For a long time I have been interested in researching my geneology. My father's side (composed of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestors) has been very easy to locate. My grandmother had already traced our family back to the 1600's in colonial America. I have many notable relations including Mayflower passengers and even a woman who was executed during the Salem witch trials.
My mother's side however, has been much more challenging. My mother's grandparents were all born in Italy. The language barrier as well as the lack of information has prevented me from tracing that side of my family beyond a couple of generations. Recently however, I was able to locate some Ellis Island records and track down some places in Italy where they had lived. Still these names didn't mean anything to me.
Now thanks to Marziotta, I have a map showing the locations. I'm not sure where my research will take me next but I feel knowing the names of towns and their locations is a step in the right direction, as well as having a new Italian speaking friend.
I'd love to hear your stories, does anyone have any notable or famous ancestors?
¶ 4:53 PM
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Saturday night there was a party in the apartment upstairs. The convenience of drinking and not having to drive was enough to motivate my roommate and I to go. The median age range seemed to be recent-college-grads so my small group was older and therefore more composed. I initiated a game of a**hole (which for those who are not familiar, is a drinking game you play with cards). I won every round and when people were amazed by this I told them how I had been the college champion and stated, "hey, everyone's good at something, right?"
It was entertaining watching people get drunk and do stupid things. While we were playing cards a group of girls suddenly ran to the center of the living room floor and started singing loudly along with a Madonna song. It was a bit distracting, but I still won the game.
The strangest drunken occurance by far, however, happened as we were leaving. We encountered a small group in the kitchen who were discussing two girls and which of them were more... ahem... physically endowed. The two girls were standing there, chests thrust out, while other girls looked and grabbed in order to determine the larger of the two, while a couple of guys looked on. They turned to me and asked who I thought was larger and one said, "go ahead, you can touch them." At that point I politely declined, thanked the hostess for inviting me, and left the apartment in a fit of hysterical laughter.
Shortly thereafter I was lying in bed watching SNL when I heard a terrible series of crashes from above. My room literally shook. Moments later my roommate came in and said there had just been a fistfight. I asked what had happened and she recounted how some guy had grabbed one of the girl's breasts (of course, it was the girl who had casually offered me to touch them) and the grabber and the girl's boyfriend got into a major fight breaking all kinds of things and making all kinds of noise. Luckily no one was seriously hurt but now we see what can happen when people drunkenly compare body parts. Remember kids, breast comparison and alcohol do not mix.
¶ 4:02 PM
Friday, September 24, 2004
This morning I was on my way out the door when my roommate told me she had something to talk to me about later which was probably no big deal, but might be. I don't know anyone who could shrug that kind of statement off and have a normal day so I insisted that I could spare a few minutes. She then told me that she had been getting bites in her sleep and that last night at 3:30 am, she woke up and ripped the sheets apart, convinced she was not imagining things, only to find some kind of bed bug casually lurking there. At that point she threw out her bed. When I say she threw out her bed, I mean that somehow, without making any noise, she managed to drag a full size mattress and boxspring down three flights of stairs and onto the street in the dead of night.
It turns out her bed belonged to one of her roommates from her most recent apartment who somehow failed to notice the infestation. She discovered that the people now living in the apartment have also been experiencing nocturnal bites. I am slightly horrified.
She told me that an exterminator is coming on Monday to treat our entire apartment and I think that will be for the best, even if it was one bug confined to one mattress and no real cause for alarm. After all, there may be other unsightly creatures we don't even know about. She is paying for the exterminator and she is terribly embarrassed and apologetic. Somewhat more stressful than a lone bug in the night however, is the fact that we have to undergo massive extermination preparations. We have to take the sheets off our beds (or bed as the case may be since she no longer has one), move furniture away from the walls, and clean all of our clothes out of our rooms. This may not be a big deal for her, but if you happen to walk into my bedroom you're basically knee deep in clothes so I have no idea how this whole thing is going to go down.
However, I assured her it was o.k., it would all be o.k., and I hurried out the door to head to work. Sure enough, there was her bed on the sidewalk, pillows and all. I am still in complete awe of how she managed to pull off that bizarre feat of strength. Perhaps that's the most disturbing part of this whole story.
¶ 4:16 PM
Thursday, September 23, 2004
For the most part I do not like reality shows and I won't watch them. That being said however, last night I was on the phone with someone who was watching the Bachelor so I tuned in momentarily to see the part where they introduce all the women. It got me thinking. Where do they find all these attractive single women in their 20's and 30's? I personally know a rapidly diminishing few. The older I get, the more of my friends, family, and generally anyone in my age demographic, are getting married, having babies, and "settling down". Personally, I don't necessarily feel that I am ready to take these steps in my life. But it seems like I'm the only one who feels this way. It's sort of depressing because I worry that I am missing out somehow. I think that surely there must be other women out there like me and if only I could find them and befriend them, we could assure each other that despite societal pressures from every other direction, we know there is nothing wrong with us. So when I sometimes see single women my age and older on tv, I feel a little better somehow. I look at them and think, "well, she's still single and she seems to be an attractive and interesting young woman." But then I remember that these women actually wanted to go on national television and compete with dozens of other women for the same guy and I realize they're not like me at all.
¶ 5:06 PM
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
There is just no way to eat a rasberry filled Krispy Kreme donut in a civilized manner. Some generous evil person just gave me one. The sugary glaze is sticking to my fingers and the rasberry jelly is oozing out onto my face, my hair, my desk. I've determined that you either need to eat them with a knife and fork, or you really need to cover your furniture with plastic and maybe just sit directly in the bathtub. This is certainly not a delicacy for mixed gatherings.
I've determined that I can never get another job. As I may have mentioned, my company is located in the same building as the corporate headquarters of a very high end clothing line. Every few months an unadvertised sale takes place where you can purchase sweaters for $10, pants for $7, shirts for $5, and if any item says "sample" on it anywhere, even tucked away on the inside, it only costs $3.
I took Friday of last week off from work and on Friday a sale was announced. By announced, I mean whispered through the door by the receptionist from the office upstairs. Thankfully I have sweet, thoughtful coworkers who know how important these sales are to me. So important in fact, that I felt an excitement like I haven't felt since childhood Christmas Eves. My wonderful coworker called me at home at 9:30 Friday morning and said that she knew I would never forgive them if they didn't tell me. She was right.
From the moment I found out it was all I could think about. Visions of clothing danced through my head. I invited my new roommate along since last time I brought my old roommate and after all, there has to be some perks to living with me. I briefed her on the strategy: we leave the apartment no later than 7 am. (The sales start at 8 but there is always a line out the door.) We must dress in shorts and tank tops, despite the chilly rain forecast, because once we are there it will be a thousand degrees. We should wear decent undergarments as we will be tearing off our clothes to try things on and don't want to offend anyone. We need to bring trashbags. No, not "tall kitchen bags", I mean literal trashbags, the bigger the better. And last, but not least, carry cash - as much as possible - in your pocket, just in case.
My alarm went off at 6:30 am and on a rainy Saturday that was a little painful. However I had been tossing and turning all night with dreams of oversleeping and missing the sale, so I was more than happy to get up at the inhuman hour. Out the window it was still dark thanks to the big, gray rainclouds. It looked altogether unwelcoming. Still, I threw on shorts, a tank top, a sweatshirt, and grabbed my previous day's ATM withdrawal of a wad of cash, and shoved it into my pocket. I exited my bedroom to find my roommate dressed and ready to go. We ran out into the rain and we were on our way.
Having my office right there is convenient because we can leave everything there and have our hands free for clothes grabbing. We got in line at the bottom of the stairs (a prime spot considering the line would grow twice as long before the sale began) and met up with some of my coworkers. As we passed the time chatting I have to confess to a feeling of wishing there were no one else there (except perhaps my small group of coworkers) because I didn't want anyone else to get my destined clothing.
When the doors opened there was a literal stampede up the stairs and into the high end clothing headquarters corporate office where cartons and cartons of clothes lines the halls and frenzied women were already tearing through in an effort to find the best things. I always try to find cartons that no one is looking through because I hate when I'm looking through one and someone comes and looks through the same one. However, it is every woman for herself and I have to urge myself toward aggression as I squeeze my arms through a solid wall of bodies and into cartons, grabbing what I can. The idea is to put anything you might want into your trashbag and decide on it later. I heard today that someone saw women dumping whole cartons into their bags to be sorted through later, but I can't quite fathom such uncivilized behavior. We are ladies not barbarians for goodness sakes.
After the initial rush my coworkers and I gathered in a corner and sat down in a circle to sort. I had managed to lose my roommate in the confusion and I could only hope she had survived the chaos unscathed. After I sorted my items into piles of yes and no, I started to try on the yesses. Unfortunately there were no mirrors so I basically had to go by the majority vote. At the end of the process I had a huge pile of clothes that I liked and had to sort again into definates and maybes. At some point during this endeavor, my roommate showed up and gave me several pairs of pants that didn't fit her. I have such a hard time finding pants out in the real world because they are always too long. However the pants at these sales always seem to fit me perfect - which is great considering they only come in one size and I happen to be that size.
All in all I walked away with 9 pairs of pants (including 3 pairs of jeans), a skirt, a dress, 4 sweaters and long sleeved shirts, and 10 short sleeved shirts and tank tops. All this for $135. When I got home and looked over the fruits of my labors, I found two price tags with suggested retail amounts - a shirt for $48 and a sweater for $118. In two items the clothes had virtually paid for themselves. So now perhaps you can understand why like it or not, I'll be working here until the end of time. They should mention these sales in the benefits package when they interview job candidates.
¶ 9:05 AM
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Now couldn't we all use this sometimes? (Like me, today?) Thanks to Marziotta for the link!
¶ 4:33 PM
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Yesterday marked the six year anniversary of my grandmother's death. I can't believe it's been six years. It feels even longer when I think about all that has changed in my life since the last time I saw her. I remember telling her during that last visit that I had just gotten my first professional post-college job. She was so happy. And then she died the day before my first day at the new job. I went anyway, for her. Now that job seems like ages and ages ago. I was there for over a year. I was at my next job for two. And then there was September 11th, and being unemployed, and working on a political campaign, and I've already been at this job for a year and a half. Not to mention living in one apartment for three years, one for one year, and my current one for another year. And how about the new people I've met? The blog entries I've written? The little ways I've changed that she never got to see? So much has happened in my life that my grandmother will never know. I miss her every day.
¶ 5:07 PM
Friday, September 10, 2004
The girl who gets some of the office supplies is on vacation this week. Usually, she buys things in bulk that we use regularly. Last Friday before she left, she asked me if I would order a couple of things online since she hadn't gotten to the wholesale store.
"O.K., no problem, what do we need?" I asked, pen in hand.
"Plastic spoons - we're completely out," she replied.
"Plastic spoons, check." I wrote that down.
"Um... we could probably use some more paper plates."
I wrote that down and affirmed, "paper plates, check."
"Oh yeah," she said, "and tampons."
"Tampons??" I replied, "Do they have them?"
"Probably, they have everything."
"O.K." I said and wrote down "tampons".
Earlier this week I was placing the order. Sure enough, they had tampons for sale. The problem was, they only came in cartons of 500. I ordered a carton anyway and the next day it arrived. When boxes arrive, we put them on the table next to my desk and that way people can come and look if they're expecting something. Most things are shipped in simple brown cardboard boxes. The tampons were in a brown cardboard box with large black lettering all over it which said, "TAMPONS". Needless to say, this resulted in many a joke or comment from passersby. My favorite was the guy who picked up the box and said, "Oh good, they're here!"
Meanwhile, they are completely the wrong kind of tampons to suit our needs. This may be a little too much information but we don't have a tampon vending machine in our ladies room (or in our mens room). Instead we have them arranged in a decorative basket near the sink (in the ladies room). Well, these were the kind of tampons that are intended to be loaded into vending machines and were therefore specially wrapped for that purpose and suffice it to say, ended up being a good deal more expensive than if we were to just pick up 500 tampons from the wholesale store. After some consultation amongst ourselves, we decided we didn't need a box of 500 specially wrapped tampons and we would just return them.
