na foine ting

Saturday, October 29, 2005

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It snowed today.

Nothing that stuck, to Gavin's disappointment: "It's not fun if I can't go out and play in it," he said.

The rumble of the train going by has become reassuring, routine.

I updated the kid's blog. Sorry about the massive delay. Pictures as far back as Gavin's birthday in September. Ack!
Thursday, October 27, 2005

The sports complex is one of the nicest facilities I've ever been in. And the MIT ice? Hands down, the best ice.

Pickup there was pretty much the same as pickup anywhere. With some key differences: in Boston, apparently high level hockey includes women.

The two women who were there skated all over me, along with everyone else. Paul assured me my skating was strong, but I knew the skills were just barely getting me by: it was a small group of very high level players, who had no compunctions about running all over me, which was fine.

It's not physical. Fast, ruthless, but this was a very hands-off game, and it wasn't just because there were girls there. People stayed more or less off each other, except in front of the crease or now and then riding someone off the puck.

People were friendly, not effusive. About the norm.

I had a fucking great time.

When I got home, I was so tired I could barely get my bag up the steps. Finding games happened just in the nick of time, apparently.


This? This is my happy face.


So I walked past the TV, which Gavin happened to leave on, and caught three minutes of the most surreal thing I've ever seen in my life.

Mr. Rogers, interviewing Lou Ferrigno.

Lou was wearing very little to... well, it *looked* like nothing.

They were in a trailer.

Mr. McFeeley was there with a videocamera.

I swear to fucking God I am not making this up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
False alarm.

I got up at 0500 to get to MIT at 0600, and according to Mapquest (which I've been using a lot here), it's a 30 minute drive, but that didn't allow for the fact that I asked it for the wrong version of the right street.

As a result, I drove around Boston -- pretty much all of Boston -- for two hours, never found the rink and the only reason I made it home was because I'd thought to bring the Thomas' Guide with me.

Paul (who organizes the games) says "Persistence!" cheerfully to me in email. He's sent me better maps, more specific addresses. I'm caught between gratitude and wanting to smack him sharply next time I see him.

But, Thursday. I will wake up earlier, try better maps.

And yes, Chris, you can laugh.


We're in the middle of a huge storm here. Massive winds, some flooding in the south. It's a pain not to be able to take the kids out of the house (we're all completely stir crazy), but on the other hand, actual weather is kind of nice.

The wind howls through the trees and past the house. Rain comes down sideways.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm playing pickup tomorrow at MIT with a bunch of Boston people I've never met before and I'm going to really suck and they're going to skate all over me


I'm OK.

No, I'm not.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I thought Jack Skillingstead (which really is his for real name and not the Jack of our present Jack's House, which is an entirely different Jack) deserved his own post, instead of my just replying to his comment.

When I first met Jack online on the Asimov's bulletin boards a few years ago, he was one of the writers people were talking about the same way they talked about China Mieville and guys like that. New, innovative, exciting stuff, which in the sort of plodding continuum of mainstream science fiction we just don't get as often as we should.

I haven't talked to Jack in ages (my fault, not his), and today I went and checked out his sexy new website where you can read "Rewind,", which I love, and some of his other stuff.

Jack writes in an honest way that winds up being a lot like he is. Real, unapologetic, interested in the underbelly of life and unafraid to report on it in a way that can be lighthearted, brutal and compassionate all at once.

I've had the pleasure of reading one of his novels, which was amazing. New, really new stuff.

So, hi, Jack, and email forthcoming. Sorry for the radio silence and it's damn good to see you.


It's a chicken and egg thing.

I can't decide if finding hockey meant the rest of my life could finally settle, or if finding games was part of a general return to order; either way, things feel better today. I've had my first cup of coffee in a week, a hard core little brew made more so by the fact of a very slow drip through grounds that I swear were snarling imprecations at me as I poured them into the moki pot. Somehow the moki pot lid was lost in transit, so I had to improvise; that and the fact of the gas range made for this very, very slow brew process, which in turn resulted in coffee that climbs out of the mug and tries to throttle you as you grab the mug handle.

My hands are shaking. Really, shaking.

Coffee 2, Kate 0.

