Happy Anniversary Boston!

Happy Anniversary Boston!

Boston Harbor while sailing (ange r. 2010)

Boston Harbor while sailing (ange r. 2010)

We’ve been together ELEVEN years now, and I’m still enamored with you as I was the first time I ever visited (which was about a month before I moved to Boston)!

In the past eleven years I’ve seen this city grow and change, just almost as much as I have since I moved into my first apartment.

Here are some fun facts about my 11 years in Boston:

The day I found out I was accepted to Emerson was the day my father said that I’d never move back home. So far he’s right. I’m no longer the country girl; I’m a full fledged city girl.

It was also the day I found out I was going to be moving to a city that I had never been to before, and it didn’t bother me at all. Life’s an adventure.

The Boston Common & Public Garden are two of my favorite spots in the city.

Public Garden

I’ve had nine roommates and five apartments since 2002.
Two moved in together after we lived together, and then moved to different states. (2002-2003)
Two eventually ended up in NYC, but separately. (2003-2004)
One moved back to TN. (2004-2007)
One moved back to CA. (2007-2009)
One moved in with his girlfriend. (2009-20012)
One moved in last year. (2012)
And one I’ve lived with since 2007.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of mice, and one bat. I have no mercy for mice (I refuse to use glue-traps though), and my best advice for bats is to open a window and call animal/pest control.

I’m well versed in tenant/landlord laws & policies. Never underestimate the power of threatening a call to the local authorities about a violation. A kitchen was fixed very quickly once I threatened to call the health inspector.

My couch is older than me, is a little saggy, and yet I refuse to get rid of it. One day I’ll replace it… but it’s comfortable.

20130909_000005

I’ve packed and unpacked a lot of books and kitchen items in my day.

Hiring movers the last time I moved was the best idea ever. I also didn’t move September 1, so that helped tremendously.

Flat Stanley (or a version of Flat) has visited me three times to date. I have stock photos of the city for any future Flat’s. It’s also given me an excuse to be a tourist in my adopted city. There’s still quite a bit I haven’t seen.

Flat Stanley (e) @ Fenway

I haven’t had a car in 11 years, and rarely drive. My longest streak was three plus years without driving. Even when I was 16, I was never a fan of city driving. Some things don’t change.

I may live in the city, but Brookline has turkeys. Trying to cross the street when there are turkeys and Canadian Geese in the same area can be perilous.

Brookline turkey

I still get excited about taking public transportation. The trains fascinate me, I don’t mind taking the bus, and it provides me the opportunity to people watch. I’ve always said that everyone has a story, and public transportation lets me come up with some stories about people and sometimes hear their own stories too.

I don’t always understand people with thick Boston accents, and I still say tennis-shoes and pop sometimes.

I love going to Fenway Park when the Red Sox are playing the Cleveland Indians. It’s the best of both worlds for me. They’re both my teams, and so no matter what, I always win. (No, I will not choose a team. End. Of. Story.)

Fenway Park - Indians/Red Sox  8/2010

I think from the moment I stepped off the plane in 2002, I fell in love with this little “big” city. I’ve made more memories than I can count, have met some of the most interesting people, and some of them I’m privileged to call my friends. Oh,Boston, you’re my home.

Musings: Recently seen on the interwebs

Somehow this week’s interweb web finds are all about Boston, which is appropriate since I’m celebrating 11 years (e.l.e.v.e.n.) of living in this wonderful city I now call home on 9/1.

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Photo via State Police on bostonmagazine.com

Photo via State Police on bostonmagazine.com

Speaking of 9/1 — That’s the universal moving-in day for the city. Most students are returning to colleges in Boston right about now, and a majority of apartment leases begin on 9/1. This means moving trucks are all over the city and at least one will be getting stuck trying to get under the bridge on Storrow Drive. This year, we didn’t even have to wait for the day of mass chaos for it to happen. Someone already got stuck on Tuesday. Although it’s not confirmed as a moving truck… if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it’s a duck. I’m sure this won’t be the only time it happens this long weekend.

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Waiting for the C-train (3/2011 - ange r.)

Waiting for the C-train (3/2011 – ange r.)

