Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

You have heard of U2, right, Mom? July 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:49 PM
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WHEN MY 25-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER mentioned the U2 concert to me about a week ago, I thought she said “YouTube” and asked for clarification.

“U-2,” she enunciated.

That didn’t help. I had no idea, none, nada, what musical group she was referencing. Never-the-less, she went on to tell me that four friends were going to the concert and she wished she was among them.

Then today I received an email from her, followed by more emails, in which she attempted to educate me about the hottest musical ticket in town since, well, I don’t know who.

I considered summarizing our online exchanges, but then decided they are just way too entertaining as written to edit anything except the frivolous fluff. I am, however, adding italicized, parenthesized editorial comments.

DAUGHTER: I’m going to the U2 concert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m really excited, you have heard of U2, right, Mom?

(Are you really that excited—50 exclamation points excited? Yes, I have heard of U2. Read my email reply.)

ME: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I had not heard of U2 until you mentioned the group last week. Even Dad knows the group. What songs do they sing?

So happy for you! I heard last night on the news that they are making plans for dealing with the crowd in case of bad weather, which is a possibility. Also sounded like there would be a mess of traffic.

Better you to go than me.

(I’m emphasizing my lack of cultural knowledge by typing that string of “m”s. Yes, it is abundantly clear that my musical mindset is still locked onto Chicago, The Eagles, The Moody Blues and maybe Rod Stewart.)

Just a sampling of the 1970s era music I own on cassettes and CDs. Most of my collection from that time is on record albums, which I did not feel like digging out of storage.

DAUGHTER: Mom. I’m sure you’ve heard “Beautiful Day” and a bunch of their other songs. They are the biggest band to come to the Twin Cities in 30 years. Maybe you should do some googling to see if you have heard of them?

(Do I sense a bit of frustration in your comment, perhaps disbelief that I really, honestly, am unfamiliar with U2?)

ME: Maybe I’ve heard “Beautiful Day.” Well, you would think I’ve heard of the biggest band to come to the Twin Cities in 30 years, but…

Google, I will.

How much are tickets? They must cost a LOT OF MONEY???

(I am trying to save face here. Can you tell? I may recognize songs when I hear them, but I often don’t know the artists. And notice that trio of question marks after the uppercased LOT OF MONEY???)

DAUGHTER: …this is a once in a lifetime opportunity…this could be the last time the band tours and I’ve heard the show is incredible.

(I was wondering if you noticed the three question marks and capitalized words, LOTS OF MONEY???)

ME:  Oh, OK, then, kind of like seeing the Beatles… Has U2 been around for a long time?

(Comparing U2 to the Beatles…I can’t believe I wrote that.)

DAUGHTER:  Yes, since 1976…they are from Ireland… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U2. They became popular internationally in the mid 1980s.

(Hmmm, now I’m feeling really stupid. The 1970s would be my era. And yet I don’t know this band…)

ME: OK, I will check them out and educate myself.

(Now, dear readers, it is your turn. Add whatever comments you wish.)


FYI: My daughter scored a U2 ticket because one of her ticket-holding friends had his wisdom teeth out today and doesn’t feel like driving up from Iowa for the Saturday U2 concert at TCF Bank Stadium.

(Timing is everything, huh?)

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling



The story behind a travel writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:57 AM
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Several months ago I told my daughter I would plug her writing. So I am, in this post. But I’ll also tell you about her as a person, because the person you are shapes the writer you become.

Miranda at the Las Ruinas de Quilmes (Quilmes Ruins) in the Tucuman province of northwestern Argentina.

MY DAUGHTER MIRANDA could work as a full-time professional travel writer. She’s that good. And I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom. You can decide for yourself by clicking here, to examiner.com St. Paul.

Miranda has written some two dozen articles about Argentina, where she traveled twice to study, do mission work and intern. Today she’s back in the U.S., working as a Spanish medical interpreter in eastern Wisconsin.

If she had her druthers—meaning no need for a steady job to repay college loans—Miranda likely would be living in Buenos Aires right now. She loves the city, Argentine culture and food, and Argentineans that much. That shows in her writing.

Yet, even though my daughter isn’t living in the place where she’d probably prefer to be, she’s at least working in a profession that allows her to follow her passion—Spanish. There’s much to be said for that. All too many people go through life working jobs they dislike simply to pay the bills. That is an unfortunate reality.

I understand her love of language. I graduated from high school with a plan to pursue a German degree in college. But I quickly realized that, because I didn’t want to teach, the idea wouldn’t fly. So I followed my other passion—writing. I majored in journalism and minored in English.

I sometimes wonder how things might have been different for me if I had gotten that German degree and had been willing to leave Minnesota. Unlike my fearless daughter, I prefer not to travel. I purposely raised her, though, to love adventure.

From little on, Miranda has been her own person. She ran, not walked, everywhere as a preschooler. One winter, when she was about four, she insisted on wearing a skirt every day. Often she would close herself in the cramped toy room, now my office, and play for hours by herself. She would tell me to “go away.” She was a strong-willed child, still is as an adult, and that serves her well.

For a long stretch, she was fixated on horses. She drew horses, played with toy horses and checked out every horse book she could in the regional library system. She thrilled in riding roller coasters.

When Miranda was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to wear a full torso back brace 24/7 for a year (or maybe two, I’ve forgotten exactly how long) during high school, she drew on her inner strength and determination. She seldom complained, although this couldn’t have been easy.

She is brave and independent and strong. The last time Miranda boarded a plane for Argentina, she didn’t even have a place to permanently stay for the duration of her internship. And when she was mugged in northern Argentina, she handled the situation with maturity and composure that exuded confidence. I was the one back home struggling with the attack.

I tell you all of this because I am proud of my kind, caring, compassionate daughter. As an interpreter, she works in a profession that allows her to directly help others.

As a sometime-travel writer, Miranda continues with an interest that began in high school and continued through her studies at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Communications Studies compliments her other minor, International Studies, and her major, Spanish.

Already in her Wisconsin home of eight months, my daughter has found a church and embraced a wide circle of friends. Two Hispanic families in her apartment building have “adopted” her, inviting her to family celebrations and dinner and now, she says, Christmas. (Just to clarify, if she’s not on call, I expect her back in Minnesota for that holiday.)

She’s got a good life in Wisconsin. And even though I wish she lived closer than 5 ½ hours away, at least she is not 6,000 miles away in Argentina. For now Miranda seems content to simply write about her previous life in South America, when she’s not too busy with her new life back in the Midwest.

Miranda celebrates the Argentine World Cup soccer victory at Plaza de la Republica in Buenos Aires. The balloon is soccer legend Diego Maradona, at that time the coach of Argentina's national team.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo courtesy of Miranda Helbling