i left the house early for the north end to meet up with eliza at 9:00. she's back in town with theo to spend the holidays here with her family before returning to paris. i put the house key for my roommate on the kitchen counter with a note explaining how to properly lock the door and my contact information. even when i used to work in cambridge and boston, i never commuted during rush hour, so it was a unique experience to be riding the train with so many other people. that being said, i imagine rush hour commuting to be even more crowded, since a good amount of people are cashing in their end-of-the-year vacation days.

the venue was anthony's cafe, that pink diner on the corner of commercial street and atlantic avenue. i bought a bottle of orange juice and found a seat by the window, knocking on the glass to get the attention of a woman who left her package behind. eliza got here a little late but i didn't mind, passing the time with the overhead television tuned in to NECN, and a copy of buy baby buy in front of me, the book i wanted to give to eliza. she pushed a stroller with little theo wrapped inside a cozy cocoon. i'd seen him a few times before, but when he was still a baby. now at 1.5 years old, he was a more grown-up toddler. he seemed like a serious child, prone to staring at things with this intense concentration, only to snap out of it with demands for food or attention. he had a very infectious smile, and reminded me a bit of philip seymour hoffman for some reason, with a dash of matt damon.

after we said our good byes, i went about wandering through the streets of boston, looking for photo ops. it wasn't the right day for the haymarket, but i went to a neighboring butcher shop (puritan beef) and grabbed a few bags of frozen goat meat. it was still a blustery sort of day, and even with the gloves on my fingertips still hurt from the cold. from faneuil hall i went down kilby street to liberty square (checking out the appleton building), then made my way to broad street and out to the greenway. from there i followed the path all the way down to chinatown, where i picked up a few grocery items from the lincoln street c-mart before walking further to the chinatown cafe to get a takeout of the spicy salt & pepper pork chop rice special.

i noticed the key was still on the counter top when i got home around noontime and realized that my roommate hadn't left the house yet. i started to get worried. maybe she's one of those troubled young person with an eating disorder and she might be dead already in her room. but i noticed her toothbrush and toothpaste were out in the bathroom, and a suicidal person wouldn't go brushing their teeth (would they?). i tried not to think about it too much and started to get ready to have lunch. that's when my roommate finally showed her face, on her way out the door. "you're going to need some keys," i told her, and them demonstrated the proper door locking technique. i saw hop inside a car full of other people that i didn't really get a good look at and then drove away.

after lunch i biked down to the cafe to deliver the goat meat, along with some scallions and a few bags of my mother's favorite chinese sunflower seeds. i finally got a chance to use the bike computer, but i didn't have it mounted correctly and it ended up rolling onto the other side of the handlebar so i couldn't see the readout. i went into the basement to inspect the bicycles. i finally found a manufacture date on the sturmey-archer hub for the raleigh bicycle: august 1973.

while having tea with my mother, i suddenly realized what day it was today: my mother's birthday! i seem to forget every year, too caught up in my own end of the year affairs and preparations for the new year. had i remembered, i could've gotten her a cake when i was down in chinatown!

i rode back home, locking the bicycle outside figuring i'd need it again tomorrow (hopefully before the snowfall). when i came inside the house, there were a few bags of groceries out by the doorway in the living room along with a 2 gallon jug of spring water. a large black jacket was on one of the armchairs. there was also a terrible smell in the house, like animal entrails. the stink was so strong that i lit an incense in the bathroom, trying to mask the odor.

when evening rolled around, i was startled to see my roommate's friend in the house. he asked if he could borrow a drinking glass. i don't know why, but it bothers me to no end when roommates invite friends over. i know it's totally unfair for me to forbid visitors, but it's stressful enough living with one roommate, so it's even more stressful when they unexpectedly multiply.

later he came out from the room again, this time asking for a large cooking pot. figuring whatever it was they planned on doing would require my intervention, i got up to help out but actually more to supervise. the stink apparently came from a pair of cooked lobsters that'd been sitting in the kitchen for the past few hours. they wanted to reheat the lobsters for dinner. i paused for a few seconds, trying to understand what was happening. normally lobsters are prepared fresh. once cooked, they spoil quickly. whatever happens next, they wouldn't be getting the best lobster experience. i suggested maybe they boil the lobsters again, but the girl proposed they'd be steamed, using a complex platform formed using dishes inside of a large cooking pot with some water.

naturally steaming the lobsters made them smell that much more. and before i continue any further, i just want to go on the record and say that i absolutely can't stand the smell of lobsters (or any kind of crustaceans for that matter). i'm surprised i didn't pick up on the smell earlier, because i'm usually very sensitive to its stink.

once the lobsters were done cooking (again), my roommate and her friend began the messy affair of eating them. neither of these kids have ever had lobster in the shell before, so there was a lot of trial and error. fortunately i had a claw tool for them to use. i kept on going into the kitchen to see if they were finished eating so i can throw out the smelly leftovers, but each time i went, they were still busy picking away at the carcasses.

the only good thing that came out of this was i got to ask them some questions. like: why are you here in boston? the guy goes to school in syracuse working on a finance degree, while the girl's attending NJIT (in newark) working on a chemistry post-grad degree. they've actually only recently arrived in the US, beginning in august for their first semester of school. "so you haven't lived through a winter yet?" i asked. "isn't winter already halfway done?" one of them replied. "no, we've only just begun," i warned them. they seem rather nonchalant about our weather, remarking that it gets just as cold in shanghai, their hometown, except it never snows there. they also seemed indifferent about their uncle, who's only a family friend and not a true relative. "is he going to take you guys anywhere?" i asked. "no, he has to work," they said. like i originally thought, they're only here to pass the time during the winter break. why they'd choose to come to wintery cold boston when they could be spending the rest of the holidays on the warmer west coast is a little confusing. their relationship with the uncle is also unusual. they said something about how he has a habit of dumping them at different places, and they basically then fend for themselves, because he doesn't really take care of them. they asked me some questions too. "so do you go to school here? or work here?" i thought about the question a little bit: "i've been in boston for almost 30 years. so i actually live here."

after dinner the guy went back to his own place on concord avenue. later i disinfected the kitchen countertop to get rid of the smell. i also of course throw out the garbage.

i think my conversation with the two of them has made the girl open up a little bit more. instead of hiding in her room, she had the door open the rest of the night (i think she was skyping or something).