Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On the plane, from ABQ to BOS

I felt a sad thought with a pricking in my eye, trained on the well-oiled hair of a man across the aisle from me. He might have felt it, too, as he looked up from his memorandum and looked over the heads around him.

After leaving the airport bathroom I called Laura and asked her if I could get a second opinion on something. “Sure,” she said, and I told her it was 10AM here, and would it be too early for a beer? She told me it was 12 o’clock somewhere, and we both paused. “Five, I mean. Oh god, maybe you shouldn’t ask me. I say go for it, though.”

Had it not been for my lingering sinus infection, and the acetamenophin-laced decongestants at Hudson, I would have stopped at the microbrewery’s restaurant. I regretted my week without hugging my mother nearly enough, my car ride to the ABQ that was mostly wordless, as we listened to the CD I made her the night before. Singing along to Josh Groban’s cover of “America”. The last time I’d be able to do that without 20-something guilt, I figured. Listening to music my grandmother would have liked, but not in a cool way. In a Yanni sort of way. Almost worse, in a Josh Groban way. Dear god. I would totally have his babies.

I walked to my crowded gate.
I took the pills and ate some Asian snack mix.
I discovered I had to stop in St. Louis. Again.
I called my dad, who was on a walk.

I can’t wait to call my mom. It’s her birthday. She might think it’s funny I find myself in St. Louis by surprise again. I miss her already.

I’m listening to Christmas music, but I allow it because “O Holy Night” knows no season. That isn’t at all true, but it’s still my favorite. And yeah, it’s Josh Groban. How embarrassing, on so many levels.

But at least my ass isn’t so huge I bump into people’s faces on my way to the airplane toilet.

That was uncharitable. Especially because my ass is probably the hugest it’s ever been, and since I have so much time on my hands I should really work on being a bit healthier, body, soul, mind...anything else I’m missing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where did all the good coffee shops go?

All I wanted to do on this unseasonably warm day was go to some cozy cafe and make French flash cards. I might not get around to it, because, after a few hours of considering where to go, I haven't come up with anything. Nothing at all.

Well, one thing. But Curious Liquids doesn't exist anymore. And frankly, since I've thought of Curious, nothing I've come up with as a possible substitute could come close to what I want, which is to sit in one of the little alcoves in the basement on a yellow antique armchair, nursing a caramel mocha steamer for hours and hours.

I used to do this frequently in high school, as either celebration of the last day before some school break or mourning the impending loss of freedom that would come when my folks saw my report card. I could spend countless hours playing board games, reading British teen magazines, and writing prose in the style of Francesca Lia Block, all the while feeling equal parts grownup, in the know, and Dead Poets Society. And I was well looked after there, too. No matter what the situation, I always felt unbelievably safe. Unbelievable because teenage girls never feel/are safe, ever. There's always something eating at them, or someone out to get them. But everything seems okay in the sunny windows of an old building with pink whipped cream on your lips. Everything.

It isn't quite what I'm looking for now, but no cafe in the metro Boston area compares, not even remotely, to what I'm looking for. Isn't Boston one of the top five coffee centers in the United States? Not that there isn't good coffee here. I would even go so far as to say we have good cafes, but few that are set up such that you'd want to stay, and I'm thinking none that want you to stay for very long.

Cafe Vanille, for instance, is a great cafe and bakery. In the summer, it's a lovely place to hang out outside. Inside, though? Sterile and uncomfortable. Grey and a bit clanky. L'Aroma Cafe has a warmer interior, and is a great place for people-watching on the well-to-do end of Newbury, but the espresso? Bad. And the tables, I swear, are built so that you can't balance any books or papers on them.

What happened to the great pastime of lounging in a[n independant] cafe, getting work done, writing the great American novel, or whatever suits your fancy? I'm wondering if I'm imagining a time when this was what one did from time to time in Boston. Was Curious Liquids (may it rest in peace, and maybe be reborn) the only place in Boston that was ever suitable for this? Did that culture die with that perfect Beacon Hill establishment?

Do I have YET ANOTHER reason to move to Paris?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Yelling cyclist, 24, keys trucks parked in bike lanes.

I wish. The thought occurred to me today as I got rerouted in front of a speeding 18-wheeler on Comm Ave because a Coke delivery truck was making a stop at BU. There was some comfort in thinking I could make Boston a more bike-friendly city by attaching a saw wheel to my right shoulder.

