May 19

A Memorial Day trip to Boston

I don’t usually like to travel during holiday weekends because of the crowds, but last week I decided to see my friend Ellen in Boston. I always love visiting her because it’s both super chill and GWF, good wholesome fun. (Last year we hung out in a bar for three hours, drinking and playing Jenga.)


The first we did when I got in (via GoBus) was shop, then eat. We had Nepalese food at a place called Tasty Mo Mo. It was, well, tasty! They actually offered a combo of both Nepalese and Indian dishes. Of course we got the mo mos, Nepalese dumplings, and shared a chicken makhni, my favorite Indian dish. It was Ellen’s first time having it, and she loved it.

Next we walked around the Bow Market and got a couple of beers at the brewery there. I’m not usually a fan of beer, but I liked what we got: a light sour one and a dark one that tasted like chocolate.

That night we saw a play. It was very campy and fun, but unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it.


On this day we decided to take a little road trip to the South Shore, and make some stops along the way.

First one was a Talbot’s outlet of all things. Ellen got some clothes while I got a pair of sunglasses. Next was Holly Hill Farm where Ellen wanted to get some herbs. Did I mention it was incredibly hot that day? It was sort of insufferable. And I had forgotten my hat, didn’t bring enough water, AND had to pee. Ugh. I did however buy some yummy cashews for a snack, homemade peanut butter and jam, and a bar of incredibly delicious coconut chocolate.

Next was a brewery, which was such a relief. We used the bathroom, got a flight of beers, and I chugged water. It was also nice to sit inside in the A/C. We also partook of the pizza and free pretzels.

At the next brewery (unfortunately I can’t remember the name), we first sat outside, but suddenly I got really hot in the sun so we came back in. There was some old guy who shared our table and chatted us up. I don’t know if he was hitting on us. He might have thought we went inside to get away from him.

This place had tacos and we shared an order, which had two. At first I thought I wasn’t hungry for a taco, but after I ate mine, I was like, “I could totally eat another one,” but I didn’t.

Our last stop was Duxbury. It was soooo pretty with beautiful, enormous houses. The area around the seafood truck and bar was a little annoying. (There was supposed to be a pop-up lobster roll place and brewery, but they had already sold out of their stuff.) We waited in line for what felt like forever for some oysters and other seafood, but we got our oysters before they sold out. Yay! A portion of a table nearby cleared so we snagged it.

I had three oysters. They were very good. We were going to share a clam dip, which was kind of like a more watery clam chowder, but they got mixed up and ended up giving us another one for free. Score! So we each had our own, which was good because I was actually kind of hungry.

There was a fire for s’mores. I kind of wanted one, but I also didn’t feel like waiting in line again. We made do with more of the chocolate I had bought. We stood at the water for a while, then sat in a couple of chairs. When the bugs started to get us, we got up and went back to the car.

We drove around. The houses were just crazy. I said I could imagine some movie there with a rich girl and her love interest, a working class guy, and we started telling that story. I said maybe she brings him home and ends up seeing his friend shucking oysters. The rest wasn’t that interesting. We ended up driving across this bridge, and were at the town’s official beach. The sun was setting just then, and we both managed to catch some gorgeous pictures.


Since my bus was at one, we just stopped at a market so I could pick up provisions for the bus and had lunch at a barbecue place. Pulled pork platter for the win! A yummy end to a very active, fun-filled Memorial Day weekend.

Jul 18

Much-needed bestie time in Boston

I had a lovely time in Boston last weekend with my good friend Ellen. It was low-key and relaxing. We had a barbecue with her friends, which fun except the part where I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

I also played Jenga for the first time. We were on our way somewhere when Ellen spotted the game through an open bar window. She expressed interest in playing and I was dismissive until I saw the bar had aperol spritzes. We ended up staying for three hours.

It was hella fun.

We also went shopping, did an escape room (the people we were teamed up with were kind of annoying), and just chilled on her porch and enjoyed the summer evenings.

It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Mar 18

A fun time in Boston

I had a fun little visit with my good friend Ellen in Boston last weekend, a nice reprieve after all the work-related Lunar New Year madness.

A nice bus ride, good tequila, and yummy steak tacos

Despite lots of rain that would later turn into snow, my bus got to Boston on time. The ride itself was nice and cozy. It helped that I had brought tons of food and had lots of podcasts to listen to.

Because of the weather, Ellen was working from home that day and was kind enough to pick me up at the bus station. Before going back to her place, we stopped at the grocery store and bakery. Provisions!

The wind was so crazy, it was literally blowing rain through fissures in my friend’s doors. She worked hard to plug the cracks with towels and whatnot (meanwhile, I sat in the kitchen drinking tequila with ginger bread and snacking on bread). Then I jokingly suggested using sanitary napkins — and guess what? She did! Not only that, they worked!

