Why We Walk

A couple of weeks ago, the alarm went off at 7am on a Sunday.  I woke up with a shot.  It was the third Sunday in September and that meant it was time to walk my 13.1 miles.

I walk the 13.1 miles for the Jimmy Fund, a wonderful organization in Massachusetts that raises money to fund research for cures to childhood cancers.  The original Jimmy, not actually named Jimmy, but Einar Gustafson was a childhood cancer sufferer who had gotten cancer in the 1940s, when those types of cancer were considered unsurvivable.  Dr. Sidney Farber, founder of the cancer research institute, decided that he was going to do something to change that.

This was my eighth walk.  Two more years and we’ll be at ten.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, I started walking because of my dear friend Allan Martinsen, who succumbed to cancer in May of last year.  Last year as well, I was having a very bad foot problem and I couldn’t do the full 13.1 miles.  I choose to just do three miles, from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline.

That turned out to be really special.  When you started from over there, it’s an official start, rather than a rolling start, like it is from the other locations.  They played the anthem before we all started walking and they told us to wave to the patients at Dana Farber.  That’s when I started crying.  That’s when I really lost it.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always hoped that Allan would one day be able to come and watch me do this walk that I started because of him.  It was then I really realized he was gone.

From sadness though, comes hope.  Allan’s sickness connected me with this wonderful organization.  It seemed so unbelievable that a guy who I met half a world away, half a life time ago had led me to the spot I was standing in at that moment.  A friendship born of mutual heartache led to me to places I never thought I would go.

Then, there’s the walk itself.  I walk the 13.1 because afterwards, I feel like I did something.  It’s also because of the happiness on the route.  There are all kinds of people out on the route.  This year there was a guy with his two black labradors, both wearing signs that said “free hugs.”  There was a family holding up signs that said things like “you look hot” and “high five.”  There was a Japanese drum group, drumming us up one of the hills.  People stand out in the hot sun for hours handing out candy and cheering people on.

The thing that I find the most amazing is the stop where there is just a bunch of volunteers cheering people on.  I can never believe how these people stand outside for hours on end, cheering on complete strangers and doing it with such enthusiasm.

Thirteen miles is four to five hour walk and I’m actually really happy with doing it alone.  There’s something soothing about the walk in a way.  I have a lot of time alone in my head just to contemplate things and think about how things have changed in the past year since I did my last walk.  In years past, I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes I was replaying old arguments in my head but this year for the first time, I wasn’t.  I was singing songs in my head and letting my mind wander.  I also might have prayed a little bit.

This is the second walk I’ve done since Allan died and it hit me when I looked at everything in perspective that the guy had a major impact on my life.  From a hallway in a dormitory 3,000 miles away to a small corner of Massachusetts, Allan had an impact on my life.  I will always be grateful for his sympathetic ear in a time of trouble in my life and for connecting me with the Jimmy Fund.

A few walk day memories because this is a picture blog after all:




The Proper Bostonian

A while back I watched this engaging little documentary on YouTube about old Boston called Boston The Way It Was.  It featured the memories of people who had lived in Boston for the better part of a century.  It was filmed in 1995, featuring people who were in their 80s, talking about the city.

I’m often struck by how little its all changed.  They went to church on Sunday and then maybe lunch, followed by a walk by the seaside.  Interestingly enough, that’s how I spent this Sunday and many other Saturdays.  God, lunch, ocean and ice cream.

I was going to add “poop” because I visited the Deer Island Sewage treatment plant today as well, but may as well put the word “poop” far from the word “ice cream.”

So, like a proper Bostonian, I spent my morning at church and my afternoon on the seaside.

“Here’s to dear old Boston, The home of the bean and the cod, Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God.”

Quite.  Yes.  Pictures!!!!!!

Those People Are Free

My tenth anniversary of coming to Boston and starting my life over again has got me feeling a bit nostalgic.

It was in 2009 that I was working at my last job in media, the one that would finally drive me out of the journalism game and onto bigger and better things.  There’s no reason to revisit what happened there but I do remember always sitting in the office and looking out at the people on the street outside of the office building and thinking — those people are free.  Those people are free.  They aren’t trapped inside all day long.

That’s exactly what I thought when I visited this really interesting initiative on Milk street called CIC.  They provide office space and support for startups.  They have office space for all sorts of companies and they try to create a community for the people there.  I know I sound like an advertisement for them but it is a really interesting initiative.

But then there were the views.  Oh the views.  Magnificent.  I stood at one of the windows and saw one of the most amazing views ever, one that stretched from the Prudential Center to the Charles River.  It was really beautiful.  I also realized it was nice to visit an office but I’d rather be free.

