Pull up a chair and let me tell you about the craziness that is my life, in which I end up running into someone I have not seen in a year, someone I have not seen in five years, and someone I have not seen in four days!
Our story begins with a breakfast burrito, as so many do. A woman offers me the remainder of her tortilla chips so they don't go to waste, and I accept.
I am traveling with Francie, and because of the time change, Friday is almost entirely lost to the air. This is my first time flying JetBlue, and I love being able to watch TV during the flight. And the snacks are much higher quality; I have blue potato chips and shortbread cookies. Unfortunately, it appears to be the daycare flight: I could swear the flight is 25% small children. And they are loud. So loud. But when they walk down the aisle, they are cute! So cute. I am torn between "Aw, cute little kid!" and "OMG SHUT UP CUTE LITTLE KID!"
We land in Boston a little after seven. Francie and I are at different hotels, so I tell her to give me a call when she gets checked in, and we can have dinner. I take a cab to the Sheraton Boston, which is conveniently connected to the Prudential Center. I ask the receptionist for a good seafood restaurant nearby besides Summer Shack (which I am eating at on Tuesday), and she informs me that Legal Sea Foods is right there in the Prudential Center! That was the other restaurant I had heard was really good. Perfect.
My first order of business after settling into my room is, of course, finding the free Internet. I discover the non-free business center easily, but it takes me a few minutes to spot the computers in the lobby that I can use. They're monitored by SiteKiosk, which is extremely irritating. It automatically logs you off after 45 minutes, and it is so obsessive about PROTECTING TEH CHILDRENZ that I can't even do a Google Image Search. Or read Boxed Set on b.org, possibly because of the words "Big Gay Sex" in the header. Still, I manage to post about Death Note. Yeah, DEATH. You hear me, SiteKiosk?
I meet Francie minutes after posting at 9:33 PM, and I navigate the Prudential Center...poorly. But eventually, I find Legal, and it's still open. It's very dark and fancy. The menu is, as expected, way beyond my normal price range, but this is the beauty of traveling on the company dime. It claims the crab cake is "Famous," so we order one. It comes with a salad, and the description includes the words "contains nuts," but we're not sure whether it's the crab cake or the salad that contains nuts. Francie has a nut allergy.
She forgets to ask about it when ordering, and when it comes out, we inspect. She asks our waiter where the nuts are, and he tells her they're in the salad and suddenly sort of freaks out, like OMG OMG SHE HAS A NUT ALLERGY OMG. "We take these things very seriously," he says, and he asks what she ordered for her entree. And what I ordered. They don't have nuts, but he needs to inform the chefs so that they, I don't know, don't sneeze nuts on them.
A few minutes later, a manager comes out and takes a seat and says, "We take these things very seriously." Clearly! Francie just hopes she didn't get our waiter in trouble for not specifically warning her about the nuts. I've never seen anything like it, I half-expect the guy to comp our entire dinner just because she asked about nuts. This must be a money thing. We are in a place where people with lots of money go. People with lots of money get angry about stuff, like not being able to go online.
The crab cake is amazing. Way better than the one I had in Santa Fe. It's much meatier, and it's just...incredibly tasty.
For my entree, I order some sort of Italian seafood medley with a bunch of thingies in tomato broth. To my surprise, thingies are still in their shells! The lobster meat is encased in an exoskeletal piece of tail or some such! Look, I don't want to see that! It just calls attention to the fact that a lobster looks like a giant insect. I don't want to be made aware that I am eating an arthropod! I have to scrape the meat out with a fork, and when I eat it, it doesn't have a whole lot of taste to it. I had a mini lobster roll at our CEO's retirement party, and it was good, but this was sort of disappointing.
And then there are all these things in shells. At first, I assume they're oysters. Later, I think maybe they were mussels. Finally, I discover that they were probably raw clams. But during the meal, I think they're oysters. And they're awful. They're so fucking salty. It's like eating salt with a side of teeny meat. And the saltiness gets all in the broth and taints the rest of the dish. I'm not even sure where the mussels are; all I can taste is this stupid sea salt.
Francie, seeing that I'm unhappy, lets me have one of her giant double baked shrimp stuffed with crab. I can't really discern the two tastes, and I mostly taste breading, but it's better than what I had.
