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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yom Shi Shi

Believe it or not, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and write about my recent vacation since I got back on the 21st. Jet lag + crazy amounts of work + exhaustion = no time for blogging.

If you want to see pictures of my travels, I've finally posted them on Facebook.

I was in Israel June 9-17 with Yuval and his family. A one-word summary would go like this: a-mazing. His parents have an apartment in Tel Aviv, so that was our home base for the duration of the trip.

However, we went all over the place. Let's see if I can remember all the cities: Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva, Haifa, Tsvat, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias, Caesarea, Akko...I'm sure there are more I've forgotten, but that's the majority of them. I saw deserts, beaches, oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, mountains, valleys, fields. I saw wild camels roaming the desert hills outside of Jersusalem, friendly stray cats that camp outside cafes in Tel Aviv, and white cranes swooping over the Sea of Galilee. Like most people, when I think of Israel, I think of nothing but desert and sand. Turns out it encompasses quite the cavalcade of biodiversity for such a small land area.

The differences between life in Israel and life in the US were sometimes striking, sometimes subtle. Ice cream is hard to find, but gelato is on every street corner--and it turns out that it tastes way better than ice cream, anyway. While every store in Newton Center closes by 9pm, cafes in Tel Aviv don't start getting their second rush until 11pm. Fruit and vegetables are much fresher and more delicious because most of them are grown within Israel. The only kind of Coke to be found is sugar cane Coke (which I love rougly 100x more than the high-fructose corn syrup Coke that you find here in the States). Most signs are in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. I never, in all my travels in cities and highways in Israel, saw a car any bigger than a Chevy Cobalt--parking is impossible, and no one wants the low MPG performance of SUV's in a land where gas taxes are sky high. All hot water in Israel is heated by solar energy. For water conservation, the toilets have two flush options: one for urination and one for, well, a really big Number Two.

Not all the differences were charming, though. I lost count of the number of security checkpoints I had to pass through by the second day. See, it's a common misconception that the only people who have to deal with heightened security in Israel are the Palestinians. But every mall, business park, beach, and tourist destination has a security checkpoint that everyone must pass through. It's not a big deal--they check your purses and your bags and occaisionally ask you what you're there for--but it's a constant reminder that, even in a metropolis like Tel Aviv, the people are always aware of the threats to Israel's tenuous existence. I think that's something that a lot of Americans don't understand when they criticize Israel's policies and politics: there is not, and has never been, a guarantee that the country Israelis live in right now will exist for their grandchildren to enjoy. Americans don't ever think of the possibility that New York or LA won't be there in 10 years, but Israelis have to contend with the very real threat that Tel Aviv may be destroyed in the near future.

On a lighter note, some other less charming differences between Israel and the US? People do not subscribe to deodorant as a habit over there. No one ever says "excuse me" when they bump into someone in a crowd. The rule of "standing to the right, walking to the left" has never been imported. You can only find supermarkets in big cities--everywhere else, you have to go to a souk (outdoor market) and a mix of smaller stores to get most of your groceries.

For those who don't know, I was supposed to go to Israel on pilgrimage the summer after I graduated high school. It was something my church in Cincinnati did every two years, and our rector always went with the group. I prepared for that trip for 4 years and was so excited to go. But that was back in 2003, and when the war started getting really hot and heavy, the parents said "no" and we went to Ireland instead. Don't get me wrong, Ireland was fantastic. But ever since then I've had a longing to finish what I started studying for in 9th grade.

When we took a day trip to Jerusalem, I wondered aloud to Yuval if my reaction to all the holy sites now differs greatly from how I would have reacted back in 2003. His answer was an immediate "yes," and he's right. We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I saw Jesus's tomb and place of crucifixtion and the slab they laid him on after he was taken down from the cross. I walked along Via Dolorosa and stopped at each Station of the Cross. I visited the church that was built around the house in which Mary supposedly received the Annunciation. Everything was fascinating and I didn't want to miss a single thing. I took pictures of every nook and cranny.

And yet.

There was no great rush of spiritual feeling. No sense of true awe to accompany my viewing of these holy sites. More than anything, there was simply a sense of historical curiosity and a desire to see where history was made. I watched people kneel to kiss the stone slab, saw the faithful lower their heads to the stone of Golgotha and pray. And I observed it all with a kind of clinical detachment, an interest stemming from watching religious-socio-anthropology in action. I was offended at the sheer amount of wealth and number of gewgaws that decorated these most holy places after the Greek Orthodox fashion.

I guess, in the end, I reacted the way I did because I see Jesus more as a historical figure whose lessons should be remembered rather than a super-human divine creature meant to be revered from afar.

That, and I couldn't stop thinking about the smorgasbord of germs and viruses crawling around on all the surfaces people were kissing. Seriously. Do they realize that no one wipes those stones down with Clorox at the end of the day? I won't ever kiss the Blarney Stone, either.


I returned to Boston around 3:30pm EST on Wednesday, June 17th and paid $77 for a cab home from the airport (the last thing I wanted to do was sit on the T for an hour). This gave me just enough time to do the following: pick up my mice from their babysitter, clean their cage, shop for supplies at CVS, do my laundry, charge all my battery-powered accessories, and pack a small suitcase for the next trip. I got to bed around 10:30pm after being awake for more than 24 hours (stupid time zones).

Then it was rise and shine at 6:30am on Thursday so I could pick up Anthony and drive to Cleveland for "Kenyon Reunion Part II: The Reunioning." Surprisingly, I never got the least bit sleepy during the entire drive because my body was too confused by the time zone changes. We rolled into Nate and Kari's place around 8pm and promptly headed to Ruby Tuesday's. Oh America!

The reunion was a blast. Folks from Kenyon and Denison were in attendence, and we were all exposed to a board game that will haunt (some) of us forever with its awesomeness: Arkham Horror (brought to you by the lovely folks at Call of Cthulu). We swam in the pond, played Mafia, dished out some Apples to Apples, played with the farm animals, attempted a few games of Ultimate Frisbee (poorly), played the requisite game of Never Have I Ever, and, of course, ate and drank copiously.

But it had to end, and Sunday morning saw me driving my sister's RAV4 down to Cincinnati, where it now waits in the driveway, breathless with anticipation for her return from Australia. I really miss having a car, which means I will have to start practicing my manual driving so I can drive Yuval's car come September 1st.

