Tag Archives: 2013

A Mile Away from Tragedy

When tragedy strikes, heroes emerge.

By now most people have heard of the heroism that came in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. The journalist who put down his camera to help an injured woman. Spectators who ran toward the explosions to help, instead of running away from them. The runners who after making it through a grueling 26 miles continued to run all the way to the hospital to donate blood. The police and EMT’s. The volunteers. All of them doing whatever they could in the chaos to help save lives.

Heroes. True heroes.

All of them.

But it’s a different story a mile away.

I watched the horror unfold probably just like you did. I was gathered around a TV with a group of people surrounding me, all of us trying to make sense of a world that no longer made sense. The only difference is I was in a bar along the marathon route. A place where the bartender refused to turn up the volume or turn on the closed captioning for fear of inciting panic. So instead of hearing an anchor give details, all we heard was speculation coming from a dozen different directions at once from confused patrons.

“Oh my God, is that purple stuff blood? Oh God, it’s blood.”

“I heard there are still bombs along the route. We should all leave.”

“No, the police are telling everyone to stay where they are.”

“They’re shutting down public transportation.”

“Don’t use your cell phone. That’s how they’re detonating the bombs.”

“My cousin said one hundred people are dead.”

“No, it’s only about a dozen.”

“I heard only two, but one is a kid.”

A mile away there is no smoke. No blood. No severed limbs. No screams. There is only large groups of scared people trying to sort out the information from the misinformation. We were far enough away to probably not be in any danger but it still felt like we were in danger. We were all desperately trying to get ahold of our families to let them know we were OK only to realize with growing panic that our phones weren’t working. As agonizing minutes ticked by, we watched our phones blow up with calls and texts we were unable to answer.

A mile away, there isn’t much you can do to help. All you can do is hand out cigarettes to people because if there was ever a time to smoke, now would be it. You hand them out to the two guys who can’t stop talking about how two people died and how they happen to be two people and how by that logic it could have been them. You hand them out to the guy walking down the street who is looking for his friend whom he lost a few hours ago and is worried he left to be closer to the finish line. You even hand one out to the young, drunk, scared girl who won’t stop talking about how if a bomb was going to go off, they should have done it at Fenway where there was a game because somehow in her young, drunk, scared mind, blowing up baseball fans is better than blowing up marathon fans. And you just shake your head and forgive her because she’s young, drunk, scared and alone.

A mile away, there is a frat house that turned their lawn party into a way station, offering passerbys water or food or cell phones or cell phone chargers. Or probably, if you asked them, they’d even offer you a much needed hug.

A mile away, there is a former EMT who keeps reassuring you that everything will be alright, she promises, when you hear that another possible bomb went off in a building close to your husband’s work and you start to freak out that he’s now in danger and as an afterthought that you’re all still possibly in danger and the terror isn’t over.

A mile away, there is a someone who let’s you get snot and eyeliner all over his shirt as you cry on his shoulder in front of another TV in another bar farther away from the finish line because you don’t know where else to go when the president makes his address about the tragedy.

A mile away, there is a friend who presses a crumbled $50 into your hands and insists you take it so you can hail a cab home instead of taking the subway since the police are advising everyone to avoid crowds.

A mile away, there is a cabbie who let’s you tell the story of the first time you ever went to the Boston Marathon two years ago when you first came to Boston and how moved you were that so many people would stand for so many hours cheering on runners they don’t know and cheering just as loudly for the last runners as they did for the first.

And five miles away, when you finally get home, there is a husband who lets you collapse into his arms sobbing because you both made it through this horrific day alive.

Yes, heroes emerge in a time of tragedy.

But a mile away from tragedy, there are only people doing whatever they can, whatever gesture, big or small, to help each other get through one of the worst days in American history.

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Words that need to die

I don’t know, you guys. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been sleeping very well lately, or perhaps this winter weather is driving me a bit stir crazy. But I’ve been in a really bad mood.

I mean, everything seems to be getting on my nerves lately. Last night while watching the Oscars, my phone actually committed suicide because it couldn’t take any more of the pure snark streaming out of my Twitter feed:

“I don’t know who’s more excited, Anne Hathaway or her nipples.”

“I want to give 90 percent of the women in the audience a Twinkie.”

“So nice to know that with all these talented women in one place, untalented people can immediately put them in their place by hating their dress.”

“Just once I want the answer to the question “Who are you wearing?” to be “Your mom.”

“The Oscars are so long I can’t remember what it’s like to not be watching the Oscars.”

