Starting Over in Flower City, NY

Lately, it has occurred to me that Rochester and I, maybe, perhaps, have got off on the wrong foot. It’s no secret my wife and I have been detesting where we live. We moved last August from the West Coast, and it’s just been… well… it’s been…  it’s been exhaustingly frustrating: rabies scare, smoke-ridden apartment, under employment, Polar Vortextation, stranded for hours because of shoddy mechanic work, knee injuries, rude strangers, us leaving every other weekend just to feel normal, underwhelming food…

And we’re not pessimists, I promise. We moved here with positivity and high hope. Like breakfast, we prefer the sunny side. Unfortunately Rochester had other plans. There’s this cycle. Every time we begin to think positive about where we live, we look up, smile at the sky, and then get crapped on by a metaphorical seagull (i.e., Rochester), crapped on right in the kisser.

But that is neither here nor there.

Like a rat in a maze hitting his head against the wall over (and over), I need a fresh start. SO here it is. I’m starting over. I’m giving Rochester another shot, a fair shake, a second chance, some water under the bridge, a lumberjack handshake, a cough syrup detox and other clichés…

And why not? It’s summer, the first day of summer; this is when you get to go outside.

Lake Ontario–give it another chance!

I remember the first time I saw Lake Ontario, my first Great Lake! What a sight. Immense and infinite. I couldn’t look away, and like an ocean, I desperately yearned to know its secrets. But then I smelled Lake Ontario. And then I saw the grossly polluted Genesee River endlessly dumping into it. And then I said, “Hmmm, that’s too bad. Guess I’ll never come back here again.”

Well, nearly six months later, Megan and I took a trip up to the lake, and, I have to admit, I had a wonderful time. The smell wasn’t bad (we weren’t as close to the Genesee), and I enjoyed the lake’s serenity. I skipped rocks like a boss (that is, a boss who skips rocks), and Megan found some neat “ocean” glass. The sun was out and the breeze was perfect.

photo1 (20)photo1-6The Food–give it another chance!

After we moved here, all anyone could tell us was how good the food is: “The Best Food in the Nation!” I also heard a lot about garbage plates. “That seems to fit,” I would say, because the quality here was as impressive as Idaho Mexican food. I since discovered that the Garbage Plate is actually a regionally famous dish. I’m staying clear.

The good news, as it turns out, is there actually is good food in Rochester. We just kept hitting the wrong places. There’s an oddly great collection of speciality food trucksSchaller’s Drive-In has a memorable burger (with a huge jug of pickles!, free pickles, take as many as you like!), and Fraiche Bistro & Dessert Bar has excellent milkshakes.

Food Trucks at Jazz Fest

Food Trucks at Jazz Fest

Fraiche Bistro & Dessert Bar

Fraiche Bistro & Dessert Bar: Donuts & Coffee Milkshake

The Festivals–give it another chance!

Rochesterians like to brag about their spring and summer festivals. Lilac Festival, Jazz Fest, Park Ave Fest, Greek Festival, etc.  There’s one every other weekend, it seems. Here’s my question: How many opportunities do you really need to purchase a funnel cake, get a henna tattoo, and listen to reggae? My answer is one. I only need one.

We checked out the Lilac Festival; the lilacs weren’t blooming, and we left after an hour because it was lame. Oh great, a summer of these, I thought.

Well, we made to the opening night of Jazz Fest, and I have to admit (once again), I had a blast. Jazz Fest has an entirely different feel than the lilac festival has. There is busking and live entertainment everywhere, a line of delicious food trucks, and of course dancing in the street. It’s also right down the block from where we live.

Busking with dancing (and notice the dog)

Busking with dancing (and notice the dog)

More Jazz Fest

More Jazz Fest food trucks

We also enjoyed delicious sangrias at an indie movie theatre called The Little, which was great. More and more, I’m beginning to like this place.

The Shops–give them another chance!

We had a few rough patches with Rochester shopping. Getting violently cussed out for turning around in a parking lot by a parking lot attendant is probably the worst one. But in general, we’ve been consistently unimpressed with the quality of shopping. Western New York’s favorite grocery store chain, Wegmans, leaves us scratching our heads every time. Why do people love this store so much? It’s nice inside, but the variety is lacking, the aisles are super skinny, and the prices are a bit much. (COSTCO, we’re waiting for you).

And good news. Costco is currently being built for a fall opening. In addition, College Town is opening this fall as well, a new development near my school that will provide a grocery store, a Barnes and Noble, as well as a new brew pub, a cafe, and more.

But in the meantime, I’ve been enjoying some shops. Comics Etc., the Record Archive, and Pour Coffee Parlor are just a few that have really impressed me as of late. Excellent customer service, all around.

The folks at Comics Etc have been especially genuine and welcoming (even to a comic noob like myself). Some of the nicest people in town!

My favorite comic shop!

My favorite comic shop!

Megan at the Record Archive on Record Store Day

Megan at the Record Archive on Record Store Day

Pour Coffee Parlor

Pour Coffee Parlor


So there it is, Rochester. I’m moving forward. Let’s start fresh and be friends, okay? I think you’ll like me when you get to know me. Really. I’m packed full of funny stories and awful puns.

Really, I think I just needed a fresh perspective. It’s summer. And now I get to see another side of a city I keep hearing good things about. So here goes nothing!

Any Rochesterians out there? People who have moved a lot? Any suggestions for a fresh start?



  1. I just want to say that I’m a big fan of your thoughts lol My name is Kat, I’m a 27yr. old teacher, poet and singer. I admire your world (at least what I know of your world) and I especially resonate with this post. currently I’m back in Boston, a Cali girl born and raised til the age of 9 and then my family moved to Mississippi where I grew up into young adult. Boston was my grad school opportunity and it was here that I had a “whole new world” experience and also got married April 8, 2013. However I “trigger shot” the experience and was post grad struggling to find work, once I finally did my marriage became more work itself (its work in general lol) Long story short, ended up losing my first teaching job because it was a christian private school and i was teaching more academics than Jesus (in their opinion) and then my husband lost his job a week later and in turn we lost our apartment and had no savings and no where to go. Currently- my husband is in Dallas, Tx working 2 jobs and doing very well. I am back in Boston with another teaching job that I’ll start next week as a preschool teacher this time (I’m a middle school teacher). There are some trust issues between us and we were separated before for like 6 months of our first year. But other than that we do love and care about each other very much, just trying to give time to the universe to align what we thought was perfect timing for us. Anyways I gave you the spill about who I am just simply to say that although you’re no therapist, there is something soothing for me about each post that I read from your blog. It is more than being able to relate, its knowing that I am literally not alone in this journey of chasing the “dream” (education, career, marriage, etc.), finding God or better understanding of one’s spirituality , and how to transition through life making choices without so much regard for everyone’s bullshit or rather ” strong opinions given out of concern”. Thank You

  2. I’m sorry you got off on the wrong foot with Rochester, but your optimism now is contagious — not so much like a bad strain of mono, but more like a hip tune you sing along with a smile on your face.

    I’m praying The Flower City continues to bloom for you in the coming year.

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