This weekend’s escape from the culture void that is East Lansing was an afternoon trip to Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan. The main reason for this journey was to experience something both Amanda and I have been missing dearly since we left Boston. It is something that was a part of our everyday lives, something that we depended on, something that we knew we could not live without, and something that does not exist in or around Lansing, Michigan. That something is Trader Joe’s. With food supplies dwindling and money tight it was more of a necessity than a luxury. With a lull in the intensity of Amanda’s studies, it was the perfect time to go.

What is so great about Trader Joe’s you ask? Well first of all they have extremely cheap, vegetarian friendly, pre-packaged foods. Second, you aren’t hard pressed to find items that don’t contain stuff like high fructose corn syrup and various dyes and preservatives. The final reason is sentimental. Trader Joe’s was the sole provider of my nourishment when I lived in Boston and I became fond of the gaudy, island-style décor and the free shot of coffee.

In addition to picking up some groceries we also wanted to enrich our lives in another way. Since East Lansing is completely devoid of any artistic culture we thought this would be a great opportunity to seek some out. After searching on the internets, Amanda discovered that there is going to be a Polish Film Festival that very same weekend. What luck! We picked out a movie that sounded good (something about the Lollipop Gang Sisters) and printed out a google map. We were ready. With our hearts soaring and our expectations high we called some traveling companions, Emily (who is actually part Polish) and Larone, and hit the road.

Upon arrival we realized that we were very hungry. Larone suggested a place in town called Ashley’s that we could get some food and a beer. It was your typical college town sports bar but the beer selection was awesome and very reasonably priced. Amanda had a glass of Duchess de Bourgogne sour beer, which was amazing, I had some Piraat, and our friends each had a Unibroue, which to our astonishment came in a pint glass. The food was not that great. Amanda had a grilled cheese on challa bread and I had an overly-cheesed personal pizza while Emily and Larone shared a plate of pesto waffle fries. I would definitely recommend the place for the beer…but not the food.

After a quick walk through the U of M Law School courtyard, which was beautiful, we headed to the theatre where the 2007 Polish Film Festival was being held. We soon discovered that we were already fifteen minutes late for the movie. After a quick poll of the group we decided to see it anyway. Luckily a light bulb went out in the theatre and it took them a while to find the ten guys to spin the ladder while the other one held the bulb 😉 so the show stared a little late. I am not sure if we missed something important in that first few minutes or if it was just me but I couldn’t seem to catch on to what was happening. They were speaking in some other language, who knows what, the entire time and we sat so close that it was difficult to see what was going on and read the subtitles at the same time. I discovered that I could either read what they were saying or watch what was happening. Unfortunately before I could decide my mind thought that it was a good time to take a nap and, as much as I tried to fight it, I succumbed to sleep. It was a fun time. Amanda seemed to enjoy it, which makes it worth it, and our friends weren’t too mad that we made them sit through it. Next stop…Trader Joe’s.


You can probably guess what we did next so I won’t go into it in too much detail. We found most of the stuff we were looking for, with the exception of our favorite veggie burgers 😦 and picked up a few extra treats for our mental health (i.e. cilantro lime cashews). The drive back was uneventful and by the time we got home we were exhausted. It was really a lot of fun and since it was only about an hour’s drive, we vowed to return on a monthly basis.

Today is the first day of snow. The thought of leaving the apartment and battling those sharp little flakes is really quite unbearable (hm … maybe I can miss that 1:00 lecture after all). Despite – or perhaps because of – growing up in some of the most extreme North American winter climates (e.g. northern Minnesota and Alaska), I cannot stand bitter, wintry iciness. And how is it that, with my intense loathing of all things winter – including fall season, dark days, dead foliage and disappearing animals, snow and ice, red, runny noses and numb fingers and toes, big fat constrictive coats, chronic goose bumps and thick, itchy socks – I have never lived south of the Great Lakes? Even while I write this, I have a space heater set on high aimed at my face, and I am swaddled in two big blankets, gulping hot tea. How will I ever survive another interminable Midwest winter? And what about the three following this one? Maybe, if I do survive the next few dreaded winters, I will finally pick up my frozen behind and head for someplace warm … perhaps southern California or New Mexico … My, that sounds nice. But, in the meantime, I’ll do what I can to stay out of the way of the snowflakes that will eventually bury this city in sheets of frigid white. Brr.