The art of cliff diving

Who thinks “You know that building down by the water?  The art museum that overlooks the water?… Let’s go dive off of it.”

Red Bull, that’s who.  This Saturday, they got 14 divers from around the country to take the plunge off the roof of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) into the Boston Harbor.  I’m still debating which piece of that is crazier – the 95 foot dive or the destination.

Also crazy = trying to attend this thing without your riot gear on.  I headed down to the seaport via silver line, where I got my first taste of the insane crowds when we all crammed onto the same bus.  And it got even worse when we got closer to the water – all those nights of pushing my way to bar bathrooms, weaving between crowds and carefully eyeing the least-hazardous path paid off when I made it to a simple patch of grass and got to sit and watch the festivities.  I made some new friends and had a perfect view of the water, the clear blue sky, and the perilous platform from which the divers would be launching themselves.  Perfection.

The competition itself started late – all the materials boasted a 4:00 dive time but in reality, the practice dives were even later than that and by the time I left at 6:15 we were only 1 round into a four-round head-to-head matchup.  It was exhausting even just to watch, but amazing and a great post-Olympics thrill for zero dollars.

The divers have to land feet first, and complete a series of flips and spins in the air.  Even when they land as gently as possible, their bodies make a horrible belly-flop noise when they hit the water – people easily get hurt in this sport.  Not surprising, given that divers can reach speeds of 65 miles per hour before they try to stop in the span of 10-12 feet – that’s like driving down the highway and then stopping your car in the length of your car.  Except it’s your body, so there’s no airbag.  As soon as they hit the water, the divers come right back up making the OK sign to let the rescue scuba crew nearby know that they’re still in one piece.  All was well on Saturday, thank goodness.

 

I fully recommend checking out this free event next year – keep these tips in mind when you go (and look for me there!):

  • Head out early (unless you don’t mind being carried along with the crowd) – aim to be there no later than 3.
  • Bring a sweater.  It’s cold by the water!  But wear sunscreen too.  Always.  🙂
  • Don’t compromise on your view – there were plenty of places to sit if you looked hard enough, and it would have been a LONG time to stand.  That being said…
  • Consider the tides when choosing your seat.  You are sitting by the ocean, at the end of the day.  We saw a whole bunch of people lose their seats as the water came in and covered the rocks where they had been sitting.
  • Bring your camera – so many great photo ops and the extreme number of dives done (4 each for the 14 divers in the first round alone) that you have time to perfect your technique.
  • Meet up with friends before you get there – you won’t be able to hear anything or go anywhere deliberately once you get near the area.

One final shot for good measure/ to inspire you to join me next year:

Hope to see you there!

 

Advertisements

Anything but Misérable

Les Mis - our high school edition

Last night, Katie and I painted the town red – and black (the dark of ages past) – when we took in opening night of Les Misérables at the Boston Opera House.

For me, this was more than just a night at the theater.  It was a symbol of our friendship.  It was a reminder of that time 9 years ago (yes, I feel old when I say that) when we first saw Les Mis on stage (also through Broadway in Boston) with the music department of our high school.  The way we felt when the barricade folded and the stage started spinning.  The shock and awe of watching a musical – and this musical especially – reveal the fate of each character and rip your heart away in the process.

Then, the production we did our senior year of high school, where we built the barricade by hand, stayed up late sewing tri-color scarves, and scoured HomeGoods for the best silver candlesticks $30 could buy.

And then, a reminder of London, of the six months we spent there together, eating waffles in Hyde Park, shopping on Portobello Road, and deciding on a whim to go see the stage production there, buying tickets after class and eating ice cream in the balcony during intermission.

All that brought us here, to our sweet little Boston apartment with photos of our lives on the walls, a Big Ben shower curtain, and a roommate who knows how to finish whatever musical tune you start.

Now, ON WITH THE SHOW!  Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

Change one thing

This weekend at the New Leaders Council Institute, I was charged with giving a moving two minute speech on the topic of “change one thing.”  It made me think not only of the big picture things I want to change in the world (inequality, racism, hate, etc.) but also about all the little things I would do differently if I was in charge of the world. Here’s my top eight* list for today – what would be on yours?

