Monday, April 28, 2008

You don't have to dream it all, just live a day

I am in DC til tomorrow for a 2-day web meeting. Delta decided to be cruel a few months ago and changed its 7am flight to 6:40am and I'm sorry but that's inhuman. Some travel days go better than others. Today was ok. On the plus side, the line at security wasn't too bad. On the down side, they were playing Christmas music in Terminal A at 6am. Also, I bumped into a guy I rowed with at Colby while wandering toward my gate and the first thing he said (of course) was, "My wife is due in June. How about you--any kids?" Seriously? STFU.

Usually I take the opportunity to use the flight as a 75-minute nap, but today a perky blond lady decided to talk during the entire flight (who DOES that?) and there was no napping to be had. As a result, I am cranky and kind of zombie-like, so it's probably better that we have a mandatory group dinner tonight and I can't see MeanG or Gimp.

I tried to improve the morning with an egg and cheese sandwich from the deli around the corner but now my stomach is not so sure that was a good idea.

It is pouring here, so hard that flower petals are being blown off the trees and for a minute we all thought it was snowing.

My name is Rio

This weekend was a fallback to my teenage years. First, I babysat for the first time since high school. I was never a big babysitter when I was a teenager. All my friends seemed to love it but every time I was faced with a fussy toddler or a demanding 7-year-old, I'd quail. What was I supposed to say to them?
I never knew what to say or where to draw the line. On Friday, however, we spelled our friends D&D, who live down the hill and have the world's cutest 6-month-old. C is a joy to be around, even when teething, so that says a lot. As we stood on the doorstep, Lunchboy turned to me and asked a vital question: "Do you know how to change a diaper?" And for a second I had to think about it because it's been years. Luckily, today's diapers are pretty idiot-proof and they even have handy-dandy reusable velcro-type tabs. Who knew?

Then Saturday I escaped the testosterone-fest at our house by going to my best friend's place for a sleepover. Sleepover! A word I cannot say to Lunchboy without him asking if there are going to be naked pillow fights or sexy time (gotta lay off the Family Guy, babe). Rather, we drank some wine, ate really good food from Idyllwild, and watched Mansfield Park on DVD. Then we read each other's tarot cards and giggled about boys. It was divine.

Sunday I planted some campanula, phlox, and hosta that I bought at Idyllwild. There is a whole area of the walkway that I can't do anything with because we are allegedly enlarging the window and that will mean digging up a lot of square footage and also maybe relocating a gas line, so I am reluctant to spend money on plants that will have to either get moved or be destroyed. But no decision has been made about when this will happen, and right now the blank stretch of weedy mulch is so ugly. Must. make. decision.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Powder room

In addition to my garden project/obsession, we (I) just started work on our downstairs bathroom. What can I say, I like having something to do, and it helps distract me from the emotional drama-coughing-videogaming that is also taking place in the house. This is tangible evidence of what happens when one watches too much Flip That House, though I am not sure that there is such a thing as too much Flip. It's house porn, schadenfreude, and learning experience all in one. Plus, it makes major house renovations look like they can take place within a measly half hour.

The bathroom, which until last week was a dingy off-white and was full of all the stuff we don't have closet space for downstairs, is now painted Behr's Cumberland Fog (there is absolutely NOT a paint chip living in my purse in case of random trips to Marshall's) and has been emptied of 2 trips to Goodwill's worth of crap and two huge bags of toiletries that are destined for a women's shelter a few blocks away. It now feels empty in a glorious way. The Cure people at Apartment Therapy might be proud if my house were ever pretty enough to post there.


Last night I exercised my bargain muscles at Marshall's and Target and now we have a new shower curtain, bathroom mirror, etagere, and towel ring. I have not yet figured out how to hang the mirror but the rest of the stuff is in there and it actually looks semi-grown up, which is such a concept.

On a side note, we have pretty much decided to do about half of what the realtor suggested and leave the rest to chance. It is just not worth stressing over.

I aim to get the mirror up this weekend and also take some pictures of my lovely, greening-up-nicely plants. I have pots and pots of empty soil waiting outside for the arrival of pretty annuals, but right now all I've seen are pansies and to be honest I hate pansies. There you have it.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maybe it has sprung

85 degrees today! Bliss! Spring might actually be here.

