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.

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Wanderlust. Generous Vacation Time. Excitement. Monday, May 26 2008 

I just found out that I have 13 vacation days to use before the end of the year.  Thirteen!  My new job is very generous with the vacation days (in part because the company originated in Europe), and the vacation days may not be carried over to the next year (in part because they think that people work better when they get to take vacations).

I’ll be using three vacation days on my trip to Las Vegas in a few weeks, so I’ll have 10 days to spread out over the next six months.

And that got me thinking.

I’ve been planning to visit my friend Jen in Chicago for a three-day weekend, most likely in mid-to-late September.  I’ve never been to Chicago before, and of course, I’d love to see her and her awesome friends.

I only get the basic six U.S. holidays off (and I honestly prefer it that way — I’d rather not have MLK Day off and have tons more vacation time to use whenever I’d like), so I’ll use one vacation day for Christmas Eve, and likely one for the day after Christmas, too, because it’s a Friday.

That leaves me with 7 vacation days left.  I should keep a few in reserve, so I could probably take a week off — or, better yet, I could take Thanksgiving week off, so I’ll only have to use four of my vacation days!!

It would be perfect timing — especially if I went somewhere outside the U.S., which I would definitely do.

Now, the best part: where to go?

My dad got me the Where to Go When book for Christmas last year.  It’s a fantastic coffee table book filled with gorgeous photographs from around the world.  While the itineraries are geared toward an older, more affluent clientele, the book provides you with great destination ideas.

The book has about a dozen destinations for each month of the year, either because of weather (the Florida Keys are perfect in February), local festivals or holidays (Oaxaca for Day of the Dead in October), or because this is the time when the tourist crowds start to calm down (Santorini in September).

I’ve been to the following places at the perfect time of year, according to the book:

  • In April: Paris; Florida
  • In May: Boston (obviously)
  • In July: Washington, D.C.
  • In October: Budapest; Tuscany
  • In November: Venice

If I were to take a trip during Thanksgiving week, it would be somewhere in either Europe or Latin America.  This would also be my first entire trip on my own, so I’d like to go somewhere with a well-worn backpacker trail.  Also, it would be somewhere I could get a lot out of a week.

Here are the destinations that they recommend for November:

  • Nariz del Diablo, Ecuador
  • Burgundy, France
  • Sicily
  • Yucutan Cenotes, Mexico
  • Margarita Island, Venezuela
  • Tysfjord, Norway
  • Barbados
  • Mar del Plata, Argentina
  • Monart, Ireland
  • Venice, Italy (I’ve already been there in November!  I highly recommend it.  It was cool, foggy and ethereal, the way Venice should be seen, as opposed to when I saw it in June: hot, sticky and crawling with tourists.)
  • Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Le Crotoy, France
  • Bahamas
  • Costa Rica

And, just for good measure, October:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Budapest, Hunary (Already been there in October!)
  • Eden Project, England
  • Piedmont, Italy
  • La Rioja, Spain
  • Loire Valley, France
  • Tuscany, Italy (Already been there in October!)
  • Soomaa National Park, Estonia
  • Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Rhodes, Greece
  • Eureka! Halifax, England

And, just in case, December:

  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Vienna
  • Lille, France
  • The Amazon
  • Glacier Express, Switzerland
  • San Blas Islands, Panama
  • Falkland Islands
  • Tortola, British Virgin Islands
  • Country homes in England
  • Dominica
  • Torres Del Paine, Chile
  • Geilo, Norway
  • Lapland, Finland
  • Cayman Islands
  • Vieques, Puerto Rico

I’ve bolded the destinations that interest me.

How about Costa Rica?  That’s the most visited country in Central America, it’s very safe, and it has so much to offer.  I’ve only read about package deals there, but if I look at some shoestring guides, I bet I could find the hostels and the day trips.

I would absolutely love to visit Buenos Aires…but I’m looking at flights and the cheapest I can find is $1500 and three flights each way — plus an overnight in New York, switching from LaGuardia to JFK.  No thanks.  Too bad; that would be a great weeklong destination.

