Death to Charlie Thursday, Jul 10 2008 

The day before yesterday, my CharlieCard – Boston’s MBTA pass, good for both the subway and the bus – stopped working. I tried swiping again and again, and it would only say, “See Agent.”

Well, since they got rid of tokens, agents are NEVER at any of the stations! What could I do?

I fake-swiped and sneaked through the turnstiles behind other people until this morning, when I bought a ticket good for five rides.

Now, why would my card just crap out on me? I’ve always had a monthly pass, and until a few days ago, it said that it was good through July 31st. It always renewed automatically.

Renewed through my former job.

Ah. That’s it.

At my old job, I always had my CharlieCard taken out of my paycheck before taxes. (My pass costs $59.00 monthly, so it probably saved me about $300.00 a year or so.) They would always pay for the next month on the 10th of the month, so as of February 10th, I would be fully paid through March 31st.

My last day at my old job was on May 8th and my first day at my current job was May 12th. (The job is going great, thank you!) I knew that since I missed the cutoff, my pass would be invalid for the month of June.

Well, without any kind of payment, it was valid for the month of June. I didn’t say anything.

And then it renewed for JULY. There were no charges on any of my credit cards or bank accounts, so I had no idea how it was being paid! Still, I wasn’t going to complain about free transit…

And then they must have discovered their mistake and stopped it immediately, two months to the day after I stopped working there. The benefit company probably has no way to contact me outside of my now-defunct email address at my old job, so I’ll never know.

Damn. I thought they would at least let the card expire at the end of the month.

The Pickup Artist Sunday, May 4 2008 

Oh my God, let me begin by saying that I just got back from a nightmarish commute home from the bar.  I left Hynes at about 12:15 AM and immediately got a Red Line train to Alewife at Park Street.

Between Harvard and Porter, the train just stopped for 15 minutes.  Just stopped.  As I listened to song after song on my iPod, I watched everyone get aggravated, especially since the sound system wasn’t great and we couldn’t decipher any of the announcements.

After that, the train spent several minutes lurching a few inches, then stopping, then lurching a few inches, then stopping.  It felt like we were trying to get over bumps.

They let us off at Porter, telling us that all trains were out of service.  This was one stop away from where I needed to be!

I knew getting a cab would be nearly impossible during this time of night, even on Mass. Ave., so I waited for a bus.  (This is major for me, considering that I have NEVER taken a bus in Boston that wasn’t a temporary shuttle.)  A bus never came.

I hopped into a cab with two other people trying to get to Alewife and I just had the driver drop me off on the corner of my street and Mass. Ave., walking the rest of the way back.  The other passengers were amused when I pointed out where I had seen Owen Wilson earlier today.

But I digress.

I met the WORST PICKUP ARTIST OF MY LIFE tonight.

I went to Match in the Back Bay with Esther, Lauren and Laura.  The place has a nice atmosphere, though the martinis aren’t strong at all (I had two and I didn’t even feel a buzz) and the prices are a bit high.  They could also stand to spend extra money on the bathrooms.

The bar was really crowded, so I went to get a drink on my own first.  I squeezed in next to a guy who looked like a young Sean Penn with black hair and a goatee.

Guy: “You are so beautiful.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Guy: “I love your eyes.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Guy: “I’m Michael.  What’s your name?”

Me: “Lisa.” [Sorry, Lisa!!  It was the first name I could think of!]

Guy: “I live right here.  Where do you live?”

Me: “You live in this bar?  Funny, I grew up here, but I now live at a watering hole down the street.”

Guy: “I love the shape of your face.” (Starts leaning over and brushes his goatee against my shoulder.  He repeats this twice over the course of our conversation.)

Me: (Nothing.)

Guy: “I love your lips.  Can I talk to you?”

Me: “Well, this is a bar, lots of people, lots to discuss, yay!”

Guy: “Can I see you again, Miss Ulley?” (He had leaned over, reading my partially obscured ID.)

Me: “Listen, as awesome as this conversation is, I’m going back to my friends.”

Guy: “When will I see you again?”

Ugh.

Right after me, Esther went up.

