29 December, 2009

Corby

Back in the day this blog used to detail random aspects of my life. That hasn't happened for a while and a big update from late September went unreported. I adopted a ~1 year old female cat named Corby (after Schapelle Corby). I had really hoped for a friendly cat like Mumkin rather than one that would only appreciate me only for being the provider of food and otherwise ignore me. Corby is undoubtedly the friendliest and most loving cat I've encountered. She'll sidle up to me the moment I come in the door and loves nothing more than to lie next to someone and be petted.

Corby is always locked out of my bedroom at night because she won't hesitate to walk on my limp body at 3AM and then curl up right next to my face and purr like a god damn lawn mower. I just got back last night from a week long visit to Texas, and while Kevin and Katy had graciously agreed to take care of her in my absence, I thought she might be a little lonely from not having Dan or I around every day. I left my door open last night in the hopes that she'd appreciate being able to see me at home but resist her desire to wake me up repeatedly. This of course did not happen and I did not get an uninterrupted night's sleep. I think her cuteness makes up for it.





24 November, 2009

February the 13th

The gunshots ripped through the clear silence of the night and jerked me from my uneasy sleep. I had been half-awake when the twin explosions destroyed the silence and sanctity of her bedroom. They were not the staccato pop that you heard on TV but a ferocious boom, a roar from a man-made lion of steel and corrugated metal that exploded lives and tore apart the hours of the night.

Only moments ago I had been at the hockey arena miles from the scene. I was trying to buy tickets to see BU slaughtered. BU, who had to die, who must be given a violent and bloody death on the ice at the hands of the Huskies for their reproachful win of the Beanpot a few nights prior. This injustice could not stand! I must have tickets, they’ll be taught a permanent lesson, I’ll jump onto the ice and kill them myself if I have to!

And suddenly I was in a too-warm bed, the shots rousing me from this dream. It was not BU who had been mercilessly torn to shreds but the flesh of a living human only a block or two away. I couldn’t help but think this as a silence came over the street in the wake of the noise. Maybe it was just a car backfiring, I told myself. That must be it. There’s not a person lying on the cold sidewalk just down the street from where I lie. His blood was not seeping through the burnt hole in the coat and out onto the concrete. The blood did not run down the cracks until it met the dirty ice at the edge. The ice did not soak up the blood, changing from a corroded gray and white color to an eerie pink and red shade in the night. There was only a car at a stoplight, too old and beaten down for the driver to bother taking it in to fix the annoying backfire.

The first siren didn’t silence these thoughts as it approached from a far distance. The second, beginning only half a minute after the first had arrived, succeeded. I didn’t need the third to convince me.

My heartbeat could be heard distinctly and I tried not to wonder if the person in the street still had one.

22 November, 2009

here for the gang bang: a craigslist story

The company Christmas party is coming up in a few weeks, and despite a mutual understanding with my friends at work that we'd all go stag or bring a friend of the same sex, everyone is now rushing to find an actual date. This quickly devolved into Anna, Michelle and Kate (again, names changed to protect the innocent) writing up a list of requirements for potential dates. On Friday, this was posted on craigslist with hilarious results.

Seeking Short Term Technical Friend for 12/11 - 3 positions avail (Boston)


Seeking Short Term Technical Friend

Qualifications:
Bachelor's Degree, Masters preferred
Straight
Single, non-divorced, no baby drama
Cleanly
Likes sports
Loves dogs
Has a job
Tall - 5'9" plus
Can lift heavy things
No Baggage, at least not over 50 lbs.
Wears a watch
Drug-free
Casual drinker - alcoholics need not apply

Responsibilities:
Available December 11, 2009 from 5:30-9pm for a holiday party with possibility of overtime
Able to dress appropriately
No vomiting, all eyes on me
Ability to mingle without supervision
No lurkers

3 S.T.T.F positions available

The first few responses were about what you'd expect: terrible spelling and grammar, old guys and creepers.

hey it's kevin.i'm 5'7" 255lbs of pure loving.i do have ajob with plenty of freedom(collect cans)love all sports.love animals.can i asume u have a dog(does he bit?i carry a bag of cans around all day some lifting is no problem 4 me.(will i b lifting u)i got a new watch yesterday came with my happy meal at mcdonalds.can i shower before we go.i ride a bitchen huffy with spinners.u will look sweet on it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Hello, I'm repsonding to your add for a great man if I might say ;) No one married me so as not divorced. I've gone to school as you'll be able to tell when we meet. I can hang and crack jokes with the best of them, I like it, most poeple do too. I can watch sports without drinking much so I think you'll like me when we are around.

I like kattens, not on your list but u should konw, dogs are ok if they don't bark hard. I can lift heavy things, but not baggage (like you want ;( ) because my arms hurts. You'll be glad to konw I also do have a watch, I don't use the band because it broke but I keep it in my pocket all small like and it works great!!1! I'm technical. I can keep eyes on you as you say without vomiting unless other people do that a lot?? but I hate lurking too! It should be a good time with me, you'll see give me mailBack and well hit it off!!




Ok sounds like fun. Single, professionally employed 51, 6' 221, can dress up in a suit and tie, Batchelors degree, manager in a small company, Not sure why I would need to lift heavy things but in my younger days I did work fro a beer distributor. I wear a watch have good hygene and present myself well in all settings. If any of this interests you respond with a picture and i will share one with you.



Because its Friday and everyone has taken a half day except me... i decided to browse CL for fun. I assume this is a Christmas party of some sort?? Ok, 27, live by 93/95, bacherlors in Engineering, work for myself in the pharmaceutical industry, clean, like sports, am 5'10", what else did you want to know? Oh, don't wear a watch... I think that covers it. Let me know if you are interested in knowing more.


All of these provided some amusement to us throughout the day on Friday, but absolutely nothing compares to the message they received late Friday afternoon:



Subject: here for the gang bang


From: jack collins

What's up bitches,


I saw your desperate craigslist ad and wanted to respond with my qualifications:


Bachelor's Degree, Masters preferred:


I am a bachelor and I am masterful at many things. For example, a woman once looked at me with her sweaty, satisfied and adorable face and said "you just completely opened my eyes to a depth of pleasure I've never known..." It's my curse, really. I'm so good women hate me. The reality of the situation is this: as soon as a woman experiences me, they are screwed (both literally and figuratively). Why, because once you go Jack, you never go back. The euphoric pleasure that grips a woman when I'm with her is beyond orgasmic, and no man will ever get them there again. I'm pure heroin.


Straight:


I have a slight bend, but I believe the women enjoy the bananarama I bring to the sack. You will not be disappointed, unless you dislike overwhelming pleasure.


Single, non-divorced, no baby drama:


Although I don't consider myself single because there are a half a dozen women in rando cities who believe I'm there boyfriend, I'm far from committed. I have commitment issues when it comes to stupid shit like getting married and being a good father, but I am desperately committed to taking you to pleasure island on an hourly basis, if you wish.


Cleanly:


I vigorously scrub my junk after a questionable lover choice. I monthly tea bag a bowl of acid with my shaft (sans balls) to make sure it doesn't get too use to the sweet nectars of vaginal crease. This keeps it guessing and clean.


Likes sports:


Not sure what you mean here. I've done sports-themed role playing before...


Loves dogs:


Okay, beastiality is not my thing, but I'll watch you and the pup if you want.


Has a job:


Trust-fund count?


Tall - 5'9" plus:


Wow, you are demanding little bitches. I don't know of anyone who has a 5' 9" schlong, but if I did I think I would recommend that they get some loppers and shorten that bro up before he kills an unsuspecting slam piece.


Can lift heavy things:


You girls are so kinky and Jacky likey. I'm usually not into HUGE boobs, because when you get weird with the size of those things it's just plain distracting and absurd. But, yes, I would be happy to lift your 'heavy things' ... i've taken the class on how to take care of implants and have my certificate to prove it, so your heavy things are in good hands.


No baggage, at least not over 50 lbs:


I don't spend the night, ever. And why does the weight of my luggage matter? Are we going to fly somewhere? Mile high club, perhaps? O hell yeah... okay, I'll keep my bag under 50 lbs


Wears a watch:


wtf is this about? If I wear a watch your skin will be so cut up.... def. not wearing a watch. i once made this porno and the working title was "Chuck nOrris goes ape shit on sexually starving amish community" because, from an outsider watching, it looks like I'm beating the shit out of my lovers but really it is just extremely sensual rubbing and quick transitions. sexually violent is a good way to describe it. but, can you describe it with words aptly? hell no. there are about 143 women who know what I'm talking about and they won't shut up about it. heroin, bitches, heroin.


druge-free:


viagra not needed. my sexual rage comes straight from the reservoir of hate and pain i have from growing up with a whorish mother and alcoholic father...


casual drinker - alcoholics need not apply:


I only need water every 2.5 hours. my porn name is "camel bro" ... it's like camel toe, but with bro and it refers to my ability to perform for hours without a break.