For dinner, Ellen was kind enough to make us steak tacos. I inhaled two.

Farmer’s market, Peabody Essex Museum, Ganko ramen

The next day was full of activities. Our first stop was the farmer’s market near where she lives. That was pretty fun. We tried a bunch of samples, including some ginger-honey “switchel” mixed with seltzer. That sold me and I bought a bottle. I also got a jar of gooseberry jam and a cheddar-scallion scone for a snack later.

Our next stop was the Peabody Essex Museum. I’ve been once, but that was many years ago so I have zero recollection of the place. Plus it might be quite different from back then.

The main exhibit we were there to see was Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style, which juxtaposed her clothing and fashion with her work. It was interesting but also very crowded so I didn’t have the patience to read everything.

I ended up seeing a lot of the rest of the museum, including this very cool exhibit, All the Flowers Are for Me:

We finished our stay with a visit to a room that was part of the Playtime exhibit. Earlier I had noticed a long line, but now that the museum was about to close, it was short so we hopped on. Turned out we were the last group being let in.

What was so special about this room? It was filled with pink balloons. A sign warned that if you started to feel overwhelmed, you should make your way to the exit. I scoffed, “Why would anyone feel overwhelmed?” But a few seconds after I entered, I totally did. What got to me were the balloons flying in all directions, especially in my face, and some annoying kid running around, almost bumping into me, and yelling. Getting outside was a pain. Only after I was out did one of the employees give instructions. That would have been nice!

Our last stop was noodles at a placed called Ganko Ramen. The wait was hella long, We kept staring at people like, “Why are you eating so slow? Are you seriously eating your ramen one strand at a time?” Finally, after TWO HOURS we were seated.

The ramen was really good, but I don’t know if I’d wait that long again.

Aug 17

Mini vacay, the Boston edition

Sunset over Somerville.

A couple of friends and I were supposed to go on a “girls’ getaway” last weekend. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a reasonably priced place to stay so that plan got scrapped. But I still spent a few days with my bestie in Boston.

The Greek

I got an early start to the weekend by taking Friday off and going out Thursday night.

Another friend and I met up for drinks and apps at the Greek in Tribeca. It’s a little pricey but the cocktails and food are yummy. I was trying to choose a cocktail when the bartender suddenly took the menu from me and said, “I will make something for you.” Oh um okay. I thought he was going to custom-make something because he overheard my lamenting the fact that they no longer had their ouzo-based cocktail, but it was just a cucumber and gin one off the menu.

I mean, it was good, but not what I would have chosen. Although the garnishes, Mexican cucumbers which look exactly like watermelons, were so cute. For a nosh, I had the keftedes, Greek meatballs. Yum!

The movie we saw was Girls Trip. It was enjoyable. All of the actors were good, but Tiffany Haddish was ridiculously engaging and hilarious.

Boston Burger Company

I got into town about one on Friday, and was starving despite the plethora of snacks I had brought on the bus. I was craving a burger, and this place was right near the subway station where we met. I got the Killer Bee, which comes with a stack of BBQ sauce-covered onion rings:

I swear there was an actual burger under there.

We also shared some garlic parm fries. Really hit the spot.

Fuller Craft Museum

My friend told me how when her mom visited the previous weekend, she barely wanted to do anything. She just wanted to hang out, run errands, and help my friend organize and clean her condo. I was like #weekendgoals! and decided I wouldn’t pressure myself into doing a million “fun” activities.

We did just one: visit the Fuller Craft Museum.

I enjoyed their quilt exhibit, which was different interpretations of what’s called the Bull’s Eye pattern. I ran into a lady who remarked that while the quilts were beautiful, hardly anyone would have room to hang one on their walls.

“I guess you’re right,” I said. “But you could throw it on your bed.”

“You mean use it as a blanket?” the lady asked, seemingly flabbergasted by the idea.

“Well yes. They’re quilts.”

“No, they’re not.” She pointed to the adjoining room. “Those are quilts over there. These aren’t quilts.”

“Yes, they are. They’re part of the same exhibit.”

“Oh.” She looked around. “They would make beautiful quilts.”

Yes, because they’re literally quilts.

Anyway, I also liked their permanent collection as well as the Amber Cowan Re/Collection exhibit:

What she does is take vintage glass and glassworks, and either work them into new pieces or recreate and reinterpret them. The pieces were an interesting mix of whimsical, erotic, and borderline grotesque.

The only downsides to the museum were that I was hungry and freezing the whole time. I knew it was going to be cool but I didn’t realize how cool, and while I had long pants, I didn’t have a heavy enough jacket. I would have brought a Cliff Bar for a snack, but we assumed they’d have a cafe. A woman said they used to but not anymore.

