Posts Tagged ‘boston’

Don’t sell to smd619 in San Diego, CA

November 26, 2014

Growing up we never celebrated Halloween as children. It was the Devil’s holiday – only ghouls and demons came out to enjoy such a dark, evil day in October. But for as evil and menacing as it may have been, somehow all the other kids in the neighborhood came back with pillow cases stuffed with candy, not some American Horror Story demonic possession. So when I finally got to celebrate Halloween for the first time, I was 21 years old. I think UMBC saw about four costumes that first year from me in 2005, two new costumes and a couple of re-creations the next year, I handed out candy to small kids in another outfit the next year at my nana’s house, then moved to Boston and bought another costume, got a sweet job at Del Frisco’s and bought another two costumes before finally purchasing my very last costume: Bridget’s Peachick Halloween Costume.

Absolutely stunning!

Absolutely stunning!

Yea, pretty flipping’ amazing. I wore the costume out to a holiday bash in Boston in 2012. No one, I mean NO ONE had the same costume as me! Everyone was still doing the Black Swan thing. But as luck would have it, I’m not in college anymore and I’m not running around flashing these types of legs much any more either. So, I decided to sell my Peachick outfit on eBay. I had sold several costume on eBay a couple of years ago – a cop outfit and a little Bo Peep costume too. I’d never had an issue. So I put little Miss Bridgette Peachick up on ebay around the first of October to see how I would fair. It’s always so much fun seeing how many people are viewing or watching your item! I had paid $179 for this costume in 2012 and it was still in pristine condition. You wear it once a year, what could go wrong? I had supplied the ad with this photo as well as my own personal photos which showed the illustrious tale, the lovely blue corset, and the glimmering skirt. Everything was in fantastic condition so I asked for $139.99 for the Peachick. I figured this was a fair price and would hopefully notate to potential buyers that I had every intention of finding my beloved costume a suitable home. I wrapped everything very carefully in plastic-wrap to ensure the peacock feathers on the skirt didn’t bend, folded up the corset, and placed everything on top of the tail inside the original packaging. She was ready for a new home!

Then the big day came! Someone in San Diego, CA had purchased my costume! The purchase came after the peachick had been online maybe five days or so. I felt like I should have asked for more money… I mailed the item out Priority Mail 2-Day delivery, complete with tracking number and an ETA of Oct 16th. I always include an invoice with my sales and I emailed the buyer, a girl named Sarah D, to let her know the package was on its way!

Tracking number, date of shipment, address, oh look I even bought stamps...

Tracking number, date of shipment, address, oh look I even bought stamps…

The funds Sarah sent me were set to release on Oct 20th, if I remember correctly, so when I didn’t hear from her or see the funds in my PayPal account, I emailed her to double-check she received my package. Didn’t hear anything back, but she did release the funds. Yippee! I had $139.99 plus shipping in my PayPal account. I was sad to see my lovely costume go, but someone ought to wear it!

Then a funny thing happened. I was getting ready to go out to dinner with Jason on Oct 31th instead of romping around at a Halloween party when I received a message from smd619 via eBay. I opened the email to find this: Sarah was trying to return my costume after receiving it on the 18th, claiming the corset was ripped at the seams when she received the garment!!?? The email from eBay stated I would have until Nov 4th to respond to her claim. This meant she would have five additional days to wear and return the costume OR and more likely, I suspect Sarah wore my costume, ruined it because she didn’t fit the corset/had a wild night at a Halloween party and was trying to return the costume as though I had sent her a faulty product!

Such a beautiful tail!

Such a beautiful tail!

Ladies, what happens when you buy a costume? Do you wait FIFTEEN DAYS before trying it on? No. You rush home and immediately upon on your costume and dance around your room. I was dumbfounded. She knew I did not accept returns as it clearly stated in my seller’s agreement but she was trying to put off that I shipped her damaged merchandise. I didn’t know what to do! I was literally terrified this issue would put me into bad standing with eBay and PayPal. I’ve been selling with eBay off and on since 2009 and I’d never had a problem. In my panic, I pushed “accept return” and immediately Sarah was refunded the money from my PayPal account. But not before I sent back a response to this cheap skate:

What the shit? On Halloween Eve no less...

What the shit? On Halloween Eve no less…

The damage was done however, I couldn’t think of anything else that evening. This bitch had purchased my costume with the intention of never keeping it. What’s the one rule about purchasing a costume from a Halloween store? There are no returns. Ever. It doesn’t matter how much you belly ache. You ain’t gettin’ a return. I couldn’t believe my misfortune. I was hesitant to even sell my beautiful Peachick costume in the first place, now I have homegirl trying to return the costume AFTER Halloween. She thoughtfully crafted this email response back to me moments later:

Very witty.

Very witty.

Since the mature part of the evening was over, I decided to call eBay the very next morning to see what could be done. I mean the MOMENT that I woke up on Nov 1st, I was on the phone with these people. Clearly this wouldn’t stand, right? After being on hold for only 7 minutes, I spoke with a woman at length about this matter. She said there were MANY cases like this happening over the last couple of days and that I needed to wait until Nov 4th to escalate the case. Apparently since Sarah had requested a return and in my nerve and I accepted without correctly processing the issue, we had to wait until Nov 4th for the return to start. An arbitrary date, but whatever. I didn’t respond to Sarah. I was dealing with a scam artist. You can’t reason with people like her who are set out to abuse innocent sellers on eBay.

November 4th came around and I again called eBay. This time I was not as successful. I could not for the life of me understand a word coming out of the customer service rep’s mouth. I asked for a manager and waited on hold for over 30 minutes. When I finally got a manager, he said that since I had initiated the return, I couldn’t do anything further and I had to accept the return. I told him over and over again that the buyer was abusing the return policy by returning a costume AFTER the holiday. He couldn’t grasp what I was saying at all. He kept saying “well, your buyer? he wants to return the item since it’s damaged.” The buyer is a SHE, idiot, it said her full name right on the transition page! I decided to try again with hopefully a woman customer service rep. Then this happened:

womp womp

womp womp

Since I had accidentally started the return process due to my nerve and fear about being in bad standing with eBay, Sarah was waiting for me to PAY her to ship my damaged merchandise back to me. I once again got on the phone with eBay to wait another 25 minutes before yet another female rep told me to not provide this buyer with any information and to wait until the buyer escalates the case. Bottom line, no one at eBay agreed with what the previous six people had told me. My first customer service rep told me on Nov 1st that Sarah couldn’t return the item to me after Halloween and after owning the item for over two weeks, then the man who was confused about pronouns told me I had to accept the return, and NOW this rep said I shouldn’t do anything and I should just wait for Sarah to report me as a seller. All the while, my PayPal account sits in the negative. Thanks… I responded to Sarah as professionally as possible. I still can’t believe I didn’t start swearing at her but every time I was on the phone with eBay, the rep would say “let me check your notes and communication”, so I didn’t want to be the ass who had prissy, spoiled-rotten blonde roommate tone… like Sarah did.

I don't wish her well...

I don’t wish her well…

So she escalated the case and I was alerted that eBay had reviewed our claims and… sided with Sarah. Sided with a bitch who was trying to return a costume after Halloween which she had owned since Oct 18th. Simply amazing. I called yet again to advocate for myself and my selling reputation as Ms Sarah had threatened to leave a bad review about me. Once again, I received advice from the eBay customer service rep completely contrary to everything else I’d been told! This rep told me that since the case had been decided in Sarah’s favor, she would need to ship the item back to me herself. I would wait for a tracking number and then issue a refund. Under no circumstance should I refund the buyer prior to receiving a USPS tracking number – the rep was very happy to have that information for me and repeated it constantly as if every time he did, somehow my situation got better. And if she didn’t provide me with a tracking number, I asked, what then?