Well, I think I answered all your questions and at this point you hos are wanting me pretty bad. respond if you want the time of your life. if not, i'll probably pick all 3 of you up at a bar at some point.... whatevs, you choose.


Oh, and I'm not sure what you require for technical assistance but it has been my experience that technology is not needed in the bed chamber. but, i have been known to fix a diesel dildo or two in my day. usually it's just the batteries... small screwdriver


You may think that I am nothing of what you want, but I believe you will find that I am everything you need.


Jack "no means yes and yes means hurt me" Collins


Craigslist personals

The story I'm about to tell happened two months ago. I had meant to write about it at the time but never got around to it. On Friday an infinitely more amusing story involving craigslist happened that I want to tell, and so I had to write this one first because all other stories will pale in comparison to the recent one. So I hope that you will read this, be moderately amused and then read the next story.

Craigslist has been a continual source of amusement on the slow days at work. It started within my first month when my friend Britney (all names have been changed to protect the innocent) began reading the
missed connections aloud. If you haven't read them before you should really take a few minutes and browse through them. It was probably just the suggestive and slightly creepy voice that Britney used to read these that made it so amusing, but it was a weekly tradition on Fridays to go through them and laugh at the people who anonymously tried to connect with someone they had only briefly met or made eyes at. After Britney and another coworker expressed a desire to have a missed connection written about them I hatched a plan to write one for her.

I waited a few weeks before acting and I debated the efficacy of such a prank with several people. All of them said it would be awesome and encouraged me to go for it. "That's not crossing a line?" I asked. "What if she gets pissed?" No, everyone said, it would be brilliant. Then I had to wait for an opportune moment. For this to work I had to know a specific place where Britney had been on a given day. Our office or the work shuttle would be too obvious and simply stating the location as "the MBTA red line" would be too vague. So I waited until Britney went to a show at the House of Blues, knowing it would be the perfect locale for a missed connection. The next day I posted my "missed connection," describing how she had been waiting in line with two friends and our eyes had locked on several occasions. I included a rather vague physical description of her and submitted it. And then I waited.

Of course right afterwards we both got busy with things at work and the week passed without any readings from craigslist. On Friday I decided to take things into my own hands. After lunch I asked her to read some missed connections. "Not now, I have a lot left to do today," she replied. Fuck. The post had been up all week at this point and I didn't want it to disappear into the hundreds of pages of desperation that exist on craigslist. I brought it up again an hour later. "Just take a break for a little while and read some of them," I prodded. Britney consented and read through a few pages worth but somehow skipped over mine before saying, "ok, back to work."

"Come on, read a few more," I begged. "No, I'm done. Read them yourself if you want," Britney replied. If I read the one I had written to her it would be way too obvious. She would definitely catch on, but fuck it, there was no other apparent way to get her to see it. I read out a few random ones to not be exceedingly obvious before getting to mine. "Hey, this one is from the show you were at the other night," I told her. "Really?? Read it!" she commanded.

I began reading it but keeping a straight face during this was one of the hardest things I had done. After only three weeks of working here, Britney had told me that she had already identified my "lying face," and she had been extremely accurate at identifying my lies since then. Let's just say I wouldn't make a good poker player. I knew that to pull this off my face would have to be a fucking stone. I had only read two sentences when she shrieked, "ohmygod! send it to me!" I sent her the link and her excitement about potentially having a missed connection took over. I watched her face closely as she read the rest of the ad, as it went from an expression of hope and eagerness to pure joy. "This is me!" Britney yelled while pumping her arms in the air. "I have a missed connection!"

Her shouts attracted the attention of several coworkers who were then told the story at about 15 words per second. Somehow they managed to understand what Britney was saying. I sat there continuing to do a great fucking job of not cracking up. Britney emailed her roommates to tell them her accomplishment of having garnered a missed connection. They urged her to reply to it, saying that it could be fate and other such nonsense. While she debated whether or not to respond, I was trying to figure out at what point I should tell her that I wrote it.

Our friend Scott walked up to hear the story and as Britney told it again it became clear she was going to respond to it. I couldn't let it go that far. I was already worried I had potentially crossed the line between prank and destroying someone's dream, and letting her send out a heartfelt email to her mystery soulmate would just be weird.

"Are you going to write to him?" Scott asked.
"Yes, I HAVE to! This could be destiny!" Britney said.
Fuck. Yep, have to end this now, I thought.
"Don't reply. He could be some freak. Writing an anonymous post on the internet to someone is weird," Scott said.
"Oh come on, as if you've never written some anonymous message to a girl online before," Britney retorted.
"No, I haven't. That's messed up," Scott said.
"Yeah, I haven't done that either," I chimed in. "Except that I did. Just now."

There was an awkward pause. Britney looked at me curiously and it took several seconds before the meaning of what I had just said dawned on her. Scott burst out laughing and I was laughing too, although still worried about Britney's reaction. It was as if she didn't actually believe I had written it. "Did you really write it?" she asked and as I told her that I had, I prepared to duck behind my desk in case a stapler or other metal objects came hurtling in my direction. Fortunately Britney has a sense of humor and she laughed about the whole thing. After work I told the friends who had advised me to go through with it the whole story. Their responses were all the same: "I can't believe you actually did it! That could have backfired horrendously!" Thanks a lot, assholes.

16 September, 2009

A briefly interrupted hiatus

There it was: that ephemeral experience of waking up and not knowing where the hell I was. It came to me quickly, as it usually does, and I understood that this strange apartment was my own. The couch I lay on was not mine, nor the coffee table or bookshelf next to me. It felt like a fucking hotel. Clean, unencumbered, sterile furniture that wasn't my own. What else could this be? But this place was my home and I'd have to adjust to it sooner or later. Still, I was not in my bed. I closed my eyes and waited a full minute before opening them again. The headache wasn't going away. Somehow I managed to remember where I had put the bottle of ibuprofen when I unpacked. I downed three pills with a standing glass of water and trumped down the stairs with one hand steadying myself on the banister. It was darker downstairs, and colder. I liked this, and fell right back asleep the moment I hit the bed.

02 July, 2009

A completely rational fear of dying naked

I've long questioned just how structurally sound my apartment building is, particularly the exterior bathroom wall. This wall is right at the L bend in the alley, so looking out the bathroom window gives a view up the alley towards the street. For whatever reason, the garbage trucks always enter the alley at that entrance by driving in reverse towards our building. I can't imagine that the tight 90 degree turn is easy in a huge truck but I have absolutely no idea why they do the whole thing backwards. It seems to unnecessarily complicate an already difficult situation, but I must assume that there is some sort of logic behind it. On several occasions I've walked out of the back entrance to the building only to find the garbage truck backing towards me. I would quickly retreat back inside and use the front door instead. I had already assumed that the exterior wall was in such disrepair that the simple act of hitting the bricks with a hammer could potentially bring down the entire building. Each time I witnessed the garbage truck driving in reverse down the alley I would always wonder if the building would be intact when I returned. And yet the garbage has been picked up twice a week since September and our apartment has yet to collapse into the basement.

A few days ago I was taking a shower earlier than usual when I heard the rhythmic beeping of a large vehicle backing up. I flipped the curtain back briefly to glance out and was confronted with the back of a bright yellow garbage truck. I'm not the type of person who pictures their own death around every corner. I don't worry about plane crashes, car accidents or T drivers texting while operating trains. But when I saw that 25 ton yellow behemoth headed slowly towards me, I was convinced it was a harbinger of my imminent and very naked death. In an instant I saw how it would happen: the truck would just scrape the bricks, cracking the wall as it began to cave in. First the basement wall would go, and then the floor and the tub. I'd fall along with the rest of the bathroom as brick and wood tumbled down around me. My body would rest in the rubble, stunned and injured but still alive, until the upper floors began to cave in on top of me. My last living memory would be of that incessant beeping of a truck in reverse and maybe a fleeting thought of, "they'll find me naked!" Initially the police and firefighters would think nobody had been injured. But then one of the search dogs would catch my scent and signal that there was a body in the rubble. They'd work frantically to clear the debris, only to find my naked and soapy body crushed helplessly. The incident would, of course, make headlines. My 15 minutes of fame would be carried in newspapers and cable news: "Boston Man Dies While Showering in Freak Garbage Truck Incident."

I briefly considered jumping out of the shower and running naked down the hallway. No, I would stay in the shower and risk death rather than make a huge ass out of myself. There isn't a good way to explain that situation to roommates. "Well, the garbage truck was about to slowly crash into the building in reverse and I didn't want to die naked," would probably not be something they would sympathize with. I stood there motionless, all too conscious of the beeping getting louder as the truck approached. The sounds finally passed as the truck continued on its backwards journey down the alley. I finished washing the shampoo out of my hair and dried off, altogether relieved that I hadn't died in a most embarrassing fashion.

