15 July 2015

Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Oregon Anymore

Dr. Chandler and I are becoming official Wisconsinites. Boxes are unpacked, and our apartment in a southern suburb of Milwaukee is feeling more and more like home. I even went out and secured a local library card and Wisconsin driver's license! Dr. Chandler is in the throws of intern-year orientation and loving it. We checked our first Summerfest concert off our bucket list, and I volunteered at Bastille Days downtown. The real kicker was getting asked to speak last Sunday in church. That's when you know you're a true newbie.

Everywhere we go (quite literally), when we mention that we've recently moved out to the mid-west from Oregon, we are inevitably asked "What have you noticed is different about Wisconsin?" Being asked this on an almost daily basis, we've come up with a decent list:

1. Midwestern charm is real, my friends. When we initially came out to Wisconsin to scope out the area for housing, we were surprised to have strangers start up conversations with us, like we were old friends, in the hotel elevator or store lines. Wisconsinites don't believe in looking at the floor when waiting if there's anyone else in the vicinity. They are the kings and queens of small talk!

I've discovered that when you walk into a business, you shouldn't blurt out you're name and why you're there after saying your initial "hello." Oh no! If she's a true Wisconsinite, before the receptionist even knows your name she'll will want to know how you're day's been, and don't be skimpy on the details. There are many reasons why I am not yet an official Wisconsinite, but my West Coast reflexes are likely the biggest culprit. I wonder if the community college offers midwestern charm classes?

2. It may be social unacceptable in Milwaukee to be a teetotaler. How it didn't occur to us before that Milwaukee would be a beer capital is beyond us. I mean it's known as the "Brew City" and is home to the Brewers baseball team, who play in Miller Park! I've been told that the reason Milwaukee has so many festivals in the summer is to have a weekly excuse to party and drink.

We've been to several residency welcome get-togethers where alcohol is offered, and everyone is always perplexed as to why we don't drink. There's a chance we might not get invited to any more BBQs. Just sayin'.

3. Cheese outranks organic produce. When we lived in Oregon, I had no problems locating great quality organic produce. In fact, in Oregon organic produce that's in season often costs only a few cents more than conventionally grown produce.

I've been to several chain grocery stores in Wisconsin and I've been lucky if I've found two feet of organic produce space. There's generally a good produce section, which often butts up against the specialty cheese section. A store here might have four organic limes and a handful of organic green apples, but I guarantee you they will have three cheese coolers. One cheese cooler for local cheeses, one cooler for cheese spreads, and another cooler for specialty cheeses.
Behold the Wisconsin local cheese cooler at Pick 'n Save

The love of cheese is strong here.

I'm sure this list will continue to grow. I've heard over and over again that we should take advantage of the hot, humid weather while we have it. Though we haven't experienced it yet, I'm told that come winter it will be -30 F. Yeah, I had to ask for clarification. They said NEGATIVE 30 degrees, below zero. It surprises me then, that so many people who were born in Wisconsin stay in Wisconsin after experiencing its winters. I guess there must be a lot to love.