Monday, April 30, 2007

Any Pessimists I Don't Talk to Them

It's official. I have a new apartment.

I'm really excited, but also nervous. I got my first paycheck from my new job today, and while I missed one work day in the pay cycle, the check was only $30 more than my last job. This number gave me a bit of a heart attack when I sat down and saw that I had about $500 left after paying the deposits to pay the movers, pay my gym dues (even though I have no plans to use the gym I belong to anymore, but didn't get over to my club fast enough to cancel or at least suspend my membership), buy my T pass, and live for the next two weeks. This is a temporary hiccup, I know, but it brings back that tight money sensation again. I don't want to feel that way. I figure I'll keep a low-profile after this week's insanity and hopefully can manage to stretch my remaining cash out for a while. (Thankfully, everything I've done for the past few weeks was done with cash, so I didn't wrack up any more debt.)

But I have to give myself some credit. For the first time, I didn't have to go to my Mom for a deposit loan. For the first time, I make enough money for the realtor to not require my Mom cosign my lease. And my new place is really nice. I got to this place after the fire, so it's been completely remodeled. When I walked in today, I saw the new hardwood floors gleaming in the late-day sun. There are three big windows that let in a lot of light. I'm a couple of floors up, not in a basement. I have two closets, one big, one small. The kitchen is small, but gorgeous. The sink has a garbage disposal. The range is gas and a real stove, not a studio-sized dollhouse stove. My bathroom has a tub and a new light fixture that hopefully won't catch on fire. There's even a carbon monoxide detector. I have a counter to set my KitchenAid on (if I can ever get it back from my Mom). It was around 6:30 when I got there to sign my lease, and aside from the yelling of a cleaning lady's kids, I didn't hear anything. No banging bass, no parties, no street noise. Just a quiet fortress of solitude that's all mine. I hope it stays this way, because I want my place to be somewhere I want to be, no matter how small or expensive it may be. I'm willing to forsake sushi once in a while to afford quiet and safety.

And, after six years, I'm leaving the Green Line. Not entirely-- many of my good peeps live in the Green, so I'll be back-- but the nearest subway stops to me are Red Line stops. It's going to be an adjustment for me. I'm used to hopping on the C-line for a couple stops to get somewhere else instead of walking half a mile. There are a ton of buses that will get me around, but I think the other side of the river involves a lot more footwork. But all the things I love about Brookline and Brighton-- the familial feel, the cute restaurants, dog parks-- are all in my new neighborhood. Once I get used to the toilets flushing the other way on the other side of the river, I think I'll be happy there.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Comin' to America

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Don't be so quick to walk away!

In 1999, I went to London for the first time. It was my first taste of freedom since summer camp in second grade, and I relished the trip. Before we left, my friend S told me about a great place called Boots.

"Like, they sell shoes?" I asked.

"No," she replied, "they sell really great cosmetics and toothpaste."

I laughed at my friend who was running off to England of all places on the planet to buy toothpaste, but once I saw Boots, I was in love. It's England's version of CVS, but with their own renowned line of cosmetics. In 1999 I didn't know eyeshadow from lipliner, but I bought some face wash that I ended up loving. When I went back a few years later, I loaded up on stuff again, and used all of it. I have the propensity to buy a product that promises me eternal wrinkeless beauty, to eliminate all odors from me and replace them with a nice scent, to keep my hair shiny and red, to moisturize, to dry out, to solve all my problems. After a few weeks of my life remaining largely the same, I get bored of said product and buy another. So when I use all of something, it's true love.

I'd heard rumors about Boots coming to America at various times, but I never saw anything come of it. Until I went to Target the last time I was in Rhode Island, and while wandering through the cosmetics aisle, I found my beloved. A whole display of Boots products on my native soil. Body butter! Face wash! Hand cream! Organic! Made with oils and plants! Oh my God, it's Boots! When I got home and emailed my friend S to tell her the glorious news, but she'd already known and assumed I'd known. Dang.

Since it was nearly Easter, I bought my mom a trial-sized kit of citrusy-basil-scented stuff and I bought myself a clay mask for about $9 that was similar to one I'd bought at Origins for $20. My Mom is more of a flowery-scent woman, but I tried the body butter and loved it. The face mask was great. I vowed I would return for more of the wonderful products once I moved.

However, this weekend found me in the Ocean State to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of my brother's arrival on planet Earth by gambling (he won $30, I lost $30), and as is my usual practice when at home, I ran outside to get the Sunday paper. I threw the actual news sections on my Mom's chair, then dove into the circulars. Some weekends, the paper Gods are cruel and do not supply a Target ad. However, this weekend they delivered. On page four, I found the best news I've heard for a while. Boots was on sale.

"Moooooommm!" I yelled out. "We're goin' to Taaarget!"

When I go to Target by myself, I've taken to not getting a wagon to put my things in. I don't even grab a hand-basket. I know that I'm powerless to resist packaged crap, and if I have to actually juggle what I'm holding it makes it much easier to not buy things. When I go to Target with my Mom, she uses the cart to steady herself when she gets tired from hiking the store, so I end up tossing things into the wagon and end up with sticker shock once I get to the cashier. I started out in rare form. I tossed a pair of huge Jackie-O sunglasses into the cart, but after that I didn't even walk through the clothing section. The toy section didn't have any good gifts for the kids' birthdays, so I didn't get into trouble there. Once I got to the cosmetics section, my restraint was gone. I crouched low, surveying the Boots display. I immediately picked up a full-size body butter since my skin's been dry all week. I sniffed a minty body scrub and put it in the cart. I debated hand cream versus foot cream. I smeared a dab of face cream on. I grabbed tubes of lipstick, then put them back. I grabbed a stick of concealer similar to one I've been debating from Sephora, but for a third of the price. My mother looked on in horror.