12 June, 2009

Cycling misadventures

This is not turning into a cycling blog. I can't promise that this will be the last thing I write about biking but hopefully I won't have any more exciting stories to share. Wednesday morning I woke up and went for a ride out to Olmsted Park in Jamaica Plain. It's about 4 miles from my apartment and the loop around the park is another 3 miles. There are biking/walking paths going around the park and I thought it would be a nice ride before going to work that afternoon.


At times there are separate paths for walkers and bikers around the park, but in some places they merge and the path must be shared. I was riding hard and whenever there were walkers or runners I would shout out, "passing on the right!" and the people would move to the left and allow me to pass. I had lost my voice on Monday and was still hoarse but I had enough of a voice for people to hear me shouting. About halfway around the park the biking and walking paths had converged and shortly beyond that were two women walking side by side, just distant enough from one another to block the whole path. I called out, "passing on the right" and kept pedaling towards them, only they didn't respond. I shouted it again and louder, but my voice was failing me and they didn't seem to hear.

To my right was a rocky embankment and to my left was the pond. There was no way I could go off the path. "Fuck," I thought, and hit the brakes hard and yelled "RIGHT!" as loudly as possible as I skidded towards them. I was as far right as I could be on the path, as I hoped that the women would hear my shout and respond. With my last cry they finally noticed. The woman on the right looked back at me, paused, and then moved to the right so she was squarely in front of me. My bike skidded straight into her ass and then everything slowed down.

The back of the bike lifted into the air and I was thrown off head first in slow motion. The ground was above me somehow and I had an upside down view of the bike as I flew through the air. It was a very surreal experience until I hit the pavement. My left foot was still hooked in the pedal but I smashed my right knee into the ground and caught myself with my right palm. I bounced back up immediately to check on the woman I had hit. We were both apologizing to one another but she seemed to be fine. Her rather large ass had cushioned most of the blow which probably helped both of us in the end.

I knew a a crash was inevitable in a big city and I feel better knowing that I got my first one out of the way quickly and without serious injury. I'll definitely be more wary around walkers and runners in the future.

There was almost another incident of a different variety that afternoon. I had ridden my bike to work and was feeling more comfortable in Boston traffic. Most drivers are actually pretty courteous and try to give bikers as much room as possible. On the way home from work I noticed a driver behind me driving slowly instead of passing me. I was as far to the side as I could be but it was a one lane road and I can understand if drivers don't want to risk passing close to bikers. I had had a few others do the same and while I'm sure it's annoying to be stuck behind a bike there was nothing that I could do about it.

After following me for a block the driver honked at me. I looked back at him briefly but again, there was nothing I could do about it. The street finally widened into two lanes and he pulls up along side me with his window open and shouts something at me. I couldn't hear what he said with the wind blowing past my ears but I was pissed. There was no reason to honk at me and even less reason to shout at me as he drove past. The driver sped up as we approached a light and I screamed back at him, "share the road fucker!" The car hit the brakes and stopped at the light as it turned red. "Fuck, why did I have to say anything?" I thought. I road slowly up next to him and the guy begins yelling at me. Stories of road rage shootings flashed in my mind and I realized what a dumbass I was to have shouted back at him. The light was red but there was no traffic. I figured it was better to run the red light and get away from this asshole than risk whatever might have happened had I waited at the light next to him. He continued to scream as I rode away. From now on I plan to ignore any assholes on the road.

10 June, 2009

The bike arrives and my problems begin

The bike finally arrived Thursday morning. When I went out to greet the UPS man, he greeted me with a cheery, "hey, I've got your bike for you." Bike boxes are pretty easy to recognize but he could tell with certainty that there was a bike in it since the top of the box was completely open. The whole package was pretty banged up.
"Uh... yeah, but is everything still in there?" I asked him.
"I think it just ripped open as it was being moved to the truck. I'll mark the package as open though, just in case," he told me.

A quick glance inside showed that everything seemed to be there except the pump. I dragged the box inside and started putting it together in the living room. I had put together a bike once or twice before with my dad, but that was at least 5 years ago and I had just done whatever he instructed. It wasn't too bad though, and I was able to get it together in about an hour while watching the Red Sox game on TV.





The first thing I noticed after it was put together was that both tires were rubbing up against the brakes. You need a wrench to adjust the brakes and of course I didn't have one, so I walked the bike over to Kevin and Katy's apartment to use a wrench. The front brakes moved easily enough but I couldn't get the back brakes fixed. Kevin and I realized that the back wheel was bent. I had ridden this bike when I was in California in April and it had been fine so the damage had to have occurred during shipping. I walked it over to Back Bay Bicycles and one hour and $28 later they told me they had fixed it. I'm hoping that UPS will reimburse me for the repairs.

I started riding it back home and my first thought was, "damn, I never realized how bumpy Boston streets are." This is true but I then noticed that the bumpyness was coming at a regular interval from the back wheel. I turned around and road it back to the shop where they actually fixed it this time at no additional charge. It was about 5:30PM by this point and I road it home but didn't want to go for a long ride in rush hour. I decided to save my first real ride for the next day.

Naturally, I woke up sick on Friday and didn't feel up to riding. I spent most of the day in bed and hoped I'd feel well enough to ride on Saturday. After Dan heard about all the problems I had gone through with the bike and how I got sick upon its arrival, he asked, "did you consider that maye you're just not meant to ride a bike in Boston?" I did feel a little better Saturday, although I still had a sore throat but I wasn't going to wait around forever to ride the damn thing after having waited for so long to get it. I took a nice ride out through Jamaica Plain to the Arnold Arboretum and back. I also rode the bike to the movie theater by the Boston Common that afternoon and left it locked up outside for a couple of hours. I was half convinced that when I came back out it would have been stolen, just because practically everything else had already gone wrong at that point, but the bike was still there. I realized that anytime I ride the bike instead of taking the T I'll end up getting to my destination quicker but quite sweaty. To my Boston friends: you're going to have to deal with it.

Monday was my first day back at work after the bike arrived. Finally I'd be able to give up the T once and for all. The MBTA will have to do without my $3.40 per day. The ride to Coolidge Corner only took 20 minutes riding at a leisurely pace. I still got to work a little sweaty but it was so nice not to have to depend on the T. I biked home that evening with groceries from Trader Joe's in my backpack and without having to endure the headache of taking the T around rush hour.

Upon waking up Tuesday I discovered rain and a forecast for steady rain all day long. It stopped early in the morning though and by the time I was ready to leave for work the roads were almost dry. Still, I decided to take the T since I assumed that the weather forecast was correct and that the rain would resume. It didn't rain all afternoon and a light drizzle started right as I left work. I was pissed that I hadn't ridden to work and it didn't even rain. Just to spite me, the T took close to half an hour to arrive and was then packed full of people. I'll be riding to work every day from now on, barring a heavy downpour.

04 June, 2009

Waiting For Nishiki

My last attempt to purchase a bike didn't go so well. I made a few more half-hearted inquiries through craigslist after that but couldn't find any decent road bikes in my price range. I did have one person reply and say that he had about 10-15 bikes at his home in Dorchester that he was selling for cheap, but I didn't particularly feel like getting robbed or buying a stolen bike. When I told my grandfather about my bike woes he offered to ship me the Nishiki road bike that my dad had kept in California. He took it to a bike store in Claremont and was told that I would have the bike delivered either last Friday or Monday.

Since the bike was being shipped UPS freight we had no tracking number. I spent all day Friday inside my apartment waiting for the front door buzzer to signify the arrival of the bike. I didn't even want to risk taking a shower in case UPS showed up. It didn't come and I was disappointed but not surprised. They had said it might not get there until Monday and I could wait three more days for the bike. Unfortunately, I had work on Monday and could only wait around the apartment until 1PM. The bike didn't come before I left for work. When I got home that evening I went to the front of my apartment building, hoping to see a UPS sticker on the front door showing that they had at least tried to deliver it. Walking up to the door I could see a familiar brown and yellow sticker. yes! They had tried to deliver it! I ripped the sticker off eagerly to see when they'd be back for another delivery attempt. Then I saw the name on the sticker. It wasn't mine. Go to hell, Josh in apartment 25. I sheepishly replaced the sticker, disappointed once again.

But before I got to my apartment another glimmer of hope appeared. Maybe they had actually delivered it. Maybe Nick had been home this afternoon and had signed for it. Maybe the bike was sitting in our hallway! I unlocked the apartment and walked inside, squinting in the darkness and searching for a large cardboard box. Nothing. Maybe Nick put the box in the living room. Again, nothing. Fuck. Ok, well this will be an exercise in patience, I thought. The bike will get here when it gets here and there's nothing I can do about it in the meantime.

