The Journey Here
Meri and I left San Jose at about 7:30 on Friday night. The first night, we drove all the way through the night without stopping until about 10:30 Saturday night. In order to make it this far, we took turns sleeping as the other drove. I slept first, Meri second, and so on. We did this until we reached Cheyene, Wyoming. So to recap, we drove from San Jose, CA to Cheyene, Wyoming with stops only for gas, food, and to relieve ourselves and the dog. Ouch. Needless to say, I wasn't terrible impressive cognitively: I was a damn zombie when we finally hit the sack.
The second day we drove again without detours until we reached South Bend, Indiana, just a couple of blocks away from Notre Dame Univeristy. We were nearly as exhausted this second night, though I must say in hindsight the drive to Wyoming the previous night was horrible and easily rendered me the most tired I have been since I traveled from India to Raleigh in 2008, and when that trip ended, I had no idea what day it was.
We left South Bend early Monday morning and did not stop until our destination: an AirB&B we had booked in Philadelphia. Again, we were wiped, and excited to be in our new home, but also happy to no longer have to drive the U-haul with the trailer behind it.
Driving the U-Haul was easier than either of us had guessed it would be, although I cannot back a trailer into a parking spot. Pulling in is so much easier. Watching professional truckers do it amazes me now, especially when they are pulling doubles. Seriously. It aint easy.
I went to my first day at my new job 14 hours after arriving in town. I was stressed out, tired, excited, and nervous simultaneously. The first day, I taught 6 classes, the last of which was a combined class, twice as big as a normal class. Needless to say, I walked out of my first day absolutely spent. Teaching over nine hours straight after driving a trailer across the country tends to do that a guy. I think. I actually don't know if anyone has ever done something like this with such a time crunch.
Eventually I got to understand my new job and responsibilities, which are vast. I am charged with making the staff and curriculum as best I can; and I have extremely high standards for my work and my expectations. In short, I have a really good staff of teachers that are passionate and capable, and a solid curriculum that needs ironing out. It's a lot of work, and I don't have a lot of time due to our accreditation timeline. But, I'm stoked to have the opportunity to do such a thing. And I'm excited about the challenge.
First off, I haven't seen much of the city so far; I have to be honest. When Meri left, I told myself and her that I would not see the city alone. I wanted to save it for a special occasion, which is time with her.
Secondly, the drivers here are atrocious. In California, the drivers are oblivious. In Philadelphia, the drivers are aggressive and unsafe. There's no doubt why my auto insurance went up. I now understand completely. Seriously. I'm worried about riding my bike here. I've ridden my bike in downtown San Francisco during rush-hour traffic, and felt safer than I do here on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The drivers here are that aggressive and unforgiving.
For example, let me tell you a story. And this has happened to me four times now: I pull up to an intersection, and wait my turn for the light to turn green. Waiting, I notice a car along the right side, in the bike lane/ bus lane, creeping up to the line. When the light turns green, though, the car doesn't turn right. Instead, the driver floors it, and passes me in the intersection, where I am cautiously proceeding so as not to hit on coming traffic. Have I mentioned that in Philadelphia, drivers do not get dedicated left turn lanes at intersections? They have to either cut in front of oncoming traffic, or wait their turn. Which do you think they do? Exactly. It sucks and is dangerous.
It was easy to complain about the poor driving in California, but here it is much much worse; and it was awful in California. People will die here, and it is because of the driving culture and the infrastructure that supports it.
My little neighborhood in Philadelphia is pretty damn cool. We have cobblestone roads and trolley tracks down the main avenue, which is called Germantown Avenue. We have bars and good eateries nearby. And everything I need is within walking distance. Also, the people here are extremely friendly here. Have I mentioned how beautiful the architecture is?
I've only been in Philadelphia for a couple weeks, but I do have some observations. First off, the drivers are terrible. Just terrible. Secondly, the pizza is phenomenal. If you've never had pizza on the East Coast, you really don't know what's up. Third, the people are really friendly. I never expected them to be so friendly. The African-Americans especially are friendly. Everyone who walks by smiles and says, "Hello, how are you?" It is unbelievable. Californians would never do this. Never.
The people in my neighborhood are among my favorite things so far. I also have to say that my job is going well, and being charged with so much responsibility is a very refreshing change. It's a tough task, but I'm definitely up to it.
Another favorite is the geography. The hills here roll, and the foliage is resplendent.
One other difference is the makeup of the student body at my school. I am accustomed, due to being on the West Coast, to Asian and Latino students. Here, the majority are Ukrainian and Russian, with some others peppered in. And culture, especially when teaching adults, can be a formidable barrier to language acquisition. I could continue about these differences, but I'm afraid I'd be toiling with generalities that may be found bothersome to some. They are generalities for a reason, however.
All in all, everything is new. But I was brought up a Navy brat, a person who moved from town to town and country to country as a matter of course. I can and will do this. I look forward to the challenge. Without a challenge, life gets boring, right?
Be well. Soldier on. Email me.
The driving is scary. The people are pleasant. The pizza is awesome. The foliage is gorgeous. The accent is fascinating. The Judaism is ubiquitous. The black Muslims are confounding. The hospitality is sincere. The beer is solid. The architecture is charming. The infrastructure is baffling.