Tuesday, October 16, 2012

List it Tuesday 10/16: what I love about where I live

jersey girls

Welcome to List it Tuesday! Today's suggested topic was "what I love about where I live." It's been nearly a year since we landed in North Jersey with our feet planted firmly in the air, and there they have stayed. I have plenty to whine about, but I also have plenty to rave about. Here are my top reasons for loving where I live.

1. Bagels. Oh, the bagels. Once you have a bagel from the New York City environs, that's it.  Everything else after that is a "roll with a hole", as Tammy says. (On a side note, she has an ongoing list collaboration with iHanna - definitely worth a visit for all list lovers!) Back to bagels: these are the real deal, the kind that are cheap, plentiful, hot and fresh every day, the kind that turn stale if you don't eat within hours. Last week my husband and I were driving on the New York Thruway and saw a bagel explosion on the side of the road. They were everywhere. There are so many bagels here that people just don't know what to do with them.

2. Same goes for pizza. It's fabulous. It's ubiquitous. And it's authentic. If they tell you it is a recipe that has been handed down for generations, it is true, and it is probably Nonna in the kitchen who is making it.

3. Mom and pop shops. By default pretty much everything is locally owned. The big guys are here, but definitely not dominant. I love being in a place where the big boxes aren't the go-to for everything.

4. Nature. In less than 15 minutes I can be free of the u-turn mess and hiking happily in the hills. A few blog readers sent me notes before my move telling me 1) don't believe everything you've heard about New Jersey and 2) how beautiful it is once you're out of the urban fray -- and now I understand.

5. City. So much at my fingertips here -- in a flash. This summer we might as well have just lived in New York City. My older daughter took a weeklong fiber arts course in Greenwich Village, we soaked up Brooklyn, we played in parks all over the city, went to museums, sat on the sidewalks and watched people do the things they do while we ate waffles with Nutella. I love being able to explore without rushing, knowing I can go back whenever I want.

6. Nonsense borders. I love the unpredictability of the municipality changes here. There are so many townships, villages and boroughs smashed together in a tiny sliver of land that I'm never quite sure where I am. Unless I'm trying to get somewhere on time and wind up in a mess of u-turns, it is a relieving departure from the obedient lines of the Midwest.

7. Public transit. Excellent.

8. People. Away with the rude and unfriendly label. The folks I've met here -- particularly the ones who have grown up and have stayed here -- are some of the genuine, solicitous people I've ever met. Commuters make room for my kids on the subway and talk to them, and not in a creepy way. The conversations between bagel shop owners and their regulars are entertaining and funny. The NJ Transit bus drivers and train attendants repeatedly tell me to quit buying tickets for my six year old because she looks three and should ride for free; they put smiley faces in their tickets with the hole punch; they joke around with them. When you get your coffee and they ask how your day is going, they mean it; they want to know.  People seem genuinely tied to a community here. I don't even have to be part of it to enjoy it. I just like that it exists. (This of course doesn't apply to road behavior. Drivers have to be aggressive to get where they need to go -- if you block their way and make them miss their exit, they're screwed for the whole day.)

9. Art community. The networking in the online art community always delights me with its connective powers but I was truly blown away by the outpouring of open arms by local artists once they found out I was moving to the area. Karen, Lisa, Beth and Jennifer in particular gave me a hearty welcome and an instant friendship.

10. Education. Top notch. Grateful for that.

11. Anchor to the ocean. Just knowing I'm near water makes me feel settled and secure even when I'm not.

12. Anchor to the past. History lingers here and I can feel it everywhere I go.

So -- there may be no zombie walks where I live now, no Funkytown, no UFO conventions and no Dennis sightings that I was so used to in my beloved little adopted hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. And all that stuff that Jersey is notorious for is definitely here if you want to find it. But I don't, and I don't have to; there's plenty else here to keep me content. And if that isn't enough, my parents did some enthusiastic digging into our genealogy and found more than one branch of our family with deep, multi-generational roots in New Jersey not far from where I'm living now. So maybe I'm a Jersey girl after all. I just wish I could pump my own gas.

Next week's suggested topic: "overheard".

31 comments:

Jeannine said...

Sounds like a great place to live, Aimee, and the photos you've been posting this year bear that out too.

The bagels alone would be reason enough for me. :)

Nicole : Three By Sea said...

I think if I ever lived in that area, I'd want to live in New Jersey as well...New York sounds amazing, but I like the idea of getting away from it and chilling out in the 'burbs.

Hwee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat @ I Saw You Dancing said...

