Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Just read Mer's blog... must respond:

Merrie do you realize that I already have Simon & Garfunkel's The Graduate soundtrack CD? I hope you do! It's somewhere at home I bet. I agree with you on all your music selections, yay our tastes have merged =) Did you know that Franz Ferdinand was playing in Boston last month for like $15/ticket? And that Andrew was tired so we skipped it? And now I'm kicking myself for not dragging him to the concert? Hell, that's cheaper than when we saw Badley Drawn Boy!! Agree on Bright Eyes... And all I remember of Weezer is that muppet music video... And Mer! Did you know that Andrew, Jon, Jen, and me are going to a Modest Mouse concert next Saturday?? We've all got hooked on them. I love that music video for "Float On"... sheep! Genius! The rest of the CD is not so happy... like the lyrics "Are you dead or are you sleeping... God I sure hope you are dead!"

Ahh... Wahtum Lake and Black Lake in 100 degree weather... wish I had been there. It was so cold today I had to wear pants and a sweater. F*#%ing weather!!!!
Finding myself in one of those rare pockets of free time, I thought I should update the old blog. Beginning with... last Friday!

Friday: We rented Hamlet from the Blockbuster and started watching it -- despite the fact that I haven't actually read the play (gasp! but I've heard the plot line so many times I may as well have read it). I do, however, have a copy of the play (in my 48-cent-at-the-Strand retro '70s Norton). And although this version of Hamlet (with Ethan Hawke, Julia Stiles, Bill Murray, etc.) is set in the modern day US and cuts out chunks of the original and rearranges others, it is all in Shakespeare's words. So I was following along at points in the Norton, and showed Andrew that the movie was being faithful to at least some parts of the play. He got pretty sleepy though so we had to stop the movie. I think we're finally going to finish it tonight (Weds).

Saturday: We slept in, and then had blueberry pancakes =) Blueberries are on sale at the supermarket, buy one get two free (containers, not individual berries!). As of Weds we're just starting on the third container. We got out of the apartment fairly early, and headed over to see the Bourne Supremacy. Unfortunately the night before Blockbuster was fresh out of the Bourne Identity (they really should keep movies a little longer instead of selling all their copies). But we were able to follow along just fine anyways. Pretty exciting stuff. This was at the theater in Harvard Square, which is kind of cool because it's older and unique on the inside, as it used to just have one big room I think, and now there are multiple screens.

After the movie we checked out the New Balance sale. It was a TAD crowded... And we were getting hungry. So we went back to Harvard Square and ate brunch at Fire & Ice. It was my first time there -- so exciting!! They have lots of food on ice that you pick from, kind of like a salad bar. You can put whatever kind of meat, pasta, veggies, etc. you want in a bowl, and then you pick out a sauce. It's cooked up right in front of you on a big round stove thingy. Sooo yummy... I had egg noodles (is that what yaki noodles are? they reminded me of the noodles Jeanne called yaki noodles at the bento restaurant back in Mt. Hood) and salmon and veggies first, then pasta and sausage and veggies. Sooo good... and cheap when you go before 4 pm on Saturday!! It's all you can eat for like $8. My new favorite restaurant! Well, that and Fresh Side.

After eating till we could have rolled out of Fire & Ice, we returned to the (less crowded) New Balance sale. We both found tennies for cheap. Now we need to go jogging or something. We picked up more of Andrew's stuff in JP, and he set things up in our apartment. We now have a TV that gets NBC (hey, all you need when SNL and Law & Order are on that channel!!) and a TV cart in the room. It looks nice =)

By about 11:30 PM we got hungry and took a drive in search of fast food. I wanted some really bad for you KFC, but we ended up at "Wingz." So we ate a really unhealthy, greasy snack over a rerun of SNL (seems like I only catch the SNLs I actually saw last season...) And Mary Kate really DID look skinnier than Ashley...

At some point Andrew made some sort of exclamation of surprise, and I glanced toward the kitchen just in time to see something running across the tiles. At first I thought it was a very large house centipede. But no, it was a freaking mouse!! Andrew & I ran off to the 24 hour CVS for traps (this is like 1 in the morning, the cashier was entertained, she'd had mouse problems, too). We did catch that mouse, by the way, as Andrew said: "Andrew: 1, Mouse: 0"! So luckily we won't be finding any nests of mouse crap (I hope). Rather baffling -- we don't leave food out and I'd just swept and cleaned the kitchen a bit the other day.

Sunday: We didn't get up so early, since we'd stayed up till like 3 am. But we got out of the house at a decent hour and headed up toward Maine. We did the whole outlet shopping thing. I saw way too many cute clothes that I liked... made me regret an American Eagle button up shirt I got, because I found one that was better than my striped one... white with blue bunches of flowers. Ahh so cute... Andrew thought it was too little girlish, but I would have gotten it if only I hadn't just bought a button up shirt. Stocked up on some basics for cheap, found cute J Crew shorts and swim top (because of course there were no more matching bottoms, but Andrew ordered it so any day now!!), and a clearance sale black skirt. So... no more clothes for me!! I now will have 3 bikinis (because I got an orange one for $5 at Target, isn't that crazy?) and I need to go swimming!!

After all that shopping we were SO hungry. We ended up at a very local seafood place that served us HUGE portions. It was fun, more greasy food! We vowed to find a beach before going home (or rather I vowed and Andrew drove), since the original plan was to be done with outlet shopping early and beach hop the rest of the afternoon away. So we ended up in York Beach/ York Harbor. The beach was incomparably better than Revere Beach! Clear water, waves, ice cream shops... kind of like Lincoln City's beaches but with less sand and more highway. I splashed around in the water and we walked ... it made my feet smoother! I love beaches! We saw two cute pugs, lots of dogs, and a gal on horseback.

On the way out we drove by the lighthouse, and it was super crowded and people had Christmas decorations out. We were understandably confused, until Andrew asked a policewoman what the fuss was all about. Apparently they were doing "Christmas in July" and lighting the nubble (that's what it sounded like, at least) of the lighthouse. Then I realized it was July 25th. We left before things got too crazy...

So big news of the work week is that Andrew's grill is up and running and he now has DISHES! I like that we don't have to use Kory's kitchen stuff as much now. And the grill has entertained Andrew immensely. He's grilled hot dogs, chicken, and veggies so far. Tres exciting. We tried s'mores last night but the marshmallows don't brown very well that far away from the heat source. We ended up doing it over the stovetop instead... kind of like how me and Mer did it last summer at the Fosters, except with gas this time.

Oh yeah and the whole DNC. Haven't really been following it. The traffic is actually better than normal lately. Sounds like Boston businesses haven't done very well. The manager of the Boston Fire & Ice said they normally have like 250 people in for dinners, and the other night there were like 56 customers. Crazy, huh? Everyone's evacuated the city, afraid of congestion and maybe terrorism or something. I guess we should be out taking advantage of all the famous people sightings (Andrew thinks we saw Al Frankton in Harvard Square the other day on the way to Crate & Barrel). But I don't really feel like it after work... Oh well.

More later!

Friday, July 23, 2004

It's been SUCH a long time since I last posted. But I did write my blog out, longhand:

Thursday (that'd be a week and a day ago): Highlight of the day: watching Living in Oblivion.

Friday: After work Andrew and I drove directly to Jon & Jen's. We walked in the door right on time for dinner, which was good, as always. Around 8 we finally left for the NY weekend adventure. Andrew & Jon dropped me off at Dale's house before continuing on to their father's house.

Dale & I talked for awhile although it was late, and I got reacquainted with the cats. Dunlop and Theseus put on a little show for me -- Theseus hid under a rug while Dunlop attacked him. Eventually Dale went back to her housesitting job about a mile away, and I showered and went to bed. I took over Dale's room -- it was fun =) I like her room's pink and mauve color scheme.

In the morning Dale came to wake me up, and we ended up helping out their neighbors with pool party preparations. They have a big mastiff (200 lbs), and a somewhat senile black lab. After setting up in the hot sun we just had to swim around in Dale's above ground pool -- we sat in the water and talked awhile until Dale's mother warned us that we were going to fry out there!!

