(finally) getting a resident parking permit
Cancer Vixen
watching Persepolis
listening to Kimya Dawson
trying weight training
making icebox cake
wearing long underwear
marveling at the pageantry of the State of the Union address


To Do

First day of a long weekend. Ahh. I'm really getting into the new year, finally getting around to a lot of things that have been on my to-do list forever.

Last week, I went to the dentist. It's been a year and half since my last visit. But when you change dentists, there always seems to be a long wait. I scheduled this appointment back in October.

The new dentist, Dr. S, is way different from Dr. C, my old one in New York. Dr. C's office hasn't changed much since he opened it, probably about 30 years ago now. He's always had the same faux wood paneling in the same little cube of an office building, the same pictures of Disney World mascots on the walls. The same orangey fluorescent tubes in the lighting fixtures overhead. The teal exam chairs may be from the 90s.

Dr. S's office is in a big old red house, the kind of house you might want to raise your children in. I mean, someday. It's bright and sunny inside, and the magazines are new. The x-ray machine takes digital images! A little cord runs from your mouth to the computer, and when the machine beeps, you can turn to the right and see huge, ghostly images of your teeth pop right up on the screen. Revolutionary!

Also, I went to the RMV this week to trade in my old license. It wasn't much different from getting a license at the DMV in New York--same long lines, same forms (basically)--except that they take two pictures of you here and let you decide which to keep. Last time I had my photo taken in New York, the woman behind the counter laughed. Also, the Mass RMV has a feature on its website to tell you how long the line is at each of its branches. Isn't that nice? I think I like this new state.


Snow Day

It happened! It actually happened. Wow. I don't think I've ever had a snow day from work before. We got tons of snow last night. I slept very fitfully, fretting (in that distorted, half-aware way one does when drifting from sleep to wakefulness in the wee hours) that the snow wouldn't come, that I would awake to rain and letdown. I kept thinking, "Is it too early to check the closing alerts? Yes, too early," but my body stayed on semi-alert all night.

I'm so glad I don't have to go out there to work. We'll clear the car off later, but for now, my to-do list looks like this: sit on the couch, knit, watch TV, think about lunch. As a kid, I dreaded snow days a little because I hated shoveling the driveway. My dad thought it was good exercise for us, so he refused to buy a snowblower. I never found the right combination of clothes that would prevent me from getting soaked by either snow or sweat. Now, I'm grateful that someone is paid to clear the front steps for us. Means I can stay in my pajamas and drink hot ginger lemonade.


Weather Channel: Low pressure develops off the Mid-Atlantic coast tonight and moves rapidly northeast off the New England coast Monday. Periods of heavy snow are anticipated through the morning hours before the system tapers off to snow showers and flurries for the afternoon and evening. Snow accumulations of 6-10 inches are forecast for much of New England.

Ooh, ooh, snow day! Please?


Fire Engine Red

We bought a fire extinguisher last weekend. Actually, two: one for the apartment and one for my car. This purchase makes me feel very much like a young professional. It's the kind of boring-but- responsible thing I would never have spent thirty bucks on in college.

There's actually already been a fire at our apartment. It happened less than a week after we moved in, back in 2006. See, in my old apartment, the compartment below the (electric) oven was a storage space, so I kept cutting boards and baking pans down there. When we moved to Cambridge, we put the plastic cutting boards right where they'd always gone--in that little drawer below the (gas) oven. Or, as Cambridge Oven likes to call it, the Broiler.

This wasn't a problem at first, because our pilot light was out. When we noticed that the oven wasn't working, we called the super and had him come light it. Unfortunately, I didn't watch him do this, so I didn't realize that he'd just lit a flame in my storage space. What I did notice was that he'd left the cutting boards, placements, and everything else that had been so neatly put away sprawled on the counter. So I bundled them up, tucked them into the broiler, and shut it up tight.

When the fire alarm started blaring, I ran to the kitchen and saw dark streams of smoke pouring from the vents behind the burners. Was I cooking something? I wondered. Pizza? I don't remember cooking pizza. (Oh, the mind.)

I peeked in the oven and saw big orange flames roaring in the broiler below. A few of the cutting boards had caught fire, and there was melted plastic everywhere.

As the 911 operator struggled to understand my address (there was a lot of background noise), I donned oven mitts, grabbed the burning/melting mess, threw it in the sink, and blasted it with cold water. Then I shook a whole box of salt out on the puddle of burning plastic that remained in the drawer, and ran around the apartment opening all the windows wide. When the fire department arrived, one guy said, "Wow, you really got this place aired out!"

Afterward, my friends came over and helped me clean up. It was the first time they'd been over, and I was disappointed with the circumstances. Destroyed in the fire were a cooling rack, three Isaac Mizrahi placemats, a french bread pan that I'd given Stephen for his birthday (sob), and a beloved Silpat (double sob). But. It could have been a lot worse. I mean, an oven is as good a place as most to have a fire, right? It's made to keep hot, hot things contained.

And now I've got a fire extinguisher! Which means it will never, ever happen again.


January Thaw

Ahh. Hello, spring. Okay, I know it's not really spring. But it's so nice outside: mild and breezy. The snow is melting. I could get used to this.

I have a funny wintertime habit, picked up in college, of jealously checking the weather in other cities to see which are warmer or colder than mine. As an undergrad in Central New York, I was convinced that I lived in the coldest place ever invented. The icy wind whipping across campus on February nights took my breath away. I remember walking to a meeting one evening with my roommate and guessing what the temperature was. She thought it was 20 degrees, but it seemed much colder than that to me. Later, we checked the weather and discovered that it was 5 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of -14. Egad! And we were outside in that stuff!

I constantly searched weather.com for the temperature in northern cities, places in Washington and Maine and Alaska, hoping to discover that things could be--and were--worse elsewhere. It sounds ridiculous, but consider: a professor of mine told me that she'd once looked up the temperature at the North Pole, only to find it warmer there than in our little town in CNY.

My fallback was always Barrow, Alaska, northernmost settlement in the U.S. I could almost always count on Barrow to be colder than Hamilton. But, lo! one bitterly cold night in 2005, I turned to Barrow for comfort and found that even the inhabitants of this town, situated 30 degrees of latitude to the north, were warmer than I. I was living in the Land That Warmth Forgot.

Now that I live in a city that enjoys both proximity to the ocean and the heat island effect, I still log on to weather.com occasionally and check up on good ol' Hamilton. And, you know, CNY is almost always ten degrees colder than Boston. Vindication! I wasn't delusional. It really is crazy cold out there.

New England (or at least my corner of it) may be cold in the winter, but it's a more charming kind of cold. It's a cold that brings picturesque snow and maple sap. It's an excuse to go to LLBean and get snowshoes, to sit by a wood stove, to drink hot chocolate with Kahlua. When temperatures go below 20, it's a Big Deal and the weather people start going bonkers. Winter ends in March here, like it's supposed to. Very civilized, don't you think?


A Happy New Year

Oh, hi. Where was I.

Here's the hat my sister knit me for Christmas. She's a whiz with double-pointed needles. The pattern is from a book called Knitting Nature and I think it's modeled after a pine cone. I've worn it a million times already, on the many snowy walks I've taken in the last couple of weeks: with my brother, my sister, my parents, Stephen, Stephen's dog--pretty much anyone who was willing to bundle up and go outside with me. The weather was spectacular at Christmas: sunny days, snowy nights, some foggy afternoons. Now it's bitterly, angrily cold, so cold that the snow has changed texture and sounds dry and glassy when stepped on. But I hear that there's a thaw coming, one that will have us seeing the mid-50s by Wednesday. Can't wait for that. I've been wearing my long underwear all week, and not the usual lycra kind, but the heavy-duty fleece-lined ones.

Anyway, let's talk about Christmas trees.

Here's our little fakey-fake tree. You can't really look directly at it when it's lit; it's like looking into the sun. I love it, though. So sparkly, so irrepressible, so inappropriately dressed for daytime. Quite a contrast to the stately, subdued fir we have in the living room, all little white lights and folky ornaments and faint woodsy smell.

You probably can't see it in that picture, but there's a little line of Santa Lucia dolls parading around the trunk, like so:

Stephen and I made these from a kit before Christmas; we made a second set as a present for my mom. It was so fun in the harried days before break--heavy with homework and shopping and snow--to sit at the kitchen table and paint, sew, and otherwise assemble these. I should make more things. Last winter I tried to crochet a blanket and ended up deciding (when I was 95% done) that I didn't really like it. So now it's in a drawer, waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

Although I didn't want the holidays to end, January is making a good argument for itself right now. Over the last two weeks, I've celebrated Christmas, my birthday and New Year's Eve. They were brilliant and fun and full of food and glitter. But I've eaten a lot of cupcakes, and I feel ready now to start afresh. Clear away the scraps of wrapping paper, take the boxes from Amazon to the recycling shed. Go to the gym. (I got a membership for my birthday, and I'm very excited.) We went to Whole Foods on Thursday and bought tons of veggies. The cupboards are full, and the new year is fat with promise.