Berkeley to Boston: Day 7 (Mall of America)

Day 7 (August 21, 2011): Sioux Falls, SD to Minneapolis, MN

Let’s see… what else can I say about Sioux Falls, South Dakota? 

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1) They have really bad food in the middle of this country.  All of the billboards say we are in Beef country, but they seriously ruin all pieces of meat by cooking them way too much.  I got a little excited when we went to a restaurant for a buffalo burger, but I was let down again.  Plus, the salad bar turned out to have a bowl of iceberg lettuce, a bowl of canned veggies (what?), and all of the other bowls were some variation of macaroni or potato salad.  OMG!  I feel so gross.

2) We weren’t really sure what to do once we were done with Mount Rushmore and the Badlands.  There were a lot of farms?

3) I’ll give it a little break because I was super sick, sneezing all day, so I’m not sure I would have enjoyed myself anywhere. 

What did we end up doing?  We got to our hotel late-ish at night, went to bed, got up, did some laundry, and drove the heck away.  We almost decided to just turn around and go home at that point, but it is shorter to just keep on going East…

This leg of our trip took us to Minneapolis.  I have honestly wanted to go here since I was a kid because Mary-Kate and Ashley did a lot of events at Mall of America, and the American Girl Store is here!!

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Better late than never!?

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I’ll admit I felt a little out of place and out of touch.  They have definitely added a few more dolls since the last time I was collecting.  It was still pretty exciting because it really is the ultimate place for a girl to go doll shopping.  They have a hair salon where you can get your dolls hair done, and they have a full café/restaurant where your doll gets a doll-size high chair!!

Plus, they have all the awesome books for girls, which I really am a fan of.  Their books are really great for young girls because they are really honest about a lot of things that girls don’t like to talk about, but need to hear about: health, body image, puberty, safety, boys, how to wash between your toes, etc. 

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The store really reminded me how passionate I am about education for girls and programs like girls on the run. 

The mall had a ton of our favorite stores, but it also had the kid version of all of the stores like Crew Cuts by J. Crew (so cute!!) and 77 Kids by American Eagle.

I wouldn’t really recommend going out of your way to visit the Mall of America, but it would be a GREAT PLACE to take kids shopping.  Plus, they have a whole theme park by Nickelodeon in there!

So… a road trip post just turned into a post about everything I loved about being a little girl. Awesome!


I swear I recycle!!!

The other night Brendan and I had an odd interaction with the cashier at the grocery store.  I won’t go into all the detail of our conversation, but the guy made it pretty clear, through our conversation, that he thought we were conservative uncultured yuppies from the city.  WHAT!?  I tried to defend myself a bit when he questioned my request for a plastic bag, but there was little to say.  Yes, I use plastic bags for my garbage; that is why I asked you for one.  I realize they are made out of oil, yes.  What I wanted to say was… F U for saying anything to me right now.  You don’t know me. 

I was mad, but more than anything I was confused.  I spent the walk home from the grocery store trying to convince Brendan that I am indeed a liberal environmentally conscious consumer.  Brendan responded by agreeing (good boy), but mostly pointing out that not everyone can do everything right… and there is no way we are putting wet food waste in the paper bags! 

I was still thinking about it a few days later when I got coffee with my friend A.Jay.  We were talking about people we knew who were really genuine about who they were and what they cared about, and how refreshing that was because Berkeley is FULL of people that act like they care about everything and do everything possible for every problem… maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but you definitely get the vibe in Berkeley that you should be doing everything.  What, you don’t grow your own food?  You don’t buy everything from the farmer’s market?  You use laundry detergent with chemicals?  Your car uses gas?  and sometimes I’m like, whatever, I know you all drive cars, too…but sometimes it gets to me: I’m not perfect.  I could do better. 

It gets to me because I’m not perfect.  I do think that those are all worthy causes of my attention, time and resources, but I can’t be everything.  Do you have to be a perfect vegetarian to make a difference for the environment?  NO way.  Every time you choose not to buy conventional meat at the store you are voting with your dollars.  That vote counts.  Every. Single. Time.  And it isn’t undone when one day you need to buy something cheaper.  I’m not perfect. 

But I could do better, and I think it is important to have that in mind on a regular basis.  What could I do better to help people?  Right now at this point in my life and with the resources available to me now, the question I think I need to ask myself is: what do I care about right now?  Because I can’t fix everything, and I can’t help everyone, but I can do something.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and turn into an all-or-nothing situation.

I am really passionate about:

food justice (and the elimination of urban food deserts)

the slow food fast food movement and the potential it has to make healthy food more accessible and (eventually)cheaper

women’s mental health, especially eating disorder prevention for adolescent girls and health education for underserved youth 

This year I have been pretty selfish (IMO) and I took a lot of time to do yoga, train for a marathon, read magazines, and sleep.  That was perhaps in response to the year before when I coached girls on the run, trained for a marathon, took a full load of classes, and worked for a healthy fast food restaurant as a manager and intern for the owner… wow.  Big difference.  And I miss feeling like what I am doing is meaningful to me.  I want to post this as a little reminder so that I can get involved with things that matter to me when I settle into Boston.  

And THAT is a novel.  Sorry.

What makes your life feel meaningful?  What would you like to do to make more of a difference in society?   Wasn’t that cashier a douche? 


All you NEED is a pair of shoes.

Runners often talk about loving the simplicity of the sport.  Maybe we’re uncoordinated and appreciate that we don’t have to catch/throw/juke/swing while “playing” because those words translate into dodge/drop/fall/miss…

Maybe we love the peace and quiet found through the meditative motion.  The thudding of our feet on the pavement as our thoughts wander elsewhere.  True simplicity.

Maybe it is the only activity we can fit into our hectic lives because you can do it anywhere.  You can leave from work on your lunch break, wake up at the crack of dawn or lace up your shoes late after your kids have gone to sleep. Alone or with friends.  With a stroller or in a running group.  Competitive or personal. 

Whatever it is for you… running is accommodating.  You can make it yours.

THAT is what runners say. 

But it was, if not surprising, definitely thought provoking when I read the state of the sport report issued by Running USA for 2011. 

Here are the things that really caught my attention:  please see the entire report, so that the things I found interesting don’t mislead you…

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That is a seriously rich white average runner.  All you need is a pair of shoes… my butt!  Now, keep in mind that the survey was given to “core” runners who (pay to) participate in races or subscribe to running magazines.  This may not be the real runner population because there are a lot of real runners (lol) who run for themselves or run privately because they aren’t into all the craziness that comes with running.  Maybe there are a bunch of less affluent minorities running in the streets, but not joining in on race day because it’s too expensive.  I’m not sure.  You’ll have to convince me, though, that running is really a sport that we ALL can play. 

Has culture and the recent running craze turned running into an elite activity, or are the roads and tracks still open to everyone?  Do you get the stink eye if you show up in a cotton t-shirt, some old gym shorts and some borrowed sneakers?  I’m really not sure.  What do we want it to be?  Who de we, as runners, want to be?  I have a new found respect for programs like girls on the run and races like the Helvetia Half Marathon, which donates over 100 race entries to a local high school running program every year.       

All you NEED is a pair of shoes.  Fine.  But how much do those shoes have to cost, and what SHOULD you be wearing in order for the running community to welcome you in?