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Archive for March, 2010

Hair-raising success.

March 29, 2010 6 comments

Hello, everyone. Say hello to me, Boston’s newest freelance writer.

Hmm? What’s that? How did this happen, you ask? I’d be happy to explain. It goes way back. Settle in; it’s a good story. And it begins with my hair.

I’ve had issues with my hair a long, long, very long time.

It’s curly. It makes me look like a fourth grader. I switch products weekly because nothing ever seems to work well at controlling the curl. Or keeping it straight. A couple years ago I finally took the plunge and chopped it short, which I loved.

When I moved to Boston I decided a new life meant a new haircut. New place, new me. That was the idea. Because I was trying to save money at every turn I held my breath and went to this place called Blaine Beauty School. Basically the place gives cheap haircuts and highlights because the students are the ones who are the stylists. They are watched over by their instructors, but still, it’s a little nerve-wracking.

My experience was great though. This guy named Jason cut my hair, and he was the sweetest man ever. We hit it off and talked about everything while he painstakingly cut and highlighted my hair. Three and a half hours later he was finished. And he told me wanted to give me a haircut that made me more distinctive. He said my haircut would help prospective employers take notice of me and notice me more.

Two months later this is exactly what happened.

Last Sunday I was working in the flower shop when this woman came in. She wanted to buy flowers for her mother-in-law, and she didn’t care what she got. In her words she “despised the woman.” Haha. While I was wrapping her flowers for her, she commented on my haircut and how much she liked it. She asked me where I got it cut and from there we just started chatting. One thing led to another and I mentioned how I recently moved to Boston from Texas, then I told her I’d just graduated from college.

She asked me what I’d studied and when I told her journalism her eyes lit up.

“Journalism? So you write then?”

Yes. I write. Not well. But I try.

But I didn’t tell her that. I told her that yes, I write and I love it. I told her I’ve been looking for any sort of job that would give me more experience.

She whipped out a piece of paper and started talking again, telling me about what she does and that I should e-mail her. She told me she knew people at the Weekly Dig and at Stuff and at the Boston Phoenix. She told me she was looking for someone to work on writing projects for her. This woman moves very quickly and before I knew it she was out the door, leaving me with her e-mail address in hand and a fluttering heart. I was wondering if it was some sort of a joke.

A couple days later I decided to shoot her an e-mail to see what whould happen. I kept it quiet from everyone because I didn’t want to be embarrassed like I was with that other job. But after receiving a positive response from her I started to feel better. We set up a meeting for my next day off, which was today, to talk about getting started on some writing projects.

Basically, this woman is an event planner for JP Centre/South Main Streets. It’s an organization in Jamaica Plain that’s focused on keeping the community a part of the big cities. It focuses on shopping locally and drawing tourists into areas of the city that are off the beaten path, so to speak.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went in today. I was afraid to hope. I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

But, my readers, I was anything but disappointed. 

I met with the woman and she started reeling off story ideas for me to begin working on immediately.

She wants me write about First Thursdays, an art event in JP. She wants me to do profiles over interesting people in Jamaica Plain, one of whom is the former personal assistant to Steven Tyler. Yes, the Steven Tyler. She wants me come up with my own ideas and be creative. I have a bit of free rein with this project, I was excited to learn.

After picking my jaw up off the floor I started furiously writing everything down. She threw names and numbers of contacts at me so quickly I could barely get it all down. She suggested I write a story a week. She told me she wanted me to write a few press releases for her events; press releases that will possibly be in the Weekly Dig and the Phoenix, and if she can swing it, the Boston Herald and the Globe. The Boston Globe. Yes, the Globe. Me. In the Globe. It’s a slim possibility, but it’s a possibility nonetheless. (And in case you forgot, possiblity is my favorite word.)

She set me up with a more professional e-mail address and is getting me in touch with a designer to get business cards. She wants me to be able to hand out my cards as a freelance writer at events, because apparently, I get to attend them with her.

She wants to help me because by writing these stories for her I’m helping her out.

Why do I deserve this? I feel so blessed. Three months ago I was at home in Midland and had graduated 10 days prior. Now I’m in Boston, working at a flower shop and acting as a freelance writer.

What if I had never done this? That thought scares me even more than actually moving here scared me. What if I had never moved here, had never gone to that beauty school on that one night that Jason was there? What if I’d never started working at the flower shop and never met this woman?

What if I’d listened to the professors and advisers at school who told me not to move to Boston?

I have to wonder what I’d be doing right now. 

I know this isn’t a “forever” job. I know that it’s not permanent and I know that it sucks to not get paid for my work.

BUT.

But it’s something to put on my resume. It’s more experience and it’s a way to get my name out there in Boston. I am a writer in Boston. How supremely awesome is that?

I’ve always been told how difficult it is to get “in” in Boston; that it’s an extremely closed community to outsiders. This is how I picture it. Boston is a closed door. But I shoved my foot in the miniscule crack and I’m forcing my way in and won’t stop until I make it. I’ve got my foot in the door.

So tomorrow, I get to start working on my first story. And that makes me so unbelievably happy. I feel like I’m about to burst out of my skin with joy.

It’s days like today where I’m going to be so happy I smile widely at strangers. This is when I feel less skeptical and cynical about the world. This is the type of day where I’m able to believe in magic and in hope and in the power of dreaming.

Because look where dreaming big got me.

Such a feeling of disconnect.

March 28, 2010 1 comment

Today I felt unbelievably mixed up.

I missed my best friend’s wedding shower. Actually, I missed three wedding showers this weekend.

I realized this today while I was at work and the the revelation stopped me in my tracks for a moment. How was it possible that I was missing so much in one weekend?

It was the most disconnected feeling imaginable today. I knew the party was going on. I knew I should be there; that I should be participating. That I should be there supporting my best friend.

And yet, there I was. Sweeping the floor of a flower shop in Boston. Trimming the stems of flowers in a flower shop in Boston. Making bouquets for desperate men in Boston.

Categories: Uncategorized

A special night.

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night I actually had an encounter at work that brought me to tears.

It was Saturday night, about 7:40 (I’d been there 12 hours at this point, ouch) and my co-worker and I were starting to finally close up.

The phone rang and before I could get out the “Fresco Flowers, How may I help you?” the voice on the other end interrupted me with a frantic “What time do you close??” Frantic. Distraught. Panicked.

I told him we would close at about 8 p.m., which he did not like. He begged me to help him out and pick out the prettiest, most vividly red long-stem rose and wrap it beautifully for him. He said he was jumping in his car that second to drive from Allston to the South End. I could hear the desperation in his voice, so I agreed to wait for him, even though I wanted nothing more than to go home, take a bath and crawl into my soft bed. (At 9 p.m. on a Saturday nght. I’ve turned into a grandma.) He just sounded so sad and desperate I felt like I had to help him out. It only made it better that he had the cutest British accent ever.

So while my co-worker continued bringing in flowers I went to the cooler and dug through those long-stem roses. I endured pokes and stabs from the thorns and cut up my poor hands even more. But I found the perfect rose. I tore off a piece of cellophane that we wrap flowers in, grabbed a piece of the deep brown tissue paper and placed it on the cellophane. I decided to go with grass for the greenery to decorate the rose and laid it on the paper. I found the thickest and fluffiest piece of baby’s breath I could and laid it on top of the grass. Then, after cleaning the stem, I gently and reverently placed the rose on top of its bed of baby’s breath and grass. I tied it all up neatly with a bow and set it aside to wait for its recipient. (Or, the person who would be giving it to the recipient.)

Luckily it took longer to close than I antcipated so we were still there at 8:15 when a guy raced up to the store, sweaty and out of breath.

“Are you Katie??” he gasped.

“Galvin?” I asked, smiling.

Relief passed over his face. “Oh my god,” he said. “I adore you right now. Do you hear me? Adore you?”

I led him over to the counter and presented the rose to him, praying he would like it. I’ve never wrapped a flower with so much care or even cared so much about how someone would like its presentation.

He loved it and explained to me his reason for being so desperate for a flower. Apparently it was his first anniversary but had to work all day and then got off work late and needed something quickly.

When he left he thanked me profusely over and over. The gratitude was sincere and I was so glad I was able to stay late enough for him to get his flower.

After he left, with more strains of “I adore you,” trailing behind him I stood for a minute, wondering why this barely-put-together and desperate man made me so sad. It made me tear up a little thinking about how much he wanted that one flower.

I can only hope that the girl the flower was for appreciated it enough to warrant his distress.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Whataweek.

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Well. I guess it’s finally time to update everyone on life in Boston. A good update. A thorough update.

Work is great right now. Although the hours are long (LONG), the work is mentally and physically taxing and I’m exhausted by the time I get off work I love it.

Here’s a rundown of what it entails: If I open the shop I have to be at work at 7:30, except on the weekends. Luckily the shop opens later on Saturdays and Sundays. I spend the first 2-3 hours setting up the display out front. Some days, like Sunday, it can be crazy busy in the morning and the display will end up taking me close to four hours. This is good though because it means the time absolutely flies by. After that I usually have a list of things to take care of, which is left by the person who closed the night before. This can consist of things like making bouquets, sweeping, watering the plants inside and outside and myriad other things. It’s rare to actually finish the list within my shift though, simply because the shop does keep so busy. Especially rush hour. Whoa. Rush hour SUCKS.

But the job is enjoyable. It’s more about the people than anything else. My bosses are wonderful. They’re a married couple and started the company a number of years ago. My co-workers also are great. We get along really well so far. There’s two Katie’s who work here (big surprise). So the other Katie is “Little Katie” and I am “Katie Texas.” I like it.

Then there’s the customers. For the most part, people are great. I love making bouquets of the dozen or half-dozen of roses for men. They’re always so appreciative and I have to believe that somewhere in Boston one woman’s (or man’s, you never know) day is being brightened by something that I made. It’s a good feeling.

One day I was outside setting up the display and a man came up and introduced himself to me. He said (and the Boston accent was insane), “Hello, my name is Sonny. I’m looking for flow’as for my sistah. So’s here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna stand out here and drink my coffee. And if you would be a doll I want you go make somethin’ real pretty for my sistah. Thanks, sweetheart.”

Uh, Ok. That was amazing. And so I decided to get creative and I put together a bouquet of white roses and vivid purple tulips. I’m all about the simple. And that sweet, awesome Boston guy loved it. Or he said, “I’m a guy. Do’s I look like I know what to do when it comes to flowahs?” Hahaha. He gave me a $5 tip though and told me to get coffee. Thank you, I did.

Another morning I was opening and man came by looking for something for his wife. He said he only had $7.50, and what could he get for that much? I told him he could get a bunch of tulips but they’re $8. After begging me to drop the price (which I couldn’t do because I’m only an employee) he called his friend who lives in the area to ask him for a dollar. I guess he really wanted the flowers. Anyway his friend wasn’t around so he got off the phone and was extremely dejected. Then something pretty cool happened.

A bum was walking by and stopped and pulled out a dollar. He handed it to the man, who looked a little surprised. The bum goes, “You’re short, right? Here’s a dollar.” The other guy said, “Thanks, man!” And the bum says, “Don’t thank me; thank God.”

It was pretty cool. It’s things like that that make this job interesting. And life in general.

So now on to St. Patrick’s Day. It was so much fun! My friend from home came in town with his best friend for the last leg of their road trip and stayed at my apartment. Although I had to work from 7:30 to about 4:30 I met up with them as soon as I was off work. And from there the drinking commenced. We saw so many crazy people. Boston gets wild! There was green everywhere we looked, including a man dressed in a lime green spandex body suit. Haha.

I definitely should have dressed up better. I suppose now I’ll know for next year.

After my friend left on Friday, though, I got incredibly homesick. More than anything I wanted to jump in the car and hide in the backseat for the ride back to Lubbock. It’s not that I’m unhappy here; it’s just that it gets lonely sometimes. I still miss my best friends, my parents, my familiar and safe life back home.

But then I meet people who make this uncertainty up here worthwhile. I meeet random strangers on the streets of Boston who remind me why I’m here and what I’m doing. I take encouragement from the people who come into the shop and strike up a conversation with me when they hear me say “ya’ll” and then commend me for making the move. I see things here that I know I wouldn’t see or experience back home and it makes it better. It’s just a matter of getting used to the pace and life up here and then I’ll be fine. It takes time!

Stupid cake recipe.

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s just a random thought that popped into my head as I was baking a birthday cake this morning.

I am not a baker, by any means. My biggest fear when I cook or bake is messing up the recipe, and I am meticulous when it comes to following the directions. I have heard that cooking is supposed to be instinctual, but I have never been able to reach that level of culinary prowess.

So it made me smile when I realized that that although I am not always willing to live life by normal rules (i.e., moving across the country immediately upon graduation), I am too scared to make even one tiny deviation from a cake recipe.

Odd, isn’t it?

I swear the catch-up post is coming soon.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Whoa. Things got busy.

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

To my few but faithful readers:

(Who are more than likely my parents, a few family members and people back in Texas eagerly awaiting the next “Katie-fail. 😉 I say that in jest, I promise.)

Anyway. I logged on this morning to my blog because to be completely honest I could not remember the last time I posted. And I was aghast at what I saw. I guess in the last week or so I went and got an actual life up here in Boston. Now how about that?

So I promise I will learn to balance work, play and writing. I will learn to write faithfully on my blog at least 4 to 5 times a week. It keeps me sane.

So although I do have a day off today (!!!!) I will not be posting a complete update of my life right now. I will, however, post a brief overview of the goodies to come.

1. I had two friends from Texas come to Boston last week for the last stop on their epic road trip. They were here for St. Patrick’s Day. Two phrases for you: Green beer and spandex green body suit.

2. Work. I love it. I love, love, love it. It’s busy and crazy and hard and my hands, my poor, formerly pretty hands are beaten and scratched beyond belief. Ouch.

3. People in Boston. People never fail to surprise me. I see kindness from perfect strangers and it blows my mind. I’ve made friends with Steve, the homeless man. He brings me coffee and watches out for me. He likes to tell me if boys are checking me out. Hehe.

4. Homesickness. After my friends left, it hit hard. HARD. But I’m better now

5. I’m trying to figure out my trip to Midland in May. I CAN NOT wait. And I think I”ll be in Lubbock for a night! Hooray!

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m off to enjoy this day off to the fullest. I’m going to go curl up in the darkest corner of Barnes and Noble and read. Then run some errands. I have to pick up a package from the post office my sweet mom sent me. Then I have yoga at 4!

Categories: Boston...again. Tags: , , , ,

Making it in the city.

March 16, 2010 1 comment

I am laying (lying? I can never remember. I need ‘dat AP style book.) on my bed in the dark, trying to catch a small nap before one of my good friends gets in town.

I’m trying not to move. I’m trying to keep perfectly still. Because I am exhausted. I worked this morning in the little flower shop from 7:30 to 4:30 this afternoon. Whew. And the whole time I was at work I did not stop moving. It was fantastic. That’s just another reason I enjoy the job: There’s always something for me to do. I hate jobs where I sit around searching for something to do. So when 3 p.m. rolled around and I had yet to take a break I could barely believe it.

Rob and Myli (the owners of the shop) decided to let me open the store this morning by myself. I figured that giving me that much responsibility so soon after starting to work there meant I was doing it on a sink-or-swim basis, so I wanted to prove to them that I could do it. I wanted to show them I was a hard worker and that I would do them proud.

So I got to the shop bright and freakin’ early and unlocked the doors and turned on the lights and most importantly, the music. I admit to rocking out and dancing and singing in the store this morning. Eh, it’s not like anyone was there to see. Boston’s got great radio stations. I can’t help it.

Three hours, one broken vase, overseeing a delivery of 25 boxes of flowers and taking an order of 50 individually wrapped Gerbera daisies later I finished setting up the display out front. (As soon as I find my camera cord I’ll post pictures, because really, they’re gorgeous.)

That was just the beginning. Then I had to separate all the boxes. Half the flowers in the boxes stayed at “my” store (I feel I can claim it), the Back Bay store, and half went to the Newbury St. store or the Beacon Hill store, depending on what they needed. Every flower had to be immediately cut and put in water, so it was quick work.

In between all this rearranging I had to deal with the friendly transit police officer with the Jamaican accent and the resident homeless man, Steve, who likes to bring us coffee. What a sweetie.(Although I have to wonder why he wants to spend his small amount of money on buying me coffee. Nice guy.) And I was certain the Jamaican police officer was going to give me a ticket for the tons of boxes spilling out the front door, but really, he just wanted to chat.

I think I did well on my first sink or swim day. My boss was pretty pleased with the way I set up the display and only had a few things to change. It felt good.

What a great day. Even though my feet are aching and throbbing like nobody’s business and even though my entire body hurts worse than anything and even though my fingers and hands are rubbed raw (owie.) I feel so satisfied. There is no better feeling than working that hard. I’m sure it won’t always be this great. And I’m sure that I won’t always be this excited about the job.

But the beautiful thing is, this is me. This is me making it in Boston, etching out a living, however humble it may be. It’s sort of the most beautiful thing in the world. At least to me.

So far in Boston, I’ve got two jobs. I have an apartment to call home. I’ve got regular places I haunt depending on my needs: people-watching, the best coffee or simply a place to escape and read. I’ve got a room that’s finally starting to feel like a place to relax and be myself in.  I have a church I can go to when I feel the need. I know my way around more and can jump on the T without really having to think about it. I have a few people I can call for dinner or drinks, and people I’m getting to know better than ever. I’m making a small but humble living.

I’m making it in the city. Just like I’ve wanted to do for such a long time. And I’m not so naive to believe it will all be smooth sailing from here on out, but I’m going to take each day as it comes. No borrowing trouble.