A trail deferred

When I was a kid in 1998, bald and in the middle of cancer treatments, all I wanted was to be NORMAL. Not the sixth grader with bruises and scars, not the one who was allowed to miss all the classes, not the one who people had to treat gently. I wanted to have the same 12-year-old adventures as everyone else, and that included walking the Freedom Trail on our class field trip.

I was so excited for that spring day – on top of the adventure of BOSTON my dad was chaperoning, something that never happened (my parents always coached our teams and shuttled us Girl Scouts around, but we had our own family trips instead of them chaperoning).

But as we were getting ready to board the buses, I got called down to the front office – and it was my mom on the phone, saying that my counts had come back and we needed to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion. We were all crushed – she had argued with my doctor but there was no wiggle room (unless we were already on the bus, which my classmates were now boarding).

For the past 21 years, I’ve thought often of that trail. In fact, most of my Boston jobs have been ON it. But I’ve never done the whole thing… until now!

Yesterday dad and I finally did the whole trail. 6+ miles of walking over 6 hours, starting at the Common and ending at the top of Bunker Hill.

Along the way, we saw the Sacred Cod, compared cemeteries (and found Copp’s Hill to be the most favorable burying place), and made extensive lists of historical facts to research when back home.

We saved most of the indoor attractions for a less sunny day so we would have time for the final leg, but did make time for Old Ironsides!

We met fellow explorers along the way – a young boy and his mom who wanted to find the trail in order to play Pokémon Go, a family from Scotland, many people in historical garb who looked even hotter than we felt.

Honestly, I’ve been to some of the great cities of the world, and I’ve lived in Boston for a decade. And yet I was shocked at how powerful I found the trail – not just because we were slightly delirious in the blazing sun, not just because I had been dreaming of this for 21 years, but because of the story the trail tells about a scrappy group of people believing in fighting for something bigger than themselves.

This kind of quest – with decision points along the way and a trusty fellow traveler at your side – is my favorite way to spend a day and remember what matters in this world. I am so grateful that I am still alive today to live and learn something new… and get the pressed penny to prove it.

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Boston 2024!?

Yes, you read that right – an exclamation point and a question mark.

My fair city has been put forth as the US candidate to host the 2024 summer Olympics.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I adore the Olympics.  I love the cheesy ceremonies, the serious politics that get brought up when we all get together to hit a few balls around (see: the Russian government’s stance on homosexuality), the live-tweeting and medal hysteria, the theme songs and backstories to make us care even more when they miss that shot/jump/step.

But here?  I’m… skeptical.

The mega fan in me says that this is the chance of a lifetime.  I don’t really care about claims that “without the Olympics, Boston can never be world class” – if we cared, you’d know by know, world.  But to have the games here, where my friends and I can go volunteer, cheer, show off our history and cannolis, winding streets and brick buildings – I love that part of bringing the games to Boston.

Yet the critic in me says that the games are never done right – people on the margins of the host city always suffer, along with the the city’s budget.  Plus, our transportation system is as antique as our state’s stance on alcohol (no discounts ever, not even allowed to use Groupons to get cheaper booze, etc.).  If it’s going to take them 52 weekends over 3 years to fix the Longfellow Bridge just so two trains can move on it at once, how can we possibly get ready to host a global event in a mere 9 years? (Note: that statement makes me feel old. I used to think tomorrow was far away!)

The good news is that no one asked me… yet.  The city claims that they’re going to hold public conferences to let people be involved in the planning process.  And to be fair, the process seems good so far – lots of plans to reuse college campuses for housing and events and such.  Plus, this might be the GIANT kick in the rear that we need to bring our transportation system into the late 19th century (let’s not get too excited here – the 20th is still ages away).

At the end of the day, I trust my city to try to do this right, as much as any city can – now, let’s see if we get the chance!

What do you think about Boston being picked to host the Olympics?  Do you think it would be a good or bad move for the city, state, and residents?

Your guide to a fun Boston summer

It’s summer in the city – long nights, short dresses, sweet cocktails, and a million reasons to throw caution to the wind and stay out for one more song, one more drink, one last train.