Spain…Mexico…SICILY!  I’d be visiting a country where I’ve already been, but I’ve been wanting to go to Sicily and especially visit Castanea delle Furie, where my family comes from.  That would be so wonderful.  I’m a bit wary of being a single female in Sicily, though, especially off the backpacker trail.  I know I can handle it; I’m just not sure if I want to spend my entire vacation shoving men off me.  (Now, Friday night, that’s something else altogether!)  Seriously, though, it can be very frustrating trying to get around in Italy while men want nothing but to hit on you.

There is so much to research…I’m excited!

Okay, now I think I have to take this vacation…

The Final Funny Days of Work; plus, I’m Gullible Saturday, May 10 2008 

I have a few tidbits from my final days at work that I need to share.  They’re hilarious.  But first, a nice picture of me and my friends:

Jackie, Nadine, Esther, me and Michelle

Jackie, Nadine, Esther, me and Michelle in front of our building

I love these girls.

At my *old!* job, I would get work assigned to me from a team of assignors — Workflow.  They’re mostly in our Canadian office, but we email each other so often that I’ve gotten to be friends with several of them.

I sent them out an goodbye email, and I enjoyed the following email chain that ensued, everyone replying to all:

Me: Yo workflow, I’m leaving [the company] today — and I just called a guy with results who now wants me to do a crapload of requests for him, so if you could stop sending me work FOREVER, that would be sweet!  Kate

Joe: LOL……I bet that was fun to say!!!!

John: FOREVER!!!!

Sabrina: lol…awwww, Katelyn!!!!!  best of luck with everything!!!  We will miss you! 🙂

Kevin: Rubbing it in a little, ain’tcha?  Sheesh.

Michelle: :-)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kevin: I hit reply-to-all on this one when I shouldn’t have. Katelyn and I have a very good rapport, in case anyone was worried about her taking that the wrong way.

Me: I am rubbing it in and throwing some salt on it for good measure. 😉

Kevin: *gasp*
*jaw hits floor*
*wide eyed shock*
Well, I never! Then again, I don’t get around much.

Hahaha.  Love those guys.

But the best message of all came from my friend Mike, who started at the company on the same day as me, who has almost always sat next to me and is one of my favorite work people.

He left me the following voicemail message yesterday:

“Hi Kate, this is [a really prominent manager] from [the company].  I just wanted to call you and let you know that [an HR person] told us about, uh, your exit interview, and we have some questions, just about your performance and that sort of thing.

So if you could give us a call back whenever, see if we could schedule another appointment for another exit meeting and interview you, the number is [617-555-1234].

You know we don’t want to get the police involved, or the FBI, or anything like that, we just want to handle this internally.

So if you could just call me back, again, this is [a really prominent manager], the [manager] of the Boston site, so give me a call.”

Okay.  The ludicrous part:

I totally believed it up until the word FBI.  Not police, FBI.

It didn’t matter that the voice didn’t sound a thing like the manager, or that this call came from MIKE’S CELL PHONE, of all places, but I honestly believed it.

I’m insanely gullible, but this is a new low for me.

I made my roommate listen to it and everything.

Seriously, though, it wouldn’t TOTALLY surprise me if a manager called someone after quitting to talk about his or her exit interview with HR.  I’ve seen stranger things happen.

I quit my job today. Friday, May 9 2008 

I tendered my resignation today.  It feels surreal.  I’ve worked at my job for nearly two years, and it was my first job out of college.  My work friends are some of my closest friends, and I have no idea where I would be today without this job.

That being said, I had been planning to leave for a long time.  I am now able to leave because I have a great new job lined up.

To make a long story short, I was offered a job by The Missus, my favorite blogger who isn’t Michael K.  We’ve been reading each other’s writing for several months, and when a job opened up at her company, she thought of me.  A few weeks and interviews later, I secured the job.  Yep, she’s my new boss!

I don’t really want to go into too much detail right now, but I’m very excited about it!  This job is fantastic in so many ways!  It’s a great opportunity for me, and I have high hopes.  I might write about it more as time goes on.

Plus, it has the best parts of my former job — awesome people and casual dress code.

Speaking of the people at my former job, I knew that the hardest part of leaving my job would be saying goodbye to the WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL people.  These people have been more than just people with whom I work — they’re many of my best friends.

It breaks my heart that I won’t be able to see them every day, and that I won’t see many of them ever again.

