Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hi! I'm Paula aka Rock the Cradle

Writing semi-anonymously. As in, some friends know I have a blog, but not the family. I hope to keep it that way. Less bloodshed.

I started this before Ms. Chicky introduced herself, and found I am WAY out of practice with the one-minute interview bio form, so please forgive the rambling chaos that follows:

I'm one of those strange New Englanders from the greater Boston area who somehow lost the accent somewhere along the way. I would like to say it was due to twelve years of living in Philly and learning to say “Ack-ah-mee” in stead of “Acme”, and “prohvy with” for “a cheese steak with provolone and onions” (or artery clogging, grease dripping heart attack in a soft squishy bun) but no. It happened long before. The accent is still there...it only shows itself at extended family gatherings. You know the ones...where the old matriarchs gather like dons around the kitchen table, and the room is packed like a clown car with people and food...lasagnas, ambrosia, dirt, hamburgers, meatballs, crab rangoon, lemon squares, and a neglected fruit salad. Everyone goes for the dirt, of course.

But I digress.

I went to school for illustration, graduated, and went through an interesting line up of jobs. Book store to architecture firm to free-lancing to senior graphic designer at a medical publishing firm. This last helped get Dr. Science through med school, along with massive amounts of debt and a promise to work in an under-served area for four years after residency is survived. We are entering our fourth year of residency.

I now live in Brookline with my husband (Dr. Science) and 2+ year old daughter (the Impling). The transition from Queen Village, Philadelphia to Brookline involved months of what I can only describe as culture shock. I can walk for fifteen minutes in any direction here, and still the neighborhoods are safe and beautiful. In Philly, around the corner were numerous crack houses with clientele that amazingly never showed any interest in actually crossing the road and making the pilgrimage to our block. Maybe because our street was gentrified to the point of mafia protection? Could be. One night we heard a “POP POP” which in my sleep induced torpor I took to be fireworks. Dr. Science knew otherwise. “Those were gun-shots!” he exclaimed as he called 911.

Our next door neighbor was found dead beside his SUV, piles of the dry cleaning he was carrying strewn on the sidewalk, an empty casing on the hood of the car. A hit. No robbery, clean getaway, no clues. Seems that “Bugsy” got one the wrong side of some of the locals. All our neighbors gathered in what by now had become a sort of collective support network whenever something crazy happened.

There were fires in our neighborhood, one started by a desperate, mentally ill woman who took hostages. There were arguments that escalated into violence. Car “accidents”. Road rage. Molotov cocktails thrown through the windows of our favorite bakery one neighborhood over. Good times.

But there were also the jovial early morning voices yelling “Yo, Vinnie!” in friendly greeting. There were amazing restaurants, lots of musicians and artists, and a growing number of young professional families. Within a year of our moving in (we chose the neighborhood because it was “quiet”...as in, no gay prostitutes singing medleys of Les Mis songs at 3 in the morning...little did we know), property values went through the roof. Life quieted down. But you always walk with hyper-awareness in Philadelphia. Not fear, mind you...just a constant awareness of everyone and everything around you.

But here in Brookline...it is so quiet. I asked about crime when we signed the lease on our ground level apartment and was laughed at. I walked along the street for weeks, months, tense and alert. It was so very, very...quiet. Finally, I relaxed, and began to enjoy myself as I explored my new home.

Three years later, I am a mother (and one of those SAHM's no less) and a blogger. And I know the best place to get Thai take out in Coolidge Corner.

Damn, this is ridiculously long. Hi everyone. Glad to be here.

And Mrs. Chicky, as for Metro West... I swear, the only reason I never cross 128 is, um...lack of a driver's license.

Yes. I am lame. I never had a reason to get one, so it just never happened. That and I don't have a death wish. (Irrational fear of driving, right here. Now you all know my dirty little secret.) Hey, I'm working on it! But for now, public transportation is my friend.

Hope we can still all meet up at some point!

I'll stop now before your eyes begin to bleed.


Mrs Big Dubya said...

I miss Brookline!!!

I lived in Brighton (Oak Square) when I first got out of college... and spent a fair amount of time in Brookline.

I live in CT now, but the Big Dubya and I grew up on the South Shore and are back in the hood all the time -- so, if there's a gathering, count me in!

I don't know what I'll bring, but it'll be goooooood!

Mrs. Chicky said...

Your area of Philly sounds hard core. That story about your neighbor scared the bejeebus out of a little country girl like me. ;)

When we have our meet-up we'll make sure someone comes to get you.

(shaking head over no drivers license. Too hard to comprehend.)


cape buffalo said...

One of my favorite places on the planet is in Brookline, tucked between Beacon and Longwood where theyre is a green full of ancient Beech trees that look like something from another planet. The boughs are so huge the leave the trunk, hit the earth and arc upwatd. Amazing. I went to one of them there colleges on the Fenway and used to go visit the Beeches on walks to clear my head.


Fairly Odd Mother said...

Wow, what a neighborhood! Glad you are in safer parts nowadays!

Ruth Dynamite said...

I used to live in Brighton, although I told people I lived "on the Newton border." Brookline is a far cry from the Philly area you describe (yikes!). Welcome!

margalit said...

I live in the next down over, to your immediate west. The OTHER Jewish town. And I don't drive either. Oh, I can drive and I have had a license, but I'm not supposed to drive for medical reasons. Heh.

My brother, SIL, and nephew all went to Penn and I'm familiar with Philly. Never been a city I loved, but nephew is getting married and moving back there to practice law. I think he's nuts.

Rock the Cradle said...

margalit...Hah. Have to tell you...some quality butchers in this neck of the woods. And Fishmongers, and oh my, the Challah!

Re. Philly: Some parts are quite nice...you just need to stay the heck outa Kensington. And out of Philadelphia in general during the summer. Philly summers. Ick.

Cape Buffalo: I know those Beech trees well...like a bit of the forest primeval in Brookline! Apparently, wild turkeys have been spotted thereabouts recently.

Mrs. Chicky: re: car. I promise to tell lots of crazy stories and pay for gas.

Binky said...

I probably should have more of a fear of driving than I actually do. It would be beneficial to all :)