Monday, April 24, 2006

Mamas Don't Let Their Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

...Mamas should also warn their babies against posing for their portrait class in dopey hats. Hoo boy, I look goofy as hell.

My classmate Stephanie took the originals; the edits are mine.

Me and You and a Blue Canoe

[Thanks for your patience, folks... I give you the rather overdue Passover/Easter/Marathon entry. Brush off the Passover plate and hide the afikomen, here we go!]

Parades, standing ovations of any kind, that part of sporting events where all the athletes from competing teams run by and give each other high fives... just a handful of occasions when I always find myself fighting back tears of some weird, misguided emotion like pride.

Yesterday's Boston Marathon was no exception, and a real doozy for my emotions... I teared up every time someone standing near me spotted someone they knew, and I cheered with them (on the inside) as some sweaty friend or sister or roommate stagger-ran by. I pretty much full-on cried when a blond, pony-tailed girl began to slump in front of us, not 100 yards from the finish line, and was helped along for a few feet on either side by two medical attendants, before finally passing out completely and being lowered to the ground. She was finally driven off the track by a little green John Deer-type vehicle. I can only hope they drove her over the finish line. One hundred little yards, after 26 miles.

On Saturday, Georgia and I joined our incomplete spiritual halves (I like to think we make up one Jew and one Christian between us, although neither of us is particularly religious), and drove out to Western Massachusetts where her parents and younger brother live on the Connecticutt River. Actually, the house is situated on the top of a hill that leads to a medium-sized cove, just before it eases into the river. There was a canoe at the bottom of the hill that jarred a memory of just a few days before, either from a dream or a potential song lyric... I had definitely been visualizing a blue canoe, and there it was, and there was the skinny, blond, 16-year-old German exchange student towing it into the water.

While the Hollister Ismans prepared Passover dinner (y'all know I don't cook, right? It's not that I can't, I just don't like to! ...etc. etc. etc.), I treated the evening as a documentary project. Here are a few of the highlights from my work in progress.

Matzoh ball preparation!

Georgia scorches an egg and tastes the tears of the slaves to see if they're salty enough.

Now that's a beautiful Passover plate as you would ever hope to see.

Georgia's mom regales us of tales of an old Jewish boyfriend.

Georgia's father, Seth, delivers beautiful Hebrew and offers constant and delightful insight.

After the third raise of the glass or so, things were really moving along.

Georgia found the afikomen. Of course.

One of my best friends ever, and she makes a snarky pillow.

By the next morning, we'd switched religions and revamped our appetites.

Some of us did the crossword puzzle, even though it was Sunday. This is a smart family, the Hollister Ismans.

The rest of the day was spent lolling around the cove in that blue canoe. Thank you, surrogate family, for taking in my weary little self for a wonderful weekend of nourishment and love.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


It felt so good to get into the portrait studio yesterday, I can hardly contain my excitement. Of course, there's still so much to learn and try - all I did was take what I've learned in class and manage to do it on my own. My friends Marie and Jamie came to pose for me, and I think you'll agree they're naturals. And totally hot.

(Above is me, seeing if the lights were working. They were.)

I started with a black backdrop, which is actually just the wall. Here they are.

Next we rolled out the white paper. I climbed up on a ladder for most of these. That was fun.

Once it was pretty much a wrap, Matt showed up.

Then Jamie took some pictures of us two. I felt surprisingly nervous on the other side of the camera.

A prize to whoever comes up with the best caption for this photo. One suggestion might be, "What's Happening To My Body?"

It's a rainy Sunday and it hasn't broken 50 degrees. I've only ventured outside onto the "veranda" (the little rooftop outside our windows) to take some abstract pictures of the fire escape, but that about did it for me. If you need me, I'll be bundled up in wool, editing pixels until my eyes cross.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jess Press

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the shooting on my street, in Boston's South End neighborhood. Kim and I befriended a reporter from the South End News and chatted with her for a while about living in the area. Below is an excerpt from her article from the April 6 edition, titled, "Shooting suspect held on $1 million bail."

"I've seen groups of kids hanging out on that corner [West Canton and Tremont streets (but I meant West Canton and Montgomery Street)], but nothing frightening," said [me], 23, who lives on the street, the afternoon of the shooting. "I feel less safe now that I did 20 minutes ago."

Her roommate, Kim Newton, who was at home at the time of the shooting and woken from a nap by the shots, agreed. "Now I'm really glad that my mom bought me pepper spray," she said, laughing. On the teens hanging out on the street, Newton said, "They seem very innocuous."

"On a positive note, I've met two of my neighbors now," she concluded. "It's kind of a sad thing that it has to be a shooting that gets everyone out of their houses."

(I, too, hope Kim has her pepper spray with her if we're ever again around an... um... shooting. I'll at least feel safer.)

According to the article, the perpetrators were just kids - an after-school altercation out of control. This is what I'm talking about when I say it feels like the city is getting out of control... shootings everywhere, guns in the hands of kids. In telling my co-workers about the experience, I learned that most of them have heard gunshots in their proximity at some point in their lives in Boston. Coming home to find the area still "smoking", proverbially, was close enough for me.

The other thing people keep asking for is the actual Missed Connection posting from several weeks ago. First of all, if you haven't taken the time to read the Missed Connections in your applied city, you should. Boston's is here.

