Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Live in the City to Avoid a Commute...

Music: Amelie, original motion picture soundtrack

But now I've got one and I don't like it. At all. Whine, whine, whine. Cry, cry, cry.

I truly love where we live, however, as a newcomer to the area almost two years ago, we didn't yet know where I might find a library job. J. works downtown so it's far enough of a distance from downtown to enjoy quiet, yet it's still only two miles away. He walks to the incline (or, more rarely, if the weather is bad, takes a bus to the incline) then either takes another bus across the Monongahela River or walks across the Fort Pitt bridge to downtown.

But the Port Authority is threatening to end all bus service to Mt. Washington in the latest round of budget cuts. I cannot believe Pittsburgh (a "liveable" city) is even thinking about this. There are a lot of people up here who count on the buses to get them to work. That will leave only the inclines but they are only on the downtown side of the mountain. There are a lot more people that live on the other side (near Sawmill and Warrington) of the mountain.

My commute to Oakland is pretty straightforward, however, since my main road (the P.J. McArdle) has been closed due to a rockslide since January 9, my commute time home has more than doubled from 15 minutes to 35. So I'm not too happy right now as it is eating into my already long work day. Every Saturday I stand on the overlook to check on the progress.
Building the retaining wall. At least they're working on Saturdays!

Repairing the rockslide on the P.J. McArdle
Mount Washington, Pittsburgh
Feb. 18, 2012

So, depending on how long we plan to stay in Pittsburgh, we're discussing alternative housing locations including Oakland (so I can walk to the library), Squirrel Hill or Shadyside (to walk or take one bus).

We love Chatham Village, though. It's quiet, elegant, and it doesn't even feel like we live in a big city here. But we do feel our 768 square foot townhouse is still too big for just two people. Plus, I don't like all the stairs. I simply want one floor with kitchen/dining area/living room/bathroom/laundry & bedroom; it's all we need. We do not need a second bedroom and I am most definitely tired of basements (especially a laundry room in the basement). I would like a little area to sit outside (patio, balcony) my unit. But does such a place exist that is also safe and in a relatively quiet area? I have no idea. And J. absolutely hates noise.

Do any Pittsburghers have some suggestions?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts on Homesickness

Music: Satie, Piano Works, Aldo Ciccolini

This might seem a little surprising but it is coming up on two years for us living here in Pittsburgh** (in July). And what may be even more surprising is that we still feel...well, homesick. 

Homesickness is defined by Webster's dictionary as a "longing for home and family while absent from them." My home is Michigan. It's not so much the physical space (my house) I'm currently living in. It's a state of mind (pun intended). 

My Michigan, Heron Lake, Holly Recreation Area

I don't even know if it has ever fully gone away only to come back again like a punch that takes your breath away or makes your heart beat faster. I think it ebbs and flows, obviously depending on how busy I am. Working full time, the precious little bit of time left in my days is filled with cooking, laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, exercise, and reading. But homesickness still plagues me.

My favorite vegan restaurant, Royal Oak, Michigan

It can come up in a rush, like when I hear Stevie Wonder singing "Superstition" on FM 94.5 on my drive in to the library. Or when a co-worker shares a sweet story of a lost book returned (after 50 years) from a patron's grandson in Michigan along with a donation to the library. Or giving my boss suggestions on his Michigan road trip this summer (so jealous).

Other times, it's just quietly in the background. People remark all the time on my accent (my ACK-cent!). They recognize immediately that I'm not from Pittsburgh or even Pennsylvania; fine by me. I'm a Michigan girl through and through.

Lake Michigan, South Haven, Michigan (sandy beaches!)

Lately, though, I find I'm homesick for friendship and welcome. I miss meeting my girlfriends for coffee or tea, another dear friend for our monthly lunches and, when the weather is nice, hanging out in the park on Lake St. Clair, and just the darn friendliness of Michigan people in general. I find that they are a lot more open to new friendships and little kindnesses than people here (except when they're behind the wheel of a car). Here, I feel like I'm always kept at arm's length and nobody knows how lonely I am so far from my home. Okay, I better be careful here or my mother will get upset.

I'm not a party girl in the very least and I am way too old for going out late at night for drinks and dancing. But it would be nice to meet for coffee or lunch; so far, nada, zero, zip invites from anyone. We do not know any couples our age (we're 43 & 44), vegan, and child-free. I realize that may be a tall order but I've always had a difficult time making friends in the first place. I'm an introvert but very friendly. It's just a lot harder when you're over 40 and have lived your entire life in one place.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no longer crying as I used to. So that's a good thing. Now it's just a little ache.

Then again, too, maybe it's because it's winter. The sun is shining a little bit less and the breeze feels a little cold. But spring will be here soon. 

But I know my time here is limited and someday I'll go home again.

**In my future posts, I am going to try to take more pictures and write about Pittsburgh. It's not a bad place to live by any means; I feel very lucky to live in a beautiful co-op, in a good-sized city, with a full-time job in a top library