I'm hoping that the Reunion will continue as an annual tradition far into the future. It's become one of the highlights of my calendar year along with Thanksgiving and Christmas and my birthday (because I'm selfish). To all whom were in attendence: thank you for the great times, folks. To all who weren't: you better be there next year.

Hannah's Winter by Kierin Meehan
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

T-minus 7 hours until my plane leaves for Tel Aviv!

I didn't get to bed until late last night because of packing and dropping the mice off with Yuval's flatmate. I forgot my $5 coupon for my taxi ride to the airport at home. I had to drag my 40lb. duffel bag up ramps and over bridges to the T and then from the T to the office. I didn't get a chance to do the dishes or take out the trash/recycling before I left this morning.

But you know what? Who cares! I'm going to Israel, baby! L'CHAIM!

And if you have a prayer you want me to put in the Wailing Wall, just email me. I'll have internet access while I'm at the Shavit's apartment.

See you again after the 17th! :o)

Arlington Road

Monday, June 1, 2009

This Town

Happy June, everyone! Even though summer doesn't officially start until June 21 (also Father's Day), I've always felt that the unofficial start of summer is June 1st. I mean, does anyone out there consider June to be a part of spring? No.

I leave for Israel on June 9th at 5:30pm, and I'm so excited. Sadly, I won't be visiting Istanbul this time around due to flight conflicts, but maybe next time! Still, there's going to be plenty to see and do in Israel, some of which we've already planned out. I will get the opportunity to:

- Visit Jerusalem, including the Wailing Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock
- Hike around the Sea of Galilee, and see the Mount where Jesus gave his famous sermon
- Meet Yuval's aunt and cousin and stay at the kibbutz where they live
- See the Dead Sea (and possibly float in it?)
- Attend a concert featuring the most popular Israeli rock singer, Yehuda Poliker
- Go to the beach in Tel Aviv many, many times

All in all, it sounds like a very excellent trip. You can see why I'm so excited! Also, if there's a prayer you want me to put in the Wailing Wall for you, let me know and I will.

Summer always means BBQ to me, and good Lord have I been participating in a lot of it. Saturday Yuval's flatmate, Alex, smoked a total of 26 pounds of meat (most pork), and all of it was consumed by about 30 people. It made me feel like a viking, seeing this giant hunk of pig shoulder smoking on the grill. And it was delicious pulled pork! And then Sunday, Yuval's parents hosted an art party at their house and, of course, kebabs were grilled (although I didn't eat any because they had lamb in them, and I don't eat baby animals).

I finally managed to donate blood for the second time this year. I tried back in March, but my iron count was too low--something that was especially puzzling considering I take iron supplements with 150% of my daily recommended dose. But the technician at that appointment told me I should take them with a Vitamin C pill, too, because that helps the body absorb the iron. Apparently it worked, because my iron count was equal to that of a crowbar when I went to donate on the May 19th. And I got a coupon for $5 off at Uno's for donating!

Last Friday was Shavuot, which saw me at the Shavit household consuming large amounts of dairy-based food. Shavuot is the Spring holiday, and the "food theme" is dairy because spring is when all the cows start giving milk to their calves. Summer fruit (like pears, grapes, etc.) are also a central theme. And I learned my favorite Hebrew word so far: "mishmish" (meesh-meesh), which means "apricot." I will never call them apricots again. Mishmish 4 life!

This weekend I'll be dragging Yuval to the Franklin Park Zoo for 1/2 price tickets before noon--they do it the first Saturday of every month. They have pygmy hippos! I will also most likely be going to see Pirates! (Or Gilbert & Sullivan Plunder'd) at the Huntington on Sunday. I can't wait for the Opera Workshop memories to start resurfacing.

Also, I have started a new blog with Yuval. No, it's not a cutesy, gag-inducing "couples" blog. It's a blog where we will document every instance that we run across a misuse of the word "bemused," which I'm convinced is the most misused word in the English language. If you run across an abuse of this word, please let me know. All perpetrators must be brought to justice!

The Last Action Hero

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Give A Reason

So it looks like my original intent to publish twice a week on this blog has fallen by the wayside. However, once a month is still more often than most of my friends update their blogs (*cough*hint*).

When last I left you, Yuval and I were about to head down to NYC to see Wicked. We did, and it was awesome. I loved the show, and (more surprisingly) he loved the show. It's always kind of a strange experience for me when I know the recorded version of a musical so well that seeing it live and performed by a different cast makes it seem like a totally different show. Does that happen to anyone else? I'm sure it does. The hotel we stayed at was fabulous (The Marcel at Gramercy) even if the room was a little cozy--but it normally costs $200 a night to stay there and I got it for considerably less thanks to and their spring sale. We also found a delicious French/Vietnamese fusion restaurant on a walk down 3rd Avenue, on the corner of East 13th Street. I'm not sure what the name was because it was a Vietnamese character, but they had the most amazing seared beef I've ever tasted. I did not know that mostly raw meat could taste that delicious. The bus rides to and from NYC were long, as always, but it was a wonderful way to spend the weekend, and even more wonderful to have that Monday (4/20--Patriots Day here in Massachusetts) off from work to recoup. Another fabulous birthday gift from Yuval! :o)

I was priveleged enough (thanks to Adrienne) to see the dress rehearsal for Opera Boston's production of The Bartered Bride the last week of April and thorougly enjoyed myself. Although, it was the second opera dress rehearsal I've seen that has had to be stopped during the performance because of some technical snafu (the first was a decorative mounted deer head that nearly fell on the male lead, this time because something went wrong with the violins and the speakers in the pit). However, I like it more when there are interruptions because it reminds me that these are collaborative pieces of theater, which I love.

Other highlights of that week included the Bruins' strong showing in Game 1 of Round 2 Playoff hockey against the Carolina Hurricanes, a Saturday morning kickball practice in beautiful weather, and babysitting Dylan. Book 5 (the final volume) of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series came out May 4 (also my mom's birthday), and thanks to Amazon pre-order I had it in my hands and finished by the end of that same day. A very entertaining series, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's at all familiar with Greek mythology. I also attended a surprise party for one of Yuval's best friends who is now also one of my friends. She is now 25 and can rent a car without underage fees. Hurray for Meaghan!

