Saturday, February 23, 2013

Corryville (and Kayla's 30th Birthday!)

45 degrees. Cloudy.

Thirty.  This photo pretty much sums up how I'd been feeling about this day in the ones leading up to it.  Bewildered.

I started my thirtieth year the way I wish every day could begin—a half hour on Pinterest and eight cups of strong, black coffee.
At ten I drove to Mason to meet Jennie for a Pure Barre class. For my birthday, I had given myself the luxury of a day off work and I felt the rush of not working on a weekday. I took a picture of myself pretending like I was independently wealthy and could go to exercise class in the middle of the day any time I pleased:  

After Pure Barre I changed out of my yoga pants and into my running tights.  Donnie and I parked near Short Vine and took off.  Not ten feet into our run, Donnie shouts, “Crap I’ve got my shorts on backwards.”  Yes, he did:

We ran down Short Vine and were happy to see that Café de Wheels now has a proper restaurant with tables and chairs. I love the idea of food trucks for the flexibility and vitality they bring to an urban area, but honestly, they’re just not for me—I need to be seated to properly enjoy anything that takes two hands to eat. 

At one end of Short Vine is the Corryville Library—another Carnegie.  As Donnie mentioned when wrote the route for this post, Maggie and I once came to the Corryville Library during a summer break from college to attend an informational session for the Peace Corps. Obviously neither of us were cut out for this.

We ran through several residential blocks which are dense and lined with housing that is a good mix of turn of the century single-family homes and new student housing for undergraduates who want to be close to campus:

We passed the Highland Café where Donnie and I once attended a poetry reading in our more literary days:

And the Corryville Recreation Center:

Set back a bit from Martin Luther King is the award-winning Stetson Square development:

Note that here Donnie has turned his cap around to match his backwards shorts.
We passed several healthy-looking medical students crossing MLK to get from Stetson Square to the UC Medical School campus across the street.  On the corner is Frank Gehry’s Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, the form brilliantly alluding to the function:

We made a loop through the medical center, where I once received and subsequently talked my way out of a parking ticket. 

Donnie had a small park mapped on the route, but when we got to the spot, we found that either 1) our geography skills had failed us, 2) the park is soon to be something else, or 3) world's worst park:

Back on the other side of MLK, we were perplexed by this building and its advertisement for –wtf—“Aviation Medicine”?

I took Donnie’s picture in front of the old (before his time old) Public Allies building:

And then Donnie took my picture in front of the Corryville sign.  Notice how the dry winter has had the same effect on the landscaping as it has had on my hair.  Also, I learned this pose from Toddlers and Tiaras:

On Burnet, we ran past the bright, new murals in front of the school board building:

And then we made a quick loop through the triangle park before wrapping up our shortest Run 52 to date:

Back at home, we found that an intruder had broken into our apartment while we were gone and decorated our living room with a lifetime’s worth of photographs that showed my many looks over 30 years.  The good looks:

And the not so good ones:

Maggie had also left me a large Diet Coke, Big Mama’s new book, and my own pair of “Sparkly Green Earrings”:

Later that evening we left the city limits (gasp!) to visit the Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, where I was granted my wish of spending my birthday on a factory tour “like Mr. Rogers.”  

Although Mr. Rogers probably would not have worn his snakeskin booties.  Or made the tour guide take this photo:

In the end, I understood about 71% of what Randy taught us about the art and science of beer making.  This is pretty good because while I never scored so low in my actual art and science classes I also never had the distraction of a delicious “Unit 6” wheat beer or a spiced winter seasonal during the lecture.  
This was a great birthday and mostly made up for the dread I was feeling about leaving my twenties behind.   

At twenty I could not have guessed where the next ten years would take me and where they would not take me. I could not have imagined leaving New York, moving to New Mexico, then back home to Ohio.  I would not have guessed that a Midwestern city could hold me.  When I was twenty, Cincinnati didn’t tug at me madly like the places I imagined I would live:  Cincinnati felt gentle and familiar and I wanted something wild.
At twenty I did not foresee what running would do for my mind and my body.  At twenty, I plodded tediously on the treadmill—four miles in forty minutes a few days a week.  I was only beginning to understand that running could cure me of the hypochondria that kept me up at night, that it would give me confidence and focus.
At twenty Donnie and I had not met and when I thought about my future he was there in theory only.
But at thirty, this city is home and every evening Donnie and I run through it together. 

 Here's to the next 30!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Route #9: Corryville

Friday is Kayla’s birthday. So, naturally she wanted to go on a Run 52 to celebrate. The alphabet said we were headed to Corryville. Over the last five years I have spent a lot of time in Corryville; however, plotting this course led me to realize that my time in Corryville wasn’t really quality time. It was mostly parking my car and walking to class. What I didn’t realize is that Corryville is full of sites that serve, entertain, and educate Cincinnatians. On the entertainment front, we will start on Short Vine in front of Bogart’s which has made a recent resurgence after its heyday in the mid 90’s. Kayla never made it to Bogart’s during its prime; she laments that Dave Matthew’s Band never played there. Down the street we will see the Corryville Library, where I spent many afternoons with Public Allies in Friday training sessions. This library was also the site of Kayla’s one Short Vine visit before moving back to Cincinnati with me in 2007. It was here where she attended a Peace Corps meeting with Maggie. Thankfully, her placement in Africa never panned out!

