Sometimes I am oblivious

I didn’t even know it was going to snow today. I avoid the local news at all costs, and guess I just wasn’t paying attention to the radio the last day or two. But I woke up this morning to a snow covered Boston. Take a look at these pics I just took outside my office window.

Did I mention it was 60 degrees on Saturday?






Christmas La Dee Dee Wheee!

Ah, Christmas Morning!


Normally I wouldn’t be sitting here, watching A Christmas Story and blogging on Christmas morning. As you’ve guessed by now, I didn’t make it home. But so far it isn’t so bad. Last night Carrrrrmen and I went to see the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and out for drinks in the only bar open in town afterwards (pictures to come later today). For some reason she had a burning desire to play Scrabble, so naturally we brought the game with us into the bar. And we played, O! It was so very intense. Thus we attracted some strange attention. Here is a snippet of conversation from a guy who sat down next to me for a spell:

Guy: What are you drinking? (gesturing to my nearly empty beer glass)
Me: It was a Guinness.
Guy: You like that stuff?
Me: Umm, looks like it.

It was actually really fun, except for the horrible music. Have you heard Cartman’s rendition of Come Sail Away?

Christmas mornings were truly magical when I was a child, especially before my parents split. I don’t remember actually finding out the truth about Santa, do you? My brother, sister, and I would stand in the kitchen (painted olive green, gotta love the ’70s), standing at the doorway that led down to the family room, where Santa had left us presents. We would giggle and take turns trying to peek through the keyhole to catch a glimpse of our goodies. When Mom and Dad said it was time, we rushed the door, down the stairwell and to our respective stockings.

We opened presents always on Christmas morning, I can’t imagine following the tradition that does them on Christmas Eve. That just can’t be the same. We were allowed to open one present before bed on Christmas Eve. An appetizer of sorts. A teaser.

We would open presents one at a time, early Chrstmas Morn, watching each other. It wasn’t a mad dash for the finish line, so we’d be at it quite a while. One Christmas my parents audio taped us opening presents. I wish I knew where that tape was! It was precious. I remember hearing my brother, who was 9 years old or so at the time, open up the double album set of Gold Rush ’79 and exclaiming with excitement, “Wow! Mom! It’s got Shake Your Groove Thing!”. Awesome.

I admit that I always felt a pang of regret once everything was ripped open and admired. I hated the idea that the next Christmas was now so very far away. I guess I sort of feel that way right now too.

On Photography, Part 1

There is something about holding the weight of a camera in my hand that soothes me, whether it be digital, print or disposable. I often feel as though I am watching life through a view finder, and feel naked if I don’t have a camera tucked somewhere on me, even if I am just going to by eggs at the corner store. It’s Murphy’s Law– if I am not packing a camera, I am liable to see something cool like circus folk juggling elephants down McGrath Highway. Really.

More than anything else, I love to photograph people. Preferably when they are not aware, or simply don’t care, that I am shooting. Thankfully most of my friends are used to the camera being constantly focused on them, so they make excellent subjects. As for strangers, that can be a bit more complicated since I also want to be respectful of privacy and personal space. Many cultures believe that letting someone take your picture is the equivalent of letting someone steal your soul so I am often careful to ask permission first before taking a stranger’s picture especially if I am traveling in a foreign country. The problem is, naturally, once permission is given their awareness of the camera almost always ruins the shot.

But I guess sometimes I don’t always ask. I just take my chances and get the shots I want.

I just got a scanner, which came along with the new computer. Exciting! Now I can start to share with you the many fun print photos I have been taking over the years. What to start with?

Given the nature of this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite “soul stealing” shots I took last summer here in Boston. These were taken by the fountain towards the read of the Christian Science Center on a very hot and sunny afternoon…



Glad Tidings

Nothing says Merry Christmas Y’all quite like this…


Well, thankfully, the whole evening didn’t quite go that way.

Last night the gang came over to help me decorate my christmas tree, which Vic had helped me pick out the previous afternoon. I fell in love with the tree the moment the treeman told me it was an orphan and needed a home. Good sales trick. I have never had my own Christmas tree before; there was always a reason not to– traveling, space, time, and the idea of decorating a tree by myself was just too depressing. I could not have been happier to welcome friends and family to my home to help me make this a memorable first tree.