“The um, the buyer has seven days to provide, uh, provide you with the tracking number or the case is closed automatically,” the customer service rep stammered. How does it close automatically? It would close in my favor, he assured me. If the buyer does not provide a tracking number within seven days, eBay protects its sellers and closes the case automatically.

Okay. So I waited for seven days to pass.

And they did. No tracking number. I called eBay and again waited on hold for over 30 minutes. This customer service rep happily told me the case was closed due to the buyer neglecting to provide a tracking number and I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. Woo hoo! Sarah was too stupid to send me the costume back! Or decided not to be a bitch and kept the costume that she had ripped apart in the first place.

Then Nov 24th came around. Mind you, I have now been on the phone with eBay nearly twice a week trying to sort out Sarah’s disgusting behavior. November 24th comes around and what is sitting on my parents’ stoop? mail

I haven’t lived at the Thorpe St address in four years! I updated my billing and mailing address a while ago. The only way she would have gotten this incorrect address as opposed to, oh I don’t know, the one on the box I originally shipped to her or from the invoice I sent her with my current information on it, she would have had to look through previous sales I’ve made and chose to mail my beloved costume across the country which would hopefully buy her time within that seven-day window so she could claim she returned the item on time! I looked on PayPal immediately and sure enough, they had returned her the money and I was in the red again.

The kicker though? Sarah kept the tail. She didn’t even return the whole costume. That whore kept the peacock tail for herself, expecting an entire refund. Guess what I did next?? Yup, called eBay to report smd619 for sending me a damaged costume and for keeping the very best part of it: the Tail! I can’t even take a picture for you all to see what was in the package, it’s just so disgusting. The costume was completely destroyed. The corset wasn’t just ripped, it was in shreds. The skirt and its lovely feathers were crooked and bent. Then of course, the illustrious tail was just gone. I spent the better part of my Monday afternoon on hold with eBay. When I finally connected with someone, I was very stern and emotional about what had happened – how as a seller, I was completely taken advantage of by this buyer. Thank God I had a woman customer service rep. At first, she said there was nothing they could do but removed Sarah’s bad comment about me that she apparently left. I didn’t see it, eBay took everything down. I told the customer service woman that it was entirely unacceptable that as a seller who typically doesn’t accept returns to make an exception only to have half the costume returned and in unusable form?! A customer can’t do that at a department store, they shouldn’t be able to do it with eBay either. Again I waited on hold as she advocated for me with her management. Finally, the woman came back.

“Um, Laura, we have decided to extend to you, um, a courtesy credit since the buyer did not return the whole item to you. We will refund the money to your PayPal and remove the comments from this buyer,” she explained.

You can't go to a department store and return half of an original good - you shouldn't be able to on eBay either!

You can’t go to a department store and return half of an original good – you shouldn’t be able to on eBay either!

“That’s all well and good but this woman stole from me! I can’t do anything with this costume and more! I can’t sell it, I can’t wear it, I expect some compensation from her. She’s a thief. And eBay, as a facilitator of trade, needs to hold her accountable,” I explained. The woman said they would investigate the buyer and I hope they do since they’re paying me back for her theft.

Sent on Oct 14th, received Oct 19th. Returned by Nov 24th. You do the math - eBay can't...

Sent on Oct 14th, received Oct 19th. Returned by Nov 24th. You do the math – eBay can’t…

I gotta say though, I’m done selling on eBay. The fact that they sided with Sarah after she tried to return my costume, alleging I sent her a ripped costume is astounding. Any ounce of common sense would led one to think, huh, this girl in San Diego is a conniving bitch who is having buyer’s remorse after she ruined a really beautiful, expensive costume… I don’t know what sorts of barriers prevented natural common sense from shortening my negative experience and angst with this buyer, but bottom line? Sarah got away with it. EBay is doing the right thing by eating the cost but I do truly hope they go after her; I doubt they will.

Lesson learned – I’m never selling on eBay again. The customer service people don’t agree with one another, scam artists are able to take advance of good people and bottom line, I have a torn up, half costume that I can’t use or ever want to see again. Don’t be me. Don’t sell to smd619.

2008 Knights Bridge Cab

June 7, 2014

For my 30th birthday, I wanted to open something special. Naturally. While my wine collection consists of barely 20 bottles, I can reflect upon where and why I acquired each of them. In my opinion, this shows the quality of a collection. I may never have a 20,000+ bottle cellar, but I do have gems that are priceless to me. Of such was one 2008 Knights Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon.

In 2012, I was working the floor one afternoon at Del Frisco’s. It was a Sunday but we were crushing it! I’d received a $50-bill-handshake, several tables were financially on board for magnums and I believe there was a 3-liter of Cain Five on table 50. We were rocking our previous 2011 numbers, so I took a moment to stop selling and enjoy the room.

I’ve never seen a venue equal to that of my former employer, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Right on the waterfront in the Boston Seaport, no other steak house in Massachusetts could touch our numbers or service. The amount of money spent on raising up the pillars and glass walls was only matched by the exorbitant size of the checks signed each and every night. The dining room was one enormous entertaining stage; dinner and a show I always said. The hum of the guests, the bustle of the servers, the click of stilettos and the gaff-ah of buzzed businessmen created an unforgettable soundtrack. And it was on a night such as this when I met Jim Bailey.

At table 62, right along side the massive windows which pushed your gaze out to the harbor, sat a well-dressed elderly gentleman. He was alone but with him, he carried a small dark business bag. My evening was going so well –  I couldn’t help but take a moment to greet this single guest. I walked up to introduce myself and perhaps offer some assistance with our 32-page wine list. He offered his name back as well:

“My name is Jim Bailey,” he stated and extended his hand. We shook out a greeting and got to talking about wines. Jim told me he made wine. To be frank, I heard this all the time. Everyone and their mother makes wine. Not everyone and their mother makes good wine! I faned interest until Jim told me where he made wine.

“I have a winery in Knights Valley called Knights Bridge,” Jim Bailey told me. “My vineyards are about a football throw’s away from Peter Michael.”

That’s Sir Peter Michael. Yes, he has been knighted. How befitting that he should have settled in Knights Valley and revolutionized the AVA which shares territory between Napa and Sonoma. Peter Michael is a titan in the world of wine. After starting his vineyards in 1982, he quickly rose to the top of his class by crafting some of the most coveted wine in Sonoma before venturing over the Mayacamas to Napa. Peter Michael spares no expense creating his wines and bottles sit on wine lists between $330-$500 a pop. He practices biodynamic and sustainable farming; hand crafting in my opinion some of the most memorable Bordeaux style blends. Name dropping typically doesn’t impress me, but this caught me off guard. Also: You can’t just BUY property in Knights Valley. It’s beyond expensive and as allocated as DRC. It’s something you’re essentially born into like royalty.

Jim went on to talk about his Cabernet Sauvignon project and how he’d been working the AVA since 2006. While I’ve never been to Sonoma, I distinctly remember a photo in my Jancis Robinson wine book which shows a glorious photo of Knights Valley. There’s this massive tree, hanging heavy with age and from the moss grasping the branches. The tree is in the forefront of the photo but behind it is a large vineyard, bathed in the sunlight. The tree is lit up with sunbeams shining through the long, dangling branches and the trunk is knotted and craggy. For me, this was Knights Valley. For me, this was where Jim kept his grounds: Knights Bridge Winery.

