For a Midwest Minute

I mentioned in my weekly update that the trip to Cincinnati was… interesting to say the least. Now, I want to be honest. The Husbando and I had scoped out Cincinnati as a potential contender for relocation. We looked into best places to live for the cost and looked at the housing market and were pretty impressed. The next step was to visit and see how the city felt. Because on paper, things looked promising.

Well, I can tell you, after four days spent in the city, promising is not the word for it. Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, let me caveat this with the following: These are my feelings about Cincinnati. Mine. And mine alone. I know that I visited in early March, when winter still has much of the country in its frigid, deathly grip. This was intentional; I wanted to see the city at its worst, because if I still liked it, then I knew it would only get better with nicer weather. I stacked the odds against Cincinnati on purpose and kept that decision in my mind as we explored the city.

Guys. It didn’t do well.

There’s a lot to like in Cincinnati, don’t mistake me. The Newport Aquarium was a ton of fun and really well maintained. The Zoo was amazeballs (and yes, we got to see Fiona!), and the Cincinnati Museum Center is absolutely gorgeous. At all three locations there were field trips out for a day of learning and exploration and that was really cool to see.SAve Ferris

Cincinnati also has a thriving craft beer scene. We had low expectations for this, since Oregon is sort of the Mecca for the US Craft Beer movement (seriously, throw a rock in Salem and you’ll hit a brewery or taphouse). The beers didn’t need to be better than home, just on par, which they definitely were. Also, oddly enough, sour beers seem to be very popular in Cincinnati, of which I had zero complaints. I love a good Berliner Weisse, and Nine Giants’ Save Ferris was probably the best I’ve ever had.

We also went to a crazy store called Jungle Jim’s, which my husband described as, “an international themed fever dream where you can buy some fresh fish, giant paella pan, scotch, and durian fruit in the same store while passing by a talking Campbell’s soup can that haunts you until you die.” We followed that up with a visit to the biggest fucking antique mall I have ever been blessed to visit. I bought an unconventional souvenir for my office and have zero regrets.

campbells nightmare
Talk about nightmare fuel…

The Findlay Market was cool, though with it being the off season it was just a fraction of how awesome it undoubtedly is in the spring and summer. That being said, we have farmer’s markets here in Salem, and Portland has a huge one. And Pike’s is only four hours away in Seattle.

And ultimately, that’s what it kept coming down to. Yeah, Cincinnati has cool stuff, but not anything that can’t be equalled by the Pacific Northwest.  So, when the cities are neck and neck, what breaks the tie?

People.

Now, PNW folks are notorious for being ridiculously, obnoxiously, frustratingly nice. They will stop six lanes of traffic to let you jaywalk. They will stop an entire interstate to save a lost dog. “Please” and “Thank You” have nearly lost all meaning because we all say them so automatically that half the time I can’t remember if I even said it. Sort of like flushing the toilet or locking the door, but for politeness.

I thought I was sick of it. I thought I was fed up with false kindness and the West Coast notion that customer service must infiltrate every aspect of your life. I thought I was done with it. And then I went to a bar in Cincinnati.

burgoo
WTF is Burgoo and why was it so good?

Across the city, from restaurants to breweries to fast food chains to grocery stores, gruff and efficient is the rule. They don’t want to chit-chat, which I am fine with, but they also don’t want to smile or tell you to have a nice day or thank you for coming in. They do not want to acknowledge you beyond, “What do you want?” and “Do you want to start a tab?” or “Receipt?”

It shocked me. It disgruntled me. I felt immediately defensive and closed off. For the first time, I wasn’t so sure we’d be able to make friends in Cincinnati and I wasn’t sure that I would even want to. I already have great friends, and almost all of them live in Salem (Bolt, I’m looking at you, so hurry it up already and move back!).

Ultimately, nothing about Cincinnati made me want to dig up the roots we’ve grown here in Oregon and start all over again. Which we agreed on after only two days, which left us with another two days to explore and just enjoy the vacation!

Now, of course, not every person we interacted with was so closed off and unfriendly. There was a fabulous server at the Moerlein Lager House named Mikey, and another great server at 50 West Brewing (I can’t remember her name, sorry!). And the sweet guy at the counter of the Taste of Belgium stand at Findlay Market that forgot to give Trev his coffee and was amazed at how unworried we were about it. But the majority was… brusque to say the least.