IKEAn cuisine

Besides the museum, we mostly just shopped. Friday afternoon we hit two shoe stores (I bought two pairs of shoes), Old Navy (a cute top and dress), and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Saturday, we went to IKEA.

After two hours of starving at the museum, I was really happy to chow down on some Swedish meatballs.

I got mine with the sides that come with the veggie balls. The vegetables, green beans, were the same, but instead of mashed potatoes, I got a quinoa and farro mix. We also got dessert, this delicious chocolate and hazelnut cake.

Ah, Brockton, the home of exotic IKEAn cuisine.

Eating and drinking at home

In the continued theme of a chill weekend, we ate the rest of our meals at home. Friday night my friend made scallops in a cream sauce over pasta; Saturday morning we had a hearty brunch of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and toast; and that night we had some random snacks after our late lunch at IKEA.

We also drank quite a bit of booze.


My friend was on purging spree and determined to get rid of a bunch of liquor, one of which was the absinthe she bought on our trip to Prague many years ago.

Following some instructions from the Internet, I divided the small bottle into two glasses and slowly added some sugar. You’re supposed to melt the sugar slowly over a slotted spoon, but of course we didn’t have that and made do with fast-melting sugar. I sprinkled it in very slowly and kept stirring. Still, it wasn’t dissolving.

After a while I gave up and took a sip. It was SO STRONG. Like burn-a-path-of-fire down my throat strong. I looked up what kind of mixers to use with absinthe and found other instructions that said to add water. Oops. I added a little, which lightened the taste (although it still had a kick) and finally dissolved the sugar.

The absinthe got us tipsy but we weren’t freaking out. It did feel different from other alcohol. The word that keeps coming to mind is a “waviness.” My friend kept saying she felt warm throughout her body. Later when I looked in the mirror, I saw that my eyes were SO RED. I don’t think my eyes get red from other alcohol.

Becherovka bitters and Kavalan whisky

The next night we tried this, another Prague purchase. I followed a Czech mule recipe, which includes ginger beer and lime. At first I put just one ounce of the bitters, but because their alcohol content is so low, the cocktail mostly tasted like ginger beer and lime. We added at least another ounce.

It was slightly stronger, but not by much. That’s when I decided to add the Taiwan whisky that I had brought.

I tried it straight first, and it was yummy. While my friend drank hers neat, I dumped mine in my cocktail. It wasn’t terrible but not fabulous either. Still, I drank most of it, and it did the trick.

Cherry rum and Dubliner liqueur

We also tried a couple of small bottles of liquor my friend had won in some contest. The first one, a cherry rum, smelled like cough syrup to me — and tasted EXACTLY like it. It was so disgusting and the aftertaste, even worse.

The other was a Dubliner liqueur with honeycomb liqueur. It was pretty good although too sweet for me, at least after all that ginger beer.

Chilling on the porch

My last night my friend and I just sat on her porch chatting, drinking, and eating.

It was so simple yet so much fun. Sometimes the simplest things are.

Oct 16

A Boston weekend

Now that I’ve moved back to the east coast, visits to my friend Ellen in Boston are  super-easy. With the excuse of seeing her new place, I hopped on a train last Friday after work and headed north.

Myers + Chang

My first night we went to this sort of nouveau Asian place. The executive chef, Ellen told us, was on Top Chef (and looks startlingly like another chef, albeit fictional).

We had the braised pork belly buns, grilled duck kebabs, wok-charred octopus with grilled corn, sweet and sour brussel sprouts, and another dish I can’t remember. It was all very tasty.

I also had a cocktail, the Fire Monkey Mai Tai.

This ham is turkey

The next morning Aki, who was also there for the weekend, was kind enough to make us French toast. I wanted some protein so Aki fried up some leftover ham Ellen had.

It was delicious. So delicious we wanted seconds. Unfortunately Ellen had no more ham, but Aki had brought some from home. As Ellen and I ate our second batch, one of us commented, “This ham seems dry.” Another one of us said, “This ham tastes like turkey.”

“That’s because this ham is turkey,” Aki told us.

Turned out she was using “ham” as a general descriptor for luncheon meat.

Blue Hills Reservation

The next day we headed out to the Blue Hills Reservation for a hike. We were hoping to see some fall foliage, but the leaves were still pretty green.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was also quite warm, making our trek a good workout. Luckily we had banh mi sandwiches from Ba Le Restaurant in Dorchester to give us strength.

Short Path Distillery

What better way to cap off a long hike than with a trip to gin and rum distillery?

Short Path Distillery offered a free tour and a free tasting. The tour was more of a talk — about the history of the place and how the gins and rums are made — but it was still interesting.

That is, except for one drunk guy who kept asking the same questions over and over. After a while even his girlfriend and friends were like, “Dude, shut up.”