I also met Dale's house-sitting pets: Leo the white lion dog, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 aquatic turtles, and a gerbil! Beautiful newly renovated house, lots of gross garbage and crap lying around. Not cool... Dale and I agreed to never treat a nice house like a pig pen!

We snacked on the food Dale's mother was making, and then proceeded to the party. Dale and I swam around for awhile until the "evil kids" started capsizing, splashing, and in general terrorizing us. It was fun though -- we paddled around on "floating noodles" and got some sun. It started thundering later, which prompted everyone to get food and eat! Jenny's hot sauce chicken was good, and I ate a lot! Jenny took pictures of us, too. After Dale and I got tired of hanging out in our damp swimsuits, we went to change and visit the pets again. We of course made it back to the party for dessert!! We stuffed ourselves for a sugar high... cheesecake, Neapolitan cake, chocolate raspberry cake, fruit salad, brownies, and tea. Yummy! Not any one thing was too good (except perhaps for the brownies) but all mixed together it was much improved.

After the party Dale and I showered, and then I went to the house for TV and talking. We caught up on our current issues, watched some "I love the '90s," and planned the next day out. We also watched "Coupling," the British version, and laughed uproariously. Amazing show! "Oh, Jeffrey!"

Sunday: I slept in, as it was an overcast day. Zoo plans and historic house tours were rejected in favor of a movie... I wanted (being me) to see King Arthur despite the bad reviews. Poor Dale... but I liked seeing it, if only to see how it was adapted for the 2004 US audience =) Very different... my short analysis: King Arthur was TRYING to be more historically accurate than the legend (e.g. using the Baldon's Hill battle, the 1st hint of Arthur in English lit.). Considering our society's obsession with science and "the facts," this seemed appropriate. (Although nothing else seemed to be based on fact.) Guenevere (particularly her rather political stances on land and home and her participation in battles) is very much in line with the Power Puff/ girl power/ women's empowerment views. Girls are supposed to be as tough as the boys -- and from those straps on Guenevere's chest, TOUGHER!

P.S. Hadrian's Wall, as a fellow movie-goer pointed out -- was awfully recreated... And at one point was Arthur wearing a black fleece pull-over and leather pants? He looked like he stepped out of a Banana Republic ad! And the question on everyone's mind... who wears next to nothing when going into a hand-to-hand combat situation?

After apologizing for the movie, we headed back to Dale's. We talked some more and I packed... Andrew was a bit late as they made the same wrong turn as the first night!!! On the way back we made the mistake of stopping in Waterbury, hoping for a mall food court. It was closed, so we waited half an hour (after being told ten minutes) at Ruby Tuesday's. And they were out of "chicken tenders" and some type of fish, meaning that half the menu wasn't available. Some people simply got up and left at this news (and rightly so, who runs out of freaking chicken tenders at a chain restaurant? COME ON PEOPLE!) But what I ened up with had a redeeming spicy sauce. Long drive, rather late night... but it was a great weekend!

So this week the big project over at Andrew's office is pretty much over. they have shorter hours and no work to take home (yeah, kind of like a normal job now). So Tuesday night we watched Shattered Glass (about Stephen Glass, the New Republic writer who wrote entirely fictitious articles).

Wed. night was tres exciting. We ate a quick dinner after work, and headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts. Art museums are SO much better post-Art History 100! We saw paintings by Degas, Van Gogh (hold up in the V.G. corner, with the art students meticulously examining every square inch of the canvases and looking as if they were trying to smell the paint), Manet, Monet, Turner ("Slave Ship," Quillian and John Ruskin's fave, I knew I had seen it before...), and Picasso (a mother was asking her little boy: "what's Cubism?" and the boy said "it's when artists use shapes in their paintings!")

We also saw a cool drawing "class" around a couple of models (not nude). We liked the exhibit with the flashing lights (one of a "picture" of a fountain capturing the sleaziness of Las Vegas) and the silhouettes (one of the NY skyline with Coke and beer bottles and cans, another of two people sitting, obtained from an arrangement of random crap). Afterwards we walked to the cheesecake Factory. We ate so much buffalo wrap appetizers that we couldn't finish dessert. Ahh yum... cheesecake... kahlua cocoa coffee cheesecake...