My post, which only stayed up for a week or two, went like this:

Matt D. with a face you can trust - w4m - 23

Date: 2006-03-16, 8:26PM EST

Being a bit of a cynic as of late, I'm 90% sure you're gay, if only because you're so cute. But anyway - you sold me a book on Dreamweaver and signed me up for the discount thingy, and it was all pretty noneventful as retail transactions go... but I wish I'd chatted you up a bit more. You seemed very friendly and a touch flirtatious.

I'm the rather forlorn looking girl with long brown hair, a black coat, a gray hat. But you perked me up a bit today. You were adorable. How 'bout it, Matt D. - want to let me buy you coffee?

So there you have it. If I'd actually expected him to find it, I might not have started out by questioning his sexuality. Good thing he was down with that. Looking back, I'm a little surprised at myself for posting it. Desperate? Pathetic? Adventurous? Self-depricating? I'm not sure. But if you're going to post one, accuse the other person of being gay. It works.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Little clues that I work in a not-for-profit:

  • There’s not a Post-It Note to be seen. Instead we scrawl notes on thrice-recycled scraps of paper.
  • When it rains, water seeps through the wall surrounding the window over my desk, and pools neatly under the base of my monitor and keyboard.
  • (Fortunately, this problem was fixed when plastic was stretched over the window to deaden some of the icy cold air pushing through in the winter, so now the water collects against the plastic like an aquarium. I can squeeze it out with my finger and down the wall to all kind of exciting electrical plugs and cords.)
  • In the winter, stylishly hunched in a shivering ball over my keyboard, I wear: a warm hat (always), a scarf, fingerless gloves, and, sometimes, my coat. The little click of the thermostat’s “up” button can be heard all the way down the hall in my boss’s office, so I generally just stare at it longingly.

I, myself, don’t have an office; instead I sit where a receptionist would sit, if we had a receptionist, just as you come into the offices at the top of the stairs. So, although my actual job consists of gift processing, donor solicitation, grant preparation, event planning, money handling, and writing, I spend much of my time answering the door (all the way downstairs) or directing wayward volunteers to the kitchen. Within the first half hour of my arrival this morning, I had already tromped down the stairs at least six times to answer the door, because, mysteriously, no one else in the upstairs offices could hear the RATHER LOUD bell. It’s okay, though; when it comes down to it, I’ll have a better ass from all those trips up and down the stairs.

When I have a personal phone call to make during work hours, as I did today, to the variety of doctor you’d rather not have people overhear you talking to (“Why do I need to change my pill? Because it’s messing with my period cycle, and I’m getting intense headaches at the beginning of every month which I can only deduct are estrogen-related?” were the kinds of things I simply couldn’t manage to say in code), I go into my other office, the stairwell. It’s a little hard not to get tripped over when people come in our out the door, but at least I have little pockets of privacy. God forbid I ever cry at work (which, you know, has happened once or twice – it can get stressful around here, and anyway, I’ll blame it on my errantly-prescribed hormones), because then I have to choose the least threatening person and beg my way into their office for a little comfort and cover.

Yesterday I shipped off part of a package in honor of my parents’ 25th year of marriage, which falls next Tuesday, April 25. I’m really happy for them, and pretty lucky to have two parents who are still together after a quarter-century of challenges and adventures, and who still like each other a lot. I’m lucky to have them to go home to once in a while, and to still have the little farm they built and raised me on, a bucolic paradise of peaceful expanses of green, to return to. I just hope they keep in mind, in awaiting an Anniversary gift, that their two daughters are both poor and very far away, one in Boston and the other in London. I wish we could have arranged to get home to surprise them, but April came around so fast, and as it is, we’ve got a pretty nice day of little surprises planned for them.

Tonight I get to go see one of my favorite authors of late, Jonathan Safran Foer, at a reading in Coolidge Corner. I really loved his second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I never really know why I love books, which is perhaps a little weak for a creative writing major; instead I tend to focus on and fall in love with the miniscule details of writing style, whereas I can usually take or leave the bigger picture. Seeing as I recently started dating a complete book snob (and don’t get me wrong, this is not criticism), I figure I better start honing my analytical skills.

Still working on the Passover post… the pictures are just taking a while. Once I have an evening to devote to it, and not surreptitiously stolen work time, I’ll get it out there.

I leave you with links to several blogs I check on a regular basis by friends of mine, Brad, Kathy, Andrew, Jesse, and Melissa (who’s new to blogging like me). Because, in her words, “blogs are going to be our generation’s way of connecting writers together.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Now them's what I call Borders Rewards.

Connect this, Craigslist.

I give you the boy (finally evolving in name, I think, from Missed Connections Boy to his actual name, Matt).

Doesn't he look just a touch confused, a little disoriented maybe, as to how he wound up all of a sudden sitting on my bed and eating a grapefruit? Before he answered my Missed Connection, he'd just been going about his business, selling books and flirting with girls to get them to sign up for Borders Rewards. The poof of smoke had just cleared when I took this.

He's really cute. I like him.

I've got a post in the works from Passover/Easter at Georgia's house in Western Massachusetts, but Blogger is being a little lazy about uploading my photos tonight. I'll try again tomorrow after work.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Umbrellas Lead to Children

Riding the bus home yesterday, I spotted a perfect umbrella in a playground on Washington Street, so I hopped off the bus and ran over to take its picture for my collection. As I was snapping away, a bunch of neighborhood kids came running over and proceeded to play for my camera for the next half hour or so. More writing later... I just wanted to get these up for now.

And some black & whites...

From the Beantown Pub, later that evening.