House guest

Lunchboy is traveling for work this week and, in a twist of fate, we are hosting his best friend, who just broke up with his live-in girlfriend and needed a safe harbor. Having been there, I am happy to be able to offer that harbor. It is, however, a new experience to share our home with someone I don't know that well. Because, you know, it's not awkward at all to shower when he's in the living room and have to walk by in my robe. He also has the flu. I think that he probably shares the feeling of strangeness to be here when Lunchboy isn't, because he has spent his time either watching hockey on TV or playing Warcraft in the basement. Not so much talking. Lots of coughing, though. The cats are the most confused. They like the BF but aren't quite sure why he isn't leaving. They look at me as if to ask, "Where did dad go? Have you replaced him?" I keep telling them that no, no one has been replaced, but that doesn't keep them from clinging to me like burrs, especially at night. Usually they dislike closed doors, but they are extremely uncurious about the closed basement door.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Given my real estate rant from the other day, I am going to hold off on venting about the $200 ticket we got driving up to Portsmouth the other day (allegedly for travelling in the passing lane -- WTF?) or the adventure that is getting into and around my office on Patriots Day, aka Marathon Day. Most companies in Boston give their people Patriots Day off, not because it is a real holiday but because functioning in the city while the marathon is taking place (not to mention the Red Sox game going on over at Fenway) is next to impossible. Not my company. So while I’d prefer to be cheering on the runners at the finish line, which is a stone’s throw from my office, I am at my computer attempting to figure out how to get lunch when every place is either closed or mobbed. The medical tents are right in front of Trinity Church, so my coworkers and I are in the strange position of being able to watch as runners stagger/walk/crawl/are carried into for some fluids and support.

It is, however, a spectacular spring day and to me that makes it better. I always feel really badly for the runners when it’s cold, rainy, or really really hot.

Pushing Daisey

My friend Mike Daisey’s latest monologue is reviewed in today’s NYT. They also did a feature. Yes, he really is that cool. Here is Mr. Daisey’s website: if you live near where he’ll be performing in the next few months, you should go check him out. His shows are powerful, though-provoking theatrical experiences that create a performer-audience rapport that is really magical.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I can't handle the truth

We had a realtor over to the house on Thursday. Joe sold the condo above ours last summer, for an amount that truly shocked and impressed us (TRUE shock and awe). Of course, that was before the real estate market and the economy took a spectacular nose dive into a pile of pig poop. We aren't planning on moving right now -- and after Joe's visit I'm not sure we'll be moving EVER -- but we'd asked him to come by and tell us what types of things we'd need to do in order to get the house ready for sale, perhaps next spring or summer. In a very nice, very helpful, very professional way, he told we were being smart by thinking ahead, but given the laundry list of tasks he set before us, I'm not so sure I buy that. I don't think we're smart -- I think we're fucked.

I knew we had some upgrading to do. I knew our kitchen was fine but probably not of "buy me immediately!" quality. But here is what we learned (other than the fact that unless the market turns around in the next year, we'll be eating a large chunk of change -- this is what Lunchboy gets for buying at the top of the market. Oy.):

1. Our walls are textured and this is bad. We should have someone put a smoothing layer on them, but only if this is cost-effective.

2. Our walls are painted colors other than beige and this is bad. We should promptly paint them (he suggested November Rain by Benjamin Moore). After the smoothing is done, of course.

3. Our counters are not granite and this is bad. We should rip out all our lower cabinets, install a corner sink and a new, L-shaped counter/cabinet arrangement. But only if this is cost-effective.

4. Our decision to refrain from installing an overhead light in the bedroom was bad. (there is a cap in the ceiling but no actual electrical wires and it would cost like $500 and many holes in the ceiling and walls to rectify this). We should rectify it.

5. The tile on the basement floor is bad -- it makes people think that there might be water problems. Eeeep. We should consider putting Pergo or bamboo over the entire basement floor to cover the tile and warm up the space.

6. Our decision to enlarge one basement window to make it an official "egress" window is good. We should also wall off half the basement and install a closet to make it an official 2-bedroom. If we do this, we might actually be able to sell the place for what we paid.

7. Our (my) decluttering efforts have been good but inadequate. We will have to get rid of or store at least half our stuff before putting the place on the market. My attempts at decorating were transparently bad. I got the impression that our condo's lack of resemblance to the Crate and Barrel/Pottery Barn catalogs was a mark against us.