Guy: “You look like my cousin.  My cousin is hot.”

After that, Laura got hers.

Guy: “I love you.”

When Lauren went up, she made sure to stand far, far away.

Ugh.  He could have at least bought us a drink.

I’m really in the mood to go dancing again.  I haven’t been in months.  Maybe next weekend.

“Try recycling the newspaper.” Jackass. Friday, Mar 28 2008 

I read the Metro every morning on my way to work, though it’s biased, limited and full of errors.  It’s free; they literally put it into your hands each morning.

I finish the paper somewhere around Park Street and get off the train at South Station.  I, along with everyone else, would dispose of it by throwing it in the trash.  Surprisingly, South Station had no recycling bins — until a few days ago.

A new recycling bin was added next to my default trash can.  Perfect!  I started throwing my newspaper in the bin, along with everyone else.

Yesterday, however, I didn’t recycle it.  I didn’t even realize I forgot to recycle it — it was early, I hadn’t slept much over the past few nights, and I was pretty out of it.  Out of habit, I must have thrown it in the trash can by mistake.

How do I know this?

Because as soon as I got to the top of the stairs, a middle-aged guy turned to me, gave me a dirty look and said, “Try recycling the paper.”

Are you kidding me?!

What a jackass!

Yes, I forgot to recycle my paper yesterday.  It was an honest mistake.

But let me tell you something — that guy has no idea that I am environmentalist who no longer eats meat, who rarely drives, who is planning to buy a hybrid if she can ever afford a new car, who adopted a manatee back when newspapers had to clarify that it was “an endangered marine animal,” and who participated in her first environmental protest at the age of six!

And who the hell does he think he is?  Does he go around yelling at people?  He waited until we got ALL THE WAY UP THE STAIRS before he said something to me!  He had time to think it over!

I said nothing back.  I was too shocked.  (My friends say I should have yelled back at him.)

Okay, guy.  Thanks to your overt rudeness, I will make sure that I never zone out in the morning and accidentally throw my paper in the trash again.

I just hope you know that your attitude is far more poisonous than the environmental damage I could ever cause.

A Message for All Commuters Thursday, Sep 20 2007 

The left side of the escalator is for those who walk up the stairs.

The right side is for the tired, the relaxed, those with children, the disabled and the LAZY FUCKS WHO SHOULD BE STANDING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, BUT INSTEAD INSIST ON STANDING ON THE LEFT AND HOLDING UP ALL THE PEOPLE WHO MOVE AT A NORMAL PACE. In short, if you don’t want to walk up the escalator, DO NOT stand on the left side.

The Brits get it right. All over the Underground in London, there are signs everywhere directing people to stand on the right side and let the walkers ascend the left side.

Now, that makes sense. I love the tube, and the signs and announcements are as witty and charming as the Brits themselves.

Why can’t we have what they have? It’s not like I’m asking for sweet accents or universal healthcare. I only want those signs encouraging people to stand on the right.

You could argue that if I have such a problem with it, I should leave home earlier. Well, it bugs me even when I’m not running late, even when I have nowhere to be in particular. This is about efficiency, and it’s also about common courtesy.

I usually don’t get upset about this when it’s not rush hour. When hardly any people are around, it’s more than acceptable to stand anywhere (assuming you don’t block the escalator completely), to lounge across two or more seats, to stand in front of a turnstile, holding a Charliecard, mystified as to what to do with it.

NOT DURING RUSH HOUR.

Do your thing — just stay the hell out of my way.

"Doesn’t it feel great to be bet on?" Thursday, Jan 4 2007 

Yesterday, I was walking across the street toward the Starbucks on Summer Street, where I always stop on the way to work and almost always get a London Fogger (Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and vanilla syrup — it’s great!). I don’t know the Starbucks people personally, but there are a few with whom I exchange smiles, how are yous, etc.

Anyways, I was crossing the street and I saw one of the girls who often serves me, and she was standing next to a guy employee whom I didn’t recognize. And they were smiling — steadily and directly at me, unmoving, which is unusual for such a busy Starbucks. I kept walking and they kept smiling at me.

