An eventful drive to Starbucks.


Sometimes I have trouble sleeping. I’ll stay up reading obscure articles on my iPhone or making mental lists of my “to-dos” and “faults” or sometimes I’ll just sit and stare at the wall, thinking about all the other things I ought to be doing instead.

Inevitably, those drawn-out nights turn to day with an early morning Starbucks run. The location just down the street from me is – fun fact! – the only SB drive-thru in Boston, although I personally think that SB drive-thru is the biggest hoax ever foisted on humanity. So today, having slept not very much, it’s 5am, and I’m rolling down 1A South in unusually heavy traffic.  Road work or whatever – like, who closes down a whole LANE right before RUSH HOUR, #god# – and I glance in the rearview and there is this SUV just hurtling at me from behind.

“WOOAHHF” Not the most eloquent of epithets, but it was all I could manage as the wind was knocked out of me. A half-empty can of Diet Coke can went flying across the car. My Yaris stalled out.

The driver of the SUV approached me first, a mild-faced twentysomething with a slight Hispanic accent. “I have a big favor to ask you.” He leaned earnestly near my window.

He didn’t have a license, it turned out, his girlfriend was pregnant. I don’t know the penalty for driving without a license, but I’m sure it’s no joke, and (call me racist) I worried for him if he happened to be undocumented. On the other hand, it really seemed like he slammed into me, my insurance deductible is perilously high (as are the points on my license), and I honestly don’t have the financial freedom to give anyone the benefit of the doubt right now.

It made me think of the time before college graduation where an ex-con driving someone else’s Toyota SUV backed into my Hyundai Excel at a stop sign. The damage to my car seemed innocuous, but it turned out that he’d crushed the radiator into the engine, effectively totaling the vehicle.

That time, I did not involve the police at the scene of the accident. This time, thankfully, the choice was made for me. The collision happened right next to a cadre of state troopers, on detail monitoring the aforementioned roadwork. I handed over my license and registration, and a few moments later the other driver was taken out of his car. There was much waving of flashlights, and I could see his passenger frantically making cell phone calls. I checked the weather. It was snowing.

After some time, the police moved us down the street ~~INTO THE STARBUCKS LOT~~ to finish up paperwork. The mild-faced SUV driver, who was suddenly screwed on a level I don’t wish to imagine, stood outside his vehicle, facing the headlights. Our eyes met awkwardly, and I mouthed “I’m sorry” in that weird way I often do when I’m saying something I know won’t be heard. And he nodded, like, it’s ok.

It turned out that he didn’t get arrested, which I felt good about, but the car was towed and then his pregnant girlfriend showed up, all in a tizzy. We stumbled over one another with apologies before I slunk into Starbucks to get my long-awaited dark roast and morning bun. On a whim, I also bought two small cups of Pike Place, for the unlicensed dudes in the SUV. I figured it was a bad start to a really shitty morning for them, and free coffee sometimes can make things feel a little less bleak. At least, I hope.



Snowpocalypse 2015: The Stop & Shop in Revere


B! and I just got back from the grocery store. We’d driven past around noontime today, Sunday, and the glut of cars in the lot made me wonder how many more people they could pack in before they hit fire code.

“Let’s not do this now,” we agreed, and went to breakfast instead.

Some eight hours later, we again approached our local Stop & Shop, reusable bags in-hand. I wondered aloud about what they might have left for sale. This is the same grocery store that went without ginger for three weeks, during the Market Basket strike, so my expectations weren’t high.



– turkey necks

– pig ears

– bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder

– tripe

– beef tongue

– calf’s liver

– oxtail

– chicken hearts / gizzards (apparently, they go together)

– a whole bunch of lamb stew meat

– three packages of short ribs


– bread

– 2% milk

– any other meat at all

Like, when I go looking for oxtail at Stop & Shop, can I find it? NO. When I need a bone-in picnic butt, do they have any? NO. But tonight, it’s all offal and pork belly when everyone’s out looking for beef chuck and chicken breasts.

We took the short ribs and ran, before someone else could swipe them.

That Jake Rises


That Jake has a history of jailbreaks. There was awhile where Katsu and I used to take him out on a leash, and that was really fun until he wriggled out of it and jumped the fence. Katsumi found him three doors down, in a tangle of old bike parts. Then there was the other time when he clawed his way out the window and our friend found him, shivering in the rain, much later on that night. So he’s intrepid. He’s a street cat. He does his thing.

But, I mean, he HADN’T. Not since we got him snipped. So B! and I were pretty surprised to find him on the other side of the window the other morning in the middle of a torrential downpour. Somehow he’d slipped out while B! was taking the garbage downstairs, and he’d been out all night in the most horrible weather. You’d have thought that would teach him a lesson, but tonight, just after I typed that last sentence, he escaped again and burrowed underneath the back porch.

In the meantime, he’s taken to defecating in the bathtub. So there’s that.

