Monthly Archives: March 2011

The superiority complex about my inferiority complex

Not to toot my own horn or anything (Beeeeep, beepbeepbeepbeepbeep, BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!), but I recently found out I won an award for my writing, much to my surprise. You are currently looking at (reading at?) the 2011 Texas Associated Press Managing Editors first place winner for Comment and Criticism in the 3A division (I’m also apparently in the running for winning recipient of the longest award title ever).

Now I say much to my surprise because I’ve never really considered myself as the kind of writer that won awards (re: a “good” writer). And so, in lieu of real talent, I became a rebel. I write outside the system, man. I don’t care about no awards. Hell, I poke fun at the institutions and the elitists that actually “care” about winning awards. Pffft. Some nameless, faceless panel of judges assigning worth to my words? Who needs it? Just like any great yet underappreciated artist, I’m not celebrated in my own time. But under-achieving kids in 2074 will freaking worship me!

But now…well, now those jerks have gone and legitimized me and my career.

Journalism awards are like heroin. One time is all it takes and then you’re hooked for life. Now I actually have to care and actually have to make an effort not to write pure crap. Dare I say, apply myself? I mean, you can’t really say “I’m an award-winning writer” in one breath and “I just wrote an entire blog about dog farts vs. husband farts” in the next (which is a shame because I had comparison charts and everything for the latter).

But perhaps the worst part is that I’m extremely flattered I won (although really, it’s an honor just to be nominated…See! See, what they’ve done to me?). And now one of two things will happen:

1. I’ll get a big head and start throwing tantrums where I hurl my venti low-fat chai tea latte at the Starbucks’ barista’s head because it’s too foamy and how dare they mess up my order considering I’m an award-winning writer, thank you very much, and I have a mind to take my laptop, which contains what is sure to be my critically-acclaimed debut novel, elsewhere if the appalling service doesn’t improve immediately.

Or…

2. I’ll constantly be worried about winning another award, which will cripple me and the pressure to top my past performance will become so crushing that I curl up into the fetal position and suck my thumb every time I see a blinking cursor.

So thanks a lot, TAPME. You’ve forced me to raise the bar. I can no longer be the schlub half-assing it.

I hope you’re happy.

(No seriously, I hope you’re happy and find the light-hearted manner in which I wrote this extremely charming. Cause I want more awards. I need more awards! I have to have them! I’ve already erected the shelf for all of them!).

(Shameless link to the award-winning article can be found here by the way).

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Motorboat me, I’m Irish (or Close Encounters of the Drunk Kind)

Well, we officially had our first visitor to Boston (unless you count the giant dead spider corpse I found in one of our moving boxes that apparently followed us from Texas).
My longtime friend Misty came up from Ohio to visit us over St. Patrick’s Day.

 

                                                              (Ain’t she purty?)

And no, no the timing wasn’t coincidental. I mean, sure, she loves me. But her love of beer and day drinking knows no bounds. And let’s be honest, neither does mine. So we were fully prepared for endless shenanigans and a possible trip in the paddy wagon.

It’s an interesting thing to have someone visit you for the first time when you live in a major city. Suddenly you need to be a tour guide. In all the small towns and cities I lived in before, the biggest obstacles were finding a place open past 10 p.m. and what to do after checking out the .03 miles of downtown (head to Taco Bell seemed to be the most popular answer, by the way).

But with Boston, there is never a shortage of things to do or see, especially on St. Patrick’s. In fact, there is too much to do. And it’s pretty much essential you know where you’re going or you can travel in circles for hours. I mean, it’s not like you can just turn right at the giant chicken statue and BOOM, suddenly you’re at grandma’s house (true story, that’s actually how you get to my own grandma’s house in Ohio…when they took it down for a couple of months to restore it, 78 percent of my cousins missed that Thanksgiving).

And even after six weeks of living here, I’m still very much a stranger to the city. I’ve only scratched the surface. Actually, it’s more like I’ve only scratched the surface of Boston’s thumb. So when Misty got here, there was a lot of “I swore it was here” and “Oops, I’m pretty sure we’re in New Hampshire!”

There was also a lot of hitting up of tourist-y spots accidentally, where it took 20 minutes to finally work your way through the crowd to the bar and another 30 to get the bartender’s attention (I find yelling out “Four Miller Lights!” at the top of my lungs and boxing out any girl who weighs less than me the most effective way). Fun for those wacky college kids but significantly less fun for those of us approaching 30.

