Back In Boston

As I readjust to life in the big city.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Friday evening's plans were spontaneous. When I left work I headed to Central Square where we ended up visiting the local Whole Foods Market to buy vittles to eat on the Cambridge-side bank of the Charles; a superb idea.

While I was disappointed by the exclusion of high fructose corn syrup products, including the much-beloved Pepsi lineup, we found no shortage of other items for a perfect picnic dinner including: baked chicken, grilled vegetables, pasta salad, fresh guacamole and chips to dip in it, key lime pie, watermelon chunks, and my first sampling of Vitamin Water, which tasted like slightly chalky Gatorade. The prepared foods section almost rivaled the revered Wegmans of my college days. And for those who once resided in Fairfield County, CT, the atmosphere wasn't as stimulating as that of Stew Leonard's.

Thus today, instead of merely heading to Stop and Shop, I was looking for a shopping experience that might result in a richer bounty of foods. The nearest Whole Foods is a ways up past Washington Square, a distance I wasn't inclined to walk, and an area, and endeavor, I wasn't willing to drive for. Backup choice: Trader Joe's.

I ventured into foreign territory this afternoon in search of quality guacamole and low prices, both of which I read about in the current Fearless Flyer. I left with all that and a jar of salsa and a sampling of the frozen burritos I had read about. Tissues and anti-perspirant still required a trip to Stop and Shop on the way back, but all in all it was a positive experience that results in a more convenient place to stop for good food when I step off the T at night. Now if I can just switch my poison of choice to Two Buck Chuck, I'll be all set.

In between Friday's plans and today's foray for food, I've been relaxing and enjoying the nice weather and, at times, suffering from extreme pain. Twice in my life I can remember with distinction, as well as a few other minor episodes, I've had a pulled muscle and subsequent troubled nerve in my back. Driving back from Target yesterday I felt the slight onset of stiffness and pain and thus opted to lay down on the couch when I returned to begin the latest Dark Tower volume that I had just purchased. About four hours later I awoke, unable to move. Any twist or turn: getting up, sitting down, shifting, bending, standing, walking, sent such pain through my back that all muscles instantly froze and tightened, including when I'd take a deep breath. Finally, after a healthy dose of Ibuprofren and some time spent pacing from one end of the apartment to the other to loosen things up, life became tolerable again. It's still there today, but not as acute.

Now I think I really must vacuum or risk being victim to a burgeoning dust bunny population. Ronald Reagan's on "American Experience" on PBS, which is offering a more balanced view than the media did last week.
posted by MJR  # 3:00 PM

Thursday, June 10, 2004

It (the AC) hasn't fallen out the window or anything and is actually running quite nicely right now, taking some of the humidity out of the air, but...

When I laid down in bed last night I had flashbacks to dreams from the previous night and the morning about that fucker. I realized that not only had I really laid awake thinking about it, but it also did haunt my dreams. Last night, probably out of exhaustion plus the realization that it hadn't so much as shifted in 24 hours, coupled with the fact that it probably wasn't running as much in the cooler dead of last night, I slept better. Once it started to become light out, though, which already pulls me up into a lighter sleep, prone to awaken periodically, I became much more conscious of it again. It was probably running more frequently too; the room starts to warm with the morning light. I ended up bumping the thermostat all the way up to 81 via the remote, kicking it back off, and squeezing a pillow over my head, but it was too late: at 6:30 I was awake.

Now I'm about to reheat some chinese food via the toaster oven and microwave. Wish me luck.
posted by MJR  # 6:06 PM

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Today was fun. I got really, really, REALLY hopped up on caffeine and then had nothing but ice cream for lunch.

Actually it wasn't all that fun. Mr. 8000 Fucking BTUs kept kicking on for short bursts with insane regularity all night long. And before I receive a recommendation that I could've turned it off, or set the timer to go off, let me say that my bedroom window has a direct eastern exposure, with the sun peering glaringly between two buildings, and so the hours of 5:00 - 7:00 AM are the hottest part of the day in there.

What difference did it make, though? I lay awake uncomfortable anyway.

I woke up all night long. Finally I hopped out of bed at 6:55. First order of business was to kill the winged ant and the hornet that had gotten in around the AC to hang out in the other window. Then.. I.. dragged.. my.. feet such that I was still late for work.

On the way in I stopped at Starbucks. What the hell; it's pay day. Venti Iced Mocha with an extra shot of espresso. That's a quad shot. And, like shots of alcohol, after downing the beverage by 10:00 I didn't feel anything but mild stimulation until about 1 hour later when I suddenly found myself with the jitters and typing at an insane pace, data flying across my screen at Mach 2.

