After Several Years, All Five Of My Siblings United For Thanksgiving

As a boy, the holiday family gathering routine was simple and consistent: There was one feast for my mother’s side and one for my father’s side. And all three of my brothers and one sister would enjoy the two occasions with both sets of cousins. Despite a couple of my parents’ siblings usually being absent…
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TRIPS ARE The TRAILERS For The MOVIE THAT IS OUR LIFE: MY RETURN HOME

My interviews from the Pacific Northwest were complete. I was heading home. Driving the hundreds of hundreds of miles back through Montana and North Dakota, I found myself eager to return. This is a reasonable sentiment. Anticipation of lands unknown had since evaporated. I had already traveled these very highways on my way out west.…
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What Is Home? A Hmong-American Woman Reflects On The Many Homes She’s Had

Home. What is home? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gives us two definitions: 1) the place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives, and 2) a family living together in one building, house, etc. A child in primary school could possibly tell us this, if exposed to the word “home” at an early age. As…
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Book Release Party Photos

Over the weekend, I hosted two book release events in Bemidji and Minneapolis. My book, Life Learned Abroad: Lessons on Humanity from China, is about the experiences I had and insights gained when living in China for eleven months from 2010-2011. From teaching little Chinese children to visiting the embalmed corpse of Mao Zedong, it…
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So You Didn’t Win The Powerball

Maybe that’s a good thing. Because maybe what gets sacrificed when suddenly adding all those zeroes to your bank account is something that no amount of money can buy. I was driving back from Thanksgiving weekend with my brother on Sunday when money was brought up. We both agreed things are tight for us, but…
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Alone On Thanksgiving

Due to a quirk in the family schedule we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving over Saturday and Sunday this year. And with me needing my days off work to chip away at my book, this left Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday as days for me to hunker down and bust my fingertips on the keyboard. Boy, was it…
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A Generation Back From The Dead

This is a piece about our connection to ancestors, their way of life in the Midwest, and these discoveries through one little old lady. My Aunt Olive Hendrickson was born in South Dakota and now lives in South Saint Paul. I’m 31; so guess what year she was born: 1970? Back to 1958? How about…
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The Elders Among Us

Speak to the elders in your life. Last week I wrote about two conversations I had with each of my Granddads. Both men live vivid and classic lives exemplifying American/Minnesotan culture. It was awesome how telling their lives are for the “American” in all of us. It revealed to me the importance of culture as…
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Stomping Ground Culture, Part 1

If you’d asked me before about the culture of northern Minnesota, or America even, I’d have suggested it better described as a lack of culture. Growing up, we never had our version of a pow wow or exotic clothing—nothing drawing back to the days of ancient ancestors. Removed from lederhosen and the German language (though…
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