Monday, July 26, 2010

FAQ'S about LOUKY

I have been asked many questions about our move from Brooklyn, NY to Louisville, KY. I have decided to address as many of these questions as possible before moving on with this blog.

  1. What is LOUKY? That's an abbreviation for Louisville, KY. This FAQ will be mainly about LOUKY, but will also deal with the following: Kentucky in general, the South in general, and the Brooklyn Baby Momma's attitude toward all of this, though not the Brooklyn Baby Daddy's, as he is his own person and stuff.
  2. Why did you move? That's complicated. Dave was laid off From Forbes back in November, and that served as sort of a catalyst for us. New York was becoming more and more expensive, the apartments we could afford were riddled with problems, traffic prevented us from being around Dave's family very often, having a kid in the city was HARD, and I felt a pull both to be near my family again after twelve years and to teach in a rural school area in need. I came from a poor, rural area, and I felt it was time to give back.
  3. How big is Louisville? The population is around half a million, although if you include the entire metro area (which extends South of the city and North into Indiana), it's over a million.
  4. How do you pronounce "Louisville?" What ever you do, please do not call it "LOO-EE-VILLE." That's just wrong. Most native Kentuckians pronounce it something like this: "Loo-a-vull." And yes, that's how I say it.
  5. Is there a Jewish community in Louisville? Uh...yeah. The mayor himself, a lifelong Louisvillian, is Jewish. There are several synagogues and even an Orthodox community. There are Jewish preschools and Hebrew schools and a ginormous JCC that even has live feeds to programs airing at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.
  6. Is there an arts scene in Louisville? Yes, my friends, we have art in Louisville. In fact, it is an epicenter for glass blowing, an incredible medium that was a big deal at my alma mater, Centre College. There are tons of galleries and museums and festivals where local artists sell their masterpieces. There's incredible theater, including Actor's Theatre of Louisville, a nationally acclaimed theater and home of many experimental and provocative works. Unlike NYC, we can actually afford to go to the theater here, which is a major bonus for a former drama major like me.
  7. And music? We know the Brooklyn Baby Daddy is a sucker for live music! Kids, we're in the land of bluegrass. Yes, there's music. Dave's even going to an open mic on Wednesday, and we have plans to go to yet another music festival this weekend. There are small blues bars and huge classical venues, there are top 40 bands giving concerts and amazing local bands that will one day be famous.
  8. What about restaurants? We know how the BBF loves their food! Louisville has a rich variety of eating establishments that we are excited to explore. And yes, you can get things like sushi, seafood, Vietnamese food, Middle Eastern food, vegetarian/vegan food, amazing barbecue, traditional Southern food, and Slow Food born of local produce. And you can eat for less than $100 a couple.
  9. Speaking of food, are you guys going to start eating fast food all the time now? NO! Absolutely not! Except for the Chik-Fil-A down the street, because I, like every New Yorker, have missed my Chik-Fil-A. But I remain dedicated to creating our own healthy, seasonal meals from scratch whenever possible and mainly patronize local establishments.
  10. Does Fresh Direct deliver in Louisville? No, but that's OK because we have a plethora of wonderful stores within a 5 minute drive. Whole Foods is so close I could shake a locally-grown, organic stick at it. Kroger, wonderful Kroger, Kroger with its huge aisles and amazing variety and incredible prices, is very near. And Louisville has so many farmer's markets and CSA's that I don't know where to begin - and they're actually, legitimately cheap! So here, as opposed to NYC, non-millionaires can eat locally.