The tasting was more fun because free booze. My favorites were a gin infused with star anise and this sweet hibiscus-infused rum. Aki got a bottle of that. I should have too.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

I always crave something salty after drinking so ramen from one of our favorite go-to Boston places hit the spot.

The ramen was yummy as usual. They’ve expanded their menu since I was last there. Now they have these combo dishes, which I got.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

Ramen with an egg and gyoza. I shared the gyoza.

Already looking forward to my next visit!

Apr 15

Beantown Birthday

This past week or so I’ve been on my annual east coast birthday trip.

While I usually visit New York, this time I felt like doing something different, namely visiting my pal Ellen in Boston.

Getting There

While I got my tickets to New Jersey pretty early, I hemmed and hawed for the longest time about how I’d get to Boston from New Jersey. Flying seemed inexpensive but I hated the idea of going to the airport so many times within a 10-day period. The bus is super-cheap, but my back hurts if I sit too long. That left the train, which is pretty expensive and takes as long as the bus.

But then I hemmed and hawed for so long that the plane tickets ended up being too expensive, and I took the train anyway.

The four hours didn’t feel long at all. It helped that I had no one next to me so I was able to spread out; that there was free wifi that worked (well, mostly); and that we actually got to Boston on time.

Since it was only about three, I headed over to Ellen’s workplace. Our other buddy, Aki, had come in the night before so she was already there. While Ellen finished up some work, Aki and I snacked, spaced out, and browsed our phones.

After we headed out, we almost immediately we ran into one of my must-sees:

Hello Mr. Poe #edgarallanpoe #boston

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

When I saw the statue from far away, I admit I was a little disappointed that it was “small.” But actually upon closer inspection, I loved that it’s street level and person-sized.

Me and Mr. Poe #edgarallanpoe #boston A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

Next we strolled through the Boston Common and then down Newbury and Boylston Streets, eventually ending up at the marathon finish line.

At the finish line, pre-race #boston #bostonmarathon

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

I wouldn’t be going to the race so I was glad to at least see where it ended.

That night we had a yummy Italian dinner at this place called Vinny’s in Somerville. From the outside it looked a little hole-in-the-wall-ish, but the food was really good. We shared a few dishes: a calamari salad, the stuffed calamari, the Sicilian rabbit, and a side of angel hair pasta. Everything was delicious but I especially liked the rabbit (very tender and not gamey at all) and the angel hair.

Museum, cider, and ramen

The next day was packed with activities. We spent the morning visiting various food shops (two bakeries, a Greek grocery, and a cheese shop) before heading out to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which, Aki found out, was free if it was your birthday, which on that day it was.

It’s been many years since I’ve been at the Isabella Stewart. I was glad to see the new wing — isabellastewartgardner — and the old courtyard, as lovely as always —

Courtyard #isabellastewartgardner #boston A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

After the museum, we hit a couple of hard cider tastings. I’ve never had hard cider before, and it turns out I like it. The first was at at Bantam Cider


— and the second was at Downeast, which was out on the docks. After a bunch of cider, I was feeling sassy:

Being sassy at the cider bar #boston #downeast

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

We capped off the day with a late dinner at Santouka Ramen in Harvard Square, another Aki find. Apparently Santouka is a well-known chain in Japan. I got something with a little kick:

Long spicy noodles for a long spicy life.


On Sunday we drove up to Ogunquit, Maine.

While it was freezing (luckily Ellen had a winter coat in her trunk for me to borrow), it was absolutely beautiful. We took a walk down the rocky shore —

Rocky Maine coast #maine #ogunquit #atlanticocean

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

— and had a seafood lunch. My buds had lobster rolls and lobster stew while I had clam chowder (I also had an excellent hot dog when we first got there). We also saw a lighthouse:

Cape Neddick Light #maine #capeneddick #lighthouse A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was so lovely just to walk around, get lots of sun, and breathe in the fresh salt air.

By the end of the day, we were pooped. We had dinner at a Mexican place near Ellen’s apartment — shredded pork, yum! — and then crashed.

And back home

The train back to New York was a bit more crowded and about 15 minutes late, but I managed to get some work done in between dozing off. An upside to getting into Penn Station was that I could just run across the platform to catch another train back to my parents’.

Since Monday I’ve been catching up with work and being a lazy bum. On Thursday I head back to San Francisco.

Mar 13

AWP 2013: Writers, friends, and snow

Last week I was at AWP and had a blast.

I actually had more fun than last year, which was overwhelming and lonely since I was there as an individual writer. This year I went to work the book fair for my company, which I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 5

Set-up for the fair was on Wednesday, but I didn’t like the idea of getting in late and feeling rushed so I flew in on Tuesday.