“I happen to have two bottles here for you,” he reached into his business bag and brought out two dark bottles with pristine medieval labels. I stared at the gift: 2008 Knights Bridge To Kalon Cabernet and the 2008 Knight Valley Cabernet.

“Thank you so much, I’m not familiar with Knights Bridge,” I admitted. Jim and I spoke about this wine project he and his business partner, Tim Carl, had started in ’06 and cultivated over the years with sustainable means. Both men were Harvard legends who caught the wine bug hard. And one of them was sitting at table 62.

I brought the wine onto my Del Frisco’s wine list immediately from one of my distributors, Carolina Fine Wines through Martignetti. This was what wine was all about: Relationships. Who walks into a steakhouse to eat dinner and makes a placement? It was serendipitous.

2009 Knights Bridge Release Party

2009 Knights Bridge Release Party

Jim Bailey became my friend. He invited me to the release of the 2009 Knights Bridge, complete with the new vintage of Chardonnay and their Pont du Chevalier Sauvignon Blanc. Jim’s house was like a chateau in the middle of Cambridge, MA. The grounds were groomed to perfection with a reflection pool in the middle of the yard, surrounded by tables of wine, gorgeous flower beds and lavishly dressed guests. Further into the yard, stood a massive gold statue of some Greek deity. The entire event took my breath away. I was in love with Knights Bridge.

I left Del Frisco’s and joined Martignetti – I started selling Jim’s wine in a different manner, but still with a proud smile on my face. I apologized to no one for the price. If you had to ask how much it was…. well. The wines performed for me at accounts like Cirace’s in the North End and I received another invitation to the vintage release of Knights Bridge. The 2010 vintage party out did the 2009 party – being on the Bailey grounds made me feel like I was a part of something so much more incredible than simply selling grapes and water. I was proud of his wine; I was proud to have them in my portfolio. It made me remember why I loved wine.

image

2008 Knights Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon

So I turned 30 this year while living in Seattle.  I moved back to my birth state about two months ago with a job and my family waiting. At first, I had reasoned to turn 29 again since my last birthday was very difficult for a mirage of reasons. However, since I’ve been home, I’ve started seeing someone and I feel hopeful and happy again. I wanted to pop open something special to commemorate my birth year. While I pondered over my small collection, my eyes fell to the 2008 Knights Bridge and I remembered Jim Bailey. I remembered being happy at work and venturing over to introduce myself to table 62. I remembered him giving me the two bottles and hearing about his amazing winery. I remembered feeling like royalty at his vintage parties and I remembered selling the wine table side and then to accounts with Martignetti. Just looking at the bottle made me feel happy all over again. So I selected the 2008 Knights Bridge for my birthday dinner.

And I was once again, happy.

 

Eat, Pray, Seattle

December 14, 2012
Surprise, I'm home!

Surprise, I’m home!

Andrea turned 21 last week. As the oldest of four children, I have deemed it my unescapable duty as the eldest to properly ring in every sibling on their most anticipated birthday. I’ve flown to Florida to weather a hurricane and stalled out cars in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed the rains of Washington to celebrate with my brothers and now, it was Andrea’s turn. The trip started off simply enough. But as Day One of Four progressed, the trip morphed into not only a celebration of life but a serious celebration of wonderful food.

This is real life.

This is real life.

It started with the grande soy creme brulee latte from the Starbucks at Chicago O’Hare, the worst fucking airport in the world. If you are a cheap bastard (and I can be), you will fly thru this airport. I arrived from Boston with what I imagined was ample time to get a holiday latte before my flight. I had been up since 4am with a slue of family awaiting me in Seattle; therefore, I could NOT be groggy. I waited in line to order and receive my drink before hustling down the long walk-away all the way from the N gate to the H gate. I arrived literally as they were calling “Lora Doofy”.sazrak

“Oh, that’s me. I’m Laura Duffy,” I corrected the stupid flight attendent. I cleared through with my THREE bags (limit one with a personal item) and settled into my seat for the 3.75 hour ride. Mom and Dad picked me up in Seattle and brought the sunshine with them. The day was so clear that flying in I could see the Four Peaks: Rainer, Hood, St. Helens and Baker. It was absolutely breath-taking. Don’t see that in Massachusetts… ever. Mom and I wrecked the day with a trip to Nordstrom and a lunch date at Sazerak. The trendy speak-easy had the most eclectic assortment of small plates and we just were too hard-pressed to choose; so we got one of everything! We munched on dates with cheese wrapped in bacon, lightly salted Jordan almonds, wild mushrooms, a trio of cheese, a light apple and walnut salad while sipping on some of the restaurant’s signature drinks. Amazing.

Cheers with Dad

Cheers with Dad

Dad and I had a father-daughter day the next morning in Kirkland. I love Kirkland. We went to Trelis, a lovely restaurant inside a hotel that my dad was a part of creating. They serve brunch every morning till 1030am, so after Pops and I went for a run around Lake Larson, we set out to sample some breakfast treats. The place was dect out in holiday garb and while we were the only guests in the restaurant, Trelis was a complete success! I ordered eggs Benedict. Shocking. It’s what I always get whenever I go out for brunch. Unless of course I’m at Trina’s. When I’m there, it’s a bagel egg sandwich with a bean patty and Fernet with Tony. Anyway, the food was scrumpcious! With a cup of joe and a mimosa at my beckoned call, Dad and I gabbed about motorcycle trips, my girls’ weekend I’d recently had with work ladies

Me love cookie.

Me love cookie.

and talked about my boyfriend. The nom’ing didn’t stop there. Dad and I trekked down to Wine World in Bellevue to pick up something for dinner and bought a gourmet designer cookie as well – though we were still stuffed from brunch! I selected a snowflake cookie. It was so beautiful and perfect, I almost couldn’t eat it. But guess what happened…

Andrea claimed me for the rest of the day. After Dady and I were through shopping and eating, Andrea and I took him back to work in Seattle and ventured down into Seattle for some quality time at Pike Place Market. This is by far my favorite place to shop and eat. Sure, the things aren’t high fashion or 5-star michellen rated, but the smells and color sights make up for anything

Get me some!

Get me some!

that Yelp might bitch about. We walked around and bought flowers and painting, saw fish flying around, and took a picture for the PPM piggy. There was even an old school toy store where I found the Breyer horse figurines that I’d always wanted as a kiddo. They were always so pricey… good to see that some things never change! After grabbing a coffee at the original Starbucks, we drove in a search for the Space Needle. Where was it??? It’s not on 2nd… it’s not on Mercer… But lo, we found it near 4th and Broad St!!! So exciting, you can almost touch it! Annie B and I grabbed nibble at Tilikum Place Cafe and enjoyed a spice bean soup and split pea soup with pulled ham. They were almost closing for their hour break in between lunch and dinner but the wonderful server let us in anyways to enjoy our girls’ day out. Andrea went through my phone looking for pictures of our brother and his new finance.

Seattle Sippin'

Seattle Sippin’

I just kept sipping my French 75 and slurping on my pea soup. We called it a day shortly after and headed home to help Mom with dinner. As if we needed to eat more…

Good home cookin'

Good home cookin’

Mom wanted to go for a swim when she got back home from work. Mom is a very little lady, so we must keep her that way and allow for swim time. Therefore, I volunteered to cook up the salmon and corn she craved. The recipe was simple enough: salmon steaks with flour, parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste flash fried on either side and served with black berries in a raspberry vinegar. Dad and I had the football game on and I was sipping Col Solera’s grappa in a mug so no one would know. Very naughty. I forgot I bought the eau de vie in April. It was as potent as the day it was distilled. Dad and I bought two pinots to match with the salmon, one from Willamette and the other from Santa Barbera. They were okay, I naturally prefered the Willamette-dammit bottle of Pinot although I completely forgot the name like an idiot. It was bottle I first met while working at The Purple Tooth… (thanks Dad, it’s the Benton Lane 2010 Pinot Noir).