Chris, I think the real difference between you Brits and we Yanks in the whole space race comes down to coffee versus tea. Really. If you all drank coffee there'd be a Union Jack in the Sea of Tranquility, a Harrods in downtown Bonn and they'd still be driving left in the Cote Ivoire.


Driving across country, there's a dearth of espresso.

Which is like saying in the Sahara Desert there's a dearth of water.

I am not, repeat not counting the terrifying 'auto mocha' machines at the truck stops, which as far as I can tell no one touches. Ever. On the road, one drinks trucker coffee, which tastes ghastly but as far as staying awake goes does the job as well as anything else unless you want to upgrade to No-Doz or cocaine.

But once you leave Utah and the Bad Ass Coffee Roasting Company, you enter a no man's land that might not end until you hit upstate New York if it weren't for one intrepid entrepreneur and his Little Red Espresso Shack off Highway 80 in Green River, Wyoming.

It's like a mirage. You've been driving through days of flat, bland scenery, eating flat bland food and all the service stops are starting to blur together. You can't remember which Chevron was which, and really the only way you know which state you're in is by the cities on the freeway signs.

And then, there it is. Every service stop sign has the same logos on them: Subway. Burger King. Chevron. Flying J.

Except one. It goes by at 85 or 90 miles an hour, so you think you somehow misread it.

'Little Red Espresso Shack.'

What, what?

But by then, the sign's past. It's gone.

You swerve off the highway at the next exit, sure you were mistaken. You haven't had espresso for three days. Impossible. It's a hallucination brought on by trucker coffee and too many bags of french fries.

But there, at the bottom of the off ramp, is another sign. You sit and read it, over and over. Afraid it will disappear, or the letters will turn from Little Red Espresso Shack into W E N D Y ' S, right there. Someone honks. The letters remain, and the arrow points left. You go left, and there it is. In a parking lot, a shack about the size of two phone booths put together. Red.

When you drive up, the old guy manning the booth leans out and gives you an assessing squint.

"You're from the West Coast, aren't you?" he says.

You stammer. He points to the menu. It has words you haven't seen for over a thousand miles. Americano. Borgia. Mexican Hot Chocolate, for Christ's sake.

You point. He nods serenely.

Tom Tucker owns the only espresso stand on Highway 80 in the middles states. He wasn't doing well until he convinced the highway people to put a sign up for him. "Took me almost a year total," Tom told me. "First they ignored me for three months. Then they said I had to serve food."

Here he points to the other menu, on the other shutter of the kiosk. There is one item.


"Got some microwave jobs in the freezer in there. I haven't sold one of 'em yet," he says. Once he had food on the menu, it took another few months for them to tell him he needed to have seating. "Got a seat now," he says. On the freeway side of the kiosk is a concrete bench. "Seating," Tom confirms with a gesture.

And sure enough, four months later, he got his two highway signs.

Tom does a rocking business now.

"My daughter owns a coffee house in Oregon," he told me. "A nice big coffee house on a downtown street. My per month is about twice what hers is." He grinned. Tom gets most of his ingredients from Salt Lake, and the rest from the west coast. He has the hardest time getting the Mexican Hot Chocolate, which I told him he could probably order online straight from Ibarra. He said he'd check it out.

He made me a huge Mexican chocolate mocha, and sent me off with an admonition to drive safely and stop by next time I was driving through.

I said I absolutely would.

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Friday, October 21, 2005
I can write.

I can breathe.

Funny how it barely matters that I don't have a job, that I'm in a strange city with no friends or family apart from the immediate, on my own with the kids all day and there was really only one thing I couldn't deal with.

No hockey.

Funny, and also not. There are 10, count them 10 rinks within fifteen minutes of where I'm sitting (thank you, Megan, for turning me on to 10 rinks, and for the life of me I couldn't find hockey right now, for me, at my level. Finally yesterday I got in touch with a guy who runs an informal pickup-style league over at MIT in the early mornings, where you can play as many as five mornings a week (danger Will Robinson, danger), for quarter of the cost of what I used to pay for league play, and twice as long a season. You do the math.

I'll be playing Tuesday and Thursday next week, drop in until I'm sure the commute into Boston and back (all before 8am) works.

Becca pointed out that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a morning person.

"You're going to be the meanest person on the ice," she said.




Boston is gorgeous.