At this point I began to wonder what was wrong, if I had something all over my face or was bleeding from the eyes. I cautiously opened the door. Nobody was in line. I walked up to the front.

“Hi, I’ll have a grande London Fogger,” I said. They didn’t move, just keeping their steady smiles on me.

“Two bags,” I continued. Nothing.

“….whole milk?” I finished.

“Awwwww!” the girl groaned.

“Yes!” cheered the guy. “You owe me ten bucks!”

“You are kidding me,” I said.

They weren’t. The girl knows I’m a London Fogger girl, and even though it’s her who usually serves me, she had gotten the milk wrong! While they both knew it was a London Fogger, she was betting on nonfat. Sheesh.

It made me smile, though. It reminded me of back when Lisa and I worked at Victoria’s Secret and could instantly guess any woman’s bra size, which we once sat down for a while and did in Harvard Square. And as Andy said later, “Doesn’t it feel great to be bet on?”

Speaking of Andy, later on that night, we were waiting for the red line in South Station and he was telling me about how he was shaking up a can of whipped cream last night and doing this weird, goofy, pseudo-Mexican dance with it, and he started doing the dance. He told me how he wished he could have it taped, put it on Youtube and be the new sensation, the new Ma-ya-hee guy.

Then all of a sudden, a group of ragamuffins next to us (I use that word because NOTHING describes them better) starts cheering for Andy’s dance and asks him to do it again. Which, of course, he did. This group looked to be about college-aged or so, and they were loud and jovial and offered us chocolate truffles. (He took some. I declined.) They were perfectly nice, I will say that….but they were kind of weird.

“Those are my new neighbors, I swear to you,” I whispered to Andy. He laughed.

They weren’t — they got off at Central Square in Cambridge. But Central is where you typically find some of the most colorful groups in Boston.

When Cornered by the Homeless…. Tuesday, Nov 21 2006 

You know, I even surprised myself at the crazy biography I created for myself as I was chatted with by a guy who was possibly homeless on the Scary Shuttle between Wellington and Oak Grove.

I ended up telling him my name was Linda and I was of Tajikistani descent.

I didn’t plan that.

He just kept asking if I were European, or Spanish, and I just said “No,” and I felt bad ignoring him since he seemed to be genuinely nice, albeit slightly scary. So what else could I pass for? I figured I’d just let him assume that Tajikistanis look vaguely European, rather than more Asian. He seemed to think it was in the Middle East, so that worked.

It’s so weird — I’m always on my guard, and I’m never sure whether I should speak to anyone at all. I’d be find just hiding behind my book and not saying anything, or staring straight ahead. But I don’t want to be excessively cautious, and being a bitch for no reason at all. But the second you let your guard down, that’s when you get raped!

Geez.

In work news, I’m working on Christmas from 1:30-10 — I volunteered — and will be earning some excellent holiday pay. It’s a win/win situation. I also met a whole new group of people who work the same late shift as me and take dinner at the same time, so it’s a great new group of friends.

In life news, I visited a few apartments on Saturday. They were both in Somerville — one in Porter Square, one a short walk from Davis Square. One was okay, and other I absolutely LOVED. I hope it ends up working out. I’ll be meeting with the rest of the roommates next week.

COMMUTER HELL Thursday, Nov 2 2006 

Oh my God.

To think that I thought this morning’s commute would be the worst part of the day.

First, though, here’s a review of my commute: first I drive to the Reading Depot, where I park for free (with my resident parking sticker, which is $25.00 per year) and then either take the train to North Station in Boston or switch to the orange line on the T (the subway) at Malden Center, then take it to Downtown Crossing, where I usually walk to work. If it’s cold or rainy, I switch to the red line and take it one stop to South Station, and I walk to work from there.

Altogether:

Drive to Reading Depot: 7 minutes
(wait time: app. 3 minutes)
Train to Boston: 30 minutes
(walk/wait time: 6 minutes)
T to Downtown Crossing: 5 minutes
Walk to work: 15 minutes

I’ve had problems, but today was, by FAR, the worst.

