December 22, 2009 at 3:40 AM (Happenings, Musings) (, , )

It was about 9.30 A.M. on a Tuesday morning, and I was on my way in to work, courtesy of our fabulous MBTA.  Given the three espresso shots I had all but taken intravenously, it was hard not to glance at everyone within my line of sight, what with my caffeine-induced nervous twitch and all.  What was also hard not to miss was that two thirds of the train would not have noticed if I had decided to shout obscenities: that majority was equipped with headphones, listening to podcasts, tunes and television episodes, totally lost to the world that was trying to stare them in the face.

Then I got to thinking about how much of life those people may have been missing because they were too busy listening to Lady Gaga.  Okay, that wasn’t my immediate next thought, but I eventually got there.  Allow me to elaborate.

Sitting on my right was an attractive gentleman.  He was attractive enough that the romantic in me kept hoping, “Oh, wouldn’t it just be so lovely if he had some reason to strike up a conversation with me?”  The romantic in me would then be beaten into a depressed submission by the realist in me who would point out that strangers just don’t talk to each other any more, not when they have the luxury of staying in touch with their friends via their smart phones.

Then I got to thinking about how much of life those people may have been missing because they were too busy listening to Lady Gaga.

We live in an age of “iWant it now and therefore iHave it now.”  Social media is truly an awesome thing, allowing us to access anything we want, whenever we want, but at what price?  We are sacrificing a kind of uncontrollable spontaneity that we experience from interacting with the unknown outside of our iComfortZones.  We don’t much talk to the person sitting next to us on the train any more, or at the bar, or waiting for the bus, or in line at the grocery store.  Instead, we are texting our friends, telling them how bored we are in said train, bar, bus station or grocery store.

The pretty man sitting next to me was one of the few passengers who was not wearing headphones that morning, and as a result, both he and I bore witness to the T driver’s eloquence.  We had been standing by for 15 minutes or so, and finally were graced with this gem over the train’s intercom:

“Once again passengers, there is a disabled train in front of us.  We’re just waiting for it to move ahead of the platform so we can uh . . .”

We waited.

“Uh . . .”

We continued to wait.

“Uh . . . yeah . . .”

He and I laughed.  We were the only ones on the train snickering like the schoolchildren in the back of the class.  And then something crazy happened: we exchanged words.  It wasn’t anything life-altering – just something like “Oh my God, that was brilliant!” – but it was enough to remind me of the fact that yes, there is life outside of  the iWorld.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Have You Made Up Your Mind,” Paul Weller
“Here With Me,” Dido
“Toxic,” Yael Naïm
“The Sweetest Love,” Robin Thicke
“Symbol In My Driveway,” Jack Johnson
“Holiday Inn,” Elton John
“Roll If Ya Fall,” Barefoot Truth
“Don’t Look Away,” Joshua Radin
“Joan,” Timmy Curran
“Hide and Seek,” Imogen Heap
“Vanilla Twilight,” Owl City


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Riding the Megabus: Boston – New York

December 12, 2009 at 12:50 AM (Happenings) (, , )

There’s a first time for everything.  Like blogging from a moving vehicle, for instance.  A good friend of mine is celebrating her birthday in New York this weekend, and seeing as I no longer suffer from the restraints of end-of-semester deadlines, I’m actually able to take a couple days off to stop in.  Because ‘Son goes into the city just about every weekend, I was fine with him making the travel arrangements: just tell me which station and what time, and I’ll see you there, man.  I truly could not have been less interested in the bus line.

MegabusNow I’m three and a half hours into a trip to the Big Apple via Megabus, and I’m still shouting senselessly into the Twittersphere.  Win!  For the last few months, I’ve been hearing about various airlines, buslines and trains including free Wi-Fi, but I haven’t had the opportunity to take advantage of this convenience.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little excited to try it out.

So far, I haven’t been disappointed with the Wi-Fi.  For tweeting, blogging, and general web-surfing, I haven’t encountered any hiccups.  My travel companions did try downloading a song earlier, and based on how long they were whining about it, I’m guessing it took a while.  In addition, I did try uploading some photos to Facebook and it took several minutes to add fewer than 20 images.  Granted, I was in no rush, so it didn’t bother me, but I figured it would be worth sharing.  YouTube is blocked, most likely for bandwidth issues.  Interestingly enough, Megasbus’s site is down, but I’m guessing that’s a coincidence.

The ride itself has been nothing legendary: occasional unexpected stops and turbulence, turns and straightaways that can be expected of highway driving.  The only part I will remember two weeks from now is how cold my feet are.  Oh, and that I wrote this blog post.

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December 7, 2009 at 2:53 AM (Musings) (, )

I have a confession to make about working at Starbucks: when customers stand very close to the bar and look at me condescendingly whilst jabbering on their phones as I make drinks, I like to call the drinks out extra loud, just to be a pain (watching them jerk unexpectedly is my favourite).

Starbucks 755 Boylston BostonWorking at Starbucks isn’t the worst way to pay rent.  Most of my coworkers are pretty fun, and we’re blessed with a slew of awesome regulars Apple Store Boston Boylston(most of whom are from the Apple Store).  It can be stressful, though, and every now and then we get the customers who couldn’t even fathom the possibility that yes, the baristas making their double-tall half-caf 172-degree light-whip two-and-a-half-splenda skinny vanilla lattes are, in fact, human beings who merit just as much basic respect as their coworkers on the other end of their iPhones.  We have our own lives and aspirations, and we don’t particularly appreciate it when people can’t be bothered to put their friends on hold in order to fully explain what they would like to drink.

