Archive for the ‘Bad news’ category

Tropical Storm Irene hits Somerville

August 29, 2011

Yesterday Irene struck Somerville, Massachusetts and the rest of New England. Although it was just a tropical storm (not a hurricane as everyone predicted), it still caused a fair amount of damage. Here are some pictures I took in Somerville during the late afternoon.

A damaged car on Murdock Street

A snapped tree on Broadway (near Trum Field)

A fallen tree on Hall Avenue

We didn’t lose power at our Cedar Street apartment, but folks in Magoun Square did. Inside Olde Magoun’s Saloon staff were sitting in the dark, and across Medford Street (around Status Boutique, Marcelino’s Exotic Birds and Churrasco) a generator was running.

What if my wedding stinks?

June 12, 2011

What if she shows up at my wedding?

I had a horrible dream last night. I dreamt that my wedding (which is scheduled for Sept. 17) really stunk. The DJ couldn’t get people to dance (in fact, he wasn’t even playing music), guests were leaving extremely early, and for some reason I plunged into a swimming pool, ruining my dress, hair and makeup.

I’m actually not too surprised I had this terrible dream. Pretty much since January, when I got engaged, I’ve worried about the wedding. Mainly, I’ve feared that no one will show up. I know this is an irrational fear. Obviously some people will show up. But I’m still worried that a ton of people won’t end up coming. Whenever I have a party I feel this way. I felt the same way before my 29th b’day party and the same way before my housewarming party in November. And both times a lot of people came.

So why am I so afraid? Maybe it’s because recently several people told me they can’t come. And I imagine there are many more in that boat, but for whatever reason haven’t told me yet. I am inviting people from all over the country (and even from other countries), and I’m afraid the long distance will keep them from making the trip. A number of people haven’t acknowledged they received the save the dates, so I feel those people don’t intend to come.

I wish I could stop freaking out. A bunch of people have said they’ll be there. And I wish I could stop worrying about whether they’ll enjoy themselves. My parents are doing so many things to make sure the wedding goes smoothly. I just always assume the worst. I guess then I’m not disappointed. But it’s certainly a stressful experience to assume the worst. You worry a lot, and worrying is not good for the soul!

When tragedy strikes, look for the silver lining

March 23, 2011

Imagine– you’ve just spent an amazing vacation full of fun, carefree living, tantalizing conversation, and exploration. While you’re sad to be headed back home, the joy of a week well spent overpowers any feelings of longing or nostalgia.

You encounter some road bumps on the way home (mostly related to your car’s functioning), but none of them compare to what’s about to happen. You wake up from a heavy night of sleep, walk into the hotel parking lot, and discover your car has been broken into.

Not only was the driver’s side window smashed, but practically half of the valuable possessions to your name were taken. More than $1,500 worth of stuff. The worst part is you could have prevented the crime. If you had been sure to remove all the valuables from view, the perpetrator probably wouldn’t have targeted your car  in the first place.

The combination of sadness your vacation is over, anger your car was burglarized, and regret you didn’t do the right thing can be a lot to handle.

Luckily, right after the incident I met a nice girl from Baltimore who cheered me up. Her philosophy is that the burglary was a sign from above. It’s a higher power trying to help me out in some way. Maybe he or she is telling me to be more careful in my life so that something worse doesn’t happen. Or that possessions aren’t everything.

In the last few days I’ve been mourning the “passing” of my stolen items. The retro Syracuse Chiefs shirt my fiance bought me last summer, the heart-shaped measuring spoons he just purchased because our measuring spoons are so mismatched, all the music from my time in France (where will I find all of these songs? Some are so obscure…), a bathing suit that fit me just right, my trusty GPS, my whimsical earrings from Kittery, Maine, and the list goes on.

Syracuse Chiefs shirt that was stolen

The objects I miss the most are the ones with sentimental value. Even if I am able to recoup some insurance money for the stolen items, there are many that can’t be replaced. So maybe the silver lining I must take away from this experience is that even objects with sentimental value aren’t as important as being healthy, having quality relationships, learning from our mistakes, and other facets of life. I must try to remind myself of this when I start missing that hair clip I’ve had since eighth grade.