After San Jose especially, it's an unbelievably green city. Every street is lined with trees, and there are parks upon parks and tons of other green space. West Roxbury is a nice suburb, primarily Irish American, or was until the last 5 or 10 years. On the corner of our street and the main drag is a pub, one of several, of the actual Irish pub variety. The houses are big old Cape Cods and Victorians, most divided into apartments, including the one we're staying in.

We call it Jacks' House, because it belongs to Jack, who is an older Irishman now living alone, previously married. Semi, if not completely retired, and the place is an interesting mix of bachelor pad and what were obviously his wife's earlier touches. In the bedroom there are several framed Celtics basketball triptychs, hung carefully on the salmony-pink flowered wallpaper. In the pantry, a tea towel of "Irish Verses." And a sofa-and-recliner set in the living room that makes an L shape just big enough to land a 747 on, we're pretty sure.

For the somewhat funky decor, though, the place is great. It's one house and a set of stairs away from the T, and if you jump on the train you can hear from where I'm sitting in the kitchen, you can get to Boston South Station in just over twenty minutes.

And despite the odd touches, it's still a nice old Cape Cod, with a lovely kitchen and big kitchen table that somehow manages to catch sun all day. Becca brought the tomatoes and peaches she just canned across country, and they're all up in the pantry, in the shelves next to where the fridge is now but where the ice box probably once sat.


What we'd heard about east coast people simply hasn't borne out.

I took the kids into Boston to go to the Boston Children's Museum on Monday, which was a fabulous excursion (and the BCM is a four-story wonder, possibly the best children's museum I've seen yet--stuff for all ages in each area, so both kids had a great time). The only problem was when we walked back to the train station the announcement boards weren't working, and I couldn't for the life of me hear the announcements over the station loudspeakers about which trains were departing from which tracks.

This led, of course, to disaster.

I'm sure that under different conditions I'd very much like Rhode Island.


Everyone in the back of the train car we were in pitched in to help decide how best to get us back to West Roxbury now that we were headed out of state at the height of commute hour.

There was great debate over whether we should get off immediately and take a cab back to Boston, or a cab back to West Rox, or whether we should get off the train and wait for its return (this was the only train that would be going to RI and back apparently at this time), or just ride the train all the way to the end and back.

The consensus, after much deliberation, was this last choice was the best. People offered their sympathy, their arms to hold Lili, their seats, and their cell phones to call Becca.

One guy stopped and murmured quietly to me "you're holding up like a champ. If this was my wife she'd be screaming and crying by now. Keep it together; you'll get home soon."

When we finally did make it back to Boston, the train conductor met us at the steps off the train, and walked us all the way to the right platform and right train. "This one," he said pointedly, but with a smile.

When we got home to West Roxbury, tired but more or less in one piece, a late commuter helped me carry Lili's stroller off the train and down the steps. "Heck of a day," he said cheerfully, as though he had some idea of how it had been, or maybe it was just the look on our faces.


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Jack's House

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Friday, October 14, 2005
And on the third day, she remembered the Escape had cruise control.

Chris, wipe that smirk off your face.

Thursday, October 13, 2005
As I've been driving I've noticed that truckers who
are being passed by another truck flash their lights
when the passing truck clears the front of their cab.
It's part prudence, I guess, since distances are hard
to judge from a side view mirror, and no one wants to
get slapped with the back end of a semi, even another
semi. But one assumes someone with a license to drive
a rig like that can probably manage to pass without
wiping the road with the other vehicle, so it makes it
courtesy, too. Like holding a door you could get for
yourself. A nice gesture.

I've noticed, too, that the passing truck, regardless
of whether or not it returns to the right lane,
flashes its back lights back, twice.

Tonight I experimented. A big rig passed me, and as
the second trailer cleared the front of my Escape, I
flicked my lights at him. There was a pause, then he
moved over in front of me and flashed his back lights.

I'd been feeling lonely, like there was far too much
Wyoming and Nebraska to be reasonably borne.

That made me feel oddly better.

Things like that: signs, and connections.


My dad was right about Reno. He said the casinos are cheaper to stay at than the motels. Sure enough, I got a $25 dollar room at the El Dorado.