The last full day I was in Washington started off raining. I know, it was shocking to me as well. I spent the morning with Andrea and Carter Bear while we awaited Annie’s bus to work. Upon her departure, I prepared for my day of eating the best way I knew how: with a run. I jogged around Lake Larson without ear buds or any music at all. Washington air smells so wet and fresh that I am positively convinced if green had a smell other than pine or mint, it would be Washington air. The sounds and scent of damp forestry kept me going throughout my whole run and the light rain didn’t distract me one bit. I took Bear out for a quick poo when I came home and even though he’s ancient (10 years old for a Berner is nearly unheard of), he looped alone and smiled a doggy wet grin throughout the whole .3 mile jog. He’s a good pupper!  

After locking up the house, I ventured back

Slip and Fall into Kirkland

Slip and Fall into Kirkland

down to Kirkland for a coffee and a burger. I went to Tully’s where I used to work for a nostalgic coffee but after waiting for some barista to come to the register to take my order, I left disgruntled and surrender yet again to Starbucks. Doppio compana, if you please. The girl behind the register had no idea what I was asking for but the gal on the bar knew. Thank god. I sipped on my piping bevy and walked to The Slip. The Slip is a burger joint where I would work in the summers during college. Every staff member learns to do everything there from hostessing to waiting tables and even grilling. I make a mean burger, bitches. My old haunt still featured my favorite burger of all times: the Peanut Butter Bacon burger. Serious guilty pleasure to be sure! I ordered that immediately and sipped on another favorite, the Slip’n’Fall. It’s made with gin, rum, vodka and triple sec with a splash of grenadine. Good night. Oh, and I had two. The juice burger dribbled down my chin and the side salad did nothing to make me feel better about myself. Whatever. It was simply amazing. I chatted with the staff and stared at old photos from past Slip cast members. What a Kirkland gem!

Yogurt with Andrea

Yogurt with Andrea

I had made Andrea a solemn promise that I would visit her at Skinny D’s, a yogurt shop that my Aunt Regina owns. My aunt developed a similar concept in the 80’s and I can still remember going to her shop with my brother, David, and smelling the waffle cones fresh from the griddle. Aunt Regina would watch us sometimes and we’d always hafta finish our soup before she would give us a yogurt. Fortunately, I make my own decisions now and I’ll have yogurt whenever I want, thank you! Skinny D’s is a great place filled with homemade decor like purple and green hand-painted glass on the walls and a plethora of savory yogurt choices! I always fill my cup with Taro, a yogurt based on a forest root. Andrea was there waiting for me when I finally bumbled in around 2pm. We nabbed a Starbucks across the street before coming back over to her work to check the place

Yes I will have a latte and yogurt!

Yes I will have a latte and yogurt!

out. Skinny D’s has the warmest feeling to it, you can’t help but eat everything! There are little tasting cups for when you can’t decide which yogurt is best… or if you just wanna keep eating. Andrea showed me the new computerized gadget that Reggie installed and we sat at a sequins encrusted table to lap up our yogurt. I put a little bit of fruit over the top of my treat just to make myself feel better but ruined my attempt at health when I saw the frosted animal cookies. Oops. Taro yogurt almost has this sweet purple-esque green tea flavor to it. For being some type of root, Taro really is delicious!

I took my leave shortly after we finished our yogurt so that Annie could get back to work and I could go bother my parents are their respective places of employment and snag a wax from my girl, Becca, who was guest starring as a high-demand estetisian at the Aveda salon, Habitude, in Ballard all the way from Boston. Crazy that we were in the same town at the same time!

My wonderful family

My wonderful family

After giving Carter Bear way too many human food treats when I finally returned home from my very full day of adventures, I surrendered to packing up to leave for Boston. I completely decimated the room I was given like a ticking clothing time bomb gone baserk. To make amends, I put thoughtful notes all over Mom’s room and in her things. She has the best make up ever. After playing dress up with Andrea, we were finally ready to head over to my Aunt Reggie’s house for a birthday party where some serious munching was a promised activity. It’s funny how the memory works even after a nearly a decade. I haven’t been to Aunt Regina’s house in years but I knew how to get there. Over the mountain and through the woods to Bothell we go! Reggie’s house was lit up like a Christmas tree and the interior was even more surprising. A Victorian tree, twinkling lights, candles, green garland and glittering ornaments accompanied homemade hor dourves and dessert goodies. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. My nanny and pop were there from the East with Aunt Kerry and

Caramel turtles, chocolate crinkles and peaunut butter drops!

Caramel turtles, chocolate crinkles and peaunut butter drops!

Aunt La La. All the West coast family was there too along with 20 other good friends of Regina’s. The spread was incredible! Cheese trays, quiche offerings, a goat cheese-stuffed meat roll, fresh roll and cold cut fixin’s. And that was just one room. The kitchen had egg rolls with a savory sweet and hot dip, white and red wine with soft drinks and on the kitchen table where delicable dessert treats! Pecan bars, rice crispy peanut butter drops, chocolate crinkles and caramel turtles. Then for the cake portion of the evening, the Skinny D’s girls made several yogurt cakes! You can’t make this up, people, everything was simply amazing.

I can’t believe how much family time I was able to clock in during this trip. Seeing my East coast family while on the West was just incredible. I didn’t mean to not see anyone else but my kin, I was just to selfish for time with my mom and my family. The dining treats were definitely an added bonus and made the trip all the more memorable, but being a part of my sister’s 21st birthday was irreplaceable. How do you put a price on a memory? The moment your sister tried

I love you all!!

I love you all!!

Prosecco for the first time. Drinking a beer with your dad on the couch. Snuggling your mama at 2am before your 4am flight home. The potentially last precious time you get to pet your aging dog. For everything else there is MasterCard.

This was priceless.

Fantasy THIS.

September 5, 2012

Yes I will ring in the end of summer with a mimosa, a run around the Charles and a fit of fantasy football. My day off started similar enough to the rest: Do I go to the gym? Do I go to Trina’s Starlight Lounge for industry brunch? Is there a new Real Housewives of New Jersey in my TiVo que? A drafting session with my brothers and cousins was tentatively scheduled for mid-evening, so I had no qualms with starting my day off with a little mid-day drinking… at 1pm. Hey, it’s Labor Day (and a Monday), why wouldn’t you enjoy a beverage? And for cryin’ outloud, it’s the first drafting day of fantasy football – everyone should be in the proper spirit.

So I went to a Labor Day party. I instructed Andrew to bring over his laptop so that I could have my Iphone, my friend’s computer and also Andrew’s computer for my fantasy maddness. My strategy was simple yet sound: Pick the guy with the coolest hair, the newest smelling jersey and when in doubt; default to the Ravens or Pats. Since I live in Boston, I found the nod to the Pats to be appropriate. As for the Ravens default… well, they fuckin’ kill people so…

I showed up to Mark and Kathleen’s casa all set with warm M&M cookies and Cliff Lede sauv blanc, ready to get down on fantasy foot ball in style! Daniel call me to confirm that yes indeed, the draft would be starting at 9:30pm eastern time. I had about three hours to consume adult beverages, sample the delectable food that Chef Mark of Stoddard’s had whipped up and of course, gear up my three inter-web devises for the draft. Surrounded by chow and electronics, I would be an unstoppable force capable of massive ass kicking.