DeWitt’s ShoppingTown Mall not doing too swell

January 20, 2011

I was at my parents’ place in the Syracuse, NY area earlier this week to take care of some wedding planning. I needed to get something from Sears, so I stopped by the ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt. I hadn’t been to the wing near Sears in a couple of years. It’s soooooo crazy what I saw. With the exception of Sears, all the retailers (including Famous Footwear, Old Navy, and Baby Alpaca) were gone. In their place were sports lesson places, a gymnastics place, a teen center, an improv center, and many other service-based businesses. I’m guessing this is a reflection the mall’s not doing so hot. And actually, this article in today’s Post-Standard (Syracuse’s newspaper) blatantly states the mall has struggled in recent years. Here are some pictures showing the types of businesses that have sprung up:

A driving school

A railway historical society

A fencing place

A martial arts place

You can do extreme sports here.

A golfing place

A gym

A teen center

A softball place

A kung fu place

An improv place

A tutoring center

A "family restroom"???

A gymnastics place

A dancing place

A party place

Customers can be so rude

January 9, 2011

Yesterday morning I had breakfast at The Danish Pastry House in Medford, one of my favorite coffee shops. As I dunked a portion of my chocolate croissant into my coffee, I heard two toddlers scurrying around behind me. The noise and possibility of them running into my chair sort of ruined my relaxation.

After a moment, the children made their way over to the glass food display case. They began tapping on it, and only stopped when one of their mothers came over a minute later. I’m not sure what she said to them exactly. She then went back to her seat, and they started playing in another part of the coffee shop. A minute later we heard a crashing noise. The kids had knocked a potted plant onto the ground, and the ceramic pot had cracked into at least five or six pieces.

The same mother walked over to the children and calmly said “Don’t worry– that’s OK.” She picked up the plant and ceramic pieces and put them on a table, leaving piles of soil on the ground. She walked over to the girl at the register, and matter-of-factly said “I just wanted to let you know that the flower pot over there fell and broke.” That’s all she said. No explanation of how it happened. No mention of the children. No apology. No offer to give the coffee shop some money or buy a replacement pot.

She just walked away with what even looked like a grin, leaving the poor girl to handle the situation. I sure hope the girl isn’t blamed! Anyway, the mother went back to her seat, said nothing to her children about the incident, and continued letting them play like little animals. It was frustrating to see her lack of respect for the business and acceptance of the kids’ poor behavior.

The country must be in trouble when the post office has just one counter employee the week before Christmas

December 17, 2010

I think it’s fair to say that this is one of the busiest letter-, card-, and package-mailing times of the year. Everyone’s trying to make sure his items arrive before Christmas Eve. So it really shocked me when I showed up at the Porter Square post office (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) yesterday to discover just one person was working the counter. It was about 4 p.m., and there must have been 20 people ahead of me in line.

I wouldn’t have minded the crowd so much if several of the transactions hadn’t taken five-plus minutes (the first one I witnessed surely lasted more than 10 minutes). I don’t necessarily blame the individual customers or the guy behind the counter, but I do blame the post office for not having had another employee working. But maybe it’s all due to Americans’ non-willingness to pay higher taxes. Maybe it’s partially my fault. Either way, it took nearly an hour for me to buy a couple books of stamps.

Another real pity is this particular post office no longer has stamp-dispensing machines. A couple of people in line besides myself just needed stamps as well, and publicly lamented there wasn’t this technology available. The guy behind the counter just responded: “We used to have it (the machine); now we don’t.” What more was he going to say anyway? It’d probably just make him angry explaining why they had to get rid of the machine. He was already experiencing a stressful enough day and didn’t need that added annoyance.

I was impressed with the man’s calmness when I arrived at the front of the line. The label-printing machine wasn’t working for a minute, but instead of getting upset he jokingly said “Wow, this is a great day for this to happen.” He kept his cool, adjusted the machine, and it started working again. He was quite polite, and I tried to be as nice as possible, too, knowing he has a difficult job (Did you know that the term “going postal” actually came about following a series of incidents involving postal workers shooting and killing fellow employees and others?).

