19 March, 2009

That time I almost died trying to get hockey tickets

Due to the inability of the Hockey East commissioners (or whatever their official title is) to think in advance it was impossible to buy tickets to the semifinals this Friday through any of the schools. Besides presenting a huge inconvenience to students this also means that there are no designated sections for each school. One of the best parts of the Beanpot was having all the schools segregated so that we could chant terrible things back and forth at one another. The Northeastern hockey fan club, called the Doghouse, decided that section 315 would be our section and urged everyone to get tickets as close to 315 as possible. This is what led to me rushing over to the TD Banknorth Garden on Monday evening.

I walked out of work at 6:10, hurried down Harvard Ave. to Coolidge Corner and waited impatiently for the T. The last time I had gone from work to the Garden I had gotten there at 6:30, which was the time I had agreed to meet Patrick and McKenna. The box office closed at 7 and I figured I would have plenty of time. The T got to North Station at 6:53 and I did my best to shove through the crowds and get off the train as quickly as possible. I ran through the station and as soon as I was above ground I called McKenna. “Go inside the Garden and when you see a McDonald’s turn left, right by the pro-shop,” she told me. I was too busy running to pay close attention to her instructions.

I spotted the McDonalds and paused, trying to remember what she had said. Straight past the McDonalds? Or right? I couldn’t turn right. The escalators were there going up into the garden and a huge line of people was waiting to enter. Must be a Celtics game tonight I thought. I ran past the McDonalds until I was at the other end of the lobby. Still no ticket office. I ran back and forth, calling McKenna again and trying to figure out where the hell my friends were. I finally found them with just a few minutes to spare. McKenna’s sister was there as well. I had forgotten that they were going to the Britney Spears concert at the Garden that night which explained the enormous crowds I had run past. We were waiting in line talking about the crowds and the concert when a guy behind us jumped into the conversation: “yeah, it’s that damn Britney concert. I’ve never seen so many 13 year old skanks in my life.” I laughed and looked awkwardly at McKenna and her sister, neither of whom are 13 years old skanks.

The line moved forward and we managed to buy all the tickets we needed. The Hockey East commissioner can suck it. Our seats are section 314 so hopefully UMass Lowell didn’t decide that’s going to be their section or we’re in for an awkward night. I was relieved that the ordeal was over. I had spent the last hour rushing from work, freaking out about the time, sprinting through crowds and thinking that I wouldn’t make it in time to get tickets to the semifinals. We walked leisurely through the lobby towards the exit only to find the mass of Britney fans had swollen and now filled the entire area in front of the doors.

I stopped for a second and stared into the seething crowd and tried to convince Patrick to go out a different exit. “We can make it through,” he insisted and with that he stepped forward and disappeared. I followed close behind, not wanting to lose him. At first it wasn’t too terrible. We zig-zagged between people while working our way towards the door. The crowds were facing us and we a few dirty looks but nothing more than that. The further we moved forward the thicker the crowds got. I couldn’t see the doors yet but the people seemed to disappear right up ahead. I pushed forward a few more desperate feet before realizing that the crowd didn’t abruptly stop like I had thought. We were at the top of a staircase looking down into a solid mass of people but the doors were in sight. Patrick and I stood surveying the scene from the top of the stairs when everyone started screaming. I had no idea what was going on. Why were they screaming at us?! Then the crowd surged forward toward us, not as thousands of individuals but a single Britney fan monster. Patrick was gone, swallowed whole by the angry monster. This was it. I was going to die in the worst possible way. I just wanted fucking hockey tickets! No, I wouldn’t go down this way, I would live to see the Huskies in the semifinals. I let out a guttural cry, ducked my head and charged forward.

The screaming surrounded me as I dove down the stairs giving no thought to the safety of any of the monster’s several thousand heads. If several of them perished in my struggle for life then so be it. I was fairly convinced two more heads would pop up for every one I knocked down. I made it down the stairs with gravity in my favor but now I was facing an uphill battle against the streaming tide of people. I could see the doors, they were right in front of me!, I was almost there!, I pushed through gasping for air and I was outside but the monster was too. Its body extended beyond the doors and my hope almost faded when I realized this. I screamed again and with the last of my strength I bowled through the last group of girls and fell onto the cold concrete, hockey tickets in hand. Bring on UMass Lowell.

