Musings, North Dakota Living

That’s Why I’ve Got My Dad

I have a lot of things to share this week with summer finally in swing. I have oil field stories, outdoor stories, food stories, and farm stories, and also, more North Dakota stories: My friend E., a fellow English teacher and North Dakotan who is now teaching in Asia, has a blog called A Nonstirdownable Cerebral Sphere. I love travel almost as much as I love anything, so her stories about life in Asia fascinate me. Her latest post, however, turned the focus back towards home. “North Dakota, Keep Singing,” is definitely worth a read, so check it out! (After I finished reading it, I thought, “I wish I would have written that.” That’s when I know something has really struck a chord with me!)

Today, though, I’m going to skip all my other stories — just for now — and say a few words about my dad in honor of Father’s Day.

My dad, Mike, is perhaps the most unique person I know. Most adults have one full-time job; my dad is a lawyer, farmer, basketball coach, and somehow still has time for his family. Even though he has been a successful lawyer in Bismarck for many years, he still drives around junky Buicks that have the mirrors duct-taped on and parks an assortment of farm equipment and trailers in front of our Bismarck house, to the chagrin of my mother. His greatest joy when we were growing up was lining up all six of us early on Saturday morning for a full day of chores (all of those crappy jobs “build character,” you know), then taking us to the local Sta-mart afterward to buy us slushies. After I left home, he ensured that I kept up that early morning work ethic by calling my college dorm room around 7:00 a.m. and leaving messages for me and my roommate still asleep in our bunks, just making sure we were “making hay while the sun shines.” (This happened even if we didn’t have class until 10:30). He is also a master of efficiency: He liked to save room in the cupboard by mixing Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios together, which greatly annoyed all of us. Then, he would save room in the fridge by mixing milk and chocolate milk together, which greatly annoyed all of us. That didn’t stop him. He isn’t afraid to tell us who to vote for, who to date, and what car to drive, and then he laughs when we tell him to mind his own business, although, often, we don’t. I think we can all admit that he does, in fact, seem to know quite a bit.

I’ve had the privilege of being my dad’s only daughter out of six children. I know he loves all his five sons just as much, but he also says often, “Every dad needs at least one daughter.” He used to buy me Nerf guns and plastic swords for Christmas, just like my brothers, and he showed me how to drive a combine when I was 12, just like my brothers. But he treats me “special” too: He buys me pink tool sets for Christmas, and he showed my prom date in high school the shotgun sitting inconspicuously behind the front door. I assured my worried date that my dad was joking, so he laughed, perhaps a little nervously. I think he still kept one eye on my dad during the social hour.

But if every dad needs at least one daughter, then I say that every daughter needs a dad, too, if she is fortunate enough to have a good one. I thought I would share a poem I wrote several years ago because I think it sums it up pretty well. Here it is:

Me and My Dad

A girl like me won’t ask for much
Perhaps a shoulder when I’m sad
And when I need that very thing
That’s when I need my dad.

A girl like me is pretty good
At solving problems when they’re bad
But still, the times I need advice
That’s when I call my dad.

A girl like me is on my own
Through all life’s lessons that I’ve had
But girls, they need protection too
That’s why I’ve got my dad.

A girl like me don’t need a boy
For after all, they drive you mad
But all girls need one man in life
So me, I have my dad.

He’s honest, smart, he’s strong and brave
I sure am lucky and so glad
God knew I’d need a hero here
That’s why I’ve got my Dad.

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Musings, North Dakota Living

My Home in North Dakota

I braced myself for the comment that usually comes after I say I’m a local, one of the few with roots in the area before the oil boom: “Wow, I’m sorry. What a sorry place to call home.” And it did come, sure enough. “Wow, I”m sorry,” the young man said sympathetically in the clinic waiting room while I was waiting for my weekly allergy shot.

I tried not to narrow my eyes at him. “Because I’m from here?” I was readying myself with an exposition extolling the beauty and peacefulness of North Dakota and its wide open spaces.

But then he surprised me. “No, because I bet it’s tough to watch such a beautiful place get taken over by the oil field. I’m from a small town myself, and I have to say, I would be pretty sad to watch all this happen to my town.”

I almost got tears in my eyes. I must have been tired. “Yes,” I said finally. “It is. But you take the good with the bad. I love it here anyway.”

I just can’t help myself. I love my home in North Dakota.

Is it just because it is “home”? Maybe. It is because I’m a girl just made for wide open spaces? Maybe. Is it because of the people? Surely that has something to do with it. It’s a whole bunch of things. I’ve never been able to make myself leave for good. After college, I watched friends move to cool places like New York City and Denver and Seattle and Arizona. I thought to myself, I should do that. I should move somewhere just to prove I can.

Then I thought, nah. What if I miss the summer sunsets?

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What if I miss hunting season?

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What if I miss the winter? I mean, real winter?

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What if I miss lilacs in the spring? Do they have lilacs in Arizona?

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What if I miss our annual camping trip at Lake Sakakawea? What if I miss my nephew’s birthday? What if I miss all of the hamburgers in the park on Saturday nights? What if I miss hiking in the badlands? Then the list got too long. The truth is, I love it here too much. I love many of the places I visit, too — I love the mountains, I love the coasts, I love Europe and Canada and the Bahamas and New York City. And I’m sure most of the people living in other places could write their own blogs about their own homes, and I’m glad. We should all have a place we love so much that we don’t want to leave. Maybe it’s home; maybe it’s somewhere else, but I think humans like to connect to places.

Next fall, actually, a brother and I are planning to go overseas to work in an orphanage for a while, providing everything falls together. I will write more about it later once I know more details. I’m very excited about our adventure. But when I’m done, I’m coming back home.

This week in Boomtown Diaries, I’m going to give a shout-out to my cousin Adam, who wrote a song that explains it perfectly and which is aptly titled “My Home in North Dakota.” We play it sometimes in Dwaylors shows and Adam always gets compliments. A while back, he and his brother Nick created a music video, which now has almost 50,000 hits on Youtube. That’s because it’s awesome. Here it is: