Back to the Blog Thursday, Sep 3 2009 

God, I miss blogging here.  It’s been over a month.  But when you stop for awhile, it becomes SO difficult to pick it up again!

To make it easier, I’ll just do a quick recap:

Birthday

I turned 25 a month ago. It’s the second year that I would have been fine staying the same age.

But we celebrated the best way possible. I usually have some kind of blowout, but I scaled it down this year.  Two awesome meals: one with the boyfriend at Erbaluce, and one with the girls at Cuchi Cuchi. Perfect.

Then Legal Seafoods with Mom and Santarpio’s with Dad. BEYOND PERFECT.

Cancun

Jason (the boooooooyfriend!) and I went to Cancun for a long weekend and had a blast. I’ve never been to the Caribbean, nor even been on a beach vacation, and it was fantastic. Gorgeous beach. Delicious food. WILD nightlife — it’s like a casual Vegas with a beach! Senor Frogs is probably my new favorite bar ever, we became best friends with our shot girl, and yes, Jason went down the waterslide into the alligator-infested lagoon.

He is just as crazy as I am, and that makes me very happy.

On our last night, we trekked into downtown Cancun, in an area where tourists never go, and found a tiny karaoke bar. We warbled through With or Without You — the locals just sang mariachi-heavy songs. It was just a really, really great trip. 🙂

Oh, also — we got offered cocaine three times in a row on this weird side street.  I have never even SEEN cocaine in person, ever, and guys kept jumping in front of us, offering to get us the good stuff. After the third maniac tried to stop us, we got the hell out of there.

The Piano

Wow, this was a really weird incident.  I saw a sign up in my apartment building advertising a piano for $200 or best offer. Of course, I called the girl right away! It was old, but good quality. And she told me, “You can have it.”

Well, I took that to mean, “You can have it for free.”

Not the case.

Long story short: She asked me for $200, I told her I had never even made an offer, and after a bit of negotiating, she told me I could have it for free.

I came home from work. It wasn’t there.

Girl: “Wow, it’s not there? Wow, that’s really weird.”

Me: “Well, it’s not there. Do you think someone else would have taken it?”

Girl: “Um, no! You were the only person I talked to!  And I was SUPPOSED to get $200 from you but then you said you wouldn’t pay, so maybe there were other people who wanted to pay me instead!”

Me: “All right. Well, thanks for lying to me, and I hope you learned something from this. Set a price early, confirm it, and maybe when you’re more mature, you’ll have better business sense.”

Then, because I live for irony, I hung up on her.

It wouldn’t have fit in my apartment, anyway.

Senator Kennedy

I was so upset when he died.

I knew this day was coming, but I hoped it wouldn’t be for a long time.  I wanted to pay my respects as a Massachusetts resident, so I went to see the motorcade, which went right by my office. As the hearse went by, everybody clapped. The family waved to us.

Ted always stood up for us, always. He was always on our side. And now that he’s gone, I have no idea if there’s anyone left who would do that for us.

Random Tidbits

Jason and I want to attempt the hot dog-eating challenge at Spike’s Junkyard Dogs.  We then want to take a food road trip and go to a place in Pennsylvania with 15-pound burgers and the place in Brooklyn that will deep-fry anything you bring in. (In other news, I’m in the middle of a two-week vegan fast again.)

Sars and I have officially lived in our Back Bay/Fenway/Symphony Triangle apartment for a year now! And while this place has plenty of faults, we love it.

The Boston mayoral election is coming up. I’m supporting city councilor Sam Yoon. While it seems like so many people are ready for Menino to go (he’s done a lot of good for the city, but he has been mayor for SIXTEEN YEARS!), I’m not sure how easy that will be — he has three challengers, and I bet they’ll split the vote.

Three of my favorite books ever are coming out as movies right now. I loved Julie and Julia; I have yet to see The Time Traveler’s Wife (but considering the painfully sappy trailer, I don’t have high hopes), and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is coming out soon.

Books: I’ve been reading all of my birthday books and LOVED THEM ALL. From Dad, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea and Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson were great — I read them both in Cancun.

And if you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST read Drink, Play, F#@k. It’s a hilarious book written from the point of view of her husband — and rather than being about eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Bali, it’s about drinking in Ireland, gambling in Vegas, and getting back in the sack in Thailand. Lisa got it for me and it was stellar.

Current book: The Ridiculous Race. Sars got it for me. It’s about two guys — both sitcom writers, incidentally — who decide to race around the world. Without airplanes! Perfect book for me. I love it.

Regular blogging SHALL resume! At least once a week.

Last Texas Entry! Monday, Apr 9 2007 

After far too long, here is the final blog entry about my trip to Texas!

On Sunday, Beth and I planned to do the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else: go to MEXICO!! I have to admit that I am a bit of a collector when it comes to travel, and yes, I know that’s not a good thing, because it will rob me of genuine experiences that travelers should have in favor of culturally enriching things, etc. But anyways, I have never been to Mexico, and I’ve wanted to add it to the map of countries where I’ve been.

Brownsville is right on the Mexican border, but the Mexican city next door, Matamoros, isn’t the nicest place. Beth took me to Nuevo Progreso, instead, which is 40 minutes away and across the border from Progreso, Texas. Nuevo Progreso is touristy and features great shopping. There’s also a parking lot on the U.S. side, so you can park and walk over and not have to worry about leaving your car in Mexico.

Beth poses with a giant rooster as we get ready to cross the border. This picture is so her.