Well, at least I’ve got a work party tomorrow night, a work celebration next weekend and a work gathering the week after that!  I also have Desperate Housewives with Esther and Nadine on Sundays, plus cocktail nights with the work girls on Saturdays!  AND the New Kids on the Block concert with Jackie this fall with awesome floor seats…

Leaving felt surreal today.  It didn’t seem like it was really happening.  I cleaned out my locker, did my exit interview, said goodbye to dozens of my friends.  Still nothing.

It didn’t hit me until I hugged one colleague and great friend in particular — and it took everything I had not to burst into tears.

It will get better.  I had a fantastic goodbye party tonight, during which I hung out with tons of my friends at Lucky’s Lounge, just down the street from my office in the Fort Point area.

You guys…I love you.  You have been amazing.  I will miss you so much.

Filming in Boston Wednesday, Apr 30 2008 

I love how Deval Patrick authorized tax cuts for film production companies in the state of Massachusetts.  Because of that, tons (TONS!) of movies have been filming in Boston!

It’s fantastic — not only for the economy, but also because of the celebrity sightings!  Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson went to the Upper Crust in Beacon Hill; my friend ran into Cameron Diaz at the Starbucks by Park Street…

The Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, is one of the latest.  According to IMDB, Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop (Willis) is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.

I work in the Fort Point Channel area of South Boston.  This is a view of the filming area, as taken from right next to my office:

Heh.  Not that exciting yet.  But it could be…The Departed also filmed in the Fort Point area, and the scene when the body falls off the building was filmed just a few streets away from my office!

Let’s hope there’s another celebrity sighting in 2008.  I haven’t met anyone famous since Vanilla Ice.  Hmm, Matthew McConaughey is currently filming in town…so is Steve Martin…

Kate vs. Katelyn Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

My full name is Katelyn, but I’ve gone by Kate to some since I was eight and to everyone since I was thirteen.  That was until I started my job a year and a half ago.

I introduced myself to my training class as Kate, and I’ve always been Kate to them.  However, as the weeks went by, it started to make sense to go by Katelyn instead.  It’s because I’m listed in all employee directories as Katelyn.

I started identifying myself as Katelyn, just so it would be easier for everyone and result in less confusion.

I work for a large company spanning multiple sites.  If I get a call from someone outside the company and he or she only has my first name (which happens all the time, no matter how often I leave my last name), it takes long enough for my co-worker to figure out who this person is talking about.  If I identify myself as Kate, it will take forever.

So it makes sense to go by Katelyn.

But I’m not sure that I like it.

These days, outside of work, the only people who call me Katelyn are my parents or sister when they’re angry or aggravated with me.  I don’t identify with the name itself.  Whenever I speak to a client or vendor with my name, I always write down “Kaitlyn” or “Caitlin” — it’s like I’ve completely removed myself from the name!

And it’s starting to get on my nerves.  I internally wince whenever I say it.  That’s a bad thing, but it’s true!

(It goes back to when I was little.  My parents told me that they spelled my name the way they did so that I could easily go by “Kate” when I was older.  Always impatient to grow up as quickly as possible, by the age of eight, I interpreted their reasoning to mean that “Katelyn” was a babyish name, and I had to cut myself loose from it as soon as possible.)

So, even though it will cause a bit of confusion, I’ve decided to just be Kate at work from now on.  Most of my good friends at work call me Kate already.  It’s mostly my acquaintances who call me Katelyn, but there are some friends, too — and I should give them the, “Well, actually…” conversation.

My name is Kate!  Kate is retro, bold and sexy as hell!

And NOT Katie, either.  I’ve freaked out after being called Katie since I was little (unless it was a guy to whom I’m attracted, even just a little bit — then, I’m sorry to say, it feels sexy, but probably because of the familiarity a nickname he coins on his own entails).

I don’t hate my full name, and I don’t dislike it, either — I just don’t think it’s me.  I’m a Kate.

I have been BLACK-BALLED by Disney!! Wednesday, Nov 28 2007 

I often call Disney for work, especially when my clients want me to arrange special events and experiences for them. Lately, I’ve been working on a project that required me calling Disney every few days. Since Thanksgiving is a crazy vacation time, I would often be on hold for long amounts of time.

