Dec. 16th, 2006


Dec. 16th, 2006 10:34 pm
juthwara: (Default)
We're back from Philadelphia, exhausted but safe and sound. And we get six whole days at home before we have to travel again (I say in a pathetic tone). The weather has been so warm all week that I'm having a hard time remembering that it's almost Christmas, but I was profoundly grateful for it while we were traveling through the mountains of Pennsylvania.

So here are the pertinent points of what we accomplished in Philadelphia. First, the job:

  • We found out [info]longstrider is going to work at the Northeast Regional Library. He will be one of their Social Science and Technology librarians, although the Dewey numbers he's covering are mostly science, which is nice since that will make good use of his training. He's going to be doing a lot of reference and outreach as well as some collection development.
  • The library is very nice, although the building itself was clearly built in the unfortunate architectural period of the 60s and could use some serious ADA updating. But it's the second largest library in the city (second to the Central Library downtown), and is both well set-up and clearly heavily used. We took K into the children's room, which is lovely and large.
  • [ profile] longstrider will be getting paid more than he was at Purdue, which isn't hard. This will no doubt be mitigated somewhat by the higher cost of living in Philadelphia. However, we will all be covered for health, vision and dental insurance from the first day he starts working, with the only cost to us being the $500 a year he will pay in union dues. This represents effectively an additional three thousand dollar raise over his Purdue salary. And I have no doubt that unionized city workers are given regular, standardized raises, as opposed to Purdue's practice of giving 1.7 percent raises that have resulted in a couple years where the paltry increase in pay hasn't covered the increase in health insurance costs, resulting in [ profile] longstrider's take-home pay going down.
  • Solidarity forever, indeed.
The living quarters:
  • We decided we wanted to be as close to the library as possible and the Northeast section of Philadelphia is definitely one of the most affordable parts of the city, so we were looking for houses there.
  • If you want to give yourself a heart attack, go to Craig's List and click on the apartment listings before realizing that you forgot to say which city you wanted and that the insanely expensive listings you're seeing are for San Francisco. Fun times.
  • Philadelphia is actually very affordable if you don't want to live in Center City. It's a very large, low population density city, which is nice when you're required to live in the actual city. The city is separated into a number of neighborhoods - the library is either in Oxford Circle or Castor Gardens depending who you ask. Both of these neighborhoods aren't high class, but are pretty decent from what we saw. In the Northeast, the quality of neighborhood clearly goes down the farther south you go. The farthest north neighborhoods are supposed to be very nice, but don't have much in the way of rentals.
  • The house we chose is sort of in the middle there, where I will definitely be locking the door very firmly at night, but won't feel nervous putting K in the stroller and walking down the street. It's a very nice street, with an almost unbroken string of row houses with postage stamp yards.
  • Our house is nice and big, despite sharing two walls. Three spacious bedrooms upstairs and a finished basement room, leaving us with an embarrassment of places to keep out of town guests. And big enough that having another baby won't mean that we _have_ to move (don't get excited - even trying for a second baby is a ways off yet). It's about a mile from the library and a few blocks from a rail station, so it will be easy for me to commute when I get a job.
  • Philadelphia is a remarkably well-planned city, especially considering its age. It's almost entirely lovely gridded straight streets. Despite this, we spent a remarkable amount of time getting lost.
The people:
  • We met some lovely people while we were in Philadelphia. We stayed with friends of [ profile] longstrider's mother and aunt, with whom they had gone to Germantown Friends School when they lived in Philadelphia. They were very generous and welcoming.
  • Their tenant, a lovely and generous young woman who used to work for GFS and is a member of the Germantown Meeting, offered to babysit for us and carry boxes on moving day on the strength of one evening's acquaintance. I was somewhat staggered.
  • There are definitely benefits to having Quaker connections.
  • 'We had a very nice lunch with [ profile] coeli's sister, who approached introducing us to the city with a librarian-like efficiency that is a credit to her profession. I think we're going to get along very well.
The trip:
  • I think the only good thing I can say about driving through Pennsylvania on 70/76 is that it's more pleasant than driving through Pennsylvania on 80, where you spend most of your time hemmed in by mountains and surrounded by mean-looking trucks that would eat you as soon as look at you while you frantically cross your legs as you realize the next bathroom isn't for 90 miles. 70 and 76 aren't as mountainous, are often less crowded and have reasonably spaced rest areas, but still not terribly fun.
  • Especially when you're sharing the car with a toddler.
  • I discovered two secrets to a long car trip with a toddler.
  • The first was to give K her biggest Christmas present early: a purse. It had a toy phone and car keys, a wallet stuffed with play money and sample credit cards taken out of various credit card offers we get on a daily basis (the ones addressed to "Your Name Here," not the ones that actually come with our names on them), and a pair of sunglasses in their own case. It took her three days to make it through all of those items, and they all have great replay value. Plus, she can take them in and out of the purse, which is entertainment all on its own. The phone and car keys were the biggest hit, and while I'm not a fan of noisy toys, they're pretty good. The noises they make are a) realistic and non-obnoxious and b), quiet. I could barely hear them from the front seat.
  • The second was the portable dvd player. In general, I'm not a fan of hypnotizing your child with the tv, although K generally watches an episode of Sesame Street every day. But when it's dark and you have a cranky child who isn't interested in napping, books, toys or singing, being able to put on a dvd to stop the whining is awfully nice.
  • And there certainly was whining.
  • Did I mention sharing the car with a toddler isn't fun?
  • Sadly, strapping her to the roof would be illegal.
Random thoughts I've had about moving to Pennsylvania:
  • Except for spending six months in England in college and four months in Colorado when I was five, this will be the first time in my life I'll live in an area without a high incidence of tornadoes. Apparently tornadoes aren't unknown in Philadelphia, but they're definitely much less common than in the Midwest.
  • I can't express how grateful I am that by the time we get to Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum will not be our Senator.
  • Holy shit, we're moving to Philadelphia.


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