Hi everyone! Thanks to Liz for introducing me, and to her and Avani for allowing me to join the Cincinnati Imports blog. I just thought I'd introduce myself before next month's happy hour since you already know a bit about the two of them. So here goes:
1. I moved here in November 2003 to take a job as the pop culture reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer. I grew up in Delaware (the state, not the town that I quickly learned is near Columbus), went to Ithaca College in Upstate New York and lived and worked at a newspaper there for five years after college. When I tell people this, they seem to remember only the New York part and often end up thinking that I'm from New York City, which I suppose makes me seem like even more of a novelty here, so I usually don't bother to correct them.
2. I knew a grand total of one person here when I moved here, not including the guy I moved here with. When we broke up, I suddenly realized I had basically no friends except the person I knew when I moved here and a few acquaintances from work. This led to an entertaining series of attempts to meet people on Craigslist and a couple of dating websites (I'm no longer on any of them, so don't bother looking) and by attending random events around town, with varying amounts of success. I'm not going to share those stories here or anywhere else online anytime in the near future. You'll just have to wait for the memoir.
3. In early 2006, I joined the Cincinnati Rollergirls, the first all-girl roller derby league to form here, even though I hadn't roller-skated since I was a kid and had never played a team sport in my life. I hated gym class and had my nose in book for most of my childhood. But I had read a lot about roller derby making a comeback in other cities and got hooked on the short-lived reality show "Rollergirls" on A&E. I've always been fascinated by subcultures and I just thought roller derby looked totally awesome and fun. The Cincinnati Rollergirls would take anyone, regardless of skating ability, when they were first starting up, so that's basically how I got in. I'm now going into my fourth season with the team and although I'm no superstar, I can hold my own and I'm a zillion times better than I was when I started. The team is now nationally ranked and we've gotten lots of local and even national media coverage, including on a SportsCenter piece last year for which I was interviewed, crazily. (The producer had found my Roller Derby Diva blog on the Enquirer's site). Through roller derby, I've met 50+ awesome women whom I never would have met otherwise, and to be perfectly honest, I probably would have left Cincinnati a long time ago if it weren't for them.
Anyway, even if I didn't skate myself, I'd still tell you to go see a bout (game) at the Cincinnati Gardens because they're tons of fun. (Girls hitting each other on skates! Crazy names! Dollar drafts! Free parking!) And by the way, it's a totally real, unscripted sport, and there's actually a lot of strategy involved. Here's a nice piece on the Rollergirls that In the Tank, a documentary news show on local PBS affiliate CET, did on us last year. (You'll see me looking all disheveled and sweaty.) Our first home bout is March 21 – save the date!
So, after five years, I still have a love-hate relationship with Cincinnati. I love its neighborhoods, architecture, ridiculously affordable housing, museums, arts scene, locally-owned shops and restaurants and places to see live music, just to name a few things. But it still frustrates me that probably 95 percent of the people I meet here were born and/or raised here. I don't have anything against people who live in the same city where they grew up; it's just that, like Liz, I've found that many of those people don't feel the need to make new friends because they already have lots of friends here. And maybe I'm a little jealous, too, because those people's families usually live only like 20 minutes away (it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in Cincinnati, if you haven't noticed) and most of my family lives 10+ hours away. I don't think I'll ever feel completely at home here unless I end up raising a family here, and if and when that happens, I might want to be closer to my own family too. (Though I have no desire to ever move back to Delaware. Sorry, Mom and Dad!)
So I guess that's why I wanted to get involved with Cincinnati Imports (I sent Liz, whom I already kind of knew from reading Get in Mah Belly , a breathless e-mail after I discovered this blog). I felt exactly the same way she and Avani did – that there had to be more of us out there, and that even if we had nothing else in common, we'd at least be able to talk about and explore how weird and cool Cincinnati is at the same time. So I'm looking forward to doing that, and meeting some of you next month!