Friday, February 8, 2008

In Which She Putters

My sweetie is away in lovely Pittsburgh, PA--in February--for the weekend. His last conference took place in sweltering Orlando in August. They are not seasonally astute, these people.

So I am having Unstructured Time. I am puttering. Yes, I started the day with a teeth cleaning (report: I need a filling replaced--but it lasted me a good 20 years) and a shiatsu appointment. Then I formed sourdough loaves and went for a walk, before my life-coach friend came over. We were supposed to trade shiatsu for coaching, but I suggested we just have tea and socialize instead, and she was feeling the same way. We chatted, ate some sourdough straight from the oven, drank tea.

After she departed, the order of events becomes hazy. At some point I napped on the couch, at some point read a little more Three Cups of Tea, and at some point spent 2 hours lying on the living room floor with my feet propped on my meditation cushion, listening to the Slate Book Club and starting at the plaster patterns in the ceiling. During some part of the Book Club, I did a few yoga asanas. Not very meditative while listening to podcasts, but still a good stretch. I also researched New Urbanism online, wondered why such good ideas make such creepy places (anyone?), and ate tuna fish (with terragon!) on corn chips and in a piece of lavash. I also ate the rest of my chocolate cream pie. No husband was there to chide me about the necessity of a "proper dinner". I contemplated making my own yogurt from the yummy goat milk they sell at Trader Joe's, but took no action in this regard.

I feel that sort of time dilation that happens when one is stoned. It's nice. It's sort of healing...recharging.

UPDATE: New Urbanism may be so creepy to me because the N.U. places look like they were manufactured in a test tube, clones of the olde-tyme main street. Celebration is doubly creepy because it is owned by Disney, the corporation that famously made a fake Main Street.

I have to wonder whether N.U. is, on some level, romanticizing the past, fetishizing Main Street, like pastoral literature romanticizes country life.

But, suburban development is not going well, so...


Narya said...

They're not all as creepy as Celebration, though. There's Prairie Crossing, where I've thought would be nice to live. There's also this thing with old small cities--Milwaukee and Sheboygan, for two that I know personally, a little--where they've rejuvenated the downtown in some way, often with some kind of tourist dollars.

The two big problems with all these things: (1) we don't actually make much in this country any more, which means they mostly have to be either service economies or rely on a nearby big city for jobs; you can have only so many restaurants and bakeries and such; and (2) often you don't get the same concentration of other resources that you get from the economies of scale that are possible in large cities. Suburbs do not pay their way, by any means, but cities really do provide a wealth of things--jobs, arts, energy, public transportation--that you can get only with difficulty in smaller places. How much is what big cities offer worth? dunno.

kStyle said...

Prairie Crossing does look better than Celebration, which is not the only crreeepy NU place in Florida. See also Seaside.

"Infill" seems to me the better way to use NU principles, rather than manufacturing communities out of thin air.

Just yesterday, I was listening to a public radio program about the ongoing revitalization of the cities of Lowell and Fitchburg, MA. One of the mayors echoes your point, that the old tourism approach to revitalization doesn't really work anymore, and it only makes so many jobs, in a limited sector of the economy.

I would live in Boston--or closer to it--if that were at all affordable to buy. I think the City Fathers need to grow some balls and cap housing prices. It comes up every few years, and the conclusion is always that 'we can't do that to the poor developers'.

Boston politics are not known for their integrity.

kStyle said...

PS. Narya, would love your thoughts on the update I just added to the post.

Narya said...

Okay, have done--but over at my place, because i realized I'd never fit it into a "comment."

Larry Jones said...

DISCLAIMER: I don't know from urban planning.

Planners are always trying to make downtown Los Angeles into a "neighborhood." Pedestrian walkways, conversion of warehouses
into "loft apartments," outdoor art shows and jazz concerts,etc.. But I only go there when I'm forced to, and in 30 years I haven't met anyone who lives there. The culture here, such as it is, is to spread out. Some people drive hours one way to work in LA, then go back to Palmdale or Riverside at night -- and I do mean night. Despite this endless failure, they still keep planning, while the city continues to spread like an oil slick.

I would not be the least bit interested in living in any kind of a planned community, because I like it when things just develop, like,
organically. (Don't bust me about sewage, water, refuse, electricity and stuff like that. I'll accept that much planning, but that's different from creating and enforcing the ambience, OK?)

I think planned communities are an attempt to make a place where people you don't like are kept out, except for low-cost project-type
communities, which are attempts to assuage our guilt at having fucked
with poor people.

[Cross-posted at Dharma Practice.]

Narya said...

I think LA suffers from the Houston syndrome: the no-there-there problem. I've never been to LA, but it seems that there isn't a natural 'downtown," the way there is in old cities--even small ones--and that's what's really vital

kStyle said...

Larry--interesting take from our resident Angeleno. Thank you! I love the idea of planning enough to think about making it a career, but I also very much hear what you're saying about the organic nature of growth. Hmmmm.

Larry Jones said...

Narya - I have to tell you there is a Downtown LA. It's surprisingly cozy, about a mile square. You can see it from the freeway.

kStyle said...

Nice pic, Mr. Jones.