My grandfather called me that evening to ask if the bike had arrived. I told him in a cheery voice that no, it hadn't, but I'm sure it will get here soon. I was trying to be very optimistic about everything when really the delay was fucking killing me inside. "I'm going to call the bike store and find out what's going on," he told me. I said not to bother, that the bike had been shipped and I'm sure they didn't have any more information than we did. It's all in UPS' hands now, no use annoying the nice people at the friendly local bike shop. My grandfather called back 15 minutes later. "They really screwed up. The bike is still sitting in the store. They forgot to ship it last week," he said. Guess it was a good thing he decided to call the store after all.

The store said they would ship it the next day (Tuesday) and that it would be sent via UPS 3-day air. UPS currently says that the package is in Shrewsbury, MA and is scheduled for delivery today. It has been 17 days since I made that first attempt to buy a bike. During that time I have spent $33.85 on the T, wasted countless hours hoping the bike would arrive, countless more hours being disappointed and an untold amount of money and time drinking beer to cope with the disappointment. The title of this post is a reference to "Waiting For Godot," a play in which the two characters wait for the mysterious Godot to arrive. Godot never appears, but I'm confident that the Nishiki will be delivered today.

02 June, 2009

Even homeless people need lovin'

Summer seems to have really brought out all the crazies in Boston. Their winter ice caves have melted and they have dispersed themselves among us, in the streets, the stores and, of course, the MBTA. Saturday night found me taking the T home from Cambridge with my friends Kathryn and Alex. We had spent the evening drinking at a friend's BBQ, but due to the T sucking ass and closing around midnight we were forced to leave the party early in order to avoid shelling out money we didn't have to an angry cab driver.
And so we walked somewhat drunkenly to the Lechmere T stop where, despite Alex's brief attempt to fight the mechanical T gate, we happily made it onto a train. The three of us sat down together, Kathryn in the middle and Alex and I on either side of her. For a brief period of time, all was great in the world. And then he got on the train.

I think Alex noticed him first, as he later recalled that, "the second I saw that dude I fucking knew he was going to talk to us." He was short and dirty, obviously homeless or very poor, and made no move to hide his insobriety as he stumbled onto the train and practically fell into the seat facing me.
"Hey... you've got nice hair," he slurred, and I looked up at him. "Uh, thanks," I replied. I glanced at his hair. Light brown and gray, dirty and very curly emerging from under a soiled blue Red Sox cap. I turned back to my friends, wrongfully assuming that our chat was over.

"That's a nice shirt you've got, too," he said. I thanked him again without looking up. Kathryn and Alex were giggling at this point while I squirmed awkwardly in my seat and moved closer to them.
"Is that some chest hair sticking out?" he asked, and I looked at him again to see him grinning at me and staring at my chest.
"Uh, no," I said and turned my body away from him and towards Kathryn to block his view. It was then that my good friend Kathryn decided to intervene on my behalf and smash her purse into his wrinkled face while screaming at the drunken fuck to leave me alone. Or so I wanted. Instead, she said, "actually, I make him shave his chest." Alex burst into laughter and I wanted to kill them both.
"Don't fucking encourage him," I tried to quietly scream at her through clenched teeth.
"Looks like a hairy chest to me. Why don't you unbutton that shirt and show me," homeless man said. I quickly buttoned the top collar button on my shirt.

By now everyone around us was paying rapt attention to this conversation. The girl next to homeless man was staring straight at the floor and trying not to laugh, while the girl to my left stared in open enjoyment at the scene before her.
"I make him keep his shirt on while we're on public transportation," Kathryn offered. "Trust me, it's shaved." Finally, some support.
"Heh-heh, what else do you make him shave?" homeless man asked.
"Oh, I make him shave eeeeverythiiiing," Kathryn replied without missing a beat. I don't know how she managed to keep her composure. Alex was about to piss himself, everyone around us was openly laughing and I just wanted to disappear.
"You wanna show me?" homeless man asked hopefully.
"No. Absolutely not. Fuck you, Kathryn," I said.
"I think you and me should get together," homeless man suggested. Apparently I hadn't made it myself clear. I wasn't interested. I put my arm around Kathryn and said, "I don't think my girlfriend would like that very much."
"Oh. Well we could have a threesome," homeless man said with a grin.
"No. I think my friend over here would get jealous," I said while reaching behind Kathryn and grabbing Alex by the shoulder. He stopped laughing momentarily, until homeless man suggested we just go all out and have a foursome together. Alex resumed his fit of giggles while Kathryn declined the offer.

"She's no fun. How 'bout just us men have a threesome then?" homeless man said. This time I burst out laughing while Alex replied with, "nah.. man, no way," and collapsed into laughter once again.
The girl next to homeless man was laughing and typing rapidly on her phone. I can only assume she was texting about the awkward situation going on around her. Homeless man was still staring at me like a piece of meat. By now we had reached Copley Square. When the stop was announced, homeless guy sat up straight and said, "oh shit! I think I missed my stop! Is this North Station?" North Station had been the second stop after Lechmere, and we were pretty sure that's where homeless guy had boarded the train. He jumped up and stumbled towards the door. We all laughed and I was relieved that he had gotten off. I had been somewhat concerned he would get off the train when we did and follow us home.

And then seconds later he was back in his seat. "This wadn't my stop! I'm getting off at Prudential!" homeless man shouted, happy to have figured out where he was. Prudential was one stop away and at least he'd be off the train before we had to get off. He leaned forward and leered at us.
"He's gonna impregnate you," homeless guy stated quite matter of factly while looking at Kathryn. I couldn't look at the guy I was laughing so hard. And also creeped out.
"Mark my words, he's gonna impregnate you tonight!" homeless guy shouted. People not in our immediate vicinity were looking over and laughing now. We finally got to Prudential and the girl next to him reminded him that it was his stop. He once again stumbled on his way off the train, but turned around once more before stepping off to again shout, "he'll impregnate you!"
Nobody could control their laughter at this point, especially when we realized he hadn't walked off but was standing right outside the train window staring in at us and waving, a big toothy grin on his face. Homeless man stood there until the train left. Yet another reason to avoid the MBTA.

01 June, 2009

Be wary of free

If there's anything I've learned in Boston it's that you should not always take advantage of something just because it's free. I learned this lesson the first week of freshman year when I inadvertently ended up at a LGBT meeting based on the promise of free pizza. There was no pizza. The internet, however, is a treasure trove of free stuff. Just in 2009 alone I have gotten several free sandwiches from Quizno's, a $50 prepaid Visa card, a 24oz bottle of ketchup, some terrible Stride "Always Mandarin" gum and, most recently, 4 tickets to a concert at the House of Blues (note: none of these free things were obtained by clicking on a flashing banner or links contained in emails. I do not endorse attempts to sign up for free things on the internet and cannot be held liable for damage to your hard drive, credit rating or mailbox if you attempt to get free stuff after reading this blog. By continuing to read you submit to a legal agreement to abide by the Terms and Conditions of the "coming or leaving" blog. For a full copy of the Terms and Conditions please send $1.99 US via PayPal to comingorleaving [at] gmaildotcom along with your physical mailing address. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. For international requests I also require an additional $5 for the purchasing of a beer on the way to the Post Office. Additionally, this beer is not for you and will not be mailed with the Terms and Conditions).

The House of Blues occasionally gives away tickets to concerts that aren't sold out through their Twitter account. I follow them since I like live music and free things that don't suck. Last week they were giving away free tickets to see some band to the first five people who replied with the locations of other House of Blues venues. A quick google search on my phone later and I was one of the lucky winners. I texted my roommate Dan to see if he'd be interested in going and got a quick response back: "fuck yea who is playing." The band was called The Bangles and neither of us had heard of them. I was pretty excited to have something fun to do after work that day. If you know of The Bangles then you already know where this story is headed.

When I got home, Dan said he had told some people at work about the concert we were going to. His boss replied, "oh wow, I used to listen to The Bangles all the time in the 80s!" Well, that wasn't what I was expecting. Obviously any show that they're giving away tickets to isn't going to be really popular or sold out but I wasn't expecting a band from 20+ years ago. So we searched YouTube to find out who The Bangles really were. This is the video we saw.



Yes, The Bangles are the 80s girl band who brought the world hits such as "Walk Like an Egyptian," "Eternal Flame" and "Manic Monday." They weren't a band I had ever planned on seeing live but we couldn't pass up this opportunity. When we got to the House of Blues I went to the box office window, handed them my ID and said, "I, uh, won tickets to see The Bangles... from Twitter. God I feel like such a dumbass." I was handed four tickets but I was only able to convince two people to come with me. While we were waiting in line to have our IDs checked I was given hope that there would at least be a young crowd there. The guy in front of us couldn't have been more than a few years older than us and was bragging to the bouncer about how he had just left court after fighting his DUI charge. He appeared to be pretty drunk.

