Thursday, November 16, 2006

Next Stop?

The Wheel

The other day I was walking from the train station to work, bent double against the nasty wind pouring across Lake Michigan, and onto my iPod rotated Elizabeth Schwarzkopf singing "Vienna, City of My Dreams." It hit me like a punch in the gut.

I've spent all of four days in Vienna and count them among the four best in my life to date. I didn't walk through the city, I floated through it. I danced through it. And not just the spectacular bits within the Ring, either. My inveterate passion for seeing the commonplace wherever I travel took me out via the subway, randomly, to see neighborhoods that don't attract group tours. And those places, too, I loved. I enjoyed the everyday gemütlichkeit of the Austrians, whose attitude seems to be, "Yes, we used to rule half of Europe, and now we don't, and who cares? Have another cup of coffee."

As Schwarzkopf's voice swelled into a perfectly-pitched crescendo near the end of the plaintive waltz, the whole panorama of Vienna came surging back into my head and I almost cried.

Lately Chicago has begun to chafe. Part of it is upbringing. I was raised in a military family, pulling up stakes to head to a new base every four years or so, and the instinct to Get Up and Go refuses to leave me, no matter how much I like where I am.

And part of it, frankly, is Chicago. The climate aside, this is not a city founded on impulses I can embrace. The pioneers settled where the Native Americans would not, stubbornly enduring all manner of pestilence and plague in order to make bucketfuls of money from a strategically located swamp.

And Chicago, at least as I've come to know it, remains a city that above all cares about money. Nothing, no matter how beautiful, noble or holy, is ever permitted to stand in the way of commerce. While I appreciate the comforts that come with a nice paycheck, I also appreciate being allowed an occasional break. And I find myself in a place where even the universities won't close for national holidays because it would interfere with the bottom line.

Given these objections, you might question how the hell New York City could possibly be on my wheel of possibilities. It's not exactly a monument to Higher Motives. I suppose it comes down to differing ambitions. When I've been in New York and met New Yorkers, everybody is trying hard to be something. Whereas in Chicago, a depressingly large portion of the population is working non-stop in order to own something. My own tendency is more in line with the former. No judgment. Just an observation.

There are no plans, mind you. And I lack the temperament to put my books in storage, throw a dart at the map, and buy a plane ticket. I'm just daydreaming, but the dreams are getting more frequent and vivid as we plunge further into our signature dismal winter.

So what the heck do I want?

I want a better climate, which means any place where winter doesn't begin in late September and end in early July. I want the creative vibe that comes from at least a small, active population of artists or artisans. I want, if at all possible, a good Japanese Zen training center. I need some sort of street life, rather than the usual American model of strip malls bounding a gridlock of identical houses. Or, I need countryside–genuine countryside, not Lake Forest. It absolutely does not need to be in America. Wherever it is, I'd like it to be a place with a real sense of itself, a character of its own.

Today, on the way home from the train station, the wind coming off the lake blew over a large, steel-and-concrete trash can in front of my building and slammed me into the wall. A few more days of this, and I may buy a dart and a map.


Anonymous said...

oh dear, it is that time of year isn't it. Well, good luck with your darts and until then try to find the beauty in a strong wind. How incredible that in the middle of the city you can still experience the power of nature. If it gets to be too much, call off sick, cuddle up with some tea and yarn. Do plan a vacation, something to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, honey; have you ever been to San Francisco?
We have the weather, the neighborhoods, the landscape, the arts...we even have really cool local yarn shops!

M-H said...

I suppose that Sydney, Australia would be a bit far to come. We do have everything you want, though. In spades. Meaning, we have heat. Lots of heat. We have no real cold at all. We have vibrant street life (in some places). We have yarn shops. They're far apart, but we have them. And cool knitting groups. We even have Gay Mardi Gras every Feb. And several universities and many non-profits who might consider you employable.

Anonymous said...

Salem, MA - great art, good street life (if a bit seasonal), yarn stores (2!), 45 minutes to Boston, 30 minutes to Nowhere, not even that far to Ogunquit.

I loved Vienna, but enjoyed Prague even more.

Anonymous said...

San Francisco.

Nuff Said.

Pixiepurls said...

I second Sydney, I am going back in March for my 2nd visit and my husbands 3rd, it's simply amazing. The people are a lot of fun, wonderful sense of humor! We considered moving to Bondi beach once. The locals call it commerical but it is so far from it. It has lovely little internet cafe's next to wonderful little groccery stores for the backpackers, and little pubs and "sushi trains" with $1 sushi. The beach isn't hardly at all crowded and they recyle everything!

We loved it.

Anonymous said...

Austin has a lot of cool things you'd like but the trade-off is summer that lasts from about March to November. It was 87 just a couple of days ago. It can be in the 90s in February. A visit in January might cheer you up, though. There is a good yarn store and the first Thursday sales are great.

Anonymous said...

No, really. San Francisco. Lots of yarn stores, temperatures low enough to wear your knits, and ...

Madame Purl said...

I'd like to second Nell - San Fran. Great place - only been there once, but have been dreaming of the Ghirardelli (oops) - oops I mean city since.

Anonymous said...

France. Anywhere in France. France is my favorite country. Ever.

jodi said...

As I see that Savannah is on your wheel, let me tell you this: universities in Georgia love their days off. They take everything off. Never having studied at an American school before I don't know if three whole days off for Thanksgiving is normal, but to me it seems a bit excessive (in Canada we only take one day, the Monday). This five-day holiday weekend comes a mere three and a half weeks after the "fall break", a four-day weekend they take just for the hell of it.

Of course, they start school in the middle of August, when it's still hot enough that sweat will drip off the backs of your hands onto the sidewalk while you wait for the bus. But if that's the sort of climate you're looking for, come to Georgia. There have been a few cold days thus far but for the most part people are still going around in lightweight sweatshirts, cropped trousers and flip flops.

Anonymous said...

I strongly suggest Key West. The amenities you can't find on that small island are not far away, the weather is wonderful, the people are better.

Elizabeth said...

You really don't want Madison, that's for sure. Lousy winters, not enough snow to be useful, but enough sub-zero days to chill your buns solid. And miles and miles of sprawl: 40s ranch house sprawl, 50s ranch house sprawl, 60s ranch house sprawl, then in the 70s it went split-level and in the 80s it started going pretentious. 90s sprawl is full-on McMansion hell.

But, we have so many great yarn stores and fiber opportunities...

Good luck with that. Big life moves are kind of scary. Sometimes it seems easier to go where the wind takes one.

Mel said...

I, too, have find memories of my visit to Vienna, even though it was S. Should the dartboard come into play, just don't forget to write.

Kristin said...

I understand in a way how you are feeling... I am planning a move myself, not out of neccessity, but because I need to get out of this town.. and it is seeming like the dart board would be a good option for me too. I need to stay within an hour of where I am now... drat... France is personally sounding good to me... ah to be in Bordeaux again... le sigh. The best 4 days of my life too... Good luck keeping the wind depression in check.

Anonymous said...

I hope you knew you'd get the litany of 'my town'. I love that everyone who is happy believes that their city is at least partially responsible. (By the way, the move from at least a cold a place as Chicago to Lotusland, Canada was very good for my husband).

Pink said...

I'm surprised San Frantastic isn't on your "wheel-of-where-to-next?"! I echo others who say it is the place to be.