Or when they roll their eyes at us when they order a tall grande and we explain that tall and grande are two different sizes.

Or when they try to step behind the bar to get their drink because they’re in too much of a hurry for us to hand it to them.

Or answer with their drink order when we ask how they’re doing.

Or when they take money out of our tip jar when they don’t have exact change.

Like I said, most of our customers are alright.  Every now and then, though, I struggle not to say something incredibly sharp to the self-important jerks who decide to grace us with their obnoxious patronage.  So, I just make sure that when I call out drinks, the recipients will definitely be able to hear them over other people’s phone conversations.

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December 7, 2009 at 1:40 AM (Musings) (, )

Usually I’m all about the Christmas cheer, but for whatever reason, it’s been lacking this year.  We’ve got the decorations up in the apartment, and we all know that the department stores have been in the spirit since Halloween.  I have two, perhaps even three Christmas parties this week, and every time I go to Faneuil Hall for lunch, I see this beautiful monstrosity of a Christmas tree.

Faneuil Hall Christmas tree Boston

That, combined with the street performers and the Christmas songs coming from every store’s doorway and the veterans with their Santa hats and bells asking for donations outside of MBTA stations serve as constant reminders of how hopped up on eggnogStarbucks holiday red cups I should be by now (oh, and of course we can’t forget the omnipresent red cups at Starbucks).  For goodness’ sake, it even snowed last night!

So what’s missing?  I thought that my first Christmas that didn’t include the stress of classes and final exams would have allowed for even more holiday giddiness, but I suppose I was wrong.  While the threat of semester’s end is gone, so are most of the friends with whom I spent most of my last four yuletide seasons, and with my grandfather being ill, being home will probably never be the same again (and with my current work schedule, it’s tricky to score more than 36 hours back home at a time, anyway).  “Scroogin'” is definitely an exaggeration for this post, because I’m most certainly not bitter about the time of year.  I love Christmas, and I’m just bummed that I’m not feeling it this year.

I have a fantastic internship with one helluva firm, and I know that I’m privileged to have even one paycheck right now, never mind two,  but admittedly, my life is still probably the most unsettled it’s ever been, and I think that may be detracting from my would-be cheer.  I’m so used to this time of year being a particular way, with a certain atmosphere, but nothing in life is static, I guess.

During some research for holiday stress relief tactics for a client, I came across several articles that warned against trying too hard to keep every single tradition; in some cases, it may be better to try something new.  Perhaps I’m waiting for things to be the way they’ve been before when, due to silly little details like Time, it’s impossible for them to be that way again.  That doesn’t mean the spirit of Christmas is a thing of the past, though.  It is simply in a period of evolution.  I just have to be a little more open-minded and proactive this year in my search for holiday glee.  Or at least good spirits.

Today’s Tunes
Remembering Christmas, David Benoit
A Charlie Brown Christmas, Vince Guaraldi Trio
“Mad Russian’s Christmas (Instrumental),” Trans-Siberian Orchestra
“Good King Joy,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra
“Ornament,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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A Social Experiment, Continued

December 2, 2009 at 2:31 AM (Happenings, Musings) (, )

Unfortunately, PlentyOfFish deletes all messages 14 days’ old, so my favourites don’t exist any more.  In the future, I’ll have to copy and paste the good ones into a continuous Word document.  I still have a few tidbits that I managed to save, though.

The site certainly doesn’t lie: there are plenty of fish indeed, and almost as many kinds.  There are the ones who just out for one thing (and it likely doesn’t involve any follow-up phone calls).  There are the ones who probably aren’t bad people, but are incapable of stringing together a coherent question (or are simply too lazy).  There are the [much] older ones who think they still have the charm from their 20s.  There are the ones who are still in their 20s and have let their charm turn into arrogance.  There are the ones who try too hard to be funny.  There are the ones who are probably hysterical, but are way too nervous to show it.  And then there are the ones who are simply too shy to send a message.

Brittany FalconerAnd then there’s me.

I’ve received messages of all kinds, ranging from “how are you” to “i cannot stop appreciating your beauty.”  I copied and pasted both of those.  At least four people have assumed that my sporting a pirate hat means that I am defenseless against pirate jokes (note: I’m not).  I’ve been referred to as an “older woman” by a 20-year-old.  I’ve learned what it’s like to read a poorly written college essay.  I’ve received a note that looked very similar to one my roommate received.  Scratch that – we alternated reciting it from our own inboxes.

Now, that’s not to say that any of these people are losers (okay, maybe some of them are), or that I’m way too cool for anyone on this site.  Au contraire.  Some people have messaged me that have merited responses, and I would even go so far as to say that conversations may have budded.  I will even admit that I have messaged some people, and – gasp – they never got back to me.  And perhaps most shocking of all . . . I’ve actually met a fish or two (and I wasn’t kidnapped!).

The title of this and the last post is “A Social Experiment,” but if I remember my grade school science classes at all, the scientific method requires an educated guess as to what the outcome will be before experimenting.  Admittedly, I never really went that far with my planning process.  In fact, I don’t think planning actually crossed my mind when I created the account in the first place, but I don’t consider it a disadvantage: I’m not constrained by what I think is allowed or is not allowed to happen with this . . . online dating thing.

Wish me luck.  Or a cool experience worth blogging about later.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” Billy Joel
“Stairway to Heaven,” Led Zeppelin
“Love Song,” Sara Bareilles
“White Daisy Passing,” Rocky Votolato
“Dreaming of You,” The Coral
“Romeo and Juliet,” Dire Straits

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