Sadly, some things didn't go so well after that. The Bruins played a humilatingly bad next 3 games, giving the Canes a 3-1 lead in the series (which is best of 7). They managed to rally back and force a game 7, which was exciting and breathtaking, but then played a rather half-hearted game and lost in overtime on home ice here in Boston. It was heartbraking, and Yuval and I didn't talk for about 20 minutes after the end of the game because we were both so distraught and distracted. Oh, well. Maybe next year? (Cross your fingers)

However, great things happened to make up for that bad piece of news. Yuval and I found an apartment for September 1st, and have signed the lease and handed over the deposit. It's a 1+ bedroom (that has an extra room that will be a guest room/study) that includes heat and parking in the rent. The unit has air conditioning, a full kitchen, a huge living room, and lots of storage. It's on Highland Avenue, less than a 10 minute walk from Porter Square, and 1 block away from the house Yuval lived in when I first met him. We're so excited! And I'm so relieved that the apartment hunt is over--I hate them!

Other good things that happened last week include Yuval's sister graduating from Carnegie Mellon with highest honors (congrats, Tamar!), getting to see a free production of Much Ado About Nothing that was pretty hilarious (if not a bit miscast), and the beginning of my committment to bike to and from work. I discovered that I actually really enjoy biking, and now bike most everywhere I can even outside of work. Great workout, and faster than the T! I also discovered something called Groupon, which is a website that emails you a new super deal every day for some fabulously discounted thing in Boston. Yesterday I got 4 spa treatments (facial, eye treamtent, hand treatment, and eyebrow waxing) for $59 (normally $144) at Total Skin Care II spa. I highly recommend both Groupon and the spa to everyone in Boston! And through my membership with Zipcar, I got 15% off a 45-minute deep tissue massage at Moore Massage in Brookline. It was a painful process, but my back feels much less tense now.

And now you're caught up on all my adventures from the past month. One last piece of really super exciting news: I have been invited to join Yuval's family on their upcoming vacation to Istanbul (not Constantinople) and Tel Aviv! It's the kind of trip I've always wanted to go on, and it will be even better because I will be with people I care about who know the local language and culture (at least in Israel). So incredibly psyched!

Anyone know of any great things to do in Istanbul?

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan [Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 5]
Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Scalped: The Gravel in Your Guts (Volume 4) by Jason Aaron
The Foreigner by Larry Shue

Knockaround Guys

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Right Round

Just in case anyone out there in Internetland was breathless with anticipation, the mice were given names. They are Trixie and Alma, after two of my favorite characters on Deadwood. Trixie Mouse is inquisitive, brave, and likes to run around (a lot)--she is the feisty one. Alma Mouse is much more reserved, spends a lot of time preening, and hides in their house whenever I open the cage--she is the delicate one. I've officially had them for a month, and they seem to be doing very well (and pooping like mad).

Much has been going in my life since March. I got to see my hip hop teacher in a show with his dance company, Rainbow Tribe. The performances were amazing! Made me wish I had started dancing earlier. That same weekend, Yuval and I hustled over to the ART in Harvard Square to see one of the last performances of "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett. And wow. Everything about the performance was excellent, and the acting was so good I almost understood what was going on when the show ended (which is quite a feat for a Beckett play).

The same day as "Endgame", we also saw the finals of the Hockey East championship: BU vs. UMass Lowell. Lowell started off the much stronger team, but a dispute about a goal in the 2nd period really shook them up and they lost their focus. BU pretty much dominated the game after that. Yuval has successfully turned me into a full-fledged hockey fan. Boston Bruins play their first game of the Playoffs tonight!

I've also attended a surprise birthday party, gone home to visit my parents for a weekend thanks to a Delta sale, and seen pictures of my two newborn twin cousins, Samantha and Madison (born at the end of March). And, as always, there's been a lot of reading and movie watching going on. This weekend we will be heading down to NYC by MegaBus to see Wicked, a show whose music I memorized the year it came out but have still never seen. The tickets were my birthday present from Yuval. :o)

Perhaps the biggest news, though, is that I will be looking for a new apartment this fall that's big enough for two people! Yuval and I haven't been successful in finding the right place yet, but there's still time before the deluge of undergrads snaps up all the good apartments during the summer. Does anyone here in Boston know of a 1 bedroom in Cambridge that will be available this fall? Apartment hunting sucks like whoa, and it never gets any easier.

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve
Magazines: The Week, Wired, Good, Foreign Policy, Defenders

I Love You, Man
Dr. Strangelove
Coyote Ugly
Gone in 60 Seconds
Jurassic Park III
The Big Bang Theory (Season 2, up to current episodes)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just Feel Better

Hola, amigos! Man, have I been busy since my last post. But before I get into that, there is a matter of no small importance for which I need your assistance.

Help me name my two (female) pet mice! I got them on the 15th, and they still don't have names. As you can see from the picture, they are adorable and tiny. I've narrowed the choices down to following three sets, so please cast your vote!

Possible Names
1) Boomer & Starbuck (taken from Battlestar Galactica)
2) Joanie & Trixie (taken from Deadwood)
3) Mrs. Crummles & Mrs. Nickelby (taken from Nicholas Nickelby by Chuck Dickens)

Since my last post, I've done the following: taken Yuval with me to Cincinnati for a weekend, driven 15 hours from Cincy to Boston with Yuval in my sister's car (which is mine until she comes back from Oz), seen Boston Opera Underground's production of The Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill as directed by Adrienne, seen Watchmen on a double date, gone to Dave & Buster's in Providence, RI to celebrate a birthday (and helped accumulate over 10,000 tickets for the birthday boy), had a delicious brunch with the Shavit's, and checked out or returned a cumulative 15 books from the library. And, of course, there was getting the mices (pronounced mees-iz). So, yeah. Life's been very busy, but very fun. And exhausting.

I've also been canvassing animal hospitals and private veterinary practices to see if I can volunteer with them. Normally, of course, I'd first apply to help out places like the MSPCA or ARL of Boston or even the New England Aquarium. But, contrary to what you might think, all of those places have all the volunteers they can handle and are not taking on anymore. Does anyone in Boston have an "in" to some sort of animal-related organization that takes volunteers? It's frustrating, because I want to help so badly, but no one wants me!