La Cabeza Grande said...

I've been to France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the U.K. If I had my druthers (and the financial wherewithal) I'd go for Amsterdam first and Florence as a close second.

I dream of leaving Chicago. One day, once circumstances permit. I understand the wanderlust. And the search to be and become. I don't fit in with the "all about the Benjamins" crowd, either.

Anonymous said...

Without waxing the philosophic (too much), I think you should go where your heart tells you. And if that means buying a dart - so be it.

Anonymous said...

I can relate. I just returned from a trip to the UK, where the weather was (albeit unseasonably) gorgeous and warm, to endless rain, flooding and now windstorms in my Suburb of Seattle that knocked our power off for 24 hours. they say it's the wettest Novemeber ever, and I believe it.
But in spite of that, Seattle is really gorgeous and I highly recommend it. It's a beautiful city with lots of wonderful outdoors to enjoy when it's not pissing on us. And that happens more often than not. Just not right now. Aaargh!

catmum said...

Visit SF, for sure, but live here in Monterey.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was born and raised in NYC, and thinks it's absolutely the center of the universe, I can only say that I think you should move to ... San Francisco. Seriously, Franklin, if Chicago's weather and greed is driving you away, NYC will start to chafe pretty quickly. Don't get me wrong -- it's a great place, but life is a lot easier and looser and downscale here on the Left Coast, and it's absolutely the best place on Earth to be queer.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad to see I'm not the first -- how did you miss putting San Francisco on your short list? Or anywhere in the Bay Area. We got your climate right here, baby. We got street life, either urban or faux small town. If you want countryside, just don't move into the city -- but Northern California has it all. (But you might have drive to Tahoe for the snow, because it won't bother you down here.)

And yarn? Well, I haven't gotten to all of the available options, and I've been here 11 years! Artisans, resources, Zen centers...

Then you can buy tickets to visit all those other places, but come home to paradise.

Anonymous said...

I like living in Austin a lot, except for the aforementioned summers. (Note: almost no sweater weather.)I don't know whether it would be the right place for you-- that's between you and the city-- but we'd sure love to have you.

Kate said...

Third bid for Sydney - at least come and check us out. The weather is crazy and so are some of the people but there's something here for everyone.

stitchwort said...

Try Shasta Abbey, northern California.
The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives - Zen in English.
Also at Throssel Hole Abbey, Northumberland, England. Many smaller temples.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to second Salem - I visited while I was in Boston and both are wonderful places that I think you'd enjoy

New York City of course is fabulous and should be considered a country all on its own as its so different to the rest of the US

Amsterdam though would be perfect for you - they have a wonderful sense of letting everyone just get on with their own lives without judging or even noticing people quirks - the most accepting place I've ever been

Or how about Hebden Bridge - lesbian capital of the UK - gorgeous countryside - a great woolshop - and a VERY arty town

Anonymous said...

How wonderful that you have the freedom (or can give yourself the freedom) to consider other places to live. Many, many people simply accept that they hate their environment and spend their lives miserable about it.

I'd say Vermont, but the long winter thing might turn you off. (On the other hand, global warming is really kicking in lately and it's downright balmy here. Lucky us.)

Alice Twain said...

Zen apart (there may be one center, there is certainly one where I live, but that's 600 KM away from my suggestion), your needs and requirements seem to scream ROME to me. Besides, you may qualify for an Italian citizenship as well, which in turn may open to you the doors to any EU country.

Brewgal said...

You've got Wales on your list! Oh kindred spirit. Aberystwyth-- university town on the sea, sheep all over the countryside, sweater weather 8 months of the year, a good bitter for a swifty... *sigh* I'm getting the travel bug again.

Emily said...

Oh, Vienna, Kaffee und Kuchen in Konditorei, semmeln and Kipferln rolls, wonderful Gulasch-suppe...and memories of my Grandmother.

Thanks for the reminder. Damn cold tehre in the winter, though!

LaurieM said...

I've lived in one city all my life and have never contemplated such a thing. I don't know what to think really.

Good luck in your search. And may I suggest you be careful with the darts in the strong wind?

Anonymous said...

S.F. definitely if you want to ditch the cold.
Rudy pretty much strip malled New York before he left. It's. very. tidy. now. And we don't so much miss the civil rights he took. But NYC does close for the month of September High Holy Days.
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Not so much for the tropical climes but the sheep do well there. The men in kilts do well there. Gorgeous countryside. Wonderful city. The people are lovely, lovely lovely - whatever the hell language that is they're speaking.

Annette said...

Fourth vote for Sydney here! Not that I live in Sydney, no siree. I live about 4 hours away, 20 minutes from the beach, 30 minutes from the mountains, rural views all around. I'm sure you would like the Sydney relaxed lifestyle a lot more than being slammed into buildings by Chicago winds. Just sayin.

Moorecat said...

Dude, if you want public holidays:

Melbourne has a day off for a horse race! Not just for the three or so minutes to run the race, but the whole Tuesday. It's becoming almost expected that people take off the Monday as well and make a four day weekend of it.

Just think: a four day weekend of knitting.

And I can't say don't go to Sydney, or I'll get flamed by the Sydneysiders who read you. Just take my word for it.



Anonymous said...

You would have way too much cold to knit for here. We can barely stand it, though we love Montréal for other reasons.

Yeah, San Francisco, dude. Excellent bookshop there run by Ferlinghetti...I wanted to camp out for a week in that reading room.

France is lovely if you can handle the fascism. But our little family and Sarkozy don't mix very we're here instead.

dragon knitter said...

you could come to omaha. there's real countryside only 20 minutes away no matter where you are in the city. there is a small artists' community, mostly in the old market. i'm not sure about the japanese zen center, however i do know there is a thriving buddhist community. the benediction for my community college graduation was by a buddhist monk. it's a thought!

and of course, there's the amazing zoo, the jocelyn art museum, the orpheum theater, and the college world series.

about the only thing you really have to "put up with" is cornhuskers. lol

and winter doesn't start til november round here, lol.

the fiddlin' fool said...

Franklin, chalk it up to November. This is my least favorite time of year, and everyone starts feeling that way this time of month. Especially when the sun has been so elusive over the past week. And up until this month, we had an absolutely gorgeous autumn. Really it's only November through February where it's the coldest.

Portland (well, both of them, but I was thinking Oregon) is a great place to visit. And I don't know about Zen training, but they do have a lovely Japanese garden, not to mention an astounding rose garden. Plus, Seattle is only a few hours drive.

Anonymous said...

How lovely that you are unencumbered enough to consider a move to ANYWHERE YOU WANT!! Me? Jealous? hmm...

I'll throw my hat in the ring w/ the Sydneysiders - BTDT, would move there in an instant, all things being equal. They aren't so I'm not.
You'd love it. Just the lifeguards on Bondi beach are worth it. What more could you ask for?!


Anonymous said...

SF has us beat on the weather, but please come to Toronto instead anyway.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I'd say San Fran or Sydney. (I know you were waiting on your decision until I gave my opinion.) I loved Sydney. I loved that if you were walking along the sidewalk anywhere near a crosswalk, the cars on the street would stop, just in case you were planning to cross. I loved that they had bright little parakeets instead of drab little sparrows. I loved that time on the train to Byron Bay before dawn, looking out the window and seeing kangaroos in the mist.
And San Franscisco just rocks.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is going to sound just bizarre, but on your way to San Francisco, try visiting Salt Lake City. Five LYS, no kidding. Definite seasons, though some years spring is a blink between winter and summer. Hot summers, but as they say, it's a dry heat. Artists, yes--painters, sculptors, poets, filmmakers for starters. 10,000-ft peaks minutes from town hold no less than 3 national wilderness areas; seven national parks within a day's drive. It has its cultural oddities, but for the most part they are amusing. Take a look; like me, you could end up loving it.

Anonymous said...

I've been feeling the same way about Boston. I grew up in Northern California, and although East Coasters like to say that there's no history in California, no seasons in California, there most certainly are - they are just different. And sometimes? New Englander's aren't so good with different...which is a whole other problem...

But, my point is that I understand, and the daydreaming is an important step to figuring out what you really want, at least for now.

Best of luck. :)

Anonymous said...

I can only concur with your words on Chicago -- having spent what I consider the dourest 2 years of my life there. I wouldn't take them back because they led me to where I am -- DC..go figure -- but they were extremely constricting and a time of great atrophy in the face of a city that was too unwieldy and impossible to build community. That was *my* experience. Others may have different experiences. Part of it was the weather and the season's brutality (which I experienced as bringing out the best in people "we're all in it together" mentality) but it really limited the ability to move around and meet people and create and maintain friendships in the city.
I find Washington, DC -- once you get past the "the whole world hates you for what you have no control over" part (we don't get a vote for Pete's sake!) it is an extremely livable city with a lot of culture and accessibility for those who take advantage of it.

I guess for me it does come down to scale and what scale works for my level of sociability. I think Chicago tested that and I sort of broke.

Anonymous said...

You could throw your dart and then see how you feel about your selection, as in "I got A but damn, I didn't get B" so maybe you wanted B all along.

Unknown said...

Cleveland is nice . . . too similar to Chicago though. I think our winters are not as nearly bad as yours . . . and often the storms out of Chicago, blow across the lake and nail Buffalo. But, we have some great walk around neighborhoods and I live 20 miles from downtown on an acre of land with a huge garden (and a pool) and just five minutes west from me, I have friends that have 15 acres and lots of fun stuff. We have some good LYS, all within easy driving of each other.

But, if it were me and I could do this, I would live either in Charlotte Bay, FL (north of Tampa . . . right on the Gulf Coast), Bangor Maine (maybe just in the winter), or north of San Francisco (about two hours -- I think its called Seal Point), right on Route 1 (middle of no-where but right across the street from the ocean).

Anonymous said...

Portland OR - Plenty of LYS, street life, plenty of affordable, diverse, non-chain restaraunts, workable public transportation and loads of independent bookstores. Powell's City of Books (they have a website) takes up most of a city block, and has several smaller specialized stores throughout the city. The main store is so big they hand out color coded "street maps" to make it a little easier to find what you're looking for. I say a little, because you're bound to be distracted by something else on your way to what you thought you were looking for. Generally mild winters, and summer temps rarely top mid-80s (although they set several high temp records when I was there the end of July this year - but everyone agreed it was an anomoly). The waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge...

Sorka said...

There has got to be a nice knitblogger in each of those places on your wheel.. I think you need to take a tour and check them all out!
We'll put you up!

junior_goddess said...

I'm with the folks who are voting for Austin (good photo essay in National Geographic Travel this month-but it doesn't show rush hour) and SF.

I think the most striking feature of the Chicago skyline is everyone's penchant for wearing khaki raincoats. Dull. Quite a contrast to South TX, where all the women have big hair and pedicures, topped off with a large scoop of rhinestones.

On the other hand, in Texas you can't find an ethnic neighborhood. I was so disoriented when I first moved here-because in Chicago, if you want Chinese, you go to Chinatown, and you (used to be able to) see the exit for the Lithuanian neighborhood from the freeway.

I think you should move to Germany. Their idea of a good Saturday activity is a brisk 10k, topped off with a few litres of beer and a sandwich. And then off to the disco that evening. And plenty of knitting!!!!

J. said...

America, America - uhh Canada, Vancouver is lovely aside from the rain, LOTS of Asian culture/people/temples and so on. Toronto is also good but they do have bits of winter there but heaps of amazing knitters. I you feel the need to stay south of the border i would go for San Fran as well, my sis lives there and I love visiting

Anonymous said...

I am delighted--and surprised--to see my hometown of Fort Worth on the wheel. Tell the truth, its the gay cowboys, isn't it? Fort Worth has both great culture and awful sprawl. The best yarn is in Plano, which is a hellish drive. On the other hand, I actually think the summers in Texas are on the "plus" side of the equation. Are you complainers native Texans? Consider this: There's actually LOTS of sweater weather--winters are mild enough that you don't have to hide your lovely sweaters under dreary parkas.

Carol said...

I've been doing the same for quite some time now. I have some ties that I have to wait to be untied, but baby, my dart's landing on Portland. Or, Eugene. One has to listen to their soul when it speaks and it sounds like yours is getting louder on ya :)

Mother of Chaos said...

San Francisco would welcome you. :)

Anonymous said...

Much as we'd love to have you in the Maritimes, the only part of this country that would meet your weather criteria is British Columbia. Apart from climate, both Vancouver and Victoria have Zen centers, and wilderness is a very short distance away. As for the vibe, there's a reason that the rest of Canada refers to it as Lotusland. And to top it all off, the Empress Hotel in Victoria is an anglophile's dream.

Nancy said...

Concur on San Francisco. I'm a native, and I've spent most of my life here (aside from a foolish two years in the Arizona desert - trust me, don't look for yarn stores in a desert).

We've got real countryside less than half an hour away. We've got yarn shops. We've got zen centers. We've got the Pride Parade. We've got history (don't let those east coasters tell you different - San Francisco celebrated its Bicentennial the year before the USA did). The last time it snowed was in 1975. Okay, so the summers are a bit cool and foggy, but if you drive across a bridge, you can be in the sun.

And, I'm selfish - we'd love to have you at our knitting and spinning soirees.

Liz said...

So I'm assuming that St. Paul is out. We hdo have everything else on your wish list, except the weather....

Mark said...

Check this out, and then aim your dart toward the Hill Country ...

Anonymous said...


Can't beat the view, the weather is wonderful and variable. Places like New Mexico (very spiritual and in touch with nature) are a short drive away. Estes Park Wool Festival every June. University City. Diverse. Good food. A LOT of knitting shops. Photo opportunities everywhere.

You might consider adding Denver to your wheel. After living in many, many places, I've never regretted moving here. It's definitely home.

Sherry W said...

Frankly I love Philadelphia. The history and the city feel without the metro hype. In 40 minutes your out of the city, the subs and in the Amish country. You still have East Coast seasons while usually missing the severe weather. I think it really snowed hard twice last year. We have yarn shops up the wazoo within 10 minutes of each other. Also, great for quick train getaways all over the east coast. You can have lunch in NYC and be home for dinner.

San Francisco has weather, and it's a nice place if your a tourist or a bizillionaire. Otherwise, I'd seriously pass it by- it's too expensive to have the lifestyle you think you can have. Driving anywhere sucks.

You'd actually be better off in NYC, and Sydney is fantastic if the Aussies will let you work there.

Anonymous said...

I think that all of us get the wanderlust at one time or another.

IT'S THE WEATHER DUDE! We have seen the SUN in 10 days!

Funny, I have lived in many places all over the world, and I have come to find Chicago as my home. I still go home to Iowa from time to time, but I don't think that there will come a time when I don't have a home here....of course having kids in school makes a big difference.

I personally love the changes in the seasons...however, this grey weather has GOT to go.

Sandra said...

Ummm, Canada?? Toronto area to be exact - cosmopolitan flair with a small town feeling. Plus, some amazing knitters and yarn shops. Okay, we have some weather issues, but nothing like Chicago. Please? Even just for a visit - you really should come...
(You should also see my homage to Franklin - I wrote it a few days ago, and I hope it's ok with you...)

Anonymous said...

Franklin, Columbus, OH isn't on your list but we have a vibrant arts community. We're probably one of the most gay friendly communities in the midwest (despite last year's state ballot issue) and there are several universities including OSU that would probably be well able to use your talents. OSU likes it's holidays although admittedly Presidents Day and Columbus Day do get moved. Our winter's start later than Chicago and are no where near as bitter/extreme, (while it's sweater weather now, we haven't broken out the heavy coats yet) and spring/summer start sometimes as early as late April.

Liz said...

As a Texan, I have to vote Austin. It's a little liberal oasis in the screaming conservatism of Texas. Although, I find that most Texans don't really discuss politics, etc. unless you know that person pretty darn well. Fort Worth is wonderful, and has a lovely Japanese garden and fabulous museums. It beats Dallas all hollow in terms of culture. The nickname of "Cowtown" is truly a misnomer.

Texas weather is really nice. The summers really aren't too bad except for August and you have hot August in Chicago as well. We just don't get the blizzards in winter. And Austin is in the middle of some of the most gorgegous country - a 45 minute drive and you are in the middle of nowhere.

Cara said...

I moved to the midwest (Indianapolis) 4 years ago from
California, and the culture of materialism was the first and most lasting impression I got. I thought the heartland was more .. real. What a surprise to me.

San Francisco is a great place, I went to college there and adored it, but its so bleeding expensive now you must be rich or have been there forever. And I got tired of never having summer unless I drove to the East Bay. 75 degrees isn't summer.

Vienna was colder, when I was there in an October longer ago than I care to think, than any visit I have made to Chicago. But I understand, because fortified with Sacher Torte and plentiful opera, I was in love with the city.

There is no place that is home unless you want it to be. I miss California terribly ( and New Orleans, and Texas, and England, and all the other places I have lived) but as long as I have the people I love most in the world, where I live is secondary (as long as it gets less than 5 feet of snow a year)

Anonymous said...

Vienna?? My oh my. Vienna in winter is truly the most dismal, dour, dark place on the planet. And those Austrians. . . oh they are gemütlich until you turn out to be very, very different from them.
Berlin, on the other hand. Now, there is a city that ROCKS. (Dark, too, but not Chicago.)

Kate A. said...

Vienna I could take for a visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. What you describe about Vienna is Prague in spades, but they also have better architecture, better street life, and WAY better attitudes toward...say...anyone not Austrian or a wealthy white tourist (however, they're not always particularly fond of *Austrians*, mind you).

Budapest, however....Ah, Budapest. All the perks of Vienna AND Prague, but much cheaper, fewer tourists....and THERMAL BATHS. Lots of them. You can choose between neo-classical, art deco, and ancient, located-under-a-rock Turkish....

FiberQat said...

If you do decide to pick up stakes and move on, please consider Portland OR. The heart of Portland has many wonderful neighborhoods, many cultural events, a thriving Buddhist community, and wonderful yarn shops. We get less rain than Seattle, have an extensive mass transit system, and are two hours from the beach where you can meditate to the roar of the Pacific surf.

Go west, young man!

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for the weather, i'd suggest Montreal. I've lived here my whole life, so it's hard for me to compare. But every one i know who visits rave about the music, the restaurants, the museums; it's a truly multicultural city. Plus, your french is really good, but it's not a necessary asset even if it wasn't. If you visit, i promise to take you to the best bistros in the city.

Anonymous said...

If you want to be somewhere new, go for it. Nothing has to be wrong with where you are. I'm a Chicagoan and I get the part about the wind but not the materially-driven part. I wonder if it's related to where you live or where you work. Try a neighborhood away from the lake.

Really though, if you need new air, move on.

Anonymous said...

Spin that wheel with one eye open and make it stop on "Portland, OR". Lots of community and DIY culture, reasonable housing prices, and mild weather.

(*sniff* I miss Portland! *sniff*)

Anonymous said...

Dear Franklin, Do you have any idea how welcome you would be in NYC? It is a much smaller, friendlier feeling town than Chicago. The climate is better, therefore the horticulture is more interesting. Of the handful of major ballet companies in the whole world, two of them call NYC home. You can grow your own wool in the Hudson Valley. You can take public transportation to "Rhinebeck" if necessary.The museums, the libraries, the theatre. BROADWAY! But enough of my selfishly wanting you near. I suspect you might well feel yourself in hog heaven in Andalucia. Granada?

Elisabeth said...

I say go to Europe. Italy is my favorite, though France has its charms. It was in Italy where I first recognized that there was an entire culture of people who did not value owning a big screen tv as one of life's goals. It was far more important to eat good food, spend time with family and friends, and have a nap in the middle of the day. The wine is often cheaper than the water at restaurants and it is perfectly reasonable to occupy a table for the entire evening. The entire month of August is vacation time. There are still places where everything closes from noon to three so you can go home and have lunch (and a nap). My favorite city there (so far) is Genoa. Right on the sea and very few American tourists. And only a short distance from Cinque Terre.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about pulling up stakes. I'm not even military and I get that itch of 'life as elsewhere.' Apparently it's a Canadian thing.
So obviously, I vote for Canada. And I agree with anonymous - try Vancouver. It's called Lotusland, man! And the weather is perfect and temperate year-round (just so long as you don't have a hate on for rain).

Kathleen said...

I don't know where I want to go when I grow up either - but I do want to go somewhere other than here (which is not Chicago! :))

Lyssa said...

I see many votes for San Francisco, but may I humbly suggest Santa Cruz? It is close enough to SF to go in for weekends of fun filled iniquity, but it is (in my opinion) a much nicer place to actually live. Plus, the nights are chilly enough for sweaters year round, without blistering muggy heat or freezing temperatures. I currently own a house in the redwoods there which is even available for renting/buying :)

Anonymous said...

Portland is a lovely city - I went to college there and if it wasn't for the memories, I might be there still. Very bookish, a little bit milder and a little more friendly than Seattle, it has a warm, welcoming and to me a little slepey and sweet sort of vibe to it. I'll make a second plug for Seattle though. If you can stand the grey (it's not really the rain, but the greyness of the winters that are beginning to get to me) of winter, it's fabulous. There is so much that I like about this city, though I will tell you that I'd rather live outside of the core area. But it's a fiber fest here, and there's a ton of bloggers/spinners/knitters in the area.

I hear you on the wanderlust though. Every winter I think about picking up stakes and building a raft from mismatched DPNs and floating off to Tahiti or something, just for a change of pace.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver, BC.
1) Terrific urban centre, with astoundingly beautiful natural surroundings and you can be in countryside in an hour should you so desire.
2) Good public transit so long as you are not leaving the urban core (suburban service is pretty much to & from core, during peak hours).
3) Lots of theatre (mainstream and otherwise), music, opera. Centre of Canadian film industry (despite what Toronto says).
4) Two major universities.
5) Excellent public library system.
6) One wonderful public art gallery, many private ones, at least one wonderful museum.
7) The Marine Building (
8) Lots of coffee shop, cafe & restaurant patios.
9) Moderate climate. Snow for the most part stays where it's wanted, on the mountains for skiers/boarders. We get a fair amount of rain but (a) you don't have to shovel it and (b) you don't have to shovel it. Warm dry summers, mild wet winters. Enough variation to have 4 fully differentiated seasons, without most of the extremes.
10) We're Canadian. We're nice. We're polite. We're funny. We appreciate humour. We spell things properly. We hardly ever carry guns.
11) As a country, we're gay-friendly. In Vancouver, we're actually pretty much gay-neutral, which is the closest you're going to get to equality (not sure if I'm expressing this correctly, the gist is, we figure what you do with your bits is pretty much your own business).
12) Lots of arts, crafts, and cultural festivals (we're Canadian, remember, so we're a mosaic not a melting pot).
13) Lots o' buskers, street performers and merchants.
14) Several terrific yarn shops. Knitting in public is completely accepted.
15) The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Always. On TV but especially radio. Imagine - on Radio Two, on Saturday afternoons, you have opera. Same time, on Radio One, you have a show which is actually called Definitely Not the Opera. Really.
16) Rick Mercer. The Mercer Report.
17) Word on the Street - a day when we block off the streets around the main Library and have a whole day celebrating books and literacy, with readings and performances.
18) Large Pacific-rim-country-of-origin population, so lots of temples, etc.
19) Many wonderful restaurants.
20) Only about 2.5-hr drive (or Amtrak) to Seattle, for when you need your hit of the U.S.

Think about it!

Anonymous said...

Seattle's now reached its soul-crushing zenith, so I cannot in all good conscience recommend my town, although there is much to recommend it. I think Europe might be the place for you - the Left Coast is lousy with Buddhists of all flavors, but the unwashed ahistorical heathens will leave your erudite, art-loving soul with the DTs, I worry. If you must move to NYC (and in my personal experience it will Bali Hai call to you until you do, when it will turn into your own personal living nightmare), then work for a Jewish organization - the year I worked for Hadassah there were 19 (NINETEEN) extra religious holidays on top of the state holidays, and we closed at noon on Fridays in the winter to ensure that the workers could be home by sundown for Shabbat. Woot.

mehitabel said...

Personally I'm daydreaming of, and planning to move to, Conn. I'm an ex-pat New Englander stuck in Calif. for way too many years (long long boring story) and now I have the freedom to actually pull up stakes and go back. Here it's 90 degrees and November, and I'm hating every second of it! I want me some wind, some rain, some snow.

la takahashi said...

Casting a vote for Seattle! We have rain but it's never really cold, okay maybe two weeks in February. We have the arts (if you like the Ring, nuff said.) we have LYS. we have a strong buddhist (all denominations) community. we have every kind of geography a person could want even sand dunes (secret) and coffee.
Lori in Seattle

Ann-Marie said...

I'm in the midst of one of those "must get out of here NOW" places myself, so I sympathize. My two cents: New Mexico, somewhere north of Albuquerque and south of Santa Fe and Taos. Albuquerque is great for the everyday stuff, Santa Fe for amazing food and people-watching, and Taos for artists who want to do their art and not be ARTISTES. And yes, there are some truly wonderful yarn shops -- believe me, we really do knit in the desert! Sunshine 300 days a year, snow in the mountains for real winter, huge mindblowing skies full of stars at night . . . and lots of space. I went from NYC to Albuquerque, and if the choice had been possible, I'd still be there.

Ween said...

Laguna Beach, CA. It has everything you want. Great climate, street life, artists, beautiful men playing volley ball on the beach. I just opened the door and heard it calling your name :)

Anonymous said...

I can see you in Berkeley. It's not San Francisco - has a completely different character - but is close to the cultural delights of SF. Very artsy people are in Berkeley - there is a fabulous fiber arts studio called Deep Color. The weather is lovely, the history includes the beginnings of the Free Speech movement, and I here tell there is a small, obscure university there that might be an employment option. Oh, and you'd be about 90 minutes away from the Central Valley, land of sheep, alpacas, agriculture . . . and me!

Anonymous said...

Franklin: Check out Yellow Springs, Ohio, home of Antioch College. It sounds like what you're looking for. It snows occasionally, but the snow never sticks for more than a day. The population is diverse. There is a central business district with a number of eating options - The Winds is especially nice, and the nearest strip mall is a good drive away. There are also opportunities to enjoy the arts in nearby Dayton.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to whole-heartedly recommend Portland, OR.

I'm a transplant from LA, where I spent 6 years in graduate school. My husband grew up in Naperville, and says that the climate here is exponentially better than in Chicagoland.

There IS a Zen community here, plus it's liberal, environmentally conscious, and definitely artsy. It's cheaper to live here than in Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, or New York. There are more yarn shops than you could ever want (ok...that's a stretch...) BUT if you run out, there are LOTS of locals who grow sheep in the farmland outside the city, and they sell roving or handspun. And there is a small academic community. Lots of small colleges. Lots of things to do. Lots of concerts and free art shows. Plus it's a totally livable city.

Anonmous said...

I vote for Sydney! I need some place to vacation...where they speak english...sort of

You know how much you mean to me, and I'd miss you terribly, but I just want you to be happy.

Can I have the Cat In the Hat sippy cup when you move? *grin*

Hugs from Rhoda...or am I Phyllis? I always forget...

Anonymous said...

'Sposed to be in the mid-80s in Tucson today.

Though I realize that it might feel like backtracking a bit, on your part, this town has probably changed enough in the intervening years that it would feel like someplace completely different.

University jobs are here:

Active Buddhist community (His Holiness came to town last year)....

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Jobs are important. Get that resume out circulating. Other than that - consider western MA. Northampton or Amherst would feel homey. I'd like to put in a small vote for Richmond, VA also. It's a nice city and you'd like Carytown or the Fan. But I doubt you'll do the south.

Anonymous said...

Santa Barbara, CA
better climate, check
It snows every 10 years or so in the mountains, but does not in town. Lately it's been in the 65 to 70 range daytime, in the evening it's been in the 50's.

creative vibe, check
We have an art walk at the beach every Sunday. Real artist with real paintings, plus some other artisan stuff as well. We have some pretty nice galleries. Check this out:

Japanese Zen training center, check
Not sure if it's Zen

street life, check
State Street in the evening hops. We also have a university, UCSB. We have culture but also we are 90 minutes away from LA. We have really good restaurants.

genuine countryside, check
There are wineries within an hours drive. Really nice countryside.

real sense of itself, check
It's beautiful here. No billboards, no really tall buildings. Whenever I go somewhere else and come back, I notice how good it smells because of all the flowers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please come to New York! We have tons of yarn shops, and as Cortster said, Brooklyn is wonderful. I was born and raised in Brooklyn Heights, which is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in the 5 boroughs. Park Slope is full of great new restaurants and is also beautiful. We have the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with the Japanese Garden. Williamsburg is full of art, clubs and music, and The Yarn Tree is there, too. It isn't cheap, but it is doable, and just think, you'd be close to both Rhinebeck and MS$W! Besides, if you want rural, the North Fork of Long Island is still fairly rural. There are lots of vineyards there, along with farm stands, art communities, etc. If you need more space, just go upstate. Seriously, please think about NYC!

Anonymous said...

It actually did snow a year or two ago in San Francisco, during lunch hour: the downtown skyscrapers emptied as people in suits stuck their tongues out like little kids to catch the flakes. Stopped the traffic around Market Street and made the front page--it was snowing!

San Francisco, definitely.

southern gal said...

wow another opera fan?! I knew you were COOL but now you are REALLY COOL! I am envious - THE RING in VIENNA? wo hotoho!

Try the East Coast - you can meander from Boston to Maine to New York to Washington every four years a new city!

and we have FOUR seasons here!

life in the Hudson Valley is good too!

Sharon Rose said...

I just went through a similar search myself. Having lived all over the country, Portland, OR is my favorite city by far. I live in Seattle right now, which is terrific but more expensive and not as friendly or easy to get around in. We have to move due to my hubby's work, and the West coast isn't possible. We have applications in for Portland, ME, and Philly. *crossed fingers*

Anonymous said...

forget the dart and map...that's how I ended up in Maine!

dpaste said...

I'll keep a light on for you, just in case.

Anonymous said...

As I read your post I immediately thought of the PNW, specifically Portland or Eugene, or maybe one of the towns north of Seattle on Puget Sound like Everett or Bellingham. A university town is more likely to hold what you are looking for, although certainly not every u-town will fill the bill.

I'd like to add that winter in a small town is not at all the same as winter in a city. First, the snow stays clean so the scenery doesn't get that depressing gray. And when you get north of Chicago, say, even with Minneapolis or so, it stays cold enough that you don't get that awful cold and damp combination. Just a thought.

Spindlers2 said...

I'll support the suggestion of Hebden Bridge - lots of good coffee shops for those of a barista persuasion, yes very gay and otherwise friendly and LOTS of local sheep for Dolores to


Anonymous said...

amsterdam, of course.
people are kind, smart adn oh, sooo liberal. they must have jinvented the word.
the fact that i am dutch and american has nothing to do with this:)

Anonymous said...

The problem with the DC area is the sprawl. Not such fun. But if you live in the city (chose 1 - Baltimore, Alexandria, Arlington or DC) you have many neighborhood city choices. We do have rather bizarre weather - Augusts are so hot and humid the city empties and the city completely freaks out at the thought of snow. But, we do all of your major disasters in small quantities - just enough to keep you on your toes.

If I hit the lotto I'm going to Portland Maine, which clearly violates your winter weather rule, but it's so much NICER cold winter weather. 8-)

If I had to chose a European city, it would be a toss up between Firenze and Edinburgh - with a little diddling I could become an Italian citizen (see the Italian hockey team citizenship rule - which explains why virtually the entire team is from Lynn, MA) and despite a horrid allergy to heather (who is allergic to heather?) I really loved Edinburgh......classy, arty, cosmopolitan and yet small townish.

Anonymous said...

Yet another vote for Sydney - bet you didn't think there'd be that many, huh? When m-h said no real cold, she meant *no snow*. No ever. And then there's all the rest. You'd love it here, promise.

Melbourne's pretty good too....

marie in florida said...

Buddha bless us, Franklin. aim the dart for jacksonville florida; even if just for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Franklin, you are such a great writer. I enjoy reading your work so much. Thank you. When you were
remembering Vienna, I could identify.I was born in Europe. Often times I find myself going back and wishing I could really go and live in other parts. Then I snap back to reality and realize that here is where my life is, with my family. We live in the Boston Area, and it meets all our needs. When it gets cold, we head south for a bit.So I think I can
truly say that we found our niche.
Contentment is a gift, I realize now and I treasure it.

Anonymous said...

(Let's hear it for Chamber-of-Commerce Your City Day! LOL) In addition to what others have said re Portland...

-Shorter blocks than other cities, lots and lots and lots of parks, including the biggest wilderness park entirely within a city in the US. (Forest Park, 5,000 acres or so, with deer and black bear still migrating through it...and it's within about 30 blocks from downtown.) Plus free concerts in parks during summer.
-The Willamette River right through downtown with umpteen bridges, and Waterfront Park.
-Rose Festival. Only other completely floral parade in the country than Pasadena, plus the US and Canadian Navy visiting every year - we're rated the best liberty port in the country, and ships compete to get to come here. They can't all be saying that 'cause of the nekkid girls waving from motorboats following the ships up the river. There must be some nekkid men somewhere. ;)
-In addition to the Japanese Garden (utterly gorgeous, about which the Japanese ambassador of the 60's said was it the most authentic in the world outside of Japan, and they still make the claim) - right downtown, the Chinese Garden in Old Town/Chinatown, designed and crafted by artisans from our sister city Suzhou, China. Which I finally visited this last weekend, and it's exquisite, a jewel, a piece of lovely tranquility where you forget the outside world. (Umpteen pix on my blog posts for the 13th and 15th, btw, although I am not worthy - I'm a mere beginner.)
-Powell's redux - Yes, started by the guy who opened the one in Chicago. ;) Open 365 days a year, you can trade books in for credit, has a coffee-shop, has guest speakers, literally biggest bookstore in the US. (Although they sent the Yarn Harlot to the Home & Garden store this latest appearance instead of the Mother Ship. Eedjits.)
-Excellent library, too.
-Green. Trees, flowers, more trees, flowers, grass, and did I mention trees? A friend who's lived in upper NY State, NY City, Brazil, New Orleans, and is currently in LA couldn't believe all the green, green, green.
-Yes, it's because of the rain, but really, what's wrong with rain? That's why they're gonna have to mow the lawn here at my apt. in another day or two; it's getting ankle-deep. I mean the grass. In November. I haven't worn my winter coat yet, and didn't turn the heat on think October sometime. Usually turn it off in April for the summer. Half the trees haven't turned color yet - and I don't mean evergreens.
-Rain actually stops around mid-June, then we have mostly sun until mid to late September.
-Snow maybe every couple or three years. About 2-4 inches tops. And the entire city shuts down. (Ok, some drawbacks to the latter bit.)
--And also ok, we do have ice storms in about the same frequency as snow, ones that make ex-Michiganders (my apt. mgrs.) blanch at times. But you know what the city officials tell you to do during them? STAY THE HELL HOME!
-Roses blooming in January.
-Ocean 100 miles away, mountains about 50, wind-surfing on the Columbia River ditto, country 25-30 minutes. Scenery: Amazing.
-Cheaper rent and food. Cheaper electricity. No sales tax.
-Fruit to die for, berry-growing capitol of the US, and U-Pick places reachable by bus. Except you can't buy blackberries. Why pay for 'em when you can pick 'em for free?
-A former native Chicagoan reliably informs me Tillamook cheese is better than Wisconsin's, especially the Tillamook Extra Sharp Black Label.
-Radio Cab. Polite cabbies, best company in town, never use any other even if you have to wait. (Although you don't flag cabs here, you phone them.)
-We're polite. (Although our drivers are crazier than Chicagoans. I was wondering what all the fuss was about drivers when I was there for Tut this June. [g] It was crowded as hell, but the drivers seemed rather sedate to me.)
-No graffiti on mass transport. And people will fairly often offer you a seat if you look like you need it, or just out of sheer politeness.
-We stop to pick up litter. First bottle bill in the US.
-Short trip to Black Sheep Festival in Eugene. Take Amtrak if you can't get a ride with adoring knitting fen. (Yeah, right.)
-Ashland Shakespearian Festival every year in southern Oregon.
-Did you know we have a great music scene? All sorts of bands as well as events like the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. Opera. Symphony.
-Portland State University right downtown. (Yes, I know, a 'state' U named after a city is weird. We like weird.)
-Dress up or down, we don't really care. Jeans, boots and leather are usually as acceptable most places as a suit and tie are. And we won't look at you strangely when you wear a T-shirt and shorts when it's drizzling and 59 degrees out.

And gee, I was right. They just started mowing the lawn. [vbg]

Anonymous said...

I live in San Francisco and would like to point out that I have 4 great yarn shops within a 30 minute walk. SF also has a great Zen center, mild climate year round, fantastic local, organic food, and stimulating local culture. Okay, it's hella expensive to live here but I think it's worth it.

LornaJay said...

Edinburgh. It still gets windy, but you might enjoy the Festival Fringe a bit!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Habit,

As an ex-pat Chicagoan, and current Seattleite (sp?), let me invite you come and stay in a city where:

1. According to NPR, we are second only to San Francisco in the percentage of gay and lesbian folks.

2. It snows *maybe* once every three to four years -- and the entire city shuts down until it melts...that afternoon.

3. One of the truly, *truly* world class cities for a yarn crawl -- much better than Chicago (which I love and has Arcadia Knitting and Three Bags Full, but still...). My sister asked me for a list of two or three yarn shops in Seattle for a friend who was visiting from Hong Kong. Off the cuff, I sent back a list of ten -- and that is not a complete list! (I'd be happy to send it to you if you'd like. :)

4. True, we have a winter (otherwise known as monsoon season), but it rarely goes below freezing. And, believe it or not, the total amount of annual rainfall in Seattle is less than that in Chicago.

5. Most people don't have air conditioning because it doesn't get hot enough during the summer to justify it for the two or three days you might need it. (We break out the fans, or go to the movies.) And the summer days are unbeliveably long and nice.

6. If you want nature, it's not at all far away -- and it's got waterfalls, mountains, elk, etc. There are a zillion hiking trails within a hour or two of downtown -- and a few within the city itself. (Schmitz Park in West Seattle is a big old chunk of old growth rainforest. In the city. Really.) I live in the city, and I saw a bald eagle near my house on the way into work today. (Not to mention listening to the sea lions barking in the middle of the night...)

7. There's a healthy arts scene, lots of galleries.

8. According to, there are about 27 different Buddhist groups in the Seattle metro area.

If you want to come visit for awhile, there's at least one guest bedroom with your name on it out here. :)


(Oh, and we have the Dulaan gals, too!)

brewerburns said...

Portland, OR. Or Seattle, WA. Yes, it rains, but on the bright side, it rains! I miss the rain.

Anonymous said...

I had that same feeling in the eighties and moved from New England to New Zealand. I never regretted it. Had to move back to Maine (family stuff) but I long to return.

So I urge you to consider Auckland; or, Sydney would be a great choice too. Seriously, just go for it.

Marcia said...

I hereby invite you to come to the other side.

Uh, no. Not that.

The other side of The Lake. West Michigan. Where it really blows.

Whining Procrastinator said...


I live in Connecticut.

And yesterday on my way home from work I was frightened that I would blow off the road.

We in New England (and we're not far from New York at all) get a little bit of the same weather you get in Chicago, including the lake effect snow. The thing is that most of us don't actually know anything about our climate, so we think we're too far from the Great Lakes to experience any lake effect weather.

Yes, it's much worse in Chicago. But I'd recommend you move further south. Or west. Or east. It's just that NYC is nowhere near better enough that I could believe it could possibly be worth the move.

In any event, you definitely need to be someplace better doing a job you love.

I must admit we fell in love with Portland, Oregon in early September of 2001. Between the wonderful public transportation and the real country not terribly far out of town, it was wonderful. But the city is spreading and the new areas look like McTown. And I never believe that I'll be as happy in real life in a place as I am on vacation.

Hey, maybe you could open a yarn shop someplace? We could all come visit you!

Sneaksleep said...

I can't possibly read through all the comments right now, so please forgive me if someone has already sent you this link. But if you're in NYC (even if it's not to stay) and you want to get in some zazen, check out the Zen Studies Society:

I've meditated there several times and it has been wonderful every time.

(p.s. my word verification is "sbyyrn." do you think it's a message from the heavens that i should "by" more "yrn" perhaps?)

Anonymous said...

It's pretty hard to not love Vienna. I lived there for two years, and I miss it all the time. I visited four years ago for a week, but if I could would spend a couple weeks there every year.

I hate it, though, when I tell people that I lived in Vienna and they started asking me about canals and gondolas. Argh.

Anonymous said...

I'll say visit Asheville. Very distinctive city, one of those designated by the Dalai Lama as friendly enough to accept a Tibetan community, lots of yarn, music, Buddhists, has Belle Terre arts festival in summer, walkable downtown, good bookstores, used and otherwise, in and near some of the most beautiful country in the world - Pisgah and Smoky Mountains not an hour away, close to the Appalachian Trail. Just visit.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to put a word in for Philadelphia. I've lived here from birth, with a break or two for college, travel, etc., but I came back because there's nowhere better to live. My neighborhood is Germantown, but West Philly is wonderful, not all chain-stored up, and diverse. Our downtown is manageable (i.e. walkable), our public transit anywhere in the city rocks, and we have real neighborhoods. Also, our 'tude is a mixture of savvy northeast and laid back south, and we are big on history and the average joe. We make good pretzels, we have more green space and wild woods in a town than I've ever seen, and the temperature has been from the 40s to the upper 60s THIS WEEK. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

p.s. Oh, yeah, also, West Philly has a popular Zen place, and we're coco for coco yarn stores...

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the minor detail that one of your best friends from college is in Philly (well, Wayne, but close enuf).

--Amy, who you really need to email :)

Lady Wyvern said...

Franklin , honey.. I am a misplaced Chicagoan. I thought as you did. My husband born and raised there. My daughter returning there in 08 to attend University.
We had occasion to come home recently for a family emergency.
I miss Chicago. Terribly. Horribly. I miss the food, I miss the shopping, I miss the trains, I miss the trash cans blowing past, I miss pace.
I agree it does seem to be all about money at times, the bottom line. Probably why much as I would love to live downtown, we lived near Boystown and we lived near Jeff Park.
Yes, in part it is the gotta move syndrome you grew up with, but trust me. The city pulls you back.

Ditzy Cadet said...

Iowa is a slow death for someone from Chicago, Franklin. I've been to NYC, I preferred Chicago. I am waiting til I return to Chicago in 08 to go to University. I've already scoped out my apt ( on the lakefront ) and cannot wait to get back.
Don't leave Chicago.... the city needs you!

Anonymous said...

Ah: someone else who doesn't know where he wants to live, but knows it's not where he is.

I can identify.

Anonymous said...

Obviously do what you need to do but if you have good friends here, consider moving to another neighborhood or (sometimes not so easy) getting another job. I wish it weren't so but I think the United States is driven by 'the need to own.' Not morally correct but I think it's a true phenomenon. There are huge pockets of people however that don't feel that way. Go if you must--I vote for Sydney--but do check out other neighborhoods. And a different job! (in a different place)

Amy R Singer said...


do not discount the canada! we welcome you!

FiberQat said...

I forgot to mention Woodland Woolworks is an hour away and we have great rodeos at St Paul, Molalla and of course Pendleton.

weaselrina said...

Come to New York!

New York is one of those places, it either gets into your blood or it doesn't, but if it does,its an amazing hometown.

We'd love to have you!

Anonymous said...

Hello Franklin, as I see from the comments I'm among the many to invite you to check out the little corner I've found that has given me peace or at least a better chance at somethime whole. Being a native of the Chicagoland area (just a little farther north in "lovely Lake Geneva" - sacrasm there) I found my every two year itch to move ended when I came here - northern Italy, region of Liguria. Stop by for a visit if you want.

Anonymous said...

From out in the far western suburbs (Naperville), I hear ya'. I don't mind the winters too much, having grown up in Pennsylvania where they were the same as here, but I miss the natural beauty of the northeast. A few years ago I did some research into Eugene, Oregon, and it has what you listed. There are a lot of creative people there, smack dab in the middle of the beautiful Willamette Valley. Worth thinking about.

Alice Twain said...

I have seen acouple of suggestions about Florence. I would not personally live there: too many tourists, too costly (as costly as Rome, though, where I would most certainly live) and overall too provincial (Florentines are convinced that they live in the best place of the best places on earth, and that is sadly untrue, although the city itself is uh... very nice). But I admit that florence has one big knitterly plus.

Anonymous said...

Well this San Franciscan can recommend that town. Sure, winter can be tough - it's in the summer - but there's a great Zen Center (among other things) and hourly flights from Chicago.

Wendy said...

Baltimore would benefit from having you we also have great yarn stores too...)

Anonymous said...

Hi, first time commenter here...I've been reading your blog for a while but, like many popular bloggists, I feel shy at being one of several hundred who comment frequently.

Your comment about the Austrians made me giggle. :)

But why I'm posting is in response to your speculation about moving somewhere. I, too, lived in Illinois for a good chunk of my life, and I understand the desire to leave it.

Otherwise, I agree with what s14 said. San Francisco sounds like it hits every single criteria you listed off. I live in the Bay Area now, and I love it.

Anonymous said...

definitely, Seattle. Lots of LYS, lots. Good art scene, amazingly beautiful, I can't tell you the times I have crested a hill and seen the blue water backed up by snow capped mountains, and literally, had to stop to breath. Plenty of hiking, photography, skiing, kayaking, etc within easy striking distance. And in spite of all the tech money around, people do not seem at all preoccupied with either getting money or showing off the money they have. A very egalitarian city. Great restaurants, too. OH yes, Seattle gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

AUSTIN!!! Take it from someone who quickly escaped NYC and moved to Austin 3 years ago, it is a much better place. But of course you would have to try it on for size first. I recommend a few weeks vacationing here. Hook up with some of us knitters if you get the chance, we have a lovely and fun group. Austin is a beautiful liberal oasis in the middle of a conservative state. Most people in Austin are not natives and Austin is one of the most tolerant and laid back cities I've ever been too. Yeah the traffic sucks--the solution is to live as close to downtown as possible.

Drop a line if you plan on visiting.

Mandy said...

Have you thought of checking out Vancouver? (That's the Canadian Vancouver, not the American one... I know nothing about that one.) All that and beaches, too.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm a Hoosier-turned-Seattleite, and in the match race between Seattle and Portland ... I'd say take Portland if you want a mellower vibe, sane traffic and free downtown public transportation. That's the balance-tipper, IMHO. Seattle traffic can ruin any good mood you woke up with. Option: don't drive a car in Seattle. Take the bus (Metro does a good job) or use Flexcar, the car-sharing program (which also operates in Portland).

Angela said...

Oh, my. I have been here in Chicago for 13 years and it has yet to truly feel like home. (Since college I have lived in Waltham, MA, New York City, Tuscaloosa, AL, Seattle, WA, and New Haven, CT.) I, too, get the itch to move but we are now rooted with grown-up jobs and all the trappings. Where would I live if I could live anywhere? Vancouver, BC. New Orleans also used to be on the short list, but no longer. I also get the itch to move back to NY every now and again, but I have gotten used to having a large home with lots of space. NY would require serious adjustment. I long for the pre-Disneyficated/Giulianied NY anyway. I really miss the east coast where the ocean and another major city is always within a short drive. Good luck on your quest. The wanderer in me cheers you on.

Anonymous said...

Despite whatever anyone says about New York; being a native who's traveled extensively, I have four words––STYLE, DIVERSITY, SOPHISTICATION AND CULTURE. After that, you gotta leave the country.

Anonymous said...

I've been dubbed The Gay Gypsy by friends, so I can completely understand the need to get up and see and experience new places.
Just NOT ogunquit. Really. No.

Molly said...

Kyoto: winters like Chicago, but with paper walls.

Sarah O G said...

You could come live up in the StPaul/Minneapolis area, it has all the requirements except for great weather, but we dont have the wind you have in Chicago and that is a definate bonus. Just wanted to know I love your blog and sketches. I'm planning on getting a canvas bag with "Did you knit that on purpose?" kitty on it very soon. Thanks for being so great.

dw said...

Do it!

I just recently lost an uncle I was quite close to and something I have always known became crystal clear, once again: life is too short to waste. I was living in Ottawa (capital of Canada with short-ish but brutal winters, long disgusting summers, smog, smog, smog and too many f**king people) until just recently. My husband and I took a vacation last summer in the Maritimes (north-east of Maine) and decided to take the plunge and move! I

have never been happier. I can feel my humanity returning, you know? I drive slower, I smile at the people I meet on the street, I look around when I go from one place to the next. I've driven around the Island (we now live in Prince Edward Island) and visited little yarn shops and yarn mills. I've met my neighbours and spent countless hours working in my very own forest. I love cities - honestly, I do - but I think you can become lost and drowned-out there. I'm starting to hear my own inner voice again and I have to say, I wouldn't trade that in for anything.

So, I say - do it! I don't think you'll regret it. Besides, you can always move back if you do regret it.

Anonymous said...

I realize this is post was made quite some time ago but I've only just managed to read it and really feel compelled to de-lurk and leave you a comment.
I can relate to your need to move, having also been raised a military brat. I've managed to put down some roots and keep them there for 8 years now (a huge record for me). I tend to make up for this by finding new jobs. I guess I have to do something... I have also found it much more difficult to make friends away from the military atmosphere. Military bases are full of people that have been taken away from their homes and friends from kindergarden where now it seems that those must be contended with.
I'm sad to hear that Chicago has that general attitude though it should not surprise me based on the people I've met from there.
I feel compelled to point out that Denver didn't make your list and would be worth some consideration should you ever start thinking more seriously about a move. Not only does your friend Jon already live here, but I've enjoyed this location far over and above all others I've lived in. Berlin, Germany makes a very close second simply due to the incredible life experienced I can attribute to the time I lived there. Right, back to Denver. I have found it to be laid back, friendly, and with an excellent selection of yarn stores.
Oh, and there is still plenty of farm land not too far away. You might be able to persuade Dolores to move along. Aspen might be a bit more tempting for her taste though.

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