Super Saturday

Today was…. well there’s not really any other word for it…. awesome.  Another great night’s sleep, and I got up very slowly to get some serious unpacking sorted out.  The room is now looking much less cluttered with suitcases (although I’m not totally done yet, I still have the shipped ‘winter’ case to deal with, and it’ll have to be sooner than later because the seasons they are a’changing…) and feels much more like home than a junk shop.  And since a home is what it looked like BEFORE I moved in, I’m moving things in the right direction!


After a rather monumental failure to Skype the parents (hello parents!  I promise they say they’re getting better cable connections in the nextcouple of weeks….!) I got up, and once I was up, and had had some breakfast (and TEA from a kettle that doesn’t involve stove-top boiling on an element cooker – for one thing it is a gas hob, but it is an electric kettle –  AMAZING!!), I remembered that today was yard sale day.  I didn’t really stick around for much of this, as I didn’t want to be in the way – instead, I wandered off into JP to have a bit of an explore (and to get a flu shot).


Let me say this – Jamaica Plain is rather spectacular.  It’s nothing like Downtown, of course, or Beacon Hill, or Back Bay, but it’s got a charm all of its own.  The houses are all different colours, and there are loads of independent shops and restaurants on Centre Street (Center, I think, but I can’t bear to write it like that yet…) – of course, there’s the odd Dunkin Donuts and CVS (who do good flu shots, by the way – all sorted Mum, you can stop worrying, and I got a plaster for it!).  Here are some examples of the cool houses:


…  Well, here would be some examples of the cool houses if I could get them to upload.  Maybe next time…  I’ll have another go tomorrow!  But they are really cool.  On my way back to the house after my wander, I accidentally found myself in a (rather legendary) place called ‘JP Licks’ – they sell ice cream, before any of you go off on a complete tangent!  One chocolate frape (it’s a milkshake – why can’t people call it that?!) later, and I was off back to Enfield Street.


From there, I pottered off to meet A, the connection of Mrs G who is the legend who also introduced me to Appletinis, AND who put me in touch with my current housing situation.  She even made me a cup of tea, the total star!  It was great to chat for a few hours, and her kids were about to add some colour to proceedings – seriously fun afternoon.  And THEN I went back to find the block party still in full swing, complete with marshmallows to toast!!  AMAZING!!


After an impromptu text from V, one of the Ex-Pats from the UK, I took the Orange Line T to Back Bay and had a lovely evening of wine, food and chat, and even managed to get the bus back without incident (although finding the stop in the first place was rather a challenge…).  So I’ve walked through JP in the day and at night, and feel very safe.  I know I’m going to have to be careful – anywhere in Boston would be the same, as it’s a big city and you should never forget that – but I really feel like I could be very happy here.  Which is a big relief.


And now, I’m off to bed.  I’m going shopping tomorrow to get a winter coat and another comforter for my bed – there’s a chill in the air as things start to get crisper, and the leaves are on the turn.  “Fall” (yes Mrs P, I know it’s autumn, but no-one really gets what I’m talking about if I say that!) is well under way, and I’m hoping to drive out to Vermont next month to see the colours changing.  There are already some gorgeous reds, golds and oranges on the trees around here, and apparently further north things are starting to get very interesting!  Road trip, methinks…

Friday (One Month in the USA – scary stuff…)

Things I have learned this week:


1.)    Moving is stressful;

2.)    Moving is stressful;

3.)    Moving is stressful;

4.)    BUT…  There is nothing quite like NOT having a countdown hanging over your head…

5.)    It is, apparently, perfectly acceptable to carry on a telephone conversation while using the work loo.  I’ve heard several women talking in the phone in cubicles while I’ve been here.  It is very strange, and seems somehow unsanitary…

6.)    A large audit team is equivalent to the freshers in the first week of university – someone is going to have some kind of bug, and then once it comes out there is going to be a mad dash for vitamin C (“vit” as in “bit”, not “bite” – I have NOT gone native on that particular pronunciation…) .  I am, however, getting my flu “shot” tomorrow, so hopefully that will ward off any nasties…

7.)    There is nothing quite like the news that a friend is coming to visit to cheer you up, even when you didn’t realise you needed cheering up in the first place;

8.)    Nor is there anything quite like the knowledge that you will be seeing one lot of family in under a month, and another lot (in SUNSHINE) in 43 days.  And will be home for Christmas in 12 weeks.  Which doesn’t sound so long at all.

