Friday, March 20, 2009

From the streets of Philadelphia

From the windows of my tenth-floor apartment on 16th and Sansom, I look out across a series of even taller brick buildings: offices and apartments. Go to Google Maps here, or follow the link below and click on "street view" to see my corner and the Oakwood apartments. My windows are up on the far left of the tenth floor on the larger side of the building.


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I do not have a camera with me on this trip, so it's going to be up the words to describe the city. I am getting to know its patterns and its grid, laid out in the seventeenth century by the quaker William Penn. I am not far from the half way point between the Schuylkill and the Delaware rivers. It's about a 25 minute walk east to the Delaware, and the same distance west, across the Schuylkill, to the university. Every day I'm walking an hour or two, up and down (east and west, that is), getting a sense of the different areas, the shopping malls, the "historic" district and its rows of eighteenth-century houses. Lots of people around; and daylight saving started a while ago, so it's pleasantly busy in the early evening, and I feel quite safe. It's not as if I'm in a business district that's empty at night. Lots of people smoking in the street, though. I'm intrigued by the big City Hall in the middle of this grid, arching over Market St, so that it blocks the view, but allows you to walk under its carriage ways. I might even go and do a tour tomorrow.

On the other hand, I might just stay in my pyjamas and write — as I did today — for six hours. Unusually, I'm sleeping in late, but then just hitting the computer when I wake, and working well. I have a library card already, and will start to work in the library soon, but at the moment, it's been great to be away from all the books and files. Makes it easier, somehow, to see the shape of the chapter. And so the first chapter is just about locked up into a state where I might be able to give it to someone to read.

So far, this is turning out to be a good balance of hibernatory writing time, with the perfect amount of social contact. Having an apartment is so much nicer than being in a hotel; there is no doubt. There are lovely people here, too; I'm getting to see the graduate students in action; and there are lots of fabulous events and speakers. I've just missed Stephen Greenblatt, but Chris Cannon and Anthony Bale are coming through town in the next few weeks.

2 comments:

LanglandinSydney said...

I'M SO JEALOUS!! But glad to know you're keeping tabs on my beloved Philly for me Stephanie!! Make sure to get to the Art Gallery before too long. You can then walk down to the city along the river (couldn't do that in the '90s).

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yeah I did that walk on Tuesday, but didn't go in: saving that treat up for Sunday. There is a big Cezanne show that's worth a look, apparently.