I'm going to keep this short. I realize that I have little to say at this moment. I am overwhelmed with anticipation about my move. As the stacks of boxes climb higher and higher in my apartment, and the days remaining in Milwaukee, WI grow fewer and fewer, I just wanted to take a moment and remember what I love about this city, Brew City, USA.
1. This is exceedingly relevant, as it was just revealed, but what other city in the world has a statue of the Fonz in bronze? http://onmilwaukee.com/buzz/articles/fonzpix.html
2. Not only is Milwaukee home to Miller Brewing Co, but countless other beers got their start in Milwaukee...Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz...and tons of microbreweries.
3. Brats. Need I say more?
4. The people of Milwaukee are unlike those I've met anywhere in the world. Milwaukee is the most diverse city in the state, and although you can find people from every race, creed and background, they all have in common their welcoming spirit and openness. In no other city have I met so many people willing to tell you their life stories in the first few minutes after you meet them.
5. Friday Fish Fry. God Bless the Catholics! And Lutherans, although you won't get me near that Ludafisk.
6. The summer festival season is the greatest in the entire US. Every weekend there is a festival, ranging from huge celebrations like Summerfest and State Fair, to cultural events like Mexican Fiesta, Irish Fest, Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, Polish Fest, Indian Summer, Arab World, Germanfest, Greek Fest, and the list goes on. Another great way to spend the weekend is at the multitude of church festivals which overrun parking lots during the summer.
7. The city park systems are awesome. The parkways provide scenic drives, and the parks themselves are full of interesting hiking trails and lovely examples of nature and indigenous species. The state parks are great as well, and camping in them is both fun and affordable.
8. The bowling alleys, the bar halls, the corner pubs, the backyard barbeques. A bar on every corner. The hotdog man who sits outside the liquor store. Cheese. Fireworks.
9. The abundance of rummage sales are amazing. Even during the winter! And the multitude of spelling errors on the rummage sale signs are endlessly amusing.
10. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This school actually cares about its students and their performance. It really feels like a community that cares. The professors are great, the facilities are improving, and the possibilities are endless!
While my list is in no way comprehensive, it does give a glimpse of the wonder that is Milwaukee, WI. Brew City will be missed by this immigrant. As will the wonderful state of Wisconsin. But most of all I will miss that fantastic Wisconsin accent. I will carry it with me, with pride, to remind myself of the land of beers and steers, cheese and cheeseheads, and friends.
Moving across country is a daunting task for anyone, and it's no different for me. Although I try to tell myself that I'm a very organized person, in actuality my definition of organization is rather lax. So it should not be surprising to reveal that my apartment is in shambles. But the mess is slowly morphing into piles of boxes, and this past weekend's yard sale helped to get rid of much of the clutter.
I am always surprised at the people one meets when hosting a yard sale. The lookey-loos are my favorites. We began calling the cars who rolled slowly down the alley past our driveway "drive-bys," but instead of firing bullets, they used their eyeballs to investigate every nook and cranny of the sale without ever leaving their cars. I'm not sure if the ones who drove by without stopping were more damaging to my self esteem than the ones who actually got out, looked around, and left without buying anything, but both combined to make me wonder what type of person I was to hold onto so much junk for such a long time. It is certainly a strange experience, to have people pawing through items that you used to cherish, and then to have these people decide that 25 cents is too much to pay for something you've loved intensely, or at least used to love.
It was both a melancholy and cathartic experience. I felt sad to be letting go of things that were important to some aspect of my life, but now I consider it akin to a rite of passage. Out with the old to prepare for the new. It was almost cleansing to the spirit, a great purge of things that were weighing me down (I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it a cosmic colonic, but I think that term is almost apt) so that I am now free to begin the next chapter of existence. While the experience was bitter sweet, it was also totally physcially and mentally exhausting. Thank Jeebus that I had friends and family to help!
Perhaps my worst little helper was my 5 yr old niece. She caught on quick that the sale was a profit game, and she took it upon herself to establish her own "bank." We had a container we were using to collect all the money and make change, and we were carefully keeping a tally of who's items were sold (my family brought their extra stuff to sell as well, and the profits were to be divided at the end of each day). My niece decided that this method wasn't working for her, and in order to maximize her personal profits, she would have to subvert the system. So, in true captalistic spirit, she decided that her own purse would become "the new bank" and she began walking around the sale, her purse held open, telling people that they should put money into her purse and take whatever they wanted, or don't take anything, it's all the same to her, as long as the money ended up in her purse. While she couldn't quite grasp that the sale of items were what generated the profits, she did realize that if she wanted to get paid, she had better work! I guess there's a lesson in that for all of us.