See what I mean?

It’s bad, people.

But the good news is that I’ve decided to do something productive with all this negative energy by creating a list of all the stupid (and mostly made up) words that I think need to die a very painful death and then be buried deep in the earth where no one can ever use them again.

First and foremost on that list: “cray-cray”

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“adorbs”- Stop being lazy and just say the whole damn word. Also, for those of you that still use “adorkable” to describe cute, dorky girls, that was funny once, ONCE, and that one time it was funny was the very first time someone used it.

“sexting” -This one I hate not so much as a word but at what it represents. As a writer I can never really turn off my internal editor and so there is nothing quite like a typo to turn me off.

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“amazeballs”- This is the acid-washed jeans of words. Outdated and never, ever due for a comeback.

“artisanal”- Stop using this word to make your stupid, homemade candles and soaps sound less pathetic.

“vajayjay”-Until we start referring to the penis as “panaynay,” this word needs to be shot, have some concrete blocks strapped to its feet and dropped in a river.

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But by far, BY FAR, the one word that needs to die until the human race is mature enough to use it correctly is “literally.”

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To the tax break(ing) point…

You guys, I feel so bad. I can’t believe I have been so selfish and near-sighted. Not to mention, so utterly unfair. I mean, to think! That I could possibly be the cause of so much financial strife and anguish.

I am so so deeply ashamed right now.

Yes, dear readers, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you my husband and I just finished our taxes and as it turns out, we have cheated our poor government out of their hard-earned money. To the tune of $800!!!

Quite frankly, I’m surprised they’re even still up and running considering this monetary injustice.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it happened. I mean, I know that our taxes are automatically taken out of our paychecks but, what? I’m just supposed to expect the people getting paid to know this stuff to know they’re taking out the right amount ahead of time!?! Please. These are very important people with very important things to do. I think we can all agree that current bills in Congress, such as H.R. 82, which would establish and implement security procedures to reduce the likelihood of baby switching and H.R. 213, which would ensure that consumers receive notification regarding food products from crops, livestock, or poultry raised on land which contained sewage sludge* aren’t just going to filibuster themself.

I can’t believe I didn’t do my civic duty as a civilian of these United States and double check they were taking out enough every two weeks. Honestly, how lazy can you get? The tax code, at only a mere 70,000 or so pages, is available to anyone who wants to read it.

Gee whiz. Well, I sure hope the government isn’t struggling because they’ve had to try to make ends meet without my $800 so far. To think that they might of possibly had to have had a committee meeting with only bagels, croissants and doughnuts, instead of bagels, croissants and the good doughnuts from that one bakery or that, God forbid, some of them actually had to SHARE staplers. I just…I just can’t even fathom.

But hey, if Congress is reading this right now, let me assure you that I am taking the necessary steps to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

Yes, just as soon as I figure out which only semi-vital organ I can sell on the black market, you will have your check.

*These are real bills being considered right now

But…white girls are always on a diet, aren’t they?

You guys…I don’t know. Is it just me or does this new year just seem…I don’t know…a bit lackluster? A bit blah?

I mean, 2013? Thirteen itself is just a crappy number. Unlucky, even. And was anyone happy when they turned 13? Of course not. You had acne and hair sprouting in weird places and were the very definition of awkward and everyone hated you because you were SUPER annoying.

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Even the end of the world Mayan prediction was a letdown, unable to live up to the hype of Y2K.

Then again, maybe it is just me. I’m just not feeling the bright, shiny part of this bright, shiny new year. I couldn’t even gather up the energy to make a resolution this year. Not even to lose weight, which, as a white girl born and bred in the Midwest, has been my standard Jan. 1 promise since I was four.

And, come to think of it, maybe that’s the problem.

See, normally, this time of the year is downright magical. The time when we women research and plan and empty our pantries full of junk and buy pills and powders and that yoga DVD which goes perfectly with the brand new cute yoga outfit we just bought and we write out our daily menu for the next two weeks based on the latest, trendy diet book we also just bought. It’s a time of hope, the time when we truly believe THIS diet actually IS the answer to our weight loss woes, unlike the 42 others that we’ve tried and failed miserably at, and the time just before reality sets in and we’d stab a three-legged, orphaned bunny just to get our hands on a piece of chocolate cake.

I can’t explain why the majority of us women love putting ourselves through this year after year. But we do. To the tune of $600 trillion* a year for the diet industry. So there must be something enjoyable about it. Even if we have yet to figure out what that enjoyable element actually is.

*Figure might not be accurate considering I just made it up on the spot.

Not to mention, we’re encouraged by an endless parade of publications putting out their health and fitness issues and Facebook and Twitter feeds of everyone talking about their new, amazing diet:

“Just lost seven pounds on the leek soup diet!!! I’ve passed out 32 times but can totes fit in my skinny jeans!!! Jajajajaja!!!”

So maybe I’m just feeling a bit left out. I have no desire to put myself through all that again. It just seems like too much work for something that has a proven fail rate of 100 percent.

But if I can’t get excited about a new diet, honestly what else is there to live for?

Hmm…then again, maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Maybe this is actually a healthy step for me. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten to the age where I accept and love my body for what it is, muffin top and all.

Or more likely, I’ve reached the pivotal point in my life where I’ve subconsciously decided to just let myself go and start that muu-muu collection that I’m always (kind of) joking about.

Either way, I’m going to eat this pie. And not feel guilty.

Or at least not as guilty as I’d usually feel.

Or at the very least, feel guilty but then have another slice anyway and then start planning my new diet for the start of 2014.

It’s the end of the world as the Mayans know it

Even though technically I’m writing this before the supposed end of the world on Dec. 21, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that we didn’t all meet our fiery doom simply because the Mayans got lazy with their math homework. And if I’m wrong, well, pffft…what are you going to do about it? Judge me? Shove it in my face? You’re freaking dead.

But even though this prophecy is complete bunk (unless, again, I’m wrong, in which case, who cares because I doubt there is an Internet comment section in the afterlife…unless you end up in Hell where you are forced to read “c0mn3ntz buY peepz wh00 truely h8 da Englesh langwuid” all day), it does have the interesting effect of making one reflect back on their life. This is also amplified by the fact that we are staring straight into a bright, shiny new year, which always casts a magical spell on us and makes us promise to do things we actually never, ever intend to do.

So, with this in mind, I’ve been wondering how my life has stacked up so far.

Childhood? Happy. Or, at least as happy as any childhood can be in a world where wearing floral leggings in fourth grade will get you the nickname “Petunia Butt.” And, sure, I still had to deal with bullies and insecurities and childhood fears (I’m still convinced those troll dolls from the ’80s come alive at night) and boo-boos and disappointments (ahem…Kent Blackford likes me but doesn’t “like” me like me) and that horrible process of trying to figure out your place in the world. But at the end of the day, I always knew I was loved.

Adolescence? Ugh. Let’s just say it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Or better yet, if we take out the years 13 through 15 (and any and all photos taken during that period), it was actually pretty damn good. Although there was some pretty awful poetry produced in the remaining years.

College? Two degrees. No STDs. Sixty percent of memories still retained. So, overall, successful.

Career? Currently not where I want to be. I mean, I never really achieved my 7-year-old self’s dream of being a model-doctor-marine biologist-author-female Indiana Jones. But I did become a writer and a journalist, my 15-year-old self’s dream. I’ve seen my byline in multiple newspapers, including the Boston Globe, won some awards and was once told by an 87-year-old woman that I was funnier than Carol Burnett, which, let’s be honest, is by far the best compliment one can receive. I even achieved my goal of becoming a paid photographer, my 25-year-old self’s dream. Sure, I still haven’t written that book that is destined to make me rich (or at least get me out of the Ramen Noodle bracket of the middle class) or become syndicated yet, but the fact that I often write currently for publications for free proves that I really am doing what I love.

Love life and other grown-up relationships? My husband tells me I’m beautiful when I just woke up and resemble Wednesday Addams (both in looks and attitude), my family supports me to an embarrassing degree, my in-laws are straight out of some magical Hallmark Christmas movie and my friends, both life-long and recent and everything in-between, are the new, improved Algonquin Round Table.

Hmm…somehow I thought this post would be more cynical. But as it turns out, when you reflect on your life, somehow the good always outshines the bad. Which leads us to the most important question of all:

What would I do if I knew in advance it was my very last day on Earth and that I would shortly be forced to read the worst, most ignorant comments the Internet has to offer for the rest of eternity?

Nothing.

Or more specifically, the same thing I can be found doing on any average Saturday. Cooking breakfast with my husband, yelling at the dog, talking to my mom and cousin on the phone, heading into the city and stopping for a beer at some dive bar and at the end of the day, writing it all down.

Because, as it turns out, it’s in the every day that the magic of life lives.