When you call Disney, the hold music is always songs from Disney movies. Naturally, it gets annoying quickly.

And about a third of the time for me, the song was “Cruella De Vil.”

That must be the most annoying song known to man. And I should know — I have a history with it! The night after the first time I saw the movie (I was around six or so at the time), I was trying to go to sleep, but I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

I was crying and crying, and my dad had to come in to find out what was wrong. When I told him, in between hiccups, that I couldn’t get the song out of my head, he told me to sing another song in my head to get it out. “I CAN’T!” I wailed. It was bad.

Anyway, every few days, I would be on hold for about fifteen minutes and would be stuck listening to “A Spoonful of Sugar,” to “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah,” to “Cruella De Vil” over and over and over. The cheery Disney employee would answer the phone, and I would feel my rage boiling up inside me.

And then they would wish me a magical day.

WHY MUST THEY DO THAT?!?!?!

I’m not inherently anti-Disney. I particularly think that the golden age of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin was fantastic, and I love those movies to this day.

It’s just that as I’ve grown older, I’ve eschewed anything remotely cutesy, and Disney gets to me with its cutesy excess. One of my friends, Andy, used to work for Disney, and seeing how he and all Disney superfans treat the philosophy like gospel, it freaks me out! A LOT!

Example: Andy’s voicemail message, for quite some time, used to wish the callers a “magical day” as well.

I joke with my friends that it’s my black heart that makes me this way. There are very few animals I actually like (including Tricia’s dog Bandit, Lisa’s dog Teddi Bitchin’ and Alexa’s dog Jojo), I won’t see a kids’ movie unless my friends drag me (more on that later), and I generally can’t stand holiday cheer.

So, finally, after having all of this saccharine Disney crap thrown at me for well over a month, I caved.

It was Dudley‘s fault. He was the guy who answered the phone at Disney Dining. I remembered his name.

He was WAY too cheery. Most of the Disney employees were quick and efficient, doing work for me without any small talk. But Dudley clearly wanted to have a conversation with me.

“Soooooooo, tell me, when was your last visit to Disney?” he asked jovially.

“My last visit?”

“Of course, your last visit, silly!”

“Wow,” I said. “It’s been awhile. I was nine at the time, and I’m twenty-three now….fourteen years. They were building the Tower of Terror the last time I was there.”

“Weeeeeeeeeell,” Dudley replied, “I think it’s about time for you to plan a NEW TRIP!”

“No, I don’t think so,” I said with a laugh.

“Aw, why not?”

“Well, I’m going to Vegas soon, and I’m really more of an international traveler–“

“No, is there really anything better than Disney?” Dudley countered, a bit of a shriek in his voice.

That’s it. I was sick of this crap.

“It’s just not my thing,” I told him, gently but firmly.

“Well,” he sniffed. “Fine, then.”

He finished up our business and was curt in every remaining line.

“GOODBYE,” he snapped before hanging up. No “Have a magical day!”

Yikes.

And that moment changed everything.

I made my call to Disney three days later. There was no hold music whatsoever — only silence.

I did the work with the woman who answered the phone. She then told me to “Have a GREAT day.”

I’ve called a few times since, and there has been no hold music, nor has there been any mention of a magical day whatsoever. My co-workers, by contrast, have been getting the normal Disney treatment.

I HAVE BEEN BLACK-BALLED BY DISNEY, AND THAT’S WORSE THAN BEING BLACK-BALLED BY THE MAFIA.

The Microwave Follies Saturday, Apr 7 2007 

At work the other day, I was about to take my lunch. It’s new, it’s early, and it’s at 2:00 PM (which is technically a bit late, but I digress….). Most days, I have a bowl of lentil soup, for the nutrients.

I’m used to eating at off-peak times, so I’ve never had to wait for a microwave. I walked up to my usual microwave (#2). It was in use.

Well. I’ll just use the other.

I walked over to microwave #1 and began pulling the aluminum lid off the soup. I stood directly in front of it and pulled. Now, our microwaves are located kind of high up, so it’s not as if I were standing directly in front of it.

At any rate, as I was standing in front of it and taking the lid off, a girl opened the microwave and put her rice in.