The good news is I did get hit on by a cute guy. Oh sure, my husband swears he was gay and also hit on him, but I think he was just jealous.

At least the next day we were more prepared. We decided to go check out Salem. Granted we took the long way to get there. And were shocked to find out that Salem is an actual city, not just a recreation of the village where the witch trials took place (they had a Taco Bell, for crying out loud…which is where we headed when everything shut down at 10 p.m.). And most of the museums were closed so we were resigned to check out the cheesy one with mannequins and a dramatic voiceover (complete with an exhibit of the evolution of witches, which consisted of three whole witches…apparently their evolution went from mid-wife to the Wicked Witch of the West to the modern-day Wicca…and that’s it).

But the downtown area and the shops and restaurants were amazing. And I bought some witchcraft books, just in case my husband gets out of line.

All in all, it was a good first trial run and when someone I really want to visit comes, all the kinks should be worked out (just kidding, Misty…there will probably still be some kinks).

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

My husband generally gets home from work every day at around 7 p.m. (note the “generally” and “around”). However, by 7:03 p.m. every day, I am convinced he was mugged. Or had an aneurysm. Or got hit by a car and is lying in a ditch somewhere. Or was a victim of a sadistic serial killer named Meat Claw.

Or actually finally did meet Keira Knightley, who agreed to run off with him to Aruba (which, per our informal pre-nup, is permissible… by the same token, Ryan Reynolds, if you happen to be reading this, my husband is completely OK with us running off to Puerto Rico together… just throwing that out there, buddy).

I haven’t always been this way (the crazed, worried wife, not the crazed, Ryan Reynolds stalker… the latter has been going on for years).

In fact, this constant worrying has only been going on for about a month, which not-so-coincidentally, is how long we’ve been in Boston.

But it’s not for the reason you think.

I love it here. Every day is, in the words of the common vernacular, a wicked awesome adventure. I find myself constantly getting inspired in terms of my writing and photography, and I’ve finally achieved my dream of becoming a syndicated columnist (granted, writing for one newspaper is a pretty broad definition of the term “syndicated,” but I’ll take what I can get). I also now have my own website, something else I’ve always wanted to do.

My husband loves it here possibly even more and his new job working at the Boston Globe. He’s working fewer hours, too, which means we have more time as a couple to explore the city (and stalk Boston-bred celebrities like Mark Wahlberg).

And we are now finally financially secure enough that we don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore, a lifestyle we’ve been accustom to since our days as pimply-faced teenagers working the fryer.

We just found a perfect apartment, located in a great neighborhood, right by a park with a river running through it (complete with three bedrooms, huge kitchen, two porches and a driveway, all of which is usually downright impossible to find in our price range in a big city).

And to top it all off, I’ve been losing weight without even trying, mostly thanks to the fact I walk everywhere since I’m terrified of attempting to drive here.

We’ve never been happier. Even our freaking dog seems happier.

Hate me yet? I know! I totally would, too!

It’s just all too much. All too good to be true.

Which is why I am constantly worried something bad is going to happen. I mean, the other shoe has to drop soon, right? No one gets everything they’ve ever wanted, do they? Maybe even a better question is, do we truly deserve all this good fortune that has befallen us?

Oh sure, we’re good people. We adopt rescued animals, are above-average tippers and recycle if given the chance (and by “if given the chance” I mean if a recycling bin is in my direct walking path at the very moment I finish my soda).

But we’re by no means saints. When asked at the gas station if I’d like to donate a dollar to help one-legged orphans with lupus in Kurdistan, I usually decline. I judge people who wear fanny packs. And the two times I actually remembered to bring our cloth grocery bags doesn’t mean much when you think of the 7,843 times I forgot and just went with plastic.

And so, I sit here waiting for some disaster to happen, like getting burglarized by a shoe thief.

But hopefully, after awhile, when my husband never does get mauled by a rabid pit bull, or I never end up spontaneously going blind, I’ll learn to just enjoy our new life and realize it’s a waste of time worrying about things I can’t control.

Until then, however, I’m going to try to be a better person (like, for instance, one that doesn’t take a penny with no intention of ever leaving a penny). You know, just to try and balance the karmic scales.

My Wicked Awesome Celebrity Sighting

I’ll never forget my first brush with fame. I was just a mere girl of 16 or so, hanging out with my bestie at the hottest restaurant in town, Bob Evans (their biscuits and gravy were considered a culinary masterpiece by hungover patrons throughout the Mid-west). Our small town had just finished putting on the annual Country Concert, where actual famous musicians would schlep on out to the boonies to play a three-day outdoor festival for us sunburned and beer-chuggin’ small-town folk.

