Thursday, July 30, 2009

Impressions of Ithaca

I've had a lot of time to think about what Ithaca would be like. We've known that we would be moving here for almost six months, which is a long time to wonder how beautiful this place could possibly be, the way everyone talks about it.

Well, even with all the hype, I can say without reservation that Ithaca is, in fact, gorgeous (or "gorges," as the tourism industry here would have us say). I alternate between feeling like I've landed in the opening scenes of The Last of the Mohicans with all those misty green mountains (I know it was Tennessee or somewhere but the aura is the same) or some alternate version of the Twilight books where Forks is a somewhat larger town with an Ivy League university. Here it is the middle of summer and it is rainy and cool. There are forested hills and large grassy meadows everywhere and it's all green, green, green. It's as if Ithaca was made using a completely different pallette of colors, most of them being shades of green. The shock isn't as great as it would have been coming directly from Tucson. At least we had a stopping-over period in Provo to ease us into a verdant, life-affirming landscape. Still, I can't keep myself from staring at the grass and trees and soaking it all in.

Our apartment is kind of in the middle of a forest, which is great for outdoor play but not so good for cell phone reception. Fortunately, our contracts are up in a week or two so we'll figure out a way to not have to make phone calls standing outside down the street. We're still sour on a traditional family cell phone plan so we're hoping to rig up a combination of Google Voice, pre-paid cell phones, and possibly a land line that will work for us. Any input?

In a more social sense, Jeremy and I feel a little bit like we've gone from being medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pond, to being small fish in a very big pond. For example, among the people who helped us move in (thank you, Mormon connection) were a handful of PhDs or near-PhDs and a post-doc. Where else does that even happen?

I am almost giddy with nerdy linguistic excitement to discover that they have an accent here. You don't hear it everywhere since so many people are implants, or here temporarily from elsewhere with Cornell or Ithaca College, but I can hardly pay attention to the actual substance of what people say when they are speaking in that wonky Upstate New York brogue. Plus, they pronounce "Binghamton" as "BINGhamton," with the "hamton" part almost swallowed instead of spoken. I can't get enough of it.

One thing that concerns me is the injudiciousness of having to say "New York State" or "Upstate New York" when referring to the place where we now live. I've always thought it was unfair that people from Washington had to tack on "...state" to the end when really, it's the people from DC who should have to add on the "DC." Right? Maybe it's just because I grew up in the Northwest where Washington (State) was more immediate and local. On our trip out here, if we told people we were moving to New York, they assumed we meant the city. I'll have to sort out just how indignant I am about this later.

But there's not a lot of time for indignance when we have a city and a campus to explore. It seems like when people move to new places, they're always able to describe them in terms of where they've already been. In that case, Ithaca reminds me of Middlebury on steroids. It has the winding country roads and old houses with sprawling grass lawns ending at the forest, but it has a much larger downtown area and more of a bustle about it. I can't wait to discover more.


The Ensign's said...

Sounds heavenly! I'll try and enjoy my 110 degree dry heat while you're rolling around in the grass.

Liz Johnson said...

Ithaca sounds absolutely magical. I am so excited for you.

And that PhD/Post-doc thing happens at ND too. Law students are definitely on the lower end of the totem pole, which is just weird, man.

Liz Johnson said...

Also... does this mean you're keeping the same url??

Tyler Ball said...

I could only get through half of your post. It appears biased against the wonderful amounts of heat and brown-ness we have here in Tucson. Or maybe I was just jealous.

Susanne said...

Sounds exciting!

Jeanerbee said...

Ok, you are SO making me MISS the NE!!! I seriously never thought I'd be in love with that kind of climate, but I am and I miss it!!! Hopefully you are open to having visitors? =) As for phones - we have a T-Mobile Family Plan with 500 shared minutes and unlimited mobile to mobile - we also just got a Magic Jack to try out - Basically you get DSL or cable internet, hook the jack into your usb port, and you get a landline for $30 a YEAR. Let ya know how it goes!

Amanda said...

You know you miss Tucson - you know it! We'll be rubbing it in come Thanksgiving when you can't leave your house for all of the snow...

Shannan said...

Hi Bridget-
I've been on vacation, so I didn't get the day by day accounts of your trip. Now that I am all caught up, I am reminiscing over my own drive from Seattle to upstate NY. We lived in a small town outside Syracuse for one summer while my minor league baseball husband was playing on one of the local teams. We visited Ithaca often as they have a minor league team. We also stayed in Lincoln, NE one night and I remember thinking about how the whole state smelled like cow manure.
Also, the rest stops back east looked so quaint. Wait until you visit Pennsylvania to check out my theory-you'll do a much better job recounting it than I do here in this comment.
Anyway, I can't wait to hear all about your life. Is there a Costco nearby?

JosephJ said...

Green: I once had a job interview in Tucson, and was nearly blinded with how green southern Utah was as I flew north. (?) And every time I went home to TN for the summer, I was SHOCKED with the green-ity also. The way you describe New York, though, makes me wonder if it's the Garden of Eden? Maybe the green is satisfying an appetite for foliage that hasn't been quenched for a while.

Phones: I've often thought about VoIP, but we're in a sweet spot with a pair of mobiles. The house line got nixed a couple of years ago.

Linguistics: Are you finding the speech even more interesting than VT? Cause I would have also said BING'mt'n. I appreciate places where there is a distinct "local flavor."

Welcome to the Northeast! We're pleased to have you. :)

Andrew said...

Awesome. We're looking at Cornell for PhD work. Moving from Cairo to Ithaca would be a little dramatic, weather-wise :)

And Google Voice rocks. You can use VoIP at home through Gizmo for pretty much free. It even works abroad--we still get calls from telemarketers who must think we're the worst liars when we tell them we're actually in Egypt.


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