Once we were inside the crowd was about what we had expected: the place was only about half full and most of the people were in their 30s. Since none of us were inebriated or even alive when these songs were released we couldn't enjoy it in the same manner as the other concert goers, but we stuck around to hear Manic Monday and Eternal Flame. We had hoped to hear Walk Like an Egyptian but worried that it wouldn't be played until the encore and I certainly had no desire to stay for that long. We finally left after a particularly drunk woman shouted out a request to have a song dedicated to her. The singer obliged and the woman shouted out "yeaaaah!! Girls night out!" The singer laughed and said, "well for all of us on stage it's moms night out!" I no longer follow the House of Blues on Twitter.

20 May, 2009

I need a bike

I finally gave in and decided to buy a bike. This decision is something I had been struggling with for a while. When I first moved into this apartment in September I wanted to ship one of my bikes from home up here. Shipping a bike isn’t cheap though, and I had just blown the majority of my post-Europe savings on cheap Swedish furniture with names like ‘krëfshael,’ which then took several days to assemble. Maybe the bed would have been put together correctly the first time if Dan and I hadn’t been drinking Wild Turkey, but it was a really mind-numbing process and we wanted to make it more exciting.

I thought about buying a bike when I got back to Boston after Christmas but my bank account was at an all time low. Once I started getting regular paychecks from my part-time job again I looked into getting a bike. I didn’t find any great deals and the prospect of riding in the snow and ice wasn’t very appealing. After my California trip I made up my mind; I was getting a fucking bike. I contacted a few people on craigslist before finally finding a bike at a price I wanted. After agreeing on the price I replied back asking when and where I could meet him. He promptly stopped responding. Disheartened, I once again gave up on the bike idea.

Until yesterday. It was in the mid-60s and sunny and I was pouring more money into the T to get to work. It made no sense. I wanted to be outside in the nice weather and I wanted to not give the MBTA any more of my money. I had also just lost gym access since Jeremy’s ID finally expired. Even though I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d stay in Boston, I decided that I had to have a bike. It would save me $10-15 per week and it would be my final ace in the long-running feud with the T. Never again would I have to deal with money being stolen by the ticket machines, long waits for trains and gates closing on my hand. I would finally win.

I started searching craigslist and the third ad I clicked on was for a guy selling over 20 bikes. I contacted him and Chuck told me that he used to buy bikes, fix them up and then re-sell them as a hobby. He had just injured his arm and decided to retire and was selling off his inventory. I could get a recently repaired road bike for $60! He was in a small town south of Framingham, but no problem, I had a Zip Car membership. I called Chuck after work and said I could be there in an hour.

I’m still not sure if my decision to drag Dan along with me was the best or worst thing I could have done. Google said it was a 45 minute drive and I figured he’d make good company and could act as a navigator. Both Google Maps and Chuck had advised to use country roads instead of I-90. Mapquest disagreed, but who was I to argue? Sure, Google Maps might have steered me wrong a few times in the past. There was that time I tried to go to South Padre Island and ended up in Mexico. And that time I tried to go to a concert in Austin and Google advised me to take a highway that didn’t exist on the opposite side of the city. But Chuck seemed like a good guy and obviously he knew the best way to get to his own house.

We made it to Wellesley before we took the first wrong turn. That one was my fault, but it was quickly realized and we doubled back and got on the right road. Dan wasn’t making it easy for me though. I like to know what the next several directions are so I can try and figure the route out in my head. He would only read them one at a time. If I insisted on reading further directions he’d begin to make things up.

“Ok, what do I do after I turn onto Route 16?”
“Don’t worry about that yet, just turn right onto 16.”
“Yeah, but what’s the next direction after that?”
“Hm. After that we take a left on Westland.”
“And then?”
“Then a right onto Hemenway.”
“Westland and then Hemenway. The streets right by our apartment.”
“Yes.”
“I hate you.”

This led to a decent amount of confusion and several more wrong turns. We were driving through a forest, and while there were quite a few houses out there we didn’t encounter any towns. Dan called this “the suburbs.” I called it “the fucking middle of nowhere.” Still, I was excited to finally be getting a road bike and at an awesome price. I kept thinking about how awesome Craigslist is. Second try at buying a bike and I found a great deal. Sure, there was that BU student who was murdering girls he met on Craigslist a few weeks back, but they caught him and all was well. I was already thinking about going for a ride in the morning and then riding to work in the afternoon.

We made it to Chuck’s house in about 70 minutes, just as it was getting dark. Dan and I walked up and rang the doorbell. Chuck had warned me that he doesn’t always hear it and to call his phone if he didn’t answer. The doorbell was pretty loud but nobody came to the door so I tried his phone. We could hear the phone ringing inside, even louder than the doorbell. It rang and rang and then went to his answering machine. I heard his muffled voice on the machine through the door and on my phone. I tried knocking loudly on the door but there was still no answer.

Dan and I made jokes about how Chuck had lured us out here to kill us while we waited. We noticed another door off to the side and knocked on that door. I called several more times. After more than 20 minutes of waiting, calling and knocking we finally gave up. Fuck Chuck.

The drive back was even more confusing. The previous wrong turns, coupled with the darkness and Dan’s fake directions got me completely turned around. I had absolutely no idea where the hell we were but we somehow made our way back to Wellesley, and from there it was essentially a straight shot back to Huntington Avenue. The drive back went quicker but I still had to call and extend the Zip Car reservation. I returned to Boston bike-less, angry and hungry. Chuck has yet to respond to my email inquiring as to his absence last night. That guy owes me $30 and a bike.

06 May, 2009

California

I've always wished that California was my home. My parents lived in Pasadena before I was born and my dad even got a job offer in Hawaii but somehow they finally ended up in Texas. I grew up imagining life in southern California or on the beaches in Hawaii. Meanwhile I was climbing trees and trying not to fall onto cactus in the Texas hill country. I think it's fair to say that I got gypped. In second grade my teacher put a huge map of the United States on the wall and we all got to put a dot where we were born. I wanted so very badly to put a dot in California and tell the other kids that I spent the first 6 years of my life in paradise. I imagined the other kids admiring me for having lived a life of excitement on the beach and everyone would ask me all about California. I would tell them tales of the Pacific, of Disneyland and Universal, of orange trees and sun and perfect weather. It wouldn't change my miserable existence in central Texas but I would be a star among the Texans. Or so my second grade mind imagined. I doubt the other kids would have given a damn but to me it made all the difference.

In third grade I switched schools and decided to hell with it, I was a new person here, my dot hadn't yet been placed on any map, I could be anyone I wanted. So I became Daniel From California. My lie didn't bring me the happiness I had imagined. Nobody cared that I wasn't from Texas and it didn't alter the distance between me and the nearest beach. When I began to make friends at the school I felt bad for lying to them. I slowly began to do away with my false identity. "California?" I'd say with a slight frown on my face when it was brought up. "No, I have family there and I visit a lot, but I was born in Texas." I dropped back down to the masses and blended in once again.

It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't the weather or the beaches that made California so special to me. The family that I had there and the connections to my dad's history were the reasons why I loved it. My dad's parents in Claremont were always in my life even though they were so far away. Weekly phone calls on Sunday evenings kept us close. And they spoiled me whenever I visited, as grandparents do. California was playing checkers with my grandmother in the dining room. California was taking months' worth of soda and beer cans to be recycled with my grandfather and getting $5 for them. California was playing "roof ball" with my dad. California was seeing my sister for the first time. California was story after story of my dad's youth.

I had only been back once since my dad died, and that was exactly two months afterwards when my grandmother had died. The house had been full of family for the funeral. The two days rushed by without pause for thought and then we were off to Palo Alto, to mourn, rest and recover through Thanksgiving. This was my first time back since then. I slept in my dad's old room, walked past his high school, rode the bike he shipped out to California when my grandmother first became sick. The first three days of this felt odd, as if I was trying to become him or merge into his shadow. I slept in his room because the alternative was an uncomfortable fold-out couch. I walked past his high school because it was around the corner from my grandfather's house. I rode his bike because it was there and I hadn't been on a bike since early January. I missed him more than usual.