"It's Target," I said, dazed, "with Boots. I am so happy."

I grabbed a couple more cosmetics things I'd needed or wanted, tossed a can of spray-on sunscreen in SPF 45 into the cart (fuck you, sunburn) and lined up my finds on the belt. For a bag and a half of stuff, I spent $83. At least it won't bog down my movers too much.

"What did you buy?" My Mom asked incredulously. Her total came to $92, but she had three bags.

So, really, I have no point here. Boots is awesome and I'm not sorry I spent a third of my moving budget on their products. At least I had a mini-financial freak-out on my way to Marshalls and didn't buy anything there.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Record Company's Gonna Give Me Lots of Money

Astute readers may notice that I've added ads to this page. I figure if the twelve people who read this page can make me some money, that's just gravy. But please don't fear that my hysterical ranting is going to be swayed by Al Gore or Mac repairpeople. Oh no. This chick isn't for sale.

Unless Sallie Mae wants to forgive my debt or Mac wants to donate a pimped-out laptop to the pasquinade coiffers. Then I'm selling out like my last name is Damon.

Road Tested

As a kid, I never got to enjoy the ice cream truck. Since there were all of six kids in a ten-mile radius, it didn't make good business sense to service our ice-cream novelty needs by automobile. I would relish going to a friend's house in Norwich, Connecticut because she lived in a more suburban area and the ice cream truck would play its jaunty tune, and I'd swear the Rocket Pops from the ice cream truck tasted better than the ones my Mom bought at Stop and Shop.

When I started my new job, no fewer than ten people told me about the Trucks. My first-day orientation had new hires discussing the Trucks and their awesomeness. Apparently, these food trucks, like the ones at construction sites, come into Kendall Square and serve amazing food at equally amazing prices. I imagined that these people's attitude was swayed by the price of this food, and they maybe ignored the hairs, bugs, and undercooked bits.

Yesterday I was craving a walk and didn't pack my lunch, so I decided to venture to the Trucks. There were about four trucks lined up, each offering different food. One was a Chinese/Thai truck. Another beat-up truck sold Mexican food. There was a Middle-Eastern truck selling falafel and kebabs. There was a sparsely-visited sandwich truck. I hopped into the long line at the Chinese/Thai truck and waited to decide on my meal once I got close enough to read the menu.

I chose veggie pad thai for the low low price of $3.50. American. The lady handed me a styrofoam box and a fork, and I made my way to a bench. When I opened the box, I was pleasantly surprised. A huge portion of noodles sat on one half, with a mixture of thin carrot strips, lettuce, and sprouts on the other side. I mixed them together and dug in.

It was really good! Truck food! I stuffed myself on the thin noodles, crunchy peanuts and well-prepared tofu. I have a love-hate relationship with tofu. When I cook it, it's the nasty, gelatinous mess that most meat-eaters imagine. When someone who's used to the mystery curd prepares it, it's just like chicken. In my veggie pad thai, it was wonderful. Crumbled up, it was a pleasantly soy-ish flavor that didn't scream "healthy."

I just ate the other half of my food, so I basically spent $1.50 for lunch yesterday and today. The noodles were equally delicious cold (I can't seem to find any bowls or plates for reheating purposes). I think I may continue to line up with the students and science-minded folks to get my lunch on the cheap. Even though they don't play the jaunty tunes that ice cream trucks do, the food trucks make me just as happy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just For One Day

One day, a particularly gruesome indictment of the war is going to give me a heart attack as I get ready in the morning while listening to NPR. While not related to the war, I saw the first five minutes of a Frontline report on global warming and how the Bush administration pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, which, according to one expert, was the equivalent of "flipping the bird" to the international community. This morning, I was treated to audio clips of testimony given at a House committee about the death of Pat Tillman. One item of note, which I cannot for the life of me find online, is the tidbit that the Army held off on rescuing Jessica Lynch (who testified about the culture of lying that's rampant in this administration's war) because they needed to tape her rescue. Yes, the Army wanted to be viewed as the saviors of a cute blonde girl who shot bullets at everything that moved but was still caught, when in fact she didn't fire a shot. So they let this girl remain a POW for an extra day for some good PR? Nice.

I have said it a million times, but it remains true. The sacrifices that soldiers and their families make are worth more than this. People who volunteer to go to a foreign country and fight for some obscure goal deserve to keep their dignity. If he or she should die while serving, the government owes their families, as well as the rest of America, the truth. Especially if it was a case of friendly fire, which is what killed Pat Tillman.

I think Jessica Lynch summed it up quite nicely:

"The American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate lies."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are (To Drink Coke)?

I love American Idol, sometimes. It all depends on the season and contestants. Season One found me getting drunk with my senior-year roommates and rooting for Kelly Clarkson. Season Two found me not that interested. Basically, I'd casually watch until last season, where I found myself captivated with the singing-phallus-stylings of one Chris Daughtry. This season, I haven't really cared. I watched the god-awful auditions, I watched as children and histrionic adults had their dreams crushed, I was glad when Sanjaya got the boot, and then I stopped caring.

Tonight, however, was Idol Gives Back, which is a publicity stunt to raise money for various vaguely-explained charities. The idea is that people call and vote and News Corp. (read: Fox News) will donate $.10 per vote call toward these charities. Which begs the question that perhaps Fox News could just promise to stop being douchebags as a way to heal the world, but whatever. Tonight involved the remaining six contestants singing "inspirational" songs between video packages of Ryan Seacrest embracing people while wearing "grungy" clothes valued at more than the GDP of the countries or communities he visited. Simon Cowell threatened to ward off malaria with his man-teats. Paula Abdul smiled nicely. Randy Jackson said "dawg" to people in New Orleans.