  11. Will you drive everywhere now? Will you have to get two cars? The answer is probably yes to both. There is a convenient bus system, called TARC (Transit Authority of River City) that has a stop right outside of our apartment complex, but we'll probably become frequent drivers. However, we were driving a ton in NYC anyway because gas was cheaper than paying the subway/bus fares for the two of us ($2 per person each way).
  12. Will you be the only liberal freaks in that red state? Nope. Louisville is filled with folks as liberal as we are and way, WAY more. We found this out at the Forecastle Festival, dedicated to "music, art, activism," on the shores of the Ohio River a couple of weeks ago. There were seminars about leading a green life and grass-fed Angus burgers from cows raised a mile away and women with purple hair and circus clothes twirling around on roller blades.
  13. What are you guys going to do for money? I have a job teaching 7th grade English Language arts at a school in Bullitt County, a rural area south of Louisville. Dave is considering substitute teaching and freelance writing, as well as going back to school.
  14. OK, so I realize the cost of living is lower there, but don't you also make a LOT less money? Sadly, no. Teachers in a rural area of Kentucky make only slightly less than those teaching in New York City. And the cost of living is HALF that of NYC. Did you hear me, people? Half. I'd have to make $25,000 for us to struggle as much as we did in the Big Apple, and I can guarantee that teachers don't have it that bad here.
  15. Where will you live? Are you near civilization? We live in a lovely, two-bedroom apartment in a family-friendly, centrally located part of Louisville. We are five minutes from two of the hipper parts of Louisville, ten minutes from downtown, and close to all the stores I mentioned earlier. Our apartment has a huge dishwasher, its own washer and dryer, two bathrooms, a balcony, parking spots right in front, and a food disposal (something I've only ever seen in movies). The complex has a pool, a basketball court, a gym, tennis courts, a pond stocked with fish and brimming with ducks, walking trails, and a common house with a huge porch and free movies that we can borrow. It's rather heavenly. And the neighbors are QUIET AND NORMAL. (Wait. Did I just jinx everything?)
  16. Do people smoke everywhere? No more so than NYC, which, as Carrie Bradshaw demonstrated, is a city of heavy smokers. Smoking is banned in all public areas, like stores and restaurants, so even if there are a lot of smokers, I don't have to deal with it.
  17. Do people wear shoes? How about shirts? Yes. And yes. Nice ones. Sometimes designer.
  18. Will you ever come back to NYC? Definitely, to visit Dave's family and all our friends, if for no other reason.
  19. You sound maniacally in love with Louisville. Are you being paid off by their tourism board? I am maniacally in love with Louisville, but I am not being paid. This is the calmest and most serene I've felt in years. New York is an amazing city and, for some, it is the most perfect place on Earth. But I found life incredibly stressful there. I love hearing the crickets and seeing trees; I love having frequent and casual visits with my family; I love that people are friendly to me, even at the post office or the grocery store; I love that there's so little traffic and everything is so close; I love that my favorite stores are all here - Lush and Whole Foods and Target - and they're all within a 5 minute drive; I love how quiet it is at night; I love how funky and interesting the city is. I love it here.
  20. What will you call your blog now? I have to keep it as it is for a while, just because I'm so in love with the name. But, over time, I think I shall transition to "Bluegrass Baby Momma." Sound good?
I guess that's it, unless you want to add more in the comments. I miss my friends so much it hurts, but otherwise, the quality of my life has increased tenfold. And for my New York friends (and others) who remain dubious of Louisville's grandeur, I invite you to come visit. You won't have to sell a kidney for a hotel room, and I'll make you some red velvet cake!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Too Busy...

