Thursday, June 30, 2005

moths eat wool, right?

So why do they keep biting me?!?
I'm not kidding; two moths have somehow made their way into my apartment, and every now and then, I feel a sting on my arm or leg. I look over and see a moth making a break for it, and a minute later, I have a small, itchy welt.
What, the mosquitoes aren't enough?

Maybe one of you entomologists out there can help me with this one. Save me from going to the dry cleaners and getting myself moth-proofed.

Monday, June 27, 2005

roslindale wetlands update

A while back, I posted some information about a proposed development in my neighborhood that would be built on what's currently an open wetlands area. I noticed a bunch of signs about it in people's yards on my way to work today, and followed the link they advertised. After looking over the website, I'm not sure I'm in agreement with 100% of the motivations behind stopping the development, but I'm sure as heck still against the development itself. If you check out the website, be sure to click on the "photo" pages; it's a lovely way to see online what I'm lucky enough to see in person every day - and what will be lost to everyone if it gets turned into condos. There's also a handy "how to help" page for those of you with free time on your hands...

flotsam and jetsam

In the interest of accuracy, I should mention that I wrote yesterday's post after drinking a cup of hot coffee while sitting in the afternoon sun in the backyard. So that may account for why I thought it was a little too warm.

In other news, if you were wondering if River Gods in Cambridge has the best veggie burger on the planet, the answer is a resounding yes.

And if you were wondering if significant changes might be afoot, fluttery-nervously-goofily-gushing-wise, well, that's a yes, too. Or at least a strong maybe. No, definitely yes. I think.


Sunday, June 26, 2005


OK, it may be a little too hot.
But only just a smidge.

I'll still take it over 15 degree snowstorms, any day.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

this pause has the shape of your name

Looking back over my blog entries of the past couple of weeks, I realized that they're pretty darn boring. "The weather is great; I'm having fun." "The weather is great; I'm having fun." The weather is great..." And it's all true: the weather has been great, and I have been having more fun lately. But it doesn't make for very interesting reading. And more importantly, it doesn't reflect the whole truth of what's been going on around here.

Part of it has to do with the nature of the blog format: anyone can read it. That's the whole beauty of the blog. I've had readers from Iceland, Australia, and West Africa, and it's thrilling (in a completely dorky way) to think that strangers from across the globe can glimpse snapshots of my life and thoughts as easily as I can peek at their own. It's a lot of fun, but it means that the most personal stuff (synonymous with "the most important stuff") tends to get left out.

Another part of it is the fact that the most interesting bits of my life (and probably most people's) are relational, not internal. The sensitive nature of friendship, love, and loss prohibits me from writing too much about it, as does the care that I try to take not to publicize other people's lives along with my own.

If you've been following the blog for any amount of time, it may be possible to read between the lines and trace the low points, the high points, and the slow mending of a badly bruised heart. Or maybe not. The past season has seen two relationships fade and metamorphosize into pale, weakly versions of their former selves, the growing obviousness of a family member's major health problem, and countless joys and agonies shared with my clients at work, who make up the bulk of my human connections. But something in me balks at publishing this stuff outright, and what's left tends to be a little banal.

Anyway. I'm looking out my window as I write this now, and it looks like the weather's gonna be great. And I'm gonna try to have fun. Stay tuned for the full report. . .

Friday, June 24, 2005

golden afternoon

Well, I came home early from work today, since I was there a couple of hours over yesterday, and I was just about as pleased as I could be to see that while I was out, someone had installed a hammock in the backyard.

And I thought summer couldn't get any better.

So the past few hours have been spent drifting back and forth in a euphoric daze, novel in one hand and lemonade in the other, watching the shadows of the leaves of the enormous oaks above me dapple enchantingly across my legs and feet. There was a brief interlude of taking the dog for a brisk walk through the arboretum (I've found that late afternoon is my favorite time to go there lately); now it's back to the hammock for as long as I can stay before the mosquitoes find me.

Mmmmmm, hammock. Thank-you, lawn fairy!

if you can't stand the heat...

I just checked the weather forecast for this weekend, and it's supposed to be 97 degrees on Saturday. That's right: 97. As a transplanted Southerner who still hasn't totally accepted the bitter hag that is New England's climate, I say: Whoo-hoo!! Bring it on. I've got my shorts, my lawn sprinkler, and coffee ice cubes. This is what summer's supposed to be; I'm glad Boston is finally gonna get it right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

my blue heaven

Man, it's a gorgeous day out there. I just got back from hiking the Skyline Trail over in the Blue Hills; I met up with a hiking partner and hoofed it all the way up to the observation tower. It's really a fantastic view up there; you can see the bay, Boston and beyond, and all the way down to Hull (where there's a nifty windmill) and the outlying islands. There was a guy up there with a telescope, who said on clear days, you can see Mt Washington (today was a little too hazy for that). Still, it was a spectacular view, and definitely worth the work it took to get up there. And it was pretty cool to look through the telescope; that observation tower may possibly offer the best view in the whole state.

This whole "I've gotta do something besides sit around and check my email all day" plan is going even better than I hoped; I got outdoors, got some exercise and a lovely view, got to hang out in the woods and see chipmunks, and enjoyed the company of others - all at the same time. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

kickin' it old school

In my second kickball foray this week (I don't know what the fascination is, but it's strangely compelling), I went to a pickup game at Jamaica Pond this afternoon. The game took a while to get going, but once enough people got there, it was a pretty good time. Usually I get intimidated by team sports of any kind, but this was pretty casual; the pitcher didn't even bother to put down his cigarette for something so trivial as actually pitching the ball, and nobody seemed to be keeping track of strikes or fouls. It was definitely the most informal game I've ever been a part of, which is good, because when it comes to sports, I have all the dexterity and coordination of a near-sighted water buffalo. The game was so informal, in fact, that we didn't actually stick to the main rule of kickball - namely, kicking a ball. Instead, it was more of a choice-oriented game; when you were up at the plate, you could go the traditional route and kick a rolling ball, or you could opt to bat a wiffle ball instead. Either way; it was all fine. I always went for the kickball myself (figuring the bigger the target, the better my chances), and actually got on base a few times, thus exorcising the demons of my athletically-impaired adolescence. I even caught some balls as a fielder, which is so statistically improbable that I'd need a PhD in mathematics to even try to explain it. Where I really shone, though, was in the noise department. It seems I have a talent for shouting random praise at people, and it was really, really fun. Our team was so extraordinarily bad that it became necessary to get creative with the positive reinforcement after a while ("Nice try! And I like your shirt!"), but I kept doggedly at it for the whole time.

All in all, it was a pretty entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and to meet some new people as well. And if you were out trying to have a peaceful walk around Jamaica Pond this afternoon, I hope all that yelling didn't interfere too much.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

you can't always get what you want

But if you try sometimes...

I got good and sick of moping around in front of my computer, and decided to see what I could scrounge up to do on a grey Thursday night. Craig's list turned out to be one stop shopping; in less than a minute, I discovered that I could play kickball in Somerville, take a free Judo lesson right in my own neighborhood, or play ultimate frisbee tonight - and that's just from today's postings.

I gave the kickball team a try (anything as wonderfully absurd as adults playing kickball in an organized way is something I have to do at least once), but left early on account of the cold weather. The people were friendly, and even though I may never do it again, it was a refreshingly new and fun way to spend an otherwise humdrum weeknight.

It's nice to know that it's so easy to find stuff to do alone in Boston; a common theme on this blog is how isolated it can feel living in lovely Roslindale. But it only took me a half hour to get to Union Square (where the kickball happened) from work this evening; a half hour that I otherwise would have spent obsessively hitting the "random page" button on Wikipedia (which I kind of view as my own personal information slot machine). I just need to remember to do it - to get off my duff and go try new stuff. Even if I try a whole bunch of things only once, it's still a way to get out of the house and meet new people. After all, in a city of 600,000 souls, there's gotta be something interesting going on out there any given day of the week. All I have to do is find it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

life needed

My mood depends way too much on whether I have new email in my inbox or not. I'll bet I'm not the only one, either. Probably someone should set up a support group around this: People Who Spend Way Too Much Time Checking To See If They Are Still Part Of Things Based On Whether Or Not Anyone Has Emailed Them In The Past Hour Or So, or PWSWTMTCTSITASPTBOWONAHETPHOS, for short.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

stop the angling; i want to get off

So my spiffy new oscillating fan came with a full-length instruction page, which includes the following mind-benders:

1. The air flow can be angled to right or left by pushing the body of button oscillating switch. If you want to stop angling, push it again.
2. Turn the knob of timer to position which set the time you want, the fan will stop when time is over. In case the timer is not use, set the timer to "on".