That night I crashed with my friend ES. Getting to her house via public transportation was pretty easy, except for the fucking weird guy on the Silver Line (which is a fancy way of saying “bus”) who kept staring at me. At one point, I stared right back him, which was probably not a good idea, but, as I often do nowadays, I had assessed that I could take him in a fistfight so stare back I did.

I ended up getting off a couple of stops too early, and didn’t have to deal with in for much longer anyway.

ES had yummy food waiting for me when I got to her place: pasta with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe. I pigged out and we chatted and watched TV until two AM, ES because she’s a night owl, me because I was on darned Pacific time.

Wednesday, March 6

ES and I spent the day working together, and eating more of that tasty pasta. Then I was off to the hotel. “Set-up” for the book fair comprised of checking to make sure our giveaways had arrived (they had), and then I was free as a bird.

I was also starving. I dropped in a Wagamama and had their chili ramen. Delish!


View from my hotel window

By this time the weather had turned crummy. When I arrived on Tuesday, it was dry and in the 40s. Now it was raining and snowing. Blech. Luckily I didn’t have to go outside to get to the train station so getting back out to ES’s wasn’t too bad. We grabbed some southern food for a late dinner, and then I was back at the hotel.

Thursday, March 7

My first full working day.

My hotel was a 15 minute walk to the convention center. However, since I walk fast, it was more like 10 minutes for me, and it was all inside. It’s connected to a mall, which connects to another mall, which connects to two other hotels and finally the convention center.

What with the snowstorm, I didn’t leave the complex for three days.

The first thing I noticed at the book fair was how fancy some people’s booths were. They had furniture! art! beautifully displayed books! Our booth was, shall we say, streamlined in comparison. All we had were our giveaways, these adorable little notebooks with hearts on them. Then I got the brain storm to place them like this:


I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a couple of people said they loved how the notebooks looked, and that our schwag was “the best at the conference.” Wow!

I had a lot of fun talking to people. I told them about our site and our contest: give us your favorite word and you’re in the running to win a random drawing of some pocket-sized dictionaries. As for the little notebooks, I think people assumed they were for sale, so I had to yell, “Free notebooks!” often. Several people made 180 degree turns when they heard “free.” It was funny.

My neighbors at Red14Films were also super-nice. They were fun to talk to and shared their chocolate.

That night ES and I had plans to see a play, but the weather was so bad, our plans got canceled. I actually didn’t mind. I was spent. I went to the gym and ran three miles, showered back in my room, then wandered the mall for food. It was after seven, but a lot of stores were still open, which for some reason delighted me. I didn’t want to shop but I liked knowing that I could if I wanted.

I felt like having bad Chinese of all things, and got myself a plate of Panda Express. It was pretty good! The vegetables were fresh and only lightly cooked with no sauce, the way I like them, and I enjoyed orange chicken. Then it was back to my room for some herbal tea and television.

I watched a terrible movie with Robert Pattinson. From the movie, I realized that a) Robert Pattinson is a kind of weird-looking dude, and b) he can’t act for shit. Christina Ricci was quite good though. In their scenes, she seemed to force Pattinson to tone down his overacting.

Friday, March 8

Another day at the book fair  and lots more talking. I had plans with my friend PL in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen PL in years, since before I moved to San Francisco, and was glad to learn that she’d be at AWP with her magazine – and her nine month old.

I was yakking with someone when all of a sudden a woman with an adorable baby walked up to our booth. It was PL! Her son is soooo cute. He’s very chubby and smiles at everyone. I wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to SF.

After I finished working, I went up to PL’s room and hung out. It was so great catching up with her. It had started to snow a lot earlier in the day, which was a good thing because PL and her sister (who had come along to help with the baby and for fun) ended up staying that night instead of leaving during the day, which gave PL and me a chance to have dinner with ES too, who would be staying with me in my room, as well as a couple of PL’s friends/colleagues.

None of us really wanted to go outside so we ate at PF Chang’s. It was pretty tasty, though quite salty. I found out one of PL’s colleagues, who’s a writer/editor now, used to be an actress and had a small but pivotal role in one of my most favorite shows ever. I forced myself not to act like a stupid fan girl and limited my questions to half a dozen. She was super-nice about it.

Saturday, March 9

I was really tired on this day since I didn’t sleep well the night before. I slept well all the other nights, at ES’s and at the hotel. But the night ES stayed over, we stayed up very late, past two AM, and I got stressed about getting up in time to work the fair and to pack my stuff and check out. I got maybe two hours of sleep. Ugh!

But working the book fair was fine. With lots of coffee and adrenaline, I was able to power through it. I was, however, worried about having a lot of leftover notebooks to ship back.