This is like a superhero movie where everything turns dark all of a sudden. Like Spiderman 3, but with whiskers and fur. And let me be the first to tell you, if the pissing comes back, I’m ready to get all Sandman on his shit.

If we all did our jobs this well, we’d still be beating our dinner with clubs (part II)


So B! and I went out to meet some new clients tonight at this cafe on the lower side of Newbury St. For those of you who don’t know, Newbury St. is the Park Avenue of Boston, and the side that I call “lower” is actually “upper” in terms of money spent per square inch – so much so that I actually felt a little squidgy going in. If I’d thought better, I would have brought my Gucci bag. Turns out, I needn’t have worried.

First of all, we walk in, and it’s like, ninety-five degrees and humid. Almost uncomfortably loud. Although the place was half-empty, every available table was covered with dirty dishes, and a single bench provided the only available seating which means we would have had to sit, all four of us, in a row, backs to the wall. Meanwhile, there were three kids behind the counter snapping gum and texting.

Luckily, SEAT seats opened up while I (inexplicably) ordered a hot coffee. “I’ll make you a fresh pot,” said one of the counter kids, just as our clients arrived. I was a bit flustered, having been almost late and kind of sweating in the tropical climate, so, after clearing the trash to a nearby table, I tried to act normal and got right down to business. About twenty minutes later, some other young lad strolls out of the back and decides it’s time to (finally) bus the tables.

“Excuse me – ” says my bride, flagging him down, “She ordered a coffee awhile ago – is that coming?”

“Oh um, I don’t know,” replies the kid, who i now recognize as the one who took my order. An uncomfortable pause ensues, as though he thinks, perhaps, that *I* know where my coffee has gone to. “Did you order it from me? I probably just forgot.”

“Right,” I say. What I think is: “Oh, OK, kid who works in the high-rent district of Back Bay but can’t be bothered to do his job. That’s cool. I mean, not like I paid for it or anything – not like I even WANT it. I’d rather have a Diet Coke, or even a cold glass of ice water. Have you noticed how warm it is in here?” I’m starting to seriously worry about my deodorant.

A beat. “I guess I’ll bring it over then. Hold on.” And he disappears.

“Um, that was weird,” I tell our clients, who are as mystified as I. And we continue talking about their wedding.

Five minutes later dude comes back over with this HOT HOT HOT cup of coffee. “My coworker must have forgotten it,” he says, totally blame-shifting but who am I to say, and pretty much walks away without another word. I mean, the coffee must have been sitting on top of the cappuccino machine, or in front of a heating vent or something. The saucer was SUPER warm.

I look down at my atomic coffee, which, though I smile and compliment, tastes like rustic battery acid and cigarettes.

Ten minutes later, they started blasting hardcore rap. We collectively decided it was time to leave. Another successful mission, by EcA Productions.

PS: For those of you who are interested, “If we all did our jobs this well, we’d still be beating our dinner with clubs (part I)” can be found here

(Not) Getting a Cab in Austin: Part 3


So when we left off, I’d just spoken with the owner of Yellow Cab Austin, and given him the sensible advice to not make promises he couldn’t keep. That night I had the opportunity, once again, to call upon Yellow Cab for transport – my flight back to Boston was at 9:40 the following morning. And lo! Behold! I was greeted with a recording giving a disclaimer about their dispatch service malfunction! I’d effected real change, it seemed!

Nevertheless, I made my reservation for 6am, and called Lone Star Cab as backup for a pickup at 7.

Me being me, I slept through my alarm. I woke at 7:30 to my phone ringing, with the taxi driver from Lone Star on the other end of the line. This is 7:30am, mind you, which is neither 6 nor 7. “Where are you?” he asked me, in a thickly accented voice. “I can’t find you on the GPS.”

“Um, maybe try a map,” I suggested, not unhelpfully. “I think it’s off Airport Boulevard, but I can’t be sure. I don’t live here.”

“OK, OK, OK,” he interrupted. “I be there soon.”

I got up, brushed my teeth, and set about packing. Half an hour later, as I was finishing off the last of the Diet Coke and smoking the day’s first cigarette, he called back.

“OK, so you are coming off I-35 from downtown, and which way do you turn off the exit?”

I mean, was I  UNCLEAR earlier about the ‘not living here’ thing? “I really don’t know,” I said, “I’ve never been to Austin before in my life. I think you turn right.”

“Right?” His tone was almost accusatory. “You sure it’s not left?”

“What? NO, I’m not sure! I DON’T LIVE HERE. But I think it’s right.” I stubbed out my Camel Light and huffed inside the house.

“OKOKOK, I call you back.”

I hadn’t yet had time to put the empty 2-liter in the trashcan when my phone rang again. But, instead of the cranky cabbie, it was a pleasant audio recording informing me that my cab was approaching. Yellow Cab Austin! My chariot had arrived – and only two and a half hours late!

Lone Star called back one more time, but I didn’t bother answering. It was my last cab ride in Austin. I wanted to enjoy every second.

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