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New meme: Ask me about my hometown - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
New meme: Ask me about my hometown
Because I find myself madly curious about places and often short on traveling funds, I thought I'd try starting a new meme, by offering to give information, in the hopes that other people will pick it up and I can ask. :p

So, meme:

I live in: Boston, Masschusetts area, in the New England region of the United States
I have lived in (for more than a year):
Buffalo, New York (city), Perry, New York (small town)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(Great Lakes region and southwest United States respectively)

Ask me anything you'd like to about any of the areas--living there, things to do, history (I may not know it, but you can ask), climate, what does it look like, etc. Literally anything, even if you think I might take offense. (Eg, is Buffalo really as boring as it comes off?) If it's true, I'll probably laugh, and if it's not, I'll be happy to clear up a misperception.

Anyway, pass it along.
22 comments or Leave a comment
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: June 15th, 2004 11:11 am (UTC) (Link)
So where in NY is Perry? How small was it? And what were your favorite and least favorite parts of living in small towns vs. bigger cities?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, EXTREMELY bad map of New York state:

(drawn with a mouse in Paint)
(Here's the same area from census.gov; it doesn't show Perry, but it's right around Castile and Warsaw.)

According to the census</i>, there's a population of 3,921 in Perry Village (where I lived; it's part of a larger township where there are a couple of other villages). It's about two miles, stem to stern. This is Main Street.

I am by nearly all inclinations a city girl. I like the freedom of having public transit, of not having to make any special plans to go to a movie--in Perry, going to a movie in the first week of release meant going about sixty miles--or to a museum. The notion that I can just wander into the Museum of Fine Arts any time the humor strikes me never ceases to delight me about city life. The library in Perry was good for the size of the town, but any time I had an esoteric interest, I had to use Interlibrary Loan, or go to Buffalo with my mom.

That said, there were one or two things about small town life that I liked. You could try anything for a hobby--here in the city, local theater groups tend to be run by people with pro aspirations who are trying to get noticed. In small towns, you still find community theater made up of people who have regular jobs and are just goofing around. While that drives me crazy because I do take it seriously, it's also a lot more open to people who just want to get on a stage. There are lots of opportunities to make a name for oneself in the smaller milieu, though of course it doesn't count much in the larger scheme.

Also, there's something special about being from a small place that you don't get in a bigger one. When I first moved to Boston, every time I was out of the city and heard someone say, "Oh, I'm from Boston," I'd get excited about it. Now? Well, lots and lots of folks are from Boston. But there are only so many people in the world who've ever been from Perry--or even been in Perry--so it's very exciting to meet one.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, one link didn't work right. This is Main Street.
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: June 15th, 2004 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah! We weren't too far apart, then. I was in Aurora, near Ithaca, between Rochester and Syracuse. (Lake Cayuga, right under the word Clyde on the map you linked. :)) And yes, every time I hear anyone's from near there, I get far more excited than if I hear someone's from, say, Chicago. *g*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I've driven past Aurora (or, well, been in a car that was driven past Aurora).

There's an East Aurora near Buffalo (I used to think it was "Easter Ora"), which is of course west of Aurora...


Cool. :)
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: June 15th, 2004 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you've driven past Aurora, you've driven past Wells, since it's pretty much all that's there. *g* I went to the college located there, Wells College. Lovely, lovely place.

And yes, East Aurora confuses us all. ;)
twigkris From: twigkris Date: June 15th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just to jump in with an interesting coincidence...

My fiancee' lived with two guys in college: one from Warsaw and one from East Aurora.

I'm also from a small upstate town and am currently living in Atlanta. The differences cease to amaze me and yes, its way more exciting when someone says they know of Homer, New York than Atlanta, Georgia.

BTW, I Fern, I friended you about a week ago since I love your stories! Hope you don't mind!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've sometimes wondered since I moved to the city whether or not anyone else was ever lived in a small town!
sannalim From: sannalim Date: June 15th, 2004 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
What is your favourite thing about New Mexico that New York just can't duplicate, and vice versa?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
New Mexico has the most spectacular sunsets I've been around. Albuquerque is built at the foot of the Sandia Ridge in the Rockies. "Sandia" means "watermelon," and during sunset, the rock turns this beautiful pink, watermelon-ish shade. It seems almost unreal, it's so pretty. The altitude is a bit dizzying, but the dry air is sometimes easier on the breathing. The weather, more often than not, is lovely.