Of course, time really will be over if you neglect to mind the following warning:

3. Be sure not to make water or other liquid enter the inside of motor.

Maybe I'd be better off with one of those crinkled-up paper fans we all made in grade school. I can make any liquid I want enter the inside of that, and time will flow on just like it always does (although my fan will be considerably wilted and less useful).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

eyes wide shut

Last night, as I was marching down Beacon Street in the heart of downtown Boston, surrounded by spirited lesbians, transgendered people, and some people who seem to have rejected the notion of gender altogether, I realized that I have a lot to learn about courage, and integrity, and generally being a decent human being.

I live in a private studio apartment on the first floor of a co-op house. All the folks who live in the co-op part of the house are gay, and all are movers and shakers in Massachusetts equal rights activism. They're also a lovely bunch of people, and when they invited me to come with them to the annual Dyke March last night in Copley Square, I said "Sure." What I actually meant when I said "sure" was "I'm not sure how to say no to this, so I'll think of an excuse and back out at the last minute." I don't like crowds, I don't like downtown, and I'm shy enough that I'm uneasy with being part of any identifiable group of people in public, whether they're lesbians, farmers, or the national tiddlywinks team. When I left work on Friday, I was all set for a quiet evening at home, with plenty of time to think of a legitimate reason why I hadn't gone to the parade after all.

In a rare example of both poetic justice and instant karma, I got home to find that all of my housemates had waited for me so that I could ride over to the parade with them, even though that meant that they would be late for the opening festivities. I had about 3 minutes flat to drop my stuff, change out of my work clothes, and bolt out the door - not a second to spare for lame excuses or feeble backpedalling.

The Dyke March started at the Boston Common, and there was a bit of a wait before things really got started. There were the endless speeches and attempts at energizing the crowd that are common to every political rally, along with various women walking around handing out goodies. (I got a plastic whistle, a t-shirt, two mini-zines, and a neon green sticker). Eventually, though, the speeches ended, and the crowd got semi-organized for the march itself. We headed out of the Common and onto the streets, where I immediately noticed that
a) the streets in Copley Square were all blocked off for the parade, with police cars and irritated drivers and curious onlookers everywhere, and
b) there were dozens and dozens of people with cameras, all of whom were strangers, and all of whom were snapping shot after shot of anything and everyone involved in the parade.

At the time, I was walking in a loose group of people comprised of my housemates, my housemates' dog - who was wearing a t-shirt that originally said "I heart my vagina", but which had been adulterated with a black marker to read "I heart my mommies' vaginas", several women I didn't know, one of whom had a megaphone and was chanting at top volume, several transgendered people who had opted to march topless, and a woman carrying a giant poster that proclaimed "I fuck women".

I'm not proud of this, but at that moment, I did not feel pleased to be doing something meaningful to support my friends and their rights to be treated equally as people and under the law. I was not reminded of how only a short time ago, marches like this one helped to raise awareness for the need for equal rights for people no matter what color their skin or what religion they practiced. I wasn't thrilled to be exercising my own civil rights to speak out against injustice and prejudice. I wasn't any of those things, because I was too busy being absolutely mortified, and unreasonably terrified that someone might take my picture and/or recognize me in the parade. That someone might see me in a Dyke March, and judge me accordingly.

It wasn't until I was sitting on the long T ride home that I realized what a huge lesson the experience had been, and how blind I'd been to what was actually going on. For the hour or so that I was in the parade, I thought of little else but trying to remain as inconspicuous as humanly possible without actually crawling under a manhole cover. But for many of the people I was marching with, being inconspicuous is a luxury they just don't have. And while I was selfishly preoccupied with not being mistaken for something I'm not, I missed sight of the fact that all of the judgment and criticism that I was anxious about gets doled out to those same people all the time, simply because they are who they are.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt like the world's biggest hypocrite. On the outside, I was marching through Boston, supporting people who call me a friend, and wait patiently for me to come home. On the inside, I was harboring the very same prejudice and bigotry that the parade exists to protest against.