9.)    Oh, and listening to 80s music on a Friday afternoon in the audit room can be pretty good fun.  Well, it keeps the Spice Girls at bay, anyway…

When I got back to the house tonight, I was invited to have dinner with the family.  Which was great!  We had homemade pizza, peanut sauce (random but amazing) and pumpkin pie!  I also mentioned Thanksgiving to them, and how Mrs G was coming to visit, trying to break the news gently and ask if that would fit with them.  They are thrilled to have more people to stay, and have said that I (and whoever else I want to invite!) simply MUST have Thanksgiving dinner with them – they have a HUGE event every year, and invite all their family for a giant meal and lots of drink, so I get to go to a proper American Thanksgiving!  I am so excited already, and it’s two months away!


Anyway, it’s late and I am very tired.  I’m hoping this will post, as the internet is still rather dodgy, but I’m so relaxed here it’s lovely.  The house is amazing, and the family are so friendly!  I was worried I’d be a bit apart from it all and in more of a ‘lodger’ capacity, but there is a yard sale and block party tomorrow for the whole street – they are closing it to traffic and all pottering about having a community day, and I’ve been invited so I can meet the neighbours.  It’s going to be a cracking weekend!

(A Day Late, but…) New Beginnings…

Written last night, but posted today due to inaccess to WiFi until now!


I’m writing this lying on my brand new comforter (there was much debate this afternoon at work, instigated by myself, as to the difference between a duvet and a comforter – the outcome was that I was ‘reliably informed’ that they were exactly the same thing, while remaining fully convinced that the duvet is far superior to this comforter nonsense…) in my room in JP.  Naturally I am surrounded by suitcases in partial states of unpacking.  This has come to be my usual habitat.  I’ve put the sheets on the bed, and have found my toothbrush, shower stuff and clothes for tomorrow, and frankly that’s enough for now.


My sat nav took me another ‘interesting’ route today – this time to JP through Roxbury…  This is not recommended for future reference.  If you Google ‘Roxbury, Boston’ you are likely to find references such as ‘gunshots in the night’, and ‘stabbings’.  I locked my doors driving through it, and was very relieved when I crossed into JP.  I’m a way away from the border, so no need to worry (Mum!) – this is a seriously nice residential area, and it feels very safe.


As an aside, I Googled JP a while ago, before I flew out here, and ‘gunshots in the night’ was one of the first 10 items that came up, as someone had asked about things they’d heard while sleeping in their new apartment in JP.  There was a bit of chat about where he had been living (a rather nice area, as it turned out) until someone asked him when he had heard these ‘gunshots’.  He heard them on the 4th of July.  Numpty.


Work today was good, again, and some of my stuff got reviewed.  Which was, as it turns out, ace.  I am not rubbish at my job in America (not that I was at all rubbish at it in the UK, but one worries, on occasion, that things won’t transfer properly…) and it looks like I will be being given some really exciting (?! Did I just say that…) technical stuff to do going forward.  I need to get out more…


I have to say, though, that the best news came towards the end of my day.  In an unprecedented act of spontaneity, Mrs G has booked a flight to Boston for the Thanksgiving long weekend!!  My very first visitor!!  I will have to do some logistical juggling to work out where to put her (an air mattress would fit between my bed and the door in here…) but it is going to be SO EXCITING to have her to stay!!  4 days of touristy fun, getting to show off my city to someone who hasn’t seen it before!  I’m already planning an itinerary, which will include shopping (Black Friday is involved in this scenario), tourist sites (a Duck Tour may be chilly in November, but if they are running we ARE doing one), a trip to Mike’s Pastry (or Maria’s Pastry… or one of the many North End Pastry shops!) and an attempt to do some kind of Thanksgiving dinner….  It will be AMAZING!!!


Sadly this won’t be updated tonight, on my first night in the house…  The WiFi is password-protected, and the family is, rightly (it’s after 10pm and they have two relatively young sons) in bed.  I’m experimenting with the TV, and while I don’t have BBC America (a bit of a blow…) I do have NetFlix on my computer (and they have it in the house, so I have access in the week) plus Fox, and ABC (access to the new series of Glee, AND Once Upon a Time – woohoo!), so that will keep me entertained when I fall through the door after my 14 hour stints at work once this year end rolls around!


