Monday, December 18, 2006

Handcrafted holiday gifts....they're fair trade!

Last week I volunteered ("interned") for the Cultural Survival Winter Bazaar. Cultural Survival is a non-profit organization that works to promote the rights, voices and visions of indigenous peoples around the world. They have many bazaars throughout the year two of which are held in Boston and Cambridge around the holiday season. I found out about these bazaars two years ago from my friend Bekka and have done a lot of my holiday shopping there since then. It is a really awesome way to get original holiday gifts while supporting a very worthy cause and you get to chat with interesting people. The only problem is that since they are fair trade the prices are usually out of my reach, and I end up spending way more than I can afford to spend.

This year my roommate let me know that Cultural Survival recruits interns to volunteer at the bazaars and offers them 40% off the merchandise. So on Sunday, December 10th, I boarded a bus at 10:30 am and headed to Hynes Convention center to work from 10:45 to 7 pm and earn my 40% discount. Unfortunately I decided it was a good idea to get very drunk the night before...oops.

I woke up at 5 am asleep on a couch wearing jeans, an underwire bra and a belt. I figured out where I was, my friend Natalie's apartment, took off the bra and belt and fell back asleep. I woke up again at a normal hour and after being poked fun at and ingesting pain killers and water, I took off....Wait, where are my keys? We searched in vain for a while and I was forced to accept that I had left them at the party (why had I even brought them to the party when I wasn't driving?). So my friend Amy drove me to the hosts house (I don't actually know her), I got my keys, and she drove me back to Natalie's apartment. I had not allowed enough time for this excursion, so, I raced to my apartment, threw together a bag of stuff and ran to the bus stop. I got to the Bazaar just in time....

Hmmm....I probably needed to shower, my hair is kinda dirty, I hope it's not smelly....Wait, did I brush my teeth?...oops, at least I didn't throw up last night. Did I put on deodorant?...Oh shit! Oh my God, I totally forgot, Paco peed on my jeans last night!!!

Yup, that's right, I worked for over eight hours with dirty hair, unbrushed teeth, no deodorant, and jeans with Chihuahua pee on them! It's a good thing I was mainly surrounded by hippies.

I performed a few different tasks for the Bazaar. I handed out fliers and kept track of the number of patrons, I assisted people in raffle entry, I held people's shopping bags when they went to the restroom, I checked people's receipts and tallied how they heard about the Bazaar, but surprisingly enough the most enjoyable job was fliering outside.
The flier

When the beautiful woman with the dreadlocks asked me if I would go outside and hand out fliers to the pedestrians I was a little nervous and wanted to explain to her that based on past experience I knew this would not be the best job for me. But I said "okay", and another girl and I headed out to work the streets together.* At first, I was just really there to keep Emily company, we chatted about school and work and Boston and she made her pitch to passers by and we both held our hands out. She told me it was okay that I wasn't saying anything and that it would get easier once I "found my line"- I highly doubted this. But then, something amazing happened, I found my line: "Handcrafted holiday gifts....they're fair trade!"

I did a good job if I say so myself. I was very upbeat and cheery and got a lot of people to take the little flier and I'd like to believe I convinced at least a handful of people to go to the Bazaar. Emily even commented about how I was doing better than her by the end. When Emily suggested we head back I was kind of sad because I was enjoying the work and the company (she was totally interesting, really into consignment clothing and a Second Time Around employee).

Overall, it was a great day. I bought over a hundred dollars in merchandise with a seventy dollar discount. I got to see "Traditional Indian dancing by Hersheta" and I caught some "Traditional Lakota singing and drumming by Tim Swallow, known as Brave Elk- a member of the Teton Lakota band of Crazy Horse". I did good work, I met and talked with interesting and kind people and I even led around a seeing impaired woman and helped her to a cab.

I sent Cultural Survival my resume; I'm hoping they will take me on as a spring intern. If not I'm going to try to find Emily at Second Time around, I feel we should probably be friends.

*I know what you're thinking. Didn't your smelliness scare potential patrons away? No, I had a coat on, I'm thinking in the outdoors you couldn't really tell....I hope....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Welcome to New England. Don't like the weather? Wait 15 minutes.

I encountered this phrase pretty much the day I moved to New England over six years ago (six years? really? wow? I'm only twenty-four, that’s a fourth of my life!). New Englanders love this saying, AND for good reason- it's totally frickin' true!

On Monday I rode my bike into work (by the way, I LOVE commuting via bike!) and it was the coldest day I have encountered thus far- 24 degrees. Since this is my first time bike commuting I am still trying to figure out what conditions are acceptable for riding and what gear I need to wear for what weather. On Monday I discovered that in sub 30 degree weather I need two layers of warm gear on top and on bottom, neck gear that can cover my whole neck and up to my nose, and my snow mittens. I wore my snow gloves and they just didn't cut it, I was a little too cold. I may also need a full-on face mask, but that might only be necessary for sub 20 degree weather- I haven't decided yet.