So tired when we got home!

Thursday: I felt kind of nauseous all day (maybe the buffalo wrap/cheesecake combination?), it was distracting and irritating. We pretty much went straight from work to Andrew's "Goodbye, Dave" get together. We went to Red Bones for dinner (they accidentally gave me half a chicken -- too much fowl! I couldn't finish the drumstick and had a guilty moment imagining a ghost chicken asking for his leg back since it was going to waste). They all told funny stories about work, and Dave had plenty of horror stories. Then we went to this freezing bar. I was huddled up by Andrew the whole time, covered in goosebumps and longing for a hot shower and hot chocolate. When we went home I took the hottest shower and boiled myself to a pinkish hue.

Today we had great hopes for a picnic out on the esplanade, but as rain is predicted for EIGHT of the next TEN days (f#*&ing weather!!!!) we have decided against going. As the astute weatherman put it tonight: "The clouds are rolling in for the weekend, and below average temperatures are predicted!" Global warming my ass!

But instead we went to Target and bought a grill (which Andrew is now price comparing and considering returning) and myriad things we didn't particularly plan on buying. Such is the genius of Target: whole lot of junk under one roof, and you've got to pass most of the junk to find the junk you're looking for, resulting in seeing more junk and deciding to buy more junk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

GRE Fee Waivers: Designed to Discourage Use

Many colleges and testing services offer admission fee waivers to students who need them. In the case of a GRE test this can make a big difference, since it is $115 per test. If you’re applying to an English literature program, you will also probably need to take the English Literature Subject Test. That adds up to $230 in exchange for the privilege of taking a test. And they’re not even easy to use. First off, they’re released in the middle of the summer when students are not typically at college or able to get the proper signatures, forms, and seals necessary to fill out the waiver form. It is also nearly impossible to contact the GRE administrators, as they do not have a toll free number, nor a competent person answering emails [example: I had very simple questions (when and where can I obtain a 2004/05 fee waiver form? How am I supposed to fill that form out with school officials’ signatures when I’m home in Oregon for the summer and the signatures are in South Hadley, MA?). The emails I received in response were clearly answered by someone who did not understand my questions in the first place].

The result of this big mess? The office of financial assistance first gave me a 2003-04 fee waiver form, which I proceeded to fill out. Then I realized that in very fine print it restricted the time I had to take the test – if I didn’t take the test by June 2004, I was screwed and would have to pay for it. Kind of a problem since in my mind 2004 means Jan. 1st 2004 until Dec. 31st, 2004! So that fee waiver had to be returned to the office of F.A. (since they can only give out one form to each student). Luckily they took it back, and informed me that the 2004-2005 school year waiver wouldn’t be available until July 1st, 2004. The director assured me that she could send the completed form to me over the summer, and gave me her card.

So two weeks ago I emailed her, without a response. After emailing again yesterday, she claimed to have already sent the form to my Oregon address. (Still waiting for Mum to confirm that she’s gotten it.) The director also told me that she had not gotten the required registrar’s seal on the form, and that they would need my student ID to do so. Not able to just drive out to South Hadley during business hours to flash my MHC ID, I emailed the registrar to ask about how to obtain this seal. The solution (from a very helpful registrar, I might add) is for me to have Mum send in the fee waiver form with a SASE. Then it will be sent to me -- registrar’s seal and all. It might be a good idea to note at this point that none of this is MHC’s fault – they’re doing everything they can to help me, and it’s still a “conundrum”!

The next leg of this journey will be trying to actually register for the test. The GRE people make this difficult, too (of course). Fee waiver students can only use one fee waiver, so they must decide when they are taking the subject test and the general test ahead of time. We can only register by snail mail, so we’d better decide fast to book our seats in time. I have no idea what will happen if I try to register for a time and location that is filled up. Will they send my fee waiver form back and make me re-register altogether for both dates? What happens if they don’t send me the form back for a month and I have no idea if I’m even registered or not?