17 March, 2009

Goodbye Mumkin

Here ends my series of posts about Mumkin. My time with her ended Saturday when Kevin got home but I wanted to share some of the things I had observed and typed up about her over the past two weeks.
  • Mumkin has very sharp teeth which she uses to wake me up in the mornings. Today, for instance, she jumped onto the bed and wanted to snuggle up next to me. I wanted to sleep. She decided to bite my elbow. I woke up and Mumkin achieved the desired effect. Next time I hope she bites my titanium elbow. We'll see how she likes that.
  • Mumkin occasionally drinks out of the toilet and I don't know why. There's water in her water bowl which I change out regularly. The first time I saw her standing on the toilet seat I was amused. The second time I ran and grabbed my camera to take a quick picture. The third time I discovered her real reason and then immediately regretted rubbing her face up against mine earlier.
  • Mumkin does not pose for pictures. Katy has taken so many great shots of Mumkin that I assumed she must just love having her picture taken. She does not. Surprisingly enough, Mumkin exhibits no signs at all that she understands what I'm doing when I approach her with my camera. She will either ignore me entirely or begin to make sudden movements to insure that every shot comes out blurry.
  • Mumkin does not meow yet she is not a silent cat. She is very vocal and emits various peeps, squeaks and squawks and sounds more like a bird than a cat. I occasionally wasn't sure if the noise I just heard was Mumkin or Tweetdeck.
  • Mumkin spots intruders. Before leaving for work one day I heard Mumkin making a weird noise instead of her usual bird sounds. I looked out the back door and a man was in the process of jumping over the fence. We looked right at each other before he pushed himself the rest of the way over and out of sight. I'm convinced Mumkin would have attacked him had there not been a door in her way.
  • Mumkin must have a secret stash of bottle caps. She had one or two when I arrived but those disappeared. Purely in the interest of keeping her entertained I bought beer a few times. I didn't give her every bottle cap but definitely more than a couple and yet they'd always disappear. When Kevin and Katy move out they will find a treasure trove hidden somewhere.
  • Mumkin is a "shadow cat." My dog Wigglesworth used to follow us from room to room and we called him a shadow dog. Mumkin does the same thing, although if you turn around and look at her when she's following you she will promptly squawk and run away to hide under the table or desk.

05 March, 2009

Life at Mumkin's home

I showed up at Kevin and Katy's apartment last Friday afternoon with the keys they had given me and some food from my apartment. I pulled out the key with the building number on it and pushed it into the lock. It went halfway in and stopped. I took out the apartment key thinking they had been labeled wrong but that wouldn't work either. I spent the next several minutes forcing the building key in and out of the lock but I was unable to get it to go all the way in. Naturally panic soon set in. I pictured Mumkin alone and slowly starving as I tried to convince the landlord to let me into an apartment that wasn't mine, before finally giving up and throwing a brick through the sliding glass door on the back patio. Fortunately I did finally get the key in and the door opened, although it took another minute of struggling to pull the key out of the lock. The key has since worn down some and is much easier to use now.

I didn't have internet access here that first weekend because Verizon sucks. The modem had gone out the previous Monday and they were unable to send anyone until this Monday. Having now dealt with Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon customer service I think I can fairly say that the US just doesn't have a decent internet service provider. When it started snowing on Sunday and schools preemptively closed for Monday I worried that the Verizon technician wouldn't show up as planned. I called Monday morning to ask if they had an estimate of when someone would show up and I was told "sometime between 8AM and 7PM." The guy showed up around 4:30 and had the connection back up and working in under 20 minutes. He explained that Verizon had tried to push a firmware update to all of this model of modems and in doing so had fried every single one. He had done nothing for the past week except replace the dead modems. I have a feeling somebody lost their job over that mistake.

It's a little odd staying in someone else's apartment for an extended period of time. For one thing, I'm completely disconnected with what's going on in my own apartment. Of course that's not a big deal at all since usually there is nothing going on. When I stopped by there after leaving the gym today I found construction going on the kitchen. The fridge had been pushed back, a cabinet was gone and the walls were ripped out. Mr. Pizzi, my elderly landlord was standing on a ladder messing with some exposed piping. I didn't want to risk startling him by saying hello and cause him to fall off the ladder so I ignored whatever was going on, stepped over a toolbox and grabbed some clean clothes from my room before leaving. I later found out that a pipe burst and that they've been in our apartment fixing it for several days. Seems like a good time to be staying somewhere else.

It's also strange not to have someone to talk to at all times. At least one of my roommates is always home and we do quite a bit of shouting, arguing and making fun of one another in the evenings. In their absence I find myself talking aloud to Mumkin quite frequently. I don't think she minds but she probably thinks I'm crazy.

04 March, 2009

I need a Mumkin

I am currently living Katy and Kevin's Boston life. While they are in Egypt I am staying in their apartment, playing with their cat Mumkin, eating their food and sleeping in their bed. I've decided that I quite like their life, especially the cat part, and I don't plan on giving it up anytime soon. I drove Katy to pick up Mumkin from the rescue organization back in October but she never really warmed up to me. Whenever I was at their apartment she would occasionally let me pet her briefly before scampering off into a corner.

Last Friday when Katy and Kevin left Mumkin was just as shy as ever. Anytime I got close to her she'd let out a squeek and run into the bedroom to hide under the bed. I don't think she was used to the prolonged absence of humans during the day though and by Saturday she would greet me at the door and follow me around the apartment. On Sunday she began jumping into my lap almost every time I sat down.

I had been warned not to leave her toys out at night or I'd be woken up as she batted bottle caps around the apartment. I failed to heed this advice the first night and sorely regretted my mistake. I began picking up the bottlecaps, fake mouse and other assorted toys and placing them on the desk at night. This worked well until sometime early this morning when she decided to jump up on the desk and take back her belongings. I'll have to find a more secure place for them in the future. Mumkin has also decided she likes the taste of my toes, particularly around 5AM. Her sharp little kitten teeth woke me up my first morning here. My foot had been sticking out from under the blanket and Mumkin must have thought my toes looked like a good breakfast. Today she jumped up onto the bed and crawled all the way under the comforter until she found my feet. I scooped her up and tried to snuggle with her but she jumped off the bed and went to play with a bottlecap.