Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hello, Cleveland!

I lived in Columbus, Ohio for the first 29 years of my life. The apartment where I spent the last 11 years of my life was mere blocks away from my childhood home. It was time for a change of scenery - but I just couldn't get the timing right.

I lost my job in Columbus, the very day that I was leaving for a trip to the Adirondacks. While on this trip, I got a phone call from a company in Cleveland that I had applied to many months ago. I had my first interview when I got back to Ohio, and had a second interview later on that week.

A drug and tobacco screening later, and I was offered a permanent position. I was told to report for work on September 15th, just a week before my 30th birthday.

I agreed to rent an apartment that I didn't actually get to see until the day I moved in, and hastily packed my bags and cat and took a 14-foot truck up to Cleveland. Fortunately, I love the apartment and I love the neighborhood (Little Italy).

I've been following Cleveland Foodie ever since I became a regular visitor of Cleveland (about two years ago) but I haven't gotten to go to many of the places she writes about. I hope to change that as time goes on.

I too, am a foodie. Before I get into that, I'm going to share some observations I've made as a Cleveland "newbie".

1. People seem to like corned beef a lot - but something tells me that I shouldn't get the kind advertised on the fluorescent orange signs.

2. There's a lot of talk about clambakes lately. I admit, I'm curious.

3. So far, Cleveland seems to be a lot more cyclist friendly, though I haven't found a bike shop quite as nice as BikeSource.

Just a few random observations.

I haven't really driven around much, and I'm okay with that. The bus seems to suit me just fine for most excursions, and I walk if/when I can. There are a lot of activities in Little Italy and a lot of very nice people. The bus can be interesting at times. I've learned that it's best to tune everything out with my iPod or pretend you don't speak English (I once told a man asking me for change on the #6 that I only spoke French - the truth is that I can only say one thing, and that is that I don't speak English).

CWRU is extremely close, so I can catch football games on certain weekends. You really can't beat 1/2 price wings at The Spot on Wednesdays, either. I was told that Andrew Bird performed there once. I wish I could have seen that performance.

I've been to the Beachwood Mall twice to get my Lush fix and have tooled around Coventry a few times (on foot). I've only had one "bad" day since I got here, and that's when I lost my credit card. Everything's okay though, and I didn't have any obscure pornography sites charged to my card before I cancelled it.

I went to La Dolce Vita tonight, as it is Ladies' Night. If you buy a drink (and that's any drink, even a soda) you can order from a special menu that is completely free - Save for a mandatory $2.00 gratuity. Let's face it - when you get such incredible food for the cost of a soda...I hope you give a bit more than two dollars. I had the Greco pizza, which had artichokes, spinach, feta and mozzarella cheese. Aside from the pizza needing garlic (in my opinion) it was amazing. A friend was having a ravioli dish that I will order the next time I go there for dinner. The staff is amazingly friendly and the food is amazing. Don't pass this place up.

When I tell my Columbus friends that I moved to Cleveland, they normally say - "On purpose?" and seem surprised. I know the jokes, I remember when the river caught fire... But I love this place.

I have a nagging urge to explore some of the abandoned buildings I see on Euclid when I go to work every morning, even though I know that probably wouldn't be very safe. One of the many gifts of being a passenger and not a driver is that I can gaze into the broken/absent windows and see a little bit of a light fixture, a cracked ceiling - and I want to know what else is there. I'd like to explore one of the old office buildings, especially - like the Victory Building that seems to have seen defeat. I saw a taller building that quite obviously held offices at some point. One of the windows was broken out and the blinds were partially hanging out of the window. On the way home that day, I imagined that it came to be this way when a frustrated employee found out that his company was closing. Either they jumped or threw a fax machine out the window in protest. I like to think the latter. I imagined that if I walked into the parking lot below I'd see the pulverized piece of machinery, thrown to its demise - still broken and laying there as if it happened earlier that day.

The reality is probably that a homeless person, dismayed to find that the air conditioning no longer functioned, probably broke the window out on a humid August night. I like my version a little better of course - perhaps it makes the reality of it all a little more palatable.