Archive | December, 2010

Eating Well Paycheck to Paycheck

22 Dec

I have a wonderful job with pretty decent pay.  What may not be obvious is the student loan debt that is eating half of my monthly paycheck and leaving me with less to live on than when I went to school.  So, for me, the same rules still apply.  I live for 2nd hand clothing and furniture. (My little sisters ask how I got all this fly shit, and I tell them it’s all one-of-a-kind.)

Last week I was down to my last five bucks and some change before I got my next paycheck.  I had paid my taxes and rent and scored some free dog food from my Grandma (she’s my hero).  I had covered all my bases, but I was way low in the food department.  I hit up Iovine Brothers Produce in the Reading Terminal Market.

If you can bypass the spectators and get down to grub shopping the Iovine Brothers have a special deal.  In the back of their stand there are good sized bags of veggies.  Anything from really ripe tomatoes, potatoes, wax beans, peppers, oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, and sometimes avocado.  The best news?  The bags are a dollar each.  I grabbed a few (total $3) and headed out.

As I was passing out the door, I realized I could whip up a soup with some help of a slow cooker (crock pot!?) or rig up the rice cooker to make a thick potato stew.  And soup needs bread.  I popped back into the Terminal Market and stopped at Metropolitan Bakery (there are a few in the city).  I grab a quarter of their organic country misch, a huge chunk for a whopping $2.30 and made my way home.

After a little chopping, peeling, and stewing I had created a massive hearty meal with some thick bread to boot. I momentarily channel Jesus as I fed 5 people on almost nothing.  The soup lasted 3 more days and provided a solid lunch until the arrival of my next paycheck. (Note: I did have chicken broth already.  Advice: keep some chicken, beef, or vegetable stock available in your house).

Don’t think you can’t eat for a weekend on 5 bucks thirty. You ain’t above it.

Where am I? University City or West Philadelphia

17 Dec

Let me just say it, so we can get it out of the way.  “West Philadelphia born and raised!”

Okay…

When I originally visited here, and later decided to move, many of the people I spoke to all over the U.S. sang to me the Fresh Prince intro.  It’s comical, but the current events and happenings here are a bit beyond the scope of Will Smith’s 1990s.

It’s been said that West Philadelphia was once the first suburb of Philly and housed some of the wealthiest folks in the U.S.  By the looks of the neighborhood, you can bet on it.  Three to four story houses boasting old school decadence and massive space for single families.  No yards though….where do we keep the carriage?  As I moved into this historic neighborhood a disagreement began to emerge.

First piece of moving advice: know what’s going on in your neighborhood.

University City v. West Philadelphia

The University City website claims the district stretches all the way to 52nd street. (If you need a little geographical help, here’s their map).  What’s interesting is that a lot of the locals, those who live here and the visiting students, usually offer up that “University City” (increasingly synonymous to “White West Philadelphia”) effectively reaches just to 50th street at its most expansive, and not even that far to the northern and southern edges of the quadrant.  So whats 2 blocks?  The debate is around the ever encroaching line of University City, slowly sipping up a block here and there like overpriced espresso.  My best guess education and my neurotic boyfriend’s Sociology background tells me it has something to do with property values and socioeconomics.  Small stickers abound saying “University City is a marketing scheme”. And while there are other stickers that go on those ones debating land ownership, you can believe it at face value.  The price of a “University City” 2 bedroom is almost always a couple hundred more than a 2 bedroom “West Philadelphia” apartment.  And inside many of the same blocks the terms are interchangeable. The difference is that if you renovate a place and want to charge more money for it, you label it University City, which calls to the college cast and wealthier circles, which we can all at this point admit still tend to be white. Without scolding connotation, that’s a marketing scheme. Don’t get it twisted. “University City” wants you, young pale ones. But “University City” is opportunistic dress-up for an old player in the young crowd’s dance club. You’re still going home with West Phil.

When you are shopping around for apartments, houses, etc ask the locals whats been going on. Drop in on your local bookshop or strike up a conversation with a long time bar tender.  Than ask the person showing you the place how well they know the neighbors.

Space Filler

16 Dec

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell would call me a Connector, or at least that’s what my mother says. (I can’t say I’ve read past p.87 in the book). Ultimately, I seek out and research information and want to share it with anyone who can use it.  For me, this is typically location based.  My current location is West Philadelphia.  I am not a part of every circle here, but I intend to be.

So this is the beginning of my collection of information.  I will tag each post accordingly in hopes that a person like me, will find this, and use it.  The link to the right bottom says Greensboro N.C. Hot Bed (and first true love) is a link to the blog We Strike Straight.  Eric, the creator and moderator of We Strike Straight, asked me….first true love?  Greensboro is my first true, and awkward, love of a city.  From the outside Greensboro looks like a slow city catching up with the times, but just beyond the surface, an extensive and loving community awaits.  My first true love.

So there’s my beginning.  I fell in love with Greensboro N.C. and left it for Philadelphia P.A.