PL and her sister (and the baby!) came by, and I complained to them about my plight. They told me to go ahead and use the bathroom if I needed to, and they could watch my stuff. When I came back I saw that they had totally taken over the booth and were giving away notebooks like crazy: “Free notebooks! You know you want a free notebook! Yeah, you do!” They were so awesome. They had heard my spiel several times so they could repeat most of it. I got to show lots of people the site and we had a ton more entries in our favorite word contest (the results are here). That day the fair was open to the public so ES was there too. It was loads of fun.

After we were done, we grabbed a late lunch at the food court, and then PL and her posse was off.

ES and I schlepped back to her ‘hood to head out to a cooking party one of her friends was hosting. Luckily the weather had improved tremendously so getting around wasn’t too bad.

Since I was dead tired and am not a confident cook, I sat around like a bum while everyone worked to make delicious crepes. (Crap, I should have taken some pictures.) The crepes were delicious. ES made a layered dish with spinach, lots of cheese, and, well, crepes. It was so damned good.

Sunday, March 10

My last day in Boston! ES and I had every intention of seeing a movie, but ended up yakking the day away and missed the start time. I was just as happy to walk around and enjoy the nice weather.

In the late afternoon, we went to a town that’s on the way to the airport and had an early dinner of yummy Korean food. The restaurant was very modest, but I knew it had to be good because there were Korean people eating. And good it was. I had duk mandu gook, which is a clear beef soup with beef dumplings, rice cakes, glass noodles, and egg. I want it now!

Then we were off to the airport, and I was catching my flight to Newark. Since it’s only an hour in the air, the plane was quite small. One row of seats were singles, which felt totally luxurious, especially since the flight was half empty. I had to a wait a while for the train from the airport to my parents’, but the ride felt fast, even full of drunk college kids on their way home to Rutgers. Then I was at my ‘rents’.

~ ~ ~

The time with my parents was nice. I got to catch up on sleep and work, and eat my mom’s good cooking. I also got to see another college friend for lunch. Inevitably my parents started to get on my nerves, and I was very happy to head back to SF. I’m currently still on east coast time, which means early to bed and early to rise, but I like that anyway.

Aug 09

Had a great time in Boston this weekend

Thought I’d get in a visit with ES before I potentially move to SF.  Beside, it’s been more than a year, and I like to go at least once a year.


I arrived early evening, just in time for dinner at one my favorite Boston restaurants, Elephant Walk (the website is sort of awful btw).  The restaurant is much more chi-chi than I remember, at least in an old-fashioned, New England blueblood kind of way.  Or maybe in a French way.  But the food was less expensive than memory serves.

We got our favorite appetizer, nataing, to start, and then I got the Amok Royal, which is, according to the menu, “a spicy, custard-like preparation of fresh crab, bay scallops, grouper and shrimp with coconut milk and complex Khmer seasonings, steamed in a banana leaf cup and garnished with cilantro and red bell pepper.”  I thought it was going to be more like a stew so when the very custard-like concoction arrived, I was surprised.  But it was really tasty.

We both stupidly forgot our cameras, and so couldn’t take pics of the beautiful, and delicious, food.

Afterwards we walked around Boston University, my grad school alma mater.  I barely recognized anything, except where I actually had classes.  I know the campus has changed a lot but we walked to areas I swear I had never been before.

We got back to ES’s place semi-early, around 10, and then just chilled for the night.  Half of the fun of visiting ES is all the chatting and catching up, and lying around making comments about stupid TV.


Saturday was absolutely beautiful: sunny, dry, and cool.  I was up fairly early, around 8:30, and had a leisurely morning with coffee, toast, and my computer.  (I’ve been visiting ES for so long I always have no problem making myself at home, though I’m not sure how her roommates feel about that!)  It took us a while to get out of the house, between gabbing and whatnot, but we finally made it around 2.

We took the subway to the Boston Harbor area, and started our journey by snagging some lobster and crab rolls along the way:

We were supposed to take a boat out to one of the harbor islands, but every single one was sold out.  I guess everyone had the same idea on that unbelievably perfect summer day.

So instead we just enjoyed the weather and tooled around the area, spotting among other things, a parade of segues:

A lovely ocean view:

And pretty flowers:

Next we headed out to the North End, where there was a street festival for one of the innumerable Catholic saints:

And of course there were games, where you could a variety of animal-shaped items, such as rubber duckies:

And where you could nosh on a delicious cannoli:

I got one with chocolate chips.  Yum!

Then we wandered over to where some old guys out of The Sopranos were playing bacci ball.  There was one guy who played with a cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth while another had a thinning jet black pompadour you know he’s had since about 1955.

I wasn’t close enough to get any good shots of the players.  Just this spectator:

His whole outfit screams, “I’M ITALIAN AND I’M FROM BOSTON!”

