Archive for the ‘Adventures in Massamachusetts’ Category

Rescue me, Denis!

I know, I know, I know…just ignore those 2 months, OK?  DO THIS FOR ME.  I NEED IT.

So!  Hey!  On Saturday night I rescued my neighbor’s dog from her burning apartment and was praised by Denis Leary!

(RE: The Above:  All lies)

(RE: The Above:  Well, more like severe exaggerations than all-out lies)

Let me explain.

I was getting ready to head out the door early on Saturday evening to meet a friend for dinner when I heard an alarm going off.  After a few minutes it didn’t stop, so I went downstairs and asked my roommate if she knew what it was.  We kinda stood in the living room with our heads tilted staring off into space for a bit, then she said “is that a fire alarm?”  We went out on our front porch, where it was much louder,  and could tell that it was definitely coming from our neighbor.  I live in a townhouse, so by “our neighbor” I actually mean “OMFG THE HOUSE THAT SHARES A WALL WITH MY BEDROOM WHERE ALL MY BOOKS ARE”  and in a millisecond pictured my bookshelves bursting into immediate flame and consuming everything.   Molly and I just stared at each other with eyebrows raised for a moment before she said “I’m going to call the police.”  She did.

To further set the scene, their dog was going fucking apeshit this entire time.  It was simultaneously irritating and scary. 

It is also important to remember that it about 9 degrees at the time (no, seriously-  that is not exaggeration) and we were both in our pjs (yes, at 6 PM- shut up).  

Molly:  Damn!  It is very cold out here.  I guess if we’re going to wait for the police we should put on some real clothes.

Me:  What if they send FIREMEN!?  I need to go put on mascara! 

Twenty minutes later, fully dressed and suitably bundled, the police hadn’t shown up yet, though we had seen a police car drive by our street a couple of times and never stop.  By this point, the alarm had started to holler “EVACUATE EVACUATE EVACUATE” which was creepy.  So far we hadn’t seen any smoke, and we had looked in all the windows we could, so we were still pretty nonchalant. 

Then the dog stopped barking.  I immediately pulled out my phone and called 911 again- this time asking for fire specifically.  Also, about this time, I got my first whiff of smoke.  I wouldn’t say I was frantic on the phone, but I will say they were there in a couple of minutes.    When they pulled up in front of our house, this guy got out:

No joke.  The resemblance was so uncanny that my jaw dropped.  If I hadn’t been A) frozen to death and B) freaked the hell out I would have said something to him.  Instead I just laughed one loud, ridiculous  “HAR!” and waited for the questions to start.

How long has it been going off?  Uhhh…20ish minutes?

Have you seen any fire or smoke?  Nope, but we could smell it a bit.

Do you have their contact info?  No…and isn’t that bizarre?  They are our next door neighbors!  What is this world coming to, etc., etc., etc.?

They peeked in the front windows and then sorta nodded at each other with furrowed brows and one of  them said “I’m going to head out back and see if I can get in that way.”  Two of them went around the back and the other three chatted with each other in the front yard and then the one of them came back around the house and started pulling out the big hose.

Molly and I looked at each other, panicked, and our eyebrows shot up.  “Oh, SHIT” I said, “I didn’t ACTUALLY think the house was on fire!”  We went around the back just in time to see them bust out the window of the back door.  Denis Leary reached his hand into the broken window, unlocked the door, and opened it up.  Black, awful-smelling smoke absolutely POURED out of the door.  “SERIOUSLY!   Holy SHIT” I said again.  “How is our house not burned down?”

I heard one of them yell “the stove!” and Denis ran in, only to reappear moments later holding a small saucepan, from which the smoke was emanating.  The firemen shook their heads with frustration as Molly and I gaped at each other.  Really?  That caused all of this?  A burner left on?

At that point one of the other firemen came out of the house and said “Do you know the dog’s name?”  “No!  Is he OK?!”  “I guess so- he’s just laying on the couch looking at me without a care in the world.  Do you want to come get him?  It probably isn’t good for him to be breathing all this smoke.”  Molly went and got a leash from our house and took him out to the front yard where he proceeded to be as nervous and scared and heartbreaking as you can possible imagine.  I think seeing the firemen going in and out of his house and having the big, flashing truck scared him, so we brought him into our house where he proceeded to roll around on the rug in the living room and turn Molly’s cat into a LOLCat (full on puffed up tail, arched back, trying to run away so fast that his little claws couldn’t get purchase on the floor and he just ran in place- it was HILARIOUS).

As the firemen were packing up their fans and leaving a note on the door (Sorry we broke your window, dumbass!  Don’t leave the stove on!”), I apologized to Denis for spending god knows how many tax dollars on a smoking pan. 

“Nope.  That’s fine.  That’s how house fires start.  (except he said it like “Dat’s how house fiyahs staht.”)  You did the right thing.”

And the damn policed never even showed!


Why I love fall

Damn if I don’t have a love/hate relationship with fall.  In the South, fall is a beautiful thing.   It sweeps in after the long, staggering summer with one chilly night and all of the sudden months of lovely, crisp air are laid out in front of you (well, except for the inexplicable heatwave that always comes through in October).  You finally get to wear your sweaters and your scarves, pumpkins start showing up in the grocery stores, and most importantly, football is back.  Where I’m from in Alabama, Fall lasts a long time.  Proper winter is brief, so you’ve got months and months of all that is perfect about this lovely season. 

It’s not quite like that up here.  Fall means one thing:  OH MY GOD WINTER IS ALMOST HERE. PLEASE EXCUSE ME WHILE I BURST INTO TEARS OVER HERE.

Ok, that’s a ridiculous exagerrations.  Fall also means:

1. Foliage- Listen, they aren’t messing around when they talk about the beauty of the Fall trees in New England.  That shit is magical.  The most impressive thing is how quickly it happens.  One day you drive by a perfectly serviceable green tree and the next day it is a riot of red and gold and orange bright enough to make you almost lose control of your car.  This place is beautiful right now.

2.  Candy Corn- My #1 all-time favorite candy.  This morning I walked into work and a co-worker of mine had a bowl on her desk.  I’m trying to figure out how to get her out of her office so I can dump it into my purse.   I want to find the person that invented it and kiss them on the mouth.  The quickest way to my heart is through candy corn.  (And don’t even think of bringing me those unholy pumpkins that masquerade around as a version of candy corn.  I am not fooled, and Jesus is watching you commit those sins, Brachs.)

3.  Winter clothing- Boots!  Scarves!  Hats!  I love winter clothing, and have managed to cultivate a pretty damn impressive collection of coats and jackets in my short tenure here* and I find it delightful to trot them out on occasion (and by “on occasion” I mean every day from now until May). 

4.  My birthday- It was last Saturday!  I turned 27 years old.  My September birthday is the reason that my middle name is Autumn.   

5.  And finally, but most importantly, football.  I love football. It is my favorite sport above all others.  It makes me so happy.    It especially makes me happy when my beloved team is doing extremely well.  Despite what those fucking polls say.  Ah well, what’s a good Auburn football season without getting screwed by the BCS standings and bitching about the AP Poll?  I have only this to say:  War Damn Eagle.   I’m also pleased that I have found friends up here who are excited to sit around all day on Sunday and watch football (of course, my preference would be to sit around all day on SATURDAY to watch football, but I’ll take what I can get).  They at least tolerate me talking about what happened to all the teams I love and loathe on the previous day,  so that’s good enough for me.

*If you’re keeping track, I also just passed my two-year anniversary of being in Massachusetts.   I do not know how I feel about that, so don’t even ask.

Crisp air

It’s only the very beginning of September, and even though we never had much of a summer, Autumn is already in the air here.   I’ve been waking up to cool mornings.  Certainly not so cool that I don’t want to get out of bed (well, who am I kidding?  I never want to get out of bed), but cool enough that I need a jacket when I leave in the mornings.  

The onset of cool weather gives me a certain sense of dread, these days.  It just seems too soon to be worrying about snow and coats and dark-at-4:00, especially since our summer was so brief and quick.  I don’t think we even had a single day that was over 92 or so.   Summer up here is so very different than it is in the south. 

Here are some of the things I miss:

  • Old men in Seersucker Suits – very, very common in Charleston, especially where business or society forced you into something nice when it was 110 degrees outside.  I found them so charming.
  • Giant, cheap watermelons- You can buy them here.  In the grocery store.  Shipped from Mexico.  They cost far too much money and aren’t very good.  In Alabama, you can buy them for pennies and they taste like manna from  heaven.  Or they were free, if I snatched one out of my parent’s garden.
  • HEAT- Dear god, I actually miss roasting in the heat of the south.  On many occasions, I have gotten into my car when I leave work, after it sat in the sun for 8 hours, and left the windows rolled up and not turned on the air conditioner, just so I could feel some honest-to-god heat.  I can’t believe that I miss being so hot I feel like I’m going to pass out, but I legitimately do.  When I tell people that, they look at me like I have crazy eyes (as I’m sure you are doing while you are reading this), but I’m unapologetic.  It relaxes me like nothing else can.
  • Sweet tea- OK, the stuff they have at Starbucks is actually pretty good, but it’s too expensive and I’m not around one very frequently.  I’ve had to deal with getting unsweetened iced tea from Dunkin Donuts and putting a few packs of splenda in it (because if you ask for it sweetened with sugar, they just dump a bunch into the ice-cold liquid, producing a sugar slurry at the bottom that doesn’t dissolve.  Cue fury!).  How do you get through a summer without sweet tea?

My trip to Baltimore this weekend

Presented in a convenient, easy-to-compose format that allows me to not have to think too much.

[4 months ago]


 My friend with the pregnant wife:  Hey!  A bunch of people who you’ve never met and only heard of twice my friends are going to drive down to Baltimore to see that team that you are completely indifferent tothe Sox play at Camden Yards.  Wanna come?

Me:  Not even a little bit!  But thanks for asking!

[1 month ago]



My friend with the baby (Baby Dan, in case you weren’t following):  Hey!  Remember that trip that I planned a long time ago when you didn’t know anyone and now you’ve met a lot of my friends and some of them are now your friends and you learned that I pick the absolute greatest people in the world to hang out with?  You know, to see that team that you used to not care about and now you watch most of their games and know their players and are actually starting to enjoy?  At that beautiful stadium that is so famous? Someone dropped out and we have an extra ticket.  Wanna come?

Me:  OH MY GOD!  I was so angry at myself for being silly and unadventurous and I was never going to forgive myself for missing what is going to be such a fun time because I was a wuss and worried about not knowing anyone! Yes!  A lot!  Thanks for asking!



[7 AM]


Me:  WOOO!  Road trip!

Swing Dan (Yeah, the guy I’m taking swing with!):  Woooo!  Can we get some coffee now?

Me: …you have a 75 oz. cup of ice coffee in your hand right now?

Swing Dan:  Yeah, I’ll need more.  Can we get some coffee now?

Friend 1: Wooo!  Road Trip!

Friend 2:  *snores*


[7:45 AM]


Me:  Woo!  Rhode Island!


[7:47 AM]


Me:  Wooo!  Connecticut!  (You see what I did there?  How I made fun of Rhode Island for being small?  I am funny.)


[9:45 AM, still in Connecticut]


Text Message from Baby Dan, who is in another vehicle with most of the other people:  OK!  We’re leaving.

Swing Dan:  WTF?  How are they just now leaving?

Friend 1:  Dude, they are going to be late.

Swing Dan:  Cutting it close, for sure.

Me, texting furiously:  Do you have the tickets with you?

Baby Dan:  Yes.

Most of the car:  *is horrified*

Friend 2:  *snores*


[10: 30 AM]


Sign:  Welcome to New York!  The Empire State! 

Me:  Wooo!  New York!

New York Traffic:  *Grinds to halt*

New York Traffic:  [Haha!  Fuck you, anyone trying to get anywhere in this goddamn state!  I’ll show you traffic]

My brake lights:  [Jesus Christ!  What did I ever do to you?]

Friend 2:  *wakes up* 

Friend 2:  Yankees Suck!  

Friend 2:  *goes back to sleep*


[Nineteen THOUSAND hours later]


Swing Dan:  Alright!  We’ve been 14 miles!

Me:  I can’t muster up a “wooo” right now.


[1 PM]


Me:  Wooo!  New Jersey!

New Jersey on I-95: [Please enjoy my scenic smoke stacks and industrial complexes!  And look, here are some beautiful strip malls!  Lovely!  Also, I’m not going to label any of my exits with town names, so good luck trying to figure out where you are!  Thank you for visiting the “Garden State.”  Aren’t we hilarious?]

*insert 900 jokes about how much Jersey sucks*

Swing Dan:  At least the traffic isn’t bad!

New Jersey Traffic:  *grinds to a halt*

Swing Dan:  Fuck.


[2:28 PM]


Friend 1, looking through an atlas for entertainment:  Here’s a place called Fortescue!

Me:  *makes reference to obscure Harry Potter character Florean Fortescue*

Friend 1:  *gets it*

Me:  *mind is blown*

Me:  I think we need to be better friends.




New Jersey Turnpike Toll Booth:  [Thank you for visiting New Jersey!  Now bend over and spread ’em]

All of us:  Ow!  Our Rectums!




Me:  Wooo!  Delaware!

Toll Booth 1:  [Still smarting from Jersey?  Don’t worry, this won’t hurt as much!]

Toll Booth 2, 6 miles later:  [That’s right!  Another one!  We know you’re only here for 11 miles, but we have no sales tax, so you’re fucked]

Friend 1:  I’m glad that we’ve spent more in tolls than we did for the actual tickets.


[4:15 PM]


Me:  Wooooo!  Maryland!  We’re almost there!

Friend 1:  So, does anyone know where we’re going when we get to Baltimore?

All of us:  *Looking around inquisitively*

The car:  *crickets*

Swing Dan:  Look!  A friendly Maryland Welcome Center.  Lets stop, shall we?  Perhaps they can tell us WHERE THE HELL WE ARE GOING.

Maryland Welcome Center:  *Is helpful!  Here are some maps!  Good luck in Baltimore, Morons!*


[5:30 PM]


Me:  Woooo!  Baltimore, here we are!

30,000 Red Sox Fans milling around Camden Yards:  Woooo!  Go Sox!  Woooooo!

7 Orioles Fans fighting through the crowd:  Goddamn Sox.  This sucks.

Parking Garage 2 blocks from the Stadium:  [Parking!  1o dollars!  Flat rate!  Yeah, that’s right- 2 blocks from the stadium!  How much does that cost you in Boston?  40 Bucks?  How ya like Baltimore now?]

All of us:  Baltimore is awesome!


[6:00 PM]


Friends from Maryland who we met down there, on phone:  Come meet us right by the stadium!  Cheap beer!


[6:05 PM]


Beer guy:  Two beers for 5 bucks!  Right here! 

Me:  Holy Shit!  2 for 5 bucks!  And it’s good beer!  Yuengling!  Blue Moon!  Carlsbad!

All of us:  Dude.  Baltimore is really awesome!

Every single person within 100 feet of me:  Woooo!  Go Sox!

Swing Dan:  Are there any Orioles fans even here?

Camden Yards:  [Now do you get why they call me Fenway South?]

Me:  *is glad I bought that Red Sox tshirt last night*


[6:45 PM]


Baby Dan, via Text:  Yeah, we’re going to be late.  But not by much!

Me, increasingly drunk:  GET YO ASS HERE RIGHT NOW.


[7:05 PM]


Baseball Game:  *starts*

Swing Dan:  OK!  I’m on the phone with Baby Dan!  They are here!  Quick!  This way!


[7:08 PM]


Camden Yards:  *CRACK*

Camden Yards:  *Errupts with cheers*

All of us, making the same lame and obvious joke:  Heh.  I guess the Sox did something good.  Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.

(Shut up.  Did you read that earlier part about 2 for 5 beers?)


[7:10 PM]


Everyone:  There they are!  *rejoicing ensues*

Our Seats:  *are great*

Camden Yards: *is beautiful*

The Sox:  *win that shit*



So we had a wonderful time.   We ended up crashing in Maryland that night with some friends then drove home the next day, via an alternate route through Western Pennsylvania and north of NYC on the Tappan Zee bridge.  It took quite a bit longer- about 10 hours with stops for lunch and such- but it was incredibly beautiful.  It was really a lovely drive.