What the fuck?! I was standing RIGHT THERE, presumably ABOUT TO USE THE MICROWAVE. I mean, if the roles were reversed, I would have asked her if she were about to use it, expecting the answer yes, and would retreat gracefully.

She had put it in for two minutes, so I silently glowered and walked over to microwave #2.

A minute or so later, microwave #2 stopped, and the girl using it took it out. She removed her Lean Cuisine, stirred it, and put it back in. For two more minutes.

I walked back to microwave #1, and about a minute later, the girl with the rice took it out. She stirred it, and it was steaming. She kept stirring it. Stir, stir, stir. Steaming white rice.

“Um….all set?” I asked as politely as possible.

“Nah,” she replied, and then put it in for another minute.

Jesus.

Eventually, microwave #2 was free of Lean Cuisine and I was able to microwave my lentil soup and ingest the nutrients that have been so lacking in my diet since I moved into this new place. It just took a long time to get there.

Is this really necessary? Monday, Apr 2 2007 

As time goes on, it feels like our country is growing more and more conservative — not politically, but in terms of censorship. Paranoia is rampant in this post-wardrobe malfunction world, and people everywhere are afraid to take risks. Changing explicit lyrics into radio-friendly words seems even more strict lately. After listening to the different versions of Pretty Ricky’s “On the Hotline” (yep, bought it on iTunes), I was surprised at just how much was changed.

Original lyrics:

It’s five in the morning
And I’m having phone sex with you
….
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about bubbles in the tub
Let’s talk about making love
Let’s talk about you on top
Or me going down
Let’s talk about phone sex, baby
On the hotline

Edited lyrics:

It’s five in the morning
And I’m talking dirty to you
….
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about bubbles in the tub
Let’s talk about making love
Let’s talk about cherries on top
Girl, it’s going down
Said I wanna talk dirty to you, baby
On the hotline

(Note: I always think “Fugs n Jugs” when I hear “bubbles in the tub,” which is Perez Hilton’s nickname for John Mayer and Jessica Simpson. I personally voted for the nickname “Titty Wonderland,” but “Fugs n Jugs” has grown on me! Let’s talk about Fugs n Jugs….)

Come on! What is so bad about “you on top or me going down”? Much worse stuff has been said on the radio. Personally, I’m wondering how Fergie gets away with saying “Cause you know I don’t give a f’k, so here we go!” in the edited version of “London Bridge.”

Also — anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m always intentionally vague about my job, but something great happened that I have to share. I have a new schedule. Since November, I’ve been working Sunday-Wednesday and Friday, 2:00 PM-10:30 PM. My new schedule? Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-5:30 PM.

To quote my dad, “You’ll be commuting with the important folks!”

I’m really thrilled about this change. There were some definite advantages of working the latest shift (especially getting to become great friends with my fellow late-shifters, some of whom have become my best friends at work), as well as getting to watch The View on a daily basis, but I’m glad that I’ll be getting a normal 9-5 life again, and will be able to watch prime time TV again, especially American Idol!

In a Happy Food Coma Thursday, Mar 8 2007 

If you’re one of my local readers, you know that this week is one of the greatest weeks to grace our fair city: Boston Restaurant Week. Most restaurants around town are featuring three-course prix fixe meals, only costing $20.07 for lunch and $33.07 for dinner. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to eat at one of the more famous and expensive places in Boston for a price that you can afford.

As would be expected, the reservations at the very best places — Bonfire, Smith and Wollensky, Meritage, Excelsior (yes, I just totally name-czeched you), Pigalle, the Federalist — are snapped up almost immediately. But there are plenty of options. Janelle and I were planning to do lunch somewhere today, so last night I began surfing around on the concierge software we use at work to see what reservations were left.

And I found one at 11:30 AM at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

I couldn’t believe it. Ruth’s Chris had been fully booked for weeks. But it was there, and I snagged it and reserved it, then called the restaurant to confirm — and THEY couldn’t believe that I had it, either!

I’ve always wanted to go to Ruth’s Chris, but it being crazily expensive, it never happened. So Janelle and I were thrilled to walk into Old City Hall and actually have the right to eat there….for so cheap!

