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    new habits

    You know how you have a habit of parking in the same area of the parking lot every time you go to Giant Eagle?  In Marietta, first row past the front door on the right, close to the cart corral.  You sit in relatively the same place in your favorite restaurant.  You know which lane to be in for the next turn or exit.  The unconscious habit things in your life that are that way just because you’ve done it enough times that you don’t have to think about it.

    I’ve been living in Cleveland long enough for those ‘unconscious’ things to have kicked in.  I don’t have to use the GPS to find the Giant Eagle or the church parking lot in Tremont where I pick up my awesome CSA.  I know which lane to get into when I’m driving down Ontario based on whether I’m getting on I77 or I90.  When someone says “It’s on Cedar” or “It’s on Lorain” I know if that means the east side of town or the west side of town.  I know that when I go to the West Side Market on Saturday morning around 8am I will always find a parking space and the vendors will ask me what I’m cooking and wish me a good day.  And truly – every time I’m at the West Side Market I look around with a stupid grin on my face - I can stop there for locally made Italian sausage or pierogies or pastries whenever I want because it’s a mile from where I live.  It’s heaven for someone who loves to cook.

    So I’ve been here in Cleveland for 6 months now, and it truly feels like home.  I love my job and my coworkers, and am involved in really interesting projects.  I am meeting new people every day. When people hear my story I’m often asked how I like it here, and my very truthful response is always “I haven’t regretted it one single moment.”

    Not one single moment. 

    It is a new life for me, but one close enough that I can get to Marietta for important events, and my Marietta friends can & do visit me here.   I’ve joined the local Modern Quilt Guild, and connected with my sorority alumni chapter.   I’ve found new doctors and a new dentist.   I love Cleveland and it’s abundance of other people with ethnic names.  If I was still Karen Lazzaro – they would know how to pronounce it without asking.

    I still have museums to explore, and will hopefully soon see my first minor league hockey game.  My list of restaurants that I want to try is always longer than the list of ones I have tried, and I’ve still never had a bad meal here.  I haven’t been to the zoo or the botanical gardens yet, and my friend Mary Ann just told me that I there are 3 places in Cleveland where I can learn curling!! (The cute Olympic sport with the ice & brooms & Norwegian harlequin pants – not the hairstyle).  So many great things to do and see.

    Moving my life to a different location hasn’t cost me my old friends, but has made me cherish the time with those friends so much more.  And I love showing off what Cleveland has to offer when they visit me here. 

    And as one of Jamie’s twins said to me when they visited a couple weeks ago “Miss Karen, we’re sad that you don’t live in Marietta anymore, but we love Cleveland!”


    Photo:  Jamie's kids getting on the trolley from my neighborhood to the Indians game.


    in cleveland

    It’s been almost 2 months since I moved to Cleveland.  Two months!  And it’s home now – and I know it is because when I talk about going to Marietta for whatever reason – I don’t say “I’m going home” I say “I’m going to Marietta”.  That was not the case originally.  Home is a loft apartment on West 4th Street. Where it smells like home because today is ‘sauce and meatballs’ day.

    I’m really enjoying my new job.  It’s a 12 minute walk to work – from my apartment to my desk.  I work with really nice people who have made me feel welcome.  They’ve either done it on purpose – or it comes naturally to them – either way it’s really appreciated by me.  The work is similar, but different…  just enough that I’m tired at the end of the day from learning new work in a new way with a new employer.  It will take a while I know. 

    One of the first questions people ask me is if it was really hard to leave the Marietta house.  I understand that question – after all we bought that house when Evan was 2 weeks old, and he’s now 21.  There are so many memories there – but the physical presence of that house isn’t important to the memories.  They are still in my mind and in my photos.  Driving away the last time I didn’t cry like I thought I would.  I know it’s because I was ready to go. And I've had amazing support from my family and friends.

    So there is much to do in Cleveland and I’m just getting started.  There are amazing restaurants and many of them within a few blocks of me.  My daughters keep asking me “Have you gone to dinner by yourself yet?”   This is, of course, one of those things that I know I need to learn to do.  Yes – I can get a new job and move myself to a new city, but I’m still intimidated by eating at a restaurant by myself.  My girls – both living in NYC always say to me when we’re in a restaurant there “look around Mom, there are all kinds of people in this restaurant by themselves.”  I promise I will work on it.  At some point.  And I’ll bring a book so I don’t just sit there staring at the other diners.   I will let you know how it goes.

    To those of you who are worrying about me – don’t.   I’m truly happy here.   But any visit by any of you for any reason would make me happier.


    Photo of a niche in my apartment - with my new gorgeous blue Fenton bowl - brought to me by Donna - the first of my friends to visit me in Cleveland...  she suggested this blog should now be called "urban Karen" - and i agree... 


    the heart of rock and roll

    Silence from me doesn’t always mean that nothing’s going on.  It just means that I haven’t been moved to share anything.

    Or I’m too scared to share something.

    Like my job search.

    But now I have something big to share.  I’ve accepted a position in Cleveland and will soon be moving! A new job, a new place to live, a new adventure.  That’s what this whole exercise has been about – me preparing myself to make a change in my life once my nest was empty. 

    I’m a small town girl.  I grew up in a town of 400 and have lived in one of 15000 for the past 30 years.  And now I’m going to live & work in a city.  I will be living in downtown Cleveland, and I’m excited about being able to walk to work, restaurants, concerts or to a baseball game.

    I can go to a major league baseball game whenever I want.

    Granted – it’s an American League team, and I’m a National League girl. But I will love it just the same. I am compromising my requirement that my new city have a NHL hockey team – but then again I’ll still be only 2 hours from my beloved Penguins…. 

    Cleveland. Where there’s a thriving ethnic community.  And I’ll be much closer to my parents in northern Indiana.  And not any further from the Weavers in Pittsburgh and Columbus. Where I already know people – including the person who encouraged me to write this blog in the first place.  My kids have been amazingly supportive.  They just want me to be near a major airport so it’s easier to visit. 

    I have a great job and amazing friendships, so maybe I’m tempting fate by even thinking there’s something better for me out there. But I don’t think it’s better that I’m looking for… just different.  Someone asked me last week if I was running from the stress in my job.  And yes, my job is stressful.  But I’m not running from anything.  I’m running to something.  Something new.  As I’ve said before I graduated from college on a Saturday and moved to Marietta 2 days later….  30 years ago in May.  I’ve lived here every day of my adult life, and I now I have the opportunity to try something new.

    It’s rare that you get a real chance to start over, but that’s what I’m going to be able to do. Don't get me wrong - I know there will be challenges.  I know that I'll have to fight every day against my reclusiveness.  I know I'll have to get comfortable going to restaurants and concerts and social events by myself.  I'll be meeting new people and getting involved in new causes.  You'd think I'd be a little bit scared, but surprisingly I'm not.  I'm just excited.  

    I get to go where no one knows my story and I get to decide how to tell it. 

    No regrets.


    Stay tuned.


    The photograph is the Stokes Federal Courthouse - my new workplace.




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