Tag Archives: city living

Walla Walla, Come to Jesus

Ever since we moved to Walla Walla, Washington, we’ve heard at least once a week that this is just a great community to live in. At first, I was new to town and curious, so I would ask whoever had made the declaration to elaborate. Why specifically Walla Walla? How was it such a utopia? What made it special? In one of the first conversations I had on this subject, the conversation went something like this:

VISITING PROFESSOR: It’s such a great place to raise kids. [NOTE: I did not have any children at the time.]

ME: Oh? Why?

VP: Well, it’s very safe here.

ME: Is it? By that you mean, what?

VP: I mean there’s low crime here.

ME: [THINKING] Hmm. Well, in many neighborhoods in DC, crime was pretty low too.

VP: Well, in Walla Walla you know your neighbors.

ME: I knew my neighbors in DC.

VP: We have a farmer’s market.

ME: I lived in Eastern Market in DC, one of the oldest, continuously running open-air markets on the East Coast. But okay, farmer’s markets are great.

peaches at the DC marketNow then, the market in DC offered fresh local chicken, a gourmet cheese counter, eggs, all manner of fresh sausages, fresh seafood and fish (which we never bought, given Susanne’s allergies), cakes, pies, cookies, loads of produce, and the requisite crafty junk I’m never interested in buying, like handmade jewelry and such. In Walla Walla there is also a ton of produce during the season, a woman who sells lamb, and two farmers who sell pork. You can also get fresh milled flour out here and that wasn’t available in DC, but for the most part there was a lot more diversity in the city than here. But going back to the conversation, I do tend to like my neighbors in Walla Walla more than my neighbors in DC. Some of my city neighbors were kind of snarky. Not that I know anything about that.

But here’s my point, John Inman’s amazing chicken roasters aside—the mantra that Walla Walla is near-perfect belies its deficiencies and makes it harder to improve the material reality of the people living here. Read More…

The joys of apartment dwellings

Here I am, pushing my way into a new novel, and like all project beginnings it takes quite a degree of commitment to stay focused, when there is a lot of white space on the screen and not nearly enough little black letters. In my writing, there is strength in numbers, as I tend to write more than I need and then winnow it down in the rewriting process. I also didn’t like being at school when there weren’t enough people around, like in the afternoon when most folks had left, so maybe I just feel more comfortable in crowds than the average person.

And even so, I have my limits. Some things, like the persistent plucking of an errant guitar string, will get on my nerves after not too long a time. Too bad the inept musician lives right upstairs. Read More…

Remains of the Phone

When we moved to Seattle, we calculated that we did not need a land line for telephone service. After all, we’re only here for 6.5 months. That’s just enough time to get around to giving out a new number and then telling people it’s not our number anymore. When I’d done the initial walkthrough I’d called Susanne, so I knew our phones—which are the same model, only in different colors, and no, I don’t need any jokes about having the same phone, thanks—would work in this space. Hence no need for a land line.

But the super gave me a warning: DSL is terrible in this part of the city. If you want actual bandwidth, get the cable modem. This made me flash back to the last time I had a cable modem, four years ago in DC. I almost threw the thing out my third-story window, because the provider sent each line out to too many customers, and when 8p.m. rolled around—otherwise known as The DC Porn Watching Hour—bandwidth thinned to a few blips an hour. It was mind-numbing. I went directly to DSL without passing GO and was rewarded with a cheaper monthly rate. Read More…

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