So, the other day, the Pope--who is visiting select cities in Africa right now--declared that condoms "increase the problem" of AIDS. And now the Pope and the Vatican are getting lambasted from all sides for those comments, which could prove counterproductive and even detrimental to AIDS relief efforts in Africa. I'm not going to spend time detailing how the exact opposite of the Pope's comments is true, nor how there have been countless scientific studies that have found no correlation between distributing condoms and increased sexual activity.

Rather, I wanted to point out that it's exactly because of comments/beliefs/ideologies like this that Catholics (and to a larger extent, Christians) are generally thought of as repressive, backwards, and malignant. For all the good that Catholic charities do, stances like this overshadow all the positive instantly. As one of the youngest major organized religions in the world, you'd think that Catholicism would still be felxible enough to learn from its mistakes and adapt to a changing global society. But instead, the Vatican insists on upholding dogma that has been scientifically disproven countless times both in theory and in practice. In college, telling people I was a Christian elicited an immediate reaction, and it certainly wasn't positive: I was seen as ignorant for believing in something so backwards and out-of-touch with the real world. And when I would try to defend it, something like the Pope's words in Africa would happen and invalidate all my efforts.

I left organized religion for private reasons, but I still feel an empathy with its believers. Not all Catholics or Christians are as conservative and resistant to change as the Vatican would have you think. But you wouldn't know it from the news, would you?

Cruel Intentions
Die Hard 2

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth
The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming by Shreve Stockton

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Don't Care 'Bout That

For your viewing delight. Try not to spew milk out your nose.

For those who've been paying attention to the news at all today, we're buried under snow here in Boston. It started snowing yesterday morning, and hasn't really stopped since. We're in a lull right now, before another snow cell dumps all over us.

To my utter shock and amazement, though, the T didn't break down once this morning! That's the first time heavy snow has not slowed my morning commute by, oh, 30 minutes. Way to go, MBTA. You're like the little train that could.

Yuval and I are headed to Cincinnati this Thursday evening. We'll be spending the weekend with my parents, seeing the touring Broadway version of Frost/Nixon and driving back to Boston in my sister's car on Sunday. Getting her car is the only tangible benefit I receive from her going off to Australia to have super amazing adventures while "studying." Yeah, right. Like she'll be able to study with the beach just a 5 minute walk from her dorm.

Oh, and I think I may have found something I'd like to go to school for, and then spend the next 5 to 7 years working at: being a Veterinary Technician. I don't have the prerequisites to go to Veterinary School (I would need to have taken a lot more bio, chem, and physics classes in college). But the program is only 2 years, and a Vet Tech is like a nurse to a physician, so I'd still get to work with animals--I just wouldn't be doing the surgeries or the euthanasia.

And this wouldn't replace my ultimate goal of going to grad school. It would just help me earn more money for it and serve as a very worthy job in the meantime.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Bostonians, I humbly present you with a scenario.

You find a (mercifully) empty two-person seat and proceed to take the spot next to the window because you're not the kind of jerk who sits on the aisle seat trying to keep people from sitting next to you. Very considerate of you, certainly. But then at the next stop, or maybe even the same one you got on at, a crowd of people come barreling down the aisle of the car. No problem, you didn't expect to have a two-seater all to yourself during morning rush hour, right? But then this big business(wo)man comes strutting down the aisle in a huge coat juggling a briefcase, the entire New York Times, and a Blackberry. Oh no, you think. I'm going to get squished up against the window by this very large person carrying many, many things. And of course, they sit next to you, and you are indeed squished against the window due to simple mass displacement. Then the person immediately tries to spread out all their shit so they can read the paper, write notes, and tap away on their Blackberry at the same time. Completely forgetting that there's another human being sitting next to them who, you know, maybe wants to read her book but can't without pressing her arms to her sides and holding the book straight up in front of her face, forced to turn pages with her nose.

Bostonians, does this happen to you every time you're on the T? Because it sure as hell happens to me. Every. Damn. Time.

And so I say to you, Governor Patrick, that you better use the money you raise from your new 19-cent gas tax raise (not to mention some of the $2 billion MA is getting from the Federal government) to FIX THE FRICKIN' T! Pay off the $30 million in debt that you saddled them with from the Big Dig, and then use the rest of the money to:

- Replace all the trains on the Green Line that are now over 20 years old (which is all of them)
- Buy additional trains for the Green, Red, and Orange lines so there's not such a shortage during rush hours
- Hire additional operators and traffic coordination personnel
- Expand service to 24 hours a day
- Purchase some tracking hardware/software that will accurately tell you where your buses and trains are so you know if you should adjust the schedules

Maybe then, with all these improvements, the T will actually run on time, trains wouldn't have to go Express so erratically, and everything will stop breaking down everytime the temperature drops 5 degrees. Thank you, Mr. Governor.

And considering all the money that's floating around the federal government these days, maybe they can save a portion of it to hire people who are, you know, competent as Homeland Security officers.

I submit the following video as evidence in support of my argument:

Homeland Security Thwarts Foreign Sandwich Threat

Watch it. You won't be disappointed. Or...maybe you will?


I'm now 24 years old, which feels like an odd thing to say. I think, once you hit 21, every subsequent birthday just sounds stranger. I mean, I'm getting older, but it's no longer a big deal because I'm an "adult." And it's just the expected thing for adults to get older without any accompanying fanfare. Man. Sometimes I miss being a kid. (But not most of the time).

And thanks to everyone who left a note on my Wall on Facebook on my birthday! I'm far too lazy to respond individually, so I'll just stick with a shout out on my blog that no one reads. ;o)

I'm learning a new routine in hip hop! We finished the routine for "Krazy" by Pitbull, which is great because I don't think my right hand could have tolerated any further bruising from rolling over it on the floor. It's an awesome dance, though, and I will happily perform it for anyone who asks. But I need a hardwood floor to dance on, because the moves don't work on carpet. The new dance is for the song "You" by Q-Tip, which has an entirely different vibe from "Krazy." The moves are more complicated, but the song is slower so it's not too big a deal. I really like it so far!

This weekend will (hopefully) provide me time to catch up on Lost, the episodes of which I've fallen woefully behind on. But now I'm only 3 episodes behind, counting last night's, so things are slightly better. Nobody spoil it for me!