Chowin’ down prior to my draft with Andrew

Enter serious issues. I couldn’t get my Iphone to register my team name on ESPN because the usual pop-ups that go hand in hand with a sports website were boggling down my phone’s system. Plus a million other douche bags had the exact same idea I was currently trying to enact: Set up kinda early and drink for three hours. FML. I switched from my phone over to Mark’s computer but it had about 1.5 million programs running so you can imaging the cheetah-like speed that I was getting. Wrong. I started to absolutely lose my shit. I was yelling at Tony to fix it, he was yelling at me that I wasn’t drinking my Fernet shot, Mark was yelling that I needed my shock collar on again and I added wild hand waving to the equation just to be spicy. Fortunately, when Andrew showed up, he brought in his computer and I took off right away attempting to log into the guest network on a clutter free device.

Pink Drink with Tony

Except the guest network was overloaded with the party’s guest Iphones, Mark’s computer and now Andrew’s computer, so who couldn’t fit on the Internet? This guy. I was literally losing my mind. Tony wasn’t sure why I suddenly liked football and with all the guacamole around me, I wasn’t sure either. Just kidding. I had both my brothers, several cousins and it was rumored that Dad was playing too, all on the line counting on me to be that seventh useless player. C’mon, with all that at stake, you’d kill yourself for a computer too! So with my reputation and good name on the line, I left the party with Andrew on the good faith that I would indeed return after my draft to finish my shot of Fernet with Tony and continue to partake in the guacamole.

Andrew and I raced home to log on with three computers: My mini, his Apple and um… the somm’s computer that may or may not have just happened to fall into my bag before I left on Sunday 😀 Jen was home and we quickly set up a small operation’s table in the living room. I looked for sports paraphernalia to wear and I couldn’t find a damn thing, so I use the only thing I could get my hands on: a Husky’s hat. (thinking back on it now, I do have a Seahawks jersey upstairs. Stupid.) I figured out my log on, changed my name to Boston-kickin’urA$$ and got ready to draft.

Small problem: I didn’t know where the drafting options were, how I could select anyone and oh my f*ck, I just had my very first QB pick washed away to default!!!! I called Daniel and started screaming, “What the f*ck is going on!?!?! why couldn’t I pick my own quarter back!?!?” The explanation was simple and logical: You select a play and push – wait for it – select player. I know. Science unfolding.

I waited with baited breath for my turn while Jen and Andrew checked stats and conferred with their own posse of people. Jen’s brother was offering advice, Andrew liked Texas and Ohio, I knew and wanted the Ravens and on my f*ck, Dad just took Tom Brady.

I called him and started swearing. He put my sister on the phone instead. My baby sister! Who does that??? I hung up on her. I was literally throwing things around the room as player after player that I knew I wanted disappeared from my available roster. I snagged a couple of dudes that I wanted: Antonio Brown, Tony Romo. My first picks kept gettin’ ninja’ed though: Aaron Rodgers, Tom of course, Eli Manning. My family was so cut throat during this whole ordeal that I don’t think Christmases will ever be the same. I was screaming and calling everyone all the names I could think of as players continued to disappear from my screen. I called Daniel twice, David hung up on me, Dad never called me back and oh my god… DAD JUST TOOK THE RAVENS DEFENSIVE LINE!!!!

My own father took the team from the state of my college career. What is this? Penalty for going outta state? Out of state tuition pay back? Hey. We don’t all wanna be cougars.

Cheers… and shakey hand syndrome is a true ailment.

I learned a valuable lesson last night. Get your quarterback and immediately grab up your defensive line. Otherwise your father will and you’ll be fucked because lo, you’ll be playing him for the very first game of the season immediately after the draft like me. I hate my life. So, concluding the draft, I immediately put civilized clothes back on (I threw my shirt during the Ravens DL theft), and went back to the Labor Day party to continue to lubricate my woes. Best of luck this season everyone. God knows I’ll need it.

AA: Alcoholics Aloud

July 24, 2011

The ritzy city of Bellevue used to have a dingy old AA meeting site located on the shady side of 6th. The room was in a church(?) and reeked of cigarette smoke from addicts loosing one addiction only to take up another. I went once when I was 19 with a boyfriend – he was the one with the problem, trust me. Everyone sat in a circle, there was a piano off to the left and coffee to the right. The group went around and said their name with the anticipated, “… and I’m an alcoholic.” When it was my turn, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t drink, like I really DIDN’T drink. I was there because my stupid boyfriend had to go. He said his name “Bim Ellen and I’m an alcoholic”. Now I was next…. shit.

:a-hem!:

 Everyone stared at me and I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned to my left and gave a your-turn look to my alcoholic seat mate. The group collectively lamented about hurting loved ones, getting in trouble with the law, and stealing the most obscene items during blackouts. I struggled listening to how alcohol had killed people, ruined lives and cost some of them everything. A few cried, others sipped coffee and the majority sucked their cigarettes down to butts in seconds. They were safe here, and I felt like a spy.

The other day, I offered a guy a delicious drink at a party. We were surrounded by other party attendees on a sunny day in Boston with adult beverages a plenty! Upon my offer, instead of pleasantly saying no like a couple of others had, he said,

“I’m an alcoholic.”

I’ve heard people refuse booze during Sunday brunch because they drank too much the previous night and their excuse is a flubbed, “I’m an alcoholic” as a joke. I assumed this guy was one of those folks.

“That’s cool, I don’t judge,” I said with a smile and tried once again to hand him a beverage.

“I don’t care if you do judge me.”

:creek, creek, creek: We stared at each other and my rusty wheels started turning. Oh! You are a real alcoholic! Shoot… why not just politely say no then? What’s with the confession? Then I remembered my old ex-boyfriend and few other AA people I’ve interacted with recently. It’s like a painful, unexpected break up: YOU CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. The issue becomes everyone else’s problem to such a level that things quickly get uncomfortable – like my experience. When information is offered that you weren’t asking for or even pertained to you in the first place, what’s the right response?

Wine Riot 2009

“Oh, good for you!”…. “Oh, I’m sorry.”….. “Oh, that’s nice.”…. “Oh YEAH you are!” What!? I wish I knew the politically correct way to respond since this is clearly a part of their healing process. However, if a perfect stranger offers you something you know you shouldn’t have – say, another piece of cake – why assume it’s in their best interest to hear that you must refuse because you’re a diabetic or that you have a thyroid issue? It’s TMI but in such a way that I no longer know how to interact with you. I’ll feel embarrassed and all I was trying to do was be hospitable.

I’m not the only one who feels this way either. While I was waiting to get my hair cut last Thursday, I read IN VOGUE!! about a woman who was married to a recovering alcoholic and how AA became his new addiction. She lamented about the “alien spaceship” AA room where people talked about ruining lives and killing loved ones accidentally. It’s a complete society but once among the land of the living, sometimes the whole AA thing become like religion:

Beaujolais Nouveau Party 2010

Uncomfortable and unmerited.

“Well, I used to drink but I just spent way too much money on booze and now I look at people drinking and I really feel sorry for them.”

That’s SO weird because I just asked you where you like to eat dinner and not how you felt about social consumption… sorry I even opened my mouth.

It’s like the people who tell you to stay outta the sun; you’re bound to regret ____ someday! No shit. I’m allergic to the sun (it’s true). But that doesn’t stop me or my bestie from trying EVERY YEAR to find the new Sephora product that will save the day and make my skin less splotchy.

