britt aamodt, cartoonists, ed gein, frederick, garrison keillor, grantsburg, infj, jeffrey dahmer, lake wobegon, lake wobegon effect, luck, mnartists.org, myers briggs, siren, sociability, wikipedia, wisconsin
Minnesotans are a proud lot. We’re proud of our state in all of its bounteous and beautiful glory. We’re proud of our people. We’re proud of our creativity. We’re so proud that we’ll gladly claim anyone who’s made a home here, announcing loudly that “THIS PERSON IS FROM MINNESOTA!!!! YAY!!!!” As Garrison Keillor says, Minnesota is where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” (Did you know that this tendency to inflate your good qualities is called the Lake Wobegon effect? Really. Check out the Wikipedia page. Unfortunately, the psychologists who’ve taken the term don’t get the joke. Minnesotans may be proud, but we don’t boast about our personal traits as individuals. That’s what makes Keillor’s standard ending for Lake Wobegon stories so funny. We’re all saying to ourselves, “Yeah, right,” when we hear it.)
When I first discovered that British author Neil Gaiman had transplanted himself to Minnesota, I have to admit that I swelled with pride. Not only is he a fabulous writer, he has good taste in living environments. Neil Gaiman from Minnesota? Yah, you betcha! Well, guess what? He doesn’t actually live in Minnesota. (Say it isn’t so!) According to an article by Britt Aamodt at mnartists.org, his house is located across the border in WISCONSIN! Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. I, along with plenty of others, have been wrong all this time – falsely claiming Neil as one of us. That’s soooooo un-Minnesotan. We like to pride ourselves on our honesty, after all. Not that I have any problem with Neil living in Wisconsin. My father’s people are from Wisconsin – the Indian-head region, where Luck, Siren, Grantsburg and Frederick are located. (My Grandpa Jens, who lived in Siren almost his whole life, used to say, “I was born in Luck and I’ve been out of Luck ever since.”) Wisconsin is a fine state, but it’s not Minnesota. Wherever did we get this notion about Neil Gaiman? Is it because he lives so close to the border that he spends a lot of time in Minnesota? If this is so, can we still claim him? Pretty please with a cherry on top?
Even though I was wrong about Neil being a Minnesotan, I was right about one thing. Neil Gaiman is one of the most sociable authors on the planet. In his journal he is forever talking about this person or that person or these hundreds of others he has met, had dinner with, or worked with. Britt Aamodt’s article makes mention of the fact that lots of local cartoonists have been to his house ( . . . in Wisconsin [sigh] . . . will I ever get over it?). Not to stereotype (but I’m going to anyway), many authors are known for being rather unsociable. I have to admit that I am in a way. When I first meet people, I’m very quiet. Sure, I’ll give them a fine “How d’ ya do,” but I slip into observation mode until the ice is broken into navigable chunks. Once I get to know people, if I feel sympatico with them, I go all Chatty Cathy. I guess this explains the “I” part of the INFJ result I got on the Myers-Briggs personality test I took years ago.