Ways in which Pittsburgh is unlike Charleston

    Hills.  Oh, the hills!  For some houses, you have to walk up two flights of stairs to get to the front door!  How do you do this with a toddler and three bags of groceries?  None of this "Maybelle, can you open the gate for Mama?" routine that works so well in flat Charleston.  (The picture to the left is of a funky house--I texted it to Biffle, because it looked like the sort of art-conscious place he'd be interested in.  Note that the front porch railings are chain link fence.)

    Weather.  Daffodils and azaleas are just beginning to bloom here.  The folks I presented with yesterday were astonished to hear how warm it is (and has been) in Charleston.

    Lack of automatic friendliness.  I took a long, rambling walk this morning.  Early on, I passed a man walking with two big dogs.  I lifted my head.  I looked him in the face, smiling, ready for the "Good morning!" when we got close enough to each other.  Nothing!  He turned his head, refused to meet my eyes, and walked by silently.  This happened repeatedly, with other walkers, joggers, and folks out on the sidewalk.  They pretended not to see me.  I wonder:  if I were here with Maybelle, would things change?  In Charleston, she gets continual friendly feedback when she's out in the world (a phenomenon I've blogged about before).  I wonder if a kid would alter the public interactions in Pittsburgh.

    Here's a picture of Mary Tremonte and Jenna Freedman, along with a student, assembling the zine we all made together yesterday afternoon at the Warhol Museum.  So cool!

    Given how these three look, can you guess which person at the event (not pictured) was visibly, obviously the academic in the bunch?  It's okay--they were welcoming.


    Sarah @ ColorKitten said...

    Looks like so much fun! I just spoke to a class who had been studying your book 2 weeks ago - they made zines too (before I got there) and had many MANY questions about the girl zine days. A couple of them want to go see my collection @ Duke now, although who knows if they'll actually do it. It was totally heartwarming to see. I think you are having more actual fun though!!

    claire said...

    And the food?
    I love hills -- and I think tomorrow morning you should just say "good morning" to all of those people downtrodden by winter!

    Trey said...

    Those yankees don't get southern hospitality.

    Anonymous said...

    I was amazed at the steep hills of Pittsburgh when we went there this winter! Not like San Francisco's long hills- intense! And getting around was very difficult in a car at least. Worse than Boston (altho I'm used to Boston).
    and btw(sir) -here in Vt everyone waves and smiles at who goes by- it's not just a southern thing. :)

    Alison said...

    Sarah--so cool that you were with a class who'd been studying my book! I do hope some of them make it to your collection at Duke. They could also peruse the fabulous zine collection at Barnard.

    Claire--I sadly got no real Pittsburghian food (no pieroghies, for instance).

    Trey and Starrlife--I do think there's something to this southern hospitality stereotype, but I will agree that Vermont is a different, beautiful universe all its own. Aaron and Mary lived there, and it seemed like a kind of utopia!

    krlr said...

    Just to be contrary, I spent a long time in LA where I studiously avoided eye contact. It might be an urban thing - you never know who is going to hit you up for spare change or try to save your soul. (Though occasional exceptions were made if either party had dogs or babies.) Now, after six years in the midwest the random friendliness still startles me. "What? What do you WANT?".

    starrlife said...

    It'd be interesting to compare cities/regions. I thought NY was friendly in that they would talk to anyone in front of them (not on subway). But Boston was cold and distant.
    I love this zine thing- it reminds me of blogging a bit?Sounds like a lot of fun and camaraderie.

    side story -My brother has been married 2x, both to southern women, and it was difficult for me to adjust to their interpersonal styles. Both seemed to be difficult women who seemed to think that their good manners would make up for that fact? In that way I am so yankee - give me a person that I can trust to be direct and I do better!