Monday, October 01, 2007

Five Questions

Slouching Mom kindly offered to interview me, and she gave me some great questions to answer. So great, actually, that I'm going to answer them all week instead of just today. Here are the questions.


1. You belong to a UU church. One criticism often levelled at Unitarianism is that it is so inclusive (a good thing, IMO) that it loses what defines one religion versus another. In other words, if you believe in everything, isn't that really the same thing as believing in nothing? How would you respond to this criticism?

2. Which of the Democratic candidates running for President is inspiring you lately?

3. Susie is on the cusp of adolescence. Are you ready? Is she ready?

4. Did you ever consider having a third child? Why or why not?

5. You've made no secret of your fondness for Memphis. If you couldn't live in Memphis, what city or town would appeal to you, and why?


I'm going to start with #5 and work forward. Because it's my blog and I get to do whatever I want.


I do love Memphis. Yes, I do. (If, by the way, you ever want to read something that will explain almost perfectly why I love Memphis so much, read the Memphis chapter in the book Big Muddy : Life on the Mississippi Revisited. It captures my love for this city better than anything else I've ever read.)

But there are other cities I love. Or like. Or find intriguing.

The number one city that I'd move to is Kansas City, Missouri.

That's almost cheating, though. Kansas City is the city I know best (besides Memphis). My parents were both born there, and until 2002, my grandmother lived there, in the same house that my mom grew up in. Kansas City was never my hometown (which makes me different from my mom, dad, brother, and all my grandparents), but it's my family's home. Holidays were spent there. The first shopping mall I remember is in Kansas City. I have memories of the Plaza that are stronger than memories of places I lived for years. I haven't been back since my grandmother moved to Michigan in 2002, but I'd love an excuse to go.

Probably because I spent so much time there as a child, Kansas City always felt like home to me. The city itself is well-designed and very pretty. The older houses are truly gorgeous (one of my Irish ancestors was a stonemason there and I've seen some of the buildings he built, which gives me a very distinct feeling of ownership and blood-ties to the city). Artistic districts seem to thrive there and there's lots of good food to be had.

But there's something else. Something about Kansas City that makes it feel like I could move there and not face a major culture shift. Let's consider how similar Kansas City and Memphis really are. They're both border cities, on the very edge of their states, and both have rivers in their city. Each has a sister city (or two, or three) in the bordering state(s) (West Memphis, AR/Olive Branch and Southaven, MS, to Overland Park/Kansas City, KS). They are both, arguably, the #2 cities in their state (Nashville to St. Louis). They're both famous for their barbeque. Each city hosts the headquarters of a religious denomination (COGIC in Memphis, Unity in Kansas City). Both cities also boast some affiliation with professional sports (KC has the Royals and the Chiefs, while Memphis has the Grizzlies).

In size, Kansas City and Memphis are nearly identical, with Memphis encompassing 314 square miles and Kansas City occupying 318. Populations are similar as well. While Memphis proper has a larger population (670,000 vs. 450,000), Kansas City's metro is a little bigger (1,361,000 to 1,260,000). Both are plagued by crime, particularly in the inner core of the city, both have excellent and safe drinking water, and both are experiencing downtown renaissances, with New Urbanism's utopian style deeply influencing both areas.

Both cities also share similar political histories in the first half of the twentieth century. Political machines ran both cities for years, with Kansas City's Pendergast mirroring Memphis's Boss Crump.

See what I mean? Moving from Memphis to Kansas City would be a move to the Midwest, true, so I wouldn't get to hear the lilt of Southern accents, nor would I see the Mississippi Delta topography. I'd still, however, be in a river city of about the same size, with a similar history and similar problems. I'd probably have an easy time finding the neighborhood I'd want to call "home," and I'd learn my way around the city with more ease than a totally strange city, since I've spent, in aggregate, many months there, visiting family. The weather would be similar to what I'm used to (maybe a little colder in the winter, with four distinct seasons), and the ethnic mix is similar.

So if a new Boss Crump ever runs me out of Memphis, I guess you know where to look for me.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's answer regarding my reproductive decisions.

4 comments:

winslow1204 said...

Hmm.. good questions.. as to the (both Republican and Democrat)candidates.. still waiting for them to respond to the questions asked.. :)

Hot Librarian said...

Awesome questions! I look forward to your responses. And interestingly, I live about 2 hours from KC, but am desperately trying to GET AWAY (which is not KC's fault. Love KC. My BFF the Rock Star Librarian lives there. Sorry. Rambling.)

slouching mom said...

Fascinating and thoughtful answer! I'll await the rest. ;)

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