Where are you originally from?
Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a small town between Orlando and Miami on the east coast of Florida.
Why’d you move to Rochester?
Originally, I came to Rochester for RIT, where we met. I really liked the program and it was the first place away from home that felt like home. Then I moved away for a couple years, worked at a couple of places and got a grad school degree. And then I got this amazing offer from the library at RIT, so now I’m back. It was a combination of both the job was way too good to pass up and also I loved Rochester! I have nothing but fond memories of the summer just being incredible. And even though winter is a tundra, it’s still really nice. It’s nice to have seasons. I didn’t grow up with seasons. That’s kind of a foreign concept to people (laughs).
What were your first impressions of Rochester?
My first impression was that it was gray. But I still had those rose-colored glasses of wanting to be here so bad, because I was still in high school and RIT was my first choice. I remember thinking how cool it was, because it was so different from what I was used to. It was just completely new for me. In the town that I grew up in, people generally didn’t leave. So, the fact that I wanted to go so far away, and it was so different, and I was comfortable with it being different, that’s what I really liked about it.
Do you have any favorite secret spots?
My favorite secret spot is probably the Dryden. I mean, it’s not really a secret, but I’ve met so many people that are like, “What’s the Dryden?”
Oh yeah, even from people who have lived here for a long time.
Yeah, I don’t get it! It’s my favorite thing about Rochester. I go there a couple times a month because they always have something going on. It’s like $8, so it’s worth it. And I really, really like how at the beginning of each movie, they have either a volunteer or a film student give an introduction. I went there in February when they had a Lauren Bacall tribute month. And this woman who gave the introduction, she was a volunteer, and she dressed up in all fifties garb. She was awesome! She was so colorful and full of life. I don’t know any other place that has such a cult following and sense of community like the Dryden does.
What’s your favorite day of the week to hang out in Rochester?
Thursday, yeah? So today?
Thursdays are pretty good because it’s not quite Friday. People are getting ready for the weekend, but there’s still one more day left to spend with your coworkers.
Yeah, you’re right, I never thought about it that way.
Yeah, I just like Thursdays (laughs). Even numbered days. Tuesdays and Thursdays I like better, I don’t know why. But yeah, Thursdays in Rochester. And First Fridays too. They do a really good job. I went to one last month, with Spokes and Ink at the Contemporary Center. It was really crowded, which was surprising, but fun.
Describe your dream Rochester day.
I would probably start at the market, because it’s amazing. So it’d be a Saturday. I would hope it would be around festival time too, so I could go walk around and see people. I also like to go for bike rides on the Erie Canal. But the furthest I’ve biked there has only been about 20 miles.
That’s some pretty decent mileage!
I like being able to see the city and people. But also, the nice thing about Rochester is that it’s so close to nature too. You can go five minutes outside of where you are and you’re near the woods. So I’d probably start there and then I’d end getting a fancy drink somewhere. I actually just discovered a wine bar across the street from Lux, I don’t remember the name of it.
Oh, is it Cheshire?
Yes! The hidden one upstairs. It would always end with a cocktail. I love fancy drinks and girly drinks. It’s like a “you don’t know how to drink a real drink” kind of drink (laughs).
Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
I really like the East Ave area. It’s really nice to walk there and see those houses. They’re gorgeous and huge and kind of impractical (laughs). Also, especially right now, when it’s spring, it’s so nice. I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in a place where you didn’t get to experience the life that comes out after a long, treacherous winter. There’s something so nice about it. You see all this green and colors that have been hidden for so long, you forget they exist in nature.
Yeah, you definitely appreciate warmer weather when you go through rough winters like we do. It gives us a sense of camaraderie with each other, like “We made it!”
Yeah, that’s something I’ve always loved about Rochester. It has this capacity for a community feel. There are a lot of people that you can talk to and get to know. And then it has this wide variety of things to do and places to go. It’s the best of both worlds.
What’s your favorite hungover eating spot?
Garbage plates are a Rochester classic. Do you have a favorite bar?
I really like Skylark. I mean, we had the balls for the first time and they were super good. And the beers are pretty cheap. I haven’t really been to that many. I’ve been to the Old Toad and the Daily Refresher, but this is a like a good, casual bar.
Okay, time for a weird one. If Rochester were an animal, what would it be?
I feel like it would be a stray dog that was once a show dog. And it was a little dirty, but it was still a fighter and had an edge to it. I feel like with Kodak and Xerox, Rochester had the capacity to be really strong, but then something happened and it got beat up. But it’s still here and fighting. It has street smarts and a character to it that a lot of places don’t have.
But it also has these moments where you think, "It's just so nice to be here."
Juliana Culbert and I met in a classroom at RIT, probably during one of those embarassing ice breaker games. I loved Juliana's non-native Rochester perspective. We also hadn't hung out since we graduated college, and she was surprisingly eloquent and easy to talk to. Thanks, Juliana!