I sound like a horrible Scrooge, I know. But American Idol is an orgy of consumerism, which I've accepted. A bunch of guys named Nigel make a gazillion dollars by exploiting the dreams of attractive young people who are strung out on Coke, careening around in various Ford models, text-messaging their loved ones on AT&T/Cingular phones, only to pause once weekly to scream at me on my TV. I tune all that out to enjoy snarking on contestants with my friends and occasionally liking someone who comes out of the show. In all honesty, I'd hoped Kelly Clarkson would be on tonight, but she won't be on until tomorrow's result show. (Her new song? Awesome. She can keep making breakup songs until the end of time and I will keep buying them. Fucking Guarini.) I do not, however, associate American Idol with philanthropy. While I appreciate the effort to raise awareness of the horrible conditions in many African countries and how many people starve in America, I do not appreciate hearing "Download a Ford commercial and the babies won't die." I'm paraphrasing, but not by much. "Be sure you thank your corporate overlord, News Corp., for single-handedly saving the little black babies in Africa."

If American Idol wanted to convince me they were serious about philanthropy, they should have taken down the Coke logos, stopped the Ford commercials, and not talked about Cingular text messaging for the hour. Instead, they should have done an actual telethon. Bring out people we want to hear sing (CLARKSON!!), have the contestants sing, and have America pony up some actual dough to help people. Clearly, Americans can mobilize their wallets when assuaged by horrific circumstances. During 9/11, the tsunami in Indonesia, and Hurricane Katrina, Americans donated millions of their private money to help people. We don't need Fox News to donate a relatively paltry $5 million to help illiterate kids in Kentucky get books. The Idol-viewing audience needs to sack up, part with some damn money, and actually do something good for someone. One night of corporate donations for actions people already do won't save the world. Teaching viewers to take the time to stop and think about those who are less fortunate will.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Will Smith Don't Need to Cuss to Sell Records

Oh journalism.

Prominent U.S. hip-hop executive Russell Simmons on Monday recommended eliminating the words "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" from the recording industry, considering them "extreme curse words."...

Ho is slang for whore and commonly used in hip-hop music while nigger, a derogatory term for blacks, is among the most highly charged insults in American culture. The slur "nappy," used by Imus, describes the tightly curled hair of many African Americans.

Really? Do we need the refresher course on what these slurs mean? My grandmother doesn't read Yahoo! news, but I'm pretty sure even she knows what ho, n-gger, and nappy mean. All the fifth graders that had been blissfully unaware of what those words mean now know.

Words are powerful things. I think that people forget that in this era of text messaging and run-on emails. The FCC rides the ass of every entertainment industry to keep every "bad word" under wraps, no matter what the context. Do I think Blue's Clues should be riddled with swears? No. But I think that artists should have the ability to curse a blue streak if they want to. I guess Russel Simmons does too, as the ban is voluntary, but Jay-Z isn't Jay-Z without some language. People don't talk with "goshdangits" in 2007. As we liberals generally say, if you don't like the content, turn off the radio, television, computer, channel, CD, iPod, etc.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Even My Sweat Smells Clean

I am tired. Not in the typical twenty-something sense of tired, that "oh, I worked all day and now I'm just going to watch TV" tired, but in the ageless, yet childlike, "I have not stopped moving for twelve hours and am going to pass out in my applesauce, thanks" tired. Replace "applesauce" with "verde sauce on my enchiladas" and that's me right now.

I slept in after going to bed early last night, then took a quick shower, ate a bagel, and met some friends at the Reservoir for a walk. People did laps around us by running, but it was nice to just stroll along. A bat flew overhead, kind of freaking us out since it was broad daylight. We saw a family of turtles playing in the water. Extremely large dead fish floated at near the shore. I stuck my arms out in front of me, begging for a tan.

After doing a couple laps around the Reservoir, we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts to get some drinks and their new tater-tots (delicious!) and walked to Dean Park for a while. Kids waved to us as their parents strolled them home. We cooed at puppies who sniffed around our bench. Eventually, I had to leave to babysit, but my friends and I promised to dine al fresco for dinner. On my way out of the park, I ran into Marianne.

"You're looking a little sunburned there," she said, pulling aside my straps. I shrugged it off and found my charges at home in their backyard. I was supposed to have Boy work on an art project, but he begged me to let him play with my blue mini-football for an hour. We went to a playground with a basketball and mini-football. Eldest's best friend was riding around on her scooter, so they ran off to play together. Baby, Boy, and I tossed the football around (Boy has a great arm for a kid who's thrown a football twice, Baby tried her best to catch my shovel passes). I ran around to catch the football, but the real work started when we played "basketball." Boy is too short to make baskets, but he's pretty good at dribbling. The only times I got the ball away from him was when he'd let the ball bounce too high while moving along. Then I'd grab it, amazed by how quickly I remembered how to pass the ball between my hands, how my body remembered how to twist and change course suddenly. Granted, I was outmanuvering a seven-year-old, but it felt good to have my muscles working. I felt the strength in my legs as I pounded over the pavement, kind of showing off for a hot guy I hoped knew the kids aren't mine, watching with pride when Boy managed to dribble the ball between his legs for the first time.

We packed it in after an hour or so, then finally did some work on the art project. After getting the kids cleaned off, I left to meet my friends for dinner. A few minutes before we were supposed to meet, they called to say they were on the same train a couple of stops away. Instead of making them get off the train, I booked it down the road. I'm not much of a runner, but I'm a good sprinter. Between my speed and a lucky break in traffic, I made the train. I had my first glass of warm-weather sangria at Sol Azteca today. I walked most of the way back from St. Mary's street, stopping to buy a magazine and a book. My skin is bright pink. I'm tired and I think I have heartburn. But I haven't felt this physically tired since I was hiking all over Italy, and I'm glad to have that kid-tired feeling again. Just in time for an 80-degree Monday. Swell.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh Why Oh Why Would I Want to be Anywhere Else?

