03 June 2006

beware the mope

Self-pity is a good way to avoid anyone else's pity.

I spent most of the day on my birthday surfing the net. Then I went to buy trousers for the rehearsal dinner. Then I surfed the net a bit more. I was grumpy. I knew I was going to be grumpy and gave in to it. Grumpiness should be battled but I succumbed because I felt I had a right to succumb. I earned my grumpiness through the actions of others.

Towards the end of my square-eyed, slack-jawed surfing I came up with the idea for a gift for a friend. It was a pretty simple idea. It popped up while I was turning the pages of previous birthdays in my mind, birthdays in Boston. It was a great idea, despite simplicity. It was something from the New England Aquarium. I spent much of my childhood at the NEA because my mom used to work there. I checked my watch and realised it was time to go to the rehearsal dinner. I hadn't time to go to the aquarium. Or the Musuem of Fine Arts, which popped into my head quickly after the aquarium. I'd had the whole of my birthday to do stuff and moped. And not in then groovy Vespa way. So my birthday being rubbish was not through the action of others, but my fault entirely.

Then, at the rehearsal dinner, through the action of another, a birthday cake appeared and a room full of happy (mostly) strangers sang happy birthday to me.

So beware the mope, even when you deserve it or think you deserve it. Unless it's in the groovy Vespa way. In which case, wear a helmet. Ciao.

02 June 2006

word of power

The big chunk of seats in the middle aisle of a jumbo are the purgatory of the skies. You know it will come to an end but it feels like an eternity of suffering. You cross your fingers, hoping there'll be no one next to you. As it happened, on the way to Boston, there was no one next to my mother. So crossing fingers works but the aim's a bit off. Oh well. Next to me was a little girl, her mother and her grandmother. Well, the grandmother was Italian, so she was her nonna (work for Italians for 5 years and try not to know that). In any case, this kid, maybe 5 but probably 4, is demanding to sit next to me. My reflex is to pull my cap low, bury my face in my book and plug my iPod in but not too loud, as I want to eavesdrop just enough to work out whether the little girl is going to be sitting next to me. She sits next to me. I look towards the family and smile, letting them know that, in spite of my fervent belief that imposing rambunctious children or pets on others is the 8th deadly sin, I'm still a nice person and willing to put up with it.

In any case, I figure it's karma, as I flew a lot in my youth and was not just rambunctious but full-blown hyper. And little boys tend to be far worse behaved than little girls. I have both nephews and nieces and know this to be true. So for all the adults I drove crazy, all the stewardesses I plagued, this was my little penance. That is, after all, what purgatory is all about.

The kid was fine. She had a new toy and it delighted her. It was a word. Kids with new words are like kids who chuck the toy aside and play with the box it came in - bursting with power. Just like the box becomes everything they deem it to be, whether a fort, an airplane, a rocket ship or a time machine, so the universe becomes subject to the new word, and everything and anything that happens or simply exists within the perception of the child will be linked to that word for the duration of their fascination.

This girl's word was ridiculous, which was perfect. Lots of syllables and hard consonants. A little girl can establish her authority with such a word, deeming anything to be ridiculous with confidence.

Little girl: "Nonna, why aren't we flying yet?"
Nonna: "Because they've got to fix the plane."
Little girl: "That's ridiculous."

She pronounced it carefully, loving the power it gave her. It was an adult word, and she weilded it trying to be adult in the way that only kids can. Innocent to the subtext and the irony one could impose on it all. In the three hours we sat at the gate while they attempted to fix the plane, all of the excuses and announcements, once explained to the girl, were greeted with gleeful accusations of ridiculousness. Before we took off, she changed seats, so she was bracketed between her mother on the aisle and nonna on my side.

Waiting for luggage in Boston they stood next to me and I helped her mother get one of her bags off the carosel.

Little girl: "Mom, where's my bag?"
Mother: "It's not out yet sweetie."
Little girl: "But that's ridiculous!"

How right she was.

01 June 2006

home again?

Just woke from a nap. I used to be really good at the whole jetlag thing. Not so good anymore. Got two posts to do - maybe three - over the next couple of days to wrap the whole Boston thing. Maybe four, actually. I took a lot of notes. I want to get them typed up. There's laughter, there's tears, there are more photos to come. To give you a heads up, two of the posts are on little plane observations, one of them's about food and the other is about the wedding. But then there's one that I wanted to do on life. So that's five. Not the tastiest previews ever. If they were trailers, you wouldn't see the movie. Or at least, I wouldn't.

I'm going to order myself a curry. The food was awesome in Boston, but there's no beating a good curry when you get home. Curry, beer and The Goonies - is there a better night in that doesn't involve sex? Nope.

30 May 2006


Bought My Hometown on iTunes just so I could listen to it while I'm in Boston. I have it on my computer at home and on CD. I am a big, nostalgic sap. But there are worse ways to spend 79p.

some boston pics

Just a few pics from my home town. My photography hasn't been that inspired of late - though I did get a few good wedding shots, to be posted soon. But I like these.

The New England Life building on Newbury St.The Meeting House on Beacon Hill.
The footbridge at the Public Gardens.
Otis Place, from in front of my building, which still boasts my old curtains.
Lime St.


So much comes back.

My parents refurbed our apartment in Boston in the mid 80's. I think I was around 8. My mom asked what colours I wanted my new room to be decorated. New room. I couldn't believe I was getting a new room, and it was going to be huge. So big they were going to split my bunkbed - I had that much room. My favourite colour varied in those days - it was either fire engine red or navy blue depending on my mood, or which crayon was less of a stump. I think my final decision was that I wanted the entire room to be red. Bright red. Red curtains, red carpet, red walls - the works. Fortunately for the retinas of my guests, mom overruled a bit. The walls were painted white, but I did get a red carpet and red curtains. The latter had diagonal white pinstripes. My mother made them. I think this was 21 years ago. The curtains coincided with that rite of passage known as getting rid of the nightlight. So extreme was the change that from needing the small glow in the corner I couldn't stand any light in the room at all if I was trying to sleep. Hence the curtains would be pulled down before bed, giving off an eerie red glow as the streetlight outside tried to get in. The red glow didn't bother me so much and as the next few years passed I slept later, and the curtains would stay down longer.

I wandered around the old neighbourhood on my birthday, looking up at the old apartment and looking to feel something. Expectations were low. I don't even know if they were expectations. Maybe I was looking for something, I really don't know. We left Boston 17 years ago and sold the house 12 years ago. For the 5 years we still owned it, the house was rented.

So I turn the corner onto Otis Place and stare up at the windows to my old room. They're just windows. I never looked at them when I lived there, and they're nondescript from the outside. At first I thought I was hallucinating. So I took a picture. Whoever lives there now kept my curtains. Curtains designed for a hyper little boy whose favourite colour was red. I've been trying to make sense of it. Prodding it in my brain, seeking some deeper meaning. Hoping there's some prophetic lesson to be learned. Meaning in curtains? I don't know, but with all that's going on and how quickly life is moving, it's nice that there's an inadvertent monument to my childhood somewhere. Even if it's only a set of curtains.