would ask their child where he was going. The child would reply, "I'm just going to Johnny's, mom." If the mom wanted to make sure, she could just call Johnny's house and speak to his mother. When I got my first cell phone, Johnny's mom was eliminated from the equation.

Instead, my phone would vibrate in my pocket, I would see that the screen on front said, "Mom Calling," I would walk out of the situation I was in, which she was sure to disapprove of, and calmly say, "Hey mom." She didn't need to know that I was actually in Uptown at Popeye's Chicken, waiting for my friend's brother to call him back so we could pick up our beer.

To Teach

If you're working in the media and want to climb the ladder, all you have to do is meet deadlines and be competent. Well, that's a start, at least.

A few years ago, during my sophomore year at Bemidji State, I decided to get motivated and apply for a job at the Northern Student. I was hired as a staff writer near the end of spring semester, and was assigned one article per week. As the new guy, I was sure to be prompt and do my best not to ruin my chance at a job when I came back to school in the fall. In short, I did what was expected of me.

Apparently they liked my work, and were impressed with my writing, because after writing three articles in the spring, I was promoted to news editor the following semester. By doing my job as I was told, and to the best of my ability, I was put in charge of a handful of writers who had been employed at the Northern Student well before I had.

That promotion showed me that if I simply do as I am told while I'm a lower-level employee, and I avoid being a headache to those in charge, I'll have a chance at something bigger.
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