You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

Mini-conversation with boss at fancy membership library:

Boss: This poster isn’t going to stand up well by itself on this poster stand.

Me: Maybe we should put something behind it, like a ruler?

Boss: Good idea, but I don’t have one.

Me: There’s one on this desk (picks up ruler and brandishes it triumphantly)

Boss: Maybe grab that other one, this one is an antique.

Little Brother on why the newest Batman is the best:

“One of the biggest problems with the old Batman was the fact that he couldn’t move his head without moving his whole body since the head on the outfit was attached to his shoulders. He was like an owl, no wait, he was the opposite of an owl. Completely un-owl-like.”

Thank-you, Jewish Friend:

Me: So I’m doing this genealogical research or something for this chick, any suggestions on how to get started?

Jewish Friend: Well, my advice is that you should have taken reference already.

My favorite placard at the New Bedford Whaling Museum:

“Lofvers was the Immanuel Kant of Dutch Whaling Art– a theoretician, who lived in a provincial town, and never traveled far from home. He never saw the sea, but specialized in marine painting.”

So I’m always on the lookout for a money-making scheme, preferably one that’s tax-free (man, I hate paying taxes) but I usually don’t get very far. Over the years I’ve taken on extended baby-sitting jobs knowing that I don’t particularly care for children (although these kids really liked me, and that’s all I really need to find them enjoyable), done extensive cat/dog sitting, sold plasma (or *cough* donated plasma and was compensated for my time), wrote articles for sports magazine knowing nothing about either soccer OR the sports conditioning method that the magazine is dedicated to, made calls trying to get people to switch their long distance service etc. These are all short-term schemes; I won’t even get into the ridiculous “real jobs” I’ve held– basically, short of standing in front of Linens ‘N’ Things with a giant cardboard “going out of business sign”– I’ll do practically anything.

So when the appraiser that I used to work with at job #1, showed up with a big stack of data entry– I jumped at the chance. Now I have a huge stack of pencil-written notes to put into a spreadsheet and make look pretty. Tedious work, to be sure, but I can do it in my PJs while drinking too much coffee, which is pretty much the dream.

I’ve found, in my life, that all I need to get a job is another job. Aside from my 7-week unemployment stint when I first moved out to Rhode Island (which I was assured by friends was an amazingly short period to go jobless considering the shitty economy of this state), I have rarely had fewer than two jobs. Is it a testament to our greedy capitalistic society that I cannot seem to find full-time employment, and have actually never held a real, full-time, benefited position? Or is a testament to my wild immaturity and unwillingness to just pick a career and stick with it? Dunno. Point is, I usually have at least two jobs and no health insurance to speak of.

So in keeping with that theme, as soon as the appraiser asked me to do this data entry for him– two other odd job offers fell into my lap.

I frequently cat-sit for Wise Lawyer Friend when she has to go out of town. Unfortunately, one of her cats was recently diagnosed with diabetes, requiring twice-daily insulin injections. She had already made plans to go out of town before finding out about this predicament, and asked me, in a rather sheepish manner, “If I paid you a lot of money, would you inject my cat with insulin?”

Without hesitating I replied, “Of course.”

So I’ve got that going for me.

Then the same day that the appraiser dropped off my data-entry, my boss at job #1 approached me with an independent research stint. Apparently some woman is doing genealogical research (really, what woman isn’t), and simply cannot come to Newport and do her own legwork– that’s where I come in.

It’s interesting, because, as a soon-to-be librarian, I already hate genealogical researchers. I simply hate them. Actually, a lot of that hatred has to do with my former dental hygienist– way back when I was still on my parent’s insurance, and could do extravagant things like go to the dentist.

The woman was nice enough, but as soon as I told her that I worked at Barnes & Noble (librarianship wasn’t even a germ of an idea), she decided that I must be interested in her genealogical research. I was trapped in the chair– mouth full of scraping devices, floss, and fluoride; and forced to listen to her prattle on about her great-uncle, and how she went all the way to England and Scotland to do research there, and the amazing things she found. When my mouth was free of debris– usually immediately post-spit, I’d try to change the subject. That never worked. Every time I went to the dentist, I got the same hygienist who remembered me fondly, and updated me on all she had done since we last spoke in between mini-lectures about why I really need to start flossing.

So I’ve never met a genealogical researcher who I liked, but I’ve never met one who was giving me money either. We’ll see if that makes it any better.

The Quest

This is going to be the most boring review ever, because I have nothing bad to say. Gone are my snarky comments, and shrewd, cutthroat observations; and in their place is only the Hallmarky sentiment: I love Thee Red Fez. sigh.

Here is what I love about Thee Red Fez (with additional comments by Jewish Friend):

1. The upstairs room is painted all red so sitting in it is like sitting inside a red fez— genius.

Jewish Friend: I especially like that some, not all of the string lights adorning the room are red. Certain swank bars (cough: Avery) are simply too dark and loud for conversation. Not so at Thee Fez. You can see your dining companions, and also your friendly nearby hat-wearing animals.

2. The walls in the upstairs room are decorated with animal heads– which normally skeeves me out a bit, especially while eating, and because of some incidents in my past, but these animal heads get to wear little red fezzes, which I find charming in an anthropomorphic kind of way. It takes away the gruesomeness and the hunterly bragging of showing off “the kill” and allows me instead to believe that these animals feel good about their accessories and are watching down on me with all good wishes.

Jewish Friend: Certain vegan friends of mine have trouble eating at fez because of what they [snobbily] describe as ‘the death that surrounds them’ there, but, like Andria, I find the decor to be whimsical.

3. The downstairs room is cozy without feeling cramped, mostly booths, and there’s a jackalope skull on the wall.

Jewish Friend: Downstairs feels a bit less fancy and more dinerish to me, but sometimes that atmosphere is what I am looking for. Both levels have a bar, and the downstairs also has fun old movie posters. The bathroom downstairs is spacious, and you can read on the walls about a movie where an older man adopted a Karate master. It is wonderful.

4. My Jewish Friend knows that the best Riesling is not on the menu, and even though the menus are just printed sheets of paper, and they could easily afford to update them (in fact, they change the menu frequently)– the best Riesling remains “not on the menu.” This is clearly my snobbery shining through, and did I not have a friend who knows this little backdoor trick, I would most likely be outraged. As it is, I feel special and cool.

Jewish Friend: Andria is not special and cool, I am special and cool. Andria lives vicariously through me. But really the reisling is delicious.

5. The service is always prompt without being imposing and you can easily flag someone down if you need something else.

Jewish Friend: I was beginning to think that no one found my adorable witty comments cute anymore. Luckily, the waitress at Fez found me just as adorable as I had hoped to be. She was attentive, and gave us great insight on the menu and the specials. She also gave me a good tip about how long the delicious looking peanut noodle tempeh dish would be there for future trips when I don’t want mac and cheese.

6. The Mac & Cheese is exquisite, plentiful, and affordable. It has a slightly smoky flavor from the Gouda, and really, all I need to be happy in life is smoked Gouda. There’s always enough in a serving to take some home, it only costs $11, and it’s good the next day. Seriously, I took Friend from Cowboy/Ski-pole country there, and we both got the mac & cheese; she had to go back home without eating her leftovers, and I feasted on that stuff for three days– never got tired of it.

Jewish Friend: I especially like the crunchy crumblies on top. Too often mac and cheese crumblies aren’t crunchy enough for my liking.

Most recent visit:

Jewish Friend and I sat downstairs and the air conditioner was blowing right on us. Jewish Friend tends to get cold easily, and the cardigan that she brought with her was not warding off the chill. We asked our server if she could adjust it a little and instead of grumbling, or saying “no, I can’t” she immediately replied “It is a little cold, isn’t it? I’ll take care of that right away.” And Jewish Friend was warm and comfortable the rest of the meal.

Jewish Friend: This was to everyone’s benefit really. I get whiny when I am cold.

The dirty martini was perfect– best either of us have had to date. The olives they use are stuffed with pimientos like usual, but taste like they’ve been soaked in something spicy, which is very fun–$8.

Considering the rather lousy, okay, just plain bad service that Jewish Friend and I have had in our dining experiences of late i.e. Bravo, Medditerraneo (in that case the other diners sitting next to us were asking why we hadn’t gotten our food yet, and getting banned (yes, banned, told to never come back) from Louis simply because we waited 40 minutes for soggy eggs and had the audacity to say that we were unhappy about it– it was simply wonderful to have a server who acted like we were there to be served, and not like we were ruining her life just by walking through the doors.

She made recommendations: “Oh the Bay Fries really are the best– would you like those out first because the mac & cheese can take quite a while.”

Said cute things like: “careful, the mac & cheese just came out of the oven, so it’s, like, lawsuit hot.”

And drew a picture of a little fez on the bill.

The negatives:

1. They are not open Sundays. Why the hell are not restaurants in Providence open Sundays?!? That’s how I ended up at both Temple and Cheesecake Factory.

2. My favorite booth is right next to a pinball machine– but that’s not even that bad.

Decor/atmosphere: 9, it’s a little cold in the winter, upstairs anyway

Service: 9.5, really no complaints, but I feel like I can’t quite give it a 10– so obvious

Food: 9, I’ve only tried the mac & cheese, salad, and fries, but all were excellent. They get a 9 because there’s celery salt on the fries, and I really hate celery, and because Jewish Friend does not care for the aioli dipping sauce.

Total: 27.5

I’m a skirt-wearing kind of girl. I wear skirts as often as I can, have many, and am always on the lookout for more. My brother remarked to me one frigid winter day when I insisted on wearing a skirt even though it was insanely cold, “If you could wear a skirt every day, you’d be a happy camper, huh?”

I said, “Yes.”

The only real drawback to dressing this way (besides the cold, but that can be warded off handily a pair of patterned tights, of which I have many) is the fact that most skirts need to be hung. I fold the denim skirts, but the rest require those clippy pants-hangers, or else I have to iron. I do not iron, instead I buy hangers.

Before I moved out to Rhode Island, I had amassed a huge collection of hangers. Most of them were gotten for free from Old Navy because apparently the cashiers at the Fargo store are simply too lazy to take items off of hangers, which worked out well for me. Since all of these hangers were free, I decided not to take up precious space in my car with them, and left them behind.

The cashiers at the Old Navy in Providence are much more vigilant about removing hangers, so I had to go buy some.

Wandering the hanger aisle at Target is not something I usually do. I was unfamiliar with the varieties presented to me, and appalled by the cost. $5 for a two-pack of the clippy hangers and I couldn’t even hang a shirt on the top part. They did look sturdy though, thick plastic and a rubberized grip in either inside of the clip. I figured that at $2.50 per that meant I was getting a quality product, and still avoiding buying the satin ones that were an outrageous $12.99 for three, and simply too flouncy and girly for me to take their ability to hold my skirts up seriously.

Turns out that these hangers suck.  The clips are too widely spaced to hold one skirt, so I have to pile three on, then it gets too heavy, and they slip; the clips break; and when I take one skirt off the hanger, the rest fall on the floor.  I remain indignant about the amount of money spent on these stupid things, so every morning is a struggle because I refuse to replace them with something better.  It’s a horrible way to start the day, and as a result, I’ve been wearing more and more dresses (which cost more that hangers, but are much more fun to buy).

I’ve put way too much time and thought into this dilemma, but I really think that the more annoying thing in life is when you buy something that has one function but fails to perform it.  I dislike throwing things away, but I dislike when my favorite skirt falls on the floor without me realizing and I can’t find it when I need it most.

My parents and brother are visiting me for a few days, and I’m reminded again how much my parents baffle me.  They’ve already been to Tim Horton’s more than once– standard, they’ve complained about walking to and from sights, then gone for walks just for leisure, and immediately upon arriving at my apartment, my dad poured himself a glass of milk and ate a handful of dry-roasted peanuts– just like I predicted he would.

The odd thing this time, is that they drove out here.  They had a detailed itinerary for the trip out– Lincoln museum in Springfield; visiting friends in Ohio; Gettysburg; Chocolate in Hershey, PA; Baseball Hall of Fame, Ben & Jerry’s factory– and then when they got here– nothing.  No real plans were made except I guess we’re going to Maine on Sunday. I don’t know what we will do once we get there, but I suspect the real reason for the trip is because my father has never been, and this will be his 48th state.  What I said before about him having no interest in Alaska or Hawaii seems to have been right on, but maybe he’ll start planning a trip once Maine is officially checked off.

Today, I am at work, and they are in Providence doing who knows what, probably going to Tim Horton’s and going for walks.  They came to Newport yesterday and I showed them around the library where I work since it’s beautiful and historically significant– they drifted off and read the paper.  I plan on taking them to Waterfire tonight cause it’s kind of pretty, and old people seem to love it, but I suspect they’ll complain about the walk.

This is all reminding me of a conversation I recently had with a co-worker at my other job.  I’ve complained, at length, about the lack of good Mexican food in this part of the country.  Thankfully, there is a Chipotle not too far away, so I can get a decent fix when I need it.  Recently, I arranged for this Chipotle to donate burritos for one of the teen events at the library.  They gave us a ton of food, and were incredibly nice and easy to work with.  Unfortunately, the teens didn’t really like the burritos because they had never had anything like them before, and found them strange and slightly scary.  I was a little bothered by this, but happy because there were lots of leftovers for the staff to take home.

I hauled ass back to the breakroom and sequestered three of them for myself immediately, planning on taking more, once fewer people were watching.  A few of my co-workers were baffled as to this bounty because they had never heard of Chipotle before (the one I got these burritos at was only 10 minutes away), and didn’t seem to understand burritos.  Who cares, more for me.

As I was leaving that night, I walked out to my car with a different co-worker, and asked her if she had gotten a burrito.

“I don’t really like burritos.” She told me. There was a slightly awkward silence, and she followed up with, “I like Del’s.”

This confused me because we had been talking about burritos, and Del’s is a soft-frozen lemonade drink which couldn’t actually be less like a burrito, but good for her.  Then there was silence until we reached our cars.

So I’m not sure what the story has to do with my parents, but I feel like it sums it up somehow.  The thing that most baffles me is that I feel like they’re doing all of this adventuring when my back is turned, then when I make myself available, they crap out.  It’s like imagining that your toys get up in the middle of the night and play without you.  I’m glad I didn’t realy take any time off work because I guess they have more fun without me trying to shepherd then around.  Thankfully, I’ve never been to Maine (and I stressed that bit of information), so I can just give them their head and follow; but I feel like I should bring a guidebook or something just in case.

My bank statement is a rather depressing read these days. The savings I worked 65+ hours per week to amass, are dwindling much faster than they grew; my interest rate has bottomed out, my electric bill was $20 higher this past month; and I don’t even want to think about how cold I’ll be this winter give the increase in natural gas prices.

With all of those hardships already in place, it’s a bit alarming to get a bank statement that has been brutally mangled by the USPS. Of course they apologized (see below), and I did what only a person who recently bought her first digital camera would do– I took many, many pictures, and posted them on the internet.

The yellow bits are post-its covering up information that is no one’s business.

Side view

It was ripped apart, but some considerate postal worker taped the end bit to the top of it, This is what it looks like if you flip that bit up.

Where it got caught in the mechanism, I assume.

The nice, waterproof envelope they assembled the pieces into along with the explanation of what went wrong and why I should be understanding. Click to enlarge.

The other night, at job #1, was The Galathe event of the season, the one that society attends to see and be seen, and even some people who can’t actually afford to attend, somehow scrape together to money because it is important. I know these things because I worked that morning and was in charge of labeling the placecards with the correct table number and alphabetizing them.

One of the ladies that I work with is Southern and therefore cares very deeply about the social hierarchy. It was hilarious to call out names so someone else could tell me what table number, and then have this woman gasp “I certainly don’t know how they can afford this”, or “She created the scandal of the decade back in the 60’s by marrying him– the newspaper headline read ‘Heiress marries Negro‘, or “Make sure that you have III not IV– IV is her son and his wife, they’ll be attending as well, of course.” It was fascinating and odd and gross and completely unlike what I grew up with.

Part of me wishes I had stuck around to really see the big show and ogle the fancy people, but I quickly found out that the dress I have been wearing at work all day was far too plain (not that anyone would actually take notice of me), and I’d left my house at 8:30am– I wanted to go home.

Our delightful cleaning lady showed up in her fanciest duds ready to give the bathrooms a quick wipe-down and then volunteer her services. She was shocked at the way we’d gone through paper towels and toilet paper over the course of the day.

“We had a lot of people in from the Black Ships Festival,” someone explained. The Black Ships Festival is an annual event that celebrates good relations with Japan by promoting their culture (I think)– either way, some events included: Sumo Wrestler Meet and Greet, Sushi Making Demonstration, Ninja Demonstration, Tea Ceremony, etc.– many other things that I really would have liked to see and see the kind of people who go to them– my lower class version of seeing and being seen, I suppose.

“Oh, I forgot about that,” the cleaning lady replied, “but I was going to Talbots today, and I kept seeing Chinks everywhere with their paper umbrellas. Get out of my way you Chinks, I kept thinking.”

The three of us averted our eyes and said nothing, one laughed. I’m not really sure what to do in a situation like that, but part of me wanted to say– you know, “Chinks” are Chinese, not Japanese.

The Quest.

I’m kind of ashamed of how many times I’ve eaten at The Cheesecake Factory, but obviously not so ashamed as to pretend it hasn’t happened. I never really plan to go there, it just… happens. It’s close to my house, it’s open late– it’s a problem.

One thing I do have to say is that while it’s grossly overpriced, the food is actually good. They have more than two vegetarian options on the menu, which is rare, and they have macaroni & cheese–fried.

These few positives, however, are squelched by the amazing number of negatives, which I will now list:

1. The decor, which was described by Cowboy/Ski-pole Country friend as “Latoya Jackson and the Cat Lady (Jocelyn Wildenstein) threw up.” It’s all muted, pastel tones that have a faux Egyptian vibe. It’s simply awful, and the walls are all hard plaster so there’s no sound absorption at all. Cowboy/Ski-Pole friend and I were seated at a table in a high-traffic area and it was so loud that we could not hear each other at all. It was like being at a high school basketball game with the way the sound of all the conversations bounced around. Just being in there made me feel tense and claustrophobic cause I felt like I was being yelled at and about to be stepped on at all times.

I don’t know if this is specific to the Cheesecake Factory in Providence (the loudness) because the only other one I’ve ever eaten at was in Minneapolis where we sat out on the patio with a lovely view of the parking lot and Barnes & Noble across the street. The interior decoration in that one were more like a tacky Versailles than an Egyptian oasis, but equally visually appalling.

2. The menu. As I already mentioned, I like that there are many vegetarian options, but there are just so many options of everything, that it’s overwhelming. Not only that, but the menu is full of advertisements. This is something that I find offensive and rude. They’re obviously getting money for these advertisements, yet this is one of the most expensive restaurants in Providence– clearly they’re not passing the savings on to me. Also, I have to look at the menu in order to decide what to order– I can’t ignore this advertising because it’s right in my face. It’s bad enough that I have to look at advertising as I drive down the street, go to the movies, or even use a public restroom; it should not part of a nice, relaxing meal.

This is something I feel so angry about that I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the company. This was what they sent back to me:

Thank you for e-mailing us regarding your dining experience at our Providence
Cheesecake Factory restaurant. I apologize that you were offended by the advertisements in our menu. For the past 20 years we have included advertisements to promote area businesses and to compliment our “book-style” menu. It was not our intention to offend you. I will certainly share your comments with our company executives.

