State of the Blog

I’m moving to California.

Me in 2011 with Los Angeles at my back.

There is no set “when” yet, but if all goes well after listing our house next week, it will be sometime in August.  There is no set “where” yet, but if all goes well with Ben’s employment options, it will be in the Bay Area, with LA as a second choice.

This means a few things. One is that the restaurant and cocktail reviews on this blog have largely been focused on the Research Triangle area of North Carolina where I’ve lived for the past seven years. It’s where I’ve come of foodie age in terms of learning about cuisine, about how great chefs truly make it a craft, and about how sourcing local and sustainable products from farmers you trust is yes, a good idea for the welfare of animals and the treatment of soil but also an amazing treat for your taste buds.

There is no way to ever express my gratitude for these lessons North Carolina has taught me about appreciating what I eat. The people in the food industry here are passionate, committed, and really easy to spend an evening with. Many of my fellow food bloggers have become cherished friends, and that is not to mention all the other cherished friends we have here:  friends from Ben’s alma mater of RPI, friends from working at UNC Cardiology, friends from helping organize Traction the last couple of years, and dear god, the friends I’ve made in the writing community here, both in food and in speculative fiction. I will miss you all with an ache I already know too well from having left those I love behind before. It’s the price I pay to satiate my wanderlust and indulge my writerly curiosity about the everyday lives of people in different regions. In choosing not to put down roots, I’ve acquired several regrets, but I know my regrets would be greater if I’d stayed in one place. That North Carolina kept me for seven years is one of the best compliments I can pay it.

So why California? I’ve lived on the East Coast for a decade now, and it’s time to return home for a while. I’ve been aching for those first friends I left in 2003. My soul needs a refresher. It needs the smell of redwoods, the sound of sea lions barking, and the sight of fog in the valley.

Morro Rock shrouded in fog.

Morro Rock shrouded in fog.

But it won’t be a complete return to what I know, because I’ve never lived in the Bay area, and if it’s Los Angeles, I haven’t lived there since I was 8. I’m excited to see what it’s like in California as a true adult. I’m excited to see what changes have come to the food culture of the region, to learn what else I never realized about it before becoming food aware—I was honestly clueless I lived in a winemaking region on the Central Coast, folks. There were grapevines, but I never quite realized what they were for.

One of many wines from the Central Coast that I’ve reviewed since leaving that same Central Coast.

So what does that mean for the blog? Well, it’s not going away anytime soon because that house does need to sell, and I do have a lot of restaurants to cross off my must-dine list before we leave (Want to join me? Comment!). There are a couple local businesses I’ve wanted to profile but haven’t had the chance to, and I’d like to fix that. But I do expect my posting to lessen once the great move approaches, and when we make it to California, I will plan my next blog strategy after settling in and scoping out the food blogging and writing community there. I may aim for joining larger websites that already have an established following or perhaps keeping on as I have been with a focus on my new hometown.

In the meantime, more personal blogs like this one will crop up because I have a lot to work out, you see. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to an area and people who’ve treated us so well, and I will have a few things to say about that as the move progresses.

North Carolina, treating us well.

North Carolina, treating us well.

I have plenty of fears that my friends in California and the state itself have changed enough that fitting back in may be a struggle—you see, I have this tendency to create fantasies for more than just my fiction and that includes a keen nostalgia for times and places past. I am intensely curious as to how Ben will react to life in California and how he’ll think it compares with those fantasies I’ve constructed. Have I imagined the glory of dry heat and mosquitos only when you’re camping? Will Ben understand the perfection that is San Francisco sourdough? Moving three cats across the country will also be an adventure worth documenting.


They may not agree.

So you may get more Becca than the Gourmez in the coming months, but you should still get plenty of good eats and drinks, too. Regardless, thank you, dear readers, for joining me on this “quest toward becoming the elusive ‘gourmet’ without bothering about things like tannins and foie gras” as I wrote in my original About the Gourmez page in 2007. There has been some tannins and foie gras talk since then, but I hope learning about them together has been fun, and I have no doubt I have plenty more to learn. California’s restaurants will be my next classroom.

 And what a view it has.

Stellarcon 2011 and High Point, NC

View over the tracks

I am way behind on all my travel posts, but I’m hoping to get that taken care of in the next few weeks. Here’s one on a trip the husband and I took to High Point, NC, for the 35th Stellarcon. “Now old enough to run for president!” was the unofficial slogan. This was my third speculative fiction convention, and Ben’s first.

What did I think? It was fun! Stellarcon convinced me to sign up in large part because I was amazed that such a small conference offered so much programming. As an author, I’m most drawn to the panels on writing-related aspects that I need more guidance on, but I also really enjoyed the fan-based panels, though I only attended two. One was on love for New Who and the other was a celebration of that glorious genre called B-movies.

A sci-fi/fantasy convention, you say? Where are the crazy pictures? Well, since you asked . . .

Klingon Karaoke!

Apparently, this is a Stellarcon tradition, with a Klingon and an Enterprise crewwoman hosting the event. I sang a little No Doubt—pretty badly since I didn’t remember the verses to Spiderwebs. Sigh. Other singers had more success.

An airship captain with a nice, deep voice.

The esteemed Klingon MC singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Raven, the captain, and his girlfriend dancing along.

On Day 2, Ben and I went for a walk around High Point, as I’d never been there beyond stopping to take a picture there during the Giant Furniture Adventure. I was surprised by many of the awesome buildings High Point has that are definitely worthy of a shot or two.

Small Plot Curiousity

Reyn Bowman, director of the visitor’s bureau for Durham and author of the Bull City Mutterings Blog, posted a piece about the family cemeteries that dot the Durham landscape.  Apparently,  I haven’t been imagining things; there are an awful lot of small cemeteries in this region.

Small cemetery on Ocracoke Island, NC

Small cemetery on Ocracoke Island, NC

I’ve always been fascinated by graveyards.  I love to spend a quiet afternoon in them, though I rarely do.  The last one I frequented with any regularity was a little Jewish cemetery within walking distance of The Archer House, where I spent my last two years of college.  I don’t remember how I know it was a Jewish cemetery but I do remember that a cat used to jump in and out of the headstones occasionally, which was obviously a big draw for a pet-starved college student.