There is something amazing about Boston on a warm spring day. Something about the way that Boston (and I'm sure other New England cities) embrace the sudden warmth with determination. We're going outside, dammit, we're going to wear as little clothing as possible in weather that probably doesn't call for miniskirts, and we are going to enjoy ourselves. Today found me getting up earlier than I may have liked to get a Zipcar and check out an apartment. (I put in an application-- keep your fingers crossed.) I drove along, XM radio blaring everything from REO Speedwagon to Tori Amos' new song "Big Wheel." (I like it, though nothing will ever be Little Earthquakes, maybe because I will never be thirteen again.) Sitting in a sunny patch of Amy's living room, watching a Sox/Yankees game with a warm breeze blowing across my skin. While I hate the cold winds, the rain that seems to soak under the skin, there is nothing sweeter than the first really warm day where the sun hits your face hard and the whole world seems to thaw.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

We Think We've Come So Far

I've been out of the loop this week. Between living in a house with about three channels that come in and starting my new job, my ability to keep abreast of every new development in the shootings in Virginia and the sinking Russian submarine in Providence is limited. However, news of the 5-4 upholding of the partial birth abortion ban crept onto my radar screen this morning, making my blood boil.

Some choice quotes from the justices' decision:

The court did not explicitly overturn any of its precedents, although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the four dissenters, said the decision was “so at odds with our jurisprudence” that it “should not have staying power.” Justice Ginsburg called the decision “alarming” and said the majority’s “hostility” to the right to abortion was “not concealed.”...

In describing the federal law’s justifications, Justice Kennedy said that banning the procedure was in fact good for women, protecting them against terminating their pregnancies by a method they might not fully understand in advance and would come to regret later.

“Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” he said, adding: “It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form.”

Boiling. My blood could send you to the hospital if it touched your skin after I read that. Hey, Justice Kennedy? Dude? Let me drop some knowledge on you. You're a dude. First of all, you don't know how a mother feels, or how a woman who has had an abortion feels because you will never be a mother, nor will you ever have to decide to have an abortion. You've never been fifteen, sixteen, eighteen years old and had to debate aborting a fetus because you can't imagine what your parents will to do you if they find out you're pregnant. You'll never have to deal with going to school pregnant, having everybody talk about what a slut you are because you were the poor girl whose boyfriend's condom broke. You personally will never have to deal with the guilt that may or may not plague you for the rest of your life, even if you decide abortion is the right choice. You will never know these feelings, so shut the fuck up.

You know who does know these feelings? Women. Women who are smart enough to figure out their own moral code and decide with their doctor whether or not they're comfortable with a late-term (or any-term) abortion. As you so vividly describe in your disgusting attempt to sway the public discourse away from pro-choice groups, a late term abortion is a violent act. Personally, I wouldn't have one done. But that's my choice. I took the facts, thought about them with my equally-powerful lady-brain, and made a choice I fully understand. What year is this? How dare you tell women that they're too stupid to decide whether they want an abortion? How is that appropriate for discussion in a judicial opinion?

I'll let Justice Ginsberg take it from here:

Justice Ginsburg objected vehemently that “this way of thinking reflects ancient notions of women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

She cited century-old Supreme Court cases that upheld a paternalistic view of women’s place in society and contrasted those with more recent cases, including one she successfully argued to the court in 1977 and one in which she wrote the majority opinion in 1996, that rejected “archaic and overbroad generalizations” and assumptions about women’s inherent dependency.

This is why I'm not a Supreme Court justice. My objection would read "Justice Kennedy is too busy jerking off to the idea of all these loose women running around to actually do his job, so instead he elects to use one of the three branches of government as her personal bully pulpit. What a douche. History, I did my best with these assholes. Somebody please help me. Fucking Reagan."

I get so angry when I read things like this, these blatant examples of sexist thought that run so deep in our culture. This guy can come out and call women stupid in a judicial opinion in 2007? And women aren't tossing burning bras into Justice Kennedy's hydrangea bushes? Men, this is why women are still bitching about equal rights: We don't have them yet. And it's hard for you to understand why having the choice is so important to us since nobody tells you what to do with your penis. We're in dark times, ladies. If we're not careful, this is the beginning of the end of our right to abortion. You've been warned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Staring So Long at These Pictures

I do not work in the Back Bay anymore.

My commute isn't much longer at my new job, maybe ten minutes, but I approach it much differently now. I have to leave the house about half an hour earlier to arrive at work on time, so the T is far less crowded. Today, I was standing up near an advertisement for an AIDS walk, listening to Year Zero (SO GOOD) and examining the ad. It was a group of people walking in a past walk, and I couldn't tell if they'd been photoshopped together or if it was just a group shot of walkers. Some people seemed to be talking to or pointing at people who weren't visible in the ad, and it just looked off. As I kept looking, my eyes popped. Was I seeing what I thought I was?

In the photograph, there's a picture of a man, walking alone, holding a flesh-colored dildo. I stared at it, convinced it wasn't possible that he'd actually been walking in an AIDS walk holding a sex toy. I know that the myriad walks are supposed to be fun ways to raise money for serious causes, but carrying a dildo seems to be a bit overboard. Did nobody else look at this picture before posting in in public? Did some bitter volunteer Photoshop a phallus in this guy's hand? Or am I just a sick creep? I wish I had photographic evidence of this sign, but I only had my shoddy cameraphone on me. I think wanting to photograph the penis in the photograph is perhaps even sicker than possibly imagining it.

On my way back to the T in the evening, I walked by a construction sign. It read
"Mass Ave Bridge
closed Sunday

Huh, I thought. How weird is that? Why haven't I heard anything about this? Must have been preempted by the shooting news in Virginia.