Wait a second: it wouldn't make this place any more bike-friendly than it's ever been. It's tragic, really, that a city as beautiful as Boston can't be enjoyed on a bicycle. It's too stressful. Between drivers that are notorious for doing as they please and defensive pedestrians who won't deign to use the crosswalk (and God, I know, I'm one), a person on a bike in Boston has to be focused so as not to get killed. Even our mayor, while promoting a bike commute as a means of going green and getting fit, got doored by just another driver who didn't take the three seconds necessary to look over her shoulder and see if anyone was approaching. Of course, Hizzoner is an easier target than most people I see on bikes, but it's a sad symbol of the Boston biker's dilemma.

Now hold it: people on bikes are also to blame. Like the defensive pedestrian, many a cyclist has taken a catch-as-catch-can attitude to being on the road. But not all of them. Some people are just DUMB. Too often I see people going against the grain of the traffic, sometimes being bullheaded enough to go the wrong way in the bike lane, which has a picture of a bike going the right way painted on it. Then there are people who blaze through red lights, as if traffic laws didn't apply to them. I was stopped at a red light last week and was told by a smartass freshman that I didn't have to stop. I cannot tell a lie: I flipped him off.

There's no question that the situation would be vastly improved by having bike lanes all over the city, but the truth is that a lot of what makes Boston so charming, its old winding streets, is exactly the reason that those of us on bikes can't enjoy it as we go. There is simply not enough room to add another lane, even if it's only a half of one, on a great many of our most centralized streets. As it is, there are too many one-way streets because we can't fit cars going in two directions. Until we come up with a better solution, we just need to learn to be more conscientious of one another.

Drivers: re-examine your manuals! A bike is supposed to follow the same rules as a car! Bikers, take note: you can't expect folks in cars to be willing to share the road when you ride so aggressively. Please don't give us a bad name. Pedestrians: don't talk to bikers, but listen when we yell "look out!" That should be obvious, but you would be surprised.

And remember: mass biking season is almost over. The wussier bikers out there (such as myself) will be back on the T shortly after first frost.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Suckerpunched by the B Line.

The good news: I started a new job this week! I can now say I work for an organization that I believe in. Today was my third day.

The bad news: It's on Comm Ave., just before Packard's Corner. I live in Roslindale. There are basically two ways to get from Roslindale to Allston. As the crow flies, they are maybe 15 minutes away from each other. On the T, it can range anywhere between 45 minutes to three hours. These feature three (3) of my four (4) least favorite modes of transportation on the MBTA.*

Option A: Take the bus from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills. Take the Orange Line to Copley (or Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, or North Station), and transfer to the B line (1). Take that to Babcock St.
Option B: Take the bus from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills. Take the #39 bus (2) to the Mission Kill section of Mission Hill. Wait under the bridge until the #66 bus (3) comes. Take that to The Very Worst Part of Allston,** and walk 10 minutes in the stifling heat to Babcock St.

As much as the B line tops the list, I decided to take it. After all, it's only slow because it stops every block, right? It still runs more than any other green line train. Right? WRONG.
Day 1 (Tuesday): I was pissed because I was waiting at Park St and it felt like the center of the earth. NO TRAINS CAME FOR 20 MINUTES. Then when they did come, they were the D and E before the B.
Day 2 (yesterday): At BU Central, they decided the train would go non-stop to Harvard Ave. Because we were on BU campus, the ground was covered in the previous night's vomit, and the smell wafted up to all the people crowded on the ghetto platform.
Day 3 (today): Copley station felt like the center of the earth, only this time there were no fans. Trains came as follows: D, C, E, E, D, B. When we got to Kenmore, everyone had to get off the train because nobody really wanted to go direct to Harvard Ave. at 6AM. I actually shed a few tears.

*The other being the #1 bus.
**And I hate all parts of Allston.

Oh, so THIS is what it means to be a waitress.

The bar/restaurant that I work for just started making the night I work karaoke night. Of all the people that work there, I am the only one who had something nice to say about it. That's putting it lightly. I was ecstatic. What greater excuse is there to go to karaoke every week? How cool is it to be the hidden talent of the waitstaff? How much more likely is it that I can drag people to visit me at work?

The guy was taking song requests, too, for when nobody else wanted to sing. I asked him to play "Hello Mary Lou" by Ricky Nelson, and I think he didn't know whether to shit or go blind. And, in his book, he had my signature karaoke song: "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms. My kickball bar and my regular karaoke bar don't, so this was thrilling.

By the end of the night...
I made more money than I did during the NBA playoffs.
My boss kissed me. Twice.*
A customer asked me to be in his band.**

All this time I've been sitting at the hostess desk, eating nachos and reading books. THIS is what waitressing, as I always imagined it, anyway, is all about!

* I could do without this.
** Pretty cool, actually. As his band is not of the Gin Blossoms cover variety, I think he will soon see that he doesn't want me in his band.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My age-old secret.