I talk a big talk about compassion, and equality, and the stupidity of fundamentalist right wingers who would deny equal rights to people based on their sexual orientation, or any other innate trait. But when it came to walking the walk - literally - I was barely limping along.

I'm not sure what to do with this realization. I want to apologize, to say a big "I'm sorry" to everyone who accepted me openheartedly, and assumed that I would do the same right back. But it's a little too late for that now, and trying to do so would only create more problems than it solved - especially since the only one who really has the problem here is me. I don't want to be one more person who natters on about her liberal guilt, then goes right back to enjoying all the privileges that come with being a member of the dominant culture in a society that's riddled with glass ceilings and invisible walls.

I don't know what to do to fix it now, and I sure as hell didn't know last night, sitting quietly by myself as the T rattled and rumbled its way back home.

block pride

I was rounding the corner onto my street on my way back from the grocery store this morning, when I noticed that someone had chalked across the sidewalk, in giant blue letters: "The Best Street."

I happen to agree, and applaud whomever took the time to post the official notice, just in case there was any confusion over this important issue.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

in the summertime

There's something inexplicably wonderful about walking down to the village in a sundress and flip flops, smiling hello at a few familiar faces from the neighborhood, grabbing an ice cream cone from the local shop, and walking back through the arboretum at sunset, aforementioned ice cream melting all down my hand and leaving a drippy little path along the trail.

It gives me a feeling of somehow ripening, of being bigger on the inside than on the outside; there's joy and hope and a head-over heels-in-love-with-the-world feeling that scares me a little - a swelling sense of the terrible wonder of being alive that presses against the little shell I've constructed to shelter me through the rough times of the past year.

Why is it so much easier to be happy in the summer than any other time? Part of it is simply that it's too warm to be bothered by much, and part of it is pure nostalgia; the happiest times of my life were spent in a place with long, hot summers that got started around April Fools' Day and stuck around until Halloween. I realize I'm treading on dangerous ground here; I'm hazardously close to rhapsodizing about the good ol' days, when I was a kid and a phone call only cost a dime. I'll keep an eye on it, and if I catch myself writing about how they don't make ____ like they used to, I promise to throw in the blog towel and get a job harassing kids on lawns instead.

In the meantime, I'll do my best to remember that even a belated break is better than none at all, and that the brevity of the New England summer only serves to remind me not to miss a bit of it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


In the line of duty, I recently agreed to watch the musical "Oklahoma". I'm a music therapist, and a group of my clients wants to put on a truncated version of the play; I figured it would be good for them to have a goal to work towards, and they'd all get a kick out of it, so why not? I'd never really seen it, though, so I borrowed a video of it for research purposes.

Well, after watching about half of the film version (all I could get through so far), I have a few answers to that "why not?". Mostly, it's just a bizarre piece of theater. It started out innocuously (if saccharinely) enough: boy likes girl, girl likes boy, but both are too smart-alecky to admit it. Oh, the tension! Midway through, though, things take an abrupt turn towards the macabre when the lead male character walks into his rival's hut, notices a rope lying around, and helpfully points out that it would be a good rope for hanging yourself with. He then launches into a surreal song from the point of view of the people attending the rival's funeral, after he (the rival) has hung himself.

This is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen, and I've seen the entire corpus of John Waters and a 3D porn movie from 1977.

I guess I should go back and watch the rest, but I'm a little afraid now. I mean, how do you follow up a number in which a Hollywood cowboy serenades a Hollywood farmhand with the soundtrack to his own hypothetical funeral? There's a scene coming up involving homemade pies; maybe they'll turn out to be human pies a la Sweeney Todd. I'm repulsed and intrigued at the same time. . .