I usually get on the second-to-last car because the last one usually has the uncomfortable kind of seats, the kind in which you’re always pitching forward slightly. So I got in the second-to-last car and it was the kind with the uncomfortable seats! I settled down, noticing that the hoodie on my sweater made it worse, then I squished myself into an interesting position with my awesome book (Tales of a Female Nomad — I also just finished Julie and Julia, which was great, too).

And then the lights went out.

The generator exploded.

Great.

I could still read a tiny bit, and since I was getting off 10 minutes early at Malden, it didn’t matter to me. I’ve been reading a lot of travelogues lately, and I decided, at least I’m not on a derailing train in the middle of the desert in Pakistan!

So I got off and went on to have a mostly uneventful day.

On the way home, I decided to take the slightly longer walk, since it was such a nice night. (And I absolutely LOVE that it’s dark when I leave work now — when I cross the channel, I get an unparalleled view of the Financial District all lit up!) As a result, I ended up walking into North Station at 5:32, missing the earlier train at 5:30.

No problem, I thought to myself. I usually get the 5:52 anyway. I’m listening to my awesome new John Legend album and I can wait 20 minutes.

Well.

It was delayed.

There were problems with the Reading/Haverhill line. They never said exactly what it was. All I know was that the first train didn’t come until 6:20 — and it didn’t stop in Reading! They skipped all the close stops and only went to the ones between Reading and Haverhill — also known as the stops THAT DON’T MATTER.

I kept waiting. I listened to my favorite songs on the album (“Heaven,” “P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care)” and “Again,” which are all worthy downloads) several times, then read my book for awhile. The annoying kids next to me blasted “Smack Dat” and “Lips of an Angel” (God, I hate that song) on their phones. Ugh. I tried to counter it with some Boyz II Men.

Furthermore, there were NO CUTE GUYS THERE.

About half an hour, there was another Haverhill-bound train — only it was starting in WEST MEDFORD, thus skipping Reading AGAIN!!!

I kept waiting and the 6:15 train, which had been delayed forever, never came. I called my dad, but he was at the movies seeing The Departed. My mom was at the dentist. And then my mom came home and I told her that I kept thinking the train was going to come but it wasn’t….she told me to take the orange line to Oak Grove and she’d pick me up. I always feel bad when I ask her to do that. It’s 20 minutes from her house, which isn’t that bad, but it always feels much further than it is.

It took me 15 minutes to get from North Station to Oak Grove. That’s it. And I had spent an hour and a half in North Station.

Well, I guess it could have been worse — I could have resorted to taking the 137 bus! Hahaha. That bus always scared me when I was in high school and worked at CVS.

I am EXHAUSTED. Time to take a shower and hopefully fall into bed by 10:30.

Life, recently Saturday, Sep 23 2006 

Sars came home for the night and we went to see Jackass Number Two. Oh my God….now THAT is a movie you should see in a huge theater on opening night, even more so than Snakes on a Plane. I almost threw up twice — and I don’t do that, ever!! That was from two segments: “How to Milk a Horse” and “The Fart Helmet.” So disgusting.

But other than that, the movie was AWESOME. I love Jackass. It’s a family favorite (my mom is actually a pretty big fan of it, especially the Party Boy). I love going to movies where you can laugh and scream the whole time — last night was a great catharsis to a chaotic week.

Work is still going well, and this week I’ve spoken French, Italian and Spanish as well as a few Portuguese phrases. I did a lot of research for something in Brazil and I’ve found out that I can actually read Portuguese really easily. Unfortunately, though, I think I have to downgrade my Spanish knowledge to “reading only,” rather than ability to speak it. It’s very bad.

And there’s this video that you have to see. Apparently it was designed for Japanese people learning English, but it is SO HORRIBLE that I don’t think it can do anything….oh my God….you must check this out.

And the conductor, the one who talked to me and keeps saying I’m attractive and all that, gave me a schedule on the way to work the other day. I didn’t think anything of it (I’m SO GULLIBLE!) and just put it in my purse, not even thinking to open it until I was at work. Inside it had his name and phone number, plus “Smile!” and a smiley face. He doesn’t think I smile enough. Which is interesting, because yesterday, after showing this to Mike and Ian at work, Ian told me that the thing he noticed about me was that I was always smiling. Interesting.