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie
Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve

The Big Bang Theory - Season One

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Goes Around

For those who care, I've posted three new movie reviews on my other blog. Read if you're bored.


This entry will be a mishmash of random thoughts I've been having lately as well as a quick update on my activities. I can just feel you shivering in excitement.

I present to you the only ad I've ever seen that makes me clench my fists in anger when I come across it:

"Oh," you say. "What's so upsetting about a hot pseudo-Asian chick in a tank top?" Well, I'll tell you, reader. (Breaks out "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt). It's sexist and offensive. Before this ad pulled a blitzkreig on the T a few weeks ago, I was very fond of the Healthworks ads. Before, they used to feature women in awesome strong and beautiful poses: a shot of calf muscles on stairs, a pregnant woman doing pilates, a shot of a woman's back while she lifts a dumbell. They all said, essentially, "We can be strong while remaining true to our feminity."

Badass, right?

Then Healthworks plasters this ad over all the other ones, and my blood pressure skyrockets. We went from ads featuring beautiful strong women to an ad featuring a skinny, vaguely "exotic" girl in a blatant "come hither" pose with pictures of her shaking her ass like Shakira in the background.

WTF, Healthworks? Are you trying to sell your pricey women-only memberships by having men point to these posters and tell their wives and girlfriends "That's what you should look like"? Seriously! Unlike the previous ads, this one is meant to catch the attention of men. I see this in the subway and think "What, is she trying to get me to buy her a drink?" instead of "Wow, she looks like she's working out just for her and nobody else," like I used to. Now, instead of me believing that Healthworks is a gym for women by women, it makes me think they're like a women's magazine: run by men to exploit women.

Thankfully, other ads with less ridiculous conceits have finally started showing up. None of them are as great as the old ones used to be, but at least now I don't have to put up with a constant barrage of Ms. Sexy Pose every time I use the T.


Okay, so those were clearly the thoughts I promised. As for activities, the biggest one is that I visited Kenyon this past weekend. Like last time, it's strange going back to your alma mater when you still have friends as students there. They miss you, but they've definitely moved on without you and have made the campus their own. It's a little heartachy, to be honest.

Mostly, Kenyon's still the same. There are some fancy new buildings, some of the old ones are gone (most notably the Kenyon Review house), and the bookstore now sells ice cream by the scoop in addition to Kenyon gear for babies. Pierce is open again, while Gund is closed forever, so everyone must eat South now. The new Upper Demsey hall in Pierce is beautiful and reminds me of Brandi Hall in Rosse, with all it's birchwood paneling and light. Except there are no acoustic considerations built in, of course. However, it still feels like Kenyon, which I think is the most important thing.

There was no heat in the Hill Theater all weekend, so throughout the two dress rehearsals I watched on Sunday the actors were shivering in their costumes. However, I was glad to even get to see the dress rehearsals, since both shows (Frozen by Bryony Lavery and Oleanna by David Mamet) are going up this weekend and I (obviously) won't be there. It was wonderful getting the chance to stay up until 1 or 2am with folks, chatting about life and theater and the pursuit of happiness. I can't believe I used to stay up that late every night and not die the next day.

Calista was the perfect hostess, and her futon was mighty comfy. Talking with her made me miss Friday Cafe lunches, Opera Workshop, and nights out with the girls. Senior year as Drama major is still the same, with exhausting theses, upper-level class projects, frantic studying of History of Western notes, and freak outs about Comps in the spring.

Don't worry, my ducklings, you'll all be just fine come May. :o)

More than anything in college, I miss the sense of purpose. Up until I graduated, everything I did was a build up to something bigger, something in the future. But college was the culmination of all my hard work, and now I find myself in the Real World where no one cares if I achieve nothing greater in life than the title of Administrative Assistant IV at Children's Hospital Boston. Everything you achieve and pursue and accept is out of your own determination and drive--there is no advisor pushing you to do more with yourself. And that's what ultimately terrifies me about Life: that I'll accept monotonous complacency because it's easy and familiar, and trying to change anything takes an active, constant effort.

We used to joke about it during rehearsals, but now I'm serious as a heart attack--I want a Life PSM, plz. Someone to keep me on track. Do you think Kenyon would approve such an academic track for the Drama department? After all, they'll need credentials and lots of training.

On an end note, it's my birthday on Saturday. One year closer to being able to rent a car without any extra underage charges!

The Myst Reader by Rand Miller
The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes

No Country for Old Men
Step Up

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Coming Home

I've decided that, for my own amusement (and possibly enlightenment), I am going to list some of the things I both love and hate about Boston.

- You don't have to own a car to live here thanks to the T
- Lots and lots of theater, and many chances to see it for free or discounted
- Sports are a big deal, even (especially) at the college level, which makes for a fun excursion
- Many opportunities for higher education in the area. I think Greater Boston has at least, what, 20 colleges within its circumference?
- Higher salaries for every job
- The Charles River. It may not be the cleanest river in the US, but it's beautiful in summer and winter. There's nothing quite like taking a weekend day to just wander aimlessly around the riverbank, stopping when you want and buying food from cart vendors.
- There are a plethora of public libraries, and two public library systems to choose from. I rarely buy books or DVD's these days since I can just borrow them, which has saved me tons of money.
- Sometimes, when the weather isn't miserable and I'm not in a hurry, walking around downtown Boston is kind of awe-inspiring.
- Related, all the twinkling skyscrapers make for what I think is one of the most beautiful skylines I've ever seen.
- People will readily offer you directions or transportation advice if you ask, no matter where you are. And they almost always know how to get you to where you want to go.
- The city is very well designed for pedestrians, and Cambridge in particular is a haven for bikers. Come summer, I plan on buying a good road bike and getting to work that way.
- There is a free, good daily newspaper: The Metro. I love it, and have had three of my letters to the editor published in it.
- The Common and the Public Garden. Beautiful when covered in snow, wonderful on a sunny day in spring or summer. One of my favorite parts about going downtown.
- Lots of opportunities for just about anything you're interested in.
- Every kind of cuisine you could possibly want can be found in a restaurant here.
- Endless activities and clubs and social organizations to choose from. Unless you're lazy.
- It's extremely easy to visit and to get to other places from. Logan Airport is a major airport without being insanely expensive. Discount airlines like AirTran go just about everywhere from here. Then there's Greyhound, Bolt Bus, and MegaBus. And Amtrak, or Acela, or the Noreaster train to Maine.