None of these were personal comments, of course. Joe looked at the place from the point of view of how best to sell it quickly. I am grateful for the insight. But please pardon me while I drink myself into a coma of sufficient strength to blunt the cost and stress of actually implementing these changes. It's hard to see the benefit of sinking $10K-$20K into a house that we'll be lucky if we break even on. And that's AFTER all the other stuff we've done, like insulating and drying out the basement.


Renting doesn't look so bad at the moment...

Birthday gardening

It is a gorgeous day today. We spent last night up in Portsmouth and this morning we walked around, enjoying the blue sky, the sun, and the friendliness of the people up there. I always think of Gimp when I am in Portsmouth. The Thomas Laighton was docked when we walked by and a few Pelican-looking guys were boarding. No boat tours out to the Isles of Shoals til May, though, so we poor non-Star folk were out of luck.

When we got back home to Somerville, I planted the last lilac and the grassy stuff, which is apparently called blue fescue. Then I got off my lazy butt and took the pictures I've been promising to take. It's no great shakes, but here is an early spring look at the garden as it stands right now.

Newly watered rose of sharon, lilac, wisteria, and blue fescue:

The above shot is of our frustratingly strange back space that I am still trying to figure out what to do with. Container gardens on top of that ugly cement shelf?

Peonies and hydrangea:

These were planted by the side of the porch leading out to the front of the house.

Lilac and heather leading out to the front:

View from the street (to the left you can see the rosemary and lavender I planted last week):

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For times like these

We got tickets to see REM and Radiohead this summer at the Tweeter Center.

I am excited and yet I somehow also feel like I'm trying to be 25 again. The last time I was at the Tweeter Center, it was still Great Woods and it had a big lawn (or muddy slope). I went with friends about 10 years ago for some festival that involved Ben Folds Five and maybe Kula Shaker. Not being much of a concert person (maybe because I get overwhelmed by loud noise and crowds) I remember having a good time but being somewhat annoyed by all the tweaked out 19-year-olds who were peeing in corners. And that was before parking at the Tweeter Center turned into an Olympic sport.

Still, I have always wanted to see REM. I wish I'd seen them in their Superman days. Radiohead's OK Computer tour was possibly the best live music experience I've ever had, so I'm excited to see them do their new album, which I really like. "You're All I Need" was kind of the theme song to my winter. My lunchtime yoga teachers played it in almost every class from December to March.

Run, florist, run

I bought a wisteria shrub on Sunday. I love wisteria. It's so pretty. Yet the people at the nursery warned me repeatedly that wisteria will pull down anything it grows on. Clearly they could tell that I do not know what the hell I'm doing. Though the wisteria is still in its pot, curled contentedly around a piece of wood, I can't help imagining that it's related to the pitcher plant in Little Shop of Horrors, just waiting to be unleashed on my unsuspecting fence.


My industrious neighbor has planters of violets and pansies hanging from the porch already. IT'S APRIL! It's still cold a lot. I am so not that dedicated.

Pimp my ride

I realized today that I never resolved the “what happened to Lunchboy’s car?” question that I posed here a few weeks ago. Well, we still don’t know. The police never found anything (surprise—I’d be amazed if they actually looked in the first place). Thankfully, our insurance company declared it a loss right away, which saved a lot of paperwork and frustration. They gifted us with a rental, a lavender Chevy Malibu that reeked of cigarette smoke that gave us about three weeks worth of lines such as, “we’re rockin’ the Malibu!” Lunchboy drove the ‘Bu gratefully but with increasing aggravation—ironically, the door locks were unreliable, for example—and a few days before we had to return it we went car shopping.

At first we wanted to be responsible urban citizens and get a compact hybrid. But when we went to the Toyota dealership in Brighton, plans changed. First of all, who puts a car dealership in BRIGHTON, a place where going for a test drive means entering into an extended, elaborate exercise in road rage? Yet there it was. Then we got an incompetent salesman who could not have turned us off more. On a superficial note, he couldn’t pronounce Prius and because we are infants we couldn’t stop giggling after the 40th time he said “Preebit.” The giggling helped us from venting our road rage onto him after he persisted in trying to sell us a Camry that we had made clear we did not want. As soon as humanly possible, we got out of there and went to the dealership where Lunchboy had bought his old (stolen) car and leased the 2008 model of the car he’d had. Though it’s not an SUV or a gas guzzler by any means, we rationalized it by acknowledging that he drives his car so little that he only has to fill up the gas tank every other month or so. I do, however, understand why people say “screw Earth!” when they buy cars because I was sold on the not-Prius when I learned it had heated seats. I am a sucker for heated seats. It’s a weakness, I know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


