New so ridiculous I must share it with world II

So… I’m trying to write an essay for Stanford about my upbringing and the challenges I faced. Well, I grew up in one of those one-horse Minnesota towns where there’s a Swedish store, a Norwegian store, ten lutheran churches and 120 squabbling committees to improve the downtown parkbench scheme. Anyway, I was looking up my town’s history on the internet to get some backgound and also to procrastinate from writing the essay, and I found this:

"Welcome to Town X – the fastest growing non-metropolitan city in Minnesota… "

Ok, what is a non-metropolitan city? Oh how I wish I could just refer Stanford to this website and they could see for themselves what I had to deal with every day growing up! The clip art alone on this website is so bad it would drive anyone straight out of town on the first train east. How does shamelessly bad provincial taste sound as one of the challenges of my youth?

Our town history goes on to say:

"Town X combines the friendly neighborliness of a small town with the opportunities of a large metropolitan area."

This statement is so untrue that only a booster club member could have written it. My hometown–and I do love it anyway–is famed for its gossipmongering for miles around! The pastors are known to keep track of who leaves church after communion without waiting for the service to end. Opportunities?? Hmmm. I guess they must be talking about the Elks Club. They are always recruiting.

Ok, back to my essay. If anyone has advice on how to explain for an audience of Californians what it’s like to live in Minnesota without perpetuating needless and inaccurate stereotypes, please let me know! What I’m really afraid of is that people in Palo Alto won’t know much about Minnesota small towns, or what makes them different from small towns in West Virginia or New Jersey–and won’t understand why it was, in fact, a challenge.

Quote:

"Town X combines the friendly neighborliness of a small town with the opportunities of a large metropolitan area."


Yah shure!
(I’ve been here a month. I’m leaving in two days. I’m determined not to incorporate that phrase into my vocabulary…)

Those stereotypical Northern Californians you’re thinking of? the ones you think don’t know why Minnesota is different?–Actually, most likely they’ve been listening to Garrison Keillor for more than twenty years on NPR. The only thing you have to do is explain why living in Lake Wobegon is actually a living hell.





You’ll do just fine.





cheers


joe

I have a button somewhere that reads:
Lutefisk: Just Say No!

Quote:

The only thing you have to do is explain why living in Lake Wobegon is actually a living hell.


That’s a good idea but I’m going to save it for later. But that Garrison Keillor, ugh… My theory is that he’s kind of like Gorbachev–you know, popular abroad and among a certain crowd that goes to lecture series and things, but not quite the hero he’d like to be back in the old homeland! Now to be a true legend of a small town you have to leave the place and make it big somewhere else. You can’t just move to Wisconsin where you live out the existence of a paper tiger, rehashing the same phony story every week and writing toothless letters to the editor complaining about the Minnesota governor. I think that’s all Keillor does these days. If he was really the influence he thinks he is, then hmmm–why do we have the governor we do?
Now the Guy Noir skits I like. Nothing against public radio by the way. If the people I meet on the interview trail turn out to be NPR listeners, then I have no doubt, it’s going to be a blast.
Quote:

Lutefisk: Just Say No!


Well, I know I brought this on myself because of that original post, but now this is just what I mean about the stereotypes… The real food to watch out for in these parts is not some bland Norwegian glop, it’s the local chow mein, which is made ENTIRELY from canned ingredients–canned water chesnuts, canned celery, canned goo to go over the canned dry noodles. This was mainly back in the 80’s, when there was some serious local skepticism around the subject of fresh produce. Luckily I don’t think I have seen this recipe in actual circulation since about 1990. I hope that continues.
Quote:

Additionally, those folks on the admissions committee - some of them are actually from the midwest.


Yipee! That’s the best news of all.
Well, I wrote something and turned it in. It has been heartening to get so many responses to this thread. I now know that there are at LEAST four people who know about Minnesota, and here I was expecting something much more modest, like 1 or maaaybe 2.

My stereotypical picture of Minnesota goes like this: One of the women I dance with (an excellent cook now, by the way) grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and she remembers her neighbors complaining about a dish made with Miracle Whip, because it was “too zesty”.
Miracle Whip is “too zesty”. That could be your description of small town life right there.

Quote:

Those stereotypical Northern Californians you’re thinking of? the ones you think don’t know why Minnesota is different?-
joe



There are a million dumb stereotypes about folk… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been accosted by people who think all Jamaicans are dark skinned, rasta hairstyled, smoke marijuana and say ‘ya mon’… Since I’m fair, don’t even drink beer, and definitely middle class boring and not ‘rasta’ or ‘roots’ (I wish), I know I don’t fit.
If you can picture your hometown a way YOU are comfortable with, without using language that is too vulgar, or too sleep inducing, you’re doing well! After all, the person you’re trying to sell them on is you… So what is YOUR perspective on your growing up? YOU know what you experienced… No one can duplicate YOU.
And you never know. The person reading the application may just be a transplant from a small town like yours. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been amazed to find a fellow traveller (from Jamaica) somewhere unexpected.
Leah

Quote:

Miracle Whip is “too zesty”. That could be your description of small town life right there.


And this from a Wisconsinite!! Grrrr.
All right, that’s enough. End of this thread. I’ll either get bombarded with undue sympathy and have to pretend this thread had a serious point or I will have to keep intercepting Midwestern food jokes, it’s one way or the other, there’s just no middle ground in this world.
As far as stereotypes, well, just for the record I have lived in Southern California, Northern California, Pittsburgh, 3 parts of New York City plus four places in Minnesota and overseas so I am pretty well rounded. They ALL apply.

Hey! I like Lake Wobegon!
I grew up in a small town sort of like that… except there weren’t Norwegian stores and all the churches were non-denominational… LOL…
paint a picture… quaint but too small-towny for you… be mark twain or garrison keillor for that matter… but spin it your way.
I miss my hometown… but I would never move back there because, well, it’s too much of a small town… but hard to express… I remember the cool things about it like the soda shop that I went to with my dad and the really cool ancient houses down a couple of streets and the park and other stuff… remember the good stuff…
Andrea
who is always feeling nostalgic lately

Quote:

Andrea
who is always feeling nostalgic lately


Me too! Writing these essays really makes a person dredge up some memories, the vast majority of which, I would have to say, seem to have no place in a medical school application.

Reviving my own thread that I stomped out just when it was starting to get interesting…

Quote:

I miss my hometown… but I would never move back there because, well, it’s too much of a small town… but hard to express… I remember the cool things about it like the soda shop that I went to with my dad and the really cool ancient houses down a couple of streets and the park and other stuff… remember the good stuff…


I know what you mean. Hey, what part of the country did you grow up in? I do not know this, even though I do know we both had experiences relating to Who’s Who Among American High School Students…