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. We've been busy. Busy:

  1. Moving everything we own from Brooklyn to Louisville.
  2. Moving into our fairly fabulous apartment.
  3. Trying to find jobs.
  4. Catching up with my family, particularly my brother and his daughter in from Las Vegas.
  5. Enjoying the summer by swimming in our apartment complex's pool, going to an incredible music festival on the shore of the Ohio River, taking walks to our nearby park and playground.
  6. Being happy.
Things are so wonderful and I feel so blessed. There's so much to tell you about, but not now. Some things I don't want to jinx, for sure. But I'm also just really enjoying being here. Experiencing contentment, just experiencing it - not writing about it or analyzing it or questioning it or even taking the time to share it.

But I'll fill you in, soon. Enjoy your summer, friends.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer in the City

One question I've gotten a lot about our move is: "Is it a lot hotter in the summer in Kentucky?"

This question always makes me laugh. Laugh laugh laugh. Laugh, and, of course, remember.

I remember when I first moved up here, 12 years ago, a fresh-faced, naive, idealistic college girl. It was June, and I very sweetly assumed that New York, that Yankee state, would have a nice mild summer. Summers in Kentucky tend to be in the '90's and muggy, so I was excited for a change of pace.

Of course, I was rudely awakened when I debarked my plane and found that New York is just as hot, just as sticky as Kentucky, but has added bonuses like pollution so thick that your sweat becomes black and piles of garbage that smell like death when warmed by the sun.

I remember staying in that flea-bag hotel, the one where I first experienced bedbugs, which, of course, had no A/C. (That hotel has now been transformed into a "boutique" hotel, which makes me want to vomit.) I tossed and turned in my questionable sheets, rinsed off my sweat in the coed, rapist's dream of a shower, then tried to look presentable for my $250/week job at the Ubu Repertory Theater. I'd pass a vendor as I exited the subway selling ice-cold Coca-Colas, which I could never resist.

I remember sweating constantly, even at work, which only had window unit A/C's (and not every room had one). I remember how grouchy everyone was on the street, because they were in the same boat.

Soon, I moved into my Newark, NJ apartment, which had the best and most reliable A/C of any apartment I've lived in since. True, it's also the only apartment where I frequently heard gunshots, but I was cool at night, damn it!

The next year I moved into the safety of Brooklyn, but could not afford an air conditioner with my checking account, which often read $24.15. Or much, much less. I remember going to the ATM and feeling like it was judging me for taking any money out at all.

My parents offered to buy me one, but I refused on principle. I took cold showers each night, jumping into my bed completely naked, all the windows open, hoping to pass out before I heated back up. I kid you not - the water would evaporate and I'd be sweating before I even hit the sheets. I even took a bath WITH ICE CUBES IN IT, not once, but several times. It still didn't help.

At least at this point I'd moved to a job that was air conditioned, so I had work to look forward to. I also had many friends who took mercy on me and hosted sleepovers on the hottest nights, but still. What a crap year.

Then there's waiting for a subway below ground, where the heat gets trapped. Or worse, finding that every train is overly crowded except one - one that turns out not to be air conditioned.

There are the bodegas that brag about "ICE COLD DRINKS" but then you find their fridge is broken. There are restaurants that only have weak little window units, so they're no relief. And of course you have the free, public pools, but they are filled to capacity with other foul-tempered, sweating people and you have to deal with the Parks Department bullyish employees to get there.

And always, of course, the threat of a blackout.

Anyway, yes, Kentucky is hot in the summer. But the air conditioners work there and you have more trees to absorb the heat.

And at least people pretend to be nice, even if they call you names as you walk away from them.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Addendum:

