if i wanted to get out of the office early, say 4pm, to go hang out with renata, that meant i'd have to wake up early and start working a few hours earlier than usual. it's only unfortunate that the night before i went to bed at 3am so i would be operating under 4 hours of sleep. a small price to pay to see renata for the first time since she came back from her trip to asia.

when i got to work, there were two people sitting outside on the stairs, both waiting for the dentist office to open, one a patient, the other a janitor. they both stood up when they saw me, but sat back down when i told them i wasn't going into the dentist office. the janitor asked if he could borrow a power outlet since there were none outside in the hallway, i said sure.

i only had peace and quiet for the first hour before kristine and james arrived at work at 9am. i was sort of in a no nonsense mood today since i was starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work still left to do. by the end of the work day though, all the major coding was done, and all that was left to do was some minor cosmetic polish. we received some good news, one of the clients pushed back the deadline, but still left a lot of things to get fixed by monday. fixed is one thing, but then there's testing, and debugging, and retesting. i went out briefly to get some more cough drops and some candy, coming back through chinatown and getting some pastries for lunch. i left the office at 4pm, made a call to renata who wasn't home yet.

the train out of south station was special. there was some sort of malfunction with the lights in the cabin i was riding in, so only some of the lights were on, saturating everything in a moody dimness. the lack of strong flourescent lights had a calming effect, everyone was quiet, lost in thought, the lucky few going home around 4pm.

at porter square i bought some gerber daisies before walking home. it was starting to rain slightly, i had thought we were in store for some nice weather, but it was overcasted pretty much the entire day. i finally got in touch with renata, who said she was coming over. when she got here, she gave me a farmer's painting she bought in xian, china. she also had all her photos on flash memory, and gave me a quick narrated slide show, from taiwan to hong kong to parts of china. by the time we were ready to go out, it was already 6pm.

earlier renata had suggested we switch plans, from going to the arnold arboretum to perhaps seeing a movie instead since the weather wasn't very good. the rain was a drizzle at most, and looked like it would stop. the seemingly bad weather would also compel people to stay indoors, leaving us undisturbed at the arboretum. and you can talk in the arboretum, but you can't really talk in a movie theatre. getting to jamaica plains was a little difficult. without a map i'd forgotten how to get there, so our best bet was for renata to drive home, and navigate to the arboretum from there, where she knew the way, even the shortcut.

we had been to the arboretum last year around this time of the season as well, right before mother's day, where all the lilacs bloom for just a few weeks in may. it was for the lilacs that were we here tonight as well, making our way to the area where we knew they'd be. i was pretty much lost, and if it wasn't for renata, i wouldn't know where i was going. occasionally we'd pass a jogger or somebody walking their dog. i was having sinus troubles and had a hard time smelling things (which is a cruel irony when you're out lilac spotting), with an intermittently functioning olfactory sense. we went around sticking our noses into each lilac bush, teasing out the subtle fragrances between different varieties. renata kept on raving about how she loves lilacs.



bleeding hearts

underneath a lilac bush renata spotted a frog, which turned out to be an american toad. it was easy to identify it as a toad since it was far away from any source of water and had warty skin. the rather cold and wet weather seemed to make it sluggish, and it crawled around slowly to get away from us, but we just circled it, me taking photos. i wanted to pick it up but something held me back, which turned out to be a wise decision since toads can cause skin irritation.

walking out of the arboretum, renata spotted a rabbit, then a cardinal (which i wasn't able to verify). i suspected she was using some sort of animal magnet to attract all these critters. the sky, still overcasted, was getting even darker now by the time we made it to the car. i was coughing so hard, i thought i was going to puke. at that moment i thought, "could all this be allergies?" we drove to jamaica center, where we decided to have dinner at the centre street cafe. there was a big crowd outside so we were afraid it'd be a long wait (we had a backup plan of a cambodian/thai restaurant next door), but the large crowd was a single party, and soon afterwards a lot of people left the restaurant, opening up several empty tables. the food is an eclectic mixture of different cuisines with an emphasis on freshly grown organic ingredients. the bathroom was located in the back of the restaurant and involves walking through the narrow kitchen in order to use it. inside the small bathroom, a seascape mural worthy of spongebob squarepants envy. renata had some sort of curry dish, i went with a mushroom and chicken stew. the food was delicious, very hearty, although a bit warm for a spring day (it'd be perfect winter food though). i only got through half of the stew before i couldn't eat anymore. renata made it to the halfway mark on her own dish before stopping as well. we got our doggie bags, paid the bill, then left.

although renata said she couldn't eat another bite, stepping into the j.p.licks ice cream store next door quickly changed her mind. renata went with a kiddie size portion of some ice cream that tasted like cinammon. i had a small scoop of maple walnut served in a cup. you know you're getting old when you order the cup instead of the cone. there weren't any seats available inside and we didn't want to sit outside in the cold, so we sat on the floor, a special booth for kids, chalkboards on the wall and a bucket of colored chalks (which wasn't really colorful if you ask us, the lines always came out pretty much white). i drew a red eft, the object of my obsession, while renata made an ultra happy summerscape, with flower and sun and grass and even a butterfly that smiles. i wrote out an algebraic formula, which induced renata to admit she hates math.

driving back home (yes, i was wearing my seatbelt, thank you very much), renata kept on asking me if i could hear a strange rumbling inside her car. i tried desperately to find a channel that played 80's music, asking renata to concentrate and send ESP waves to the stations. i must've said a few inappropriate things because i remembered getting slapped in the leg a few times (she's a violent one, that renata).

grace jones - "i'm not perfect"