My weekend was mostly a flutter of activity preparing for the arrival of guests into my home. I am not the neatest of people and it gave me an excuse to go through lots of stuff, throw things out and really clean* the place up. I was delighted when I woke up Sunday morning to a snow covered Boston, it only heightened my holiday cheer.

It was so good to see friends I hadn’t seen in ages, particularly Jody (my former downstairs neighbor) and Yolita (a great friend from my childhood). I hadn’t seen either lovely lady in a year or more. Surprisingly, my sister was in town, and her boyfriend came by later. And then of course you will recognize many of the other cast of characters in attendance, Ashlee, Ann, Dabney, Seth, Carmen, Kumeran, Vic, Chris, and Kevin. I don’t host people often at my house, which is strange since I love having people over. I like to feed people and provide them with strong cocktails of many varieties and then photograph the consequences. I think it’s the italian in me that likes to take care of people.

Here is a story in pictures of the evening:



You can see the complete set here.
*Well, mostly. Don’t look under the bed.

Benefit on Saturday Night

Anyone interested in coming along?

Women United In Response: A Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert
A Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert: diverse group of women coming together to support the Myers Foundation’s Hurricane Relief Efforts

Saturday, September 24th 7 to 10 p.m.
Cambridge YWCA
7 Temple Street, Central Sq.
(off Mass Ave. near Citizens Bank)

Suggested Donation – $20

Please come and show your support. All donations accepted.

Scheduled Performers
Ching-In Chen, poet
Donna C(harles) Owens, poet
Gabrie’l J. Atchison, dancer
Koré, singer/songwriter
Dancers from Big Moves’ Phat Fly Girls
Monica Brase, singer/songwriter
Raquel Evita Saraswati, poet
Nicole Atchison, singer

Reflecting

Today has been a day of reflection. I went to a 9/11 remeberance service and spent some time at Boston’s 9/11 memorial in the Public Garden. I talked to a lot of people, strangers. But I was moved on more than one occasion by the stories and thoughts people shared with me today.

Wage Peace
by Judyth HillWage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion
and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

It’s that time again

… when I get itchy feet. I am about to have a big performance and salary review and I think it will force me to make some tough decisions about where life is taking me, or where I am taking life. I love my job, I really do. And the people I work with. But Boston is getting ever more expensive and I would like to stop renting someday.

This made me look at CNN’s top places to live in 2005. Think you could guess what they are? Nope, I couldn’t.

10. Mill Valley, CA
9. Chatham, NJ
8. Peach Tree City, GA
7. Middleton, WI
6. Barrington, RI
5. Louisville, CO
4. Vienna, VA (I’ve actually lived part-time there and don’t see the attraction at all!)
3. Naperville, IL
2. Bainbridge Island, WA
1. Moorestown, NJ

These all sound like fine places to live if you are married, have the cash for a down payment on a home and are ready to start having kids. Doesn’t Peach Tree City sound downright pretty? But what about the top 10 places to live if you are single? I somehow doubt that PTC has a great dating scene.

Well, the answer depends on who you ask. If you ask Forbes, they’ll tell you the top 10 is:

10. Philly
9. Dallas-Fort Worth
8. New York
7. Houston
6. San Fran-Oakland
5. Atlanta
4. Los Angeles
3. Chicago
2. Miami
1. Washington D.C.-Baltimore
(Boston came in at #16)

If you ask AOL, they’ll tell you:

10. Las Vegas
9. Milwaukee
8. Twin Cities
7. Baltimore
6. Detroit
5. Cleaveland
4. Atlanta
3. Chicago
2. Columbus
1. St. Louis

Clearly, only people in the Midwest voted in that poll. But it is interesting that Chicago placed #3 in all three polls (Naperville is in the suburbs of Chi-town). Hmmm. Interesting.

It shouldn’t be too tough for me to get the real scoop on Chicago given that I have a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, multiple ex-aunts and uncles and about 9 cousins between the ages of 16 and 35 living the Chicago metro area. In fact, my cousin Matthew, is getting married in Chicago on New Year’s Eve and there is a rumor that I am invited even though I haven’t seen him in at least 5 years. That should be a damn good time.