“Stay away from alcohol, because the court system says I have to,” is what should be said. Don’t place guilt on me as I offer you a beer because you’re miserable. And yes, wear sunscreen.

Protected: I hope she treats you well

May 27, 2011

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Can somebody spare a dollar? PLEASE!!!

May 1, 2011

Dad once came home from work and told us about a woman he and a coworker had encountered on the streets of Kirkland, WA. She was crying, pleading for $9 for a bus ticket. She only needed that $9 to see her sick son, I don’t remember where he lived. Dad’s coworker told her to get lost and snickered as the two of them walked off. Dad felt differently. He said she looked so sad and scared. I heard that story when I was about 7… I’m now 26 and I’ll never forget how I felt inside: Angry at the coworker, very sad for the poor woman, confused at how no one would help her.

Is this really what Seattle is known for?

 In the 1990s, Seattle used to scare the shit out of me because all over the city streets, bums would approach pedestrians and beg, they’d sit on curbs and stink, you’d hear them getting jeered by naughty college boys. I hated driving into Seattle on Sundays for our usual Science Center trips because we’d always pass a dirty bearded man with a “Please Help, God Bless” sign. Sometimes we’d give him money from our car windows, sometimes we’d drive by like everyone else. I still remember that feeling emanating from the pit of my stomach: hot and knotted, embarrassed for complaining about not getting an extra scoop of ice cream, grateful for my little twin bed.

Last summer, I was at my favorite coffee shop in Cambridge, sitting outside with my laptop. The breeze running through my hair felt fresh, I had a new dress on, and somebody close by was making their baby coo. Suddenly, from nowhere, a shrieking voice yelled,

“DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY MONEY AT ALL!? I NEED A NEW SHIRT!.. IT’S HOT AN’… AN’… THERE’S NO PLACE FOR THE HOMELESS ANYMORE!! …. PLEASE!… PLEASE!!”

His cries grew louder, he started sobbing in the middle of Cambridge on the common way. I stared at him like the other people who had been enjoying the sunny day until a moment ago. Finally, a man walked up to the pacing, upset young man and handed him what appeared to be a large bill.

“HOLY SHIT!!! THANKS MAN! YOU’RE AMAZING!!!… THAT MAN IS A SAINT!” He pointed at the man who was now walking away. The homeless youth sauntered off to hopefully buy a shirt with his winnings. I never thought of him again until last week.

The Boston city public transportation system is the hub for us lower tax bracket individuals to come and go without paying the ridiculous parking fees around our jobs. While many of us try to keep to ourselves, every now and then, we crash into one another by means of the trains jerking and breaking suddenly. Or, more figuratively by a common uncomfortable experience shared by a group waiting for a late train. Last week after leaving work, I opted to take the T home and save a little money. However, I’ve noticed what I save in money, I pay for through socially awkward experiences. On that particular night, I was waiting for a very late 1am train on the red line platform with ten other people when I heard a dreadful noise from behind me. Grotesque crying and moaning follow by a repetitious slapping shoe sound. I accidentally turned around to see a disheveled young man hobbling towards the platform with one boot in his hand and his right foot exposed. He was limping horribly and quickly, trying to reach the small crowd before the train took us away.

“DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY MONEY?! PLEASE! I NEED THREE MORE DOLLARS TO GET TO THE HOMELESS SHELTER!! PLEASE, MY FOOT IS INFECTED! I CAN’T BE OUTSIDE!”

He was sobbing and looking around at each of us. The man caught my eye and I immediately recognized him. He was the young man from Cambridge! The very same! I recognized his tone and sobbing pleases as well. Was he still homeless from the summer?

“COME ON! PLEASE, ANYBODY! I CAN’T GO TO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE THEY ONLY LET ME STAY AN HOUR, THEN THEY GIVE ME SOCKS BUT WHAT GOOD DOES THAT DO? PLEASE! I’M IN PAIN!….. COME ON!”

Sobbing and miserable, he laid down in the middle of the platform and cried out loud. A student approached him and gave him some money. The crying continued. I had no money at all, most people taking the T don’t have a ton of extra dough. But I felt nervous about what he might do if no one else gave him anything. Fortunately, I was saved by the approaching T and I left the crying man on that awful platform. Aboard the train, a couple of girls nervously laughed amongst themselves about the whole affair. I stared off, trying to regain some late night peace. The image of the crying man with his swollen foot didn’t leave me for a few days and sometimes when I was having a meal or laughing about something with friends, his image would reappear and ruin my attitude.

For Easter, Nick and I went to his family’s house in Princetown for dinner. Surrounded by sweet ham, homemade rolls and a savory salad, my boyfriend’s uncle and I lamented about having to utilized public transportation.

“You really encounter some crazies on the T, don’tcha?” He started. “Why, just last week I was on the T at Downtown Crossing when a man started screaming and cry on the train. He was saying something about his foot being infected.”

I was stunned. We both saw the same man! He was really making the rounds!

“He kept it up for a while and just as a buddy of mine reached into his wallet, a stranger yelled, “Don’t give him a fuckin’ thing! He’s been doing this act for the whole week! He’s faking!” And the weeping man shut up after that! He walked off the T at the next stop. You really can’t help anybody, they’re all actors,” the uncle concluded.

“Wait, he just walked away? No limping?” I asked.

I for one appreciate the honesty!

“Nothing, he walked away perfectly fine. He was acting,” claimed Nick’s uncle. I was annoyed…. and very angry. I had felt so badly for this “bum” with his plight seared into my brain for the past week but everything had been a sham. Who’s to say who’s a real bum and who’s an actor? Was the young man acting last summer in Cambridge too? He made some very compelling arguments if he truly was an actor.

Yesterday, I was shopping at the smaller Whole Foods in Cambridge when I was greeted by a man at the front door.

“Spare Change for the homeless. Remember us on your way out,” he said, holding up a newspaper advocating for the homeless and services for them. When I concluded my shopping (I was making bacon-wrapped scallops and sweet chili pork chops for dinner!), I started to drive off, passing the Spare Change man. But I stopped. I had just been paid, so why not give him a couple bucks? I got out of my car and gave him some money in exchange for the newspaper.

“Thanks hon, have a good day!” He smiled and I walked back to my car. As I drove off, I noticed the man pull out a BlackBerry phone and make a phone call. WTF. Wasn’t he homeless? Where did the nice phone come from? Maybe he was a writer for the paper? God, I hope so! It was just a little ridiculous to have someone begging for money with one breath and talking on a BlackBerry with the next breath. Which leads me to wonder, are all bums frauds? Actors and swindlers? How can you tell if you’re providing food for a homeless person or simply funding an actor’s ticket to California?

April has left me jaded towards beggars.

It’s the most wonderful time of year: Tax Season

January 26, 2011

For the year 2008, I was a teacher in Maryland and working part-time at a wine bar; I received nearly $1,200 back from my taxes. Pretty awesome, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I received only $88 back from my 2009 taxes! I worked at four places in Boston over the course of my first year here and I made significantly LESS money than I did in Maryland. But honestly, that wasn’t even the worst of it. The most challenging thing about filing my taxes was the actual filing process.

My “full-time” job was at a fine wine shop where I occasionally had to conduct cashier duties. Some of these duties included the dreadful sale of lotto. Lotto is an activity wherein shaking old people, local grocery store butchers and scraggly drunks try to win millions by spending their unemployment checks on pieces of paper. Members of the local government call it a “tax on the poor”, I call it a tax on the stupid. Anyway, one of the lotto frequenters was this elderly gentleman who looked like that crazy-eyed guy from Caddy Shack.

