weather reminder.

Just yesterday afternoon, three friends and I were sitting in the scorching sun at the Reds stadium, eating Skyline Chili and paying $4 just to eat a dripping snow cone that would give us a 3 minute relief from overheating. While sitting beside home plate, cheering on the Pirates, I began recalling all of my favorite memories of summer in the past. They were always revolved around camping, trapshooting, and baseball. I thought, could it be? With the exception of actually PLAYING a sport, hockey is not my favorite. It’s actually baseball. Why? Well, I’ve been playing it longer, my dad played and would play with us in the backyard, and…IT IS OUTSIDE.

In that moment, I was feeling the hot sun and the open ceiling, realizing I was subjected to the sky overhead. Someone shouted, “Wind’s in your favor!” to the batter at the plate and I realized how human and animalistic this outdoor sport can make you feel. In hockey, it’s artificial ice in a closed room as sunlight blocking and biological clock cloaking as a casino. Here, even the wind controlled the game – not just then players.

And then the high wind warning struck, blowing in a horrific thunderstorm that forced everyone into the shelter. Radar lit up the screens, lighting split the sky, thunder threatened to bust out skyscraper windows, sheets of rain drenched bystanders, and a man caught an umbrella midair as it whipped through our huddled section next to Hebrew Nation’s dog stand. We waited and waited and finally it blew over. We returned to wet seats, watching the World Cup on the big screen until the tarps were lifted and the game resumed, the air rising yet again with humidity as the temperature spiked back. The rude people with umbrellas sat back in front of us, removing ponchos.

I love these games, the excitement of a home run or loaded bases – regardless of whom they’re in favor. The nachos with jalapeños, the peanuts. The stupid songs, mascots, and fan trivia. The huge screens with more information than you can process. And also…the earthiness of it all. The reminder that even pleasures in life are not separate from the dangers of a dictating natural environment. We are small, even smaller than a packed baseball field makes you feel with it’s open outfield overlooking the Kentucky banks and its home plate overshadowed by enormous buildings.

I really love baseball.

Cleveland and Its Unentitled Midwest Pride

rustbelt
Google Image: See?  Pittsburgh got its act together, but Cleveland is right there with Detroit…at the bottom.  (Oh, and it’s “Erie”, by the way.)

I’ve lived in Cleveland for several years now during my time at Case Western Reserve University.  Originally from the countryside of the Pittsburgh Seam in southern Pennsylvania, I’m quite familiar with my East Coast/Appalachia wanna-be-the-deep-south-but-we-aren’t origins.  However, I can’t help but see signs about Cleveland and its belonging to the “Midwest” or hear people rave about their “Midwest lives”.  I actually had to google “midwest” before I was convinced that Cleveland is geographically considered in fact “midwest”.  I’d even lived in Dalton, Ohio for a couple years as a child and not one ever considered northeastern Ohio to be midwestern in any sense.  Yet this “Midwest Pride” is clearly endorsed…but I refute that it’s a manifest claim.

When I think “midwest”, I think plains, cornfields, and a truly “country” feeling.  Cincinnati and Indianapolis are the closest to me geographically and they fly to the top of the list.  Even Chicago has a much more “midwest” feel to me, despite it being such an enormous city.  But, after all of the summer I’ve spent in Chicago for hockey and southern Illinois for the Grand American Trapshoot, I find it hard to justify claiming Cleveland as “midwest”.  For that matter, I rule out Detroit as well.  Both cities, in my opinion, are crumbling remains of industrial towns that have been left to rot and which continue to collapse inward to survive and restart.  To me, these are strictly Rust Belt cities.  I’m not from the Rust Belt, but I know Pittsburgh is and it’s revitalized and beautiful.  Lafayette, Indiana is on this list as well in terms of revitalized Rust Belt cities.  Coming from a rural coal region, I cannot place Cleveland any closer to the “midwest” than by associating it to Pittsburgh and Detroit as part of the Rust Belt.  Furthermore, I separate it from the cities like Pittsburgh and Minneapolis by realizing it is in fact in the Great Lakes region.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in western New York for hockey, cycling tours around the Finger Lakes, and visiting a boyfriend I dated during the last five or so years. Cleveland absolutely fits into this category: the Great Lakes region.  They have the lakefront, the (in my opinion disgusting, sorry!) accent, and the lack of farms that would give it a genuine “midwest” feel.  When I was shocked by all of the “midwest” paraphernalia that I was reading and decided to throw together this short piece, I was relieved to find a number of resources that agree with my ramblings and opinions.