If I haven’t linked to it before, this is a good time to link to my cousin Tim’s production company, Dark Tag Productions. One of his recent plays, The Safety Date, won Chicago’s “Last Play Standing” competition.

I haven’t given up on my dream to move to London… I’m just looking to see what else is out there for now.

Momalicious

The visit with the Mom was fine. It was a little tricky to find things to do that all three (me, Mom and my sister) of us enjoy, but we had a nice time. We had some very interesting conversations about:

family, marriage, divorce, getting old, breast implants, breast reductions, politics, Iraq, Australian contortionists, what you should tell your children about sex, how to fight fair, adultery, retirement, boyfriends, potential boyfriends, bras, shoes, Oprah, over qualified immigrants settling for menial labor work, hurricanes, the word Saskatchewanand whether it really is funny or not, how to haggle for antiques, drug addiction, whether parents should bail their kids out of jail, the sea, real estate, investing in the stock market….

…and all that was just at dinner on the first night. Haha, just kidding.We had dinner on Friday night at Clio in the Back Bay, the resident restaurant of the Hotel Eliot. I have to say, it was just OK. Not great. The waiter was snooty (he was clearly perturbed that we didn’t order a first AND second course) and the food grossly over-priced as if the chef was just trying too hard to impress us with his artistic flair. But the sashimi bar, Uni, looked nice, if small. I may have to try that sometime.

Saturday we went up to lovely Newburyport to stroll around the shops and have a nice lunch. We eventually made our way out to Plum Island for a quick dip of our toes in the sand and sea. Erin hosted us for dinner at her new place in Charlestown and her boyfriend, Tom, came over to meet Mom. That went well.

Sunday we had brunch at Laurel, one of my favorite restaurants in Boston since it is so cozy and yet also very affordable. Their omelette filled with goat cheese, chives and lobster is fantastic (of course I order mine sans fromage). Afterwards we walked a few blocks to see the the beautiful Tiffany windows at the Arlington Street Church. We then drove down to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I don’t think Mom liked it much, but I thought it was great (this was my 4th or 5th time visiting). After this point we were running out of ideas of things to keep us happily occupied. We made a run to Target and then just went to Erin’s to hang out until it was time to drive Mom to her airport hotel (she had an early flight the next day). Oh, and we watched the movie Kinsey too.

Here are a few pictures to commemorate the weekend…

Street Performers in Newburyport

Shopping in Newburyport

The Unitarian Church of Newburyport

Antiques for sales

Mom and Erin on Plum Island

Going for a dip

Me and my shadow

Footprints in the sand

Sand Craters

Sisters

Weekend Antics, sort of

What a weekend! Full of fun, friends, and food. No, not food. Beer! And bloody marys! And other adult beverages! However, in an uncharacteristic move, I did not take my camera everywhere with me, so I don’t have the usual photos to post to illustrate the good times we’re havin’ in Boston. These will have to do instead….

So Friday night Geary and I started off the weekend right by hitting some local bars for some fun and drinks after work….


Here are some of the places we went*

We had some good conversation, and the evening got a little wild and crazy– especially when we hit Solas and got front row seats at HB’s bar. Geary even got to dancing with the local talent after a few strong cocktails…


Here is Geary dancing with an Irish guy at Solas*

It was a late late late night out, so Saturday I was feeling very hot and lazy– Boston summer is here and I don’t have much in terms of air conditioning. I lounged on the couch and surfed the internet most of the morning, changing all my links to my new URL….


Here I am lounging on the couch*

Around 2pm I went to pick up Erin’s car, since she wasn’t using it for the weekend. She was sweating her ass off on a charity road race from Boston to Provincetown. That’s 75 miles on a bike for 2 days in 90 degree weather. Did I tell you that insanity runs in my family? SO anyway, I was psyched to have a car for the weekend….