New York state? Well, I did end up trading it for Massachusetts. ;) There were wonderful things about Western New York--the whole area is riddled with waterfalls, for one thing. There are over a hundred in Letchworth State Park alone. And of course, the biggie: The Mighty Niagara. There are rivers and streams everwhere, and small lakes, and of course the Great Lakes. This isn't wildly different from Massachusetts, though where I am, there are fewer small waterways, as I'm close to the ocean and they're coming together. As comfortable as the dry air was in NM from time to time, I'm not built to live in it for long. I don't like being away from the water. Albuquerque was on the Rio Grande, but that far upriver, it's pretty much the Rio Pequeno, and it's known to dry up.
anaid_rabbit From: anaid_rabbit Date: June 15th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Will totally gack this meme! ;)
What was like to live in New York city? Noisy? Stressful?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I think I goofed up there. I meant Buffalo was a city I lived in in New York state, as opposed to Perry, the small town I lived in in New York state. I've never lived in New York City. NYC was about a six or seven hour drive from where I was--I was a lot closer to Toronto, as major cities go, and I only visited NYC a couple of times. It's a cool place.
melwil From: melwil Date: June 15th, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
What's it like to live in New Mexico compared to New York City compared to Boston. What's the best and worst things about those places.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I haven't lived in New York City, but I guess I know what you mean.

Albuquerque, NM
Best: Great sunsets, a really cool zoo, a Natural History Museum with ties to NASA, and funky luminarias around the Spanish sections of town during the holidays.

Worst: LOUSY library, boring, far from everything, and no water.

Buffalo, NY
Best: There are parts of Buffalo with awesome architecture. Also, great art museums, with a lower cost of living than other cities with that particular sort of benefit. Some damned good hospitals around, too. And it's on a public bus line with Niagara Falls, so I could go over there for a day trip without a car. Also, a ton of family history dating back from the mid-1800s.

Worst: Dying rust belt economy, horrible job prospects. Looked down on by the larger world. And we keep losing Superbowls.

Perry, NY
Best: Um... Pretty? Lots of opportunites to make a splash in a small pool?

Worst: Stone cold dead economy, non-existent job prospects. Unknown in the wider world. Horrible school system. General hatred of high-falutin' book-learnin' sorts of things.

Best: I love almost everything about Boston--I could sit here listing for ages. It's... Boston!

Worst: COST OF LIVING!!! :scream:
From: cokerry Date: June 15th, 2004 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I like this meme! I'm going to do it too.
I'm another ex-upstate NY'er. I grew up in Schenectady, went to college in Binghamton, and grad school at New York University.
What do you miss the most about upstate NY?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2004 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I missed one!

I miss my friends the most, honestly.

Letchworth State Park, geographically, is probably what I miss most. But ultimately, I miss Western New York the way I miss the '80s--it's a deep, aching nostalgia for something that just isn't there anymore.
chibisophia From: chibisophia Date: June 15th, 2004 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
As someone who has heard many, many horror stories cocerning traveling in Boston, I must ask: Is the driving there truly that bad? (No offense.)

And on Alberquerque, what kind of weather do you guys have turning summer/winter? During the summer, is it really humid over in the west the way it is in the south?

chibisophia From: chibisophia Date: June 15th, 2004 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
...what kind of weather do you guys have turning summer/winter?

I'm sorry, I'm an idiot. That should be "What kind of weather do you guys have during summer/winter?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't drive, myself, so I can't answer from experience, but on the whole, I gotta say, that's a big UH-HUH. Random one-way streets, streets that are two-way for awhile and then become one-way, at least one corner I know of where you can't make a left for no logical reason at all. The streets in the oldest part of the city were laid out on cowpaths and you can't use human logic to figure them out. Washington Street isn't much of a clue for an address--on my bus route, Washington street turns at ninety degrees, and going straight puts you on a different street. Parking is either non-existent or very expensive. If you come into town, I highly recommend parking out at Alewife station and taking the T, then walking. It's a terrific city for walking around--I find that if I keep my sense of direction, I never get completely lost. After all, sooner or later, you run into water, right? Though finding specific places isn't always easy, even on foot.