Just add about 50 lbs and here's our perpetrator!

He would frequently come in and talk about how his son would be perfect for me (although the kiddo was still in high school!) and how he had a great finance business, the usual. Well, it was time for me to do my taxes and I wanted to support the “little guy” instead of frequenting an H&R Block type of establishment. The elderly gentleman, we’ll call him Charles, kept talking to me from in front of the lotto machine – while scratching tickets – about how he would “give me a good deal” on my taxes. The kicker though was how he kept promising that he was a good guy and commenting on how the store manager knew him. What the hell does that mean? If I had any sense at all, I would have taken a hint from his money spending habits and crazy self-promotion. Honestly, I just wanted to get my taxes filed and put my money towards a trip to France. For some reason, I truly believed I would receive enough dough to travel! Dumb.

Charles and I met at a local Starbucks to speak about my tax situation. I thought it was odd that we didn’t meet at his office, but Charles said something about it “being easier to meet somewhere in the middle”. I worked two  minutes away from the Starbucks and he allegedly lived around the area. A bit confusing, no? Well, when we met at the coffee shop, Charles told me I would be receiving around $700 from my returns. Not enough to travel, but enough to pay off some debt and maaaaaybe buy a new pair of designer jeans! I gave up my tax stubs and Charles promised to be in touch. I held out my hand for a shake but HE KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK! This is when I started grossly regretting my decision to working with this ofe. How unprofessional! Shake my hand, you buffoon, I’m a working woman not a lunching lady.

My situation did not improve. Charles and I had agreed to discuss his findings over the phone and arrange for me to sign the necessary paperwork. However, for three days after our scheduled phone call, I could not for the life of me get a hold of the man! To be honest, I was scared. My private information, tax numbers and money was the hands of this lunatic and I had no idea where he was! I left several messages, emailed him and could think of nothing else. After nearly a week, I told the manager at my wine shop I was using Charles for tax services in the hopes that maybe he could help me reach Charles. Instead he said, “Oh no! Are you serious? That guy’s nuts.”

Great. I started to panic and had begun to think of creative ways in which to reach Charles, when he finally returned my phone call.

“Hey, Laura! Sorry, I’ve been really busy – enter some lame excuse -,” he stammered. I snapped at him. I told him I wanted to see him immediately and he needed to bring all my tax papers as I wanted to “look at them”. We agreed to meet at my place of business not only because it was convenient but because I didn’t want to be alone with the loon. He came into the shop the next day and tried to be sweet with me; I wasn’t having it.

“Did you bring my taxes?” I inquired, and walked from around the counter. No kisses this time, pal! When I saw that Charles had my file and I told him I was taking my business elsewhere. “I haven’t been able to get ahold of you for nearly a week and I don’t feel comfortable allowing you to handle my finances anymore.” I snatched the paper work out of his hands and thanked him for his time. He had drawn all over my legal documents with red, blue and green ink!

All over my taxes!

“Why did you do this?” I demanded. Charles fumbled out a response about just checking his math… all over legal documents!  Again, I thanked him for his time and told him I was taking my business elsewhere. Charles had a fit! “Well, you owe me for all the work I’ve done!”

“What work have you done? You’ve just colored on my tax documents and haven’t returned any of my phone calls!”

“W-well, I wrote down these notes,” he said, referencing a paper half-full of chicken scratch. Half of the notes were from him trying to figure out if I had insurance or not. “You’ll probably only get back a hundred bucks.”

I handed him back the rubbish and maintained a strong grip on the folder of my taxes. I then reminded him about how he had originally said I’d receive around seven hundred dollars. He denied EVER saying that but the damage was done, I was over Charles and his shenanigans.

“Fine! Well, I need to-to look in the file… to make sure I didn’t leave anything in there.” Fat chance, pal! I told Charles there was nothing more in my file for him and again, thanked him for his time. He bumbled out of the shop in a huff but I didn’t care, I had my documents back! I’m sad to say the lesson I learned was to watch who you trust with your finances. I honestly wanted to support a local business man but I nearly got dooped!

So, go to H&R Block, people, or if you can manage, complete your taxes online. I didn’t receive my $700, I didn’t even receive $100. After paying both the H&R person for his services and Taxachusetts for letting me live here, I came away with $88. Please, be wary of who you give you information out to; I learned this the hard way. Maybe you won’t.

$25 and a pair of Kate Spade booties

January 3, 2011

I flew to Seattle for a whirl wind Christmas. It was even more jam-packed with to-dos than my suitcase! My best friend, Kristin – who I didn’t even get a chance to see! – said this trip was probably my busiest, save one other trip a few years back. I don’t remember which time she was referring to but my god, this trip bit me in the ass. One possible reason why everything was such a cluster f*ck was I brought my boyfriend to Seattle with me. Trying to visit with my family that I see once a year and attempting to keep my honey entertained/comfortable as well proved to be something of yard sale: All over the place. However, Christmas Day this year was aaaaaawesome! I received everything I asked for and more, the key gift being a pair of perfect black Kate Spade boots with perfect red bows!

Would you like to go bare foot or wearing my boots?

I left Seattle only four days after arriving to battle the nasty N0r’eastern storm that was rocking the New England area and leaving hundreds of flights delayed or cancelled. To be honest, I shouldn’t have been leaving in the middle of a such a storm but I had to cut my trip in half to work. Whatever. So, my boyfriend and I drove back to the SeaTac to return our rental car, leaving behind a slew of fun things left undone. I had no idea that our adventures were far from over!

The estimated cost of the Dollar Rental car was $96 for four days. I have the confirmation code to prove it. The actual price we paid was $172. Taxes, they said, and literally stopped talking to me about it. End of discussion, get the F outta here. I always end up spending more than I anticipated when I travel but I didn’t mean for it to be on something so lame. Jeans or wine perhaps, not a stupid car.

Ma gave my $25 for travel money moments before I tried to keep my shit together when I bid my fam a dieu. I figured I’d just spend the cash on booze during our layover in Denver. After returning our lame and over-priced car, we made it to the airport ticket counter to throw our bags into someone else’s hands.

“Your bag is just at the limit,” scolded the ticket lady. “Next time, put the heaviest bag up first.” Apparently we ruined her system by putting Nick’s bag on the scale before mine. I am ashamed. We waded through the line of other tourists and visitors, sauntered through customs and finally made it to our gate. Fine, no incident. Our flight to Denver was short and cramped. Nick and I played Angry Birds on his Ipad and caught up on the zzz’s that we missed during our vacation. Whoever said that vay-cays were relaxing has never traveled with me!

We landed late in Denver and I barely had time to pee. We ran to our gate and I specifically remember commenting to Nick, ” I have no idea how old people would have made this connecting flight!” I had missed my seat position of A45 because our Seattle flight took its sweet time taking off and I didn’t get to pick the seat I wanted. Who cares right? Well, I hate babies so I need to make SURE they are nowhere near me or I start to kinda freak out and get anxiety whilst they scream and their mothers just stare at them. No joke, on one of my previous flights years ago, this stupid woman was just staring in dumbfounded wonder at her wailing infant. An older, wiser woman got out of her seat, walked over to the idiot and said,

“You need to walk your baby around and bounce it.”