E’s car*

It was also great to have a car since I went out to Newton (pronounced new-un) because Kevin was having a party. Here is a nice shot of the gracious host…


Kevin*

The regular boys were there, and I brought Geary with me. I met some nice new people including a guy who couldn’t stop talking about his nipples and how sore they were. It was a nice crowd of people…


The regular boys and some nice new people*

Since I was driving, I decided to leave before things got too wild and crazy. Kevin’s couch didn’t seem as comfortable as it looked. But I hear things got really crazy…


party gets crazy at kevins*

The next day, another hot and sunny day, Ashbloem had a great idea: let’s go to lake Waban! Right on Wellesley College’s campus, it was the perfect spot for the day. We sat in the sun, swam in the lake and snacked on a variety of fruits and munchies. Here is a shot of the lake…


The lake*

We had all kinds of fun and interesting characters with us. Here is a shot of Ashbloem by the port-a-pottys:


Ashbloem by the port-a-pottys*

Mana and Seth were there too, and brought their friend Brent. Crazy Brent actually ran around the lake not just once, but twice! In 90+ degree weather! In teeny-tiny running shorts! Here is a shot of Brent and Mana hanging out at the lake…


Brent and Mana*

We were also joined by my new friend, Mr. Germany. He took a break from splitting atoms at MIT to hang out with us. I was shocked when he said he didn’t know who David Hasselhoff is…I think he was lying. ALL Germans must know who DH is, right? Isn’t he like HUGE over there?? Here is a picture of Mr. Germany at the lake with us…


Mr. Germany*

Mr. Germany and I finished off the weekend over a few casual drinks at the local pub.


Me having a casual drink at the pub*

So you can see, it was another fine weekend!!

The funny thing is that I am supposed to have today off. But I FORGOT. What the hell? I have more vacation days than I can count so I planned to take off a bunch of random Mondays, including today. But I forgot. I could be home lounging right now. Dammit.

*Not true depictions whatsoever. Duh. Although some are pretty darn close if I do say so myself.

Movie Trailers

Look Closely at this picture:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and/or Matt Damon may or may not be in the trailer photographed above. Or the One next to it. Yes. You heard me. One or all or none of them may, or may not, be in that trailer, or the other one.

Apparently they are filing a movie right here in Beantown (I bet that is Matty D’s doing, being a local boy and all) called The Departed. According to IMDb:


Plot Outline:The story, set in Boston, revolves around a gangster (Damon) who infiltrates the police department and a cop (DiCaprio) who infiltrates the gangs. The two find out that a mole is in each organization and race to find each other’s identity

Doesn’t that sound super exciting and unlike any other film filmed before? Other actors listed on the call sheet are Mark Wahlberg (another boston boy if I am not mistaken), Alec Baldwin (right, since he is such a bad ass), and President Martin Sheen. I should also mention that none other than the great Scorsese is directing. Maybe this will be the one to garnish him with his first Oscar! And while he is accepting his trophy I will be home on my couch shouting, “I saw his trailer, or maybe it was Nicholson’s!”

All I know is that I am definitely keeping my camera with me at all times just in case I run into one of them at the Store 24 getting Funyuns (N.B. NOT spelled “funions” as I first suspected thanks to Ashbloem who says anyone from TX or is a Brittney Spears fan knows how to properly spell Funyons goddamit).

Say I were to run into Matt Damon at Store 24, he with Funyons, me with a box of croutons (I know, it’s weird that I love croutons so much, just accept it and let it go). This is how I imagine the conversation:

ME: Wow, hi. You’re Matt Damon.
MD: I know.
ME: I didn’t know that you liked Funyons, I pegged you more as a Pringles kind of guy.
MD: Huh. No. Funyons are where it’s at. Pringles are for p***ies Have you ever been to Texas?
ME: I’ve always been a Doritos girl.
MD: Well, I like Doritos too! Which flavor?
ME: Nacho Cheese all the way. Those other flavors can go to hell. I’m a traditionalist.
MD: Totally. I’m right there with you.
ME: Yeah.
MD: Want to go to the South of France with me? I’m ditching my super-model girlfriend.
ME: Sure! Can I take your picture?
(see Matt Damon is polite enough not to question why I am eating from a box of croutons. He’s a good guy like that).

Think you want to work in movies and live in New England (acting, producing, working on the set)? Check out this site: NEFilm.

In other news…

I was riding the %^&$% Green Line Shuttle last night (heading for my first “e-date” in a while– that’s a story for another time) when I saw this graffiti on the bus and just had to laugh:


Amen, brother. Amen.