Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oh Boston, You're My Home

I was born in New York by two parents from New York who each had siblings and parents from New York.  Thus, I was born into a family that rooted for Yankees or Mets and Jets or Giants.  When my parents relocated with my brother and me to New Hampshire, it was too late for any New Englanders to convert me to their one true religion: rooting for their hometown teams.  For better (the Yankees) or worse (the Jets,) I cannot fathom ever rooting for the Sox or Pats.  It’s just not in my DNA.  For example, “Sweet Caroline” makes me want to vomit and I strongly dislike the Bosstones. So as a consequence of my Yankee/Jet connection, I’ve suffered tons of abuse (I told you I was a Jets fan already right?) from my friends in New England since grammar school.
After graduating from UVM in 1997, I moved back home to Hooksett for the summer to make some money and regroup.  Like most college graduates, I was clueless as to the next step.  Fortunately, a couple of my high school buddies approached me with their idea about moving to Boston together.  That summer, we found an apartment in Fenway.
At first, living in the Green Monster’s neighborhood felt a little bit like being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  In fact, I completed my first night out with the guys by sleeping in a Government Center jail cell.  Notwithstanding the rocky start, Boston began to grow on me after just a few weeks.
I celebrated my first Patriot’s Day as a Boston resident in 1998.  After experiencing the marathon as a spectator, I knew I had to experience it as a runner.  I ran as a bandit the following spring.  In 2002, I ran again but this time with a bona fide number. 
I finally graduated from law school one month after my last marathon.  That year, my first job as a lawyer was with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecuter.  During that time, I worked with and befriended (or at least became acquainted with) a lot of state troopers and local police from Cambridge, Watertown, and Somerville among other towns.
In 2004, I took a job in private practice back in Boston where I’ve remained ever since.  Around the same time, I moved to South Boston and met Michelle. 
Michelle had lived in Southie since college besides living for a year in Watertown.  We got engaged in 2006 and bought our first home in Southie on the same day.  Greta was born in Boston two years later.  (Gus and Tilly were also born in Boston.)
When Michelle was pregnant with Gus, we relocated to Easton and began the adjustment to our suburban lifestyle.  In the ensuing three years, I think what I’ve come to miss most is simply the proximity to walk around in any of the city’s neighborhoods including but not limited to Boylston Street and Copley. 
But fortunately, I still work downtown.  And we go in occasionally as a couple or a family for various adventures.  My favorite Christmas present the last two years from Michelle was a “getaway” weekend where I stay solo in a Boston hotel to write and take breaks for inspiration a/k/a walk around the city or hop in a bar for a beverage.
On the day before this year’s marathon, Michelle and Greta were gone for the day.  I decided to take Gus and Tilly to Castle Island.  We stopped in Dorchester on the way out of town to visit my brother and his wife.  My buddy Phil heard we were in the neighborhood and invited us for a visit to his firehouse a few blocks away.  He offered to give us a special tour for the kids.  Unfortunately, the kids were too tired to make it work so we drove home.
Throughout that Sunday, I didn’t give much thought to the following day’s marathon. In all honesty, Patriot’s Day celebrations have been sporadic for me.  I can’t even remember the last time I actually went down to Boylston Street to watch the runners cross.  Part of the reason for the hiatus was definitely because of a “been there, done that” attitude, but also because I get just plain jealous whenever I watch any race that I’m not running.
On Monday around three o’clock, I was working in my office near South Station when I noticed the sounds of sirens and speeding cars.  A co-worker mentioned something about an explosion at the marathon.  Shortly thereafter, I noticed my cell phone wasn’t working right and next thing you know our office was evacuating. 
Once home, Michelle and I watched, listened, and read about all the horrors with reactions that probably mirrored exactly what you all experienced.  My first instinct was to check up on the status of any friends or acquaintances who may have been running or celebrating up there.  I also learned that Phil had been working directly across from the first explosion and thankfully, he was safe. 
Thoughts raced through my head as I waited for sleep that night.  Over the next few days, I struggled to comprehend the heinousness of the tragedy. 
On a primary level, I have been heartbroken for those who perished or were maimed by the bombings.  I am also devastated for the victims’ loved ones.  I can only imagine and hope never to experience the impact of such an atrocity on their lives. 
On a secondary level, I felt violated personally even though I do not personally know one person who suffered a casualty.  I realized my outrage was because the city where I’ve lived and worked and have come to love for the past 15 years, was attacked for no justifiable reason whatsoever.  It hurt even more because the Patriot's Day holiday celebrates exactly what is so wonderful about life and humanity. 
For whatever their reasons, the runners undertake a totally unnecessary challenge to their mind, body, and soul that requires months of commitment and training.  The spectators come to witness the runners’ confrontation with adversity and to encourage the athletes to succeed.  The symbiotic relationship between runner and spectator is almost a metaphor for life itself: we are either the one undertaking a burden to overcome or supporting those who need our help.
My head still swirled with contemplation.  Then Friday and the manhunt arrived.  I immediately thought of the police officers with whom I worked and met during my days at the DA’s office.  Without any verification, I know that many if not all of them were involved in what we witnessed.  Michelle and I rejoiced when the boat was discovered.
I admit this may sound kind of dumb.  But as a result of my sports teams’ allegiances, I’ve always felt a sort of disconnect between my identity and where I call home even though I’ve only really lived in New England my whole life.  After the events of this week, however, no such disconnect exists any longer.  I am now and will most likely forever be a Bostonian.  I write that admission with pride and satisfaction.  I just wish I realized it sooner.
We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the first responders for their bravery, as well as for the exceptional jobs that they performed this week.  That means people like you, Phil, in addition to the police officers who assisted with the successful operation in Watertown on Friday night.
We should tip our caps to the public officials who simultaneously coordinated the community’s safety  and the accompanying investigations.  Too often, we voice our complaints when they are acting as politicians but fail to recognize when they acted as true leaders.  Kudos to the governor on down.
Also, let’s not forget about all of the medical professionals who pitched in this week, particularly during the immediate aftermath of the bombings.  They likely saved scores of lives because of their expertise.
Last but not least, we owe a big high five to the Hub and her people.  Boston is a city full of characters and character.  This week reinforced that sentiment, no doubt. 
On a closing note, I’ve decided to make a go of the marathon one more time next year.  Any of you feel like beginning the training with me in cold and wet December?  No?  Oh, you must not be from Boston.

Phil is in the center of this image.  You can see him without a hat in his black firefighter's coat and a silver B on his back.  We're all so proud of you buddy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Forward

I contemplated writing something like “The Winter That Never Dies” or “The Spring That Never Came” so that we might remember the strange weather of 2013’s first quarter.  Ultimately, I didn’t pull the trigger because I was afraid to jinx us and cause a sudden April snow storm. 

In any event, I don’t have a specific story for this particular post.  Instead, we’ll just go with the old “throw a bunch of crap that’s been marinating in my brain before I forget” montage.  While we’re at it, let’s sprinkle in a little Mad Men influence in light of tonight’s season premiere.


In an effort to encourage Gus and Tilly from tossing their sippy cups overboard at the dinner table, THE WIFE and I constantly propose toasts and cheers with all the kids.  (Perhaps the rapid intake of wine is an ulterior motive as well, but I digress.)

Gus pronounces “cheers” in a pseudo Mass accent, which alarms and endears me at the same time.  It sounds like “chee-ahs.”  Next thing you know, he’ll be asking for “tonic” after his trip from the “bahth room.”

Greta, meanwhile, is getting much better at drinking out of a big girl cup.  She knocks it over only infrequently now, which is nice.  As for the vessel of choice, she’s rocking either a Hello Kitty shorty cup (her rocks glass) or a tall, pink Disney princesses collage (her high ball) that used to light up with a flip of a switch before it sat through an accidental dishwasher cycle. 

Tilly, when it comes to toasting, is far and away the most enthusiastic participant.  As soon as she detects that someone has lifted their glass to cheers, her eyes widen and she rapidly grabs ahold of her drink with one hand.  With a crazed-looking grin, she will swing her sippy cup wildly (still one-handed) as if she were imbibing with other Vikings in a medieval tavern.  We could do this for hours and she wouldn’t complain, I’m convinced.


We have a hand-me-down crib from friends of our friends, which we’ve been using for Tilly.  (Gus has Greta’s old crib.)  I’m pretty sure the manufacturer is out of business and this model has been recalled for safety reasons. 

Irregahdless, Greta gets a kick out of climbing in with Tilly to jump around, yell, laugh, and drive me crazy.  The other day, the jumping finally took its toll so Tilly’s been sleeping in a pack-n-play this week.  I told THE WIFE I’d try to fix it over the weekend.

Saturday morning arrived and THE WIFE abandoned the house with the kids (solid move, props to you WIFE) so I could attempt a repair amidst peace and quiet.  Naturally, I squandered the free time on other less pressing chores. 

I finally began fixing the crib yesterday afternoon but only after all three kids were back.  Of course that meant they were all up in my grille.  My head and arms were buried below the undercarriage like a mechanic under a car, as my belly and legs jutted out exposed to elbow drops and body slams.  Little faces peered in under the bed skirt, while my tools suddenly vanished and reappeared intermittently. 

After lots of twisting and pulling, pushing and manipulating, swearing and punching, I could not get the damn thing to reattach.  Greta had been working with me throughout the ordeal.  She was begging for a chance to use the Allen wrench to tighten up a bolt somewhere but I kept putting her off as I attempted to diagnose why the crib would not stay together.  Finally, Greta says “Hey dad, can I tighten this bolt?  It’s loose.”  When I saw what she was talking about, I realized that was exactly the fix we needed.

Long story short, one c-clamp, ten cable ties, a few bungee cords, some duct tape, Gorilla glue, and the advice of a four-year old later, we were able to put Tilly back in her crib for bed last night.  Thanks Gigi for helping me fix the crib that you broke!


Almost immediately after we got home from Easter dinner at Nana’s, Gus wiped out on a shirt I hastily dropped on the ground while disrobing.  He split his chin open and incited temporary mayhem.  What’s a major holiday anyway without any blood stains on a seersucker bow tie?

As THE WIFE and I debated whether our first ER visit was necessary, we iced him down and gauzed him up.  Fortunately, G-man handled the situation like a champ and stitches were avoided.  He’s already healing pretty well.  Rain check on that ER visit.


Greta’s standard outfit for practicing dance around the house is a bathing suit.  She will enter a room unannounced until we notice the attire and begin flattering her with compliments.  Then I play her “ballerina music” and we watch the performance.  Here was today’s outfit and yes it’s on backwards:


Does anyone in America own a computer printer in their home that works on a consistent basis?  I’m pretty certain that ours worked for a day or so.  We may have even printed one or two pages.  Our “fancy” printer hypothetically has a scanner/copying function, though I wouldn’t know because neither command has ever worked for me every single time I have needed it. 

Every few months, I come back to the printer and hope that someone has fixed it since my last unsuccessful attempt.  Here’s hoping someone out there will give it a go the next time they’re over our house.

At least the printer’s heavy enough to keep the cabinet from moving when Tilly opens the drawers and crawls into it during one of her explorations.


That ends this week's snap shot of our family status circa April 7, 2013.  Enjoy the MM premiere tonight.