The service was sub-par. It took forever to get my glass of wine, and the waiter gave the excuse that they had to open a new bottle. PLEASE. I waited tables for several months, and while that’s a viable excuse often given, anyone who’s ever been a server knows that’s complete bullshit. But anyway.

I started with the Louisiana jambalaya, which was good, though in a small cup. Janelle had the garden salad, and I would have gone with that — it was much more reasonably-sized. But then came out the strip steaks. Un-fucking-believable. FANTASTIC. From the very first bite….wow….I do have to say that my first one came out a bit overdone, but I told them and they whisked it away and had me a new one in less than two minutes! (There IS a difference between a warm red center and a warm pink center.) It was SO DELICIOUS….I could go on forever about how good it was. How do they do it?!?! Is it how they cook it, or the amazing juices? I was also happy about the size of it — 12 oz., nice and big.

The mashed potatoes were good — very similar to the ones at Boston Market, which are still the best ones in the world. I saved some and brought them to work, since I promised Jen that I’d bring back whatever I hadn’t finished. (Andy jumped for joy and shared the rest of them with me.) And then came dessert — a delicious chocolate mousse cheesecake that struck the perfect balance between the two flavors. It was small, but so rich it felt like a huge slice. It was absolutely delicious, like eating a piece of heaven.

That was one of the best lunches I have ever had in my life. One of my friends commented that I had a “perma-grin” when I came in to work half an hour later. I was just so happy! My entire body was smiling.

Jen started emailing the rest of the late-nighters at work, pointing out that we really didn’t have as many chances to enjoy Boston Restaurant Week with our weird schedules, but the InterContinental, the hotel we frequent after work (it has a REALLY nice rum bar and a great, cozy yet sophisticated atmosphere), has a Provencal restaurant, Miel, that was serving dinner until 2:00 AM. Six of us met up there after work — Jen, Jess, Brynn, Gader, his girlfriend Irene, and me — and I’m glad we did, because this place had one of the best menus I’ve seen for all of restaurant week.

I started, as did most of us, with a calamari salad. The calamari had a perfect texture, was both rings and tentacles, and was in a Mediterranean vinaigrette. It went well with the arugula in a sweet dressing.

Next was magret de canard, which my family can tell you is one of my very favorite foods. I always order it whenever I end up in France. It’s basically duck breast, but while the French often overdo it, this time it was beautifully rare. And while it’s often quite fatty, this had hardly any fat on it. It was in a sauce that had a touch of ginger in it — SOOOOOOOO good. Absolutely delicious. Nearly all of us got that.

For dessert, I had creme brulee, which was good but not the best I’ve had. Jen and Gader got the flourless chocolate torte — I had a tiny bite and knew I’d be up all night; I really can’t handle chocolate past a certain hour! — with olive oil ice cream. And olive oil ice cream tastes just like olive oil. It’s unnerving. I’m not sure that I liked it, but it definitely had a distinctive taste I haven’t tried before.

The food was SO GOOD!! Both meals were so good in different ways….I LOVED my steak at Ruth’s Chris, and the duck at Miel was SO good, some of the best I’ve ever had. I think it goes without saying that this is one of the best food days I’ve ever had in my life — in the U.S., anyway. (In Florence, you just cannot compare. Don’t even try to come CLOSE.)

Tomorrow night, I’m going out with Carissa, Lisa’s good friend from college whom I’ve been becoming friends with. We’re going to Beacon Hill Bistro — I think I’m going to be having the salmon, but you never know! And after that, I’ll be meeting up with my cruisazy coworkers. Oh, I have been doing SO much good eating….

In other news, I’m going to Quebec City this weekend with James and Mike!! Trifecta reunion!! We’re also meeting up with a bunch of our friends….and I’m the only girl with four or five guys!! James called me last Thursday, while I was at the Hong Kong, and asked me if I wanted to go. I got the time off from work, and I’m going! I’m looking forward to eating some good brasserie food and hopefully seeing the ice hotel.

So if you’re looking to do the next Boston Restaurant Week, let me know! I earn a dollar for every reservation I make — or even up to ten bucks. I’ll be glad to book you a table where you can enjoy a giant, delicious steak for the paltry price of $20.07.