At this point, I must mention that I am wearing a Sinfest shirt featuring the Devil offering "Anything You Want" for the price of "Your Soul." We're walking back to the hotel lobby when suddenly I hear, "Excuse me?"
And it's this kid, like, he's probably not even 18. And he says, "Do you read Sinfest?"
And I say, "Yeah."
And he says, "That is AWESOME." We sort of stand there awkwardly as there's nowhere else to go from there. So does his dad.
I say, "Am I the first person you've met who reads it?" Or something. And there is more awkwardness because, really, he started the conversation so he might want to continue saying things if he wants to. But he doesn't.
So he leaves with a "Nice to meet you."
Francie says he looked like he thought I was a celebrity. I thought it was funny because I don't even read it regularly anymore. That's probably how a lot of celebrity interactions go, though. There's nowhere to go after "I think you're AWESOME."
I sleep in and watch some Saturday Morning Cartoons. There's a new animated Spidey series, Spectacular Spider-Man. It looks like the episodes I catch are the first two. There's no Mary Jane; instead, they have Gwen Stacy. I feel happy in the knowledge that there will be a new generation of Spidey fans, as I grew to love Spider-Man because of the previous animated series.
I need to grab a quick lunch before my first tutorial, so I scope out the food court in the Prudential Center. It's a little after 11, so some places are just opening. There's a place called the Boston Chowda Co. that has a lobster roll combo, and I figure I should have lobster while I am out here, so I order...and am told that they don't have it ready yet. So I go back and, just for kicks, check out Tossed, a salad place (I know). The menu looks good, but I have my heart set on a Cajun shrimp wrap at next-door Au Bon Pain. Because it's Cajun! And shrimp! There's a picture and everything. So I grab a drink and chips and order it...and am told that they don't have it, only the chicken and beef wraps. But...there's a picture! A sign, right there! Defeated, I say I'll have the Mayan chicken wrap instead...and then I do something I almost never do: be assertive, B-E assertive. I tell the woman that, you know what, the shrimp wrap was what I really wanted, so just forget it. I go to Tossed and ask what to order because there are so many good choices, and I end up with a very nice shrimp salad. Thumbs up, Tossed.
I take a cab to the Boston Convention Center, in front of which Aramark is striking. Union chants really aren't very creative, are they.
The tutorial is in the adjoining Westin St. Francis. Francie is already there, and I take a seat by her. As we chat, the women behind us note that we're from EthicalMedical.net. One of them, whom we'll call Validation, used to work at EthicalMedical.net! And the other one, Capitulation, used to work at a company that Francie had worked at (when she was there)! Now the both of them were at a company up in Novato. We are amused that the Californians had grouped together. I am amused that we happen to be tangentially connected to each other. It's a small industry, eh?
The tutorial is a disaster, and I don't even get to walk out early like most of the others because the class ends right before I get my stuff.
From the Westin, I take the Silver Line to the Red Line. The T in Boston is like the New York subways, with seats on the sides and poles in the middle. And it's a flat rate of two bucks. Because they're doing work on the bridge, we have to get off at Park and take a shuttle to Kendall, where we get back on the Red Line. The confusing thing about the Red Line is that it goes from being inbound to Alewife to being outbound to Alewife. No one told me there was a center! Why is there a center? There is a beginning and end, and that should be it!
Kyra (brouhaha) didn't give me a specific place to meet her at Alewife, so I follow the arrows to Bertucci's, figuring she will know where that it is. She does. We scurry off to her apartment. "Rice!" I exclaim upon seeing a Rice thingie. I forgot she went to Rice. Kyra curses her wireless and her computer because the new Doctor Who has not yet downloaded. But some kind soul has uploaded the episode to a private server, and it begins to download apace, outpacing the torrent. We huddle around the laptop and watch the countdown. 10 minutes left. 9 minutes left. 8 minutes 45 seconds. 8 minutes 30 seconds. 9 minutes. No! Go down, not up! Kyra wonders whether it's less geeky or more geeky to be doing this with a friend.
We scream when it's finally done, and then we wait for it to unzip on her ancient laptop. 2 minutes. 1 minute 30 seconds. 1 minute. 43 seconds. 27 seconds. We get it all set up and HERE IT GOES. This is the first time I've ever watched a new episode with someone else. We're both totally into it.