I am so exhausted. This week just took so much out of me. Ordinarily I’d be getting all ready to go out and go crazy, but at the moment, the perfect weekend would be just sitting back, writing, reading my awesome book (“High School Confidential” by Jeremy Iversen — you should check it out; it’s much better than I thought it was going to be) and being a lump.

Also, Kara left for Bolivia a few days ago. She’ll be volunteering in Cochabamba for at least five months. 😦 I’m sad — I’m really going to miss her. But she’s going to be having some unbelievable adventures. And she’ll be surely meeting cute guys from all over the world. But best of all, she’s going to have a blog. So Kara, YOU BETTER BE WRITING IN IT ALL THE TIME!!!

In terms of going abroad and having adventures, I know that that’s something I have to do down the road. Living abroad again, for a longer time and in a much more authentic environment than I lived in in Florence. Before I’m 30, hopefully. Just eventually.

I also figured out that if I keep saving $100.00 each week and not spend any of it, after four years I’ll be able to afford a decent yearlong trip around the world. (In the book “One Year Off”, by David Elliot Cohen, which I love, a family of six traveled around the world for a year for $120,000.00. Granted, that was 10 years ago, but I think I could do it reasonably for $20,000.00.) If I save for two years instead, I think I could still do a yearlong trip — I’d just have to spend more time in cheaper areas, like Latin America and Southeast Asia, do a lot of couch-surfing, and stay out of Europe and Japan. That could be just as or even more rewarding than a more expensive trip, though.

And I’d be alone.

That’s what it’s coming down to. I know I’m an extremely independent person, and there’s nobody whose company I could take for that amount of time (except for my sister). Even if I have a decent boyfriend by then. I remember when we were in Budapest and shared a room with a young Australian couple. The guy kept talking to us, and us only, and his girlfriend was upset that he was ignoring her. He was probably just sick of her after traveling the world with her for months.

Oh well.

This is several years down the road, so I shouldn’t even be thinking about that.

Update Saturday, Sep 16 2006 

Well, I actually talked to the conductor who told me I was pretty the other day. I hadn’t spoken anything to him at all since he told me that, only saying, “Good morning,” or “Good night,” since a few days a week he’s on both the trains I take.

But on the way to the 5:52 train home yesterday, he beckoned me over and introduced himself — his name is Lewis. I told him my name, and he commented that I looked “really mad” the day before, so he didn’t say anything. I told him that I wasn’t mad, I was just upset, since some bad stuff had happened at work that day. He then told me that he’d like to get to know me, since I was very attractive and all. Well.

We chatted a minute more and I got on the train. And after I got off in Wakefield, I was walking to my car and as the train went by, he leaned off the platform with his arm outstretched, waving, like something out of a movie! I giggled, but it was embarrassing.

The conductor really is a nice guy — he’s just absolutely not my type. (You know I’d be all over that if he were. As Erica said, “Tap that! I want you to conquer the entire city!”) I just wish he’d stop saying the stuff about my looks — while getting compliments is nice, it does make me uncomfortable.

I’ve been thinking that it might be time for a visit to Fairfield. I know that school just started, but I’d really like to go and see my friends! If my favorite guys would have me, of course. 😉 I’d make you guys some of that pappa al pomodoro that you ate the whole pot of that night!

I did mention that I had a bad day at work — but it was mostly just because of worrying about something that there’s probably no need to worry about. The job, otherwise, has been really, really awesome. I love it. I’m working hard, speaking French and Italian, getting compliments, and having a good time. It’s a great place to be.

I also got Justin Timberlake’s new CD, FutureSex/LoveSounds. It’s really good. There are a few duds, as there are on every album, but I really like SexyBack, My Love, LoveStoned/I Think She Knows, and Damn Girl. People are saying that this album is pure Prince, but I think LoveStoned is more like “Bad”-era Michael Jackson. Let me tell you, Timbaland has the Midas touch right now. First Nelly Furtado, and now this whole album. Check it out.