Then yesterday morning I woke up and looked up, forty-six degrees! What? For some reason I still wore my winter gloves while riding, but half way through my hands got too warm and I took them off and rode with bare hands the rest of the way- and I was fine!

My beautiful friend Bekka, who lives really close to my work, had invited me to sleep over. So I rode in with a backpack full of work clothes for two days. I planned to leave my bike in the indoor racks at work (nice and secure) and walk to and from Bekka's. On my walk to Bekka's last night at 7:45 it was a balmy 50 degrees out (a note to all you southern Californians: 50 degrees at night in Boston in December is waaaaaarrrrmmmm), so I left my hat at work and just wore gloves (I wanted my hair to look nice for Bekka).

Foolish Melanie did not keep the old saying in mind, and this morning when I began my short walk to work I was in for a rude awakening. It was somewhere in the lower 20s (note that it was not really early in the morning or anything, it was after 8:30, the sun had been up for a while) and snowing and windy!!! My poor ears were so cold and painful that it took a good half hour in my warm, warm office for them to defrost and stop hurting me.

Then I made foolish decision number two. I asked my friend Mike (hi Mike, he is a blog regular) if he wanted to do lunch near his work (he works less than two miles away). See, Mike always comes over here when we do lunch; because for some reason it is always on days when I don't have my bike and would thus have to pay $1.25 each way to reach him via the T (he has a monthly pass so it does not cost him any money). It wasn't until after he accepted my invite (I had expected him to decline) that I decided to check the weather. The prediction was grim but doable, windy and snowy until 11 am, but the noon forecast showed no more snowing and didn't mention the wind.

A little after 11:30 (this time was chosen purposefully as it is closer to noon than eleven) I put on all my biking gear and headed downstairs. Things started off a little rough, I left the office and was immediately hit by the bitter cold- had informed me that it was 22 degrees but that it would feel like 5 degrees (keep in mind, since I rode in the day before I am missing some key sub thirty degree elements such as the neck gear). But I said to myself, "it's not too far, I can do this." Then I turned a corner, more wind, and more snow. Then I turned another corner, even more wind and snow. THEN I hit that stretch of Tremont St. that runs a long the Common. Have you ever walked through a part of the common with very few trees on a cold and windy day? It becomes a barren wasteland of high speed wind. I was freezing cold and the wind was making every effort to push little 128 lb me and my light weight road bike in directions that no bike rider wants their bike to move! So after seeing a mental image of the wind pushing me and my bike over and considering what would happen if I ended up with my bike on top of me in the middle of a downtown street, I got off of the street and hopped off of my bike.

The resulting walk back to work was bitter cold and miserable. I let Mike know that I would not be making it for lunch, and he told me to stay warm.

Suffice to say I am making a HUGE sacrifice and leaving work early today so I can take my bike on the T (you are not allowed to bring bikes on the T during "high commuter hours" which start at 4 pm).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's the BBC?

Hello loyal readers, I'm back!

First, a note to my regulars:

Sorry I have been gone for so long, my mother was right, I was using myspace instead of "imparting liberal wisdom". Thank you for enjoying my blog enough to bug me to bring it back, makes me feel special.

A note about grad school apps:

I found out they are not due until Jan. 8th. I am currently working on my statement of purpose. But I did a lot of writing at the laundromat last night, and I will be at work for like 4.5 more hours because my downtown engagement does not start until 8 pm and I am too lazy to go home and come back. So, I will do more work then. Claire, I am applying to UCLA, it is the only place I want to go...will you be able to deal with me being so close?

Now, onto the post...I'll restate the title incase you forgot: "What's the BBC?"

The past two Falls have taught me that flag football season is my busy season- it is pretty much the only time of year when I get any action, and I usually get my fill for the rest of the year (the "dry season").

I was just starting to make "A map of my life" part Duex and actually post it on here because unlike last year this one only involves kissing- no sex, and kissing is innocent and can't hurt feelings, right? I thought better, so again, if you want to see it, ask in a comment and I'll send it to ya, err, maybe I'll put a blog e-mail over in that side panel thing, if I can figure that out I'll do it.

So this "season" I made-out with no less than four women. Of those four women, three were actually interested in me, and of the four I was/am actually interested in two. To me this is a lot of people, to the cast of Sex and the City it is probably a small enough number to cause panic, but I am not in my thirties yet (I'm not sure if that actually meant anything).