My dad and Jeni stuck around for hours to help shift stuff, and wrapped up all our art in towels (Jeni was sort of quietly shocked and dismayed that we didn't have real bona fide packing materials, but she sucked it up bravely and did a nice job with the linens anyway).

It was a nice gesture, and indicative of how much things have changed, over the years.

My mom claimed my dad knew about the abuse all along.

The more I get to know him, sober now, mellower, the more I'm sure she lied.

Relieved to come to that conclusion.

Sunday, October 09, 2005
Well, we got them loaded and off onto the truck. Everything. Go figure.

Bec did most of the work in the 3 hours I napped around dawn; it was like the packing fairies came or something. I was despairing of finishing, I go to sleep, I wake up, it's mostly done.

She... is amazing.


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Shawn and Lili chillin' while we pack. Shawn watched both kids for ages, and it was a huge, huge help. He got hired. So did Tim. It just... rocks.

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Halfway done...

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Pam and the kids came over and hung out while we finished up this morning. Pam is wonderful.

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Gavin, Ian and Quynn, one last time.

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And we finally get them packed at the last possible moment and... the crates go away.

It's three in the morning.

All our worldly possessions are on the front lawn.

Becca has been playing an involved, epic game of Tetris with the stuff and the crates, where we march stuff down the walkway and she attempts to fit them into the crates, turning things this way and that. Although when you line similar stuff up, the whole lot doesn't disappear.

I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Bec just got a two hour nap, so it was my turn to look at her with tears in my eyes and say "we'll never get it all packed. The trucks will come and take the crates away and all our stuff will be on the lawn and it'll never get to Boston and we'll never get to have it."

(This I'm sure taps into some deep FSB paranoia about moving I'm not willing to delve into at this hour.)

Becca said "if the movers come, I'll send them away."

"You can't do that."

"Yes I can. Watch me."

"Really?" The hopeful, small voice of a once child who's so glad that her stuffed animals (or computer or very favorite mattress) is going to Darkest Africa *with* her.


I beam. "You can do *anything*."

"You think?"

Nodding. "If Becca says is so... so."

And I go off to drink some tea and pack more stuff.

Friday, October 07, 2005
Moments of chaos, interspersed here and there with moments of calm.

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Practice was rough last night. Craig running a lot of whole ice drills for no good reason, and a relentlessly high level of skater ability around me, so everything was fast, jump, hustle, do it again. Scrimmage was insane; new TC guys who apparently thought I was good enough to push around hard. That's cool; I just push back (and did), but it was tiring, and usually pushing like that is combined with some acknowledgement. I'm not used to just getting banged up and guys twice my size walking away like it wasn't anything. I mean, not in practice, not in that friendly context, or what usually is.

The same guys in the locker room talking loudly about riding their bikes behind girls on the trail even though the girls rode too slowly, so they could watch their asses. It's so different from what I usually experience there. Where'd these guys come from?

Odd, at the end. Dan stopped me and thanked me for getting him out of his hole, and back into hockey. "I'm in better shape and happier than I have been in twenty years," he said, which is more than he's said to me together in the last six months.

Dan plays on three teams now, subs on others. He eats up the ice and gives even Gil a run for his money. He was holed up, wasting, when I met him. I'm glad.

It was strange, though, too. That, and then "good luck. Goodbye."

I'm not sure what I was expecting, from him or anyone else.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
There's just too damn much going on. Packing. Playing as much hockey as I can before I go. I played with the Hounds again Monday; quintessential game, 2-1 against the A-Team 2, got to solidly cross check Pinsky when he decided kicking my goalie in the head was OK. Almost boarded him later, but it was him or the puck and... to Brian's disappointment on recounting it later... I actually played the puck.

Saw the Sharks vs. Coyotes preseason last week; score was... 2-1. Marleau and Marco on an assist from Marleau. Thanks, guys. Love you too, and will miss you. A lot.

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More later.

Any big strong people who want to help move things into the crates over the next few days, come on down. Will feed and otherwise entice as required.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

So I got this certified letter from my mom today. Certified. Like you get from the IRS or something. I had to sign for it. It was a handwritten note on badly centered home made stationery.

It read, in short, that she's too busy/upset/overwhelmed to see me before I go. To see us, her grandchildren, you know. Us.


She lives 45 minutes away.


Later, I find I can't resist:

... yeah.


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