Right after I posted my entry about what I'd miss about NYC, The Brooklyn Baby Daddy very kindly reminded me that I left out something ridiculously HUGE. Food. How could I - a woman nearly obsessed with food - leave off one of my favorite attributes of NYC?
  1. I love the pizza. The fancy pizza like Patsy's or Arturo's or Grimaldi's. The pizza by the slice from a hole in the wall. Grandma's pizza. Sicilian pizza. Garlic knots. Spinach calzones.
  2. I love the bagels. It's cliche but true: no place has a better bagel. My favorite? The egg bagel from The Bagel Hole in Park Slope, untoasted (to toast is to blaspheme), with Temptee cream cheese, lox, red onion, and black pepper. Perfection.
  3. Thai food. Glorious, addictive Thai food. So many places to get delicious and affordable Thai food. Our favorite will always be Song, also in Park Slope. Their veggie spring rolls make you weepy, their spicy broad noodles with chicken are pure comfort food, their Panang curry is a thing of beauty.
  4. Italian food. Authentic, amazing Italian food that makes you want to throw a watery red sauce in someone's face. Al di la, yes, in Park Slope, is a classic. Their menu is seasonal and stupidly affordable for the quality of the food and the ambiance. Their wines are wonderful. My favorite dish is the braised rabbit with polenta. Mmm...
  5. Delis. Katz's Deli - a classic, if not the best, with surly workers and harsh neon lights. 2nd Avenue Deli - now on 3rd Avenue, with melt-in-your-mouth matzo ball soup and insanely good corned beef. And now, our new favorite, Mile End Deli in Carroll Gardens with its "smoked meat" sandwich (i.e. delectable pastrami) and its over-the-top Poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy).
  6. Specialty food stores that enable obsessive foodies and cook-a-holics like me to do our thing. Stores that carry raw cheeses or Indian spices or fermented soy sauce or Marmite. Stores with artisan chocolate made from horse milk (no joke) or wild boar soppressata. Wine stores with real absinthe or boysenberry liqueur or that favorite wine from Alsace that I never thought I'd see again.
  7. Coffee shops. Coffee shops that take coffee VERY seriously and make Starbucks seem like McDonald's. Lattes and cafe con leche and home-made granitas and iced coffees with ice cubes made out of coffee so your iced coffee NEVER GETS WATERY. Sigh...
  8. The Grand Army Plaza farmer's market. Brimming with toddlers and dogs and surly foodies cutting in line to get their black raspberries and kale. A place to buy the best yogurt in the world. A place to get inspired to cook with local and seasonal ingredients. Sometimes a place with live music and puppet shows. A place to see friends and taste produce I've never heard of before.
OK. That's enough. I'm getting hungry.

Oh, and one other thing. Wonderful celebrity sitings that I'm floored that I forgot.
  1. PAUL RUDD. Back when he was in transition, back before he was the major comedy superstar he is today. Sitting right in front of me and my friend, Alex, in a coffee shop in the West Village.
  2. All the now stars from my old comedy scene days. Ed Helms, known as Andy on the office, once dated my roommate and was super sweet. Tina Fey, Amy Poeler, Jack McBrayer (from 30 Rock), Horatia Sanz were all people I saw in person.
OK. I think that's it. Soon this blog will return to its parenting roots. But I guess we just have to process this here little move first.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What WILL I Miss?

We will only be Brooklyn inhabitants for six more days. And since today was a gorgeous, near-perfect Brooklyn day, it's time to make my list of things I WILL miss about living here.
  1. Dave's family and our wonderful friends. Especially you, Alex. *Sniff*
  2. Walking down the street to: the playground, the ice cream parlor, the pizza parlor, the store, the cafe, the park, the subway, the deli.
  3. Running into so many wonderful friends everywhere we go, especially in the summer.
  4. My school, PS 321 -- the colleagues, the kids, the parents of the kids, the administration, the lively and lovely building itself.
  5. Unexpected, constant, accessible, sometimes free: book readings, performances, concerts, festivals, one-of-a-kind events.
  6. Seeing famous people everywhere - John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Salmon Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi, Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore, Chloe Sevigny, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Ethan Hawke, Jonathan Safran Foer are all some of the ones I've spotted.
  7. Coney Island. The American Museum of Natural History. The Bronx Zoo. Central Park. The Empire State Building. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Met. Lincoln Center. Times Square. The South Street Seaport. Some things are inimitable.
  8. New York's incredibly rich history. There's nothing like teaching the Revolutionary War and then taking the students on a multitude of field trips relating to it - all within a couple of hours.
  9. New York accents.
  10. The unexpected and underrated friendliness, openness, and honesty of New Yorkers.
  11. Broadway, Off-Broadway, and, possibly most of all, Off-Off-Broadway. We don't get to see many plays anymore, but I'm so glad they're out there.
  12. Autumn in New York. There's a reason people wrote songs about it.
  13. Summer in New York. It's crazy gross and sticky, but also filled with free concerts and events that would blow your mind.
  14. Being able to tell people who treated you like dirt in high school that you live in New York City with a certain amount of snobbery.
  15. Feeling like, if you can survive this, you can pretty much do anything.
New York, I'm sorry our relationship has been so rocky. You've changed me tremendously, and only for the better. This may not be goodbye forever, but it is goodbye for now. Let's part as friends.