So a good weekend.  Great, in fact.

Back in the swing (God, strike me down for that ridiculous pun)

Back in High School, I had this deeeelightful boyfriend who used to go swing dancing with me.  And I’m not talking about some amature box-step shit, we were awesome.  Like, flips and throws and cute shoes and he wore a vest and a hat.  It was fantastic.  I LOVED every second of it, and it has been something that I’ve missed so very much.

About a month ago, one of my friends casually mentioned that she was taking a beginner swing dancing class with her husband in (LO!) Plymouth.  About 14 feet away from my house, in fact.  She said that the class was almost over, but that they were going to start a Swing 2 class when that one finished.  Boy howdy, you can imagine my excitement at the prospect, then my broken heart as I realized I didn’t know anyone who would take a swing class with me.   Bollocks, I tell you! 

(Aside:  listen, guys.  I’m going to tell you a secret right now.  LEARN TO DANCE.  It will automatically make you 135% more attractive to almost any girl in the world.  A guy who can dance is not only awesome but also in high demand.  THIS IS THE TRUTH.  And it doesn’t matter if you suck or you look stupid.  The fact that you are willing to try is hot.)

And then one night I was playing cards with some friends, and it was casually mentioned that one of them knew how to swing dance.  And I totally played that shit cool in the situation, but in my head I was going “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” and trying to figure out how in the hell I could make him come to Plymouth and take this class with me.  I thought I was going to have to hem and haw and do all manner of convincing, but it was really easy.  Using the medium of my generation, Facebook, I approached him thusly:


(this is the legit word-for-word conversation, by the way)


Me:  Dude- you need to come to Plymouth on Monday nights and be my partner in a swing dancing class.  Seriously.  You’ve yet to learn how awesome I am and that makes me sad for you.
Dan (and no, not the Dan that just had the baby, but one of his best friends, just to be confusing) (He’ll be Swing Dan from now on, k?):
dude, i thought you’d never invite me.  you’ll be amazed at how slightly above average i am at it, especially if the song is in three.
now that i don’t tutor on monday nights anymore (huzzah!) i can probably do it. let me know what mondays you’re thinking of going.
Me: Did you just say huzzah in a sentence and actually mean it? I think we might be soul mates.
Several of my friends are taking the class right now, but they are in a “swing 1” level class (pshaw…amateurs!) and in a few weeks it switches over to swing level 2. I gotta tell you, it’s been a frighteningly long time since I’ve danced, so my pre-stated awesomeness may be a little less that I’d like to admit. Still though, I think I’m decent? (Dear god, please let me be decent still!) 
And that was that!  And this was about the 3rd time I had ever talked to him, so kudos to him for being willing to put up with me.  I guess my southern accent is more charming than I realize sometimes!
Last night we took our second class.  He’s really good.  I’m…not so much anymore.  I mean, I’m not terrible, but I am WAY below my high-school level.  There will be no flips in my future, especially since he’s moving to NYC in August to go to grad school.  That selfish jackass!
But until then, I get to look forward to dancing every Monday night.  Yay!

In my blood

The question that I get most regularly when someone finds out that I’m from Alabama is “can you make fried chicken?”  I’m not sure where this pervasive stereotype comes from, but people up here seem to think that we make and eat fried chicken 5 days a week down south (really, it’s only 3 or 4, depending on the season…) and that every person with southern blood seems to posses this skill.  Well, I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fried chicken- who doesn’t?- but not only have I never made it myself, it also wasn’t something that people in my family ever made.  I didn’t have a granny who stood barefoot in a kitchen on Sundays and churned out heaping plates of southern cookin’, and while I can make some mean biscuits and both of my parents are quite fabulous cooks, that whole image of the big southern meal wasn’t really much a part of my childhood.  We were as likely to have stir-fry as chicken and dumplings. 

Regardless of that, I have come to want- nay, need- a repetoire of southern recipies that I feel that I have mastered.  Call it a desperation to connect to my upbring if you want, but really I think it’s just because southern food is so goddamn fabulous and I know I can impress people with it.  Either way, it works out well for you if you come over to my house for dinner.

