Friday, December 18, 2009

Going the Distance

Happy Holidays, everyone! I'm not sure about your city, but here in Boston winter has officially arrived with snow and subzero temperatures and blistering wind. Not looking forward to another New England winter...

Lots has happened, so I'll try to keep it short. Halloween came and went with gross weather and the usual lack of real fun. Our kickball team made it to the semi-finals of the division tournament before being defeated. Yuval and I got to attend a magnificent concert at the Boston Symphony Orchestra featuring Beethoven's 3rd and 4th symphonies. Election Day passed without much fervor since there were no "important" races up for grabs (but I did vote). We finally had our housewarming party, and for the occasion I made turkey chili in the crockpot my parents gave us (it was delicious). I got to attend my little cousin's 2nd birthday party in Lincoln. I attended a lecture about circus elephant cruelty at the MSPCA and meet the owner/caretaker of The Elephant Sanctuary, which is where Tarra the elephant & Bella the dog live. Margaret and I went to a reading by Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Fire, and I squealed (on the inside) like the fangirl I am. There was also a lovely handbell concert that I went to with Adrienne at the Old South Church in Copley Square--handbells are a favorite of mine. Massachusetts had its Special Primary Election Day to decide who would be in the running for Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate (I'm glad Martha Coakley won, but I would have preferred Alan Khazei).

A few things of larger importance happened that deserve a little more detail. First up, I became a foster parent for kitties through the organization I volunteer with, FARS. We brought home our first foster, Rosie, on November 14th. She could be described as the quintessential cat: can be very affectionate, does not like her tummy touched, nips at you when she's had too much stimulation, loves to be brushed, can be aloof for hours at a time, easily scared of loud noises, and a very loud purr machine. She's 8, which makes her a senior cat, and very set in her ways. We learned a lot about cats in our weeks with Rosie, and though there were days when she annoyed the crap out of us we came to care for her very much. However, we had to hand Rosie back over to FARS on 12/3 because we fell in love with and adopted 2 kittens that came into the shelter. Rosie does NOT get a long with other pets, so she unfortunately had to go back to the shelter since there are no other foster homes available right now. Every time I see her sitting in her cage, miserable and sad, I nearly start crying for doing this to her. I did the best I could for Rosie, but the kittens couldn't wait in the shelter when other cats needed the space.

However, we love our new additions. Cody (tiger) is 4 months and Miles (gray) is 3 months and they are nuts in the way that all kittens are. Cody is calmer and more chill than Miles, who likes to tear around the apartment and prefers sitting on the back of the couch behind your head to sitting in your lap. They are both very affectionate, though, and purr very loudly for such small creatures. It's been great to see Yuval, who is very much a dog person and not at all inclined towards cats, become so attached to these guys and willingly take up the chores involved in keeping them. And thanks to the pine litter we use, our apartment does not smell like cat at all. We've realized that adopting kittens is like bringing home a baby: they wake you up in the middle of the night, go from 0 to 60 and back again in 5 seconds, demand attention, communicate their love without words, and generally make your life harder and happier at the same time.

I didn't go home to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving because there was not a single airfare available for less than $600 (and I started looking a month before). So instead I had Thanksgiving with the Shavits and their family friends, which turned out to be a wonderful time. There were 2 turkeys (one grilled and one traditional), about 14 people, and lots to be thankful for. I really missed my family, though, especially because this was the first Thanksgiving in all my 24 years that I didn't celebrate with family. However, Yuval is coming home with me for Christmas next week, so that's given me a lot to look forward to!

And last weekend, Yuval and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary by heading up to Bretton Woods, NH (which is, apparently, where 45 countries came together to form the World Bank and the IMF in 1944). We stayed at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in their bed & breakfast, the Bretton Arms Inn. Our special rate was only good for 1 night, but we enjoyed it to the max. We had dinner in the main dining room of the hotel, which was a 4-star restaurant (although we felt that rating was a little much considering our medium-rare steak came to us medium/medium-well). But the highlight of the trip was definitely the dog sledding. Who knew there was such a big mushing culture in the Northeast? We went to Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel for a 2-hour session, which included about 30 minutes in a sled being pulled by 12 dogs (Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, and mixes of the two). It was an adventure (our lead dog, One Ton, decided to turn around before it was time and got us stuck across a wooden bridge) and super fun experience. Both of us got to mush a little bit, and there was much dog petting and slobbery faces. Totally worth the money, and something we may do again. Plus, it fueled Yuval's dream of retiring to a house in the middle of some frozen place and living with about 12 huskies.

