it was lisa's first viewing of my place. giving a tour to someone who's also a homeowner is a different experience, like two people on the same wavelength. she came during a great time, when the sun was shining brightly through the southern facing windowed doors of the back porch. i even showed her the basement, something that most people never get to see. afterwards, we walked to the oxford spa to grab lunch, my very first time eating there (even though i pass by it all the time). i had a cold water sandwich (salmon with capers, $6.50), which was tasty, but i think i still prefer my bruegger's toasted onion creme cheese bagel with salmon and capers. the bread of the cold water sandwich was a bit rough, i ended up scraping the roof of my mouth. at the sandwich shop, lisa told me about what happened. i think it's kind of rough when you're the only person who gets laid off; instead of going out consoling with other laid off employees afterwards (like what happened to me when i got laid off back in june), you go home alone with your box of personal belongings.
a watermain must've burst at the end of my street because all day somerville city workers were busy jackhammering the road and doing something out in the cold. what was water at the beginning of the day soon turned into a river of ice. the construction crew blocked off the end of the street and all day long there was a traffic jam right in front of my house because of it. there was a police officer there, but for some strange reason the back of his trenchcoat said "medford police," even though they were working on the cambridge/somerville border. i don't envy those guys though, i hope they get paid more for working under these extremely cold conditions.
close to 6pm i put on my heavy duty cold weather winter wear and walked to harvard square to meet up with dan, first making a quick stop at the newly renovated fleet bank to cash in two of my latest unemployment checks (they're coming every week now since i've been on the extension, before it was every two weeks). i had a small bowl of pho with a glass of jasmine ice tea lemonade while dan had the vermicelli with spring rolls. when he wasn't talking about his recent trip to brazil, his new job, or the new card game he bought, dan was informing me of how much trouble i'd gotten him because i mentioned the fact that he recently got married.
after dinner we walked to the people's republik, the selected venue for a gathering of local xtshers (ex-screen house employees). rob was already there, having just ordered a thick glass of guiness. we found tables at the only windowed corner of the bar and took over that space. eliza hoover was the next person to show up. i've aim'ed eliza a few times, but i can't remember the last time i saw her (although i was responsible for letting her know about the gathering tonight, since she lived close by). next came julie, followed by elias, then eric beacom and david woog. the last two people to finally arrive were joel and jared. almost everyone who was invited came, which is a pretty amazing turnout. say what you will about our times spent at the screen house, but i think it's pretty cool that we've all managed to still stay in touch with one another. and people felt compelled to come despite the record cold temperature outside, like almost following a primal instinct to reunite. i think it's also very beneficial to have that kind of "fellow laid off coworkers" support group. it's been some time since the final layoffs (back in june), so some people have already found work (which is inspiring), but it's also good to hear from those who haven't, see what strategies they're using in order to find a job.
after 10pm was when our little social gathering decided to disband for the evening. i lied to julie that harvard square was closer and got her to walk back with me even though i knew central square was actually the closer t station. outside of the crate & barrel furniture showroom, julie was transfixed by a garish oil painting of flowers in a pot hanging in the background of a dining room set. believing that she'd seen the exact same painting for far cheaper price at t.j.maxx, she wanted to read the price off of the description tag hanging from the painting. i couldn't read the tiny text from that distance, which got her to reach into her bag and pull out her "i used them only for driving and movies" glasses. even with those she couldn't read it. feeling a tremendous sense of unsolved mystery, we continued our way to harvard square. while julie took the subway, i cut through the harvard courtyard back to my place.
by the time i got home, i must've spent maybe 30 minutes in the cold, which made me worried, because i didn't want my face to freeze off, and 30 minutes seem to be the magic number between having a face made of flesh or a face made of ice. most of my body was warm except for my gloved hands (which i put them in my pockets) and my face. the first thing i did when i got into the house was to go into the bathroom and make sure my face was still intact. other than the ice crystals forming on my moustache and goatee, i didn't suffer any permanent disfigurement. my clothes stank of cigarette smoke, which means i am one step closer to second hand cancer however. i can't wait until the day cambridge makes it illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants, just like in boston! if you're going to smoke, smoke only cloves, they smell pretty good.