At noon I was approached by a co-worker for lunch. Now, on a record-setting, steamy day, my goal would be to spend no more than 30 seconds outside before retreating back into the air-conditioned coolness of the mall to find food. No such luck. Today we hopped on the Orange Line to head to the State Street stop and then WALK to Government Center, in the hot, humid sun, to donate $7 to the Jimmy Fund to eat lots and lots of samples of ice cream.

After a sweaty 1/2 hour of that, we got back on the T and headed back to work where I drank a cup of water before realizing that I was in dire need of more kick and switched to a Pepsi. Which didn't fortify me for long. I was zoning out big time.

Allow me to interject with my explanation of who this Jimmy is, as provided to my foreign-born co-worker: "Jimmy's just a poster child. I don't know, at some point there was a Jimmy, with childhood leukemia or something. If he's alive he's gotta be in his 30s. Maybe 20s now. He's just a face and a name."

So, I held out til 5:50. Then I left. Waited forever to get on the T because of the #$@$!% Sox game and got a short haircut when I got home. It's fucking hot out.

Bed soon. Pray that I've adjusted to the noise of the AC. I'm beyond worrying about the fucker flying out the window.

Oh, I almost forgot: One goal this evening was to see if the other bedroom outlet had more juice, to try to get it on a different circuit than everything else. It didn't. I've got no more than 102 volts on any outlet in here. Household voltage should be 115-120 volts. The actual outlet Mr. 8000 BTUs is on is only kickin about 99.

Now it's raining.
posted by MJR  # 8:05 PM

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

With a forecast tomorrow of STEAMY and today not much better, tonight was officially designated Get A Fucking Air Conditioner, Man! night.

I headed to Home Depot this evening, when it was actually starting to cool off, to scope out the selection. I probably would've opted for the 6000 BTU with remote, over the $78 bargain 5000 BTU, but instead I went for the not-so-big Big Guy: the 8000 BTU model with remote control and timer.

While this should guarantee me a summer of at least cool nights for sleeping (it's in the bedroom), it will probably most likely instead guarantee a summer of waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night, terrified and anxious that the AC will plummet all the way, way, way down to the asphalt alley in back. My fear of heights doesn't have so much to do with the height, but with my unyielding belief that anything high up, near an edge, will fall. Standing near a ledge or a railing, even my wallet, nestled securely in the ass pocket of my jeans, is bound to fall from my possession, and I'm likely to freak out and leap after it in my mind. So, while the new AC is probably actually doing just fine SITTING on the window sill and storm frame, balanced on its own weight, despite its seemingly precarious angle, the window that I'm lucky if it stays open to where I want it, much less exerting any pressure when doing so, isn't providing that extra bit of faith that you like to have when a small appliance is perched in your window.

They're old, wooden windows, with non-fancy, non-high-tech glass in them. Technically, yes, the window is closed behind the lip that runs along the top of the unit, although it's not being leaned against because I instead opted to close it on a piece of foam along the casing. Why? Because the AC and window combination have resulted in a horrible vibrating, rattling din that I've done everything in my power to soften. The final step will be to find something of the perfect length to wedge between the top of the opened window and the windowframe, pushing the window down upon the AC, squishing out some of the rattles and offering me a little piece of mind.

If my neurotic, paranoid mind will accept it.

Then there's also the fact that every time the AC kicks in to do its thing, the lights all dim for a second. And if the AC's running, doing its thing, and the fridge kicks on, the lights all dim for a second.

Like I said, in store for me are nights waking up in a terrified sweat that Mr. 8000 BTUs will cause me some degree of catastrophe.

For dinner tonight, I had Indian. Tonight's menu was provided by Rani, an establishment in Coolidge Corner that advertises "Hyderabad Cuisine." Having a co-worker FROM Hyderabad, I suggested he join me there to point out good selections from the menu. And so we had a great meal of Kingfisher IPA, Vegetable Pakora, Chicken Biryani (which Hyderabad is known for), Garlic Nan, and Murg Masolam (a chicken dish with Basmati rice and lentil soup). I do like the Indian cuisine, but I really like dishes with distinct pieces of food and flavor. This met my expectations. The staff was very friendly and accommodating too, and my Indian guide was pleased with the food: a rare feat.

UPDATE: I eliminated up to 60% of the rattling/vibrating/buzzing by putting some pads under the removable filter where it rests, and under the extendable wings on the sides. Ah, serenity.