The days have been flying by and I can't believe Christmas is next week. Yuval and I have been celebrating Hanukkah by lighting the candles on the menorah his mom got us and singing the blessings that go with it (I'm still reading from a paper copy). I'm almost done reviewing algebra so that I can place into the pre-calculus class at Harvard Extension School. I'm registering for that and Intro to Biostatistics for the Spring semester (should be a total blast, right?). I was also accepted into the HES's Health Careers Program, which means I'm eligible for financial aid for classes and that I will get the full support of the faculty when I apply to vet school in a few years. So my winter and spring will keep me very busy and, most likely, very sleepy. But it will all be worth it when I get into vet school!

If I don't post again beforehand, have a very Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Fire by Kristin Cashore
The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 3 edited by Lee Gutkind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A Serious Man
Sense and Sensibility
The Scarlet Pimpernel

Friday, October 16, 2009

Billie Jean

Hello again, explorers! As usual, lots has happened since we last spoke. The weekend after my last post, I flew to NYC to meet Mom for a weekend of Broadway and shopping and food. Everything was, of course, fabulous because, much as I dislike The Big Apple as a city, it does have quite a lot to offer. We saw "God of Carnage" and "Billy Elliot: The Musical" as Saturday and Sunday matinees, respectively. Saturday was filled with shopping before and after the show as well as a visit to Little Italy for dinner. It was a super fun trip and I was so happy that I got to spend time one-on-one with Mom.

The only hitch was that we didn't know that the weekend we were there was the final weekend of a HUGE festival in Little Italy ("San G...something or other"). The street our restaurant was on just happened to be the main street of the festival. As far as street festivals go, this had to be the worst one I've ever seen. Since everything was mostly along this one narrow street, people were PACKED in together like a school of fish. It was nearly impossible to navigate against the crowd. On top of that, most people were drunk and spilling cheap beer everywhere, it was insanely loud, there was no entertainment whatsoever (just food), and it was filled with the crème de la crème of bratty, obnoxious high school kids and white trash adults. Mom and I just stared around in confusion, wondering what could possibly be so "fun" about this festival that it would bring out such a huge crowd.

Anyway, aside from that irritation, the NYC trip was wonderful. The week after I got to see the premier of "Infinite Story", a night of new works by local playwrights produced as a 2nd fundraiser for the Exquisite Corps Theatre company. Adrienne directed one of the pieces, called "Cracking Up" by Peter M. Floyd, and it was definitely my favorite of the 4 shows. Very funny, very well-done. Then, that same week, there was dinner at the Shavit household to celebrate Tani's (Momma Shavit) birthday.

I also went through training and am now an official volunteer for the Feline Rescue and Adoption Society. I spend a couple hours every Tuesday night playing with the kitties in the Adoption Center at the Cambridge Petsmart, and I also clean out their cages and feed them and whatnot. There are some real sweethearts there, and I'm not even a cat person! FARS is a good organization and its where Yuval and I will adopt our cat from in the next few months (we don't have enough money for a cat right now).

The other exciting news has both good and bad parts. The good part is that the Boston Bruins have finally come out of hockey hibernation and started their season! The bad part is that they're not doing so well and have lost pretty heinously in 3 of their first 5 games, which have all been at home. It's kind of heart-wrenching to watch this team that is so good struggle so hard to find their footing in the beginning of the season.

I also attended my first wedding of a high school friend. Two friends, actually, who have been dating since the beginning of senior year and got married last weekend in Cincinnati. I helped a little, in that I designed their wedding website, but I was impressed by the way Kelli made everything come together so beautifully. It was a little awkward seeing people that I haven't spoken to since graduation, but fun to catch up. I had a lot of cake and Coke. I got to see a little of my family, but Mom and Dad were in and out all of that Saturday because they had their own wedding to attend. The Indian daughter of a good friend and colleague of my dad was getting married to an Episcopal boy, and there were 2 weddings (Hindu & Episcopal), a lunch, and a reception all in the same day. The Episcopal wedding and reception took place at the Cincinnati Zoo near the elephant palace. I'm so jealous my parents go to explore the zoo after hours! I think having a reception at a zoo would be super fun.

I got to make up for lost time with Dad when he came to visit the weekend after I was in Cincinnati for the wedding. He had a meeting with people at the Harvard Business School on Sunday night/Monday, so he came in to Boston on Friday night and spent the weekend with Yuval and me at our place. Apparently our guest room makes a great room for sleeping in because, since there are no windows in there, it creates a blackout and sensory deprivation effect! He slept until 10am on Saturday, which I have never, ever seen him do in my life. We went out for yummy food while he was here, had Sunday brunch at the Shavit house, saw some of the Head of the Charles Regatta, and met up for a little bit with my cousin, his wife, and their 2 year old bundle of cute daughter.

