Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome to Allentown!



If you're having trouble reading the sign through the raindrops on my windshield, the sign in front of the downtown Allentown Post Office reads: "Don't even think about parking here You will get a ticket and be towed What if someone else were here & you wanted to mail a letter"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nawab & Zoellner Arts Center


When gazing at the Zoellner Arts Center's (420 East Packer Avenue, on Lehigh's campus in South Bethlehem) 2006-2007 calendar last May, I picked out a few shows, paid the nice lady, pocketed the tickets, put the dates in the calendar, and quickly forgot what I'd ordered.

I recently realized that the Anoushka Shankar concert was coming up, and made plans to go to Nawab (13 East Fourth St., South Bethlehem) beforehand and feast on Indian before hearing "Indian music." I call, and learn that they don't accept reservations for parties of two. I plan to go early to meet my friend.


When we get there at a quarter-til six and the place is jumping. We get a sub-prime table, as in, the one right next to the restrooms and kitchen door, but we don't complain. We study the menu like we'll be tested on it in five. When the server finally gets around to us, we are ready - and we order enough food for four people. The food, as usual, is excellent. The doors barely distract us as we dive nose-first into the dal and curries. Yum. The couple at the table next to us (we guess) was on their first date, and guessing by one comment I overheard, it sounds like they knew each other before one or both of them married. "I have a few gray hairs," he says. "At least you have something to show for your experience," she says politely. "Yes, all three of my kids are also proof," he replies. Awkward silence.

On Fillmore Street, we notice that it's awfully dark on the Hill. The doors are open, but the ushers are loitering in the lobby. "Power's out," we're told. "Hang tight." As the rest of the audience arrives, speaking softly and seeking out seats in areas lit by emergency lights, we see First Date couple. I wonder if they've run out of things to say. The show's postponed until Tuesday, the kind and certainly frazzled Zoellner staff person tells us, and I can't help but to think - I'm so glad I wasn't coordinating this event.

Then - nothing happens. We are astonished. No rioting, no throwing of objects, no arguing, not even a loud side comment to make the staff uncomfortable, just the polite shuffle of feet and quiet conversations. We're in the Lehigh Valley, and gosh darn it, people are so civilized.

** Side note, we attended the concert last night and Ms. Shankar was grateful to US for returning to the show - imagine! And my eighth-grade social studies teacher was the usher who gave us our programs. More civilization! What planet am I on?!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Broc Kitchens and Baths

When we first saw our house, we liked almost everything about it. Except the kitchen. There was really nothing to love about the kitchen, unless you are a lover of pink and white wallpaper, old appliances and very little counter space.
Exhibit A & B



It took a while to decide on a vendor, but we decided to go with Broc Kitchens and Baths, because they seemed a bit more reputable than some of the contractors we interviewed. They helped us select everything from countertops to cabinets, tile to trim.

Before we knew it, the kitchen was gutted and the project was under construction.




Since we could hardly use the kitchen before, it wasn't too bad cooking in just the microwave and toaster oven (supplemented by Wegman's takeout now and then).

We ordered our own appliances and hardware (thanks to my appliance pro father in law), and they installed it all for us.


And now it looks like this. (cue angels singing - aahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!)




Convection oven, wine captain, custom millwork, three lazy susans, oak cabinetry and arts-and-crafts style hardware. Well worth the wait!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Re-re-located

When I moved to DC in 1997, the Lehigh Valley was a very different place to live and work. The big city offered the promise of a great education at a private university, excitement, world cultures, and later, excellent employment prospects. Searching for a job was FUN. There were so many options for internships and entry-level positions that I could have changed jobs every month.

In 2006, I decided to make the pilgrimage back north here to the LV to be closer to my family.

So many DC friends asked, Pennsylvania? How can you grow your career in a land of cows and abandoned steel mills? Actually, I have doubled my income in one year since moving here. For the first time I feel connected to a COMMUNITY, something that was definitely missing in my city environment. Networking for young professionals meant dating, not building business contacts. Home was a studio apartment with noisy neighbors; now I live in a home on a sweet block in West Bethlehem (and my mortgage is the same as my DC rent was). Supporting the arts meant giving thousands to the Kennedy Center; I joined the Allentown Art Museum for a hundred bucks. And family time for many DC families means kissing your kids in their beds after the nanny has put them to sleep. I hope to send my (future) kids to great public schools in Bethlehem and be home every night in time for dinner.

If you're reading this, you probably already live here, but you might not appreciate all we have here in the LV. Now that I'm re-re-located, I'm feeling good.