Best get to bed – I’ll post this tomorrow (or whenever you are reading this) so it’s online.  I had my very last (in terms of standard meals) Mac and Cheese dinner (Cheeseburger Mac – another thing that I am introducing Mrs G to when she visits), and am thinking I may join Weight Watchers over here – I sense that if I don’t, things are going to get tricky…

End of an Era

So it’s the last night in my lovely waterfront apartment.  It’s been so lovely living here (apart from the other stresses…) in such a fantastic location, that I am really going to miss it!  But JP is a lovely area, and I’m only going to be about 20 minutes away from here by T, so it’s not so bad.  And when I dropped the first load of stuff off at  the new place, it felt a little bit like home already.  I’ve got a key, and tomorrow I’ll come back here after work (I don’t have to be out until 23.59, which is a bit odd…) to pick up the last few bits (and empty the fridge) and then head over to get sorted out in the new place.


It’s been an absolutely amazing place to live – I hope I’ll come back to this area at some point before I move back to the UK, but it’s such an expensive area to live in.  The whole city is pretty darn expensive, but this part in particular really breaks the bank, especially when the car is factored in – then on top of the car costs  there’s city parking too – for the garage work are paying for, it’s $120 a month, which is parking on weeknights (leaving before 8.30am and returning for parking after 6pm), weekends and public holidays – for unlimited access it’s over $300 per month.  Street parking is all well and good with a permit ($20 for a year), but there is street cleaning to factor in – in Beacon Hill they clean each side of the street on a Wednesday (I think) every two weeks, between 2am and 5am.  So you either have to find a space on the other side of the street that night, or you have to get up at 2am and try to move your car, otherwise it gets towed.  Madness…


But JP has free parking in my street – the only issue may be when it snows, as the house is on a hill.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, and my lovely landlady C has said she will pass me the forms to get a general JP parking permit so I can park anywhere, even where you need a resident’s permit, and that way I could park on the flat when it’s icy, which would be a distinct advantage…


On the note of things sliding about on the roads, I experienced my first ‘prang’ of Boston driving today.  Luckily I wasn’t actually involved, but someone went crashing into the back of someone on the I95 South, just as I was coming in off the slip road from the I93 North, which was rather dramatic.  They drive very very VERY close to each other around here (I have, on occasion, just found it better not to look in the rear view mirror… sometimes it’s best not to know), so much that tailgaters going into the back of the person in front is really common.  I’m learning to drive a lot more defensively here, which may or may not be a good thing – but considering some of the major roads into Boston have space for six lanes, with a central marking but NO LANES MARKED, you have to be on your guard all the time (for those of you wondering, that road is on the way from Burlington into Cambridge, as you drive through Somerville from Arlington – it’s a free-for-all, and there’s always some smart-alec taxi-driver who randomly crosses from side to side.  And then there’s me trying to hold my own in a lane of my own creation, generally falling in behind some kind of massive SUV for protection…).  It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but every now and again it’s a bit stressful, particularly in central Boston, which I have had to drive through to get from JP to the Waterfront 3 times now!


On that note of excitement I’m going to finish packing for the night and then head to bed.  Night all – hope you are all taking great care of yourselves!


After the dramas of yesterday it was a relatively uneventful day today.  I introduced the word “numpty” to the team, which is now in pride of place on the translation spreadsheet, and then I came home, had dinner and packed.  Again.


It will be nice to not pack again for a few months.  But at least at this point I know that it WILL all go in the case….  Or it should, given that it came out of it 28 days ago and I haven’t done NEARLY enough shopping for it to be a problem.


Very short entry tonight – I will do better tomorrow!


That isn’t an insult to my readers – it’s an expression of my own nature today.  It has been ‘one of those days’.


It started so well – beautiful sunshine reflecting off the Old North Church from my bedroom window, and a little lie in because no-one gets to work before 8.30am on a Monday morning (learned that last week).  A lovely cup of tea and a watch of the news, and then off to work.


As I got to the lifts (HAHA – still lifts, not elevators!!) I realised what I had done.  The doors to both my apartment and the front of the building are micro-chipped.  You insert the chip to get in, but don’t need to do anything to lock them – they lock on their own.  As my door clicked shut and wirred to let me know it had locked itself, I realised that the key was still sitting on the dining table, on the wrong side of the door…


At that time there isn’t anyone on the desk downstairs, so there wasn’t much I could do.  Luckily I had all my work stuff and my car keys so I could just head off for the day and put it to one side to sort out later.  Irritating, but not the end of the world.


