Greetings from the midwest! Our drive from NYC was lovely. I had never been west of Philadelphia so I was really looking forward to the drive. My mom and I drove my car and my dad manned the minivan, which was packed up to the brim. We drove through the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania, then through the biggest cornfields I’ve never seen in Ohio. We paid cash to a real person in a toll both at the end of the Ohio Turnpike, something we have not done in about 10 years since EZ Pass was introduced in NY. In Toledo we turned north towards Michigan. It took us 11 hours, with 3 stops along the way. It was my first real road trip and I loved it.
Ann Arbor, Michigan really is not what I pictured the midwest to be like. It is almost identical to the town where I went to college as an undergrad in Northamptom, Massachusetts, except everyone in this town is really obsessed with college football. Ann Arbor is a really lovely town, it has a beautiful downtown area with old, pre-war store fronts, wide leafy quads through the U of M campus, and my neighborhood is made up of century-old houses with big front porches and tree lined streets. I can walk to some really beautiful parks, the Border to Border Trail along the Huron River and the U of M Nichols Arboretum. I don’t know what the weather is like here normally but this week has felt like October; it has only been in the low 70’s during the day, and down to the 40’s at night. But the sun is bright and the clouds are few and after digging out my sweatshirts, I am out most of the day exploring the town. I’m so grateful that the weather has held up, because if it was raining I would be sitting in my room alone watching videos on Hulu and feeling sad. But its hard to be sad when I’m walking outside in the sunshine along the river.
Let’s talk about food for a moment. There are some great restaurants here, really good Indian and Middle Eastern food. There’s a food co-op near me that has fresh and tasty grab and go sandwiches. But I really miss three things from NY: bagels, breads, and pizza. So, one of the first places I went to was Zingerman’s, the popular “New York style” deli here in Ann Arbor to scope out the bread and bagel situation. The place is a little too gimmicky for my tastes, the line often stretches out the door and around the corner. The food is good, the bread is excellent, but it is way overpriced, it is ridiculous. I understand that things can be overpriced, but this is not midtown, this is Michigan. Their sandwiches range from $10-$14, their coffee beans are $18-25 a pound. I went there for lunch with my parents and 3 sandwiches, 3 drinks and one brownie costs us 50 bucks.
I’m realizing that finding a good slice of pizza is tricky in the midwest. Many places don’t sell pizza by the slice, which is unfathomable to me. Most places serve up Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and I am not a fan of this kind of pizza. Yesterday I was walking around town and saw a red store awning called “NYPD” which made me stop in my tracks. Turns out this stands for “New York Pizza Depot” which serves up thin crust (“NY Style!”) pizza by the slice. I went in and had a slice. The crust was good, had a nice crunch and was not soggy on the bottom, but the sauce was bland and I had to compensate with a lot of oregano and crushed red pepper. But I have a feeling that this is best pizza place in this town.
The thing about a college town is that it feels like a bubble. Every business and every service is catered towards students and professors, which leaves me wondering where the normal people and families live. Its like living in the middle of Park Slope where everything is catered towards wealthy young professionals their families and you’re like, “this is nice, but where does everyone else live?” I’ve been here for 3 days and already I feel like this college-town scene is getting old. I wish I could walk down 86th St in Bay Ridge and get a slice at Pizza Wagon right now. I would take my car out and explore the surrounding areas, but there’s a crew here painting the house this week and their trucks block my car in the driveway from 8am to 4pm and I’m too shy to ask them to move. Plus all the streets in my neighborhood are one-way, a fact that Google Maps doesn’t seem to understand, so I am immediately lost as soon as I pull out of my driveway.
Orientation starts tomorrow, and classes start next week. I’m so excited for my classes, they are going to challenging but I’m totally up for it. I have feeling that my social life is not really going to be taking up a lot of my time, so I’m ready to throw myself into my school work. Check out some of classes I’m taking this semester: Principles of Toxicology, Evaluation of Chemical Hazards, Principles of Exposure Assessment, and Control of Airborne Contaminants, plus a few others. I’m officially psyched.
My other housemates move in this week and I’m crossing my fingers that they are nice people. One of my housemates is a former co-worker of mine, we worked together about 2 years ago in the city. The other housemates are friends of hers, or friends of friends, so I’m hoping they are all decent people. I really miss my people back in NY, obviously. I miss seeing friendly, familiar faces around me. I miss being with people who already know me and what I’m about. But I’m trying to keep myself busy by fixing up my room and going for walks.
I’m not sure how much reading I’m going to be able to do now that I’m back at school. Sashana bought be this book as a going away present called Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and how Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) but so far I’ve only read the introduction. So I don’t think this blog will be so much about books anymore. I could write about what I read for grad school… we’ll see what happens!