Manufactured Loyalty

Caveat: This post is long and a bit of a ramble. It has a lot of ideas in it that aren’t fully formed and should probably be split into several distinct posts. It’s more of a thought exercise about the role of place in one’s life, which is the focus of a new writing course I’m taking. The point is to get writing and generate ideas without a lot of self-censorship at this point. I’d love to hear thoughts from my readers if anything here resonates with you.

When I was young, I thought Buffalo, NY was the absolute best place in the country to live. Some of the reasons I can remember included:

  • bars were open until 4pm
  • we had a waterfront (although it was undeveloped at the time)
  • we could use Canadian coins interchangeably with American ones
  • our shitty beer was Labatt’s, not Budweiser or Miller

Continue reading →

Demon Déjà Vu

Now that I’m a runner (apparently), I run on vacations. Unless I’m staying in a hotel, which is rare with all the great AirBnBs out there, running is often the only viable form of exercise. Since I was staying at my parents’ house last weekend, I went for a few runs in my old neighborhood. They live about 30 minutes outside Buffalo, New York in a small town called Alden. It is very rural, with more farm and forest land than people and houses. It’s an “all American” town, a place where you can leave your doors unlocked and let your kids run around unsupervised for the entire day and not have to worry. The lack of traffic makes the roads great for running. Yet these qualities also make it an ideal hunting ground for pedophiles and psychopaths. Continue reading →

AirBnB: The First B is for Beautiful

My dad gets really excited when when modern, gig/sharing-economy type organizations come to Buffalo, which is my hometown and where he still lives. Years ago, when Buffalo got food trucks, he called right away to let me know. Around the same time, the city was redoing the harbor to make it a place for festivals and a place people want to spend time in general. He thought a combination of those two amenities would make me consider moving back there. Then Buffalo got bicycle sharing and then Uber, and he called me each of those times to let me know how cool Buffalo was becoming. I’m happy for Buffalo. I love that city. But the taxes and lack of good jobs and the snow…oh my god the snow. The gray, miserable, long, icy, humid winters. No. I just can’t.

But I digress.

My dad’s latest report was about AirBnB. It’s been active in Buffalo awhile, but the Buffalo News ran a story over the summer about locals’ good and bad experiences with it. He was certain I had used it before, which I have, and wanted to compare my experiences with what the paper was reporting. And so I thought, why stop with the conversation with my dad? Why not share some of my good and bad experiences here? Continue reading →

Yankee

I suppose I myself am a Yankee, having been born in New York State. But the idea of calling northerners Yankees seems quite old-fashioned to me. My dad is a Yankees fan. He has to be – major league baseball is the one professional sport that Buffalo does not have a team for. It is baffling to me that a city that is so economically depressed and with such high population flight can support an NHL, NFL, minor league baseball, lacrosse, soccer, minor league basketball, and women’s hockey team. But it does. I guess since Buffalonians really have nothing besides crappy weather and high taxes, they cling to their sports and their NFL team that has never won the Super Bowl and their NHL team that has never won the Stanley Cup. I can understand why my dad needs the Yankees.

Dad in Yankees Hat.jpg

My parents. Date unknown – probably around 1990, give or take a few years.

What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter Y: Your Daily Dose. It’s a participatory A-Z challenge. The author gives you a word and the readers post songs with that word. Fun!

Delta

My first international flight, which was also my first flight ever, cost $899 one way. It was scheduled to go from Buffalo to New York City to Manama to Melbourne. A snowstorm in Buffalo derailed that plan, so I ended up on a flight from Buffalo to Washington, DC to London to Singapore to Melbourne. This was back in the day when airlines took care of their passengers when things like this happened, no travel insurance needed, so my unexpected 14 hour layover in London came complete with a free stay in the Radisson Edwardian for the day, lunch, dinner, and transportation to and from the airport. Then I ended up in bulkhead seat (back in the day when you didn’t have to pay extra for those) on a double decker Quantas plane all the way from London to Melbourne. Not a bad outcome for a highly price conscious 19 year old.

I never played the airline mileage game until a few years ago, which was really a waste considering how much travel I did and how many miles I could have earned. I always looked for the cheapest flight possible. The best deal I scored was round trip on Air Transat from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany for $425, all fees included, back in 2001 just before the TSA ruined airline travel for all of us. Sometimes I got lucky and landed deals on luxury Asian airlines, like Cathay Pacific from Melbourne to Bombay, with a free three day layover in Hong Kong. If you’ve never flown an Asian airline, you have to try it. Our first class is their economy. And I got an amazing package holiday deal to Iceland when Iceland Air opened direct flights from Denver to Reykjavik. Continue reading →

Six Months in the Mountains: Snowpocalypse

Today marks our six month anniversary at The Sanctuary, and Mother Nature has chosen to celebrate by dumping 18 inches of snow on us since Sunday afternoon. After the stereotypically warm and sunny Front Range January, winter is back. The pure gravel road that I walked down on Saturday to meet my friends coming up in their little rental sedan to check out a lot for sale is once again a treacherous stretch of slippery snow that will turn to deadly, mile long ice slick next week as the temperature climbs back into the 50s. I have already seen my life flash before my eyes 11 times this winter as I’ve crept around the switchbacks at two miles an hour. I’m preparing for at least a half dozen more. Continue reading →