Friday, October 15, 2010

Why North Dakota: Musings on Life, Love, and Sweaters in the Dakotas

For obvious reasons, I spend a lot of time fielding questions about why I chose to move from the big city of Chicago to Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Chicago, after all, is home to several pro sports teams, its own brand of pizza, and the Magnificent Mile.  All of this makes it difficult to explain why a city with a population of 50,000 located 80 miles from the Canadian border jumped out at me as the Happening Place to Be without getting into the vagaries of my psyche.  As a result, I generally answer this query with lots of smiling, discussion of the friendly population, my love for winter, and a little hemming and hawing. I'm beginning to learn more about my new home, though, and I think I can narrow down my response to an elevator speech with a few key, if eccentric, reasons.  Here's what I've compiled so far:

1.  Shopping

First, corduroy is a year-round fabric here.  Second, most thrift-store clothes are in my size and color.  An unexpected side benefit of being a Scandinavian-heritage gal moving to a land populated by Norwegians and Germans, all donated sweaters here come only in those colors that bring out a healthy amount of rosiness in my cheeks and accentuate my eye color (for your viewing pleasure, I model one such sweater below).  Anything that shortens the amount of time I spend in dressing rooms, thereby increasing the amount of time I can devote to Cinnabons and soft pretzels, is okay by me.

2.  Cream of Wheat

An enterprising bunch of wheat millers invented Cream of Wheat here in 1893.  If your favorite breakfast food were scrapple, you might move to Pennsylvania; granola, Dansville, New York; or Graham crackers with milk, New Jersey.  My idea of a perfect morning is a strong cup of coffee and a bowl of cream of wheat tempered with milk.  Thus, Grand Forks.

3.  Driving

I won't give you another long diatribe, but this warranted a second mention.  I mean, as Professor Syverson writes on his website, just look how empty and flat this North Dakota highway is.  That's my idea of driving heaven.

4.  My Blog

Moving here gave me an excuse to start a blog, which I have thoroughly enjoyed and which additionally has allowed me to sustain fantasies of my life being turned into a Hollywood movie.  Produced by Clint Eastwood's production company Malpaso, this charming adaptation of my stunningly insightful blog stars Dakota Fanning (as me), Sandra Bullock (as my mother), and, inexplicably and in a yet-to-be-determined role, Peter Sarsgaard.  The movie will premiere at the University of North Dakota's Chester Fritz Auditorium.  As the only two other people to have set and filmed a movie in North Dakota, Joel and Ethan Coen will be in attendance, and I will meet Frances McDormand.

No. 4 probably won't make the elevator speech cut, but nos. 1 through 3 are definitely compelling reasons to move to North Dakota, as I think we all can agree.


  1. Erin, I love and miss you.

    And that really is a great color of sweater.

  2. I love and miss you too! Hopefully we'll see each other sometime this year!

  3. hahaha i love the labels for this post. you look great in that sweater, preparing to eat your cream of wheat and brainstorming your next blog post (i assume)

    that settles it. i have to come visit so that my character (played by leighton meester) will have a role in your movie!

  4. I have heard that Mr. Eastwood is a fan of Leighton Meester, so I think your role is secured!