- The T majorly sucks, due at least a little to the fact that they are over $30 million in debt. However, that's no excuse for why I sometimes wait 45 minutes to an hour for a train I can squeeze onto to go home after work. Or for train cars that over 20 years old that break down at the slightest drop in temperature. Or for buses that are never, never on time.
- Boston is one of the most expensive cities in America. Second only to NYC, according to a survey done by people who do those kinds of surveys. I pay $675 a month for rent with all amenities included (which in and of itself is nothing short of a phenomenon in Boston), but my apartment in total is about equal to the square footage of 1 1/2 of my bedrooms back home. And it's far away from a lot of conveniences (like groceries). And there's only one tiny window, since it's in the basement.
- Having a BA here means a lot less than it would in, say, Cincinnati or Austin. Since there are so many colleges/universities, there are huge numbers of fresh grads every year looking to snap up all the good jobs there are. And if you want something above entry-level, you are expected to have at least a Master's.
- Higher salaries = higher living expenses. So you get to keep a lot less of your paycheck than you would elsewhere.
- Trash everywhere. It's sort of inevitable in a city, and it's nowhere near as filthy as NYC, but Boston has some serious issues with litter.
- Windier than anyplace else I've ever been. It doesn't generally get as cold here as it does in OH, but the wind. Oh my God, the wind. It makes me want to shrivel up and die in winter.
- The homeless people. I know it can be construed as an awful thing to say, but I've reached a point where I only feel pity for some of them and, for most of them, all I feel is annoyance and anger. It's one thing to sit on bench jingling an empty Wendy's cup for change (that, I will respond to positively), but it's quite another to shove yourself into my space and demand money, or expect me to give you money for opening a door that I didn't want you to open for me, or ask me to buy you fast food as I exit a McDonald's. And they are everywhere you go, until you get out into the suburbs.
- If you dont' like sports, you're an outcast. (Luckily I like sports).
- So. Noisy. Where I live it's quiet, but that's because I'm in the suburbs. When I was living in Allston, or when I'm at work, there's a constant barrage of noise from outside: fire trucks, ambulance sirens, cop cars, train whistles, train horns, bus rumblings, constant honking. For someone like me who doesn't do well with loud, sudden noises, Boston has caused an uptick in my blood pressure.
- People do not mind their business. If you're having a conversation and someone overhears you and disagrees with what you say, they will butt in completely uninvited and make it known. This applies to everything from the Red Sox to politics to the best way to get somewhere. I find it extremely impolite.
- Common courtesy is nonexistent in public places. People will scream into their cell phones while sitting right next to you, they will crowd the doorways on subway trains so no one else can get on, they will stand on the left side of the escalator as you try to walk up it, they don't give up their seats to pregant women or the elderly, and they will block a bus exit with their huge baby carriages and not see the problem.
- I-90, the major thoroughfare, is a toll highway. And it's only going to get more expensive.
- In general, owning a car in Boston can be just as expensive as renting an apartment. A shortage of parking and a plethora of aggressive drivers make sure of that.

It may look like there are more negatives than positives, but there aren't. The negatives are just more narrative and longer in nature.

Thanks for letting me get this out of my system. I've slowly been reconciling myself to Boston, even though in many respects it's the polar opposite of the kind of place I thought I'd end up.

If you live here, feel free to leave your own gripes or praises in the comments. I'm curious! ;o)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Hurray, it's February! This month brings much joy for the following reasons: my birthday (the 21st) and subsequent presents, Dena's birthday (the 4th), my trip to Kenyon (13th-16th), the day after Valentine's Day (candy on sale!), a federally mandated holiday (President's Day), and it's the shortest month (which means that spring will seem closer that much sooner).

See? February is the best month there is. Obviously.

For me and many others, these past couple weeks have seen a phenomenon return to its unrivaled dominance of our lives: LOST. It's back, baby! And more confusing than ever! At this point I've pretty much given up trying to figure out what's going on. Instead, I'm just enjoying the ride and the plethora of "WTF?!" moments this show brings me every Wednesday night at 9pm EST. I've also come to realize that I'm in love with over half the characters, men and women. There are so many awesome ones to choose from! But you can keep Jack, Kate, and Charlotte to yourselves. I couldn't care less about that trio of duds.

I've seen Dylan twice in the past two weeks, and I'm absolutely amazed at how quickly the little guy is changing and growing. He can now speak (kind of), run, jump, make funny faces, dance, understand English, sing the alphabet, and name things around the apartment. He's 1 1/2. It's insane! I love seeing the new things he surprises me with every time I go over there. He's an actual (tiny) human being now with a full-blown personality, instead of just a cute human-shaped blob that makes noise and poops. Although he still does that, too.

This past Saturday I went ice skating for the first time since Yuval and I had our first date. We went with some folks from our kickball team (another reason I'm looking forward to Spring) and had a blast. I tried skating with rented "hockey" skates (they're really called "recreational" skates because they're not as nice as hockey skates), and that made a huge difference in my ability to stay upright. Plus, they didn't hurt my ankles at all since they have more padding than figure skates. After the first shaky 10 minutes, I was skating around the rink all by myself at a moderate speed! And the only time I feel was when Yuval made too quick of a turn while holding my hands and I slid onto the ice in slow motion. No harm done! I really enjoy skating--I just wish I lived closer to somewhere I could skate more often!

Hip Hop class is tons of fun. My knee was bruised completely black by the end of the second class, but I got kneepads for today so I should be fine. It's a great workout and Henry, our instructor, is really funny. Chinese II is also going well, mostly because there's a lot more emphasis on conversation in this class than there was in the last one I took. I was 30 minutes late to class last week thanks to a snafu in my grocery delivery time, but I still got a solid 1 hour in. It's dorky, I know, but I've always loved learning languages.

This Thursday I will be meeting with the Dean of the Children's Literature program at Simmons College. I emailed her asking, essentially, if an MA in Children's Lit would help me secure a position at a Children's/YA publishing house. She told me there's no short answer to this question, so I should come in and speak to her. So, I'll be using my lunch hour to meet with her. I'm looking forward to it, but also a bit scared. What if she says no, this is not the way to go for publishing? I want to enroll in this program so badly, but I'm having trouble finding "real world" applications for the degree. Sadface. :o(

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Darjeeling Limited
Planet Earth: The Complete Series

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail the Chief

So, in case you somehow weren't glued to a TV today at exactly 12:00pm...