The week was spent idly as I finished one book and started another. My grandfather and I watched baseball, basketball and hockey games together. We shared dinners and beers, entire bottles of wine and glasses of tawny, stories and memories. I'd go for a bike ride by the mountains in the early afternoon, even on the days when the temperature came close to 100. I don't know if I was running from the house or relishing in its past. No matter what, I loved every minute of it. We went out twice for Mexican food and each time I wrote a review of the restaurant in my head, giving and subtracting points for the menu, salsa, food and guacamole while I sipped on Pacifico and sat mostly silent with my grandfather. We visited his friend Dr. Seinfeld, the father of my dad's best friend in high school and college. I talked about Boston and Belgium and Niger and Geneva. My friend Ryan from Texas came and skated alongside me as I biked, and we went out for pizza, went out again two nights later for Italian with my grandfather and some family friends.

And when it finally came time for me to leave I said goodbye to my grandfather and to the house, and to my dad. I went back to Boston, where nothing is ever real.

05 May, 2009

Plumbing woes

Yesterday the maintenance guy came by the apartment because a leak in our bathroom was flooding the basement again. He suspected the sink and told us to stop using it for a few days. I expected some half-assed fix from him but after leaving our sink running for 10 minutes it was soon realized that the problem was something else. Our landlord joined the maintenance guy in tearing apart the bathroom to try and find the leak. Turns out it was the toilet, and the next time I walked into the bathroom the toilet was gone. All that remained was a hole in the floor where the toilet once stood and our 70+ year old landlord peering down into it and shouting. Eventually the leak was fixed and our toilet replaced, but the whole situation reminded me of a similar incident back in November. I wrote about it in an email to Kevin and in his reply he demanded that I start a blog to "amuse the masses." So, masses, here is the story that started it all.

Our building, like most in this part of Boston is pretty old. The landlord is a 70-something year old man named Mr. Pizzi who is very hard of hearing but generally really nice. He always says hi to us when we see him and was good about getting things fixed when we first moved in. The shower in our apartment has a window with frosted glass in the wall. When we moved in there were two shower curtains: the normal one preventing water from splashing out into the bathroom and one against the window/wall. I assumed the one against the wall was there so that we could open the window for ventilation and not have the city of Boston watch us shower. How wrong I was.

The shower rod holding the curtain against the wall fell down right before we left for Christmas break. The tension rod broke so we couldn't put it back up. No big deal, it wasn't a huge concern for us. Yesterday morning I took a shower and then went to my room to get dressed. Shortly after closing the door to my room I heard loud knocking on the apartment door. I ignored it because it was 10AM and I couldn't care less who was there. The door opened though and I heard Mr. Pizzi shout, "hello?! Is anyone here?!" I quickly threw on my robe and went out to see what was going on. "Jason! Did you just shower?!" I was standing there in my robe with my hair sopping wet. I think it was pretty clear that I had just showered. Also, I don't know if you know this, but my name isn't Jason. Nobody in my apartment is named Jason. Of the four of us, two are named Daniel. If you say "Dan" or "Daniel" you have a 50% chance of getting the person's name right. He usually just calls all of us Dan which works well enough. "Hi Mr. Pizzi. Yes, I just showered.." I replied. "The damn basement is filled with water! The water just goes straight down there!" he said. We had problems with our shower not draining before thanksgiving so I figured it was a pipe problem or something. I told him that it had drained fine so I didn't know what was going on. "I'll tell you what it is, it's these damn tiles! All the tiles in here are loose and the water gets into the walls and goes straight down there! This is the second time today I've mopped it up. I'll put up a shower curtain tomorrow for ya but stop showering! I'm sick of mopping down there." Obviously the solution here is to put up a shower curtain against the wall rather than retile the bathroom. If I had known that a shower curtain was necessary for the structural integrity of the building then I wouldn't have showered. Ok, that might be a lie. I'm not skipping out on my morning showers. I actually just took one, albeit a very quick one so that I wouldn't flood the damn basement and bring on the wrath of Mr. Pizzi. Shhhh.

22 April, 2009

The joys of air travel, part II

I'm back in Boston after spending a very relaxing week in southern California and once again I have a story about an annoying person on a flight. I flew Virgin America for the first time because they were cheap and they had non-stop flights from Boston to LAX. The flight out of Boston was supposed to leave at 7AM but we hadn't pulled back from the gate at 7:10. The pilot got on the intercom and told us that a computer glitch had delayed us. He said maintenance was on the aircraft fixing it and that it would just be another 15 or 20 minutes until we could leave. I thought it was nice of them to inform us of what was causing the delay and figured that everyone else would appreciate the update as well. I didn't take into account that some people would freak the fuck out at hearing "computer glitch."

The girl in front of me had already been complaining about the delay before the announcement. I could hear her complaining almost immediately after we boarded. "Weren't we, like, supposed to leave already?" she asked. The person in the seat next to her either did not respond or didn't shout out the way she did. "This airline is, like, alllllllways late. Every time they are, like, soooo late!" I was quite relieved to be sitting next to a quiet Asian couple who were more interested with the in-seat TVs than they were with the delay. The girl in front continued to, like, complain while drawing out certain words for added emphasis. I was already picturing a typical blond SoCal girl with tons of makeup and tried to imagine using her body as a battering ram to get the door open in an emergency. And then the pilot made the announcement.

"Oh my gawwwd! A computer glitch?! This plane is totally not safe!" Fuck, seriously? She's going to freak out over this? "Excuse me! Hey!" she shouted at a passing flight attendant. The flight attendant turned and came back to her row. "What's wrong with the plane?! I do nooooot want to fly on this plane if there's a computer glitch!" The flight attendant assured her that it would be fixed momentarily and that the plane was perfectly safe. "Are you sure? Isn't the computer, like, really important?" Dumb Socal Girl asked. "Yes ma'am. There are multiple computers on the aircraft and it's just a small problem with one of them." "Well which computer is it?" Dumb Socal Girl demanded. "I'm not sure ma'am. I can assure you that we would not take off if there was a problem though," the flight attendant replied. "Is it the altimeter?" "I'm sorry ma'am, I really don't know. We won't leave until it's fixed though."

I was surprised she even knew what an altimeter was. The woman had already told her that she didn't know which computer wasn't working but obviously shouting out random aircraft terms will help her figure it out. Dumb Socal Girl's panic didn't end here, however. She had to call her boyfriend to warn him that she might not make it to LA because there was a computer glitch that could crash the plane and this might be the last time they ever spoke to one another. I pulled out my book and tried to pretend I couldn't hear her.

I did not encounter any crazy or annoying people on the flight back to Boston. I was sitting next to a 3 year old girl and worried that she would scream and cry for most of the flight. Luckily the crying was limited to a 10 minute period about an hour into the flight. She spent the rest of the time watching TV. Thank you so much for those TVs Virgin America.

16 April, 2009

last night's dinner: Trying to make something from matzos

I’ve already made it quite clear that I dislike Passover this year. I didn’t expect it to affect me other than the lack of work but I forgot that my grandfather keeps kosher for Passover. I had planned on cooking while I was out here but I hadn’t thought ahead about the whole kosher thing. If you haven’t ever tried matzoh you really should just for the experience. The particular brand of matzos that my grandfather bought is “Yehuda Matzos” which, as the package proclaims, was the number 1 rated matzo in 2002 according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Apparently the Chronicle declared that Yehuda Matzos are “crunchy, with a good snap.” Notice that this description does not include anything about taste because matzo does not have a taste.

I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to make that was kosher and not terrible. The only kind of dish I’ve eaten with matzos in it was matzos brie which is basically fried matzos mixed with scrambled eggs. It wasn’t bad but I also wouldn’t say that it was good. Luckily I found a few recipes that sounded pretty decent. I settled on a spinach and matzoh pie recipe on epicurious.

Ingredients
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
* 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill, divided
* 1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
* 2 cups whole milk
* 3 large eggs
* 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
* 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups), divided
* 6 matzos (about 6 inches square)

Preparation
* Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
* Cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
* Meanwhile, put spinach in a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. Add spinach to onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup dill, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
* Purée cottage cheese in a blender with milk, eggs, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until smooth. * Reserve 2 cups in a bowl and stir remainder into spinach with 1 cup feta.
* Stack matzos in a deep dish and pour reserved cottage-cheese mixture over them. Let stand 15 minutes to soften.
* Arrange 2 soaked matzos side by side in a generously oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch (3-quart shallow) baking dish. Pour in half of spinach filling. Cover with 2 more matzos, then pour in remaining filling. Put remaining 2 matzos on top and pour any remaining cottage-cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup feta.
* Bake, uncovered, until golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tablespoons dill.

I halved the recipe since it was just two of us and this is supposed to make 8 servings. I also used fresh spinach instead of frozen, left out the dill and topped it with sliced tomatoes. Instead of soaking the matzos I just briefly washed them in cold water. It was really good and if I ever had some matzoh around the house I would definitely make it again. I usually take a picture of any of the meals I write about here but I hadn’t eaten all day and forgot to take one before we started eating.