This story will surely be continued at a later date…

Monday, July 12, 2004

Quickie update before going to bed EARLY (yes, before 11 PM!!):

Friday: Andrew & I went to his "former abode" to visit Jon & Jen. We helped with dinner (I cut up avocados and mushed them). I once did that in 4-H, it was just as fun the second time around. Apparently there was talk at Andrew's work about guacamole: solid or liquid? (I say amorphic solid, or whatever it's called, I can't find it on google right now.) Jon made a good cilantro sauce for beef, it was surprisingly well matched. After dinner we pretty much sat and relaxed and chatted. Didn't get back till pretty late, luckily I didn't have to get up early the next day.

Saturday: Lots and lots and lots of vocab words. Got through I. I was inundated with new words, and most of them begin IN or IM. Very easy to confuse them all.

"All day Saturday -- 14 hours to be exact,
Andrew was at the office, with the whole pack,
Racing against the clock to finish Java work.
At the beck and call of Harvey -- that old jerk."

So toward evening, when it was clear that Andrew was not coming home for dinner (he ate two cold pieces of pizza left over from lunch). So, Kory and I went out to dinner. We thought Andrew would be joining us, but this clearly didn't happen. I met Kory's coworker, and we had drinks and dinner. Tried a cranberry bog martini, Kory enlightened me as to the alcohol content. Stopped drinking that one. Instead, had a "light red wine," Kory's tagged that as the sort I would like. I think I agree, it didn't make me cough. They have very good polenta, squash blossoms, and chocolate cake.

Saturday night Andrew got home around 11:30 PM. He was hungry, so we went to Red Bones. They have very sticky tables there. I noticed because I kept putting my elbows in a particularly sappy spot. We came home and fell right asleep, lights on, computer on, it was a mess.

I woke up Sunday morning, very early, and brushed my teeth.

The next day we had a very heavy brunch that wasn't conducive to feeling light and active the rest of the day. We sat on Revere beach, like beached whales. Andrew got burnt, again. Then we explored this "Building 19" with lots of leftover crap from other stores. Took a much needed visit to Wal-Mart and Target. The brita is working beautifully.

Today at lunch we discussed water quality. I think of the bunch, we had better water to start with. Stephanie's water in Clinton is brown. Charlene's well water is orange with iron. Ours is at least clear.

That brings us up to now!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Saturday: Andrew left work early so we could attend his friend Carlo's barbeque. Reunion with Kiwi the pug, who was very preoccupied with Shelley's dog. Weird uncomfortable conversation with Shelley (who lives in the apartment beneath Carlo's). At one point Andrew pointed out that I was the only female in the room besides Kiwi. The other end of the gender spectrum from MHC...

I also had a little American Eagle clearance saling to do -- thank God for AE clearance sales, because W2K isn't paying me much more than my bills cost (and whatever extra I'm sure will end up going to taxes. Ugh).

It was a good day for a barbeque, except for the ever-present mosquitoes.

Sunday: We slept in, because we knew we weren't into the whole extreme firework viewing (ie, get up at 5 am to claim a spot for the Boston Pops concert). Brunch was leisurely, I finally painted my toenails a bright red, and we sat about doing some work. In the afternoon we headed out wandering around Boston -- we had an "embryonic" plan to follow the Freedom Trail, eat somewhere in the North End, and see the fireworks. [Side note: I have reached G in my alphabetical quest to learn GRE vocab words. Watch out, I will be attempting to use these words in blogs as well as everyday speech. Luckily most of you do not have to live with me over the summer!] This plan "felled" as we became hungry almost as soon as we started walking. We had pad thai, and an interesting curry mango fried rice. An ideal setting -- we ate in a sort of park by the ocean.

Andrew & I then headed through Boston Common and the public gardens -- a rather "desultory" path toward the fireworks. I finally saw the Make Way for Ducklings statues. Mer, you would have liked them. I would have taken a picture except for the toddlers "gamboling" about and pretending to ride the ducks. We finally reached the esplanade, and after much walking about in the crowd, we found a place to put a towel and sit down. We were "quiescent" and read our books -- consumed some slush -- and basically waited for evening. A group of "loquacious" BU students were in front of us. We finally heard music off in the distance, and everyone stood for the national anthem. Some crazy woman knocked off a BU student's cap, spoke to him in "invective" (one might even say "vituperative") language, and stormed off with her off-kilter male-counterpart in tow. The BU students began to leave after the first round of fireworks that went with the 1812 Overture. They had "recondite" reasons for leaving so close to the show, esp. since the wait to leave after the fireworks was much less severe than we had expected...

