Victorian Boston, Pesto, and Gertrude Stein

Well, I had quite an interesting wrap-up of the birthday list. I toured a historic house in the Back Bay neighborhood yesterday. The house has been preserved rather than restored, so you really feel like you are stepping back in time. Three generations of the Gibson family lived in the house. The one son left living in the house started “preserving” it about 20 years before he died, the quirky duck. He would have people over for cocktails or tea, and make them sit on the steps in the hallway, because he had the furniture in the rooms roped off!

I was feeling guilty about the two Ptown list items, so decided to make pesto last night. It was amazing!! I searched around for recipes online, and found one on a person’s blog. Her recipe was from a real Italian grandmother. It wasn’t the pureed paste that you find in the store…this recipe just entailed lots and lots and lots of chopping of basil, pine nuts, and garlic. And grating of parmesan. I will make the pesto again and again. What else can you make with pine nuts, by the way?? I had to buy a huge bag of them.

Tonight I finished The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Gertrude Stein is a gem. I want to read everything she has ever written. Even though she uses no commas whatsoever in her writing. The copy editor angel on my left shoulder was shuddering, but the anti-copy editor devil on my right shoulder found it oddly refreshing.

So, the list is done for another year. Thanks to everyone who accompanied me on my myriad adventures. 🙂


The List

If I cheat and use the Ptown visit and the Ptown whale watch as two separate items, I will be done with the birthday list by the weekend. I am having a really hard time with my birthday this year. I hope I can go to Ptown and just forget it is happening.

So here is the 35 list, completely unformatted because I have no idea how to format in this thing:

1.Watch 8 ½ January 5

2.Get Arthur Frommer’s autograph January 27

3. Walk in Hasty Pudding Parade January 28

4.Watch La Dolce Vita January 30

5.Participate in research study February 2

6.Watch 2001: A Space Odyssey February 5

7.Make funnel cake February 6

8.Watch Raging Bull February 12

9.Go to Matt Murphy’s Pub February 13

10.Watch City Lights February 19

11.Go to Globe Travel Show February 20

12.Make soap February 20

13.Visit MIT Visual Art Center March 3

14.Read Heart Is a Lonely Hunter March 8

15.Watch The General March 9

16.Watch The Searchers March 12

17.Go to Pigall March 16

18.Take tour of WGBH March 20

19.Watch Grapes of Wrath March 27

20.Visit Bunker Hill April 3

21.Try acupuncture April 5

22.Get David Sedaris’s autograph April 11

23.Join meetup groups April 11

24.Try mussels April 16

25.Visit Harpoon brewery in VT April 17

26.Buy Django Reinhart CD May 2

27.Try a mint julep May 3

28.Attend a taping of Oprah May 7

29.Visit National Heritage Museum May 15

30.Go to Watch City Brewing May 15

31.Have tea at L’Espalier May 16

32.Read Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

33.Visit Gibson House Museum May 29

34.Go on a whale watch May 31

35. Visit Provincetown May 31

So Long, 25

One week from today, I will be 35. I have the ’80s song “Final Countdown” in my head.

Not only will I say farewell to the 25–34 demographic, I will also say farewell to the 10-year-old photo on my driver’s license.

I think it may be the best photo I’ve ever had taken. I was a bright-eyed 25-year-old, not yet beaten down by the textbook publishing industry.

Speaking of the textbook publisher that shall not be named, I volunteered at an awesome nonprofit tonight, called the Prison Book Program. It is the biggest program of its kind in the country. Prisoners write in, asking for books on certain topics. Volunteers then search through a “library” of donated books, and package the books and send them to the prisoners.

So there I was, sitting in a basement in a church in Quincy, and a former coworker from the publisher that shall not be named walked in the door. It was totally bizarre! Comrade Dan Shaw. I hadn’t seen him in awhile, and it was great to see him. He was randomly stopping in to donate books. It got even weirder when later, all of the volunteers at my table were talking, and one of them was from Rochester and went to the same college I did! Now I have “It’s a Small World”*** in my head. And then it got a bit stranger when another volunteer took us on a tour of the church, and we at one point were standing in the crypt where John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and their wives are buried! It was pretty damn cool.

***I purposely link to the Disneyland Paris version because that is the only Disneyland/world/place I have been, believe it or not.

Bye bye

No Items in One Weekend!

Here we are, the second to last weekend before my birthday, and I accomplished nothing on the list. I tried to…but that doesn’t cut it. As Yoda says there is no try, only do. Or something like that.

I ventured to Mt. Vernon Street in Beacon Hill yesterday, to visit a historic home. I came upon this:

Closed during renovation! Well, it was interesting to walk up and down the street. I really haven’t walked around Beacon Hill that much.

So I have eight days to finish three things. Time is running out. Which means my birthday is dangerously close.

I have one blank on my list…if anyone has ideas, I’m all ears.

Falling into a Career

Last night I volunteered at an annual fundraiser for 826 Boston, a tutoring and writing center. One of the great things that the organization does is publish students’ writing every year. How thrilling for children and teenagers to see their writing in a real book! This year’s book launched at the event. Actually, two books were launched. One with the writings of Greater Egleston High students, and the other from English High. During the event, students read excerpts, and then signed books afterward. It was amazing. Some great adult authors spoke, too: Sue Miller, Julian Houston, Charles Coe, and Andre Dubus III.

I learned that Andre Dubus III fell into writing. Because his father was a writer, I assumed he learned the craft from his papa. But, he shared that he didn’t live with his father when he was a child, so never thought about what his father did for a living. He started to write when the girl he was dating when he was 20 took a writing class, and asked him to read her writing.

Tonight, I saw photographer Mario Testino speak. You may not recognize his name, but you have definitely seen his work. He has shot many celebrities, and worked for every major fashion house and magazine. He was Princess Di’s favorite photographer. I was shocked to learn that he fell into photography! He studied economics and law in school. After a year of work, he realized he wasn’t happy. He decided to move to London. (I can relate.) His friend in London happened to be in photography school. And, finding that he needed to be enrolled in school in order to get a visa, he enrolled in the photography school! And..the rest is history.

I envy those who “fall into” successful, exciting careers. Sigh. We all can’t be so lucky, I guess.

However…There is something rewarding about making a conscious career change, versus the random fall. [Warning: Oprah brainwashing ahead] I have to remember that it’s never too late to find a new passion/career! Take Julian Houston (who was at the 826 fundraiser), for instance. He spent most of his career as a judge. He wrote his first novel at the age of 61.