Going now — still enjoying life very much. 🙂

So that’s what it was Saturday, Sep 2 2006 

Got the 5:52 train yesterday again, and that conductor was there again, said hi to me as I got on, whatever. Then as I get off in Wakefield, he goes, “You’re very pretty.” I said thanks, and with that, I need to find a new train.

Bright-eyed Wednesday, Aug 9 2006 

You know, I’m probably going to look back at this and either laugh or just shake my head in disbelief or think about how naive I was, but I want to say this: I love working because it FINALLY gives me something to DO!! Having the summer off was great, but now I’m glad that I have stuff to do, and especially that I have money.

(It’s not THAT much money, though. I got my first paycheck today and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw how much was taken out for taxes. Definitely not as cool as getting to directly pocket your money, like when I was waitressing, but this job is INFINITELY better than waitressing!)

And it’s weird, and I’m going to regret saying this, but I really do like commuting! I feel like I’ve finally joined the club. For the past few years, especially, it’s been absolutely no question that I would be working in a city as soon as I graduated, and it would probably Boston. Now I’ve joined the Commuter Club. I get to dress all business casual and keep that faraway/ever-so-slightly annoyed expression on my face. But underneath it, I’m grinning.

I even like it in the morning, when I listen to upbeat music (some favorite songs: Beyonce’s “Deja Vu” and Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky”) and get off the T early and walk the rest of the way. (Not all the way from North Station, though. I absolutely HATE the walk between North Station and State Street.)

Ah, yes. I’m all bright-eyed at my new job, and still marveling at the novelty of it. But I seriously, seriously love the people with — my training group. They are AWESOME.

So, in a nutshell, it’s nice to have something consume my life for now.

And, since I’m planning on trying to move out sometime this fall, I checked out the newspaper to get an idea of the costs of different neighborhoods — and THEN I went on craigslist and it was so much cheaper!! So THAT is where I am going to look! I actually saw a few that looked really good for now. But not yet. I need to save up. Craigslist is always addicting, if only just to see what other people have written.

That’s all for now. I’ve been wanting to get more sleep, so soon it’ll be time for bed. Scary, huh?

"To Lady Luck!" Saturday, Aug 5 2006 

I had one of the luckiest days of my life yesterday.

Every train I waited for (except the last) arrived within 30 seconds of my getting to the station.

I found twenty dollars on the floor at North Station.

And then Lisa, Beth and I won $25 playing Keno.

It’s quite a good life.

Tonight is my 22nd birthday celebration with my friends. Erica wants me to wear a “Birthday Girl” tiara so we get lots of free drinks. 😀

Working Lady Friday, Aug 4 2006 

I’m really enjoying my job. I really am! I especially love my coworkers — really smart, funny, nice people. I can’t wait until I start doing a lot more work.

The early wakeup (5:45 AM) isn’t quite as nice — and I nearly had a heart attack on the first day, when I was eight minutes late because, first, the commuter rail was 20 minutes late — and then I was riding the orange line and it got STUCK ON THE TRACKS! It was terrible. I vaulted myself out of Downtown Crossing, rather than taking the red line one stop to South Station, and just running the whole way.

Thank God, I wasn’t alone. My coworker Nadine, who’s becoming a friend of mine, was on the same orange line train. We showed up at the same time and were told that we weren’t even late — we were two minutes early, in fact.

The commute REALLY takes up a lot of time, and I HATE the commuter rail, but I do like the T….feeling important….being all businesslike….checking out the cute guys in their polo shirts and laptop bags.

And my birthday — my 22nd — was really nice, and I can’t believe I got over thirty messages on facebook! Last year I got, like, five!

THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH for the messages. They mean so much to me. Especially the ones from people I don’t speak to that often.

Twenty-two. How bout that. Yellow-yellow.

Tomorrow is happy hour either with my coworkers or Lisa, and then Saturday, a bunch of us are going to Sissy K’s — Lisa, Erica, Faith and Kara! 😀 I love that place….and it will be cool to be the birthday girl.

I love Boston and I love how my life’s going lately!