"This sign
has be
en hack

Heh. Nobody in Back Bay is smart enough to hack a construction sign. I am out of my element.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Figure It Out

I love the marathon. Every year, I go out and cheer on the runners as they chase their own goals. I like the silly shirts and bunny ears.

I do not, however, enjoy the marathoners in my city.

This weekend featured me taking the T a lot. On Saturday, there was some welcoming party or something for the marathoners, because around 6pm on Saturday, the T was mobbed with people with little body fat and a lot of energy. Which, hey, is great for them, but you can always tell a serious runner. They have a crazy, frenetic gaze. It seems like they're mentally gauging whether they could run faster than you. Some of them seem to silently judge those who would rather drive 26.2 miles. And, on Saturday, they had bags of runner's swag.

If one more person in a BAA hat rode the T like a baby just out of the womb, I was going to lose it. It was the unholy union of marathon tourists and baseball tourists on the Green Line made for a molasses-slow commute to the North End. One woman stood in the way of the door while leaning on the pole. The entire pole. Aren't these people elite athletes? Shouldn't they be able to stand on their own power for half an hour? When the woman seperated herself from the pole for a moment, another woman grabbed the bar. The running woman went back to leaning, and smooshed the woman's hand.

"Oh, I didn't mean to squish your hand!" Runner said.

"Mmm-hm," the woman said, not moving. Finally, Runner got the hint and just held on with one hand.

Of course, it wasn't much better in the North End. A friend of mine lives there, and was not amused with the Globe's coy story about how the North End is trying to lure tourists "back" after the Big Dig had the North End isolated for ten years. Hey, Boston Globe-- the tourists sure as hell know where the North End is. They gawk, stop short to look at a menu, walk four abreast along Hanover Street's narrow sidewalks, stand dumbfounded at the chaos of Mike's Pastry. I appreciate the money tourists bring to Boston's economy and the businesses they keep open, but can we please give them a refresher course on the fragile social contract that keeps our fine city moving? Next year, I'll totally pay to have a run of pamphlets made up that describes the pillars of T-riding (step away from the doors, don't lean against people's means of support, give seats to old and young people, if it's crowded start inching closer to the doors a couple stops ahead of your destination, etc). I'm also going to start contributing my signature to the list of people who think Hanover Street should be a pedestrian-only road during the summer so the tourists have room to gawk and the rest of us can get stuff done.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stormy Weather

Dear Channel 7's 7-day forecast,

Go die in a fire.

Piss off,

This shit ain't right. I have a four-day weekend this weekend. I start my new gig on Tuesday. Marathon Monday is my favorite holiday of the whole year. Seriously. No need to buy expensive gifts, no cards, no sense of familial duty, no religious connotations. Just a reason to have a day out of the office on a fledgling spring day, the ability to watch a Sox day game in the comfort of your own home (or Local), a reason to start drinking at 10am, the putt-putt-putt-putt of helicopters hovering over Beacon Street, the cheering of little kids and psyched adults as the first wheelchair racer comes by, then the elite male runners, then the elite females, then the droves of regular joes running for charity or their own goals, with marriage proposals scrawled across their arms, pushing through muscle cramps and bleeding nipples, the crowd cheering them to keep moving, keep going.

But no. This year, many of the regular-guy runners will just decide to stay home and watch the Sox since it's going to be about 40 degrees and rainy. Many of the spectators will just stay inside and root the runners on from their couches. The fun, as-close-to-Mardi-Gras-as-Boston-gets atmosphere will be dimmed. All the winter we missed in December has been tacked onto the end of April. When I need the sun on my shoulders most, Ma Nature decides to have the rain come down. What if the Sox get rained out? What will I do all day? It's not as fun to get drunk to Ellen or reruns of the Cosby Show. I guess I'll just hunker down in my friend's covered stoop and watch the miserable marathoners slog down Beacon Street along a sparsely populated route.

Whatever. I'm still going to enjoy my little break. Friday I am going to babysit and get my hair cut. Saturday, I am going to sleep in, sit on my fat ass and watch Phantom Gourmet (Am I the only one who has a deep, disturbing crush on Dave Andleman?), bake some complicated strawberry cupcakes, dye my hair, and go out to dinner. Sunday, I'm staying at a fancy-pants hotel downtown to give myself a relatively inexpensive change of scene. Monday, despite Mother Nature's best attempts, I am going to watch the Marathon. I will stand in the freezing rain in my big ugly winter coat I swore I'd not wear again until late 2007, beer in hand, yelling my fool head off for the dedicated and crazy souls who still come out to run. It's the least I can do for them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh So Pretty

I've had a lot of good fortune in the genetic lottery. I got my Dad's height and knack for not gaining weight easily (largely because I'm lacking a sweet tooth). I've got intelligence from both sides. Aside from missing out on my Mom's boob gene, I've done well. And, during my teenage years, I hardly had acne.

I was one of those lucky teenagers. While everyone around me poured everything short of turpentine on their faces in an attempt to stop the dread red bumps, I bemoaned the occasional behemoth zit that would erupt on my nose. But once I knocked it down with some mild face cleanser, my skin was back to normal.

While most of my peers have seen their acne abate, mine has gotten worse. When I started my job out of college, my skin flared up. I don't know whether it was the new sedentary lifestyle, my poor food choices, or just the stress of paying the bills on my own that did it, but I had acne to beat the band at twenty-two. Along the sides of my face, on my chin, just about everywhere. The pimples were bad enough, but my skin is nearly translucent, so they'd leave scars once they went away. To this day, I have scars on the sides of my face from pimples I had four years ago.