We also had the first snow of the season while Dad was here! Sunday morning dawned with some freezing rain and sleet that turned into wet, ploppy snow by the afternoon and continued into the night. Oh, New England, you and your crazy weather!

The next couple weeks are going to be busy, too: babysitting Dylan, kickball games, a job interview at Harvard, volunteering with the kitties, a Kenyon alumni event with Professor Shutt, a trip to the Boston Symphony to hear some Beethoven, and, of course, Halloween.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman

The Informant!
Independence Day
Top Gun

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


As you can probably guess, it's been a very busy month and some days since my last post. The biggest event was, of course, The Move. In the end, everything worked out and we got all our stuff unpacked and have since settled in quite nicely to the new place. But the actual move? Oh my Lord, was that an epic tale of disaster upon disaster!

In the perfect world in my head, where everything happens as it should, the plan for the move was straightforward and rather simple for a moving plan:

1) Pick up the moving truck at 5:00pm on Monday, August 31st.
2) Drive it to my apartment, where Yuval will meet me with his parents' Honda Fit.
3) Together, we move all my stuff out of my apartment and give the empty space a good scrub down.
4) Drive both vehicles to his parents' house, where he has all of his stuff, and stay the night.
5) Wake up bright and early on September 1st and move his stuff and the remaining furniture into the truck.
6) Drive to our new apartment along with some members of his family who have consented to help.
7) Spend a few hours hauling things up the stairs and the elevator and deposit them without regard to furniture arrangement for the moment.
8) Have one of us return the truck while the other stays at the apartment for the cable guy who is supposed to come between 2pm and 5pm.
9) Reunite at the apartment, shower, and sit for a bit.
10) Go out to a big celebratory dinner and be happy it's all over.

Of course, this being the single busiest move-in time of the year in Boston combined with the fact that I am a McGinley (a people consistently plagued by situations that cause us to throw our hands in the air and shout "Why me, Lord?!"), nothing went according to plan. Let's examine how things actually turned out, shall we?

1) I arrive at the truck pick-up center at 5:10pm only to find it closed and no truck in sight. Hysterical, I anguish over how in the hell we're going to find another truck on August 31st in Boston (answer: we aren't).
2) Make several whimpering phone calls to my mom (for support) and Budget Rental (for WTFing). Apparently, even though my confirmation said 5pm, Budget had it in their system for 4pm. And they have no way of getting a hold of the guy who owns this particular auto shop/Budget truck rental place. And the best they can do is call their "inventory guy" and see if there's another truck available anywhere within 50 miles of Boston. And this may take up to 6 hours. And he is really sorry.
3) Follow Mom's advice and call a cab to take me back to my apartment, since there is no public transportation anywhere near this suburban area. Call Yuval, crying, to apologize for screwing up and let him know I'm on my way in a taxi and we have no truck. He says he'll call Budget to see if we can change the reservation to just tomorrow, since we were technically renting it for 24 hours. I revel in this example of calm, cool, collected logic.
4) Meet back at my apartment in Newton. Yuval has successfully changed our reservation to the earliest possible time (8:30am) tomorrow, so if my landlady lets me stay just the night we can get my stuff out tomorrow morning. Except my landlady will not let me stay because the new tenant is moving in at 8:00am tomorrow and I HAVE to be out tonight. This leaves only one option: make multiple runs in the Fit to the Shavit house and back to cart all my stuff out of the apartment (including furniture).
5) We begin the arduous task of cramming an entire apartment into one car. I end up leaving a lot of stuff on the curb that I hadn't planned on leaving (TV, desk, one of my bookcases, etc.). The whole process takes about 5 hours, including a yummy but brief dinner with the Shavits and a vigorous cleaning of the apartment. Somehow we make it back to his parents' house in one piece and collapse into bed around 1:30am.
6) Wake up at 8:00am and arrive at the same Budget truck rental place as yesterday by 8:30am. It is immediately evident that there are NO moving trucks in the vicinity of this building. We talk to the owner/manager, and he says that his Budget inventory man was supposed to deliver all the trucks yesterday but didn't. We are the 3rd reservation that morning without a truck. He didn't have a truck for me yesterday anyway even if I had gotten there right at 5:00pm. He has no way of knowing when the trucks will arrive as his inventory man has not called him back. The best we can do is call Budget ourselves to complain, let them know we're waiting, and wait for the trucks along with the 2 other disappointed reservations.
7) This all being too much, we head to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts to get breakfast and figure out a plan. The trip there and back to the dealer takes about 20 minutes.
8) We decide to just postpone the move until we can get a truck. Yuval leaves his number with the manager who says he'll call as soon as the trucks arrive, which could be that day or 2 days from now. On our way out, he suggests we try the Enterprise up the road. It's a long shot, but they do have huge cargo vans that are good for moving. We decide to give it a shot.
9) The Enterprise has 2 cargo vans sitting in their lot. Careful not to get our hopes up, we ask if either of them is available. The salesman starts smiling and says he just got off the phone with a woman who canceled her cargo van reservation. It's ours for the day, mileage included, and comes out cheaper (even with full insurance) than the Budget truck would have been. We drive the van back to the Shavit house in victory and begin loading it up with the help of Yuval's sister Tamar.
10) It takes 2 trips, and we scratch the van making a tight turn around the corner of the building (good thing we got that insurance!), but we succeed. All of our belongings are now in the new apartment. Since none of us had had anything since that morning, we all three head to Anna's in Davis Square for burrito deliciousness and an early dinner (at 5:30pm). I'm so happy I pay for Tamar as well as Yuval and myself. We part ways, and Yuval and I work on asssembling furniture and making the apartment more navigable. He leaves to play hockey at 10:00pm, and I continue building Ikea furniture and putting things away until he returns around 1:00am. After setting up the bed and showering, we both collapse into sleep around 2:00am.