Then I got to the car park, and realised that I had NO IDEA where I had parked the car on Friday night.  NO IDEA.  So I spent the next 15 minutes doing laps round the multi-story trying to find it.  I was just about to go downstairs and ask the man with the little golf-buggy to take me round to find it, when I pushed the ‘unlock’ clicker and I saw a familiar flash of indicator lights.  Saved from one level of humiliation, but I have now lost the car in a car park… had to happen!


With that out of the way, work went well – another good day, so can’t complain!  I’m getting things sorted for car insurance on the new Ford (got a confirmation from my delivery agent and she’s rushing it through as soon as she can, which is good to hear!), and have arranged to drop some stuff off at the new place on Wednesday before I move in on Thursday evening.


Luckily when I got back to the apartment John the doorman was there – he has access to a master key, so was able to let me back into my apartment!  Via the upstairs office where my shipped suitcase was waiting for me – I haven’t had a chance to investigate it yet to see if everything is still intact (customs have broken one of the handles, so I’m just hoping that they haven’t damaged anything inside!) but it’s great to have it here before I move on!


So now it’s an evening of packing and watching silly TV.  I’ll miss this apartment – it’s been really good to have my own space, but it’ll be nice to be able to settle properly for a while during the craziness of work over the next few months.

People-watching and Lobster Rolls

Today was another EPIC lie in day.  It was fantastic.  I didn’t get up until 10am, and there was no panicing, no guilt about it and no ongoing underlying worry.  Amazing.


After another serious Skyping session with the parents I headed out to find some brunch, and aquired some pancakes for consumption.  Very tasty – sadly not up to the standard of the Cracker Barrel, but not bad.  I’m glad I went for food, however, as it gave me the opportunity to see some Japanese tourists settling down to ‘breakfast’ upstairs in Quincy Market.  ‘Breakfast’ consisted of a whole lobster EACH.  And the majority of them had obviously not eaten it before, and frankly needed wet weather gear to get stuck in…  My favourite moment was when a man tried to empty the contents of the body shell and ended up tipping it all down his trousers – what a waste of lobster!


From there I had another look in the Christmas decorations shop.  Which was good for a laugh.  Here are some choice examples:

Frog Prince, anyone?

A selection of food-stuffs for your tree

Cheerios, the festive cereal… apparently…

Hmm, anyway.  I can safely say that I didn’t buy anything from there this time…


There followed some pottering about, enjoying the sunshine.  I sat by the harbour for a while enjoying the peace (marred slightly by the tourists…) and then went to Legals for lunch.  I thought I’d have a light lunch (given I’d had pancakes) so I ordered a cup of clam chowder and a lobster roll – bit of a treat, but not too extensive.  Or so I thought….


Clam chowder – very VERY tasty as follows:

As it turns out, this would’ve done me, but no, I ordered the lobster roll too.  This was rather more significant:

Amazing, but way too much.  It was so tasty I hated leaving any of it, but (as my mother will be thrilled to hear) I did leave a fair bit.  And was able to walk home rather than roll, so that was a plus!


After more Skyping to the parents and to Mrs G (who both filled me in on goings-on at home) it was back for some tidying and packing at the apartment ready for the move this week.  Surfaces are reappearing and the suitcases are filling up again.  Which is odd, but it’ll be worth it to be properly settled.


Work tomorrow – best get ready for bed I suppose so I’ve got half a chance of being coherent!

Retail Therapy

Today’s mission was to go to Macy’s to get bedding.  This was achieved – comfortor (Americans, as a rule, do not do duvets….), sheets, pillows and pillowcases.  Sorted.


The three tops, dress, mug, knickers, cards and stamps, were NOT on the list…. but are all rather lovely and I can’t quite bring myself to feel bad about any of it…  Naturally it’s all fabulous stuff and there will doubtless be photos of much of it on display going forward (not the knickers, it’s not that kind of blog).


So now it’s a quiet night in with Doctor Who on BBC America.  After last night, it’s Heaven.


Cautionary Tales…

… *Ahem*.  There is a reason that people say you should line your stomach before going out drinking with your new work colleagues.  Especially when they have been drinking for 4 hours and are going to buy you drinks pretty constantly.  That reason is that if you DON’T line your stomach, the alcohol will hit you so hard that you forget to blog….  I am hanging my head in shame, at the first missed post!