About a month ago, one of my friends up here requested that I make her fried chicken.  I warned her that it wasn’t something that I had ever made before, but that I’d be willing to give it a go as long as I could make it at her house (the clean-up is a nightmare) and it could be on a weekend when I had all day.  It just worked out that the 4th of July fell perfectly, so we planned it for this weekend.

I combed quite a few trusted sources, before finally settling on the Alton Brown method (how do I love thee…? Let me count the ways:  sweet tea, pizza dough, fried green tomatoes, roast chicken…) which was perfect in it’s simplicity.   One thing that was pervasive in all recipes: use a whole chicken that you cut up yourself.  Sounds like excellent reasoning, but hell if I know how to cut up a chicken.  Good thing for us all, the friend who I’m making this for has a roommate who’s an executive chef, and he invited us to come down to his restaurant in Providence, RI for lunch and a chicken-hacking lesson on Friday afternoon.   How awesome is that?

And- AND!- not only did he volunteer his expertise, he also knew where to get me some excellent, fresh chickens.  Turns out there is an abattoir (that’s a GRE word for slaughterhouse, y’all) right in the middle of this swanky street in downtown providence.  Awesome.  The chickens I used were alive mere hours before I stuck my knife in them.  It was surreal to be standing in the kitchen of a gourmet restaurant in my sandals and jeans while GIANT pots (we’re talking witch cauldrons here) of chicken stock bubbled away, a pizza oven was roaring a few feet away and a guy was making fresh pasta at a table next to me, but it was a great lesson and now I am theoretically adept at dismantling a chicken in an efficient way.  Also lunch was fabulous.  

And  through the entire thing we were all desperately clinging to our cell phones awaiting news of the delivery, which was taking place as we were at the restaurant.  Damn…that really was a crazy day.

The chicken pieces got a nice, long soak overnight in buttermilk and the next afternoon I set out to attempt to fry chicken.  There were many false starts, I’m sorry to say.  First of all that there was SO MUCH CHICKEN.  Chef Jeff got three chickens so that I would have ample practice, and that makes for a shit-load of bird parts.  I was cooking them for hours- being severely impeded by having only one properly-seasoned cast iron skillet (and I’m not about to enrage the southern-cooking gods by using anything else).  And then I didn’t have a thermometer.  Every source I saw was adamant about having the oil at 325 and not to allow it to stray to either side, so I was doing a lot of guess work.  The very first piece I removed was unbelievably perfect with a beautiful, golden crust.  I could hear Colonel Sanders crying.  And then it all went to hell…pieces were cooking too slowly and then too quickly and they were perfect on the outside and raw on the inside and there was much hemming and hawing and stamping of feet.

And t hen they started to burn.  Fast.  And then the fire alarm went off.  So we were all rushing frantically to the smoke detector waving towels and pans at it and I was trying to turn down the heat while molten crisco was sputtering all over the kitchen and then…

And then Chef Jeff walked in.  To witness my utter failure!  But he just smiled and said “I think your oil is too hot” and I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything snarky.  After another 20 minutes of frustration, I got everything evened out and the remaining 1900 pieces cooked to my standards.  They were quite beautiful.  And really, really tasty. 

We sent some over to the neighbors and when they came over afterwards to play lawn games with us they told me it was the best friend chicken they had ever had.  Bless their yankee hearts. 

It was far from perfect, to be sure, but it was certainly edible.  And now I’m on a mission to perfect fried chicken.  I’ll be happy to cook you some on my quest, but you have to clean up after me.

Baby time

Yep, they had the baby.  Thursday night we all went out for Karaoke (these people are Karaoke fiends, it’s weird…except that they are really good, so it makes sense?).  We went back to their house afterwards and not too long after that, Dan’s wife said she was having some pains.  They asked me to stay, so I timed her contractions for a few hours before they left for the hospital at 3:30 AM.  On Friday, the 3rd, she was born at 8:39 PM.  Momma and baby are happy and healthy.

That’s great and all, but really I just care that I was the FIRST person to know that she was in labor!  I TOTALLY won the friend battle!  Suck it, other friends!

(Also, I am terrified of infants.  Why are they so scary?)