Victory at last!

And now our apartment is fully outfitted and decorated. We even had Yuval's family over for dinner on Sunday night, and we chowed on homemade pizza and were presented with a housewarming gift of an ice cream maker, a scooper, and 8 nice bowls to serve it in. If you're curious about what the place looks like, well, you should watch my little tour video:

I've also joined a fabulous gym for which I am paying way more than I ever thought I would for a gym. But I get a personal trainer and have a new regimen to follow, and following it I am. And now I'm preparing for a weekend in NYC with my mom, shopping and seeing shows.

All in all, life is going really well after the pitfalls and shortcomings of The Move.

Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Cove
The Last Unicorn
Shawshank Redemption

Friday, August 7, 2009

9 to 5

Long time no see, Internet. I can't use the excuse that things have been really busy--what it comes down to is that I'm just plain lazy.

SO! I told you all about Israel in my last post. Did it really happen almost 2 months ago? That's seems insanity to me. And yet, it's fact. My 4th of July was a good time, made even more wonderful by the fact that I got Friday, July 3rd off from work. Yay long holiday weekends! I celebrated our nation's independence in South Boston at my friend Seamus's house, which is about a 10 minute walk from the beach (not that I went swimming in the ice cold Atlantic waters). I hope all of you had a fabulous 4th of July as well!

Yuval's birthday was also in July, and he got some pretty nifty presents from his girlfriend (everyone said so). A cover for his Kindle DX, an Amazon gift card, this shirt, and a delicious dinner at KO Prime in downtown Boston (where I had my first in-restaurant filet mignon--it was soooo good).

Other than that, not too much else of great note happened in July. The lovely Kathryn VanArendonk and Annie Lambla paid Boston a visit, which resulted in a delightful picnic dinner in Outlook Park in Brookline. Much wine and cheese and carbohydrates were consumed. The Immunology Division had its annual pool party and cookout, which was a little hectic for me to organize but turned out very well. It's always nice to see what colleagues are like out of the office, especially with their kids. I've also spent a LOT of time arranging things for the big move at the end of the month. Trying to find a rental truck in Boston for August 31/September 1 is one of the most challenging tasks you can ever face in your life.

The big recent event was the McGinley family reunion I attended from July 31-August 3. Over 35 relatives converged on our house in Cincinnati, a great many of whom I'd never seen or heard of before. While I feel most family reunions are supposed to be dull affairs, this one was a ton of fun. I love meeting all these people and hearing story after story about my grandpa and great aunts and uncles. Plus, there was really good food. I also got to meet my two new twin cousins, Samantha and Madison, for the first time. They are 4 months old and, like most babies of that age, chubby things of extreme cuteness. It's remarkable how individual their personalities are at such a young age. Needless to say, they were pretty much the star attractions of the reunion. It was also my Great Aunt Beck's 90th birthday, so of course my mom orders the most beautiful (and delicious) cake to celebrate. I'm so happy I got to go to this reunion, especially because I had to miss the last one.

Plans for this weekend include attending Frey's birthday party (a friend from kickball) and helping Yuval wash his hockey gear. The latter may not sound fun, but I'm strangely fascinated by the way the water turns yellow when he's rinsing off all the sweat that's built up.

Was that gross enough for you?

Oh, and don't forget to live every week like it's Shark Week by tuning in tonight and tomorrow for the last two days of programming! And if you're sad like I am that you missed some of the programs, you can download full episodes on iTunes from the website. Hurrah!

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Hungry Ghosts by Jasper Becker
The Boy Book by E. Lockhart

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
9 to 5
Gran Torino
Step Up 2: The Streets
Ferris Bueller's Day Off