15 April, 2009

I've twittered 1000 times

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this but that sounds dirty. To celebrate my 1000th “tweet” I wanted to do something special. Failing to find anything special at all I’ve decided to write all the things I have wanted to post on Twitter since Monday night when I hit 999 tweets and thus began avoiding Twitter. This will also serve to annoy anyone who dislikes Twitter (and I do believe there are a few of you).
  • NU up 5-0 going into the bottom of the 9th!
  • Right behind home plate at Fenway Park. I’ll never get these seats again http://bit.ly/2OaTB
  • 5-2. As Ricky just said, “it’s not a Huskies game unless we blow it right at the end.”
  • 5-3. Do we have another pitcher? Anyone at all? I’d volunteer myself but I promised Patrick I wouldn’t set foot on the field tonight.
  • And that’s the game. Huskies win the baseball Beanpot 5-3
  • Apple, I dislike you quite a bit for waiting until 20 minutes before closing to call and making me run to Boylston Street.
  • Dan and Patrick are convinced that they’re going to get me drunk tonight. Not happening.
  • Patrick’s Mobile Bar & Grill makes some mean kamakazis.
  • Red Sox are down 6-1, they’re off to a rough start this season.
  • Ok, one more kamakazi. But that’s it.
  • 12:30AM. Kicked everyone out so I can go to sleep. I succeeded in not getting drunk.
  • 1:07AM. Why can’t I sleep?! I have to be up in less than 4 hours. Maybe I should have drank more.
  • 4:50AM Fuck it's early. Not enough sleep.
  • I just spaced out in the shower and wasn’t sure how much time had passed.
  • Everything is finally packed and I’m right on schedule. I’m sure I forgot something important though.
  • Forgot my laptop charger. God dammit, might be a few minutes late getting to the Zip Car.
  • Is the Prius supposed to be blue? I thought the website showed that it was silver.
  • @kevin_doyle and @kkobzeff are awesome for coming with me to the airport this early and driving the Zip Car back. Thanks so much guys!
  • The Virgin America counter is playing rock music and has neon purple lights. Wtf?
  • Almost left my keys at security.
  • When I get to LA I have to take a bus to the metro, metro to some station, metro link to Claremont. I think that’s the right order.
  • I’m trying hard not to laugh at this plane. Techno music, glossy white plastic, neon lights. Am I at a rave?
  • Oren described their planes as “an 80s coke dream.” Pretty accurate. Now go vote for his video!
  • There’s a guy on this flight with pigtails, a Willy Wonka top hat, blazer and red cowboy boots.
  • $12.95 for wifi? No thanks, I plan to sleep for most of the flight. Guess I’ll post this 1000th tweet blog when I get to my grandfather’s house.
  • I always drink tomato juice without ice on flights. I should have had them give me the whole can.
  • The guy next to me keeps adjusting his sleeping girlfriend’s head. Creepy.
  • Hope he didn’t just see me type that.
  • Why does Virgin charge $8 for a movie that’s still in theaters and $8 for a movie that’s been out on DVD for two months?
  • The LA Metro is... interesting.
  • Finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Didn’t like the epilogue type ending but other than that it was fantastic.
  • This girl on the train keeps staring at me. I don’t know if she’s checking me out or if I have something on my face.
  • In Claremont! Amazing weather. No wireless internet. Will post this tomorrow.
For those that don’t follow me on Twitter I wouldn’t have actually posted all of these. I’m not that obsessed with it. And if you suffered through this and hate me a little bit more then you can blame @mckennalowry for convincing me to get a Twitter account and @kevin_doyle for getting me to start using it after a long hiatus, during which I frequently talked about how stupid and worthless it was.

13 April, 2009

A Saturday evening incident

The following is an account of a recent conversation with two police officers and a rant about Boston law enforcement.

On Saturday night I was walking with MK to my friend Kathryn's apartment. Kathryn lives in Roxbury which is not the nicest part of Boston. Both MK and I lived in Northeastern dorms in Roxbury before so we didn't feel too uncomfortable walking out there at 9:30PM on a Saturday. Still, when we passed an unmarked police car right by the liquor store we were walking into I commented that it was nice to see police presence in the area. MK jokingly said that they would probably stop us to check our IDs, especially since I turned and looked at them as we walked past. We bought a bottle of wine, walked out of the liquor store and turned the corner onto Kathryn's street. We had gone no further than maybe 10 or 15 feet when we heard a siren right behind us and saw flashing lights. Even though we had sort of expected this it still startled the hell out of me. Nobody expects to hear a loud police siren directly behind them.

MK and I walked over to the cruiser and handed the officers our IDs. She remarked to me that she had been right and the cops asked what she had been right about. We explained that we had passed them and thought that they might stop us. The officers were nice enough and joked about MK being a New Yorker while writing down our information. One of them said, "you know this isn't a safe area to be walking around in at night, right?" We replied that we knew. He then went on to say that there had been a murder only two blocks away a month beforehand. This really pissed me off. They're concerned for our safety in an unsafe area yet they are staking out a liquor store to try and catch underage drinkers? I fully understand that purchasing alcohol as a minor is illegal and that officers have every right to ask for someone's ID if they think they're underage. What I have issue with is that the cops don't seem to think that they have anything better to do in a neighborhood like Roxbury other than try and stop college students from drinking. How about driving around and patrolling some of the crime ridden areas? I was angry but I kept my mouth shut.

The police wanted to know where we were going, if we were students, what my job was and where I worked. They asked for our phone numbers and social security numbers. At this point I asked why they were writing all of this information down. We were told that they needed it to prove that they had talked to us. I felt that giving my drivers license should have been enough but if there's anything I've learned in 2009 it's to not talk to police. Even now I regret that I said as much as I did but I didn't really have a choice. If I refused then I'm not sure what could have happened. I watched a video lecture by a law professor and former defense attorney who gave a number of excellent reasons why you should never speak to police under any circumstances without a lawyer. Unfortunately, I know all too well how expensive lawyers can be and can't afford to hire one over nothing.

All in all the police had us there for about 10 minutes. Their attitudes were pleasant and I didn't feel intimidated by them in any way. At the same time I felt they had no right to question us beyond asking for our IDs in order to determine our age and identity. Due to previous interactions with police I have lost all faith in officers to behave correctly and lawfully especially in situations involving college aged students. My trust of law enforcement officials in this country has been lost and I was too worried that if I so much as questioned their right to ask this information then I would potentially be detained or even falsely charged with a crime. I'm not suggesting that all police officers are corrupt assholes; certainly there are upstanding members of all law enforcement agencies including the Boston Police Department. My personal experiences have shown me the darker side of things unfortunately. It might be that the officers were perfectly within their rights to ask us for all of that information and write it down. If that is the case then we are becoming way too much of a police state for my comfort.

12 April, 2009

Another reason to love bourbon

Back in January I wrote that my cousin Oren was in the running to win $25,000 for a commercial he made for Doritos. He ended up winning the money and a trip to the SuperBowl but lost out on the grand prize of having his commercial air during the SuperBowl. He's got a new video for Jim Beam and once again he's a finalist. You can view it and vote at http://jimbeam.com/thefinalists.aspx

You have to register to vote and you which sucks but you can vote once a day. If all of you vote and help Oren win he will personally deliver a bottle of premium Jim Beam bourbon to your door step.* You can see more of Oren's videos at http://orenbrimer.com/ or on YouTube. And just for the hell of it, a picture of me and Oren after surfing in Cerritos, Mexico. Just to prove that I know him since he'll be famous soon.



*This promise is not endorsed or guaranteed by Oren Brimer

09 April, 2009

Conversations in my head. And new blog features!

It's day 1 of my 19 days without work and I've managed to prevent myself from needlessly spending money, but just barely. I decided to check and see if any bands I like are going to be playing in the LA area while I'm there. Turns out TV On the Radio will be playing in Pomona the day I arrive. Cool. Then I noticed that Silversun Pickups are playing TWO DAYS BEFORE I GET THERE. If you've played Guitar Hero with me in the last two weeks then you know that they're one of my favorite bands. I was so psyched to see one of their songs on Guitar Hero so you can imagine how excited I was at the possibility of seeing them. Of course there was still the small problem of my arrival date being after the concert.

I checked online with Virgin America and a flight out of Boston on the 12th was actually $50 cheaper than the flight I had picked. When I tried to change the flight the website happily informed me that I would owe $89. I immediately regretted passing over the $12 travelers insurance which would have let me change or cancel my flight at no charge. Next step was to call the airline. I had been able to change my flight with American once by simply lying and saying that a family member was having surgery. Virgin is smarter than that though. I would have to pay the fee and then fax them a letter saying why I deserve to have the money returned.