Anyway, yesterday was an awesome day.  Work went well, and I went to JP after 5pm to check out the room and house again.  Sadly my sat-nav (or GPS as I’m told I need to call it for any Americans to have a clue what I’m talking about) took me the most ridiculous route possible – through the middle of Fenway, right past Fenway Park.  On a game day.  So after navigating the hordes of people wearing Red Sox shirts and waving flags, I was about an hour late to the house.  But it’s lovely, and the people putting me up are lovely, and the arrangement is awesome.  So it’s sorted, and the relief is actually tangible.


From there I drove through the middle of Boston to get back to the waterfront.  There is a quirk of satellite navigation systems that I wasn’t aware of which made this particularly interesting (see below), but I made it back and got changed, before heading to the waterfront to meet the work crowd.  I was partly expecting things to be very cliquey, to stay for an hour and one drink and then make a quick exit.  This was not the case at all.  I was welcomed in by everyone, my team from the client introducing me proudly to everyone as one of their team, and the people who had already met me pointing out that they knew me first.  I didn’t have to buy a drink all evening (probably where things went wrong), as people kept buying them for me!  It was amazing.  They were all so friendly and chatty, and I think I left before I said anything stupid, which is cool!


After two Cosmos, one diverted Tequilla slammer (I hid it by the bar) and a glass of water, I headed back to the apartment with strict instructions from my manager to text when I got home.  I did this, shortly followed by a second text (as the alcohol hit me) of ‘what the hell do you put in drinks over here?!’.  The response was ‘Hahaha, welcome to your first Boston night out!’.  Great fun.


So, things I have learned this week (a day late, but hey, be nice to the person with the slightly dodgy hangover…):


1.) As evidenced by the husband of the family I will be living with from next Thursday, who moved to the US from Ireland about 20 years ago, when you mix the West Ireland (Cork) accent with the Boston accent, it comes out Jamaican.  I have no idea why.

2.) Tall buildings and GPS do not mix well – something to do with the satellite signals bouncing, I imagine.  Mine had me bouncing all around Downtown until I had to practically feel my way by instinct.  Luckily my sense of direction is up to the task…

3.) Eat dinner before drinking.  Always.  And do not feel smug that your work colleagues are half cut when you are stone cold sober on arrival – this will not last long if they are buying the drinks!!

4.) Fenway Park on a game day is not somewhere to try to drive.  Take the T.

5.) Having a car sorted out and accommodation arranged means that you can sleep.  Properly.  Without waking up panicing.  This is something that I’ve not been able to do since I came here, so I think it’s going to revolutionalise things.


So it’s a day late, but there we have Friday’s contribution.  It’s 11.45am my time now, and I’m still in my PJs.  I really need to start packing things up this weekend here, so I can be ready to move on Thursday (keep everything crossed the suitcase being shipped over makes it in time, otherwise I’ll have to double back to pick it up!), but today I’m off to buy bedding and do some bits of shopping for the new place.  And to have a bit more of an explore of the area.  I’ll only be 20 minutes further away once I move, but it’s been great living in the middle of it all.  Hopefully I’ll be able to move a bit closer again in a few months, but I think this place will be really good for me!


Off to get up I go…


So I think it’s sorted – the room is lovely, with a closet and a private bathroom.  It’s separated from the main house by a little area with a curtain, so it’s not all that separate but it’s enough.  It’d be a good place to consolidate for a wee while so I can work out where to live next.  I’ve already fired off some e-mails about places which are coming available in the next couple of months, so we’ll just see what happens.  The parking is free, it’s near the T, and it’s not too vile a commute (and it’ll be much better once I’m working longer hours from 1st October, so I’ll avoid rush hour!).  Just got to finalise the details tomorrow after work, and then it’s off out for a work do and some drinks!


I slept much better last night (something to do with the appletinis!) so I’m hoping being much more calm about things is going to help in terms of getting used to things.  If I have a month or two in this place, then I can get a place that’s much more mine (this place won’t be mine to decorate, or anything like that, it’ll be a bedroom and a bathroom plus kitchen access, but there’s a TV and a comfy chair in the room) and somewhere that I am properly happy with.  If I can get it sorted before Christmas, then that’d be great.  And the money I’ll be saving will make a huge difference in terms of what I’m able to do for fun going forward (and what deposits I can put down for the next place!).


Must get to bed, very tired.  Hopefully this weekend will be more restful than last weekend!!  Only Friday to go…