If you look closely on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, you’ll find trees bearing strange fruit near the Washington Avenue bridge. The tree branches are loaded with shoes–maybe a couple hundred. Although I was a campus tour guide for four years, trips to the West Bank were rare, so the folklore behind this campus tradition was not part of our script. It’s just as well. Theories abound, but no one really knows when or why the shoe tree started. It’s quirky and fun. It’s just something students do.
Tucked away on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota is a suspension bridge next to Sanford residence hall. My day started in Dinkytown and ended with the U of M Law School Musical, Alawddin, presented at the Pantages Theater and cleverly written by a fellow marching band member and Gopher football tailgater, Emily.
Named after the first University president, Folwell Hall is the foreign languages building, though only two of 8 classes for my Spanish minor were held in this building. When I attended the U, the rooms had skeleton keys. Today, they’re fancy electronic badge scanners. Some tour guide trivia: Folwell was built with 26 chimneys, but there are zero fireplaces.
It’s funny how the University of Minnesota Student Union feels warm and familiar, considering it was closed most of my college experience. (Coffman Union was open two months of my freshman year in 1999 before a complete interior demolition and renovation and finally reopening my final semester in 2003.)
Tonight’s alumni event was unlike any other I’ve experienced. The event? Speed dating. Surprisingly, I already knew three of the ~70 attendees. Bonus. The game? Women sat at numbered tables while the guys rotated around the room. Gametime? 2 minutes, 30 seconds for both of you to make an impression, to be witty and smart, to show drive and heart. Thirty seconds to decide whether to circle Y / N on your scorecard. From figure skaters to Spanish speakers, ag journalism reporters to actuarial scientists, child psychologists and genome biologists, there was an impressive mix of people and fun conversations.
I like asking questions; I like listening; I like telling stories. So really, this was right up my alley. You’d be surprised how much you can learn in 150 seconds. I thought it was amusing when someone told me how much she loved dining at restaurants, and I apparently stumped her by asking her favorite restaurant. To be fair, someone simply asked how old I was, and I inexplicably reported my age incorrectly before catching myself. …This was sometime after my second glass of wine on an empty stomach and 20 completed matchups. Next week, we’ll get our scorecards and find out how we fared, that is if we got any mutual Yes’s.
Even if nothing comes from tonight, my fortune cookie after a late-night dinner at Village Wok had a positive prediction:
Good enough for me.
My college friend Brian and I went to the Minnesota vs. Notre Dame men’s hockey game. I was excited but a bit conflicted, since it was the first time I’ve seen both my alma maters play competitively. We had great seats behind the goal with the Notre Dame alumni club, so I dutifully donned my Irish gear complete with class ring, but also proudly wore my maroon Minnesota shirt. And, I cheered for everyone and jeered for no one.
Today’s photo was literally milliseconds before Minnesota made a power play goal to tie the score at 1-1 .
What though the odds be great or small,
it wasn’t a Ski-U-Mah, but Old Notre Dame,
who won overall (4-3).