I still had my $25 at this point and I found some suitable seat. I took my chances with the baby situation and put my carry on luggage above me. My carry ons included a large bag of shoes and a picture of Seattle that Mom and Dad had bought for my house. It was carefully packaged in a flat, large box so not to be dented. The box itself was a present wrapped neatly in green and gold wrapping paper and one little boy said, “I wonder what she got!” Legos… a PSP… thousand dollar bills. No, just a photo. So this old guy got on the plane and wanted the space where I just placed my present. Nevermind the open bins around and behind him, only my bin will do! He took my package out and tipped it over. Sure, we both knew that there’s a flat picture in the box but what if it couldn’t be tipped over!? Dick. So, he shoved his goofy bag into my bin and tried to shove my present back on top of his luggage.

“Easy does it,” he sighed. I get up, this dude is out of his mind. My present won’t fit! I help him turn my box around a bit. “This is mine,” I said with annoy. Whatever. Everything worked out and we took off. The plane landed in Boston and the place was covered from a heavy snowfall. Our bags, or rather, the Southwest Airlines people took their sweet ass time getting our luggage out of the plane and we left the terminal about an hour after landing. Not bad, you say? TRY FLYING FOR TEN HOURS THEN COME TALK TO ME. Nick wasn’t happy about my bag collection. I had four, he had one. Sorry. I have a vagina so I pack more stuff. Plus most of the gifts were in my bag! Aaaand most of the gifts came home in my bag too. We waited and waited for the Silver Line bus to come and get us. As we’re waiting, I’m standing with our bags and Nick is trying to see where the bus stop is. During this process, he discovered the lack of airport courtesy and slipped on a patch of ice that wasn’t salted. He cracked his head on a garbage can and started bleeding! Things went from shitty to shit storm. My honey is bleeding, the bus is late, it’s cold outside, I’m tired, where’s the damn bus, I keep hearing about how many bags I have, I’m sorry, I’m sad, it’s okay to be sad, we need to stop being mad, oh look! it’s the bus. Five bucks for the ride, fine! We went from the bus to the T and rode into Harvard Square to hail a cab. Big shocker, the taxi driver didn’t speak a lick of English and I’m tried not to worry. You all remember that story from The Metro about that psycho cabby who got made at his patrons and stole the girl before she could get out at her stop? Yea. Same guy, I’m sure. We somehow managed to get to our house and everything was just lost under a mountain of snow! I whipped out my $25 from Ma. Nick had to drag all my shit around with him, so I paid for the cab. The cost was $5 something and I asked for $13 back out of my $20. We pulled our bags out of the taxi trunk and stood in a foot of snow before our house. The next question was where are the cars? In Boston during a “snow emergency” the city tows everyone parked on the wrong side of the street (you have to be all-knowing to understand which side of the street!) and they make a pretty penny before lifting a finger to deal with the snow itself. Plows come out, make a mess and return to base. Nick and I were frightened that our cars would have been claimed by this nonsense. We prepared ourselves and peered down the road. BOTH CARS WERE ON THE GOOD SIDE OF THE ROAD! I was and still am amazed. I really thought Nick parked on the bad side of the road! It was incredible. God knows how much the towing fee AND storage fees would have been! Sheesh.

The next day I took the leftover $13 I had from Ma and went to Johnny’s Foodmaster. The place has wall to wall carpeting… don’t buy the produce! I bought the fixing for breakfast (and inevitably, some other random things too!) but upon return, I realized I didn’t get eggs! I’d just used all my money so I gathered up all our empty beer bottles and returned them for the deposit fee. $1.95, aaaaaaaalright! Now we have eggs.  After a hearty eggy breakfast, we set to the task of digging out the cars. Enter my awesome boots!

That's my car and Nick's behind it.

Previously, I was apprehensive about buying galoshes. I thought they were kinda dumb and made you look like a duck. The polka dot booties are simply dreadful. But after careful research, I sent Mom three different pairs that I deemed acceptable and had her pick one out for me. I could not have asked for a more opportune time to utilize my boots, hell, I wouldn’t have asked! Nearly two feet of snow mauled Boston and had to be shoveled away in order to life to continue. My boots received a thorough christening! It took Nick and me about two hours to not only dig our cars out but also to help our landlady shovel her drive way. That wasn’t my idea, it was Nick’s. She has a perfectly fine driveway where we should be allowed to park. She can’t drive anymore because she’s really old and choppy, so her car just chills in the driveway. If we had been allowed to leave our cars in her driveway while we were in Seattle, I would have totally been fine with shoveling. But that didn’t happen at all. We busted up our backs for charity. At least I had my Christmas boots though. And I made up a banging breakfast with my $25.

 Thanks, Mom!

Where ever you go, there you are!

December 8, 2010

I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid. The name was cool and it was the biggest word I knew at the time. When I was nine, I watched a show about volcanoes and the weird tunnels they sometimes leave and I suddenly changed my mind. Then in 2004 when Mount St Helens tried blowing up again, I drove down the state with some college buddies to join the mass of other lunatics to stare in wonder at the smoking monolith. Nothing happened. My feelings towards rocks didn’t change but I remember feeling amazed by the remaining devastation from the 1980 blow. Even though it was near 20 years later, certain plots of trees were still prostrate on one side of the national park.

Worst volcanic eruption in USA history

Anyway…I didn’t wake up one day and decide to try my hand at the wine business. My first sip of wine came – appropriately enough! – from my Nana’s refrigerator at her Issaquah, WA house when I was maybe 5 years old. Someone had left a half empty glass in the fridge and all that is yellow is apple juice so I had a sip. Not juice! I’ve worked in the service industry for over a decade… sadly dating myself a bit. I was working at Matt’s Rotisserie and Oyster Lounge when Sideways hit and ruined the reputation of perfectly good Merlot. When was a commodity to me, an extra charge on the bill and a bigger tip. I was 19 when I first saw the UC Davis flavor wheel in a tasting room at Chateau St. Michelle during a manditory staff training. I wasn’t allowed to taste a damn thing!”That’s fine, your nose will help you detect the wine’s flavor,” instructed the wine director. What the hell? Who says that to teenager? Years past, I left Washington. Had to get outta there. I attended college in Maryland. I met someone, got a “job offer” and moved to Boston, MA. Fast forward one year later: I’m near my Christmas tree on the couch in my Somerville apartment wondering what the hell I’m doing. My tree needs an angel or something.

Oh Christmas Tree!

I really want wine to be my profession but how I can’t help noticing that being a wine connoisseur is more of a hobby. The lucky few who successfully make the wine industry a career sparce and jaded, often just ending up at a liquor store. EW. Is that all there is? Well, I’ve been looking for part-time day employment within fields I focused upon in college: writing, technical communication, even light teaching. My girlfriend was encouraging and suggested that it’s sometimes hard to follow our passions and still meet our financial requirements. And how!

I’ve read too many wine books, worked a variety of odd wine jobs and sacrificed waaaay too much time with those who are dear to me for all of this to just turn out to be a hobby. I love wine. I love talking about it, drinking it and writing about it. Seriously, I dream in French labels and wine laws… I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH!

When I get my tax return back this year, I’m going to France. Massachusetts has removed over 24% from my paycheck  each week and if I can’t afford to go to Bordeaux, I’m gonna steal someone in the face. These are the things I think about regularly. Not “oh, will I get married?” …

Like I said, clay angels!

not “so and so doesn’t like me today!” not even “will I have kids?” – well, that’s kind of a lie – I think about buying a ticket to France, lying on my back in the Burgundy earth and making dirt angels! That’s how badly I want this. 

I can literally taste the dark clay in my mouth. My boyfriend repeatedly tells me if everything came easily, there would be nothing to work for in life. If tedious studying and working late nights as a server isn’t paying my dues, I’m not sure what is.  I don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer; I just want to give people the best wine experience that I can as a career. Where ever that is.