Recently, I've started breaking out on my chin. I try to remind myself to not sit like the Thinker, to wash my face thoroughly twice a day, and to wash my hands often to keep rouge bacteria off my face when I inevitably end up sitting with my chin in my hand. It was not fun to go on job interviews with my face all broken out. While I was home with my Mom, we watched a Proactiv presentation on TV. I will follow Kelly Clarkson to the ends of the earth, such is the power of my love, but watching "normal" people talk about how their acne and acne scars cleared up almost convinced me. My Mom, who is in her fifties (er, 30s?) still breaks out, and we both thought about ordering a trial kit, but didn't.

The Easter bunny apparently heard my plea, as I found a small travel kit of Proactiv on my dining room table. Since a zit had cropped up on my chin sometime on Saturday, I gave it a whirl. I washed my face with the cleanser. It stung a little, but I figured that was the medicine doing its work. I used the toner, the moisturizer, and went to Easter dinner. When I got back to Boston, I did the routine again. The face wash felt like liquid sandpaper entering my pores. I noticed my face was becoming rough and bumpy, especially on my cheeks. My zit had gone down remarkably fast but the rest of my face looked unusually ruddy.

The next morning, my face was still red and rough. I used my normal Neutrogena face wash and combined it with the Proactiv toner and my regular day moisturizer (with SPF 15 to keep me looking young). All day, my face wash flushed and red like I had a fever. I haven't used any of the Proactiv stuff since Monday night and my skin's texture is still off and my face is a little redder than usual. But, on the plus side, my acne scars did go down a little.

I think once my skin returns to its regular state, I may try the toner on its own to see what happens. I had a roommate who had the Proactiv mask which I used without incident, but that was back in my acne-riddled days. And I'll probably keep the small vials of liquid sandpaper around in case I have a troublesome spot again. But for my sensitive skincare buck, I'm sticking with Neutrogena.

Tomorrow, I'll review my tampon preferences in excruciating detail. (No, not really. Come back!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Logic University

Well, this is pretty interesting. (Thanks to CO for the tip.)

Regent University School of Law, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to provide "Christian leadership to change the world," has worked hard in its two-decade history to upgrade its reputation, fighting past years when a majority of its graduates couldn't pass the bar exam and leading up to recent victories over Ivy League teams in national law student competitions.

But even in its darker days, Regent has had no better friend than the Bush administration. Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website. ...

"It used to be that high-level DOJ jobs were generally reserved for the best of the legal profession," wrote a contributor to The New Republic website . ". . . That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the DOJ." ....

In a recent Regent law school newsletter, a 2004 graduate described being interviewed for a job as a trial attorney at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in October 2003. Asked to name the Supreme Court decision from the past 20 years with which he most disagreed, he cited Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling striking down a law against sodomy because it violated gay people's civil rights.

"When one of the interviewers agreed and said that decision in Lawrence was 'maddening,' I knew I correctly answered the question," wrote the Regent graduate . The administration hired him for the Civil Rights Division's housing section -- the only employment offer he received after graduation, he said.

First of all, Pat Robertson has a university? He started a university? Pat Robertson? I could see him opening a trade school in ripping off religious little old ladies, but an actual four-year degree university? Fascinating.

Once I get some money (I don't know how I'd do this since I am not down with taking money from old people to line my own pockets) I am going to start my own university, Logic University. In this school, it will be required that each class open with the ceremonial shotgunning of beer, followed by a cleansing belch. Logic U will teach students to apply logic to tricky moral and political issues so that everyone feels included in America, not just white conservative Christian males. Graduates of Logic U will work for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and various political campaigns.

Because if a "sketchy" law school has graduates working in the upper echelons of the Department of Justice, why shouldn't Logic University work its connections as well? All I need is one prominently placed alum of Logic U to change the laws on hiring to get my students into powerful positions in the government. Maybe Logic U will grant Barack Obama an honorary degree to curry his favor.

I know that a certain degree of favoring is going to happen in any administration, Democratic or Republican. Of course if Hillary or Barack become President (God, please) they're not going to staff their cabinets with Pat Robertson's graduates. It's the fact that the Bush administration is choosing less qualified candidates only because of their fundamentalist views that creeps me out. These people get hired because they disapprove of antiquated sodomy laws being struck down, not because they're well-versed in law.

We live in dark, dark times, people. Sanjaya is the least of our problems.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Make Me Somewhere I Can Call a Home

If I see a ham again anytime soon, I am going to vomit. Seriously.

I don't want to make this blog a personal version of Angie's List, but I need help. In a couple of months, I'm going to have to move out of my free living arrangement. It's been great, and viewing the balance in my savings account has actually become somewhat pleasurable lately, but I want to have a space of my own again. A place to hang all my clothes up, get my books out of their boxes, listen to music with profanity, and talk loudly on the phone again. And cook at any and all hours of the night.

I've been perusing Craigslist, just checking to see what's out there. I've seen some places that may have potential, but I'm hesitant to just pick any realtor, especially if they charge a full fee. I got screwed on that deal last time and I don't want to pay a month's rent to get lied to again.

So, good readers, I'd like to hear of any good realtors you've used. I'm looking to be primarily in the Somerville/Cambridge/Southie area, but would also consider my haunts of Brookline/Brighton and possibly Eastie. I'm probably going to be in the market for a studio. I'd ideally not pay a fee, but for the right place I'm willing to suck it up. Conversely, if you've had any bad realtors, let me know about them too.

I promise I'll write something funny one of these days.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Huggin', Touchin', Squeezin'

This is the most awesome thing I've ever seen on YouTube.

Love-crazed groupies! Represented by a pair of glorious gams attached to a heart. Shifty-eyed promoters! Run, Journey! Run for your 4-byte life! Live to rock another day!

I must have this video game.

I am so glad it is Friday. Tonight the girls and I are going dancing, and I'll get to see my grandmother on Easter for the first time since January. I'm also going to dream big and hope that the Easter Bunny brings me some Cadbury eggs.

