Saturday, September 29, 2007

A message to you, Boston

Hey Boston. You're on notice. Remember how I wrote that glowing -- well, almost glowing -- post a little while ago saying about how I'd reconsidered my dislike of Boston and its inhabitants based on some mildly positive experiences I've had this year? Don't make me go back on that, Boston.

Today, while running around Fresh Pond, I was reminded, once again, of how cold and unfriendly certain people can be around here. Maybe this is just a yuppie Cambridge thing, but why, WHY are runners here incapable of smiling back or at least nodding when they pass each other? I noticed this phenomenon when I first visited Harvard back during my senior year of college, when I went running along the Charles and no one returned my little smiles or nods. And, to add (potential) injury to insult, two separate people let their dogs lunge at me. One lady even laughed. Totally evil, right? It was particularly traumatic for a rabies-averse girl like myself. And I know I have moaned about this before, but come on. It takes more muscles to frown, Boston!

During my run today, I started off smiling/nodding and occasionally waving at every runner I passed. Here's the conclusion I reached about halfway around the pond: every woman in Cambridge is a b****. Notice I said "woman." The men were slightly friendlier. Funny how that works. Anyway, the Ma**hole factor was kind of annoying but what really irked me was that every single dog at that damn pond was unleashed. What is it with people here? Do they WANT their dogs to bite people? Is that what it takes to make Cambridge residents smile? Well too bad, because I'm not taking that bullet again.

So there you go, Boston/Cambridge. You've been warned. Don't let me down.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Castro proves he's alive - or a zombie

So Castro appeared on TV today and quoted the price of oil and referenced the strength of the euro against the dollar, which would seem to suggest that he is, in fact, alive. Maybe.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7007794.stm

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living the dream

In second grade, we got to make a list of all the things we wished we could do every day -- this meant foods we'd eat, places we'd go, rooms we'd have in our house. I think my list tilted heavily towards horses, ice cream sandwiches, and bouncy castles. I was thinking back recently on the ideal life I imagined for myself a seven year old and realized, suddenly, why children should not be able to make major life decisions or have credit cards. If I were permitted to live my dreams at age seven, which included, among other things, eating Eskimo Pies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and installing a water slide in my parents' house, I would be morbidly obese, toothless, jobless, and probably broke. But dammit, I'd be happy.

As you grow up, you reevaluate what an ideal life entails, of course. I have gradually moved away from the life dreams entailing a diet consisting entirely of Klondike products -- although I haven't let go completely of that one -- towards goals that involve the type of work I want to do, the city I want to live in, the company I want to keep. Big stuff. Adult stuff.

On the other hand, I think that seven-year-old yearning to have my own horse and water slide (and perhaps horse-accessible water slide?) still figures in there somehow. What lies at the core of those seven-year old desires is not the cost or the elaborateness of the stuff, but the fact that going down a slide is fun. Riding a horse is really fun. Eating ice cream till your teeth rot out is perhaps the most fun.

The thing is, the stuff -- that is, the specific items or activities -- that makes you happy when you're seven may change, but that core hankering for finding happiness in simple fun doesn't. When I was seven, I enjoyed spinning around in my mom's office chair till I was so dizzy I fell over. I also liked climbing on my friend's garage roof and jumping off into the bushes. Also fun: riding my bike "no hands" down hills, towards traffic. You know, the simple things. To be fair, I wasn't a completely reckless child. I also enjoyed latch-hooking. Anyway, the point of all this is that 24-year-old Stephanie may not be able to spend hours spinning in a chair without some serious vomit issues arising, but the basic impulse to do goofy things remains.

Being goofy probably gets harder as you get older and consequently have a lot of pressure riding on the choices you make. If you're seven and you knock your teeth out going down your personal water slide, so what? You didn't need those teeth anyway. If you're 24 and you show up to work toothless because you fell down the stairs trying to rig a slip'n'slide from your bedroom to the backyard, you're in trouble. And probably fired.

Beyond that, adults are expected to have more high-minded leisure activities than kids do. That's fair. As an adult, I can appreciate -- and truly enjoy -- things that would have bored me into stupification as a child. However, if you don't have a few fun activities ("fun-tivities") as an adult -- by that, I mean things that you do because they are just FUN, not because they enrich your mind or make you look cool to the dude in the beret you met at that gallery opening -- something is missing. I don't mean this to be an "when I am an old bat, I shall wear red" type post -- may God strike me dead if I ever veer into that territory -- I just don't want us to forget about fun. Remember, fun comes in many forms -- no one's here to judge. Just don't let it pass you by. Go get on that slip'n'slide and live it up!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Change of haaaht

Something occurred to me the other day - I don't hate Boston as much as I used to. I think this is a function of several factors:

1. It has not started snowing yet - my fingers, toes, and mental health remain intact!

2. I spent the summer in a city whose inhabitants make the most hardened Massholes look like Walmart greeters in comparison.