When low and behold, we looked over to our left and saw no other than Lynyrd Skynyrd sitting mere feet from us (at least one of who was an actual original member).

Naturally, we did what any two 16-year-old girls would do in our situation. We giggled incessantly and kept randomly yelling out “Free Bird!”

My next big celebrity sighting was actually as a reporter in Texas. Three Days Grace had come to town to play a show and I was the lucky one picked to interview the band. Naturally, I did what any 26-year-old professional would do. I giggled incessantly and kept randomly blurting out “Oh my God, you’re hot.”

But none of that compares to today, when I had my first Boston celebrity sighting. There I was, just walking down the street with my husband, deep in discussion over what season of Buffy was the best (it was season three, jackass, and you know it), when Mel, the Mel, that Mel, the one and only fanbase from “Flight of the Conchords” passed us.

Naturally, I did what any almost 30-year-old cool, urban chick would do. I turned to my husband and incessantly stammered things like “Babe! Was that? It was, wasn’t it!?! Holy crap! That’s what’s-her-face from that show with the bird title! Oh man, what was her name? Valerie? Susan? Oh my god, this is so awesome! Julia? Penelope? Can you believe this? Man, I love that show! MEL! That was her name!”

Sadly, by the time I got my wits about me, Kristen Schaal (thank you, Google) was gone. I briefly contemplated running down the street yelling out “Mel!” in the hopes she’d stop and I could catch up and snap a photo with her (hello, most awesome Facebook profile pix ever). But my husband wrestled me to the ground and I was wearing my high-heeled boots that numb three-fourths of my toes anyway, so I reluctantly let her be.

But still, it was pretty awesome. And just another reason why I love Boston.

Of course, even with this newest sighting, I still can’t compete with my above-mentioned best friend, who at age 18 smoked a bong with Tracy Morgan.

But there’s still hope. I mean, this is Boston. Who knows who I’ll run into next?

(Prepare yourself, Affleck…and bring your bong).

Rode out of town on a rail

“Attention, passengers…the next Red Line train to Alewife is now approaching.”

Have sweeter words ever been spoken? I mean, sure, my husband’s vows on our wedding day were nice, all that jazz about how he falls in love with me a little more every day and yada, yada, yada. But those words weren’t followed by a giant, magical transportation machine that zips you all over town for a whopping two bucks (although his were followed an expensive dinner I couldn’t eat because of a sadistic corset hellbent on my ribs’ destruction).

I’m talking, of course, about the Boston subway system, known locally as the T (which, in an effort to save some face, I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out that that stood for “train”…I swear I have a college degree…two, in fact…*hangs head in shame*).

Update: Wrong again…just found out “T” stands for transportation. I swear, I graduated top of my class! *crawls into hole in the ground*

Anyhoo, being the country bumpkin that I am, I had never ridden on the subway before moving here. OK, granted, when I told my best friend Misty that, she insisted we rode the subway in 8th grade during our class field trip to Washington D.C., but I have absolutely no memory of that (and you can’t even blame it on being drunk…I didn’t start drinking until 9th grade).

 I’ll never forget that frickin’ freezing Saturday right after my husband and I got here and we hopped on the T for the first time (Look at me! Saying cool city slicker things like “hopped on the T!”). So fast. So loud. So exciting. So confusing. So much deliberating about whether we needed tickets for the inbound train or for the commuter rail.

Embarrassing public displays of tourist-y mistakes aside, I fell in love instantly. Since the age of 16, my driving skills have only improved marginally (just to give you an idea of those skills, within the first year of getting my license, I lost three tires, ran out of gas four times and got into a fender destroyer with the world’s largest Ford truck). So driving in a city ain’t what you would call my bag. Not to mention, as much as I love conversing with random cabbies, they generally get cranky when you offer to pay them with your actual arm and leg.

So the fact there is a mode of transportation that gets me where I want to go that is convenient, cheap and bypasses traffic jams? Utterly amazing. In fact, I love the subway so much, I’d kiss it if I wasn’t so worried about the mysterious disgusting fungus popping up somewhere on my body that would inevitably follow.

Oh, and the people watching! The people watching, people! Hours of non-stop entertainment.

