I Love Hiatus Week

I was going to write about how much I love Boston, but I guess that’s obvious to anyone who has been reading this blog for the past decade or so.

No, today I’m going to talk about my love of hiatus week.  I work at a university in this city of Boston, a university of Boston, if you will.  This was a particularly intense semester, with a ton of work to do.  The second week of December, it suddenly ends.  The semester ends and we prepare ourselves for Christmas and such.

For me, it’s a week to catch up on sleep, laundry, cooking, visiting the people that I have abandoned because of work and general relaxation.  I’m not on vacation yet.  Just hiatus.  And it’s great.  I might get in a ski trip or two, or three…  in there as well.

As a part of hiatus week, I had to do some Christmas shopping.  It was rain/snowing/whatever that day and I had grabbed my camera, in case anything interesting crossed the camera’s path.  And it did.  I walked around Copley square, near the Prudential to the John Hancock building or I guess its 200 Clarendon or whatever they call it now.  To me it will always be the Hancock building.

Got some photos as well.  Funny how interesting life is when you are running around LIKE MAD.  Pictures:

Release the Santas!!!!!!!

It’s late December, yet again, and that means just one thing — the Santa speedo run is upon us!!!!!

I’ve been going to this event since 2012 because, because it super hilarious and weird and combines everything I love about Boston into one event — strange costumes, questionable weather and sports.  Every year I’ve gone, something funny or weird has happened.  The first year I went, there was a guy with quite a hairy chest, wearing a very small bathing suit and he had written on his chest, in magic marker — this sweater available in a medium.  Another year a guy in a tiny red bathing suit came running up to me and hugged me.  I thought — what’s your name???  Besides, where was he going to put a phone into his Speedo???  I guess that’s a question we don’t have to answer today.

The event always follows the same pattern.  The runners gather in a bar in Back Bay, get liquored up, exit the bar for paparazzi photos and general hyping up.  Then some kind of start signal is given.  Then they promenade up Boylston to Newbury and then of course, back to the bar.  The whole thing is over in 20 minutes, 20 minutes in which I have taken about 300 pictures.

Boston, I love you.  Keep the Santas running forever!!!!!!!

Where Lowells speak only to Cabots, And Cabots speak only to God.

There’a video on YouTube that I particularly love featuring two very aged Boston Brahmins sitting in the Boston Athenæum, discussing whatever it is that Brahmins discuss, I don’t know maybe the Harvard-Yale game of 1896 or something like that.  I love the video because they speak in this pseudo-British prep school mid Atlantic accent.  They are both wearing conservative tweed suits and I’m not surprised that they filmed this video at the Athenæum.  I mean I’m sure this is where these two Brahmins actually live.  I don’t mean Beacon Hill.  I mean in the Athenæum.

I love this video too because as I reflect back on ten years of living here, I remember how I actually thought people talked in Boston, but to be honest, I’ve never actually met anyone here who speaks with this accent.  I’ve never actually met a Brahmin either.

Before I moved here, I thought that people like that comprised all of Boston.  Well, taking that out further, I thought this was a city of memberships, clubs, secret handshakes and exclusivity.  If you didn’t have your Brahmin accent and your Harvard diploma, away with you.  But what I found here is the opposite.  Everything is pretty much open to everyone.  When I started going skiing, I wanted to find ski trips to go on, so I typed “Boston” and “ski” into the internet and found my ski club.  I thought there was some kind of membership interview, aka would another bunch of people find you cool enough, but no.  It was just open membership.  You pay the fee, you go on the trip.

I’ve found a lot of things like that in Boston.  But this place still surprises me.  A couple of days ago, I went to Beacon Hill with a friend.  I don’t spend a lot of time up there.  I have no business up there.  All of my stuff is in Downtown Crossing or Brookline.  A friend said there are decorations to see up there, but what I found was again what I love about Boston.

The houses on Beacon Hill were really elaborately decorated and people were hanging out in front of their houses, giving out candy.  People were talking to everybody.  People were hanging out with their dogs and generally having a good time.  The atmosphere was really nice.

Maybe I did finally meet a real life Beacon Hill Brahmin because there was a guy wearing twill pants with little skeletons embroidered on them.  That’s an old money rich people thing.  New money is flashy and paints everything in gold.  Old money wears pants embroidered with foxes or lobsters or something.  The guy with the skeletons on his pants, that money came from rum, whaling or cotton plantations.  That’s not hedge fund money, that’s for sure.  But he was out on the street, hanging out candy with decorations on his house, just like everyone else.

Everyone was cool enough to join the Beacon Hill Halloween celebration.  No interview needed.  Just come on down and join.


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!!!!!