And then he spoke. Here's the full text for those of you who, like me, enjoy reading something after hearing it. It was no Emancipation Proclamation, but it was very good. My heart soared thinking of what was happening before my eyes.

History was made today, folks. I've never been prouder of America.

I just hope that people don't expect him to be perfect. Because, let's face it, he's human (gasp!). He will screw up. He will make mistakes. He will say things that will piss us off. He will do things that upset us. But I believe he will always keep We The People in his sights, and so will never swerve too far from his promises.


In non-inauguration news, things are back to normal. I got my meds eventually, and felt better within hours of taking them. Of course, I wasn't completely back to myself for about two days, but it was certainly better than the days that had come before. It scares me, the way that this chemical inbalance in my brain can so alter my perception and my physical reality; it scares me to the point where I hear the things I say and examine the emotions I feel and look around, expecting to find real self floating above my corporeal self. A kind of mini out-of-body experience.

Last Friday a group of us went to see what I call "Adrienne's Cabaret" at NewRep. She was an AD on the production, which happens to be one of the Artistic Director's last, and did an outstanding job. The show was marvelous. I saw the movie version years ago, but so far gone were all the details from my mind that I was essentially seeing it for the first time. And I'm so glad I got the chance!

The next night, Saturday, Yuval and I headed over to the Agganis Arena at BU to watch their men's hockey team battle it out with Boston College's. The tickets were a present to Yuval from my parents, and we had great seats. I was surprised at how well I could tell the difference between NHL and Division I hockey, even down to the little things. It was a lot of fun, even though the Hood ice cream stand gave us melting ice cream as a result of broken freezers. BU won 5-2, which was sort of expected (they are ranked #2 in the nation), but we had been secretly cheering for BC. The experience confirmed one thing above all else, though: I officially love hockey and will watch it live or on TV. It's as exciting as tennis for me (which I realize is something that's boring as all get out for most people), and that's saying a lot.

I also started my Chinese Level II class last week. However, I'm now taking it at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Harvard Square. I was a little lost the first class as they use a different textbook than what I'm used to, but it all came back to me very quickly. I think I'm going to like this new place much more. Anyone in Boston, you should definitely check out the CCAE--they have 100's of classes in things ranging from cooking to languages to dancing. And they're a non-profit, so you'll be supporting a good cause at the same time!

Starting January 26th and continue into April, I will be taking Beginning Hip Hop at BU's FitRec center twice a week. I'm so excited! I finally gave in to what I've known for a while: I can't pursue any kind of solo excerise/fitness program. I need to be a part of a group/team effort, where every session I learn something new that builds on something I previously learned. BU's dance classes are very cheaply priced considering how frequent and long the sessions are, so I think I'll be sticking with them for a while. And once I get my sister's car in March, I think I'll start making more use of my YMCA membership by going to the one closer to my house (but inaccessible by T). Physical fitness, here I come!

Arrested Development (Season Two)
Battlestar Galactica (Season Three)

Crossing Midnight: The Blade in the Soul (Volume 3) by Mike Carey
Jamilti and Other Stories by Rutu Modan
Scalped: Dead Mothers (Volume 3) by Jason Aaron
Predator's Gold (The Hungry City Chronicles Book 2) by Philip Reeve

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keeps Gettin' Better

Readers, the last two days have not been fun for me. Not because of anything anyone has done, or anything at work. Rather, they've been awful because I was stupid and didn't order a refill of my medication in time and was left without it for four nights straight. Perhaps with most medicines this isn't a big deal, but going cold turkey with the med I'm on leads to some really wonky things.

For instance, my brain becomes detached from my body.

Not literally, of course, but it might as well have been sitting in a jar these last two days. You know that feeling when you go to the beach and play in the waves all day and then that night, when you're trying to fall asleep, you still have the residual feeling of ebbing back and forth with the waves? Yeah, my brain's been feeling like that for two days. Except instead of gentle waves, they were like tsunami tidal waves. Seriously, it's messed with my balance as well as my concentration. It's not painful, per se, but definitely disorienting. Also, not being on my medication results in the severe breakdown of my ability to process and control my emotions.

A good example of how unstable I get? Yesterday I tried to get a free Coke with a manufacturer's coupon at the little cart in the lobby of my work building. The women who works there, Veronica, said they don't accept those kinds of coupons as a policy. I argued a little--how can you reject a manufacturer's coupon from The Coca Cola Company?--but relented because I knew it's not her personal choice. However, in the elevator back up to the 10th floor, I started crying because I was so upset and distraught. Over not getting a free 20oz. Coke. Not normal, right?

Yeah, I took today off from work so I could intercept my refill as soon as UPS delivered it and pop a pill. I'm feeling much, much better, but the wave feeling hasn't entirely gone away (not that I expected it to disappear magically). I also slept in until 1:11pm, which apparently my body needed because this is the least ill (re: head cold) that I've felt in a week. So, for the past four or five days, I've been living with three awful things in combination: my period, a complete lack of my medication, and a head cold. Not fun.

My medication regulates some hormones in my brain, and it treats my dysthymia. I've been taking various kinds of meds for this since my sophomore year in high school. The current one is the best I've ever had, as it doesn't make me super tired all the time. There have been times when I've gone without my pill for a day or two because I was stupid and forgot to ask my parents to reorder for me in high school or college. But this is by far the worst it's ever been, and has definitely taught me the importance of ordering refills way in advance of when you're going to need them.

So, the lesson learned? Don't fuck around with your meds, kids, because there's a reason you need a doctor to get them. Take as directed, y'all!

In news not related to my health, life is good. The weather in Boston has been absolutely bonkers lately, from warm to freezing to snow to rain to "wintry mix." Tomorrow I go to the dentist for my 6-month cleaning, so that should be a blast. Don't keep telling my not to eat Snickers, dudes, because they are too delicious to sacrifice for mere teeth. Friday I'm going to see the Actor's Shakespeare Project production of The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, which any of you who took/have taken Renaissance Theater should know well and love. I mean, what's not to love about a play where brothers forbid their young sister widow to remarry, she marries her servant in secret immediately, he gets her pregs, all while crazy medieval shenanigans are afoot? Good times!