There was a time when I kept asking for signs and not finding them. It wasn't even that I needed to know everything was going to be ok, I just needed to know that the request was being heard, that there was something out there listening. I've never had a crisis of faith before--probably because I've never been religious--but now I understand how jarring they can be, however long they last. Today I didn't even know I needed a sign, but then I found this--out of the blue, unexpected--and it warmed me like a big, fat hug. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Fleur de lys

Last night after work, Lunchboy and I hit the Despot and got fertilizer, top soil, and a cartful of plants. I bought some heather, some neat-looking grass (don't ask for real names, I leave those to Gimp), several pots of rosemary and a few pots of lavender. My motto: plant what you like and see what happens. When we got home, I got to work. I planted one of the pots of heather, one of the lilacs I bought last weekend, and a big potful of peonies that our neighbor across the street gave to us in the fall and that's been sitting around since then (lots of green shoots in the pot, so I think they're ok).

Tonight I plan on planting the rosemary, the lavender, and the second lilac, as well as the other pot of heather and the neat-looking grass. We have a weird little back area in the garden that I'm trying to decide what to do with--either shrubs and grass or a mess of different things that can climb up and cover the ugly cement. I'm not sure I have the energy for container gardens to go on top of the cement, but we'll see (and yes, I'll cough up a picture later on).

Our upstairs neighbor, who is a problem worthy of several posts on her own, sent Lunchboy an email yesterday asking if we'd please start using an air filter in the basement because her allergies are acting up and she's sure it's the cat dander traveling up the pipes. It's spring, lady. Welcome to allergy season. Now please stop stomping around on our heads.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My apple tree, my brightness

It’s amazing what a difference the sun makes. Even though it’s still in the 40s outside, the sun is out and it feels like spring. I went for a run at lunch and came back feeling exhilarated and energized. Everyone on the sidewalks was smiling, either because of the sun or because today is opening day at Fenway. I’m all for baseball happiness, but my fingers are crossed that the T won’t be a madhouse for rush hour.

Months ago I talked about signing up for a pottery class…and I did. I made a few things that have been given to friends and while they are far from perfect, they were an improvement on what I made in pottery 10 years ago, so hey—progress! I’m in the second week of my second term and am trying to think about what I want to make this time. I’m really enjoying making things to give to people. Any requests?

There was this episode of Friends a million years ago in which Monica is trying to get over Richard and she decides to make a whole lot of jam. “Jam is my plan,” she says. Well, I’ve decided that gardening will be my plan for the spring and summer. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the efforts of our extremely domestic and industrious neighbors, or weighed down with the obligation to water water water the stupid garden, I’m looking forward to buying plants I like, making the garden look nice, and having a hands-on project where I can see the progress on a daily basis. This past Sunday I bought two lilac trees that I'll put in the ground tomorrow. Peonies! Ranunculus! Whee! I’m sure there’s something larger to the pottery and the gardening—-molding from the clay, as it were, or planting new life with my hands-- but right now I am loving the mindless creative part of these activities. Beats hibernating on the couch or sitting at Bloc 11 watching all the babies go by.

Scully went back to the vet today to get her teeth cleaned, but they couldn’t do the cleaning because she apparently has a heart murmur and an elevated white blood cell count. The vet thinks it’s thyroid-related and he did some blood tests that are being sent out. But oh my god, I am freaking out. I know she’s a cat, not a person, but she can’t not be ok. I’ve had her for almost 10 years and she is like a part of me. A loud, white, furry part whose absence would be crushing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Oh my god, they're back again

Rumors have been flying for months that my teenybopper nemesisis were reuniting in the near future, but I paid no attention. Partly this was out of fear--only Lunchboy has seen the box of NKTOB memorabilia that is carefully hidden in the cave that is my parent's basement, and I still cringe at the memory of waiting in Line at the Citi Club (remember that place?) to get into one of their early shows. Then there was the show at the Worcester Centrum. And I think there was at least one additional show, though I'd have to check my scrapbook (yes, there was a scrapbook).

But now it seems that the five horsemen of the apocalypse are indeed upon us (and boy, did I want to ride Joey's horse back in the day...aieeee). NKOTB is officially doing a reunion tour. And it's not an April Fool's joke.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how humiliating would it be to actually ATTEND one of the reunion concerts? Inquiring minds want to know.