I spent the next half hour going back and forth in my head on what to do. While listening to Silversun Pickups.
'Spend $100 and get to see one of my favorite bands perform!'
'I don't really have $100 to spare...'
'But you love this band! You haven't had a chance to see them before and they don't have an East coast tour planned!'
'But... I kind of need the money. You know, for food. To live.'
Singing: 'I've been waiting for this moment allllllll my life'
'Dammit. Ok. I'm going to change my flight. But how much are the concert tickets? If it's more than $35 then I'm not going.'
'It's just $22.50! That's such a bargain.'
'But that ends up being $35 with the stupid ticketmaster fees. And I'll probably buy a shirt for another $20'
'Don't buy the shirt! Just change the flight and buy a ticket to the concert.'
'Can I even get tickets to the concert? What if it's sold out?'

It was sold out. I almost paid $100 to change my flight to go to a concert that was sold out. These conversations with myself are not a sign of insanity and as you can see it actually prevented me from needlessly spending money. Crisis averted.

I also took some time today to change the blog. coming or leaving now has some awesome new features, like a banner! and email subscriptions! Things that almost every blog has actually. We're finally getting with the times. For those who don't use an RSS reader like Google Reader, you can now enter your email into the box in the top right and each new post will be sent to your inbox, just like magic. No matter how desperate I get for money, I will never sell your email to spammers. (Besides, I think everyone who wants a bigger penis has probably already bought the pills the spammers advertise. Seriously, you guys have sent out millions of emails about penis enlargement products, several hundred of which have gone to me, but for some reason you think that sending out just one more will really change my mind? Just fucking quit already.) I've also copied Kevin and Katy by adding another sidebar and my Twitter feed, just in case you aren't on Twitter and really want to stalk me. I'll probably replace that with penis enlargement ads soon.

06 April, 2009

More reasons why April sucks

Contrary to my previous rant about Passover it's actually one of two Jewish holidays that I celebrate, the other being Hanukkah of course. The Passover Seder is fun in that you sit around with your family and friends, eat odd foods, butcher the Hebrew language, take turns trying to read a long list of things in a single breath and drink a good amount of wine. This year, however, Passover has angered me which led to the rant about it yesterday.

Since I work at a synagogue my income revolves with the Jewish calendar. Passover begins Wednesday and lasts for a week so I don't work this Wednesday or all of next week. The week after that is spring break for public schools up here. After Tuesday I have 19 days without work. Just another reason why I don't like the month of April. I'm bored enough as it is and having almost three weeks to myself would likely result in the following series of events:
  1. Spending money I don't have on things I don't need
  2. Attempting to obtain a cat, either through legal or illegal means
  3. Having to pay an extra $1000/month rent because previously obtained cat has killed my allergy prone roommate
  4. Starting my own Nigerian internet scam in a desperate attempt to pay extra rent
  5. Accidentally scamming poor people in Nigeria instead of dumb people in America
  6. Traveling to Nigeria to return the money I stole
  7. Being arrested and forced to share a prison cell with the goat that was detained for stealing a car
I don't want to live with a goat in a Nigerian prison which is definitely what will happen if I'm left in Boston to my own devices for 19 days. The best way to avoid this is for me to take a break from Boston and visit my grandfather in southern California. I haven't seen him since we left Paris in early August. The timing of this trip is actually a little odd since he'll be flying to Boston at the end of April for my graduation ceremony but since I don't know what I'll be doing over the summer yet this might be my last opportunity to go out there for a while. Or I might be unemployed all summer long but I'd rather not think about that possibility. I'll only be out of Boston for a week which still leaves plenty of time to get myself into trouble. Other possible scenarios during my time off include writing a ton of cover letters and posting more absurd blog entries. Both of which are extremely likely.

05 April, 2009

Judaism needs some better holidays

This Wednesday marks the beginning of Passover, a week-long incredibly outdated "holiday" which involves Jews all over the world giving up leavened bread. Myself excluded of course. What is leavened bread you ask? I'm sure Wikipedia can give you an actual answer but for our purposes I'll just say that it's normal bread. Unleavened bread, which is the only form of "bread" acceptable to Jews during Passover, is essentially a tasteless cracker called matzah. Think giant saltines with even less taste to them.

Passover is supposed to commemorate the time when the Israelites didn't have enough time to let their bread rise as they were fleeing from Egypt so they only ate matzah for seven days. Or something like that. So to honor or remember them Jews are supposed to remove all leavened products from their home and eat matzah. Awesome holiday guys. I hope the guy who came up with this one got a sweet golden idol from Moses or something. I can just picture the conversation.

Israelite: Moses, this matzah stuff fucking blows.
Moses: I know but it's not my fault that the women didn't have the bread ready. You guys didn't see the first nine plagues as a sign that we'd have to get the hell out of Egypt soon? Get with the program.
Israelite: Can't you do some of your magic and turn the crackers into French bread or something? I mean, you changed water to blood so this should be easy.
Moses: Look, I can't just go asking god for favors left and right. He just killed a bunch of little kids and I don't want to piss him off. That guy has some anger management issues.
Israelite: Alright, fine. But we should at least make all of our followers suffer through the hell of eating this crap for one week every year. That way they'll know how we felt.
Moses: That's brilliant! Here, have one of the golden idols I confiscated the other day. Buy yourself something nice once we get out of this fucking desert. Although at this rate we'll probably be wandering for a couple more years.

Jews seem to really like holidays that force them to suffer. Besides Passover there's also Yom Kippur during which people are required to fast. When do we get the holidays where people actually celebrate something and then get to do fun things like search for plastic eggs filled with candy? What Judaism lacks is a savior. Once we get ourselves one of those then we can start making up fun holidays. Since nobody is volunteering for the position I'll take one for the team and volunteer myself. I know it's a big job but nobody else seems willing to do it and I think we've had enough of this matzah crap for now. So spread the word! I'm now the self-proclaimed savior of the Jewish people. Give it a few years for me to gather some followers and then I'll cook up some awesome holidays for y'all.

Note: I'm not exactly well versed in the Jewish holidays so if I bungled some of the details then I apologize. Once everyone starts worshipping me I'll rewrite them so that they're more accurate. If anyone was offended by this post then please accept my sincere lack of apology. You should probably stop reading this blog.

02 April, 2009

There's nothing good about April

I've been following Improv Everywhere since I was in high school. In case you don't know they're a group in New York that stage various pranks using flash mobs. They were featured on the tv version of This American Life after they arranged for a hundred or so people to attend a concert of an unheard of band. The band had expected for a few of their friends to show up and instead they had a packed house of people singing along with them and cheering. I always found their missions entertaining. Until yesterday.

I was going through my google reader and saw that they had a new prank posted. Here is the description that they posted.

For our latest mission, 30 Improv Everywhere agents found a random funeral in the obituary section of the newspaper and turned it into the best funeral ever. We picked a man who had very few surviving relatives and then showed up to his funeral to make it truly awesome.
I was shocked and appalled. How could they do something like that? The description and pictures made it worse. It showed only a few people at the funeral when suddenly thirty Improv Everywhere agents show up. The family is visibly confused and someone asks who they are. They only reply that they're friends of the deceased. They stay through the funeral although the photographer they sent was spotted by the priest and told to leave. As it ended one of the relatives chased down an agent trying to get an answer. I understood that the idea behind the prank was to make the family feel that their loved one had a lot of friends but it was all a lie and very disrespectful. If it had been one of my relatives I would have been fucking pissed.


After my initial outrage I went on with my day and forgot about it. Last night I was hanging out with some friends when one of them came across the YouTube video of the prank. As we watched it I explained the whole thing and expressed my anger that they had been so disrespectful. Everyone agreed and once my rant ended we moved on to another video. Then something clicked in my head. Shit, what day did they post this prank? We checked and it was dated that same day, 1 April, 2009. April-fucking-fools. The whole funeral was fake. I felt like an idiot for getting so worked up about it but I had to admit it was a damn good April fools joke.

It's amazing that I hadn't realized sooner that the damn thing was an April fools joke. All day at work I was reminded of what day it was. The six year olds I teach just couldn't leave it alone. "Daniel, there's a monster behind you! APRIL FOOLS!" "Daniel, I'm really sick and have to go to the hospital right now! APRIL FOOLS!" Great job guys, you really fooled me. Their jokes got old really quickly which is why when they came running up to me on the playground yelling about bees I ignored them.

"Daniel, there's a bee hive on the play-set! Come quick!"
"Yeah, April fools. I get it."
"No, really! There's a big bee hive with bees on it!"
"Riiiight. Bees. April fools. Nice one."
"Please come look! There really are bees!"

I reluctantly walked across the playground and sure enough, there was a damn wasp nest with two wasps sitting on it. Congratulations world, you made me feel like an idiot and an asshole in the same day.