This winter was brutal. Many of us felt like our urban abodes were suddenly stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no chance for socializing or adventure.  Now, my friends and I are more determined than ever to live it up this summer – both to reward ourselves for surviving the cold, and to stock up on warm memories for the inevitable cold ahead (as George R.R. Martin won’t let us forget, winter is always coming.)

Here’s my starter guide to having a stupendous Boston summer – where to go and what to do to ensure that you’re making the most of these next glorious weeks.  I’ll add more items as I hear of them!


Summer Fun 2014

WATCH IT

  • Free films and music at the Boston Harbor Hotel: BHH has an amazing summer series of music and movies that can be enjoyed for free.  Get there early to get a seat at their restaurant, and take in some tunes while watching the sunset over the harbor.
  • Concert series at Post Office Square: Check out free tunes at Post Office Square, a mini oasis in the city.
  • Shakespeare on the Common: Get cultured on the Common with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and their performance of Twelfth Night.  You can catch my friends and me there on August 5!
  • Free nights at the ICATap into your artsy side with free nights at the ICA – perfect for dates of the romantic or BFF variety!
  • Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell: pack a picnic (or buy one at nearby Whole Foods) and take in a film along with thousands of other Bostonians at the Hatch Shell, right next to the Charles River.

WORK IT

  • Free exercise classes at Post Office Square: Before work, during lunch, after a long day – take a break and work out with one of the free classes in Post Office Square.  I went to their boot camp all last summer and it was incredible – great community and quality classes for free!
  • Get a Sweetgreen passport: check it out to find free exercise classes and events near you.
  • Join the November Project: Check out this fun group and attend one of their high-energy outdoor workouts – rain, shine, show – they never stop!
  • Swim in the sunset at the Rooftop Pool: the Rooftop Pool (RTP) at the Colonnade Hotel lets you swim for free in the evenings – or just dangle your legs in and enjoy a mojito, your call.
  • Run on the Freedom Trail: Sometimes you think you know your neighborhood, but there’s more history than you can imagine, right beneath your feet.  Join a Freedom Trail Run and get an insider’s view of Boston’s rich past, while picking up your heart rate in the process.

 JUST DO IT

  • Explore the Boston Harbor Islands: from forts to fries to glittery beaches of sea glass, the harbor islands are the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.  I recommend going out to George’s Island and then stopping at Spectacle on the way back.
  • Cool off at the Boston Public Library: In addition to hosting every book in the world (true story, I checked), the BPL also has a beautiful courtyard, a cafe, and a great array of exhibits and events, not to mention some pretty strong air conditioning.
  • Ride the Swan Boats: Head over while it’s still under $3 and take a ride on Boston iconic swan boats (dare I call them the proto-duck tour?).  The ride is short but sweet, and it will make you appreciate the many flowers in bloom and wildlife in the Public Garden.
  • Seek out the best ice cream in town: It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it – search out some of the best flavors in Boston ice cream, from Toscanini’s in Central Square to Christina’s in Inman to JP Licks… everywhere.  With options like rose, burnt caramel, and coffee oreo to choose from, this challenge has no losers.
  • Enjoy the student-free city: take in the areas that are painful during the school year (Harvard Square, anyone? The entire Green Line?) and enjoy owning a small slice of our city by yourself, rather than always sharing it with a mob.

What else are you loving about Boston this summer?  Post in the comments below!  And have fun out there!

ETA: two new additions!

Free Fridays at a bunch of museums around the state, including some that are really expensive otherwise (I’m looking at you, Gardner Museum)

SOWA Sundays – awesome vintage and craft market in the South End, with food trucks galore and tons of delicious things and great gifts to leave your wallet utterly empty.

Boston-versary

This month marks the fifth year since Katie and I signed our first lease in Boston.  And what a five years it has been.  As Katie said, over her birthday breakfast of homemade waffles topped with chocolate and bananas (28 is gonna be GREAT!) – “It used to be that time flew when you were having fun… now it goes by so quickly no matter what!”  And yet, we’ve packed a lot of adventures into those years:

  • Lived in 2 apartments
  • Played on 7 sports teams (still gunning for the championship, though)
  • Had only 2 jobs
  • Tried – and succeeded, and failed at, and had lots of adventures on – 5 different dating websites
  • Still owned ZERO cars (or cats, for that matter, since I typed that accidentally like 5 times)
  • Run hundreds of miles along the Charles, Comm Ave, the bike path, and more
  • Voted in 4+ elections
  • Eaten at restaurants and hunted down top-notch mojitos in all quarters of the city
  • Made dozens of awesome friends
  • Hung out on movie sets, watched plays on the Common, cheered at the Head of the Charles Regatta, gorged myself at chocolate fundraisers, met political celebrities, trampolined until I had a headache, explored abandoned forts and collected seaglass on the Boston Harbor Islands, celebrated marathon runners, sledded at Fenway Park, and more

I don’t know if I’ll still be here in another 5 years – maybe I’ll give into the temptation to live in Europe, full-time.  Maybe I’ll buy a cute house to fix up in New Hampshire or Maine.  Maybe I’ll be prepping to take on the Presidency in DC.  Who knows!  But I do know that there are more adventures to be had in this city, and I plan on living it up, one delicious summer day at a time.  Thanks for everything, Boston – looking forward to round 2!

Come on down!

One night at trivia, a dude with a blue mohawk stopped by our table and asked us if we wanted to try out for a game show.  If you’ve ever met me, you know I instantly said yes.

Later that week, I got a call, then email from the producer asking me in for a specific time.  Again, I jumped at the offer and Katie and I showed up together at the Sheraton downtown on Saturday afternoon to audition for “The Chase” – a new show on the Game Show Network.

I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to how the auditions actually went, but I wanted to share a few tips in case you ever get a chance like this.  Here are my game show lessons:

  1. Don’t worry about the dress code.  We worked so hard to find good outfits without stripes, patterns, all black, all white – and then people came in wearing everything.  Put in a little effort and look presentable, but don’t over-analyze your clothes to see if this polka dot vs. that one is too small to count (True Life: it happened to us).
  2. Ask about the timing.  It was hard to pick an audition time before we knew how long it would take, which we basically had to pry out of the production team (and even then, it was wildly inaccurate).  Still, it’s helpful to know if you need to be there for 30 minute shifts or bank on staying for the whole day.  Ditto to asking about follow-up auditions – in Boston, they were the day after and mandatory, so one friend didn’t even try out because he knew he was going to be out of town later.
  3. Bring your own water.  Trivia can burn major calories, y’all.  The last thing you need is to be distracted by that tickle in the back of your throat.
  4. Take a chance.  How many days can you go to the bar saying that you tried out for a game show earlier in the day?  Even if nothing comes of it, it makes for a good adventure.  And hey – you could bring home some serious cash/ that jetski/ an all-expense paid trip somewhere – so why not give it a shot?

Now that I’ve stretched my legs, I really want to go audition for the Price is Right.  Anyone interested in joining me in this quest?

All the colors of the wind

Second annual Color Me Rad – check!  Compared to last year, this year’s run at the Brockton Fair Grounds was:

  • More crowded, with waves starting from 8 AM through the afternoon
  • Better organized, with good parking options and clearly marked areas
  • More flexible – they actually invited you to start whenever you were ready instead of making you stick to a certain wave
  • More colorful – the color felt a little bit more spread out than last year, but we got more of it early on and felt like we were really getting the point without trying too hard (no rolling around on the ground this year thank goodness – that stuff took forever to get off of my stomach!)
  • Less crowd-focused at the end – last time, we all finished together and then had a giant party.  Here, there was a host and people dancing constantly, but there wasn’t an all-out bash with group color throwing like there was last time.  Hence, it would have been nice to have a slightly larger team together.
  • Slightly more athletic – this was less winding through a parking lot and more of an actual course.  It felt really easy though (other than mom’s blisters), probably because we were still in good share from our half marathon training.
  • 50% more rad – the mirrored sunglasses, the knee socks, the music – it was all quite fabulous.   Also hoping that their new instructions for keeping the color in actually work (last year they said soak in vinegar and it failed – this year they recommended spray adhesive.  Fingers crossed!).

Onward to next year, and to seeing if I can get this dye off of my shorts!

Color Run 2013