Things I like about Pittsburgh

I’m really enjoying my new home.

Pittsburgh has got a spectacular public transportation system. It’s no New York City, but it’s no Albany New York, either. It’s very easy to get in and out of downtown on the bus. It’s easy to get from one part of the city to another. And best yet, people use the buses a lot.

Now, perhaps I haven’t gotten to know the bus system yet. And I do have a car, which makes things easier, and I’m using the bus primarily as a commuting tool and not a primary form of transportation. And it’s not winter yet, so I don’t know how cold it’s going to get while I’m standing out there. Plus, I don’t know how the “going out drinking and taking the bus home”? will work out. We’ve talked about that kind of thing but haven’t actually gone to it.
As you may or may not know, I’m totally into sustainable design, especially urban planning and community building. Pittsburgh is set up in one of the most ideal ways. There are many small neighborhoods within the city, and each neighborhood has a main shopping drag, with stores and movie theaters and restaurants. And it’s easy to walk or ride the bus into the neighborhood center. Each area has it’s own unique character, and mixed use housing is everywhere.

I like sidewalks, I like falling leaves and pine needles. I like walking to the bus after a terrible nasty storm and crunching the wet pine needles underfoot on the sidewalk. I like the smell of fall.

(I even like the terrible shadenfreude I get from hearing about the mysteries under the leaves that Michelle encounters with her shoes. Terrrible. But funny!)

This isn’t Pittsburgh’s fault, but I really like fall. In NYC this was one of my favorite seasons because everyone was so relieved that the hot hot summer was over that they rushed to put on sweaters and scarves and accessories. It was the most fashionable season. And also, I’m a scarf queen. I love wearing scarves. I love wearing scarves and skirts and tights and sweaters. Fall is nice.

Last weekend I took the plunge and rode my bike to school for the first time. I took the bus route, and there was a steepish uphill for 1/3 of the way and then a long gradual decline for the next 2/3 of the way. That was fine going there, I felt totally tough to come over the rise and then I really enjoyed the long coast to school. But going home that way was not so fun. I think I like an instant and conquerable challenge more than a long term endurance situation. Maybe I’m a sprinter? So I tried another way to school recommended by Mariss, who does his topographic footwork, and that was a good way to get to school (except for a couple of surprising uphills on the way there). And then it rained and rained, so I left my bike parked at school and took the bus. Friday I rode home, taking a third route, and that way RULED. It was like 85% downhill, which I really appreciate. I think that’s my to-home route. I just have to pick the best to-school route, and hopefully I’ll do that before winter settles in.

Today I got a bike helmet so I don’t brain myself on the trip. Knowing me I’ll suddenly fall off of my bike, and to add excitement to the equation, I won’t be the only one on the road. I really don’t look forward to wearing a helmet but I think I ought to be responsible about this. Especially if I want to be able to say anything about motorcycle helmet laws. Is it always the fear of hypocrisy that makes my decisions so much easier? Maybe. Sad.

This weekend was a good one: Michelle and I did laundry at Mariss and Kelly’s, which was really stellar and so above and beyond of them to offer. Especially after we showed up with 7ish loads and had to come back the next day to finish up. I managed to sleep past 11 on Saturday, organized my closets, started another scarf to replace the one that I lost forever on the subway, and even had a nice potluck with my scholarly cohorts that night. Michelle and I explored the South Side. (Verdict: apparently, no dancing. Or if they say there’s dancing, check with the other people near the dance floor, because I noticed lots of dance floors, lots of dancy music, and no dancing. It was uncomfortable.) Got some homework done with my cronies. All around good weekend. I mean, I could stand to actually clean up some stuff, you know, and get things done in my room, but whatever. I’ll take what I can!