At Staggerlee’s carryout liquor store, we will hang a right. Staggerlee’s is named after a St. Louis folk hero who is the subject of many blues tracks. The Corryville Staggerlee’s is notable because it represents the place where the university and the neighborhood intersect, as you will see people from both settings leaving with alcohol in hand.Heading down a nice hill on East University we will pass my former parking spot in front of a barber shop. Its uncanny availability made me feel like a VIP.When we get to Eden we will turn left. Here we will see Stetson Square, a sprawling complex across from University Hospital intended to serve as housing for med students and young professionals.Across MLK we will continue on Eden through the hospital development.  .

Still on the hospital grounds, we will turn onto Albert Sabin Way. As I was plotting this course I asked myself--who was Albert Sabin; I discovered that he developed an oral polio vaccine, and proceeded to feel like I should brush up on my vaccination all-stars.

On ASW we will pass a tiny park named for Maurice Levine, a groundbreaking psychoanalyst, who helped Cincinnati become a leader in mental health. Given the current state of community mental health, a landmark like this can be a great reminder of visionary leadership.Eventually, we will make our way out of the medical area to Burnet, which will take us back across MLK. On our left we will see Crossroads Center, which certainly echoes Levine’s legacy.

On Burnet we will pass two organizations dedicated to youth, ProKids and Cincinnati Public Schools. Around the corner on Taft the youth theme will continue as we pass the Mayerson Academy.Along Taft we will pass the Woman’s Club of Cincinnati, a new discovery for both of us. In addition to the interesting programming that takes place inside, the club appears to be architecturally significant as well.We will round the corner and pass Corryville Triangle Park, which sits at the intersection of Taft and Euclid. From there we will continue to check out the residential section.

At University at Highland we will come across Mecklenburg Gardens, a great place to grab a German beer.Our run will finish along Jefferson on the very western edge of Corryville before we finish up on Short Vine and continue on with Kayla's birthday.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Columbia Tusculum

February 18th (President’s Day), 55 degrees, mostly sunny.

By this point in the process we have established that Cincinnati is beautiful. We know that the hills and the river and the homes and the parks are nothing less than breathtaking. What I didn’t realize until today is that all of these things converge in Columbia Tusculum.

Here is the thing about Columbia Tusculum: its residential streets are not easily accessible by a thoroughfare. The only thoroughfare—Columbia Parkway—is fast and furious and only a handful of brave souls have their address on the Parkway. Compare this to neighboring Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout where busy Observatory, Erie, Linwood, Delta, and Madison offer an intimate look into living room windows. This setback makes the streets of Columbia Tusculum feel private and a bit exclusive.

We started our run in Alms Park, which has a gorgeous pavilion:

And a view of the municipal airport, which is close to our apartment and is looped by a great hike/bike trail that we run around quite frequently:

Here Donnie is telling me that this is “Run 52” not “Photo 52” and we need to move it along:

At the entrance of the park, there are curving streets of mansions on enormous wooded lots. Many of these homes have views of the river and downtown:

Behind these trees is one of my favorite modern houses in Cincinnati:

And then there is St. Ursula Villa perched at the top of the hill:

Next we explored the “San Francisco” side of Columbia Tusculum with its narrow Victorian three-stories on steep hillside streets:

Donnie fit in a few hill sprints but for me, this was the point in the route where I had to take off an extra layer and reach down deep inside to make it to the top:

From there, we stopped briefly in the business district, which is home to one of our regular go-to restaurants, Allyn’s.   Allyn's has improved its veggie burger in recent years:

There is a strip mall with a Fitness Center and a Yoga studio:

And the Starbucks that I will occasionally stop at on my way Downtown (although my hair is usually fixed a little better):

And here is a picture of the Speedway where earlier today I was innocently trying to redeem my grocery store rewards card when a rangy guy in line behind me whispered “You are a beautiful woman… you are a beautiful woman” over my shoulder. Considering the setting, I did NOT take this as a compliment.

On the other side of Columbia Parkway is the “New Orleans” side of the neighborhood. Here the homes have a Cajun feel and let you know that they’ve withstood a flood or two:

The streets are lined with a handful of posh businesses:

We passed the Carnegie Center:

And two churches as old as God himself:

Here we realized that during the half hour or so we had spent in Columbia Tusculum the only other people we had seen were contractors coming in and out of their white vans. 

After leaving the historic district, we ran up Delta, pausing for the walk light in front of the renovated Lincoln School Professional Building:

From there, we ran up Golden Avenue to the Larz Anderson Park. There are no words for this view, so I'll let it speak for itself: