Just because. Impossible to listen to this without an instant two point mood elevation.
Last week many of us pale Bostonians emerged from our winter dwellings to squint and blink and meander happily in the warm sunshine. We didn’t have much of a winter but even so, feeling those rays on skin meant a lighter mood felt city-wide. Now we’re back to 40 and overcast, but that hint of spring was enough to get us looking towards summer. After the trees flower and tulips claim every patch of outdoor space, the Commons will be packed with locals and tourists, the playground behind our apartment will resound with kid-clatter late into the evening, and the tiny restaurant on the corner** will overflow with patrons splitting mouth time between chatter and sweating glasses of sangria.
Special summer menus? Try grilling your choice of steak and eat with a spill of good olive oil and lemon juice and flaky salt – a close friend advised this simple preparation that proved so good that we never, ever stray from it. Toss thick cut sweet potato pieces with oil, coriander, cumin, hot paprika, salt and pepper and roast, turning once or twice, until the edges are brown and crispy. Another side might be chunky tomato slices, or quickly steamed green beans with butter, lemon, and dill. For dessert, perhaps some watermelon brushed with honey and lime juice slightly charred on the grill, or some drippy peaches, or soft ice cream. To go with all that food, make a summer playlist. Here’s a great one to start it off:
**That tiny restaurant is Orinoco, and it’s worth a trip to one of their locations. Can’t go wrong with pretty much anything on the menu, but bacon-wrapped dates are especially a no-brainer, along with the empanada mechada, any of the arepas, and the pabellon criollo.
This is more of a Sunday late afternoon song, but what the heck. Listen to it while you read the “Malibu, California” section of World War Z. Or just watch the video and try not to crumble under the intense and very direct gazes of the band.
80% of this job involves sitting at a desk in front of a computer flanked by stacks of books and haphazardly arranged files, kept company by a stealthily reproductive family of 17 thumb drives and a blanket of post-it notes. Much of what happens at the computer is quite interesting. But the other 20% of my work time sees a little more physical action and a change of scenery.
It’s during the 20% portion that it’s often necessary for a little pinch reminder that yes, this is my reality. It might be because that Civil War soldier is eating Cheetos. But has he signed an appearance release yet?
It could stem from the fact that the 1919 synagogue where we’re rearranging pews used to be adjacent to a Beacon Hill brothel. (Bostonites – Did you ever think you’d hear “Beacon Hill” and “brothel” in the same sentence? Heck no! But be quick and pass the embroidered khakis and sockless boat shoes before John Kerry spots us).
Perhaps it comes when I have to ask a skeptical building manager if he’ll please give me access to the icy roof of this 50+story building in mid-January to take a few pictures in between 60 mph wind gusts? Thanks, and I promise not to set off the emergency exit alarm again on my way out.
Or maybe: Do I know how to hang brocade curtains in a shuttered hospital wing? No, but I’ll take a crack at it if you hand me the staple gun. Where is Frederick Douglass supposed to sit again?
No matter what or where or how, that 20% is way fun. And even if it doesn’t teach me how to manage my 401K instead of stashing my savings of Sacajawea coins in a Bass shoebox under the bed, it enforces my enormous respect for all the people out there that do know how to do that. And who keep the traffic lights working and their kids’ noses clean and administer flu shots, or who run volunteer organizations or help others with taxes or translate legal documents.
Everybody finds themselves in some strange places sometimes – where’s the randomest place you’ve been as a result of your job?
Took a little trip to the homefront last weekend to visit the family and celebrate my sister A’s birthday (she of the “Medical Fact of the Day”). In true grade school teacher fashion, my older sister managed to smuggle a triceratops pinata unnoticed into the house and stuff it full of candy and Disney princess chapsticks. (Just to be clear, no one in the household is under 19 years. 17 years, if you count Belle the cat, whose physical appearance is the precise opposite of the meaning of her name. Also, she has adult onset diabetes.).
In the early morning hours, we rigged up the piñata to hang from a branch of the Japanese maple in the front yard, woke A up, blindfolded her, and marched her outside to take a few swings in her pajamas. All this because in addition to conducting outdoor Christmas decoration battles, we really enjoy showing the neighbors that we’re classier than them.
My dad is really concerned about maintaining a low profile on the internet, but these pictures are just too awesome not to share. This is what you get for grabbing all the candy and the Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine chapsticks while we were distracted and examining the busted piñata. I guess some people just never forget kid protocol when candy is on the ground. Also – a big shout out to Mom who kept the anti-candy comments to a minimum and didn’t veto us eating KitKats with our pancakes.