No, Albuquerque is never humid. It's high desert, and very short on water of all kinds. There's not a lot of snow in the winter for that reason, but the altitude (it's as high as Denver) makes for a marked drop in temperature for a few months.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: June 15th, 2004 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
What is the cost of living in Albuquerque? And what about the employment situation?

Do they really eat a lot of baked beans, brown bread and cream pie in Boston?

And I don't need to ask that Boston is full of interesting things to do, but what are the top three places to go and/or things to do you'd tell an out-of-town visitor to check out?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
The cost of living in Albuquerque is pretty low--you can get a two-bedroom apartment with access to a pool, a spa, and weight room for under $1000 a month. I pay the same for half an apartment with only a leaky washing machine as far as amenities go as my mom pays for a two bedroom with all kinds of stuff. (And which allows pets!) For a comparison, I ran an entry level wage for my job through the computer. National average entry for librarians (alas, followed even where the cost of living is higher) is around $32K. In Boston, the practical value of that is $19K. In Albuquerque, the practical value of it is close to $45K. So it's considerably cheaper than average American cities.

Do they really eat a lot of baked beans, brown bread and cream pie in Boston?
Baked beans, not really. Brown bread, I've never really seen. Boston Creme Pie? It's the official dessert of Massachusetts, but no--I haven't noticed it eaten all that much. Though Cheers, being a tourist sort of thing, actually has a pretty darned good Boston Creme Pie. (I love doing the tourist thing sometimes.)

And I don't need to ask that Boston is full of interesting things to do, but what are the top three places to go and/or things to do you'd tell an out-of-town visitor to check out?

1. Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market. It's an old market site that's been completely redone as a tourist Mecca, but which is still charming, and people actually go there who are from town. Huge food court, average run of stores, lots of little booths, Steve's Ice Cream (:p). And Fanueil Hall itself is where new immigrants are made citizens, and every hour a ranger does a talk about the great history that's happened there. Once when I went to this talk, the ranger said that he'd had a member in a previous group who'd been appalled at all the shop. "Paul Revere," the man had said, "would be scandalized at the commercialism!" The ranger, unable to think of anything else to say, gave it the perfect answer, imho: "Sir, Paul Revere shopped here." Yankee Common Sense--the town gathering place was also a major market point.

2. The Museum of Fine Arts. A really great Americana collection--lovely furniture and silver work (including a nice collection by the aforementioned Mr. Revere). Also, lovely art from everywhere. A good Sargent selection, and my favorite--I can't remember the name of the family whose daughters Sargent painted (it's a very famous painting)--but not only do they have the painting, they have the two gigantic vases that appeared in the painting standing on either side of it. For some reason, that delights me.

3. This is cheating, because it hits a lot of sites. :) Walk the Freedom Trail. It's clearly marked with a red line (painted or in brick) in the sidewalk, and takes you through Boston Common, up by the first school house and the Old State House, through Fanueil Hall, up into the North End (get there at dinner time and enjoy the traditional pastime of browsing little private Italian restaurants for whatever you're in the mood for, served in HUGE dollops), seeing Revere's House and the Old North Church, then going over into Charlestown Navy Yard and the Bunker Hill area. It's a long walk that I've never done all at once, but plan to, probably on July fourth. It's just a really pleasant experience that takes you through a lot of the best of the city.

I decided to stick to Boston proper, but if you get down to Quincy (the southern end of the Red Line on the T), the Adams Historical Site is fantastic. It's one of my favorite historical tours.

And I resisted the urge to pitch the McKim Building of the Boston Public Library. Oops, no I didn't. Simply and absolutely breathtaking architecture. It's probably a good thing I don't work in McKim--with the high ceilings, marble, murals, and general absolute beauty, I think I'd find it very hard to concentrate on mundane things, like, say, checking in new books.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2004 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's the daughters of Edward Boit -- this painting.
22 comments or Leave a comment