About ten minutes in, Emily calls. She is on her way! Ah! Emily (tigeremme), who has never seen Doctor Who and has little interest in it, especially episode 11 of the fourth season, which would not be a good place to start. Kyra and I watch for about five more minutes to reach a better stopping point and then take off to pick up Emily from Alewife.
Emily!! Yes, she is worthy of two exclamation points. Perhaps three. !!! But in Kyra's car, all exclamation points are soon consumed by the bizarre monstrosity of Sweeney Todd in Catalan. It's quite impressive that they could translate it and keep the meter.
On the way, I ask Emily how she is. When she asks me to be more specific, I add, "For the pink wedge, Arts and Entertainment, how are you?" She updates us on her music-related life. Then I ask, "For the brown wedge, Science and Natural History [sic], how are things with [her boyfriend]?" She is slightly appalled at my choice of pie piece.
We pick up pizza and cheesy bread from Domino's.
Back at the apartment, Emily exclaims, "Rice!" upon seeing a Rice thingie. She's not used to seeing Rice out of context. We load our plates up with pizza and cheesy bread. Emily reads one of Barack Obama's books while Kyra and I continue to freak out over Doctor Who. We lean closer to the screen when it gets all intense. Kyra gets to hear my patented "OH, MOTHERFUCK!" in person. And then it's over and we watch the preview twice because we're too excited the first time.
Emily has not seen VM S3, so I have brought my DVDs. She's seen the first three episodes, so I put in episode 4. We end up making it through the entire first arc six episodes and a bowl of ice cream later. It's interesting watching the show with someone who doesn't know she's not supposed to like season three. Who doesn't know that Veronica is clearly a supreme bitch. As we watch, I look for all the "evidence," and I mostly come up with, "Uh...that's not really that bad." The infamous Pizza Boy Incident? He was irritating, and she was impatient. The bitchy little kid? Totally deserved it. Patty Hearst? Okay, she's still awful.
You have to imagine me in the middle there between Kyra, bored with existence, and Emily, irritated with my camera.
Kyra races us to Alewife to catch the last train. The last train is, indeed, what we end up getting on. Except it does not move. It continues not moving for quite a while.
Emily asks me if there is any more pie. I don't get it, and then she reminds me about the pie pieces. I can't remember any more colors.
We talk about VM. I declare that Mindy O'Dell is hot, and she contests that notion. While Mrs. O'Dell is superficially attractive, she doesn't have the personality to back it up. "She's no Kendall," she says.
"Like this TRAIN," I say, commenting on its final destination. Emily groans, but I defend it as a good joke. She admits that it will only be funny if I write about it. Done.
Finally, the train gets moving, and Emily gets off at the very next stop, taking my DVDs with her. I was going to offer them to her, but apparently she thought it was understood that she would be borrowing them. There was no way I was leaving with them, she said.
The train reaches Kendall, and I take the shuttle to Park, where I frenetically try to figure out how in the hell to get on the westbound Green Line. I hear that I have to go down and up and around or some ridiculous shit like that, so I run and get on the first train I see on the other side. I look at the map and realize that the Green Line has five damn forks. Luckily, I've gotten on one that will get me where I need to go: home. Emily thinks it's sad that I refer to the hotel as home, but home is where my bed is.
For breakfast, I grab a smoked salmon wasabi bagel from Au Bon Pain. The wasabi is in the form of a squirted sauce, and it's pretty potent.
There's supposed to be a shuttlebus to the convention center, but it hasn't arrived, and the tutorial starts pretty soon. I end up getting in a possibly sketchy shuttle with some other people. He charges us a mere five dollars, which is cheaper than a cab. As we near the convention center, we see our shuttlebus heading out, so either it beat us there and turned around, or it was horrendously late, and we made the right decision.
This tutorial is in the convention center. I'm learning about the PSUR. Francie is taking a different course and learning about conducting oncology trials.
I walk into the room and try to decide where to sit. I go halfway down the aisle and turn around. And then I see a familiar face. Could it be...? I sneak a look at her nametag. It is.
Over a year later, here she is in my PSUR course. It's not too much of a stretch since the training course last year was also a DIA thing, but I did not intend to run into anyone I knew at this thing. I try to remember how to pronounce her name, whether it's with a short a or a long a. I guess wrong, but she doesn't say anything, thankfully. She's happy to see me; I lean down for a hug.
We catch up. There is very little interesting to say about me, but her big news is that she's pregnant. So, no, she hasn't just developed a beer belly. She uses this joke frequently, but it never makes any sense because the bump is hardly visible! My belly is bigger than hers, for crying out loud. I will compare them side-by-side when we part ways on Thursday, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Spoilers.
As if running into her weren't strange enough, she's also staying at my hotel! We exchange room numbers. We're not on the same floor. That would have been weird.
Of course, Nadia seems to know everyone. She used to work with a woman sitting behind us, and she encounters another past co-worker during the break, and I think she meets someone else after the class.
She asks me what I'm doing the rest of the day, and I tell her I already have plans for lunch and dinner, but is she interested in pub trivia? No, but her husband may be. He was working from the hotel room, and she was going to the networking reception later in the evening. She calls and asks him if he's interested, and he's game. She refers to me in such a way as to indicate that our adventures in Philadelphia were worth talking about. Clearly, they were worth it for me, but it is nice that she felt the same way. Nadia gives me her husband's cell phone number to coordinate. We talk more on the shuttle back to the hotel. I don't know what about, a week later. We talked a lot. It kept me from my reading, but I think my books will forgive me.
Hold up, I have remembered one thing we talked about: cannolis. I tell her about Mission: Cannoli, and she cautions me not to be put off cannolis forever if I have a bad one, as a good cannoli is the best thing in the world. She relates the story of a cannoli she still remembers years later, one she got in a random Mom-and-Pop Italian restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It tasted like naphthalene (moth balls).
I take a cab to the Cambridgeside Galleria, and the cabbie conveniently drops me off right next to the Cheesecake Factory. I see the group of TWoPers waiting outside. I was going to crash the Boston TWoPcon. At least I know smrou (now with cute new haircut!) and bookie85 and, later, erinkayehashet, whom I haven't met before. The only other person whose name sounds familiar is Romantique, whom I must have seen in the Gilmore Girls forum.
There are quite a few of us. frenchtoast awesomely made nametags with our board names. We add our real names. Now you can see that thing I do:
What follows is an experiment in flash:
The table is large, and we try to introduce ourselves and list the shows we watch, but it stalls for a while right before it gets to me. We pick it up later, but I don't think anyone remembers anything. We watch a lot of TV.
We also talk about a lot of TV, from our favorite Family Guy gags to how spoiled smrou and I are for season 5 of The Wire.
For food, I order us some lettuce wraps as an appetizer, and we debate the merits of food you have to work to eat. My lunch is the Louisiana chicken pasta, and it's really good, as things from the Cheesecake Factory tend to be. ShadowDenizen next to me is nice enough to offer me a taste of his chicken dish as well. I have actually missed chicken, having been so obsessed with eating seafood while I'm here.
We spend a lot of time talking, even after dessert. It's a good group of people, even though the table is so big we're split into two conversations.
After lunch, the group slowly dissipates until there's just one person left to take a picture of the GGMMers:
Unfortunately, erinkayehashet can't spend the day with us, which saddens me because I assumed she was going to be hanging out with us afterward, so I didn't mind not being able to talk to her much during lunch. But we tell her about pub trivia, and she says she can join us for that, so huzzah.
The three of us remaining embark on Mission: Cannoli. smrou drives, and at one point, she refers to "banging a U-ie." I am all, WTF. I have never heard this term in all my life, and I have lived a lot of places. Everywhere else ever, we call it "making a U-turn," I say. smrou thinks "banging a U-ie" is perfectly fine, and I say we try to be proper! In fact, we actually call it "performing a U-turn maneuver."
smrou parks underneath the Boston Common, and we walk toward the North End. We pass the cemetery that was closed the last time I was here, though, so I ask to go in and see Sam Adams's grave up close. Someone from the 18th century is giving a tour, and I am amused because I'm reading Choke, in which the main character works at a colonial theme park. We look at various gravestones, marveling at the people who managed to live lives longer than thirty. We see Paul Revere's tomb. We also come across this one:
"Gone, but not forgotten," quips smrou.
As we approach Fanueil Hall, we hear the familiar sounds of The Most Demanding Dancers Ever. Sure enough, the troupe is asking everyone to come closer. When we do not, one of the dancers (the troupe is all black this time, although the last time, smrou said there was an Asian woman) says, "Don't be afraid of us, white people! We will not hurt you!" They spend most of their time asking their audience to repeat back "Yeah," "Yeah," and then "Oh yeah." Eventually, they start doing some dances to a song whose lyrics appear to be "Everybody clap." So, of course, they vigorously encourage everybody to clap. If you don't clap, they get upset. Before the show, in fact, they said that if we see something we like, we should clap, and if we see something we don't like...we should still clap. Some of the dancing is lame, and some of it is impressive; these guys obviously have very strong arms and legs. smrou is less impressed because she watches So You Think You Can Dance?
They start building up to a grand finale called the Leap of Death, but they know that everyone will leave after they're done, so they pass around the hat for people to drop money in. The ringleader claims that if he sees us leaving without donating, he will follow us home and rob us. Wonderful! But then it starts drizzling, and the troupe wusses out of the Leap of Death, saying that if we only wait a while, they'll do it. smrou, having encountered them before, knows they tend to spend more time asking for money than earning it.
We stroll through the North End, and smrou takes the long way to Hanover Street, not realizing she's the one in charge. But Modern Pastry is upon us, finally, and we get in line. I don't know what kind of
I was not expecting it to be so crunchy. I like it. Clearly.
We take a long walk down Tremont and Boylston toward my hotel, keeping an eye out for dinner options. We follow the sound of bagpipes to McGreevy's. We pass what is purportedly the largest Apple store in the world:
There are a number of restaurants on the other side of Boylston, so we cross and backtrack. I am intrigued by Typhoon, an "Asian bistro." As we're seated and I look at the menu, I hope it's not too expensive. Money is no object for me, but they have budgets. They say it's fine, though. smrou likes that she can get some sushi, as she's not extremely hungry. And bookie85, who doesn't like sushi, also has options. I settle on the crispy duck. But first, I screw our waiter up by asking for water with no lemon; it must be his first day because he's about to bring me mineral water when someone comes and explains how to do it.
Meanwhile, I discover that I have been holding my chopsticks incorrectly all this time, but I can't figure out how to work them the way the wrapper says to, so I stick with my way. My duck is crispy and tastes like duck. I also have some of smrou's sushi that she can't finish.
As we walk to the hotel, I call Nadia's husband, Marshall. I identify myself and ask if he's still up for pub trivia. He is. I tell him we're on our way, and we'll meet him in the lobby in about ten minutes. Before I hang up, he asks what I look like. I remember that we've never met. "I'm the Indian guy with a goatee," I say.
"I'm the tall, skinny, bald guy," he says.
True to his word, a tall, skinny, bald guy approaches an Indian guy with a goatee in the lobby. I am at the computer; I introduce him to smrou and bookie85. As we wait for erinkayehashet, Marshall describes what he does, and we stare in awe and/or confusion. He manages teams who write the software for hardware. Essentially. Or something.
Once erinkayehashet arrives, we begin our short trek to Our House East a half mile away. The "banging a U-ie" conversation is resurrect, now with added "How do you spell it?" smrou asks Marshall to weigh in, and I really appreciate her effort to include him in the group; either she learned that trick in How Not to Traumatize Your Students 101 or she's just a nice person. I cannot now remember whether Marshall, from North Carolina, was familiar with the expression or not. Probably not! I mean, come on. Banging a U-ie. Really.
We walk down Massachusetts Avenue. "You mean Mass Ave?" corrects smrou. I yell that no one around here can bother to say entire words. She referred to the Prudential Center as "the Pru," for God's sake. I start to refer to it as the Pru...dential Center.
We enter Our House East and must show IDs. Because I have an out-of-state license, I am required to show something else with my name on it. This is a practice I have not encountered before.
If we hear correctly, trivia starts at 9:30, not 8:30. That lying website. So we're early instead of late. Which is fine because Marshall and erinkayehashet need to eat. They both order Caesar salads that take a long time to come out. Marshall wonders why it takes so long to sprinkle some cheese on some lettuce.
To pass the time, I teach everyone Botticelli and inadvertently stump the hell out of everyone with TOM CRUISE. Seriously, it takes them nearly an hour to get. I make sure to give Marshall positive reinforcement when he asks a good question, as he feels rather out of his element among all these television people, not having had a television for three years.
They are so stumped I use the restroom to give them time to think. Surprisingly, the restroom is kind of shitty, like a bus station restroom. I am glad to know that if I only had four quarters, I could buy a condom.
The trivia jockey is late, which gives Nadia time to join us. We continue playing Botticelli during the trivia, as the songs are usually much longer than we need to come up with an answer. Teapot Xtreme is only facing four or five other teams tonight, so we hope not to suck. I will not go into excruciating detail about all the questions and answers, but it's a good game with most everyone contributing something worthwhile. Marshall scores us eight points by knowing that the Detroit Red Wings throw a fucking octopus onto the ice for good luck. The bizarre category of gemology asks me, a September birthday, what month's birthstone the sapphire is. In non-trivia news, we sing along to "Don't Look Back in Anger."
Going into the final round, we discover we are in first place. We cheer exuberantly. For the final round, we go for broke and wager 10 points for each question. I say that if we lose by a little bit now, it'll be irritating, so if we lose, we better lose big. We are pretty confident that the first actress to be put on a stamp is Natalie Wood...except it's Grace Kelly. We are pretty confident that the director who had five films in the AFI Top 100 is Hitchcock...except it's Spielberg. Oddly, when the trivia jockey reads the final scores, he seems to have given us points for that one, maybe because he knew that smrou's first guess was Spielberg before we decided against it. In any case, I don't think it made any difference since we still win second place!
The GGMMers have to dash away to catch the last train after hearing the news, so Marshall, Nadia, and I wait around to see what we've won. Well, we can choose between a pitcher of beer or some free T-shirts. We unanimously choose T-shirts. The manager comes out with shirts featuring three beers. We each take a different one. I take Killian's. It has a horsey.
For Monday's breakfast, I hit the Dunkin Donuts in the Pru...dential Center. I forgot to mention this in my previous Boston post, but Boston has a shitload of Dunkin Donutseseses. As Marshall pointed out the night before, it's the only place where there are more Dunkin Donuts than Starbucks. I have a fondness for Dunkin Donuts since I used to live in Pittsburgh, and they were likely my introduction to the wonderful world of donuts. So I make sure to get a chocolate frosted donut and milk while I can. This morning, the shuttlebus is there, and I eat my donut on the way.
Inside the convention center, I hear my name being called, and it's Val! We chat a bit. It's the last time I see her alive.
(Francie sees her alive later, so I'm sure she's okay.)
(This may have happened on Sunday.)
Everyone is waiting outside the hall for the plenary session, and I don't know anyone, so I sit down and read. When the doors open, I take a seat, and when the speakers begin talking, I can barely pay attention. I'm still sleep-deprived from the past two nights, and I have trouble staying awake, even when the topics sound somewhat interesting. When it's over and we shuffle out, I hear an elderly gentleman remark something to the effect of "It's not a good conference unless you can catch a nap here and there!" So I feel a little less guilty, stupid, and green for not maintaining consciousness.
I still need to lie down and rest before my next session, so I do. My next session is about active query, and I notice a young Indian woman walk into the room. I think sitting next to her would be too obvious and forward (OUR SKIN IS THE SAME COLOR LET'S TALK/MATE), so I sit in the row in front of her and steal the occasional glance.
For lunch, I try the provided box lunch, which is a turkey sandwich, trail mix, and Oreos. Trail mix? Where are my frickin' chips, DIA? It's not all that satisfying. Francie calls me, and I wave her to my table. The box lunches disappear within half an hour. Afterwards, we walk the floor and visit booths, grabbing swag and handing out business cards to be entered into drawings. We make sure to talk to vendors we've worked with, as it's always nice to meet them face-to-face. We pass the MSSO booth, and the woman we know well from MedDRA courses recognizes us.
I am fuzzy on the exact details, but suffice it to say that eventually Francie leaves for a session, and I continue wandering around (having reserved the first afternoon slot for floor time anyway), and I eventually run into Nadia. She comments on my cute MedNet bag, so I show her around the floor and point out where all the cool swag is. When we stop by the FDA booth, the man tells us that we should sign up to work for the FDA since we look like "good people." Neither of us has any idea what that means, and we joke about it throughout the week. This is the basis of all my friendships: inside jokes.
We find a little koala on the floor. She tries to give it to me, but I don't know what to do with a koala, so she says she'll keep it, and it's going to be the best koala ever.
Before we part ways (she for the hotel and I for a session on the DSUR), she asks me what I'm doing for dinner, and I say I may have plans, but I will call her otherwise.
On the way back from the convention center, I take the following picture:
You'll have to click to see why it was notable. The next day, I see an it's that should be an its, thus fulfilling the Law of Conservation of Apostrophes.
Until a few days before we left, Francie and I thought we were the only ones going to DIA. Then we found out that Compliance was going. Today at lunch, Francie tells me that she's also seen Project Management and Medical Services. Why we didn't all coordinate beforehand is anyone's guess; I guess anything after ASCO is small potatoes. Through lots of e-mails and phone calls, though, we manage to schedule a dinner for that evening.
Compliance is even staying at my hotel, so we share a cab to Medical Services's hotel. She thought the lobby looked interesting. The couches are indeed strange. Compliance and I find Proj(Wo)Man and MedServ. They order drinks, and I order a water that never comes. We're very hungry, so we also order some fried calamari to keep our stomachs happy before dinner. Compliance finds that the peppers give the calamari a nice kick.
Dinner is next door at the Legal Test Kitchen, a Legal Sea Foods spinoff. It's so hip people call it LTK. Which makes me think of ITK. Which is probably not what they were going for. Francie, unfortunately, misses the shuttle she was going to take and decides to just hang in her hotel room, so we cut the reservation down to four.
We're seating in a dark, hip corner with a view of the water. Outside, we could smell the ocean. I order a Coke, as I have been craving one all day because the stupid convention center only served Pepsi products. I am tired! I need a goddamn Coke, dammit! Proj(Wo)Man orders a cocktail that becomes a communal drink, as she lets the others finish it off. I think there's also a bottle of wine on the table. I point out that the drinks in the restaurant all look good and interesting, yet they are cheaper than the ones at the hotel bar a few yards away.
For appetizers, Compliance gets some shrimp cocktail and a half-dozen raw oysters to share with Proj(Wo)man, MedServ gets tuna sashimi, and I get crab puffs. I've had crab puffs before, and these are good too. I have a bit of the tuna sashimi as well and a giant shrimp cocktail. I also try an oyster shooter, and it's not as horribly salty as whatever those invertebrates at Legal were the other night. They're ridiculously expensive, though, at $2.50 a pop for a leetle bit of oyster meat surrounded in some sort of liquid.
I don't know what to order for dinner, so I ask our waitress. I am intrigued by the special monster roll that includes shrimp, lobster, and crab, but I also look at the various fish meals. I know I like salmon. She asks me if I'm not interested in the halibut, a weekly special. I tell her I've never had halibut. She says it tastes like something in between cod and swordfish. Well, I know I like both cod and swordfish, so it sounds like a winner! And, oh man, it totally is. It's very tasty. Compliance gets tandoori salmon that smells wonderful, and the women both get some crazy pad Thai.
It's sort of neat to talk with co-workers outside of work; you feel like you can be more like yourselves. Even when you talk about work a little, you speak a little more openly, knowing that your boss is nowhere nearby.
For dessert, Compliance and I both get cookies and cream, which is a warm chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream and "chocolate sauce." The "chocolate sauce" is actually hot fudge, which takes the whole concoction to a new level of goodness.
After we leave, Proj(Wo)Man invites us back to her hotel for a nightcap (I don't understand these things! Is a nightcap really necessary? Why is it a nightcap? Why is there so much drinking?), and Compliance says he can't stay too long since he needs to get back in time to watch The Mole. I'm reminded of my need to watch Drive in Philadelphia. The three of them have drinks at the hotel bar, and then Compliance and I leave to go back to our hotel. It's been a good evening.
Three more days of fun await you in Part 2!