The show was great, once it FINALLY got started at around 10:30 PM. Entire field of vision was filled with fireworks. Odd splotchy batches that kept flickering after detonating like big bulbous fireflies. Others that looked like gold rain. Some were even set off to look like smileys (Andrew got an excellent picture of this!) The show wasn't as long as I had thought it would be, though. Afterwards we were crushed together "like sardines" as Mum would say. After getting past one of the walkways that cross the highway at intervals, we headed for the T. The first leg of the journey was crowded, the second was not. Andrew found a seat for me on the first one though (miraculously). Very tired!

Luckily I didn't have work Monday -- wasn't feeling so great -- so I got a lot of GRE words onto flashcards, took a couple of practice verbal tests (I still suck), and finished off the Lit. GRE review. My head cannot hold all these words! Evening event: pad thai followed up by Jello cheesecake and frozen fruit. Food makes me happy =)

Most bizarre encounter with a CVS employee ever. And, he gave me $10.18 in the form of 2 5's, 3 nickels, and three pennies. I found that strange. The fives can be explained, but why would you give someone three nickels instead of a dime and a nickel? Any insight into this "abstruse" "conundrum" is much appreciated.

Being at work again -- a little disconcerting after 4 days off.

Merrie, how do I put pictures in my blog?

Friday, July 02, 2004

I forgot something -- I remembered because it's starting to thunderstorm again -- We've been having incredible storms --

Last night we had the most amazing thunder and lightening. For once I was glad that I always wake up during the middle of the night. We stayed up and watched it for awhile. Like natural fireworks, maybe.
Just read Mer's blog -- sounds like the Disneyland trip went well! =) I'm so glad Sassy Duck came home!! When the hell do I get to see that damned cat? Is she going to run away again when I come home in the winter??
Today ended up being a "mandatory day off." As in, the entire C-- family was going to be gone so they gave everyone the day off, too. I tried to work from home, but Charlene told me that wasn't going to work out. I needed the sleep though... doing chores around the house and catching up on things I've not had the time to do during the week. But we have had some fun, even on weeknights:

Weds. night: Buster needed a new bulb for his heat lamp, so we took our first visit to the pet store that's like, less than a block away. Ok so only Merrie is going to understand my next observation. Why is it that so many small, privately owned pet stores are run by somewhat overweight middle aged men? Anyway. This is a pretty cool pet store -- there was a brown frog that looked like a dead leaf, small water turtles (Andrew was about ready to bring one home -- seriously), a very large and primarily red parrot, one big adult bunny (guess that one isn't a best seller, I'm thinking it's a grown-up-left-over-Easter-bunny), a couple of guinea pigs, ferrets, and your typical assortment of fish and smaller birds. They didn't have a bulb for Buster, though.

Thursday night I was pretty damn tired. My eyes had felt dry all day. Charlene let us go an hour early, so I had extra time for the old GRE words and book reading. Luckily we had leftovers for dinner. Somerville had its own fireworks celebration (the first in 20 years), so we decided to check it out. As we were walking towards the park, the fireworks started, so we ran a bit. It was pretty fun, even though they didn't last longer than 20 minutes. At one point we thought we'd seen the "grand finale." A while later, we knew it was the grand finale when like 20 got shot up into the air at the same time. There were two sets of those high frequency displays -- it was getting ridiculous, like you couldn't blink or you'd miss them! Everyone was laughing and clapping (except for some little kids (and not so little kids) getting led away by their parents, crying and saying "I HATE the fourth of July!!").

We also took one of our many grocery trips -- highlight being the No Bake Jello Cookies and Cream Dessert. I made it last night -- Andrew said he was impressed by my use of a whisk as a blender (and I can even do speeds, low speed and high speed. kind of). But considering that I've made this stuff in a dorm kitchenette, with the aid of only bowls and forks, a whisk was an improvement!