Remember, I was busting at the seams?

My mother is getting married in 38 days. I am happy for her. I really like Steve. I no longer entertain the idea of my parents ever getting together again. That was done, years and years ago. And, up until now, I've been really positive about this whole situation.

Okay, I've been walking on eggshells around the house, because I got a save-the-date card and really couldn't put it on the fridge. And I got a formal invitation to the wedding, but I couldn't leave it out anywhere. And I'm a bridesmaid, and I can't tell Dad how the dress search is going. And I had to book a flight to New Mexico, but I couldn't talk about the soaring cost of flights to Albuquerque. Not that my dad hasn't been dating someone for a really long time, or that he isn't a grown man who doesn't need to be protected. But I know my dad, and he's nostalgic for their marriage and the way things used to be.

My parents' marriage, as I experienced it, is only 20% of my life, really. I remember my parents talking in the front seat of the car as I slept in the back, my mom chewing watermelon and buttered popcorn jelly beans from Ogunquit. I remember Christmas mornings with Gumby and Pokey, and Irish soda bread with the Sheas, and Talking Heads dance parties, and Ring Around the Rosie. I remember my father's 35th birthday party, the day we got Sammy, training her to shut the door behind herself. I remember the day I asked permission to drink chocolate milk upstairs and instead sitting on my bed, talking about how things were going to change. I remember the feeling of chicken pox forming the day my mom moved out.

To hear my dad talk about it after dinner every now and again, they were the dream team, and very much in love. That's why they married less than a year after they met. That's why it wasn't so big a disappointment for my father to be leaving the Brothers for good. And I came along a few years later, and they were the dream parenting team. Every time we go to Doyle's, we hear the John and Eileen method of taking a kid out to dinner.

It's sad sometimes to hear my dad talk that way. A lot of family and friends tell me he never got over my mom, but I don't think that's true. The way my mom tells it, they sought counseling, and when they were asked to separate "loving each other" from "wanting to stay married". Mom says she said she thought she still loved him, but didn't want to be married to him anymore. She says Dad said the opposite. My dad is kind of in love with being in love, maybe, and forming habits with someone he cares about. I think that's reasonable, and not at all pathetic.

That aside, I haven't been nostalgic for that time of my life since I was eight, maybe. Today I found a picture of me and my parents. It was taken in Torrington, to the side of my grandmother's house on Chelton St. None of us seem to care that anybody might take our picture. We look so candidly happy - and to think all those years I never thought much of it.

So I guess in a way, the closer I get to my mom's wedding date, the more I come close to mourning my parents' marriage. What did Kubler-Ross says about grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance? I'm beginning to think it's been an awfully long period of depression.

I'm glad I have my best friend as my date. Who knows how I'll feel in July.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Your love life will improve if you dreamed of an avocado.

I've stepped outside myself in the last week or so, taking risks I wouldn't have taken in all walks of my life, including those risks that are the result of inactivity, like not returning the phone calls of the HR manager who took a shining to me a month or so ago. Risks aren't always smart, and I'm far too often aware of that, but sometimes they're good.

Taking on an extra source of income, and one that supports one of my passions, at that, is a huge risk. It comes with its benefits. I got to go to an avocado dinner the other night, and it was delicious (I even tasted, but did not bite, three kinds of fish - and ate duck and cactus and avocado ice cream! Risks, all, for a picky eater such as myself)!

What's wrong with an avocado dinner? Dreaming about it a week later, when you're trying to show people from work all the different dishes, and each literal dish sticks to your fingers and the checkered tablecloth, so as you try to gesture to each course, there's a clashing of plates and forks, and ceviche and guacamole spill everywhere, and everybody tries to be nice and pretend it didn't happen, but you can't stop talking about your damned avocados. And what does the dream dictionary say?

Your love life will improve if you dreamed of an avocado.

Clearly, this dream dictionary is a fraud. Why I am I dreaming about people from work, anyway? What do they have to do with avocados, in any sense? Why are the plates sticking to my fingers? Why are they being so polite? Blow up, already!

Why am I looking for an explosion?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back from Paris, and busy again.

I thought I would be less busy when I came home, having been certified to teach English as a foreign language (read: I have my Saturdays back!!). Not so! I'm up to something new! A few somethings, actually.

Remember when I was interviewed by one of my best friends for her MenuPages blog? I'll be writing the odd entry there now - about nine a week, in fact. So check me out there.

I'm looking for any English or French tutoring I can get my grubby paws on. Suggestions? Let me know.

In particular, I need to go back to France without delay. Preferably on a closer to permanent level. Anyone know of a school in France that would help a nice and funny American girl get her EU working papers? Let me know sooner.