Hi Aimee,
It's Kat, your old client/pal from Melbourne, Australia here! I was such a thrill to receive your comment today, thanks so much for stopping by my blog.
Looks like your delightful artsy world is going from strength to strength! So happy for you!
Hope your beautiful girls are well, too.
Kat xxx

Cheryl said...

Hi Aimee, I enjoyed reading about why you love New Jersey! I've never made it to NJ but now I'd love to visit some day. Not only are you a talented artist but you're also a gifted writer.

You're so creative!

Lynn Fisher said...

And now I want to go to New Jersey! Fun list Aimee!

Cheryl said...

Hi Aimee, Sorry! I see there's a problem with my first link of my list. Oopsy!

Don't know what's wrong but I'm going to link again.

Fingers crossed it works this time.

Lynn Fisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.E.Minegar said...

yay, NJ! are you acquainted with the publication 'weird new jersey' yet?

i totally agree with the bagels. in fact, (according to our lists) we've been similarly swooned!

Hwee said...

I went past NJ a few times on my way to New York from Philly. It's a pity I didn't stop there then. It sounds like a really interest place. :-)

Kamana said...

a place with a great community and excellent schools ... now thats where i want to live.

iHanna said...

Thanks for the sweet mention, and your list Tuesedays. So great. Wish I had more time each week to write in my journal. We miss each other when time is scares.

storybeader said...

I was born and raised in north NJ and I loved it, for lots of the same reason. People, family, food, ocean. I miss it lots. Nice to hear others enjoy it too. {:-Deb

Ravenous Rae said...

I did my list on your prompt today!! I live in Tallahassee, so my list is what I love out this city!

Em said...

I used to live in NYC & bagels & pizza are sublime there. Sublime. (There is a remarkably good bagel place in Sedona, believe it or not! The guy's from Jersey!)

And I love mom & pop shops, so wonderful & part of what makes community. Fun list.

Candied Fabrics said...

Sounds like you've really settled in to "Joyzee", I'm so happy there are so many awesome things for you there!

Mary Walker Designs said...

Sounds like a great state to live...of course I know because I'm here too hehe I'm on the south end.

Beth said...

Oh Aimee - i took me all day to write this...literally! it's still Tuesday :) Well Here's my list - even with my x....this was fun my friend...thank you so much! xo

~runningwave~ said...

This was a fun list. I enjoyed being able to show off photos of my lovely town.

Your list, Aimee, made me think of all the little things that comprise a community. A place is more than how it looks, but the culture, the food, and the way-of-being that people experience. So varied from place to place. Your home in New Jersey sounds like a thriving and vibrant place.

Annie Pazoo said...

I have loved reading these !!!

Ravenous Rae said...

Aimee, I tired to link up twice but its still not showing... I dunno why it doesn't want to work.

Terrie Purkey said...

You made Jersey sound appealing - then as I read some of the other lists, I see that several folks are from Jersey and have equally positive things to say. I'm intrigued now!

I'm so happy I found this site so I can fulfill my passion for lists in another venue. Thanks for hosting!

Andria said...

Fabulous list, Aimee! I am so glad that you have found so much to appreciate and enjoy about your new home. I can't believe it's been almost a year already! I am almost a neighbor, down here in Philadelphia, and many of the qualities you describe suit my home as well. Thank you for the positive outlook!

Bella Sinclair said...

I LOVE your list! Bagels, oh yes. Pizza, definitely. Friendly people, absolutely. Home is where the heart is, babe. Sounds like you are there.

Tracey Fletcher King said...

Great list... our closest friends when we lived in Florida were from Jersey and were just so nice and welcoming and helpful... maybe it is those horrid housewives that give the place a bad name... xx

Tricia @ Daring Hue said...

Great list! I visited NYC for the first time in January, and saw an explosion of bagels on the sidewalk and SO MANY BIRDS! It was like a bird buffet. It was one of the best things I saw there. Looking forward to doing a roadtrip in that region someday. Hopefully I'll make it to Jersey.

Fallingladies said...

I have never wanted to even go to jersey but you have changed my mind!

Cindy said...

pizza, pizza, pizza - the best!

new jersey gets a bad rap, although not perfect - what is?, it's a beautiful state with down home people. love your list!

lessandragr said...

Your art haiku are great! DH grew up and lived in Ridgewood, NJ and I was born in Passaic (but grew up in Florida). The few times I visited I could feel that somehow I "belonged" there also.


Chris said...

There are zombie walks in NJ - In 2010 NJ held the record for most zombies at a walk in Asbury Park, NJ : http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_walk#section_3

Molly said...

great list! i'm from new york and completely understand bagels and pizza being on your list! i miss them! :-)