We spent a day in Kentucky, meeting up with my husband’s aunt, which was a blast, and then we went to the Kentucky Derby Museum for a walk down memory lane for me, and a first time visit for Trevor. I was pretty emotional the whole time. The last time I was there was in 1995 when I went on a cross country road trip with my grandparents. My papa has since passed away, and though I don’t have many distinct memories from our visit to Churchill Downs there were just enough to keep my eyes moist at sharing this visit with my husband, whom my papa never got the chance to meet.

And while the people in Kentucky are beyond nice, come Wednesday, Trev and I were so so so ready to be home. So of course, that’s the day the Boeing 737 Max’s were grounded. And of course, that was the plane we were supposed to be on. What was supposed to be an arrival time of 10pm in Portland turned into 11am, with us spending 22 hours either in an airport or on a plane. My advice? Skip Chicago Midway if you can, and DEFINITELY don’t spend the night there. The only silver-lining on that was the hilarious native Chicagoan that sat at the bar drinking a Budweiser while we ate breakfast and shot the shit with us. He was hilarious and a delight. There will be inside jokes involving that guy for the rest of our lives, I’m sure.

And then we were home and I snuggled my dog and vowed not to leave the PNW for as long as I possibly could. Which is roughly a year since Southwest gave us two $100 vouchers for the whole 737 snafu.

So, the trip served its purpose. We went to Cincinnati to see if we’d want to live there. We very quickly decided no, and got a chance to relax and just enjoy ourselves for a few days. Other than the awful travel on the way home, I’d say that was worth it. Plus, I wouldn’t have found Melvin if we hadn’t gone!

Melvin.jpg
There is no Tavern, and Moby Dick was published in 1851, but the inaccuracies only make me love it more. Hence the name, Melvin. 

Knowing that a cross-country move isn’t in our future has reinvigorated our enthusiasm for the house we do have. Old projects are resurfacing, especially as the weather improves, and I hope we’ll actually have our entertainment center built up by the summer and my built-in desk finished by fall.

Home is where you make it, after all. So maybe it’s high time we showed this house some love and focused on turning it into our home. This trip really helped me appreciate where I am and what I have, and the city I share with so many people I care about. It led to a reaffirmation for both of us, and I couldn’t be happier with that.

Because, let’s face it. I’m a West Coast kid, through and through. And that’s how it’s going to stay. At least for the foreseeable future.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #10

Blogland. I have so much to share with you about Cincinnati that it requires a blog post unto itself. Keep an eye out for that sometime this weekend. In the meantime, there’s work to discuss.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
  • Have a great time on vacation!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write Tavi Chapter 14
    • No. But I got a good chunk of quality work in before we left town.
  • Have a great time on vacation
    • Yes? It was a mixed-bag thanks to a migraine the first two days and a doozy of a trek home, but I still managed to relax and have some fun.

Weekly Word Count: 3,566

Last week did see a return to some productive writing sessions. I’d hoped to get even more writing and reading done on vacation, and while no writing happened, I did start and finish The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society between plane rides. Be on the lookout for that review, either this weekend or early next week.Paperback The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Book

This trip also brought a halt to my Short Story a Day challenge, so I’ll be reading two a day for the next five days in order to catch up. Follow me on twitter for real time updates and micro-reviews, or check the What I’m Reading page for an updated list.

I maybe started a new short story. Maybe. I mean, I did, but I haven’t finished it and I’m not planning to any time soon. It’s nice to know I have another one in the wings though, for when Tavi is done. Which should still be sometime in May.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish Tavi chapter 14
  • Catch up on short stories

This week is basically over, so I need to keep the goals simple. So, lots of reading and a bit of writing are it for me as I try to get back into the swing of things. I’ve got my next book queued up, Charlie Jane Anders’ The City in the Middle of the Night. I am very excited because this book has received a ton of positive press from authors I love, but I have almost zero knowledge about it or the author. Another adventure awaits!

I’ll be pretty active around here this weekend and next week, so expect to hear from me.

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 37

Bloggos,

It’s late. I should be sleeping. But tomorrow’s the big travel day and there’s just too much to think about, too many variables, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. So, here I am, doing the one thing that tends to turn off all the superfluous thoughts.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Birdthe strange bird
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep.
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Bird
    • Yep. Reviews for both are up now.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • Nope. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I think that’s a first. Zero words this week. I’m sure it’s happened before, but I didn’t write the goals summary to prove it. But, I’m not mad. This is my month to unwind and get a blank slate prepared for NaNoWriMo.

That was the official list, the work I wanted to focus on as the vacation drew ever nearer. But the unofficial list was much bigger. I won’t get into the details again, however I do honestly believe we’re as ready as we can be for such a big trip. I’m wound tight right now, but as soon as we’re on the plane it’s out of my hands and I can finally relax.