A Long Walk Outside

A dear from from very far away is visiting Boston for the next few weeks.  Recently, her boyfriend decided to break up with her.  She was quite upset about it, so I decided to cheer her up with the one thing I know that cheers me up every time — a long walk outside.

When I was out on Spectacle Island, I thought back to where I first heard that piece of advice.  It was in the movie “The Queen” which I absolutely love.  Prince Phillip, upon hearing of the death of Princess Diana takes “the boys” now men with families of their says he’s going to take them on a long walk outside.  It seems kind of cold and dismissive but the more I think about it, it seems pragmatic and practical.  And let’s face it, the man is 98 years old and in those 98 years, he’s experienced more than people would in five lifetimes.  Who are we to argue with his practical ways?

Well, anyway, I love being outside.  I always say — when you are outside, where is your limit?  Well, you don’t have one.  You are without limitations.  Not to mention, the fresh air cleans your lungs and the walking fills you with endorphins.  Well, that’s just the medical chemical psychological side of things.  Walking outside feels good.  Staying indoors does not.

I did get quite a few nice shots yesterday.  I love Spectacle Island.  I would like to live there — with Wifi, in the summer, with a dog.  In the winter, maybe not so much!!!!!


Come As You Are

Yeah, it’s a song lyric but my trip to Comic Con on Saturday showed me in fact that the theme of the event is come as you are.

This weird thing has happened as I’ve gotten older.  I just want to do everything.  I really want to go everywhere and try everything.  I always heard about people going to Comic Con in San Diego but that’s a bit too far for me.  When I realized there was on in Boston, I had to go.

In 2014 and 2016, I went to photograph the people there.  And there were plenty to photograph.  In 2018, I went to meet my hero, Wallace Shawn.  I met Titus and Wallace Shawn.  I mean there’s really no one else on my celeb list that I haven’t met.  And Wallace Shawn, I was on my little Wallace Shawn cloud for a few days after that.  Such a lovely, kind man who deserves every bit of success he’s had.

But back to 2019.  In 2019, I didn’t see any celebs I wanted to meet.  Sorry cast of Boys Meets World.  I wasn’t that interested in meeting with you.  So this year I went to photograph the interestingly attired attendees, of which there were many.  I love to imagine the people at the event going back to their regular lives as employed citizens after donning a Superwoman costume or just wearing some kind of cat suit that makes you look like Spiderman.  Anything is a come down after that.

Come as you are, to Comic Con!!!!!

The Kids Are All Right. Actually They Are Great.

Every summer, my job switches around.  During the year, I work in a couple of different universities, but for the past two summers, I’ve worked at an exceedingly pleasant job in the woods of Brookline.  No, I’m not kidding.  We’re literally in a forrest.

But no matter.  I got the job last summer and it was kind of a turning point for me.  I was having some very serious doubts if I wanted to continue working as a teacher.  When I took the job, I would get there an hour earlier than I needed to and sit and make lessons for the class.  It was back to basics fun teaching again.

My students in the summer were some of the most pleasant people I have ever taught in my entire career.  Most of them were teenagers, but teenagers who were cooler than I could ever hope to be.  One of them showed me an Instagram with all dog posts, really funny dog posts.  I learned a lot about their world.

This summer I returned to the extremely pleasant Brookline forrest to teach an equally interesting group of people.  This crowd, I have to prepare for.  They get all of my references.  Their number one request in the class is to watch The Daily Show.  Really impressive.

While teaching both of these groups, it struck me that the kids are all right.  Actually they are really good.  The young people, they get a bad rap now.  Oh they just love their smart phones and their avocados and their lattes.  They don’t think.  They aren’t going to contribute anything.

I think this kind of thinking is just wrong.  Last year I saw a video by a singer called Shawn Mendes, who was a baby when I was in my last years of college.  LOL.  He wrote a wonderful song called “Youth” about the incredible things young people are doing now.  He included in his video Jack Andraka, who won the Intel Science Prize a few years back for coming up with a test for pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancers out there.  He did his work in a lab that his mom drove him to every day because he wasn’t old enough to drive.  He’s not a typical science geek.  His reaction to winning the Intel award was so exuberant that it actually went viral.  Next to him in the video was Morgan Hurd, the 2017 all around world champion in gymnastics and a person who was more poised at 16 than I am at my age.  These kids are really doing amazing things and its about time we stop writing them off as just people who stare at their phones.  If Jack Andraka and Morgan Hurd are to inherit the earth, I think we’re in good hands.

Here are some pics I snapped of my most recent class enjoying some food at a deli.  We had a thoroughly good time as well.  Kids, you are all right.  Actually you are very good: