I've never lived in Seattle, though have been there many times -- it seems like a wonderful city, full of funky crazy people and absolutely beautiful geography. I'm not terribly excited about the rainy weather, though something tells me it can't be any worse than the Boston winters, when I always feel cooped up. I really miss getting out to go hiking with the dog or mountain biking during the winter months in New England -- and now that I have a kid it's especially hard to get out when it's well below freezing outside (he has a lot lower tolerance for the winter weather than I do). Rain I can deal with; negative 20 wind chills and a foot and a half of snow are something different altogether.
On finishing grad school at Berkeley in 2002, I had a few faculty job offers, and my wife was looking for residency programs in psychiatry. Our decision came down to two cities: Boston, where I had an offer at Harvard, and Pittsburgh, where I had an offer at CMU. I had lived in Boston for a while during college, so I knew I liked the city. But CMU was a very tempting offer, being a much more highly-ranked CS program than Harvard. My wife and I visited Pittsburgh a couple of times and actually liked it a lot: it was a very friendly place, and the CMU folks went all out to show us a good time. At one point we actually made the decision to move to Pittsburgh but decided to sleep on it. The next day we had to ourselves, without anyone showing us around. The only Mexican place that served "fish tacos" appeared to be Van De Kamp's fish sticks on a tortilla. I could not find a music store that allowed you to browse the CDs without an attendant unlocking a glass case to let you inside. We tried to find a decent shopping mall, hoping they would have a good record store, but found ourselves in the mall where the movie Dawn of the Dead was filmed -- I did not make it more than three paces beyond the door before we realized it was a terrible mistake. I'm sorry, Pittsburgh might be a wonderful city for some people, but it was not for us.
|Monroeville Mall on a typical Sunday afternoon.|
|These gravestones have been here for a while. (From http://www.flickr.com/photos/harvardavenue/66097831/)|
|People were just a little excited. (From http://www.flickr.com/photos/eandjsfilmcrew/412103968/)|
Going out in Boston was a bit more a dressy, formal affair than we were used to in Berkeley. At all but the very highest end restaurants in San Francisco, jeans and a t-shirt were acceptable attire; not so in Boston. On the positive side, Boston has a great foodie scene. At first we were totally lost trying to find good places to eat; Zagat's is useless and Yelp simply reflects the lowest common denominator. At first we were convinced that people in Boston had no idea what real, good Mexican food was -- those greasy platters of "enchiladas" covered in melted cheese that are so popular at hellholes like Casa Romero are not it. Then we discovered Chowhound, and got turned on to a whole world of hole-in-the-wall places serving authentic Mexican and Salvadorean and Sichuan and Cambodian. Unlike Berkeley, where you can swing a dead cat and hit three burrito joints and a place with out-of-this-world sushi, in Boston it takes a bit more digging, but there is great food here.
Some of my best memories of living in Boston...
Walking my dog, Juneau, to work at Harvard every day, stopping at the coffee shop on the way, and taking her to the dog park on the way home for an hour or so of play time with the other dogs.
|Juneau would occasionally help me reviewing papers, too.|
Sitting outside on a warm summer evening, firing up the grill, having friends over for dinner and drinks until late.
Every single fall, feeling the first day of cold air and getting excited for the leaves to start changing.
|This image has not been enhanced.|
Riding my bike along the banks of the Charles River, whizzing by rollerbladers and clueless tourists walking four abreast in the middle of a bike path.
The morning after a big snowstorm, seeing the world transformed and noticing how quiet everything was with the snow on the ground.
|Shoveling is always fun too.|
Late nights out in Boston Chinatown with Gu, drinking beer and eating Korean food.
Watching the sun rise out of the window of Mount Auburn hospital on a hot July day a couple of hours before my son was born.
|I was a dad not long after this picture was taken.|