And, in case you're keeping track, so far Barack Obama is my favorite presidential candidate. I just finished The Audacity of Hope and I'm encouraged that the man can write. He seems rational and measured in his actions. Which would be a nice change of pace, Bush administration.

Keep it holy this weekend, y'all.


Come on.

Michelle Hastings admits she's sometimes cheated to get through a game of Candy Land with her 5-year-old daughter, Campbell. The board game can take just too long, she said. Disney Monopoly is another big offender.
"A game like that, it could literally take you days," said Hastings, of Holliston, Mass. "A lot of times, you don't play games because they take so long."

Candy Land takes days? Maybe I'm not playing Candy Land correctly, but I think the longest game of Candy Land I've ever played took all of fifteen minutes. (This lady may not be totally with it since she named her kids "Campbell" and "Peyton.") Candy Land is designed for really young kids. You're doing something wrong if it takes days to complete a round of Candy Land. Uno? That game could go on for days. Monopoly? I've never played a complete game of Monopoly. But... Candy Land? Don't you have something bigger to worry about than how long a game of Candy Land takes? Like perhaps freeing up some time so your kids don't feel a profound connection to "Cat's in the Cradle?" ("Oh, Mommy? She's the lady who text messages me all the time.")

"A lot of people like playing games, but they want resolution," said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Toy Wishes magazine. "And that's why you see some of these quicker games coming out."

Of course people want a quick resolution. That's the American way! Fast food, speed dating, credit cards-- we want it now. Games are a great way to teach kids how to take turns. (I vividly remember needing to be coached by my cousin and mother on how to count spaces on Chutes and Ladders and wanting it to be my turn right away.) Games also teach kids how to be good losers and good winners. The boy I babysit has the propensity to do a victory dance-- complete with finger pointing, fist pumping, and hip swivels-- when he beats Eldest at a game. Since they play a lot of board games, he's learned to be more civil when he wins. Board games teach patience, and a lot of that would be lost if we try to rush them along to just get the fun over with already.

Here's my free board game tip for you, parents. If you're playing a game and you've got somewhere else to be, why don't you just leave the game out on a table so you can resume the game later? That's how we did it back in the olden days. The people I babysit for do it that way-- they start a game of Monopoly and take notes on where everything was when they get bored and put the game away for later.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I just...

I can't...

We have two more years of this horse shit to deal with? Come on.

Recognizing Fox did not have the votes to obtain Senate confirmation in the Foreign Relations Committee, Bush withdrew the nomination last week. On Wednesday, with the Senate on a one-week break, the president used his power to make recess appointments to put Fox in the job without Senate confirmation.

But wait, there's more than Sam Fox! Check out Susan Dudley!
President Bush on Wednesday appointed as his top regulatory official a conservative academic who has written that markets do a better job of regulating than the government does and that it is more cost-effective for people who are sensitive to pollution to stay indoors on smoggy days than for government to order polluters to clean up their emissions.
As director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Susan E. Dudley will have an opportunity to change or block all regulations proposed by government agencies....

She opposed stricter limits on arsenic in drinking water, in part because she argued that the Environmental Protection Agency's calculations of the costs and benefits overvalued some lives, particularly those of older people with a small life expectancy.

She has argued that air bags should not be required by government regulation but requested by automobile consumers who are willing to pay extra for them.

Allergy sufferers! Get ready to spend much more time indoors! Old people? Fuck 'em! Safety requirements for automobiles? Bollocks!

This is what our government is doing. These are the people in charge of our country.

I just... I don't know what else George Bush could do wrong. Where is the rage? Why aren't people as pissed off at the utter disaster this administration has made of the world? Bush is within his rights to sneak some appointments in, but the man has done so more than 100 times. Wouldn't you think that maybe he'd get the hint that Congress doesn't like his appointments around the sixtieth rejection? Surely there is someone other than this loopy wingnut who could fill this slot.

What is it going to take before people finally get fed up with this idiot? I know I'm doing that blogger thing where I just spew forth angry words without any actual insight, but I'm tired of thinking. Clearly no one else is engaging their brains. What does Bush have to do? Get caught with a cigar and an intern on his desk before people get morally enraged? Bush has nominated a woman who thinks old people dying off early is a good thing to a regulatory position. This man has sent troops to die for a stupid reason. His unwillingness to admit that he made a grave mistake is costing even more lives. He's not willing to even discuss leaving, so, as Stealth said, we're in Iraq until 2009 at least. Can you imagine what the death toll for Americans is going to be like after another two years of insurgent attacks and ill-rested troops being sent back to a war zone? Can you imagine the Iraqi death toll? Can you imagine all the Iraqi children who are watching their parents die because of America's ill-planned invasion and how easy it will be to breed them into terrorists unless we start helping them get their country back? I know we can't close up and leave Iraq tomorrow. But it's time to start planning to extricate ourselves, which isn't happening.

The country isn't mad enough. I just don't get it. People are on hunger strikes because some kid on American Idol sucks but are cool with the President's actions?

...Just... man.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Lately, I've been thinking. (Yeah, yeah, first time for everything, very funny.) What I've been thinking is that I have it pretty good. I've got a new gig, an apartment hunt to look forward to, I found a Diane von Furstenberg wrap skirt at Filene's Basement that was originally $225 that I paid $50 for, my health is pretty good, so forth. Then, I turn on the news.

And I hear about how troops are being sent back to Iraq without adequate rest. Bickering about the troop withdrawal possibility/timetable. Chris sent this article detailing the infuriating method the Army uses to deny wounded soldiers treatment. Then you've got the whole Walter Reed abomination to think about.

In short, the world seems to be a pretty shitty place right now. After reading The Nation's article, I was physically shaking I was so angry. Then I thought about what I've done lately to help people. And in short, I came up with nothing.