Karma gets me! Wednesday, Feb 28 2007 

I hate crocs. I think that they are the ugliest shoes ever made, and the fact that they’ve caught on into a disturbing trend says a lot about our society today. I won’t object to nurses wearing them, since they’re “so comfortable” and everything, but when you start seeing Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott picking out tiny blue clogs for their unborn fetus, that the trend has exploded into an insanity that overpowers good taste.

My friend Andy wore crocs to work yesterday. With socks. In the middle of winter. “Yeah, you have to avoid puddles when you wear them, but they’re SOOOOO comfortable,” he told me. I began making fun of him incessantly. Brown clogs with socks, jeans and a button-down? (Or sweater? I can’t remember.) It just looked terrible, and the only thing more insane than crocs in the summer is crocs in the middle of WINTER, days after a snowstorm, when the streets are full of puddles.

So after ribbing him for a while, I get up, start walking, and hear a crunch.

My heel had snapped off.

My beloved, beloved black Bandolino ankle boots have been a mainstay part of my wardrobe for years. However, they’ve also been on their last leg for quite some time. I always wore them out clubbing in Florence, and while that didn’t damage them TOO much, it was the often mile-long walks back to the apartment over cobblestones that really did damage to them. Both heels have been coming loose for months — when I used to work 9 to 5 (ah, those were the days!) and took the commuter rail from Reading, I had to always walk carefully in North Station, because that slippery floor always put more pressure on the heel. Walking outside was always easier.

Since before I even started working in Boston, I’ve been saying that I needed to get them fixed at the cobbler’s, but I’ve never gotten around to that. Not a smart idea. In addition to the heels, the toes have been coming apart a little bit. Even so, I love those shoes!! They are so comfortable, they have a perfect 3-inch heel, and they’re perfect for my nice black pants with my ballerina tops and tank tops….

Anyways, that was karma like I had never seen before. Making fun of Andy for an extremely long time (much more than I usually do), and moments later, my heel is now coming apart.

I got a ride to South Station with Lindsey, and from then I just walked on my tiptoe. I could land on the heel if I did so gently. It was like the sole had come apart from the main part of the shoe.

When I got off at Davis, I continued the careful walking. I usually have a 10-minute walk home — let’s just say that it lasted a bit longer than I would have liked. As I walked, I began to hear an unusual tap-tap-tap sound whenever I stepped with my right foot.

Once I got upstairs to my apartment, I saw how bad it was — the heel was now only hanging on by a tiny thread, and had been turning and spinning as I walked. It looked like a child’s tooth that was about to come out — the kind of tooth that you keep in your mouth but push it around with your tongue, afraid of the pain if you just twist it out. That’s what it looked like.

I woke up today with my right knee in a lot of pain from walking half a mile on tiptoe. I think I’ll have to wear my most casual shoes — the ones with only a 2.5-inch heel. My only shoes without heels are sneakers, and I DO NOT wear sneakers.

Well, I’ve learned my lesson.

Don’t be mean to people, because karma will come back and bite you.

And get your shoes fixed at the first sign of trouble.

Best and Worst Workday Ever Wednesday, Jan 10 2007 

What a wild day. I knew that today was going to be bad, for reasons that I will detail below, but something amazingly good happened as well!

I won an award at work. Each month, people send in their best stories of tasks they accomplished for customers (since I’m being deliberately vague about work on my blog nowadays, not even mentioning the name of my employer, all I’m saying is that it’s a concierge service and I handle requests from a lot of high-profile clients). I submitted the story of a proposal I planned that took place in New York and turned from a simple proposal into a five-day extravaganza, with an elaborate proposal, tickets to the hottest concert in town and a baseball playoff in addition to a Broadway show, I pulled strings to get reservations at the hottest restaurants in town, and I kept everything in order and organized. (One part that was omitted from the entry was that I ordered flowers for his new fiancee and her mother, with extra-long notes in Spanish, and I had to spell them out to the florist letter by letter — it took FOREVER!!)

Anyways, I submitted that. Each month, they select around eight to ten stories that they thought were the best. Mine was on the list. Then, everyone in the company was invited to vote for the best one.

And I won!