My mother has a similar, slightly smaller wooden rooster in her kitchen. My sister named it Ugly.

It costs $0.25 to cross the border and $0.30 to return to the U.S. Once you cross the Rio Grande, Nuevo Progreso springs out of nowhere (it’s pretty rural on the U.S. side). According to signs, most Mexicans are dentists and can offer you discount treatments. There are also stores where you can buy SO much cheap stuff — ceramics, crafts, fake designer bags, bootleg movies, jewelry, and cheap liquor (everything is in U.S. dollars, and a bottle of Bacardi costs around $8.00).

Beth and I walked around, and I bought some birthday presents for my mom and sister. Since I’ve already given them, I can say that I got three ceramic dragonflies for my mom (she loves dragonflies) and a fake Prada bag for my sister. They both loved them. I also got a fake Prada bag for myself.

Then Beth insisted I try some fruit with chile. She loves it. All these people sell pieces of canteloupe, pineapple and watermelon topped with this chile mixture and fresh lime juice. I figured I’d love it.

I kind of hated it, but wanted to finish it. And I did. I’m not sure why. It was okay — I had a TON of chile on mine, and while I love spicy food and unusual food, this just didn’t sit well with me. Maybe I felt guilty throwing away uneaten food when there are so many children around who don’t have enough to eat….

Another view of Nuevo Progreso, the view when you first enter, though it’s taken from the exit side.

Quince dresses! These are some of the more extravagant dresses for Quinceaneras, the birthday celebrations for fifteen-year-old girls. You buy everything matching: the dresses, nosegays, fabric-covered albums, favors, everything matching the dress perfectly. I absolutely LOVE these dresses. Most of you know my weakness for fancy gowns and costumes.

Soooooo, in addition to the Mexican shops, the bootleg DVDs, the fake designer ware and the questionable food, a big business in Nuevo Progreso is getting your hair cornrowed. It was only $10.00, so I definitely wanted to get it done! I’ve never been to the Caribbean or anything, so I’ve never gotten it done. (My family does not believe in lie-on-the-beach vacations. It’s either camping or packing as much culture into as little time as possible.)

I love this Mexican lady! There was also a REALLY weird lady who was getting her hair done. She was in her fifties with short blonde hair that was cut off at the top, like she grabbed a fistful and chopped it with scissors. I figured she was mentally unstable, which was confirmed when she mentioned that she was here because burned all her hair off again.

I call a few friends at the border. “GUESS WHERE I AM — I’M IN MEXICO!! NOW I’M IN AMERICA!! NOW I’M IN MEXICO….”

The Rio Grande, separating the two nations.

Mormons on bicycles again!! You can barely see, but the guy is to the left of the top rung.

Beth drove me around Brownsville for a while, showing me the town center and the historical parts, including beautiful Palm Street. We then went grocery shopping, since I had decided to make dinner for Beth, Tricia and Andrea, to thank them for their wonderful hospitality. And let me tell you, it’s SO different shopping in a region of the country that doesn’t have a large Italian population! You wouldn’t believe how hard we had to look to find marinated artichoke hearts, and there was NO basil, so I had to scrap my insalata caprese. (Beth: “You can just make it without basil.” Me: “THERE’S NO POINT WITHOUT BASIL!!” Grazie, Firenze.)

We went back and made dinner. I made chicken verdicchio, one of my best dishes, which is chicken with artichoke hearts and lemons over pasta. It’s Sicilian, and it’s my favorite food that my mom makes. I also made my signature prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, which is a personal creation of mine that I love sharing with people. Beth made a salad and an angel food cake stuffed and covered with cool whip and strawberries — the four of us TORE through that!

I really love cooking for my friends, and I love to hear what they think — Andrea told me that she doesn’t usually like asparagus, but she loved the way I made it. (Me: “I KNOW!!! You have to ROAST IT!! That’s the secret! People have it all wrong with boiling it!!”)

It was such a nice dinner — and it, along with so much of the weekend, made me realize how much I miss having such close female friends. Most of my good friends are guys these days, and I don’t see my best girlfriends very often….it was so nice. The girls are very lucky to have each other.

I can’t believe I never mentioned this little guy! This is Bandit, Tricia’s dog. He is ADORABLE — a chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix. What’s strange is that he never barked at me ONCE. Dogs don’t usually like me (and the feeling’s mutual), but he loved me right away, and was cuddling up to me the whole time I was there. And the strangest part of all is that he was abused by his last owner, so he has his guard up really high. But he loved me unconditionally. Can you believe that? I love this little puppy!

The awesome and SO hospitable girls — Andrea, Tricia and Beth, with Bandit! I love these girls so much. You truly rock. And I can’t wait to see you again — perhaps another Valley visit will be in the future for this fall, with a possible Austin visit this summer? Who knows? 🙂

My flights back went as planned, albeit a bit turbulent. And it was cool flying over Oak Island in Revere, where my mother grew up, and flying over Revere Beach, where I spent so much time when I was little, and seeing Nahant and East Boston from that angle. But upon landing, I was so upset! It was SO COLD in Massachusetts, and I missed the heat and humidity terribly!

My mom picked me up at Logan, and on the way back, I gushed about everything and told her about my revelation: “I’m so tired of the winters here. I want to move to Texas.”

“I knew you were going to say that when you got back,” she replied.

I’m probably just in the honeymoon phase of loving Texas, but it’s nice to know that the option is there.