More general stats about the four women:
  • I did more than making out with one of them
  • One of them slept in my bed....twice
  • I went to three of thier apartments
  • I made out with two of them in of them involved multiple kisses and being locked in a stall
  • I went on one full-on date, which involved me answering my door in a towel (maybe I'll explain that later), being driven to the restaurant, and letting her pay for the meal
  • Two of them played in the Boston Women's Flag Football League
  • Three of them were my age (graduated college in 2004 or at least should have graduated in oh-four, but took an extra year)
  • One is turning thirty next saturday
  • I communicated with all of them via text message
  • So far I have hung out in a datish sort of way four times with three of them

Haha, that last bullet was hard to word, and seriously it is because the lesbian dating scene is really odd, especially when it involves people around my age, I'm twenty-four in case you didn't know. I have been out on actual dates with two women in the past year, one was twenty-six (I think) and one is thirty. So what about the three women around my age? How do you define what I did with them? Well, one of them I just hooked up with, plain and simple...actually, not that simple, I may explain that more fully in a bit. The other two? Well...we "hung out"/ are "hanging out". I'm serious, that is the term everyone throws around. I used this term when trying to describe my love life to Cameron (my ex) and she made fun of me. But really, there is no other way to define it.

Hanging out:

We're not dating because we're not going out on actual dates, not really. We just text each other, and request each other on myspace and send flirty messages and e-mails back and fourth and then every now and then we get a chance to "hang out". Hanging out includes but is not limited to: meeting at a bar to watch a sporting event, meeting at an apartment to watch a sporting event or movie, meeting up at a club, attending a party together, meeting up with friends for a drink, making out in bathrooms and cars.

Rules to keep in mind while hanging out:

It's not really serious, so don't get your hopes up and try not to let her get her hopes up. It is safe to assume that the person you are hanging out with is also hanging out with other people, I mean, hey, you are too, right? Text messaging is a lot like IMing used to be, it's just the way people who are hanging out should communitcate and just because a person text messages you a lot does not mean that she is very interested. If you become uninterested in someone or if someone becomes uninterested in you, all you/ they have to do is sloooow down the texting. You pretty much stop texting them altogether and when they text you, you just send short responses that elicit no return response from them. I'm currently texting and semi-hanging out with girl number four of the season and I think I have figured out the game now. You just have to stay mellow, not too interested but not uninterested, just somewhere in-between, go with the flow.

The hard part of it all is what comes after one of you realizes that you're not really interested. Along the way with all of this "hanging out" you have probably gotten to really like them (whether or not that's in a romantic way) and thier friends. How do you get to a place where you can establish that it is cool that you're not "hanging out" anymore, but that you'd still like to be in thier life, as a friend, because you enjoy spending time with them and thier friends? It must be possible to do that without actually saying it and thus making things awkward. I'm still trying to figure this out with pretty much all of the girls, except for the one I actually hooked up with, I think she may be avoiding me altogether, which I have decided is another story for another day.

So what does the title have to do with anything? What's that you say? You've been reading for a long time now and still don't see what any of this has to do with the BBC? It's a story, a related story. It goes a little something like this:

Text from Girl Number Three: Hey, what are you up to tonight?

Response from Me: Not sure, I've been invited to do a couple of things, I'm still trying to decide which I'm going to. What are you up to? (note that the responder is making an effort to show that she is unavailable for "hanging out" this evening and is making no effort to include the texter in her evening plans)

TG#3: It's my mom's birthday so I am spending time with her, then I think I just want to relax and stay in and watch a movie.

RM: Cool. Oh hey, I found another good lesbian movie, Tipping the Velvet, well it's actually a BBC miniseries but it is rentable, you should check it out. (note again that the responder has not accepted the bait offered by the texter and has made no indication that she may like to ditch her plans in order to join the texter in these new plans)

TG#3: Do you want to watch a movie with me? (Responder's jaw drops when recieving this message. How could she have not picked up on the very well put hints that I would NOT be interested in joining her tonight?)

RM: (I did not have time to respond before the next text came through)

TG#3: What's BBC? (This text plays over and over in the responder's mind. Each time she utters the phrase with more and more wonder and amazement at the question...she fully realizes this makes her a snob)

RM: No, sorry, I already have too many plans tonight. British Broadcasting Coorporation. (note that the responder was careful not to add in, but I'm available....or we should do it some other time....or even maybe some other time.)

TG#3: Ok. (at this point the responder's notes that the texter made no mention of having already known what BBC meant).

.End scene.

My friends and I discussed this, and it was decided there are just some lines, some things, that you  cannot accept unless you are very interested and invested. Not having any knowledge what-so-ever of the BBC, that is just one of my lines. So now it is a catch phrase to be added to "making copies" (making out), and "the drain is clogged" (that guy (person) is hot). Here is how is works:

"Eh, I don't know if it's gonna work out. 'She asked what the BBC was.'" (of course the listener will know that she didn't actually ask what the BBC was but that she revield that she is unaware of or uninterested in something that is vitally important to you, or that you simply expect someone who you would be interested in to be knowledgable of).

It works the other way too, this is an actual quote (I haven't gotten a chance to use it in the above way yet, but you better believe I will as soon as I get a chance):

"Yeah, I'm not sure what happened. We hung out the other night, I thought it was fine, nothing wonderful, but not bad either. But, she has slowed down a lot on the texting and e-mailing. I think 'I must have asked what the BBC was'. I don't know when or how I asked it, but I must have."

That was a really long post! Am I forgiven?