When the delivery man came back later I told him we needed to return something. He asked why and so I cheerfully explained that we had ordered a box of 500 tampons because apparently we could only order them in boxes of 500 and we just wouldn't be needing them all. He replied, "Hey, if you can't use them, you can't use them." I struggled not to laugh. Actually, as this story indicates, we CAN use a box of 500 tampons - for comic relief.
¶ 4:32 PM
Thursday, September 09, 2004
My landlord is insane. I have lived in the apartment for two years now with various people and there has never been any sort of lease whatsoever. I was told when I moved in that it was a month-to-month, tenant at will situation. The girl I moved in with had the rental application for me and said all I had to do was fill it out and send it to the landlord with my money. I did and never heard a word from him. No approval or denial of my application, nothing. I just kept sending my rent check every month and that was that. When that first girl moved out, she gave thirty days notice. I found a new roommate, now she has moved out and moved upstairs to an empty unit with a friend of hers and I have found a new new roommate. All of a sudden my landlord has been talking about a lease.
Last night the landlord came over and when he pulled out the lease, my new roommate asked why he was having us sign a lease when there never was a lease before. He said there had always been a lease. At this point I stepped in and said that I had never had a lease. He said I had, I said I had not. This went on back and forth for a couple of minutes with me restraining myself from altogether flipping out. Finally he said he would fax me a copy of the alleged document at work today. I eagerly handed him my fax number and said "please do". Do you think I received a fax today? Anyone? Three guesses... the answer of course, is no. Because the lease never existed in the first place! And part of me wants to call and say, "you said you'd be faxing the lease I signed today?" just to see what he'd say. But I also know that he would have some excuse "I'll send it tomorrow instead" or "I can't find it" or who knows what but I'll never see it and I would like to hear him admit that there never was one to begin with but that will never happen.
He claims that when I moved in the first girl I moved in with had a lease already in place. Supposedly I signed that one. He also insists that roommate number two and I signed a lease when she moved in. He tried to tell me I must've just not realized that's what I was signing. That's right, because I'm just stupid enough to sign something without reading it first - I don't think so!
I don't even mind signing a lease - he wanted a year but we negotiated for six months. If he's changing the way he's doing things and wants to implement the use of leases, hey, it's his choice. But there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that pisses me off more than someone telling me I am wrong when I know to the point that I would swear on a bible or a loved one or anything important, that I am right. And I don't take the act of swearing on important things lightly. Does he think if he just keeps insisting I signed a lease that I'll finally back down and admit I did? Does he think he can just push me around? I have been a good tenant for two years. I have brought him not one, but three total new tenants. And he has been nothing but a jerk.
He never fixes things unless we call him 87 times. Remember last year when we had to call every day just to get a key to the mailbox? Last night he said he would drop by between 6:30 and 7. He showed up at 9. Didn't call to say he'd be late or anything. He is the most inconsiderate, manipulative person that I have ever had to deal with. Yeah, I know his modus operandi. He thinks people don't know their tenant rights so he can say whatever he wants. My new roommate said, "what happens if we decide not to sign this lease?" and he replied, "If you want to look for a new place to live, that's fine with me." But I happen to know that we could refuse to sign the lease and in fact, stop paying rent entirely and it would take almost a year of legal battles in order for us to be officially evicted. I wish I knew someone who was an attorney to mediate for me. I wish I could tell the landlord off in no uncertain terms. But I need him as a reference should I ever decide to move out which sooner or later I will - preferably sooner. If anyone knows anyone who is knowledgeable about Massachusetts rental law, please let me know and help me show the mean landlords of the world (or at least this one) that they can't treat good tenants like crap and get away with it!
¶ 5:11 PM
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
If I had to sum up my weekend in one sentence, I'd say it included raw chicken and prickly fingers. The prickly finger incident was a result of my weekly grocery shopping trip. Stubbornly, I always carry in everything at once because I have to park a block away from my building and climb three flights to my apartment. I stagger slowly down the street, frozen entrees and milk cartons banging my knee with every step. Every week I swear I'm not going to put myself through that again. This time I learned my lesson.