Actually, pulling the filter out a bit so that it's wedged tight in its slot rather than sitting loosely in it works best. And, using my fluorescent desk light instead of the overhead one, I don't think any lights out here are dimming anymore. Perhaps in the bedroom still, but c'est la vie.

UPDATE 2: Egad, No! The bathroom lights did just dim when the fucker kicked on! The bathroom lights dim when the toaster oven runs! What will happen when I try to heat up something in the microwave! I think this may call for running an extension cord all the way around the bedroom to that lone outlet on the far wall.

Time to get another extension cord.
posted by MJR  # 9:19 PM

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The first weekend in June is setting the month up to be pretty dismal. Friday was, yet again, muggy by the end of the day, although lunch on the patio at the Cottonwood was strictly sunny and hot. I think I most enjoyed the weather around 4:30 AM that night when catching a cab in Kenmore after attending a modest bash there, celebrating the final such event in a friend's apartment before he moves up and on to home ownership with his girlfriend. Those of us who were beyond college in any form seemed most chill that evening, enjoying a few drinks and the benefits; those who had recently finished a semester of grad school were cutting loose and still seemed to be spiraling downward when I left.

Saturday I slept til 1:00 PM, but to no ill effect: I simply hadn't gone to sleep til 5:00 AM and had been at work til after 8:00 the previous evening, on-hand to lend my support to a database migration. It went smoothly. I hopped out of bed only to clean up the place and shower and get dressed and chill online for just a bit before heading back out into the city. The sun was warm, the weather was mild. My polo and jeans and flip-flops were fine for walking from Coolidge Corner to Copley, but then the clouds eclipsed the sun and it started getting damn chilly out.

Soon enough I was back indoors for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and then some wandering around en route to Loew's on the Common, where I watched Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Different, but good, and Richard Harris is missed. More than Ronald Reagan, I might add.

And today? Today I had to make a quick drive to Cambridge and back, taking too soon a turn on the return trip and hopping on the Westbound Pike rather than Cambridge Street to get back to Allston, but hopping off at the Watertown exit put me back in familiar territory. Since then I've been sitting here, hiding from the miserable gloom that the weather outside has transformed into, finding myself with socked feet and long sleeves on for the first time at home that I can remember.
posted by MJR  # 5:56 PM

Monday, May 31, 2004

Sadly, my long weekend filled with pastry and burgers and chips and fiesta dip and lots of soda, shopping, lounging on the sun-soaked Boston Common or in my sun-filled and breezy apartment has come to an end.

To show for it I have some new clothes for work and play, some new tracks in iTunes, and the first feeling chill that I've really experienced lo these past three months. I reached a point yesterday afternoon at which everything was pretty much done, and nothing was looming straight ahead. I leaned back in my desk chair and surveyed my walls and felt instantly comfortable and relaxed. And I allowed myself to do nothing for the rest of the weekend that might jeopardize that.

I was compelled to leave again yesterday afternoon, though (the first time being to go out and do laundry -- which was such an opportune time on a beautiful holiday weekend afternoon) and take advantage of the beautiful weather: sunny, dry, beautiful weather that hurts in its reminder of the weather out West last summer. I headed to the Common, book in hand, and lay there for two hours reading and just enjoying the sun before heading back home. My flip-flopped foot got stepped on by an old lady on the T and I didn't even care.

I've slept in every morning and today was no exception. I slowly awoke and slowly got the day going, and did some sorting of more old stuff around here before heading to Stop and Shop for some fixins. Tonight's ironing wasn't even such a chore, as I triumphantly managed to do 7 shirts in 50 minutes.. before continuing with other miscellaneous shirts and pants.

And now, Finis.
posted by MJR  # 8:34 PM

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Last night I wined and dined in Boston's North End, having dinner at a trattoria on some street that cut between North Square and Hanover. I don't remember the name of it. But the presumed owner, a gregarious Italian fellow with big gray hair, garish wraparound glasses and a leather coat who stepped right out of Goodfellas or The Sopranos, cajoled us into entering to eat. The Pollo Marsala was good as was the Chardonnay.

So was the Mike's pastry purchased afterwards, although we didn't eat them til arriving home. In between we wandered the city a bit and then Coolidge Corner long enough for a stop into the Brookline Booksmith. It was a pleasant, relaxing evening to wind down a hurried week, although this morning's crisp, dry weather would have been preferred to last night's mugginess.
posted by MJR  # 10:32 AM


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