Anyway, I’m saddened the federal government doesn’t have enough money to staff the counter of this post office with more than one employee on one of the busiest mailing days of the year (that is, if that was the reason for just one employee working), but am glad the one who was there was quite kind.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/sushiesque/68524998

He seemed so happy

November 19, 2010

This post is way overdue. It’s about an incident that took place a few years ago. A guy I wrote a couple of news articles about shot himself inside his trolley car home. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about his historic trolley car in November 2006.

In August 2007 I wrote an article about his upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Romania. For that interview, he had me over to his trolley car for lunch. We sat at his outdoor picnic table, in a wooded area beside a bubbling creek. It was quite a picturesque scene, and one reason neighbors had complained about pest control trucks driving back and forth in this neighborhood (I wrote about this topic, too; the article is at the bottom of the page).

For the Romania interview, Mr. Trolley made delicious chicken salad sandwiches, and served them with strawberry wine. He also had me taste some special cheese he had ordered from the West Coast, where he used to live. As a reporter I wasn’t supposed to accept gifts or meals, but this was one of the few times I did. I felt it would be rude to turn down his nice gesture. In addition to telling me about his planned trip to Romania, he told me about a recent spinal cord injury that was really impacting his daily life. He seemed very distraught about this, but I thought he’d be OK.

A  few months later I heard he had shot himself inside his trolley. He was dead. I had never personally known anyone who committed suicide. This was a shock. I didn’t know what to think. I figured his injury may have played a role in his despair. I also knew he had been through a tough divorce and his daughter was siding with her mother (according to him). He had been involved with contracting work but maybe that work had dried up. Maybe he was at the edge and some incident occurred to push him over. Or maybe he had been planning this. I’m not sure.

I remember when I went to his trolley to interview him for the trolley story. He was so jolly and proud to show off his special abode. He had it all lit up in a beautiful way. He had put so much care into restoring it, into making sure the home was well insulated, repainted, etc.

I remember he loved the story. He called me up right after he read it and said it was perfect. I remember I got a lot of positive feedback from others as well. They like the historical aspect. Anyway, I’m saddened to think that such a good person was prompted to end his life. Maybe he was in such pain, though, that he’s in a better place now. Either way, it makes me realize that life is so fragile and anything we can do to to make others happy is energy well spent. You never know when someone is right at the edge.

Do not buy these empanadas

October 28, 2010

You are supposed to keep these Goya empanadas frozen until you’re ready to cook them. Then you’re supposed to start cooking them in a pan covered in oil (according to the directions). The problem with this is that the empanadas are stuck together with pieces of paper between them.

There's a piece of paper in between these two frozen empanadas.

Because they’re frozen you can’t break the empanadas apart. I tried to separate them by putting them under hot water, but that made them all gross. You aren’t supposed to thaw them so I started cooking them with the paper in the middle. Minutes passed and the empanadas still couldn’t be broken apart. I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep cooking paper so I stopped. I then threw the empanadas in the garbage.

Goya empanadas in the garbage

I am now hunting for a better brand of frozen empanadas.

Power in Watertown shut off at an inopportune time

July 12, 2010

My boyfriend and I were watching the World Cup final yesterday. The game was starting to get pretty good, with around 20 minutes left. And then, what do you know? The power shuts off! This was sometime between 4 and 4: 30 p.m.

I immediately called NSTAR to report the outage. Initially we were told the power would be back on around 5:30. But it didn’t end up being restored until 8 p.m. or so! According to an automated message from NSTAR, the outage was caused by “damage to high voltage equipment.”

Around 7:30 p.m. or so we took a walk to get some more information about the outage. We headed from my apartment on Mount Auburn Street beside the Cambridge border toward Coolidge Square. Lots and lots of people were on their porches, preferring the cool air outside to the stuffiness of their homes (resulting from no working air conditioning or fans).

We saw a crew working on a telephone pole in front of the Collins Gallery:

Power appeared to be out up until the intersection at Arlington Street. We ended up eating dinner at the Mount Auburn Grill, where our waitress told us she hadn’t heard the power was out down the street. On a side note, my beef shish kebab (served with onions, green peppers and rice) was very good. Strangely, though, no one else was taking advantage of the restaurant’s good food. We were the only ones there!

Luckily, my boyfriend and I ended up getting to see the rest of the World Cup game once power was restored. It was being shown again on a Spanish language channel:-)!


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