I’m off to Minnesota today to visit what has been hailed as the best state fair in the US. And it not just Minnesotans who think so; according to the very helpful internet, it’s in the top five fairs in the US. And guess who has a sister living in Minnesota? And guess who is a little excited starting everyone sentence with “And?”
While I’ve heard about the Amazing State Fair because of the famed food on a stick (hello, cake on a stick? How do they do that? Does it matter if I understand? No as long as it tastes good!), turns out The Minnesota State fair is well known for its educational exhibits.
Be still my beating heart.
My dream of visiting the fair just got better. Quirky food and education exhibits. If you never see me again, I’ll have died from grease and sugar overdosing learning of the ways of rabbits or how the first water wheel was made or some other missing piece that will help build the puzzle of Amy.
Previous Augusts have found me knee deep in those new to China. The month of August is spent orienting those who are moving to China into how to teach, live, love, and understand the culture and how to adapt. It was the highlight of my year. For me, it never got old to go the Great Wall, show people around, sit and talk about what they were experiencing. It never grew old, but it did mean that I couldn’t eat cake on a stick or learn about 4-H projects.
Hey, life comes with limits, and this was mine.
Part of the training in Beijing involved the first year “Affective Cycle” which is a fancy way of saying, your biological clock is used to certain rhythms and you are going to have alarms going off at weird times. When that happens, don’t freak, you’re normal.
For example, there is a week-long holiday for National Day, October 1st. For many new to teaching and getting going with life in China, that holiday feels more like hitting a brick wall. Why are we stopping when we just got started?! But come late November when internally their bodies are saying, hold on a break is coming, you’ll get a few days off for Thanksgiving.
Sucker! Wrong. You get to cram a holiday into keeping right on moving forward. And pay more for turkey than you ever thought (if you want to honor that alarm that’s been set in your stomach).
The body and soul then begins to count the day until Christmas. Only to find the semester isn’t oriented around Christmas, you are in China, and duh, the Chinese Spring Festival is now your new ending point. But wait, you get a four to six week break from teaching depending on the year (being lunar and all), the school, and whether you teach in the north of the south?! Now, that might make resetting all of the internal alarms worth it.
In May you begin to hear whispers of school ending in other parts of the world which is just bizarre given that the school year in China doesn’t end until later June or July.
The ebbs and flows of the seasons. The rhythms of feasting and fasting. A new way to mark and measure time. There was evening and morning, another day.
It’s not that deep fried snickers bars are an upgrade on the Great Wall, but I have my own internal alarms and need to start somewhere with new rhythms. In order to help me set new ones, I have scheduled something I couldn’t do in China each month for these first few months.
Minnesota State Fair, I’ve been dreaming of you for years! Laura and Sue, when you get home from work today, let the food-on-a-stick and educational-exhibits fest begin … I know one of you joins in the joy and one of you will tolerate me and my enthusiasm :). But what’s new? Not everything changes, eh?! You’ve been tolerating me for years and I’m all the better for sharing a bloodline with you.
What food on a stick should I check out? What food on a stick have you eaten?