  1. Lego Friends – This is what I actually said in our class this weekend.  I believe that Lego Friends embodies pretty much everything that is wrong with our country in terms of sexism.  Girls were playing with Legos before, and they’ll keep playing with them now – by creating a separate product of building blocks that are pinks and pastels, we’re drawing a line and establishing boy toys and girl toys in one of the VERY few areas where this wasn’t already black and white.  Please, for the love of all that is gender  neutral, listen to the little girls and boys who are writing to you and go back to the drawing board on this one.
  2. Its – Look, I get what we’re trying to do here, differentiating between the contraction it is and that which belongs to it, but I’m tired of these shenanigans.  Give the damn second meaning an apostrophe already so it can match basically every other possessive version of anything.
  3. The hours of the T – Attention city planners: we didn’t move to Boston because we wanted to end our nights out in time to catch the last train at 12:30.  We came here because we wanted to be young and enjoy the good life, but you’re cutting our fun short with these ridiculous timetables and silly roads that make a 5-mile cab ride cost $35.  Since I doubt we’re going to build more efficient roads, can we please get some leniency with the weekend hours on the T?  Even just by an hour or two?
  4. Cover charges – Please go away.  That is all.
  5. The prevalence of pomegranate – This is being phased out, thank goodness, but the sooner the better!  I’m allergic and I’m sick of having to stay away from shampoos, dressings, and delicious looking drinks.  I’m ready for the next big thing, and hopefully this one won’t make me break out in hives.
  6. eBooks – It has finally happened that someone offered to lend me a book… on my non-existent Kindle.  I think that the more reading, the better in general, but the hard truth is that unless the other person has the same technology, you can’t share books this way, and that breaks my little bibliophile heart right in half.  Paper, please?
  7. The return of common decency – I want to see this happen, STAT.  It shouldn’t be ok to call a woman a “slut” or “prostitute” – whether she’s a waitress who pisses you off OR a 3L at Georgetown law who wanted to talk about the need for contraception coverage in the health care amendments.  We need to all come together and remind people – and ourselves – that this is inappropriate and we can be better than that.  Also, stand up for old people on the T and cover your mouth when you sneeze, please!
  8. The lack of Food network at BSC – It’s minor, but the only regret I had in finally leaving Planet Fitness for Boston Sports Club (in all their pool-and-spinning-class glory) was that PF got the Food Network and BSC does not, which means the end to my dinner adventure inspiration.  Instead, I’m always going to want a beer at MacLarens like in How I Met Your Mother.
This list is far from complete (see below) but it’s still nice to get these little wishes off my chest in case I meet a mini-genie one day.  Never say never!  And Lego – you can expect to hear from me soon.

*Hate imperfectly numbered lists?  Send me your top ideas and maybe I’ll adopt two more!

Music Monday: One day more

… until Katie and I go see Les Mis!

This will be our third time seeing the show together, not counting the O2 televised version and the 4 shows we put on in high school, and I get more excited each time.  I’m a bit nervous because I hear that when it was restaged, they took away the turntable component (gaspshockawe) but I’m sure it will still be a fabulous show.  I’ll give you my review later this week!

Winter Weekend Win

20-degree perfection!

Not pictured: brownies that are cooling in the kitchen, the roommate who will watch very silly Christmas movies with me, and the cute boyfriend who came to cheer on us Jingle Bell Runners.

After finishing the Jingle Bell Run 5k.

Our neighbor's amazing light display. Holiday cheer huzzah!

Delicious risotto for dinner - recipe to come!

Whale poop and the meaning of life

You read that right.  Last week, I took my nerdiness to a whole new level when I willingly joined my friend Jessica for a lecture about whale poop.

Yes, it’s a thing.  It’s orange, it floats, and it stinks to high heaven (when it comes from a right back whale).  And it’s freaking amazing.

I never thought I could sit for an hour to hear someone talk about poop, but the scientist who spoke to us (Dr. Kathleen Hunt) was incredible.  Here’s a strong, smart woman, leading the way in scientific discoveries via POOP.  Can it get any better than that?  Here’s a crash course on why whale poop is so fabulous:

  • Mammal poop carries a ton of hormone information, and can tell scientists all about estrogen, testosterone, an animal’s reproductive status, and their stress levels.
  • Poop is a much better indicator of stress levels than blood samples, because taking blood always stresses animals out (how could it not?) while poop gives you an indicator of how what an animal’s hormone levels were like 1-2 days earlier.  This rocked my world.  Because of this, poop is better than blood.
  • Another earth-shaker – blood tests aren’t even an option for whales, since no great whales live in captivity (and you can’t trap a live whale for tests).  This is obviously true, but still crazy to think about.
  • The whale poop we talked about (from the right back whale) is actually collected by going near where the whale surfaced and scooping it up with a net.  Dogs can help with the search, as they can smell the foul stuff a nautical mile away.
  • Some animals are always a little bit high-strung (just like people!).  More on this later…
  • Not all stress is bad.  Mating is stressful, and being pregnant is stressful on your body, but you can adapt to those and other natural stress.  It’s the unexplained stress that you have to be careful about.

Continue reading