Week One

It’s good to start a new job on a four-day week.  Although I’m enjoying playing the rookie role at the office, I think I’ve had enough crammed into my brain for now.

The stuff pouring out of my ears takes several forms.  Each day, I’ve engaged in a sort of one-on-one seminar in the history of my program, along with deep background/mistakes made/lessons learned for my main areas of responsibility, and what the goals are this time around.  Each day I’ve lunched with a different department head, a good way to establish a rapport (or fail miserably at it) and learn who does what.  It doesn’t mean I know how things are done, but knowing who is responsible is a very good thing.  And then there’s the practical — today, for instance, I learned why I have three waste baskets under my desk.  One is for trash, one for recycling, and one for shredding.  I am responsible for emptying the shredded basket into the secure shredder on each floor.

I had a bit of a scare on Wednesday when the gates refused to respond to my security tag.  Had it been revoked already?  A guard came, checked who I was, and directed me to another gate.  It did open, and all was well.

A graduate course’s worth of reading has been recommended to me, and each time I return to my office another book or report or appellate case appears on my chair, with a note that someone (usually my boss) thought it would be good to read.  And it will be.  But I know that all too soon, the tension between learning/preparing and wanting to bust out and actually accomplish something will be hard to bear.

People are friendly here.  Hmmm, that’s reminds me of a line from The Laramie Project.  But it’s true.  The people I’ve met, mostly colleagues, are interesting, smart, intellectually curious people.  And they have opinions about life in Montgomery, mainly where to live.

In Staten Island, the first question is often, “So, are you a native?”  Here, it’s “Have you decided where you want to live?’  And then the lobbying begins.

There are several historic areas, with three very close to downtown and too mixed with restored and run-down homes for me.  I don’t want to live next door to a bail bondsman.  A few minutes away are the late 19th and early 20th century neighborhoods, also historic, of the Garden District and Old Cloverdale.  These are not all that historic in the sense that  I’m used to — most housing is 20th century, in fact I’ve not seen much in the city so far that pre-dates the Civil War — but they are distinctive.  The Garden District has wide avenues with imposing homes; perpendicular to these are smaller streets lined with cottages.  It’s laid out in a grid.  Next to it, Old Cloverdale has curving streets that maddeningly turn sharply left or right while going straight puts you on a completely different road.  The  homes here are cottage-y, in a dizzying variety of styles, from craftsman to Spanish, but they all work well together.  Within walking distance are two small town centers with a few shops.

The Garden District and Old Cloverdale have fierce advocates, people who suggest — strongly — that there’s no where else you will feel comfortable.  It’s a compelling and familiar argument, similar to one I’ve deployed on Staten Islanders, where I can’t imagine why anyone would live on the South Shore.  Basically, these places are the equivalent to West Brighton, Stapleton and St. George.  Only with more greenery.

Some folks lobby for specific homes.  I’m planning to look at a house in the Garden District right across from Ms. Atlantic City.  It looks perfect, but perhaps a bit specific — more on that tomorrow — and a bit more than I’d like to spend.  But Ms. Atlantic City has decided that it is the perfect house for me. 

Another colleague has chosen new cottages on Agnew Street.  The street is lovely, as are the brand, spanking new brick cottages with 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops, and plantation shutters, but they have almost no yards, and Mr. NYer’s sole non-negotiable item was that he wants to garden.

A few people argue for East Montgomery.  This would is like moving to New Jersey.  There’s a “long” commute of about 15-20 minutes, and easy access to golf courses, upscale shopping and large, new and relatively inexpensive homes.  I’m tempted by the latter, having struggled to keep our 90-year old Staten Island house warm, dry and intact.  But neither of us plays golf, and the environment, with its scrubby new trees and vast expanses of lawn, looks too bare.  We fear being isolated from the welcoming ferment of a closer community.

Against that, however, a colleague mentioned Hampstead, one of those Truman Show communities that are carefully planned.  This one, modeled on an English village, features a High Street, a community garden, and some buildings that combine commercial and residential use.   “And,” she said, “a lot of people from Old Cloverdale are moving there.”

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a realtor at 9 am.  I’ve sent her a list of about a dozen homes, in Old Cloverdale and the Garden District, that I want to see.  For due diligence alone, I’ll also make sure I see some in the other areas, too.  I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say tomorrow.  

As I write this, I have opened the French door to my porch.  Some nocturnal creature is singing, and a light fills the room.  Once the heat descends, I’ll have this place hermetically sealed, but right now it’s lovely.


5 Responses

  1. loojkin forward to sseing our new home.

  2. I’m betting on a few choices and will be curious to see which nieghborhood you choose. I’m with Mr. NYer on the need to garden as being non-negotiable. It’s why we’re here *on* Big Pine Key rather than in a sailboat right now. By the way, Ioved your closing paragraph.

  3. I agree that the North Shore is much more diverse and progressive, and I do miss that. But I don’t miss the small apartment we had or the non-existent yards of the houses we looked at. I love having a big yard, lots of trees and a garden. Yes, there are lots of ugly South Shore neighborhoods, but we are happy that we found a house that doesn’t look like every other one on the block on a quiet little street on the edge of protected wetlands. So keep an open mind — you might just find your ideal home in the most unlikely of places.

    • The dilemma here is that the larger homes are on the outskirts, but we need the community/neighborhood feel that is similar to the south shore. Any you have to admit, Linda, that you guys managed to stop time when you found your house and street–it’s like the south shore as I remember it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: