i biked to downtown crossing this morning at 10:30am to visit the MBTA office, get a sandwich at chacarero, then browse haymarket before finally returning home. the day was still a mix of sun and clouds, but the forecast called for rain by the afternoon, hence my early departure. temperature was in the upper 50's so i only wore a light jacket. i went on my newly fixed cargo bike, taking a detour to avoid that stretch of bad beacon street. it was still early enough that i got caught in a convoy of bike commuters all heading into boston. i don't like riding when i know there are people behind me, makes me feel rushed, which in turn makes me ride faster, which makes me tired. instead of going around boston common, i went through it as a shortcut despite the no-bikes signs painting on the pavement. i made it to DTX by 11am.

there was a line outside the MBTA office (i hadn't thought of that, should've came even earlier) as i received a number after telling the receptionist what i wanted to do: transfer 2 charlieticket values onto a charliecard, and replace my old charliecard as the RFID chip doesn't work very well anymore and i have to take out the card to swipe it instead of just swiping my "wallet" (i say wallet when in fact it's just a stack of cards help together with a rubberband). despite the large number of people, i didn't have to wait long, just 15 minutes. there wasn't enough room inside so i waited outside on a bench, giving up my seat minutes later when i saw an old lady; i sat on a different bench farther away.

when my number was finally called, the woman at the counter was also the receptionist i spoke with earlier. she told me they no longer do transfers between charlietickets and charliecards, which i think is a scam, since rides with charlietickets cost more. i asked her what happens to the change that's left on the ticket after it's mostly used up, she said i could put in exact change good for one ride to use up the ticket completely. i didn't even think this was possible. as for defective charliecard, she replaced it and gave me a new one. back outside, i checked the card to make sure it had the correct amount of cash. i also tried to see if i could add value to a ticket, but there was someone waiting behind me so i decided to check it some other time.

i biked the short distance to chacarero. it was early enough that there were just a few customers, the last time i came the lunch line was out the door. i bought 2 large beef sandwiches at $11 a piece. next time i should try the barbecue beef variety, don't remember ever having that before but it sounds good. when the sandwich maker was assembling my sandwiches, i asked for extra spicy. i brought the insulated tote bag to keep the sandwiches warm.

from there i rode to haymarket. it was a little harrowing, as i weaved between traffic, making my way down to faneuil hall. i wore my helmet which gives me a certain level of false security, but that doesn't protect the other parts of my body. to ride in the city you need a certain amount of courage, or maybe it's stupidity. early friday, some of the produce vendors haven't even set up tents yet. it seems like everyone was selling bags of gold nugget oranges, ranging from $2-3 for a 3lbs. bag. these were the small kind (identical to clementines), not the large lumpy ones. i left haymarket with: 3 bags of gold nugget oranges ($6), 2 bunches of asparagus ($2), 1 lbs. of ginger ($1.50), a sleeve of garlic ($1), and 2 fyffes super sweet gold pineapples ($4).

i biked back to cambridge via longfellow. approaching beacon street at inman square, i suddenly remembered the ongoing construction and made my way to find a detour. i ended up taking too long of a detour and wound up on broadway street, which was where i should've detoured earlier back near kendall square. i then found myself snaking through the heart of harvard square, getting onto brattle street to get to my parents' cafe. i probably added at least another 10 minutes to my ride.

i arrived at the cafe sweat-soaked. my old roommate li was there eating lunch (friday seems to be his typical visit). my sister's godmother came back home yesterday, and had just come back with my mother after a walk to the fresh pond mall. i let them try one of the chilean sandwiches, my mother said it was too spicy, i accused her of be overly dramatic (this is a woman who eats raw hot peppers). my father was heading to market basket, my sister's godmother and li tagging along. since there was no customers, i decided to eat my sandwich at the cafe. true enough, it was spicy, but not as spicy as my mother made it out to be. but given the typical american palate, it was probably too spicy for the average person, but just fine for me. maybe i've taken over the crown as the spiciest eater in my family. we also tried the gold nugget oranges, turns out they're kind of sour, nothing like the ones i bought 2 weeks ago. these small oranges do not look like gold nuggets to be honest, i still think there's some produce mislabeling happening here.

i wasn't expecting rain until 2pm but i already by 1pm i saw people walking outside with umbrellas. i decided to get home before it got any worse, just a very light sprinkle.

i went out again in the afternoon to get a few grocery items on sale at star market: polar seltzers (2 cases of pomegranate, $1.99 each), cheetos ($3.79/bag, buy-one-get-one-free), classico tomato sauce ($1.49/jar, spinach cheese and caramelized onions/garlic), new england coffee hazelnut cream kuerig cups (for my mother, $3.99 12pak), haagen dazs ice cream ($2.99/pint bourbon pecan and vanilla beans). i ended up saving 53% compared to if the things i bought weren't on sale. the rain was a bit heavier by then, i didn't have an umbrella, my cases of seltzer got a little wet.

i tried the scandinavian licorice frances got me, pulver padder. each piece of hard candy licorice has a weird shape, almost like a peanut, and has a dull finish on it. i've had this kind of licorice before so it wasn't as shocking as the first time i tried it. it's sweet, but also salty, and a faint aroma of ammonia. when i eat it, it feels like i'm eating ancient candy, back when it other flavors like salty and chemically. if i ever visited norway, i would just hang out at a convenience store and sample every single kind of salty licorice.

i started watching the new season of handmaid's tale (i don't have hulu so i download the episodes instead). i'm only halfway through the first episode: i thought offred escaped at the end of season 1, off to canada to be reunited with her husband and best friend, to start the resistance? so imagine my surprise when i realize that wasn't the case, that she was still a handmaid. i don't know if i can stomach watching the rest of the season. the show is like torture porn at this point, so bleak, so hopeless, a real feel-bad kind of show. maybe things will improve by episode's end, i sure hope so, because i rather be watching something else.

because that chacarero sandwich was so filling, i wasn't hungry the rest of the day. i did snack on some cheetos though, so that might've ruined my appetite. i didn't finally eat again until almost 10pm, heated up a jamaican beef patty in the microwave for 2 minutes.

i'm rewatching grease 2, a 1982 movie i watched religiously on over-the-airwave HBO as an 8-year old kid. back then i saw it in regular TV 4:3 aspect ratio, so it's eye-opening to see so much more details on widescreen format. panned by critics, i still have a soft spot for this film, and i know all the songs, which are quite catchy. it's one of the few musicals that i like (others being the original grease and rocky horror picture show). rewatching it again more than 3 decades later, there were so many things i missed as a kid. tab hunter as a substitute teacher? michael living in a nuclear fallout shelter for some reason. that the whole film takes place in the early 60's. and that the songs reproduction and let's do it for our country were actually about sex! it's worth it alone to see the movie just to watch a 24-year old michelle pfeiffer.