The advertisements in the menu were not for local businesses, they were for exotic vacations, handbags, and jewelry. My other concerns about the restaurant having too many tables shoved into a space not big enough in a way that guarantees an unpleasant dining experience for many, were not addressed. It just goes to show that despite the heartfelt “Mom and Pop” story on the website– “Few people have achieved in their lifetimes what the Overtons accomplished during theirs. With a great deal of courage and determination, Oscar and Evelyn Overton realized their dream – to own a successful business.” Cheesecake Factory is very much a corporation where the only concern is turning over as many tables as they can and dulling the senses with too much, of everything.

Decor/atmosphere: 0. Awful.

Service: 4. I’ve never had a bad server at the Cheesecake Factory– clearly, they train them very well, but the flippant response to my legitimate complaint, and lying to me about the menu including local businesses pisses me off. “It was not our intention to offend you.”– of course it wasn’t, your intention was to make a few extra dollars at the expense of your patrons and hope no one would even notice. Advertising in a menu is unforgiveable.

Food: 8. The fried macaroni & cheese is delightful, as is everything I’ve eaten there, but it all has a very pre-fab taste to it– for obvious reasons.

Total: 12

A while ago I was having a conversation with Wise Lawyer Friend about life, work, and passions. Apparently, she has a co-worker who recently discovered bird watching. This person had never previously been the outdoor sort, but now she vaults out of bed in the morning eager to get an eyeful of what’s chirping.

I don’t really understand the appeal of bird watching, but this woman has never been happier. At the time we were having this conversation, we were driving back from a play starring Theatre MILF Friend that was about an hour away from where we live, and at least 90 minutes away from Theatre MILF’s town.

“What are you passionate about?” Wise Lawyer Friend, “Clearly Theatre MILF is passionate about this since she would put in so much time and effort, arrange babysitters, memorize lines etc.– so what’s yours?”

I listed off a bunch of things I would consider myself passionate about, after reminding Wise Lawyer that the word “passion” is a bit too reminiscent of Oprah for my taste, among them books and learning, travel, good music, new experiences, solid friendships…

“I don’t know if I would ever want to be passionate about just one thing like the bird watcher,” I said, “I’m happy for her, of course, but I have a very big fear of being one-dimensional, and I’m far too eager to try new things.” Then I remembered the line that I wrote in my introduction to my masters thesis that I liked the best. We were meant to be talking about our favorite writers and how they influenced us, and why we write. I said that writing is important to me because it’s the one thing I’ve never quit. I’ve quit most other things that I’ve attempted– for a variety of reasons, or put things on hiatus– but writing is the thing that I’ve been doing since I learned how.

I also mentioned to Wise Lawyer Friend that I didn’t understand the appeal of bird watching, “My husband went once, I’m sure he’d be willing to take you sometime.”

“Yeah, sure.” I said automatically, knowing that it was something that would never happen, but we would make an amorphous promise and never follow through. “Actually, no, I really don’t care about trying out bird watching, I just want to understand the appeal– like James Patterson, or romantic comedies. If it was something I really wanted to do– I would have done it already.”

That’s my new philosophy. Sure, there are moments when I look at a beautiful garden or hear people telling stories of amazing quilts, or triathlons, or whatever when I get a pang and think maybe I should do something like that. But then it turns out that I really don’t care, or I’m not very good at it, or the work involved is just more than I’m willing to do. Inevitably I feel a bit guilty and lazy, but then I get over it.

Now, I’m going to leave these things to the people who really care, and know that I could do it, but it’s okay to just not want to.

I’ve done the things that are important to me, and I’m still doing them. I write nearly every day; I read every day; I keep on getting advanced degrees and even while working on that, I learn as much other random stuff as I can (I totally schooled a park ranger last week on my knowledge of self-supporting marble domes); I have many good, reliable friends; I have up-coming travel plans; and I’m constantly on watch for something new (should I really want to take it on). By my own standards, I’m a success, and even if the day-to-day is a bit of a drudgery at times, it’s all fitting into the big picture quite nicely.