I used to volunteer when I was in high school, not for the pleasure of helping people out, but because I had to volunteer to stay in the National Honor Society. They got wise to this trick, and now kids have to already have done community service to even be considered for the Society. I ended up tutoring elementary school kids, which was a good time. But then I got busy with college and lost my volunteering streak.

Now that things are looking up for me, I think I should get back to helping causes that mean a lot to me. But I'm not sure which cause means the most to me. I think about helping out at Planned Parenthood. Then I think about helping abused or neglected kids and women. What about doing calls or writing for a political campaign? Which campaign? Perhaps a pet shelter. (Bad idea. I'd end up with 15 cats.) Save the whales, save the Bay, save the Earth, save the Troops, elect Hillary, elect Barack, stop global warming, cure ALS, cure cancer, stop hunger...

In short, I'm not sure what to do. So if anybody's got any good ideas, drop your knowledge in the comments.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Barefoot and in Love

For those of you who've been around this little corner of the wide world of web for a while, you may know I have a propensity to have Food Network celebrity chef girl-crushes. At first, it was Rachel Ray, back when she had only two shows on that network and zero syndicated talk shows. Now she's been overexposed in a boy's magazine and overexposed in my heart. For a while, it looked like Paula Deen was coming up as the heir to Rachel's throne. While Paula isn't as beautiful as Rachel, Paula has a hot son, a cute house, and a propensity to cook with butter I deeply admire. During my Mom's hospital stay, I got up to watch Martha Stewart's talk show (mainly because I want to be there when Martha cuts one of her clueless starlets who ruins what Martha is demonstrating). One day, Paula Deen came on. Paula was appropriately in awe of Martha's sheer awesomeness, because while Martha Stewart may not be a cuddly ball of cotton candy and puppy dog smiles, the woman knows her way around the home. After pleasantries, Paula started talking about her assistant waking her and her husband, Michael Gruber, up in the morning.

"You let your assistant in your house?" Martha asked incredulously.

"Why yeis," replied Paula.

"I try to keep my assistants out of my house," Martha said, almost to herself.

"Well, this one tiime, my assistant came in twirlin' a baton and singin' to me and Michael..."

"Do you let people wear shoes in your house?" asked Martha out of nowhere.

"Oh, yeis," said Paula, not skipping a beat. Martha looked like she was about to vomit.

But I grow weary of Paula as well, as she now has a pseudo-talk show on the Food Network and my Mom said her restaurant, which I really hoped was good, is not. While Dave Lieberman is my eye candy on the Food Network (seriously, Dave, I'm free most weeknights, call me!) and Alton Brown is hot in the way that he is smart but not physically hot (and he has a KitchenAid with flames on it!), I need my girl-crush.

Enter Ina Garten.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Someone's making cookies!

My love for Ina has grown ever-stronger as I watch her show. I get to the gym shortly after 5, so I start watching Barefoot Contessa when it's already started. Her recipes always look so good. She has a potato salad I'm dying to make. I've made her tomato and feta salad and it's amazing. She likes a cold cocktail, which she makes with liquor I generally can't afford and with simple mixes that I bet taste better than anything you can get at an average bar. She advocates for the consumption of bellinis. Like Paula with less brashness, she also has a deep love for butter and cream. Like Giada with less conspicuousness, Ina correctly pronounces foreign foods and techniques. Like me with more money and a nicer kitchen, Ina also cites Julia Child as one of her culinary heroes.

Mostly, I want to be Ina Garten. I want her absolutely breathtaking house in the Hamptons. I want her huge pantry. I want her firsthand love of France. I want a doting husband who loves everything I cook for him. I want her kitchen. I want her rich arty friends with boats. I love her pretty blue eyes, big smile, and sense of beach-chic style. I want to be able to ask rhetorical questions at the end of a recipe or instruction ("...How simple is that?") and pull it off without sounding like a snob. I want to have a slew of gay male friends in Nantucket red pants over for dinner. I want to have a home that I can make very comfortable for my friends. I want everything to be simply fabulous.

So, Ina, if you ever need a sous chef for your show, you need someone to help you polish off a bellini or fourteen, or just want to talk about boys or shoes, email me. Just make sure you bring Dave Lieberman along to keep me company when Jeffery comes home from work. Wouldn't that be to die for?

Take Me Out

Dear Baseball,

Welcome back. Jeets and I missed you.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Go forth. Play your baseball game. For soon spring will be here in Boston, and 'Tek will strike his warrior pose at Fenway, "Dirty Water" will be sung from rooftop parties, basements, beaches, by drunk fans stumbling home on Beacon Street. Let the sausages cook, the hot dogs be adorned with condiments, the babies in Papelbon shirts get their trial-by-fire.

Let's play some baseball.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


King in the Castle

I am in my new office. The company I work for has expanded, and an office is finally mine. Yes, I only have it for two weeks, but hell if I'm not going to enjoy it. When I came in to find my desk with my computer on it, I was elated. In my old cubicle I faced away from the entrance, which led to my bosses sneaking up behind me while I blogged or emailed. Now I can see who's coming, and minimize any incriminating windows before they enter. And when I work, I can shut the door to all the chitter chatter.

So I came in, tossed my stuff down, and, like Borat before me, sat in the chair and chanted "King in the castle, king in the castle..." I then told people to come and visit me in my office. I unpacked all my doodads and placed them on the window to the hallway. The snowman ping-pong ball tossers that Arthur sent us for Christmas. An army guy. A paper mache heart. All the little trinkets people bring back from vacation are proudly displayed for all to see. For the next two weeks, this place is mine. I think I'll call my gynecologist and discuss my concerns about my birth control pills in great graphic detail since I can close the door and have a moment's privacy.