3. I'm kinda warming up to the loud, brash Boston-ite thing.

The first factor will obviously be null and void within the next week or so, when I will most likely rekindle my hatred for the frozen sludgefest that is Cambridge in the fall/winter/spring. But the other two things -- those could stick.

I started to realize that I don't actually despise Boston people the other day when the Comcast guy came over to rectify the completely f-ed up cable and internet situation in our apartment. He was a big guy wearing a baseball cap and looked like he could probably fix anything, ever, with his bare hands and some wire clippers. I felt comforted by his presence as he put a hole in our wall and swore enthusiastically at the crappy quality of the wiring in our apartment. He told me a story about Stah-bucks, and how, upon his only visit there, he refused to call a "laahge f***ing coffee" a "venti" and told the Stah-bucks employees where to stick their fake-o Italian phraseology. Now he just sticks to Dunkin Donuts, where a laahge is just a laahge.

I liked the Comcast guy. He fixed our cable and he hates Starbucks, so he gets some major points on both those counts, and I found his Boston accent and constant use of the f-word comforting and endearing. Then, the other day, as Elise and I were studying in our living room with the windows open, we heard some dudes on the street below yelling congenially at each other in thick Boston accents. One of them was talking about something funny he saw and he said it was "high-larious." High-larious! I loved hearing that pronunciation of hilarious and think I might pronounce it that way from now on. Not sure if that's actually a Boston thing, but I am gonna say it is and chalk another point up to my newfound appreciation for this place.

I think this Boston appreciation has its limits though. Can't foresee myself liking -- or remotely caring about -- the Red Sox. Still don't like people being rude to me in customer service situations -- smiling is not going to kill you, nasty lady behind every single counter in Boston. Oh, and I still actively hate the cab system here - let's not even get into that. And I obviously despise being cold. But, you know, my attitude on Boston is improving little by little. Let's take things slow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

An end to laziness

Hi readers. I must apologize for my recent lack of bloggage. I know, I know, it's NOT okay to post two links in a row and pretend you're actually blogging. Shameful. I should be disbarred from the blar association. That was me trying to combine "bar" with "blog." Blar. ANYWAY. My excuse for not writing is that I just got back to Harvard last week and have been readjusting to the life of a law student. This readjustment process has mainly consisted of daily buying unnecessary items at the drug store (it's good to be back, CVS), drinking beer, and reading Perez Hilton's ongoing, riveting coverage of Britney Spears' flabby performance at the VMA's. (http://perezhilton.com/?p=5299).

Unfortunately I don't have any exciting news to report. My life has been busy with stuff that people probably don't care to read about: doling out magnanimous and perhaps dangerous advice to undergrads who want to apply to law school, bidding on law firms for upcoming on-campus interviews, going to class, blah blah blah. I guess I kinda just forced you to read about it despite is non-noteworthiness.

The only cool thing I've done recently is throw a party at the apartment on Saturday with my now-roommate, Elise. The party clearly deserved an entire (would-be-study) day of preparation and an obscene amount of money spent on booze. We made sangria and jello shots, and I think we kept the people happy. The only drawback was the fact that it was approximately the temperature of a sauna (... in the Amazon. . . in hell) in our apartment and people were sweating buckets. The best cure for dehydration is, of course, alcohol, so everyone came out of it okay. Whew. Somehow the night wound up with the remaining guests, most of us with jello chunks stuck in our teeth, trapising into Harvard Square to a bar, and then to IHOP at approximately 4 in the morning. And people say Boston isn't as cool as New York -- yo, big deal that Butter stays open till 4 -- I'd like to see where the Olsen twins are gonna go if they want a spinach omelette at 3:50 AM.

My IHOP omelette was delicious, by the way. What better way to end a night? Oh, this way -- come home to your apartment and eat all the remaining party food while talking about nonsense with your roommate until 6 AM, which is what Elise and I did. I really believe that splitting that bowl of beer nuts helped us both wake up feeling bright and chipper the next morning. Seriously.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Conscience of a Conservative"

This article in today's New York Times about Jack Goldsmith is absolutely fascinating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/09/magazine/09rosen.html?ex=1346731200&en=75689d078669f002&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink