Cincinnati/Restaurant Blog Interlude

I’ve been to Cincinnati twice now: once when it was very cold, and once when it was very hot. I’m sure there are other temperatures that happen there, but not as far as I know about. That means that both times I’ve been there, I’ve spent more time than I might otherwise have inside.

Nonetheless, we did manage to get out of the house, and one of the biggest things I noticed was that Cincinnati has a lot more great restaurants than I had been led to believe. Not, of course, that anyone had said “man, you know where has terrible food? Cincinnati,” but my expectations had not been built up. So, here are some mini restaurant reviews of places we went:

Django:  Really good taco place; pretty cheap. Spent a while dissecting the logic behind their cool, stainless steel taco holders. Great fancy cocktails.

Taste of Belgium: Man oh man, I wish I’d discovered this place earlier so I could have eaten every meal there. I had a savory crêpe, although there were a lot of sweet crêpes that sounded intriguing too. Our waitress gave us some waffles to go that you can heat in the toaster, and those are also amazing.

KaZe: Really good sushi place. I’m vegetarian, but Will vouched for the fish sushi, and Chloe enjoyed the shrimp buns. They also have fancy cocktails, and we sat at the sushi bar and watched the chefs make sushi, which was a good time in and of itself.

The Littlefield: Chloe and I went there last January, so it’s been a while, but it’s a great fancy bourbon bar with an intense list of cocktails.

There were other good places we went in January, and I’m sure there are more, but I wanted to give these a shout out. Next entry: Chicago!

A Hot Second of Boston

First off, I want to say that my mother was right, and I was wrong: it was definitely a bad idea to stay in a dorm-type hostel before a job interview. It definitely would have been worth it to spring for a private room. Nota bene, everyone.

I didn’t actually spend any real time in Boston, so I don’t have many good travel stories. I flew in for roughly 36 hours for a job interview, although I did have a very pleasant time in Cambridge when I visited last winter, probably the week before it got cold and started snowing forever. In the words of Avery, there were youth everywhere, and several good brunch spots–an invaluable metric of city quality.

We did go to Boston Beer Works, because I was feeling a little nauseous after my interview (I blame a turbulent flight and nerves), because I felt that the best remedy for this was some pretzels and beer cheese, and a martini. While ‘helped’ is a strong word for what they did, the pretzels and beer cheese are incredible. Definitely recommend.

Anyway, we successfully drove across southern Ohio via Cleveland (see below), and had incredible falafel from the Athens Greek Restaurant in Mansfield, Ohio. Entry on Cincinnati coming soon!

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The House in Marietta

I’ve always been captivated by my grandparents’ house. I believe it’s been in my grandmother’s family since it was built in 1898. They’ve kept it very well; it’s a beautiful house, with some great old furniture. They’ve re-done some rooms over the years, and have just had what was originally a kitchen re-plastered. Nonetheless, much of the house has been a constant in my life, having visited at least every couple of years, if not every year, since before I can remember.

Perhaps it’s because I spent too much time reading about castles and estates as a child, but the idea of a family dwelling captured my imagination. It’s only been later that I’ve appreciated how lucky I am to have access to family history, let alone the antiques and keepsakes that come with  Of course, I understood that an estate and title are a different thing entirely, and that’s probably a good thing, given what gothic literature has taught me people will do to preserve and/or gain them, but it did give me a sense of continuity with my predecessors, as well as my modern extended family.

The house turned 100 years old in 1998, and the family had a huge party for it. I’m sure there are relatives I literally haven’t seen since then; second cousins and the like. Of course, I was pretty young at the time, and certainly couldn’t name everyone who was there. I mostly remember the people I knew well; my grandparents and first cousins, and some second cousins we kept in better touch with. I know there were other kids there because at a big event like that, all the kids get kind of wrangled together, but I didn’t really keep up with any of them. I imagine growing up with social media (well, I can cross that one off my internet writer list), kids probably actually keep in touch with people they meet only briefly in real life, but I wasn’t at the point of making phone calls and writing letters when I was seven (really? 7? wow).

In the context of this trip, it’s been congenial to be somewhere pleasantly familiar where I know where the light switches are and how to work the shower. Our next planned destination is Cincinnati, but if you’re very good I happen to have time, I may do a bonus entry for my very brief visit to Boston.

On Scary Clowns

First off, I’d like to say that I’ve had a lovely time in Pittsburgh, and that Helen and their roommates have been very generous in allowing us to stay with them. Secondly, my taste is not universal, and other people’s reactions to art are not less valid because they are different from mine. I’m sure whoever put up this picture has a wonderful relationship with it, and I in no way intend to diminish that relationship by describing my batshit insane reaction to it.

The first time I went into the bathroom of Helen’s house, I noticed a wood parquet picture of a clown. In true optimist fashion, I tried to find it charming, and instead concluded that it was too bad that Stephen King has ruined clowns forever. Then, I returned to Helen and Will and forgot about it until it was time to go to bed.

I often walk around the house with my glasses off, probably as a holdover from when I thought I only needed them to see the blackboard. Normally this is fine; nothing is far enough away that I really can’t tell what it is, and I know who everyone is so I don’t have to recognize anyone. Unfortunately, blurrier vision seriously enhances optical illusions, apparently. Coupled with the lack of sleep left over from from Oberlin commencement weekend, it pushed the picture from being difficult to like to downright frightening. At the time, I had a very complicated theory involving the ambiguously-drawn eyes and the angles of the head and hair, which I doubt will hold up to scrutiny in the light of day. Regardless, the eyes were definitely following me, and I just could. not. handle it.