After I dropped the bags in a heap on the kitchen floor, I shook my hands in the air since they were numb. I started putting away groceries and I noticed that the tip of my right middle finger felt prickly like pins and needles. I remembered that this was the finger I looped my keychain over before picking up the bags so the little metal ring digging into my finger must have cut off my circulation or something. All I know is, that was Saturday, today is Tuesday, and my finger is still prickly. It's better than it was, but not a hundred percent. I'm a little concerned like when you wake up in the night and your hand has fallen asleep and you pick it up with your other hand and it just flops onto your lap like a dead fish, unconnected to any part of your body.
The raw chicken is perhaps even more disturbing. I went to this place for lunch with my roommate and I got the half sandwich and soup combo. To be fair, the soup was very good - garden vegetable. However, I picked up my chicken sandwich and noticed a piece of slightly pinkish chicken which I removed before biting in. The sandwich was tasty but I was thinking about the pinkish chicken. I put the sandwich down, removed the top slice of bread and gasped in horror. There in plain view, lying casually atop a slice of red onion, was a piece of raw chicken. I mean actually raw, not undercooked. I took my plate up and showed the woman behind the counter who tried to convince me that in fact, that particular piece of chicken was "quite cooked". Luckily, I spoke to the manager who offered me another sandwich. I politely declined and got my money back instead. What made me the most angry was the woman saying it was cooked. I could say that someone was careless preparing my order and that it was very busy at that time, you know, we all make mistakes, some grosser than others. But then to try to convince me it was cooked when it was quite obviously a pink slimy piece of chicken flesh? Enough to make me seriously consider becoming a vegitarian.
¶ 4:45 PM
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Today my baby sister turns 20 years old. I remember waiting for months, watching my mom's belly grow and wishing as hard as I could that I would get a sister. I remember how my mother went into labor right in the middle of cooking dinner on a September evening in 1984. I remember how fun it was to have a real baby to play with instead of a doll. I could tell you plenty of stories about her formative years, but this is not going to be a Sunrise, Sunset kind of entry. I'll just say that it's strange watching someone grow up when you can remember a time that they didn't even exist yet. And now she's turning 20. My goodness, how time flies.
When I turned 20 my boyfriend at the time, who fancied himself a creative guy, composed a little poem for me that went something like this: "you've waited so long and now it's here, but the wait's not over, you have one more year." Because of course, all of my friends were already 21 and they would all, including the boyfriend, leave me sitting home on Friday nights so they could go to the bar.
Tonight we are taking my sister out for dinner but tonight is also the night my book club is supposed to meet. I have to be honest in saying it was a real toss up what to do because I couldn't choose both. Reluctantly I decided on my sister's birthday dinner.
I emailed one of the book club ladies telling her why I couldn't make it. She wrote back reminding me that we had decided to meet the second Thursday evening in September because so many people were going away for Labor Day. What a relief! If I had chosen book club over my sister and passed up dinner, I would've been sitting in the bookstore by myself wondering where everyone was. I guess doing the right thing really does pay off! Happy birthday to my sister (and this is where I would link to her if she had a blog of her own).
¶ 4:23 PM
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
You may look like a rock star with your touseled hair and your chandelier earrings and your red lipstick and your fancy heeled sandels, but when your pants have just come out of the wash and are now two sizes smaller than when they went in and you can't sit down without unbuttoning them and someone comes to see one of the chief executives and you have to get up to go tell him with no way of buttoning your pants without being seen by the visitor, and you get up, unbuttoned, casually folding your hands over your stomach whilst holding your shirt down over the strategic area as you walk into the chief executive's office where he's holding a meeting with all the managers who all look up as you enter to announce the guest, and wonder to themselves why you're standing there like that, looking like you have a stomach ache with your shirt clenched in your hands which are placed on your stomach in such a way because you're trying to hide the fact that you're actually half dressed, well, you'll feel pretty silly then, won't you.
¶ 11:57 AM