There was the older gentleman sitting in the corner who took his shoe off and rubbed his foot back and forth on a tennis ball for nine straight stops (Was it some kind of foot therapy? Did he bring the tennis ball from home? Or find it randomly on the subway and thought to himself “Hmm…I bet this would feel good?”).

There was the delightful woman in the tasteful purple track suit who used her outside voice to talk on her cellphone about that “rat bastard” and his less than desirable bedroom skills.

The woman who kept pulling out and munching on an increasingly exotic array of fruit and vegetables from a convenience store bag (including some pink doo-hickey that I couldn’t even identify).

The young toddler who had absolutely no sense of stranger danger and kept running up to every other passenger, arms stretched out in the international baby sign of “pick me up,” followed by his weary mother.

The drunk girl who kept hiccupping and then giggled after every time she hiccupped (which, according to my husband, was me last Wednesday…God, how I love all the Irish pubs around here!).

And perhaps my favorite, the Boston cast of 90210 who, like, totally did everything in their 16-year-old power to get the attention of the total hottie college dudes sitting a few seats down (including perfecting their mating call of high-pitched squeals).

To most people, these kinds of things would be annoying. But I find them fascinating. I even find joy in the 5 p.m. crush rush, where 600 people try to cram into a 40-capacity train car and chances are high you’ll become very intimate with someone’s armpit or buttocks region, depending on where you end up in the fray.

 Now, I’m sure after living here for awhile, I’ll find all these things less than charming. But I hope not.

I, as well as the fellow residents of Boston, sure as hell don’t want me attempting to drive around here.

Surreal Estate

Get a root canal. Get punched in the face. Pass a gallstone the size of Wisconsin. Watch a “Jersey Shore” marathon (and/or read Snooki’s “book”). Drink watermelon-flavored Four Loco. Spend 24 hours locked in a small cage with all my ex-boyfriends…sober. Listen to a Yoko Ono album on repeat. Go on a date with Charlie Sheen. Work as Charlie Sheen’s press agent. Hell, work as Charlie Sheen’s liver.

All things I’d rather do than go apartment hunting in Boston ever again.

For the past month, my husband and I have been attempting to navigate the jungle that is the Boston real estate market while staying in temporary housing. However, there’s been much less real, and much more surreal.

There was the sweet apartment in a cute neighborhood that was amazingly within our price range. The photos online showed a cozy two-story complete with an adorable spiral staircase. What the photos didn’t show was that the entire place was approximately the size of my college dorm room, the kitchen was quite literally in the hallway and the spiral staircase was so small, anyone above a size six ran a good chance of getting permanently wedged between the two floors.

There was the completely renovated apartment that was drop dead gorgeous with its hardwood floors, big kitchen and complete lack of any semblance of a closet.

There was the landlord who didn’t like the looks of my husband’s credit report so asked for a co-signer. When we got a co-signer, he wanted a statement from the bank saying we had paid off our cars. When we got him that, he wanted us to pay a huge pet fee, in addition to first month’s rent, security deposit and the agent fee. When we said we could get him that, he asked for our first-born.

(OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating slightly…but only slightly).

There was the nice college-esque pad that wasn’t available until June.

The affordable apartment that didn’t take dogs.

The slightly less affordable but still manageable apartment that did take dogs, just not ones over 20 pounds.

The totally awesome apartment that took dogs that we could afford if maybe we sold off three-fourths of our major organs (and some minor ones for the security deposit).

And then, finally, FINALLY, we hooked up with a great real estate agent who found us the mythical “perfect” apartment. Spacious, newly renovated, nice neighborhood, reasonable rent, great porch, dog-friendly, storage space, washer and dryer, tons of closets, small yard, even a freakin’ drive-way. We immediately filled out an application and wrote a check on the spot.

Of course, since the check was from out-of-state, they needed a cashier’s check. Which I couldn’t get from a local bank without opening an account which I couldn’t do without having a permanent local address. Luckily, the landlord said he would accept a money order, which I got after hitting up four different Western Unions (three of which said they don’t do money orders and/or their machine was broken) and making a frantic phone call to my bank in Texas to temporarily raise the daily limit on my debit card.

But all of it, the craziness, the frustrations, the pure lunacy of it is worth it for this apartment. Which should be ours tomorrow pending the signing of the lease.

Or at least that’s what our real estate agent said when she talked to the landlord’s real estate agent who was informed by the landlord that tomorrow we could probably sign the lease.

(Just have to finalize that whole “give away our second-born” clause in the fourth paragraph).