I haven’t worn a watch in years. I have had a number of them over the years but they always break or I lose them, or I realize that they are ugly, uncomfortable etc.

Quite a few years ago, I was on a cruise and first really discovered Duty Free. I’d bought duty free booze en route to Canada many times, but always bypassed the perfumes and jewelry because even without tax, it was still expensive, and why would I need a giant bottle of Joop!? On this cruise ship, however, all of the duty free shops were located along the Grand Promenade and I had to walk past them to get my free coffee and free fro-yo. Also, on this cruise, we had at least two full “at sea” days, meaning that you are stuck on the ship with nothing to do but eat and watch The Thomas Crown Affair in six languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese). Oh sure, the more savvy cruisers had made spa appointments, got up early and grabbed chaise lounges on the sun deck, went to the gym, casino, and didn’t mind paying $22 to play Bingo for an hour. I was not a savvy cruiser, I slept in, got room service, and then had a whole day to fill and no options other than wandering, reading, and eating– I quickly became bored.

So I wandered the length of the ship over, and over. Finally on the last at sea day, the duty free stores had a sidewalk sale, and I found the perfect watch. Small, but not too small, feminine without being girly, it didn’t pinch my arm, and it didn’t weigh me down– only problem was that it was too big around my wrist. I managed to convince the guy in the store to adjust it for free, even though he said he wasn’t supposed to. Then I bought a ton of duty-free scotch.

I decided that this watch would take me through the good times and the bad. This was the watch for me, and would be henceforth referred to as “my watch” the only watch I would ever need again in my life. Whatever else went wrong, I had the watch thing sorted.

Of course the watch wasn’t waterproof, and about two months later I took it off to go skinny-dipping in the Adriatic Sea, and it fell between the slats on the dock.

I got another watch, but it wasn’t the same. It never fit right, and looking at pictures of myself wearing it elicit a what was I thinking feeling. Since surrendering that watch, I just use my phone if I need to know what time it is. This is imperfect in that I look very rude, and if I have a message of any kind, I have to clear it out before I can see what time it is– but it works.

Except when it doesn’t. My phone simply could not get a signal in Montreal. I lost my signal somewhere around Vermont, and then my phone battery started going dead from the monumental task of “searching for signal.” I shut my phone off, and immediately felt reckless and unsafe. What if there was some kind of emergency? What if my mother called and my father had had a heart attack? What if something else bad happened?

Really though, in my family, if something bad did happen, my parents would probably forget to tell me– like they forgot to tell me that my cousin had run away and I had to hear it when I went in to work at TV station, “Andria, this ______, are you related to her?”

“She’s my cousin, what did she do now?”

“She’s been missing for three days– didn’t you know?”

I started feeling a bit free without the burden of cellular technology weighing on my mind.

The first night in town, Wise Lawyer Friend and I just wandered around our new neighborhood. She had visited Montreal annually for Model U.N. when she was an undergrad, but it had been about four years; so she knew the lay of the land, but it had changed slightly. We had a disappointing Mexican dinner (can I never find good Mexican food on the East Coast?), drank a Brazilian beer in some kind of beer garden that may have had something to do with the Euro Cup (?), and returned to our hotel to plan our day while watching Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, which I realize I can do any old time, but it’s more fun in a hotel room.

The following day was a great mish-mash of adventuring made more of an adventure because neither of us ever knew what time it was. We were going purely on instinct and it was really cool.

“I feel hungry, are you hungry?”

“Yeah, a little. What time is it.”

Then we would look around briefly to see if there was a clock anywhere.

“There are no clocks in this town– like Vegas. Let’s go to Little Italy and have lunch there.”

After a while, we got used to never knowing what time it was, and stopped looking for clocks. It was very freeing having no timetable, no set time when you eat whether you’re hungry or not, just kind of remembering what it feels like to actually be hungry, and then seek out food.

We studied the sun like ancient people and approximated, but mostly didn’t care (except that we wanted to make it to the Archeology Museum before closing).

Perfect vacation.