Since Will and I started talking about taking this trip, people have been warning me that living in different places every week was going to take its toll in terms of figuring out how other people’s showers work, finding grocery stores, and sleeping areas with suboptimal back support. I can say unequivocally that that first night was when the travel madness hit. I probably spent at least 10 minutes trying to get ready for the shower while constantly turning around, trying to catch its eye. At some point, I had to give up. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if something is totally irrational, you just have to indulge your own caprices.

So, in this case, I took it down from the wall, made Will tell me that yes, it’s terrifying and I’m not a crazy person, and then put it somewhere downstairs where I wouldn’t find it.

Anyway, by now, we’ve left Pittsburgh and gone on to Marietta, OH, and hopefully no more travel madness on my part.

Pittsburgh!

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My parents lived in Pittsburgh shortly before I was born, so I was raised on occasionally told tales of its preponderance of bridges, windy streets, and magic intersections containing one way streets that only go away from it. Honestly, we’ve only done a little bit of driving, and (probably thanks to google maps) it’s been fidgety, but not quite the nightmare of missed turns and wild reroutes I was told it would be. Will had the worst of it; the only thing I really had to do that didn’t go well was parallel parking, or to be precise, parallel parking with other people watching. I used to be able to do it, I swear! The problem is, when you don’t live in a city, you never practice these things, and then you completely forget how to do them. And maybe it’s just me, but anything that I have any kind of trouble with is always several hundred times worse when someone’s watching.

But enough about the downsides: bridges may be a pain to navigate, but boy are they beautiful. We came into the city out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel, and saw this cinematic concoction of bridges, rivers, streets, and overpasses. If it hadn’t clearly been built in the past century, it would look futuristic.

Helen, my friend whom we’re staying with, basically lives at the bottom of a ravine, so they have to walk up 100 steps to get to a major street. It’s pretty cool: there’s a park down here, so it’s very green, and trains pass through a few times a day. I know it’s probably because I haven’t dealt with the realities of them, but I have fascination with hilly cities. I just dig something about all those stairs and different levels. I’m sure if I actually end up living somewhere like that, it will become much more annoying than romantic, but walking up a bunch of stairs a few times in one week has yet to dampen my enthusiasm.

Packing and the End of the Semester in College Towns

The real reason I’m back in Oberlin (perhaps against my better judgement) is to see one of my close friends, Becca, graduate. Unfortunately, since I’ve gotten here, I’ve realized that such a magnanimous gesture of support is actually kind of a lot to deal with for someone who just finished their final finals (woo!) and then has to immediately pack up their apartment and vacate it in less than a week. I was in this position last year, but none of my relatives were, you know, literally sleeping on my floor, so I had some more time with it.

An indispensable aspect of packing is the getting rid of objects one isn’t taking on one’s move. My favorite aspect of helping other people pack is that sometimes, they give you those objects. Becca in particular has been very generous with clothes that don’t fit her that well anymore (thanks, Becca!!!), and now I have like 3 new shirts, yay!

It’s possible I’m unreasonably drawn to free stuff: it’s great when a friend is getting rid of cool clothes, but I’ve also been known to accept things I definitely wouldn’t wear otherwise (I’m looking at you, bright purple Victoria’s Secret PINK sweatpants from Avery!), or that have some other problem. This tendency is particularly put to the test in May, when college towns are full of free crap, piled up everywhere. Having grown up in a small college town not dissimilar to Oberlin, there were many time when young me begged to bring home sagging couches and dented ikea tables.

Of course, given my thorough understanding of this aspect of packing, one might think that I would, you know, actually get rid of a reasonable amount of my own stuff. One would be wrong. I’ve accepted that once something has actually ceased to function for me, it has to go, but things that are merely unused, it is completely reasonable to hang on to forever and ever. Part of the problem is the fact that my parents haven’t moved for most of my conscious life, so I’ve always had passive storage space for all this stuff. Yes, I’ve moved myself, but I’ve only brought the stuff I really used with me, and hung on to the rest of it anyway. My parents have been hoping I’d clean up my bedroom at home enough that they could, you know, actually use it for a few years now (sorry, Mom and Dad!). I have this fantasy that when Will and I move into an actual apartment, I’ll have enough space in there to really sort through things, but I’m not going to make promises I’m not sure I can keep.

Back at Oberlin

I’ve been having a hard time starting this entry. I’ve spent most of the week hiding out in our airbnb room and suggesting to Will that we go to Cleveland. It’s very weird being back at Oberlin, especially when most of the people I’m used to spending time with here aren’t around.

This was the right time to visit Oberlin though: much more greenery than I remembered, although some of that is from staying in residential Oberlin, where there are yards and gardens rather than just quads. I’m sure spring is always like this, but a lot of what I remember is winter, or at least times that aren’t as nice as it is right now. Apparently I convinced Will it was some sort of barren wasteland, and he seems to be pleasantly surprised at its verdancy.

It’s particularly weird because classes aren’t in session, so Mudd Library and the classroom buildings I’ve been in have been maudlinly empty. I remember walking through the empty halls a year ago and realizing I was never going to go to another class there again. I haven’t always been happy here, but I did enjoy more of my classes than I didn’t. And, since I have no immediate plans for grad school, that mode of my life is over for the foreseeable future. I’m sure that will be a much smaller deal when I’m, you know, on to another mode of life that isn’t taxiing on the runway.

Anyway, hopefully something much more upbeat next week, when we go on to Pittsburgh!