New England


Halloween party, MassachusettsSomehow two months have passed in Boston, and already I’m packing my things. Time flies when you’re doing nothing, especially when you’re having fun doing it. It’s been great to not have to work after a dull year at Sophos. Although I have been doing some work for Safenames and Meghan’s uncle (www.olsenimages.com), it was only about a week’s worth, and I could do the work without having to get out of bed. I had plans to do productive things with my time in Boston, such as learning Spanish, reading up on all the South American countries, and updating my website – but none of them got done. Laziness has been too good to resist, especially guilt-free laziness.

All that laziness is about to change though, as I’m off to Jamaica on Saturday. I was supposed to be going today, but I was no way near prepared. Last night I had hadn’t packed, and didn’t have anything for the hot weather, so I changed my flight to Saturday. That’s definitely the number one thing about RTW tickets. I must’ve rearranged my dates 10 times in North America alone.

Although probably the worst thing about the One World ticket is the inability to fly to Cuba and the US (actually it’s the fault of the US government, and their “Trading With The Enemy Act”), which is why I had to book my Jamaica to Cuba flights separately, and is now the reason why I’m not going to Cuba. Last week the Jamaican travel agent emailed me to inform me my flights have been “cancelled,” and they’re issuing me a refund. No proper explanation, they simply said “it’s beyond our control.” I’m quite gutted as it means no taxi rides in 1950s cadillacs and no communism for me, since I’m staying in Jamaica now.

Jamaica should still be good, Meghan’s uncle has been many times and highly recommends it, and it’s still in the Caribbean, so I will still see white sandy beaches and experience a culture way different to Europe and the US. Meghan’s uncle told me where the cool kids hang out in Jamaica, so I’m heading there, hoping I won’t spend the week alone (there are no youth hostels in Jamaica.)

So yes, I’m leaving Boston for good on Saturday. It’s kinda sad as it feels like I just arrived, but I’m looking forward to seeing Jamaica, Explosions In The Sky in New York, and eating chicken fried steak in Texas. I can’t wait to meet as many Bush-loving Texans as I can, and listen to their views on life.

A bedtime story, BostonI’ve been living in Boston for three weeks now. So far, I’ve spent most of my time hanging out in the apartment and in the college district nearby. I’ve been learning how save money and get by on as little as possible (such as stealing food in tupperware boxes at all-you-can-eat student cafeterias), and I’ve finally got into a routine of waking up in the afternoon. We have a mouse in our apartment, a cute little brown one who scurries across the floor at night to eat the leftovers from our plates. It’s been great so far, I feel like a student again. Sometimes I think back to Sophos life and laugh at the people still working there, complaining daily about their jobs while refusing to do anything about it.

I’ve been to a few gigs since I’ve been here. Boston has as many venues as London, but still the music scene doesn’t compare to Oxford’s. I saw Mono recently, and Broken Social Scene last week. Both gigs were good but not amazing, the support bands let down the night. The local supports here are nothing compared to those at the Wheatsheaf. Still there are some good out-of-town bands playing soon. Jackie O Motherfucker and Neptune are playing tonight for a Halloween show, so I might go to that, and Bright Eyes and Bell Orchestre are playing soon. Hella played here the other night but I only found out the following day. Gutted!

My first full day in the States, and I went to Vermont for the weekend, to visit Meghan’s aunt and uncle. It’s about 3 hours drive north from Boston. Their house – no, estate – is incredible. They own over 400 acres of land. When you look out the window across the rolling hills of Appalachia, they own as far as the eye can see. As Meghan put it, ”everything the light touches is theirs.” Their house has six bathrooms, two kitchens, and two or three living rooms. They have $12,000 paintings on the wall. It was a class of wealth I had never seen before. They’re upper-middle-class conservative Christians, who were very kind and generous, yet so different to the people who are usually in my life. On the first night we had dinner (Meghan’s parents were there too), Meghan’s aunt said, “Let’s say grace,” and everyone immediately put their hands together, shut their eyes and bowed their heads while Meghan’s cousin prayed, “Dear Lord, I thank you for putting this food on the table…” I had to bit my lip the whole time to stop myself from bursting out laughing. One half of me was in disbelief at what was happening around me, while the other half found it so funny because the only other time I’ve known people to say grace before dinner was the time Michael went to Plymouth, Indiana, and stayed with a family who said grace before eating a McDonald’s.

An after dinner anecdote, as told by Meghan’s aunt, was how much of a “nightmare” it was for her to decorate bathrooms in the house, because she said it was constant “shop shop shop.” She said, “One day I was at the checkout counter in a DIY store and I suddenly realised why I was so exhausted. So I said to the cashier, ‘You know what? I just realised why I’m so tired: I have nine bathrooms! No wonder I feel like I’m always shopping!’” I didn’t say anything. All I could think was: what was the cashier’s response?

Orchard in VermontThe scenic views in Vermont were beautiful, even though we arrived the weekend before all the leaves turn bright red and orange. All I knew about Vermont before I arrived was from the episode of Friends where Ross & Chandler go to stay in a hotel in Vermont and Ross gets addicted to the maple candy. So of course, I bought a box of this overpriced tourist attraction. It’s good, similar to Cornish fudge but not as creamy.