I just have to get through tonight.

What’s Next?

  • VACATION!
    • Eat a pretzel every day
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Visit at least one castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Oktoberfest!!!!
      • Pics or it didn’t happen

mechanical

You get the idea. I am still reading The Mechanical. It’s slow so far, the language is very dense and my attention wanders frequently. I’m hoping hours on an airplane will help me get through it.

I make no promises about posting next week. We’re away until the 29th, and while I’ll have the laptop in tow, I don’t want to promise any posts until we’re back. I might squeak out time to do a mid-trip update, but if I do it’s a bonus.

Regardless, it’s back to work on October 1st, so you’ll find me here, gushing all about our trip.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Thinking Out Loud

I’ve finally put down Detroit: Become Human. After five play-throughs, I think it’s safe to say I’ve accomplished all the major variations I wanted, saw all the striking differences my decisions could lead to, and it’s time to pass it on to the next person.

Image result for detroit become human

This also means that I’m slowly returning to a sense of productivity. I read a few short stories yesterday, namely Calved and Things with Beards by Sam J. Miller. There was a Paolo Bucigalupi short story too, City of Ash.  Both of these authors are wonderful, capable of stuffing so much emotion in so few words. Their stories have depth beyond just the page and its a reminder of the strength and purpose of short fiction. It’s good to read them and realize how much work there is to be done in my own short fiction writing.

I’m not going to pull The Cost of Rain or Lifelike. They are what they are, and they’re both getting close enough that I’m still confident that they’ll find homes eventually. But, this is a nice time to let the wheels start turning over That Which Illuminates Heaven. I’m almost ready to think about it critically, to tear it to pieces and foster the most effective bits into something powerful and full of whimsy. I have a lot of hopes pinned on this story; I think it might be something special.

But before any of that, there’s a second job to start and a vacation to be had. Once I’m back I’ll have to flex those time management muscles to reach my goals, and may have to have some very real considerations about setting realistic expectations. I’m used to working part time and putting hours and hours into my writing and editing. It’s been a really wonderful couple of years, allowing me to really focus on my craft and hone my skills.

But now it’s back to work. Probably 40+ hours a week, knowing me. Which means I need to maximize my writing time. I was able to work 40+ hours a week and go to school full time; I can write and work too. It’s just going to be a big adjustment.

I’m still slowly reading Borne. I picked a bad time to try and pick it up, nothing could bornecompete with Detroit: Become Human. But, I’ve got the next week to read it and the related novella The Strange Bird before we leave for Germany.

I don’t know If I’ll get the reviews for either of them up before we leave, but I will try.

Then, once I’m back, it’s all about revising That Which Illuminates Heaven and researching for my as of yet untitled Urban Fantasy NaNoWriMo project. I have no idea how I will write 50k words and work full time, but I’m sure gonna try. Expect the word counts for September and October to be pretty low and for November and December to be relatively high.

Anyway, that’s where my brain’s at. My wheels are spinning but there’s not much output just yet. I hope to return from my travels refreshed and ready to finish 2018 strong!

Talk at y’all on Monday, as per usual.

Until then

 

BZ

Travel and Twitter

So, something fun to start this week.

I just applied for the #amtrakresidency. If you’ve not heard about it, that means my chances are that much better! Ahem, just kidding. Basically amtrak is taking applications for a residency of sorts. It includes roundtrip fare with a sleeping cabin for up to 2-5 days, and all you do is spend the trip writing.

How awesome is that?

I’m pretty stoked, but they’re only selecting 24 people for the whole year, so I won’t be upset if I don’t get it. I’m approaching it in a sort of, “They can’t accept me if I don’t apply” mindset. The worst that can happen is they say ‘no’. But, the best case scenario is I take a writing vacation sometime in the next year.

Wish me luck!

In other news, I’ve made a twitter account that I have absolutely no idea how to use. I’ll update the About page with my username if you’d like to follow me.

So, on the docket today is finishing chapter 5 of ‘Cards’, and editing chapter 1 of ‘Vessels’. I’ve had my coffee, and I’m considering seconds, so this could very well get done!

Hmm… What else is happening in my life? Talked to my dad today, which was nice. I’m trying to read ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, Brandon Sanderson’s Hugo Award winning Novella, but I’m struggling. Which is ironic as hell. I can finish his 1,088 page behemoth in five days, but the 167 page novella is giving me trouble.

Anyway, this was intended to be a short update to get the juices flowing, so have a great day, and I’ll catch ya later!

BZ