We were supposed to go see this show at 7, but it was such a gorgeous day, neither of us wanted to go underground on the subway and then sit in a theater for two hours.  So we just walked around some more, venturing first into Haymarket at closing.  Not a good idea!  Not only were all the vendors taking down their stands and equipment, people were rifling through all the thrown-out/discounted vegetables and fruit, all at a madcap pace.  It was crazy.  I kept feeling like I was going to get whacked in the head by some metal pole or knocked over by an Indian or Chinese grandma lunging for a free tomato.  Then when I stepped in something cold and mushy, I decided it was over and hightailed it out of there, waiting for ES on the other side.

For dinner we ate at Lucca.  The food was delish.  We shared the Carpaccio di Manzo, which I didn’t realize till afterwards was raw meat.  Still, it was really good.  I got the Pappardelle alla Bolognese and ES got the Orecchiette al Formaggio, which was like gourmet mac and cheese with sausage.  Both our dishes were yummy but I think I liked ES’s better.

Again, no pictures.  Our waiter was very snooty and we felt intimidated, dolts we are.  He was way younger than we were too!  Douche.

After dinner we walked around some more.  We came upon this fountain sculpture, or whatever you want to call it.  Kind of like the fountains at Bellagio in miniature.  People kept running through it, trying to beat the water spouts but getting soaked all the same.

We did not attempt a run.


Another leisurely morning, followed by a quick visit at the Sowa Open Market in the South End, which was perfect because it’s right near South Station.  There’s a fun indoor antiques market, where you can buy everything from a suit of armor:

To a Muhammad Ali figurine:

To this crab plate:

I did not buy the crab plate, but found some cool jewelry.  Since there was TONS of stuff, I narrowed down my choices down by focusing on stuff in cases, assuming that quality was a little better.  I got an art deco style necklace and bracelet for $34.  Originally there were $40 together but I bargained the lady down a little.

That was it!  You couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better hostess (thanks ES!).

Next up, San Francisco!

See all my Boston pics.

Jul 08

A Boston kind of weekend

It was a hot one, and there’s no escaping the heat wave here as well. The SoCal-like weather from the past few weeks was too good to be true.

Friday I left work earlier than usual, 12:30, and caught my one PM train just in the nick of time. I was able to get a window seat, but it was still pretty crowded, and somehow I ended up near a bunch of kids. At first I was dreading how the ride would be, but the kids were mostly well-behaved and cute. Plus my iPod drowned them out.

I had brought a bunch of schoolwork but did none of it. Instead I daydreamed and slept, and had a hot dog and coffee at about three. A weird combination but delicious all the same.

The train got in about 5:45, half an hour late. I went straight to ES’s house (I’m glad I still remember where it is!), where I found her napping. :) I don’t blame her. By Friday I’m pretty pooped myself.

For dinner we went to this Tibetan place nearby. I’ve never had Tibetan before and found that it was kind of a Indian/Chinese mix. We had curry beef with potatoes and mango noodles. The noodles were good, as was the curry sauce, but the beef could have been more tender.

Afterwards we walked around Davis Square. It was Art Beat this weekend, and so that night there was some live music. But what we caught was awful: some band from Italy that featured lots of bagpipes. We started near it, but decided we preferred to chat instead, so we found a bench and yakked until it started to rain.

A visit to Boston wouldn’t be complete without some ice cream. When the downpour started, we dashed over to an ice cream place and got some “Green Monster” – mint ice cream with crushed Oreo cookies – to share. I got a “small” but even with the both of us eating, we couldn’t finish it.

For the rest of the night, we just hung out at ES’s place. I watched TV, a nice treat now that I don’t have one, while she went through some photos. It was hilarious to look at the iPhoto Booth ones she, IS, and I took during one of my visits.

We went to sleep not too late, around midnight, and the next morning I was wide awake at 7:30 (not the case today, that’s for sure). I think I’m used to getting up at that time, and also ES’s blinds were up in the living room, letting in the natural light. Either way I was glad to able to get some homework in before ES got up.

We left the house at about noon, and attempted to walk around the arts festival. “Attempted” because the heat was really unbearable. After a little while we ducked into this crepe place and sat there chatting for two hours.

We eventually got back outside, and at that part of the day, after 3, it was less oppressive. ES knew someone in a band that was playing so we went over to listen to them. They did kids’ music, and it was cute to see all the little ones dancing and singing and almost getting electrocuted by the wires and speakers. Awww.

After that we checked out the booths. We were both on a hunt for jewelry. I saw a couple of necklaces I liked, but I wasn’t 100% sure about them so I let them go. ES thought about getting some earrings, but by the time she went back, they were sold.

By 5 I had reached my limit with the heat. On our way back to ES’s place, we ran into some of her friends. Normally I don’t mind a little chitchat, but at that moment it was the last thing I wanted. After a few minutes, I gave ES a look and started slowly backing away. Luckily she got the idea.