In addition to the pride, I got a certificate, the “Top Dog” to perch on my desk, a parade of Team Leaders coming in and congratulating me, and — best of all — a $100.00 gift certificate. Which is awesome!!

But what surprised me even more was that I started receiving tons of emails as soon as the announcement went out that I won. A sampling:

“Congratulations! :-)” –Sarah
“Congrats! You suck!” –Andy, whom I had beat out for the prize
“Awesome!” –Max
“Showoff” –Peter
“Congrats — you know I helped you on this one. Now people are gonna think you’re a romance expert.” –Eddie
“I’m so proud of you!” –Danielle
“WOW! That sounds like a crazy request!” –Thierry from the Canadian office

I even got emails from people I had never met, from the Canadian office and everything, which was really, really nice.

But in addition to that, I knew that today was going to be one of the worst days.

One of my absolute favorite coworkers (and people!) had his last day today. He’s been at the company FOREVER, and even though he’s been thinking about leaving for a while, he ended up quitting a few months sooner than he was originally planning.

And he’s moving back to his home state at the end of the month.

God, I’m going to miss him.

So this day has been hard, too. It wasn’t unlike the end of college, when I was fine as soon as I got home for good but was a sobbing mess at least once a day during senior week.

Not that I’m a sobbing mess. But you know what I mean.

So, E, to quote Van Hunt, thank you for turning this day — EVERY day — into sunshine.

Hong Kong….you’re calling my name…. Monday, Dec 4 2006 

The other night, we went out after work for a combination “Andy’s going to Florida and we won’t see him for six days” and “Andy’s birthday is two weeks from now” celebration. Guess whose idea that was? So we ended up going to pretty much the greatest dive bar in the Faneuil area — HONG KONG. I spend far too much time there.

It was a good time — Andy and I sang “Ghostbusters” (it’s a much better karaoke song in theory than in practice), we ate some awesome meat on a stick, and I later spent a long time wandering the financial district alone in the middle of the night because I forgot just where I pahked the cah. Do not recommend doing that. Ever.

The group, sauf moi: Jackie, Will, Crystal and Andy.

Andy and me: we would be bringing sexy back, if it had ever left in the first place.


Crazy shot!

The new Blogger is AWESOME! Tuesday, Nov 28 2006 

I love this new form of Blogger! As you can see, I’ve added many tags. I’ve always wanted to tag my stuff. And now I think I have too many! The only thing is that facebook doesn’t seem to be importing as usual. Grah. That’s my absolute favorite thing about facebook right now.

I’ve been working the late shift for over two weeks now, and I have to say that I’m really, really liking it! It’s nice being able to get enough sleep — not necessarily sleeping in, but getting ENOUGH sleep — every night, I get an awesome view of the sunset over the Boston skyline followed by the view of the financial district all lit up, and, best of all, the people who work late are AWESOME!

It was great to hang out with the Brood over Thanksgiving. I really miss my friends, and I love when we get a chance to all hang out together. We did a mini-scavenger hunt — I’ll post pictures soon — and that was a good time, as was having a game night at Alexa’s with her extended family.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the dating exile I placed on myself that I really didn’t mean to do intentionally, but just happened. I ended up liking it so much that I fully embraced it. And it’s been great. Now I know that I definitely won’t date a single guy until I’m completely moved out. (That will likely be at the beginning of January. I have a few apartments I’ve been checking out for then.)

This exile has shown me so many things — and it’s hammering on the head that I always end up “settling,” even when I don’t think I’m settling. I always think that if a guy falls short in one area, it makes up that he fulfills another area. If a guy isn’t interesting or exciting, it’s okay because he has a lot of money. If a guy is very interesting or exciting, I overlook that he’s not that kind.

There’s a big difference between nice and kind, you know that? Anyone can be nice. Being nice only takes a moment. But kindness goes to the next level. It goes beyond what you can do with money, and you have to WANT to do it….

Never take kindness for granted. It’s that rare.

Anyways, I settle, settle, settle. I’m done with that. From now on, I’m not going to become involved with any guy just because he takes an interest in me. I feel like I have to be the instigator. I want to long for a guy before we get together — and not just because he gives me the attention.

In other words, what I’m basically saying is that the bar has been raised.

And it’s quite high.

I’m enjoying this.

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.

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