Is it really a send-off if a prison escape isn’t involved?

[Disclaimer: This is a ridiculously long and ridiculously detailed blog post about my last week in Minnesota. Yes, it really is as ridiculous as I’ve mentioned. Sorry, I’m not sorry.]

Send-off week? Wasn’t that like, three weeks ago? Yes. And I’ve pretty much celebrated my departure everyday since.

This week was my official last week and let’s just say…it’s been one heck of a week.

A lot of people are probably wondering why I’m still in Minnesota. Well, the Fulbright process (as I’m learning) is all about flexibility. While my program start date was Monday, January 9th…there were a few issues getting a flight near that date so I officially leave tomorrow. After a short hop to Atlanta, I then board a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa where 16 hours later I arrive on the African continent. From there, it’s just an hour flight to Gaborone. After nearly 20 travel hours, I should be in Botswana on Saturday around 9pm!

So, now that we’ve covered the whole WHY-ARE-YOU-STILL-HERE bit, let’s chat about my last week in Minnesota. My family is probably rolling their eyes because this is exactly the kind of stuff you would expect to see on my blog right before I travel–straight drama.

It started in the wee hours on Sunday when my mom (who is working in Hong Kong) told me my grandpa had been rushed to the hospital. His double lung pneumonia dropped his oxygen level to 60%. Worried about my favorite old man, I drove out to New Ulm to visit him. He was looking better and the nurse said he was making strides in the right direction.  After evading the snow and making the three hour drive back up north that night, I rested easy.

Until Monday.

My dad called on Monday to say my grandpa was being transferred to United Hospital in St. Paul. His oxygen and carbon dioxide (I really hope I’m getting this right) levels were not where they needed to be. Insert meltdown here. I love my grandpa and I certainly don’t want to leave the country with him in this condition. I took the night to pack everything in case I needed to go to the cities early. Fortunately, he’s doing OK. According to nurses in St. Paul, he’s not better but he’s not getting worse. It’s going to be a long road to recovery, but he’s surrounded by a lot of love and positivity. I mean, if my uncle Mark isn’t the biggest ray of sunshine in that hospital room, I don’t know what is (Dad, please show Mark. He’ll obviously love the shout-out). OK–now that we have Monday covered, let’s move to Tuesday. Because a week is more than just two days.


Due to the fact of not knowing my official leave date, I’ve had the last two weeks off of work. So, on Tuesday morning I woke up at 7am and did what every other non-employed teacher does. I drank coffee. A LOT OF IT. Then, I started watching the thriller The Girl on the Train. Adam went to get the mail around 8am. When he returned the following conversations were had.

Adam: “Dude, something is going on uptown. There is a state trooper on our road, a Moose Lake cop and undercover cop at the gas station.”

Me: [Pauses movie]. “Really? That’s weird. Why would a Moose cop be down in Willow?”

Ten minutes later.

Knock, knock. Adam answers door.

Me: [Pauses movie, again and sneaks out to see who it is.]

Adam: “OK, so I probably shouldn’t leave my car running?” Laughs at his own joke.

Undercover trooper: “No, probably not. Just keep your cars and house locked up.”

Me: [After trooper has left] “WHHHHHHHHAAAAT?!?!?!?!”

Adam: “Someone escaped from the prison and we have to keep our stuff locked.”

Me: “Oh, that’s crazy.” [Gets more coffee, resumes movie.] Adam leaves for work.

OK, I’ll speed this part up.

Adam calls to tell me that cops are now stopping all vehicles on our tiny road to search for this escaped prisoner. He tells me to be careful because the dude must be close. Being the true crime enthusiast I am, I secretly hoped I’d spot him. But, just to be on the safe side, I checked all of our doors which were thankfully locked. Minnnnnnus the one in our second bedroom (AKA, my closet). That door doesn’t lock at all. [My awesome landlord Bruce, has now fixed this issue just in case anyone was thinking about illegally entering my home]. So, as I was on the phone with Adam, I decided to use the boards from his bags set to prop up against the door—just in case of a “hypothetical break-in”.

Well, as I was walking through my living room to the room which houses the bags set, I saw a strange man in a ski mask and full winter clothing walking on my deck to my door. INSERT MAJOR MELTDOWN.

Basically, I hid in my living room as this escapee tried to get into my house. He even captured Jerry’s attention who meandered from his deep sleep in my bed to the deck door where he began meowing incessantly (MY CAT IS A GUARD KITTY!!!!!).  I shook as I called 911 and by the time I connected and told the operator he was at my house, I heard voices outside.

From there, I watched a swat team of 7-9 fully camouflaged men with some serious weapons take him down without incident. All in my front yard. All while I watched. And cried. And shook. Ultimately, I learned I don’t have flight or fight. It’s all about the fetal position when in distress.

Ultimately, this guy was a non-violent offender who walked away from a level one minimum security facility. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I have never been more scared in my life.

Due to my heart almost bursting in the beginning of this “last” week, I decided to just lay in bed and snuggle my cat for the remainder of my days. It’s been great in preparing me for my leave tomorrow.

Here’s to hoping this kind of drama doesn’t follow me to Africa. Cheers!



**P.S. This very unflattering photo is post almost-break-in-by-an-escaped-felon. SURVIVAL IS COOL!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Doug says:

    I’m glad Jerry is ok! LOL


    1. Obviously, the most important part of the story Doug!


  2. hi jackson how are you doing over there


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