Tag Archives: lobster rolls


How Boston Restored My Sanity


Last month, which shall heretofore be known as The Month in Which I Lacked the Mental Fortitude to Post, I shrieked “I QUIT!!!” to my car, which accepted my resignation with stoic silence. My husband was on business in Boston, my calendar looked like a rainbow had puked, I was sick, my kids were over-scheduled and I was supposed to take them to Boston that weekend for a family wedding (did I mention that we’d be flying on Halloween when they’d be all jacked up on candy?). I was feeling a little resentful about my dishpan hands and the lack of having a house filled with cooks and servants a la Downton Abbey, and that’s how I went into the month of Thanksgiving.

There’s nothing like a getaway and a wedding to fix a grinchy attitude.

I used to live in Boston, long ago. I found my apartment on a quick weekend trip, in the paper (back when people read those): $900 a month for a 2-bedroom, Harbor view, close to the T. Went to check it out, and sure enough, it was right on the Harbor and a steal with a parking spot too, and just a 10 minute walk to the JFK / UMass stop on the Red Line. The rental agent told me it was a diverse community, which I took to mean that it included doctors and dentists.

My first night there I was wondering why there were fireworks. I also thought it was weird that every morning I’d hear on the radio that someone was murdered in my neighborhood.

Yup. My apartment was in the projects.

It was fine, actually. I was a consultant at the time and mostly out of town, and when I was in town I would just walk as if I knew kung-fu and everyone pretty much left me alone. Except for the story of the Chinese girl (me) and the hubcaps…but that’s for another time.

One of my early Boston clients was near Faneuil Hall, so I’d grab dinner there frequently. I dragged my family there and we got lobster rolls. Good start to the weekend. I have simple needs.

Next, we hopped on a double-decker tour bus with open-air windows, at which point it started to pour with rain and howl with wind. There are no pictures of that since we were soaked to the point that we feared we might drown. This made me thankful for California.

The weather cleared up later in the day and we hopped over to Cambridge to visit a small liberal arts college near MIT (sorry, that’s a friendly jab at my cousin). We saw fall colors!

I look forward to our family weddings because our family, though huge (my mom has eight siblings), doesn’t seem to have the stamina to plan a family reunion so we rely on life events to bring the cousins together. Here are some of our kids. We only make girls:

The wedding was lovely and there were a few hours between the ceremony and the reception, so we walked around downtown and ran into Terry and Cornelia in the midst of their photo shoot.

The reception was at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf hotel, which happens to be where I lived for about 6 months on my very first consulting project. I used to get a cranberry-orange muffin at the bottom of the escalator from the Dunkin Donuts cart every morning, which is the only time I’ve been recognized as a “regular” in my life (and even then, only as the cranberry-orange muffin girl). It’s been completely redone and Dunkin Donuts has been replaced by Starbucks, so though I had anticipated flashbacks it looked like a completely different hotel.

The food was fantastic and everyone was happy. That’s what I like about weddings — they’re so happy! I’d forgotten by this time that I had no servants at home.

Now, you see that girl in the red dress on the right hand side?

It’s Jennifer Che from Tiny Urban Kitchen!!! How do I write this in a way that makes me appear not to be a stalker — she’s kind of a big deal. Look at all the award badges she has on her site. Then look at all none of them on mine. People actually invite her to eat their food and blog about it. I have to pay people to let me eat their food, and probably to get them to eat my food too.

My favorite thing about Jen’s blog are the authentic Asian recipes she has on there — specifically, the Chinese / Taiwanese dishes that I grew up with but never bothered learning how to make. After we got home the kids and I were inspired to try making her hand-pulled noodles, which I’ll dedicate a post to later. Suffice it to say that she makes it look easy while we made it look like larvae.

I was really excited to meet Jen, who was super nice and incredibly skinny for someone who seems to eat all the time. I discovered that she sings and plays a bunch of instruments too in addition to being able to pull perfect noodles out of a mound of dough.

Of all the cities I’ve lived in, Boston was never my favorite — probably because with my consulting lifestyle, I wasn’t around much. But it is one of the places where I’ve gotten some of my best stories (see “projects” reference above) and where I did a lot of growing up. And this time — thanks, Boston, for getting me back on track.