And while we’re on the topic of people moving into the city… I would like to take this opportunity talk about public transportation etiquette. It’s not hard, but does require a little bit of common sense, self awareness, and being conscious of your surroundings. This is a lot to ask, I know, but it’s not that hard — I pinkie-swear promise. Universities should be holding seminars, and handing out leaflets or something. (Actually, I’d like to hand out leaflets during Red Sox season too, when people who don’t ride public transportation often decide to ride the train. I’m all for using public transit (I haven’t had a car in 11 years), but please don’t block the stairs and doors, and move into the train!!!!)

BostonInno posted some basic MBTA Etiquette, and I have to agree with just about everything they had to say. Now, I will admit that I have broken the “don’t eat your sandwich” rule on occasion, but only in desperate circumstances (like running from one thing to another and if I don’t eat, I’ll probably start gnawing on the arm of the person next to me, and that’s worse. I don’t do hangry well).

I’d like to add a few points to ‘wait your turn’. While it’s important for you to wait your turn to get on while outside the train, it’s equally as important for people on the train to let you out. Standing two deep on the stairwell while a stream of people are trying to get out makes the process of getting off the train longer and more cumbersome. Very simply, if you’re standing in the stairs on the train or near the door on the bus, step outside the train/bus and give people getting off the train/bus some room to leave. By standing right outside the door, this means that you’re first on the train/bus and can move into the space that was vacated before the new people get on! This is a novel concept, and when done correctly can improve everyone’s MBTA experience. Also, if you notice that the person getting off the train/bus may be using a cane, crutches, or is possibly carrying a child, and he or she may need some extra space to vacate the train/bus, and you’re in the isle near the door — MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!!!! — you don’t need to hold onto the handle for dear life when the vehicle has stopped. I watched this happen the other morning. A gentleman who had a cane was sitting in the first seat of the bus. At his bus stop he went to get off the bus and had a bit of difficulty because a guy decided to plaster himself (and his backpack) to the wall and hang onto the bar, for fear he’d lose his spot next to his friend. If he had simply let go of the wall and moved out of the way, the gentleman with the cane would have had a much easier time getting off the bus, and the kid could have STILL stood next to his friend. I’d like to say ‘kids these days’ and blame it on college students, but I’ve seen grown adults do this as well.

Bottom line, be courteous to those around you — we’re all in this together (both on the train/bus, and in the world).

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“My awareness of tragedy seems to be heightened. Or, there is simply more tragedy in the world. West Texas. Moore Oklahoma. And on and on…. I don’t think any of us who were there that day will ever experience the degree of normalcy we had before the bombings. I never thought that at 36, I would still have innocence left to be lost.” Dan Solea of Marathon Sports posted his reflection of what happened on 4/15/2013 this week. All you need to do is change the age (32, at the time), and those words perfectly describe what I haven’t been able to wrap my head around and put into words.

The weekend before Marathon Monday is one of my favorites in Boston — the city just vibrates and has an energy that I’ve never felt anyplace else. I may not have been at the Boston Marathon on April 15, but that morning I crossed over the course (~mile 24.8) as I walked to work. Traffic on Beacon Street was very light, as it was almost time to shut it down completely so people could power through into the city to the finish line. The barricades were just starting to be moved into place, spectators were arriving to get their spots on course to watch, and a swarm of police were huddled together, most likely hearing about duties for the day. I haven’t been a spectator on course to watch the marathon in a few years, but I always sit at my desk, a few miles away from the finish line, watching the coverage online and checking in on friends who are running. It was a normal Boston Marathon Monday, until 2:50pm that day, and it hasn’t been the same since.

While I wasn’t downtown when the bombs went off, the events that took place that day and later in the week, in the city I call home, have indelibly changed me – for better or worse. I’ve walked down most of Boylston St. at this point, but it’s taken me a while, and as long as I don’t think about what happened a few months ago I’m okay. I never went to the memorial in Copley Square — I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I still get emotional when I read reflections like Dan’s, or updates about someone who was injured or when they reunite with the person who held their hand or the first responder who tended to his/her injuries, or when I dwell too much about what happened that week. I look at the world differently and can’t quite explain how or why to someone who didn’t experience what went on during that week in April. I honestly hope that no one I know ever finds out what that week felt like — I don’t wish that experience on anyone.

One Heart Boston - Aaron Bouvier - Hairpin Communication

One Heart Boston – Aaron Bouvier – Hairpin Communication

The above print hangs in my room. Aaron Bouvier, from Hairpin Communications, created it soon after the bombings. The proceeds from the print, t-shirt, and bag ($31,035.79) went to The One Fund.

It’s also become a popular tattoo for those who wanted a more permanent tribute to Boston. Chris Padgett, a local photographer, is on a mission to photograph and tell the stories of those who got inked to show support, solidarity, for the city after the bombings. Bled for Boston is his project that will be on display at the Boston Center for Adult Education (where he teaches) in April 2014. If you got inked for Boston: 9/14-15 @ BCAE — “Bled for Boston Open Shoot,” for drop-in portrait sessions

Musings: Recently seen on the interwebs…

It never ceases to amaze me what I find on the good ol’ interwebs. Here are a few things that struck me this week…
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I always have this fear that I’m going to lose my Charlie Card. I remember losing it at least once, and it was the worst thing ever. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but when you get around by public transportation 99.8% of the time, losing your Charlie Card is HUGE. A whole number of emotions come to mind, and then there’s the stupidity tax (buying a new card) that is attached as well. I now carry my card in one of those key chain holders, and it’s attached to my keys, in hopes that I don’t lose either.  <knock on wood> I’ve only forgotten them inside my apartment, or they’ve gone into the depths of my bag-‘o-everything once or twice (or at least once a week). One day I fully expect to have a chip or something implanted into my hand so all I have to do is wave it over a reader to get on the bus or train.

Image

Image from Kickstarter

Until then, we might have another option.  Some undergrad students from MIT came up with a brilliant idea of creating a wearable piece of jewelry that will act as a Charlie Card so you never have to go digging for yours again! I think the idea is brilliant, yet I can totally see myself losing the ring so much more easily than a card. Most likely I’d still attach it to my key chain, so I’d still need to search for it in my bag, because I’d be paranoid that it’d come off my finger at some point. And what happens when the color of the ring doesn’t go with my outfit — what’s a girl to do?

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I briefly heard that there was a shooting at an elementary school on Tuesday, but sort of brushed it aside. Since April, I’ve gone on a news diet, particularly bad news. There seems to be more of it lately, or else my sense are heighten and I’m more sensitive/aware of it now. In any case, I didn’t see a ton of chatter on Facebook or Twitter, so I figured things weren’t too horrific. On Wednesday night I came home in between the wash and dry cycle at the laundromat, sat down to watch a few minutes of TV and read. When I turned on the TV, they were talking about the woman who talked down this gunman in an Georgia school. I only listened to part of the 911 call — Antoinette Tuff’s poise, and the way she connected with the gunman was nothing short of amazing. Her interview with NPR recounts the whole story.
It made me stop and wonder that if we were more compassionate and kind toward one another, toward ourselves, what a difference it could make in the world.

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Sometimes you can’t find the right words to truly express how you’re feeling, or what is happening. It may just be that the word exists, but doesn’t translate well. A few of my favorites from this little find:

You all know that person who asks a lot of questions — maybe a co-worker, or your favorite youngster — they’re a pochemuchka (and also possibly annoying).

In my early twenties, I tended to go out to bars to socialize. Now that I’m older and can’t hear anything when the music is up too loud, I much prefer to  have actual conversations instead of screaming over some music. One of my favorite ways it converse is while sharing a lovely meal, whether it be out at a restaurant or at home. When your conversation continues after dinner, it’s called sobremesa.

I can be terribly impatient when I’m waiting for people to show up, particularly when I’m excited to see them. When I was at home in June, we were having a BBQ at my parents house with some friends and family I hadn’t seen in a while. I kept checking outside to see if anyone was in the driveway, or iktsuarpok. 

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What’d you find interesting on the interwebs recently?

Can I register to vote here?

I was watching TV the other night and saw and ad about the deadline to register to vote for this year’s elections. It made me think of the times I’ve registered to vote. Yes, times. I’ve had to register to vote twice.

For me, voting is such an important privilege and  something not to be taken lightly or for granted, especially as a woman. I find it sad when more people vote for American Idol or other reality TV shows and not in the election of officials who are going to govern their state and country. I ask myself which is more important, but I’m the only one who can decide for me. It’s just like I choose read up on candidates and issues to make informed decisions when voting, rather than just going along with how the whole family votes, what the popular people think, or who the neighbor’s baby picks during the televised debates (I remember a professor in college talking about this in college).
But, to each his or her own.
My point is – register to vote, inform yourself and vote because it does impact your life (and you never know when you’ll get an interesting story out of it)…

<stepping down off soap box>

Back to the whole topic of the blog…. “Can I register to vote here?”