Hopefully I'll get to go swimming tomorrow, for the first time in about a month. The pool was closed last week for an annual cleaning, so I couldn't go. Instead I had a fight with a stairmaster machine, which I totally lost. Not doing that again. Speaking of exercise, for those who live in Boston and want to have fun whilst sweating, I've discovered a place in Central Square called The Dance Complex. It's a non-profit run by volunteers and part-time instructors and offers about 100 different kinds of dance/martial arts classes. I think I'm going to be signing up for the Zumba/Bellydance class that meets every Wednesday night. Most classes are drop-ins where you pay the instructor directly ($9-$14 a class), but some have deals where you get a discount if you sign up for a whole session. In short, it's completely awesome and needs to be checked out by anyone and everyone who wants to get in shape but have fun while doing so.

I'm currently listening to 98 Degrees's album "98 Degrees and Rising" on my Zune media player, one of many CDs that I finally got around to burning into MP3s. Man, I miss these boys. Cincinnati-bred, all of them!

Okay, I'm out. Stay healthy and be well, y'all! And remember to take all medications as directed by your Doc. :o)

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Fables: War and Pieces (Volume 11) by Bill Willingham
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara by James Gurney


Friday, January 2, 2009


Happy New Year! Are you still writing "08" on everything like me? It'll take at least a month before writing "09" becomes a subconscious thing for me. Happens every year, man.

I had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas back home in Cincinnati with the family. It was just the four of us, which isn't something that happens very often for holidays. We ended up eating dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Kyoto, on Christmas Day. If Mom had cooked us the Christmas dinner she was planning, we wouldn't have eaten until 10pm because we didn't get back until early evening from seeing a movie (a tradition that has been upheld since I was little). I guess that makes us psuedo-Jewish, right? Or does that only count if you eat Chinese food on Christmas?

My parents and family came through again with fabulous gifts. Here I present an awards show for what some gifts won in certain categories.

Most Hilarious: the cell phone "corset" my aunt and uncle got me (a cell phone carrier in the shape of a ladies' bodice)
Most Nefarious: iTunes gift cards (dammit, now I have to give in to Jobs's evil empire ever so slightly!)
Most Practical: new bras (all the girls out there are with me on this one--so essential)
Most Erin-appropriate: Shark Week--The 20th Anniversary DVD Collection
Best Attempt (& Subsequently Returned): 2 super cute wool sweaters (I just...can't...wear...wool)

Like I said, it was a great Christmas. The present I'm the most obsessed with--bought with the money gained in the return of some items--is my red 30GB Zune. I'm fully aware that everyone considers the iPod to be the Epitome Of All That is MP3, and Zunes are supposedly for dorks. But since I'm not really interested in playing Solitaire or browsing the internet while I'm listening to music, the Zune was the obvious choice. Also, have I mentioned how much I hate Apple? If people ask, I'll detail all the reasons why in a future post.

Right now I'm in the laborious process of ripping all the CD's I want on my Zune to my computer. Oh, CD's. I remember when you were so cool, you were ice cold. I pray you come back in vogue someday, like original LP's, so I can impress my grandkids with my nearly mint edition of the Black Eyed Peas "Monkey Business" CD.

And because I am my mother's daughter, I've already sent out all my Thank You cards for presents received. Happy now, Mother?

I also saw/watched a lot of movies over the holidays. A lot. Like 7 in 4 days. What can I say? My family's idea of quality bonding time is sitting down to watch a Brendan Frasier film or seeing the latest Jim Carrey movie. Which is all fine by me, as I secretly want to see all these things but am either 1) too cheap to see them, 2) too ashamed to see them, or 3) a combination of 1 & 2.

2009 feels a lot like 2008, although that may be because January 1st was a Thursday and I had to go back to work today. So the old year and the new year fell in the same work week, and something magical is lost when you have to enter it on your timesheet that way. I did, however, have a rockin' New Year's Eve, though not with Dick Clark (aka the Cylons' latest model). First Yuval and I hit up a party in Newton Center at the house of some of his co-workers and my friends from kickball. It was great to see them, now that we don't have a weekly game of kick-ass to play until Spring.

Then we braved the T for over an hour to get up to Davis Square, and made it to Tim's house 30 seconds before the ball dropped. I barely had time to drop my coat and grab a plastic cup of Andre before Times Square exploded in confetti and performances by Fergie. We stayed until about 2am, when we had to leave before the T shut down for the night. The walk back to Yuval's house from Porter Square left my feet both numb and frozen in pain from the cold. It was to the point where the only remedy was a soak in hot water, a pair of wool socks over a pair of regular socks, and Yuval lying on my feet to warm them with body heat. Times like that are why I have come to loathe winter and weep during the last days of autumn.

In honor of the new year, I've decided to list the things that I see as my major accomplishments of 2008. Kitschy, but I get a slight feeling of pride from comparing where I am now to where I was a year ago.

- Started exclusively dating a guy I met via the Internet. Am with that same guy still. :o)
- Filed my income taxes by myself for the first time. Ever.
- Quit my first real grown-up job.
- Saw a Bruins game at TD Banknorth Garden.
- Got my second real grown-up job.
- Negotiated/planned/paid for everything for moving out of my first apartment and into my second.
- Found a fabulous apartment via Craigslist.
- Furnished said apartment.
- Bought a gardenia plant, and have kept it alive.
- Opened a 403 (b) retirement investment account.
- Started swimming again.
- Took a Chinese class on a whim, and discovered that I liked learning the language.
- Voted in my first Primary election.
- Voted in the first General election where my guy won.
- Got two opinion letters published in Boston Metro.
- Bought a new laptop completely with my own money.
- Started repaying my student loans.
- Realized that I was making too big a deal of where/what I wasn't instead of focusing on where/what I am.

Anyone else got any big accomplishments they'd post on the fridge if they were translated into kindergarten drawings?

I hope everyone has a totally rad start to 2009. And don't freak out if you've already broken your New Year's Resolution--they were never meant to be taken seriously.

State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey

Yes Man
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Get Smart
A Christmas Story
Tropic Thunder