Saturday, November 29, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Braves Black Friday
It is something I always have to explain to foreigners. First, we have a holiday that doesn't involve going to church, even in a token fashion. It is a holiday solely revolving around eating. Doesn't matter what faith you are. If you want the full tradition, you need some turkey, booze and some football. And then.....the next day, everyone goes shopping. True. It is the single biggest retail sales day of the year. But I never remember it being this bad. I turned on teh TV this morning at 6, and people were already in the malls. Including a rather bizarre moement of one of my classmates being interviewed on television. And this year, I was going to have to brave it working in the shop. I had been hearing for weeks now about "what the holidays are like at Burdicks." I'm getting clues of it. But today was the first real test. And when I turned up at noon, my worst fears weren't really realized. Admittedly, we were full, and we were certainly busy, but for Black Friday (so called as this is when retailers go into the black, although I think from the people working in shops that day it has another meaning, it didn't seem too bad. But then I realized that people were eating lunch. Even on the busiest days, you can count on two lulls. One around noon and one around six, when people eat dinner. Then at one and at seven they come storming back into the shop. For those of you going out shopping in the near future, I offer the following tips:

1. If you're standing in a long line, by the time you get to the front know what you want to order. This way, you will not cause a riot. It is quite amazing the number of people who stand in line like sheep (frequently yakking on the cell phone) and then are suddenly amazed when they get to the front. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, I dunno. Causes of death: being beaten by mob standing behind you or alternately me jumping over the counter and strangling the 85th person who does this to me on a busy day.

2. It is rude to linger in doorways. We have a small shop, but most people like to get a seat. When the seats are full, as they're pretty much going to be until after January, people stand around and wait for seats. Today, for some reason, many people in a row decided to linger in the doorway. This puts them in the way of people coming in, people going out, and also cause people not to come in the shop because they think they can't get in, so we lose business. We now have authority to have a quiet word with people who linger in doorways.

3. There is a five dollar minimum for all credit card purchases. If you don't have five dollars of change in your wallet, just maybe you shouldn't be buying that hot chocolate. This goes double if you're only spending $1.50 on a cup of tea.

4. We are a busy shop, We are not your secretary. If you want to send your 10 year old out while you have a cup of coffee and give her your cell phone, please don't have her interrupt us at our jobs unless there is some sort of emergency on her part. Emergencys, for the record, involve at least one of the following: blood loss, vomiting and/or a felony in progress.

5. I am paid for my job, and I am paid sufficiently. But we do get tips and we do appreciate them. If you're going to make me spend twenty minutes on you while you can't make up your mind, have me make up and wrap up special packages for you and I do it all cheerily (there should be no reward for poor conduct), then consider throwing a quarter in the tip jar. It won't hurt you, but it could make my day. Really.

6. If you are in a crowded cafe, and you are directly in the line of traffic, please try to do your best to move out of that line of traffic. It is not fun for me to have to say "excuse me" to you repeatedly. And I can't tap you on the shoulder since my hands are full of dishes.

7. If you're rude to me, you're not going to get my best service. Tired, I understand. Harried, I understand. Flat out rude, I will not understand. And I will not like it either.
Your harried hostess

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Trys to Remember What She Is Thankful For
Ah, it has been quite a week. My Mother and Grandmother have been caught in everyone's favorite past time "Anne's Family Coming to Town without Ever Telling Her" which is always fun. Granted, this time my Uncle at least told me and invited me. This beats out the previous record where I found out from relatives outside the country that all of them and my sister were staying in a hotel three blocks away and in fact visible from my bedroom window. We're such a close family - they oughta put us on Christmas cards.

My friend Graham had sent me a list of things to be thankful for this year, in case I was running out. Considering that last year I spent Thanksgiving's four day weekend on my sofa debtaing shuffling off this mortal coil (but who would take care of the cat?) I am grateful for medication to treat my adrenaline condition, my wonderful doctor, my cat, my friends, my roommate (also a friend), my doubles partner Lizzie (also a friend), my coaches (more friends), my bike and the fact that I have a job and it is in a top notch chocolate shop, even if it isn't the legal job of my dreams. Although I'm waiting to hear on one hot and heavy duty paid internship, so pray for me!

Other things to be thankful for this holiday (in case none of the above apply to you):
- I'm not Martha Stewart.
- I"m not Michael Jackson.
- I'm a hell of a cook, and have more food than most of the rest of the world at my disposal.
- the internet. I'm terribly thankful for the internet.
- Howard Dean is forcing the Democratic Party to realize what really makes voters tick isn't just "I'm not W."
- Flowers. Nuff said.
- Reid's new book (you'll have to wait to read it, but it will be worth it and will make you feel better)
- Tibet. Be thankful it is there. Go there and you'll understand.
- That is now making pants that fit me, and look like everyone else's pants.
- Reconnecting with old friends. I ran into one last week who I haven't seen in over two years, what with my travels and her moving to California. But we're back, and we're having dinner.
- Broccoli casserole with wild rice. Mmmmmmmmm.

And sleep. It isn't coming very well tonight, but I love it when it is here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Contemplates a Fate Worse than Death
It all gets worse sometimes before it gets better. In this case, I thought I was getting better ecause I took Lemsip to make me feel better. And it worked. For a while. And then it reacted with the other medications I take. And not in a good way, like say suddenly discovering a cure for malaria. But no, in a bad way. A very bad way indeed. In a "get up and leave the movie theatre while Colin Firth is on screen diving into a pond and call your doctor from the lobby as you head to the ER" sort of way. I have recovered, but should I get another cold or snuffle for the rest of the year, the prescription is lozenges and warm water humidifiers. The orchids will go crazy.

In the meantime, that dreaded time of year known as final exams are fast approaching. One take home exam, one paper (45 pages, plus footnotes), and one pass/fail three hour exam. I've never taken a class pass/fail before, but I'm doing ok with this one. The wondered if my urge to overacheive would fall to the wayside, but I find that since I don't know where the pass/fail standard lies, the urge to overacheive has been replaced with sincere fear and terror of failure. Maybe that's the same thing. Although in some ways, it is better since I'm not sure where in a class on IP licensing, the A answers and the C answers divide. So overall, I think it is a good thing.

I thought not getting along with my family would get me out of having to make agonizing decisions about where to spend Thanksgiving, but apparently not. My new roommate is great, but her boyfriend tends towards bossing me around rather, so I haven't really taken to him. On her suggestion, I tried talking to him about this, but not only did it not take, but since we were in a car at the time, he retaliated by driving exceedingly aggressively. Thus, of course, not making me like him any more. It isn't a hatred, but it is starting to evolve into a rather sincere dislike as opposed to the prior apathy I had about him. And now comes Thanksgiving. Rita wanted to spend the day cooking and then having dinner, which is a big part of her traditions. I like it, except unless one of my friends comes along (I've invited Alex, but haven't heard yet - keeping my fingers crossed there for a buddy on my side), it is basically going to be a day of me being uncomfortable in my own kitchen. Having just made dinner with him working in the kitchen (I tried to make a nice suggestion that maybe he'd be more comfortable at hte big table in the yoga room, but he didn't budge.), I'm pretty positive I can't hack a whole day of it. Cooking is just too much fun for me to have the life sucked out of it like that, so if no Alex or other fun people, I'm heading to Marita's for turkey day and a whole lot of beer. Which is sad, as while I like Marita a lot, I'd like to spend the day happily in my own kitchen with my own fun roommate. It isn't like he bosses her around or anything, so it isn't something where I should step in and intervene for her mental or physical well being. I just need to step out for my own! Sad, though. But there's beer and football at Marita's!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Contemplates the Up Side of Death
It is coming on. I can feel it. The lurking dreaded cold clammy hand of lurgy. Ugh, I feel ghastly. The tickle in the throat, the little bit of a cough, the drip drip drip of the sinuses, the aches in the joints that say "I'm a virus and there's sweet FA you can do about it, baby." I don't get sick often, but boy when I do, I get sssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeck. In fact, that last time I got sick, and had these aches in my back the night before, I woke up the next morning and spent the next night (and in fact the next week) in the hospital. It was an experience and a half. And I will in fact pass on the wisdom gained from that experience to you: if they're pressuring you to have the spinal tap with the fact that if you have spinal meningitis you might die, consider opting for death. Because death will be a heck of a lot less painful, considering you'll probably sleep right through it. And if the first doctor can't manage to get fluid on the spinal tap, again consider the death option before letting a new and exciting doctor near your back with one of those needles. I say this despite the fact that the second doctor cut a deal with me - she got one shot, my boyfriend could hold my hand (the first doctor had kicked him out), and if she couldn't do it in one go, it was over and no one else was going to have a try. Credit to her - she got the fluid in one take, and with the anesthetic I didn't feel pain, just pressure, but that said there was enough pressure that when I held Kit's hand, he had to be very sweet and kind, and just say things like "Remind me never to arm wrestle you, honey." Which is something I always find truly amazing. There you are, or there I was, three days of a 104 degree fever, weak as a kitten all day, all I can do to open my eyes and watch TV, but they start sticking needles into my back and suddenly I'm Xena, Warrior Princess with the grip of steel!

I'm sure it is just a wee little virus.

But if it isn't, don't let those Lutherans get ahold of me!

Love, but no kisses in case you catch what I've got,

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Gets to Repeat her Favorite Word Over and Over
It is common knowledge that my favorite word in the whole wide world is "mitten." It is just one of those words that is so much fun to say, and it also conjures up a cozy image. Mitten, mitten, mitten. The problem with me and mittens though is that I couldn't find mine after all the moving. It snowed the other morning and I biked to work in the snow. Barehanded. It was, to say the least, chilling. Rita's Mom had been visiting us a couple weeks before that and she knits like a fiend. I called her up and left a message saying that it was snowing, my hands were cold and I needed to knit mittens pronto. She not only sent me a mitten pattern, she sent me mittens! And these are some real kick butt mittens. Gray wool, big enough and felted. The felting gives them serious thickness, and I can also attest after wearing them biking tonight that it also makes them relatively windproof. Plus, she made the cuff part long enough that it extends over the back of my hands when my arms are stretched out over the bike. I was actually quite cranky that when I got them, it had warmed up again and I couldn't wear them. So I welcomed today's cold snap with open arms. And mittened hands. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Mittens!

Monday, November 03, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Opts Not to Become a Lutheran
I am surrounded by avid Lutherans. Not that I'd consider the breed a particularly evangelical bunch, but my roommate is a Lutheran, her mother is a "good little Lutheran" and our friend Graham is a Lutheran who as soon as he gets his act in gear (which may be sooner now that he has successfully acheived the banning of smoking throughout large portions of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) is heading to Divinity School to become the first Lutheran Pope. Rita and Graham go to the same church here in Cambridge, and hardly suprisingly it is a Lutheran Church. Yesterday was "Friendship Sunday" which is basically where you bring your friends to church. I was willing to go, Lutheranism not being so far from Anglicanism, and once Graham offered to take me to lunch afterwards, I found I was more than willing to worship for food. (Does this tie in with my food and faith paper? Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe.) So with less than an hour to go, I bounded into Rita's room, woke her up and informed her we had to go worship. She was less than enthused, which was a little suprising seeing as she was co-chair of Friendship Sunday, but I did wake her up, so maybe it wasn't quite so suprising. Rita takes a bit to get going in the morning. But once she was up, she was adamant we had to go because "It isn't like Greek orthodox. These Germans need to be on *time.*" So sprinting out of the house, we got there just in the nick of time, whapped Graham in the back of his head to get his attention and make him come sit with us, and I rapidly discovered that friendship Sunday was to be all about ......

Yes, death. Turns out these Lutherans are a morbid breed. Or more accurately, it turns out that in a bit of a scheduling mixup, Friendship Sunday was scheduled for All Saints Day, which is a popular time to talk about death. Those who had gone before, etc etc. Before the service, there was an announcement about death, the hymns were perky little numbers about the afterlife, and during the service we had to write down the names of someone who had died and then go up on the altar, hand in our card, light a candle and then stick it in some sand pots. This proved to be quite problematic for me as it raised all sorts of implications. First, did the person I named have to be Lutheran? Did they have to have died in the last year? What if I didn't know if they were Lutheran? What if God didn't like them? What if it was a year and a day ago that they died? And besides, it seemed so wrong to be writing things in church - I felt as though I was supposed to be paying attention to something, not writing stuff down. But Rita named her grandfather, who passed away recently, and who was a good Lutheran, so I went with that. Went up, turned in my card, lit my candle, stuck it in the sand, and felt a bit awkward about the whole thing really. The candles were a little tricky too - since there were pots of them filled and I was near the end of the line, it was difficult to put it in and manage not to get your clothing caught on fire. But I pulled it off somehow. I really do feel that there was a potentially very beautiful and symbolic moment in there just waiting to get out, but not quite making it. Went back, sat down, and waited for the peace bit, during which all I wanted to do was grab ahold of Rita and Graham, hold them very tightly and order them not to die. Rita then *left* because she had to go to work. I opted out of communion as I didn't really feel up to it, and then made it through the service and off to the promised lunch bit. That was good, but we went with lots of people from church, and I got stuck at the end of the table with Graham, who is one of hte funniest people I know, and some people who weren't that funny. This inluded the guy who thought reading anything but the Wall Street Journal was a waste of his time as he had other things to do. All in all, I don't think I'm about to convert to Lutheranism. Although Graham says that now that the chip has been implanted in my brain, I'll start to feel a lot less pain and start to think that those Lutherans really have the right idea. Time will tell, I suppose!
love, and wishing you all don't die,