The first time I registered I was in high school and not quite 18. I was able to register early because I would be the legal age by the time the elections rolled around. It was exciting in the fact that I was able to register and my friends were sitting at the table doing the whole process, but it was pretty uneventful. I found it pretty thrilling to finally be able to vote that first time (and I still do).

All throughout college & grad school I tried to make sure that I had an absentee ballot whenever I wasn’t going to be in Ohio to vote. I tried to do my duty. And then when I became a Massachusetts resident back in Fall 2004, I realized I needed to fulfill my duty again, but needed to figure out where the heck I could register to vote. I’m sure I could have done it at the RMV, but I don’t like to spend more time than I need to there since it always seems to be a zoo. I’m sure I could have figured it out online, but I was waiting for the bus outside the Coolidge Corner Arcade Building and saw a magical sign that said the Women’s League was registering people to vote that Saturday. Pay dirt! All I had to do was roll out of bed, walk down the street, fill out a form and POOF!, I’d be a registered voter in the good ol’ Commonwealth of Massachusetts (sorry Ohio).

Now, I had an idea of where I was going and what was going to happen.

Ha.

In my mind I would have walked into the Arcade and seen a table with a bunch of ladies sitting around, registering people to vote. Maybe someone outside would have been handing out fliers or talking to people, encouraging them to register if they haven’t. Something like what might have happened right after the Women’s Suffrage movement. Maybe not so much in the dress of way back when, but something more modern. It would all be very exciting. Sometimes I wonder about my imagination. <shakes head at self>

What really happened? I walked into the Arcade and didn’t see anyone sitting at a table. I walked around for bit, peering into businesses as to not look like a crazy person. Eventually I went back outside to look at the sign to make sure I was in the right place at the right time. Yup, right place, during the right time. But WHERE exactly do I register?!?!??!!?

I was determined to register to vote, so I looked around some more and eventually found a sign and followed breadcrumbs up to the 2nd floor to the door in which the sign said that’s where the registration was taking place. So I opened the door….

Only to see a wall of adult toys (yes, those kinds of adult toys), along with a gentleman, his lady friend and a store clerk discussing said adult toys.

Ummmm….

You could say I was a bit confused and very unsure if I was in the right spot. I’ve helped prepare for a few bachelorette parties in my day and have had to go into a few choice establishments, although this store was not like the places on 77 in WV, that’s for sure. I wasn’t horrified or shocked, but very confused to be in a lady-friendly porn store when all I was trying to do was register to vote. (Let’s all remember my original idea of what was going to happen….. Lesson to be learned: Let go of the expectations)

Thankfully the lady behind the counter was quick to ask if I needed help, to which I responded “Is this where I can register to vote?”

The answer was yes, and so I was on my way to being a registered voter again!  Yay!

And that’s how I registered to vote…. in a lady-friendly adult store in Coolidge Corner.

Just in case you aren’t registered to vote, or know someone who isn’t, here are some resources for you so you too can register and vote:

http://www.rockthevote.org/

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting/Register.shtml

How’d you register to vote?

Eat a popsicle, because it’s gonna be all right.

Hi.

I know.

Long.time.no. see.
But I’m here for the moment now though.

This morning I got on the bus with my bag, my purse & my cupcake carrier, almost full of cupcakes. I had just missed the CT2, which is usually the less full bus and got on the 47 where I was standing close to the bus driver, hanging onto my cupcakes for dear life, since it was a pretty full bus. Luckily at the next stop a few people got off and a girl offered me her seat. It was probably the look on my face of “Crap. No bars to hold onto. Let’s see how I’m going to balance everything and hang onto the hand strap, not pull my arm out of its socket and not flip the cupcakes over.” as I made my way down the isle of the bus.

There are kind people in this world, despite what the news wants you to believe. Many thanks to her!

So I happily sat down with my cupcakes on  my lap next to this older gentleman. He looked at me, looked at my cupcakes, looked at me again and said “You’re missing a few there, did you eat them?”

