Monday, March 31, 2008


Coverage of my trip to Philadelphia will be...spotty. This is because I never got out my camera. There was a lot to do, and I forgot about the photos. Oops.

We flew into the airport and rented this Chevy HHR. Ours was sort of a gold, not an orange color, but it had California plates. The professor thought it had huge blind spots (not good for driving in a big city) and well, it looked like a gangsta-mobile. We are just not that type. We drove through Camden neighborhoods where folks looked at us in that car and you could imagine them thinking, "What are those thirty-something people doing in that kind of car!?" We wondered the same...

The neighborhoods we visited in southern New Jersey were connected by these divided highways where you could only exit from the right. Apparently these are called "jughandles." It doesn't matter what it's called--you can imagine how much time we spent trying to get to the left side of the street. I believe New Jersey's homeland security plan is to keep the terrorists (and tourists) from being able to turn left.

We went across a bridge and out of New Jersey to services at an amazing historic synagogue in one of the older sections of Philadelphia, Society Hill. The building was lightfilled, the accoustics were fascinating for song and prayer, and the invited speaker talked about the nexus of physics and theological thought. The synagogue was across the street from a home where a signer of the Declaration of Independence lived. Pretty neat stuff. Of course, we also got a parking ticket while we were in the neighborhood, but, well, these things happen when travelling. The rules are not always clear until after you get the parking ticket.
We also spent some time driving around the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania. I was thrilled to discover one can turn left in Pennsylvania without difficulty. The neighborhoods had more trees, the houses were on big enough lots so that say, two bird dogs could run around freely. However, one also pays for that in housing costs, which were higher.

We ended our trip with a visit with some family friends. They fed us a great spring meal of salmon, asparagus, artichokes, and apple crumble and ice cream. In the interest of partial disclosure, those of you who have done job relocations will recognize some of the experiences of this trip. The professor is looking into some other options since our families are on the east coast, and since we're far away from a comfortable religious community, an airport, and other things here in KY. Professor jobs are hard to come by, and we have a house we really like here. The professor's commute is a half-mile walk to school. These are things we must give up if we move to an east coast city, so we're struggling on that front. Overall, things weren't a raving success on this trip, but we're still thinking about it.
At the same time as all this travelling, I was knitting madly for a very short deadline. I'm pleased to say that the "spotty" design above is now in the mail, and even the insides came out just fine.
When I was a kid, and working on my first needlework, my grandmother and mother impressed upon me that the inside of my work should look as neat as the outside. I hated that back then, but as an adult, I get it. In fact, if I go back to mend something I did in high school or college, I see such a change in my work. I've just seen a lot of people's houses with a real estate agent, and I've thought some more, and the inside (of people, of houses, of needlework projects) really counts, too!
Recently I got a rejection (a fairly normal occurrence) regarding a fiction project. The feedback said that the 28 year old character seemed more like 40, and that the whole project was "dated." I based the whole piece of fiction on my experiences at 28, in that time period, just a few years ago. The response allowed me to see the inside of the (New York City) reader. Were her days at 28 more frivolous than mine? Was the "inside" there someone who didn't own her home, consider marriage, hold down a responsible job? Now that I've checked out what a professor and writer's money can buy in an east coast big city, I'm thinking I understand that comment a bit better. Perhaps I wasn't frivolous at 28 (or 35), but different, living in other places geographically and intellectually. My insides didn't look like hers, and that was fine. Now I wish she'd just said that "she couldn't relate to the character!"
Are there places (and people) to whom you just can't relate? Stuck on the righthand side of a jughandle (or a jughead?), trying to go left?


Blogger Taueret said...

even negative feedback from a publisher is good- in that most of what they reject comes back with a 'not what we need at this time' form letter, no feedback or explanation. so, you know! smile :-).

March 31, 2008 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Mrs J said...

Good luck with the whole re-location process! Our major 'relocation' was 16 years ago & involved no big distance or change of jobs but a relocation from the city to a small North Yorkshire village. The house had been empty for 18 months when we moved on 18th December & our son was just 3! As a fan of 'house' type TV programmes it always suprises me when people cannot see beyond the current state of a house- fortunatly for us, otherwise our house would have been snapped up at a price we would not have been able to afford. For us the change from 'city' to 'country' was wonderful. I hope you find the life that you, the prof.& the dogs are looking for.

April 1, 2008 at 2:46 AM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...

I'm going to be chuckling all day at that last part. Are there people I can't relate to? Oh, never... (my thoughts zipping back to the woman who accosted me from behind, yelling at my back in kind of a how-dare-you tone, "Hey, lady! Your socks don't match!" at my "Deliberately Mismatched Socks" from Vermont.

Best of luck with the search!

April 1, 2008 at 12:58 PM  

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