Monday, June 06, 2005

drink beer, win valuable prizes

When I lived in Memphis, several lifetimes ago, I used to work for the weekly paper there, writing book reviews and answering random telephones. Twice a month, a group of folks from the Flyer (the weekly paper) would get together at a cozy little crosstown bar named Kudzu's to mentally duke it out against teams from competing media entities, including the daily newspaper and a couple of local TV news stations. It was kinda like Trivial Pursuit, except that each team took turns writing the questions themselves. Also, there was no board or anything. And, needless to say, copious amounts of beer were involved. I was hopelessly outclassed most nights, but it was the mid-nineties in the South, so if it was my turn and I had no clue whatsoever, I could always shout out "Bill Clinton" and have at least a 50% chance of being right.

It was a pleasant way to spend the evening, and a good way to blow off a little competitive steam, too. (And it was only a little bit like Quiz Night from "The Office", in the most benign way possible.)

I've been a little homesick lately, and Memphis has been on my mind a lot. I've also been feeling the lack of any kind of significant peer group here in little Roslindale, and I suspect that there may be others out there like me who would enjoy an excuse for a regular neighborhood get-together.

So, never one to sit around and mope for long (well, not too long, anyway), I'm attempting to recreate (loosely) the glory of times past: I'm putting together a trivia night of my own. It'll be at Doyle's, in JP, but conveniently close to Rozzie, too. If you're not doing anything this Wednesday, why not come on down for a fun-filled battle of wits and beer? (That's "battle of wits", along with beer. There will be no beer battling. At least as far as I know.) It promises to be good, dorky fun for everyone involved. It looks like about 10 people are in for sure so far, but the more we have, the better it will be. And if you have no idea what the answer is, you can always shout "Bill Clinton."

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

random question

Why is it that "horrible" and "horrific" mean the same thing, but "terrible" and "terrific" are opposites? It's a puzzler. . .

In other news, today's Southern Living cooking project is: candied violets. Well, pansies. I've got tons of of them on the front porch, and they won't last too much longer in the heat, anyway. Mmmm, flowers. . .

Saturday, June 04, 2005

book score

The Roslindale library is having a book sale today. I found a couple of good ones, including an old copy of Auntie Mame and - the ultimate summer book score - a 1996 Southern Living annual cookbook. You know the ones I mean - everything's grilled, fried, or smothered in whipped cream, and a full half-page in the index is devoted to the boldfaced heading "bacon".

It was a standard library sale - hardbacks $1 and paperbacks $.50, but even that was half-price to library members (of course I'm a library member).

Gotta head in to work now, but I'll bet you can guess what I'll be up to the rest of the weekend. . .
(If you guessed cooking old-school Southern meals to be eaten in the backyard while immersing myself in my newly acquired books, you guessed right.)

Friday, June 03, 2005

when in doubt, cook

It's been a rough week. My cat beat me up, my guitar needs repairs, and my brakes are starting to squeal.
One of my clients lost her battle with MS this week, and another fell and broke her hip, setting her up for the decline that too frequently comes with an extended hospital stay.

I felt kind of rotten about all this when I got home today, so I decided to do what I always do when I need to de-stress after a tough week: cook up a decent and tasty dinner for myself. Fake chicken with real basil, fresh green beans, and little homemade sandwich cookies. . . the act of cooking (and eating) something that didn't come out of a box or a can is comforting on a fathoms-deep level.

Speaking of which, I'd better get cracking if I want to dine before midnight.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

food, sort of

1. The Thai restaurant that finally opened in Roslindale Square is going to put a serious crimp in my finances, I can already tell. Let's review. Last night: Thai food at the restaurant. Tonight: Thai food take-out. And it's only Wednesday.

2. For an interesting (read: queasy-making) consumption-related experience, try watching the Silence of the Lambs on tv, featuring Hannibal Lecter describing gruesome cannibalistic meals, interspersed at regular intervals with commercials for restaurants featuring close-ups of steak.

Not sure what to make of this, but it can't be good.
Whoops - commercial's over. Back to wiling away the irretrievable hours of my quasi- adulthood in front of the boob tube...

jamaica pond report

Sighted on my lunch break jaunt around the pond:

1 snow white swan
3 turtles sunning themselves
5 fuzzy goslings
18 adorable baby ducklings
umpteen million various water birds, squirrels, and little songbirds, all enjoying the day

If there were a job available for "bird counter", I'd be a shoe-in.