I smiled, giggled and said that I had shared with a few people already.  He then commented on how he’s not allowed to have certain things anymore because he’s going through cancer treatment. He is supposed to eat a high fiber diet, and can have oatmeal, but not the hard cereals with a lot of fiber. And he’s allowed to eat ice cream and popsicles, but ice cream isn’t his favorite so he sticks to sugar-free popsicles.

Personally, I like popsicles. I think they’re fun and remind me of being a kid, when life was a lot simpler. So, I asked this chatty fellow his favorite flavor. He was taken aback for a moment, and I think he was surprised that someone was asking about him, taking an interest in his likes and dislikes. He’s a fan of lemon and the red ones.

He talked some more about food and mentioned his cancer and the treatments he had to go through in the next few weeks. All the while, he was upbeat about it. As he was getting off to go to the hospital for his appointment I wished him luck. He looked back at me and said “Thanks, but I’m gonna be all right.” And he meant it.

The lesson for today: Go get your favorite flavored popsicle, and know that it’s gonna be all right.

http://gimmesomeoven.com/creamy-lemon-popsicles/http://gimmesomeoven.com/creamy-lemon-popsicles/

Blogiversary – Better late than never… right?!?!?!

I’m slightly neglectful — I totally didn’t realize that my blogiversary had passed at all <hangs head in shame>. Granted, I had been under the weather since before the retreat, and the stupid virus just wanted to hang out with me after as well (I mean, I know I’m fun to hang out with and all, but I’m not fond of hanging out with icky viruses!) — hence the lack of blog posts for about two weeks after the retreat (coughing all night and not sleeping does not bode well for trying to string a few words together, trust me).  I have no excuses since then….

But it wasn’t until my friend Kate posted this on her Facebook wall that I realized it had passed:

Kate Forster - blog comment

(thanks Kate! –  You should check out her blog!)

So I started to write a blog post…. but never finished it until now.  I’ve had some great ideas for posts… so watch for some in the near future. I know, you won’t believe it until you see it.

I remember when I first posted my blog I was talking to a good friend about it and he said “Knowing you like I do, your challenge will be to apply the philosophy of your first post to the blog”. He nailed it on the head. I struggle with the fact that I don’t necessarily have a focus, which then circles back to the whole “perfect” issue.It’s time to apply the ‘what the hell’ philosophy.

A while back I saw this card:

Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision? - anon Hollywood script writier

I bought it and have it in my room. It’s reminded me that taking chances is a good thing. I mean, that’s how I ended up buying a one month membership to a boxing gym — I said “what the hell”. So far it’s been good. I have a draft started…

<raises glass>

So, here’s to ‘what the hell’.

Happy Blogiversary… better late than never.

Retreat!

Retreat! Retreat!

I’m retreating this weekend — from the hustle & bustle of the city and  most technology (I left the laptop at home  (eeek!) — but have no fear, I have my phone) to Glastonbury Abbey for a spiritual retreat.

Last year, Brother Dan Horan talked about our relationship with God in terms of “dating”.  All relationships in our lives take work, whether it’s with parents, siblings, co-workers, friends or significant others,  and so does our relationship with God. He talks about this (and other things) in his blog: Dating God (Inspired by the life and writings of Francis and Clare of Assisi, I reflect on the possibility of understanding relationship of prayer as Dating God in the everyday and ordinary experiences of the twenty-first-century world. I also discuss other issues of timely import (at least to me). Check back here for reflections on contemporary matters and periodic musings.)

Last year I had a fantastic time and I’m excited to see what this weekend brings.

The topic this time:  “The Lesser-Known Stories of Francis: Lessons of Franciscan Spirituality for Today.”  — We’ll look at some of the early stories of the brothers about St. Francis and the early Franciscans from those “who were with him.” Most people know the stories about St. Francis with the wolf of Gubbio, preaching to the birds, encountering the Leper, etc., but many are not so familiar with the stories that come down to us from texts like “The Assisi Compilation” or the “Legend of the Three Companions.”  Some of these stories reveal another side of St. Francis, a side that is much more human and complicated, a side that reveals a whole array of human emotions (sadness, anger, forgiveness, compassion, etc.) that goes beyond the “saintly” image we might all have of Francis.  These will open new ways of thinking about Francis and Franciscan spirituality for us to reflect on and share. 

So off I go!

And if you’re so inclined, keep me, and everyone else on the retreat, in your thoughts and prayers. It will be much appreciated.