I felt better after enjoying ES’s A/C and ingesting some fruit. Must have been dehydrated and needing some sugar. We hung out for a while before ES threw herself into a cooking frenzy, trying this Asian tofu/bok choy/mushroom noodle dish for her friend’s barbecue we were going to later. My big contribution was chopping up some garlic.

I wasn’t too in the mood for the barbecue, to tell you the truth, but it turned out to be fun. ES’s friend had a very nice backyard, and everyone there was easy to talk to. Later in the evening they showed a movie, Fletch, projected onto a sheet – actually, shower curtain liners – hanging from the porch. It worked really well, and was a good movie choice because you didn’t have to pay close attention.

I realize I hate nature. Sitting there in their lovely backyard, I kept thinking I was getting attacked by mosquitoes (just one bite, though a huge one), and then I swear a slug crawled onto my foot. I felt a tickle, reached down to brush it off, then felt sliminess. Ew!

Sunday I was up semi early again, around 8:30. More homework before ES got up. Headed out around 12:30 to see the New England Sand Sculpting Festival at Revere Beach. It was crowded but not crazy, and it was definitely hot though overcast, luckily, cuz otherwise I’m sure we’d have been burned to a crisp.

We weren’t there long, just long enough to take in the sand sculptures – all very cool btw – and walk along the water, which felt really good on that sweltering day. But again, yucky nature: seaweed, gross!

Then it was time to drive me to the train station. ES gave me a nice tour of the downtown area, which has changed SO much since I lived there. Next time we need to spend more time in Boston proper, though it’s so easy just to stay in Davis Square.

Like a nice mom, ES had packed me a lunch for my train ride: leftover noodles, which turned out DELISH by the way, sliced red pepper, and watermelon and peaches, which I gobbled up even before we left Revere.

The train wasn’t crowded at all at first. In fact for a little while I had entire car to myself. But by the time we left the Route 128 stop, we were packed.

This time around I was able to do some reading for class, both research for my final paper and the assignment for tomorrow. Yay! Then I didn’t feel like reading anymore so I plugged in my iPod and watched the scenery go by. I love looking at the water and boats and catching glimpses of different birds along the coast of Connecticut.

The train got in around 8, about 45 minutes late. No biggie. I was tempted to take a cab, but sucked it up and took the two subways, but not before waiting for what felt like a billion years in the Hades that is the V/F train platform at West 4th Street.

I had big plans for the night at home: do my homework for Tuesday (we have to come up with two questions/comments per reading), iron my clothes for the week, do a little sewing (1) a button back on some pants, 2) a tear in the seam of another). I did none of that. I checked my email, my Flickr, my Facebook, my blogroll, then watched Intervention and The Office online. At least I washed the dishes and unpacked.

Today it’s hard to be back at work. Luckily I have no meetings. Plus MB gets back this afternoon, yippee! He was away at a conference in Toronto this weekend.

I should really work out soon, but I’m already starving! Maybe I’ll do a short one later this afternoon, or after work.

Jul 08

Quiet weekend this time

Friday I had a half day as usual. After the gym I went to school to make yet more copies, and ran out of change before finishing completely.

MB was at a coffee shop in the area so I met up with him there. I like the food there, but what the place is famous for is its model-like waitstaff. Everyone who works there is tall and thin and gorgeous. The girl behind the bar wasn’t tall, but she was very pretty and knew it. She had a weird way of engaging people, both men and women, very flirtatious instead of just normal and down to earth.

Late that afternoon we saw Hellboy II. Another good movie! I love all the weird creatures that director thinks up, like in Pan’s Labyrinth.

Friday and Saturday were very much stay at home days, except for meals. MB was rather obssessed with a project he was working on. Plus I had a ton of reading to do for class and wanted to work on my memoir as well.

Sunday we left the house. Yay! Grabbed a late lunch, then took a long walk before settling in Washington Square Park to do some work. MB kept seeing people he knew, or at least recognized. First up was some eccentric older dude from a music meet-up, shopping cart full of musical equipment in tow. Second was this poor clearly anorexic woman. MB had seen her in Union Square a while back; on Sunday she was just wandering Washington Square Park, walking up and down, up and down.

Then as we’re about to leave, who do we see but YP on his way back from Hellboy. I almost never see anyone I know.

I’m finally at my correct pay rate now for work. Even though I officially started on May 16, till last week I was still at my old pay rate in the system. (Damn the system!) HR said I should get a check to make up for the difference.

Also will be getting my tuition reimbursement soon. Yay! I need to use that to help pay for my fall tuition, which I won’t get back till after the semester. It’s a bit of a challenge, to say the least.

This weekend I’ll be heading up to Boston to hang with ES. Another yay! Apparently there are a whole bunch of festivals going on, art and music and whatnot. I haven’t been up there in ages.