Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ordinary Boston

I am not one to let news tragedies affect me and certainly not the ridiculous media coverage that accompanies them, but the Boston Marathon bombing really jarred me. I’ve never felt such hopelessness in humanity and for many reasons. I think I cried on and off the whole day. What you are about to read is a re-post from almost a year ago about my first experience with traveling out of the south as an adult. It’s about the city of Boston as a place that holds special importance to me. It is a place where I conquered multiple fears at once, where I ejected myself from my comfort zone, and where I took risks. It is just such a stunning place, and in light of recent events, I just want to share this piece again. Thanks for reading. 

Boston Copley

The Stoop

I attempt frugality. As well, I pride myself in my research abilities (most of the time). So, when looking for a place to stay in Boston, I luckily found a steal of a crash pad. The place we stayed was The Copley House in the Back Bay area of Boston. After my friend, convinced me it was in a safe area and conveniently located in the center of the attractions, I eagerly made a booking.

Instead of a full-blown generic hotel, each room they offered was an individual and unique apartment. After checking in to the main office on Newton St., we drove to our unit around the corner on a different street. Key in hand, we pulled up and grabbed our bags out of the bed of the truck. As I used my key to turn the old rim dead bolt, I felt like I was in a movie scene yet again. You know, one where I am Carrie Bradshaw the successful/chic writer entering her New York Boston apartment. I hate that I encompass that girly cliché, but alas, it is my chronic fantasy. And I am, in fact, a girl.

I almost feel like I am cheating readers by making such a lackluster claim, but the apartment we shacked up in was one of my favorite parts of the trip.I am so glad we did not opt for a Ramada Inn or some other cookie cutter corporate hotel. Not only would we have spent a fortune, leaving us little money for gorging Lobster and drowning ourselves in Irish car bombs, but the whole experience would have been completely different. Think way less traditional character and a lot more generic plastic key card.

We had the maximum amount of privacy. Hell, we barely even ran into any other guests staying in our building. We were tourists who didn’t have to look like tourists (at least until we spoke), and after a day of settling in we started to actually feel like we blended in. Before we knew it, we were eating clam “chowda” and drinking our pre-dinner cocktails at a tiny wooden dinner table by the window of our apartment that overlooked the street.

I particularly enjoyed morning coffee compliments of Dunkin’ Donuts (careful, they are hard to find if you don’t walk more than a foot). I’d enjoy my joe on The Stoop where I could take in the air and watch the Bostonians pass by and ignore me. I imagined what it would be like to be one of them. I assumed by the way most of them walked with such purpose and disconnect to anything other than their own path, that they grew up there. They went to school there and found their people there. City veterans, all of them. The Stoop was where I found excitement in their mundane.

I watched them briskly zip by in suits or saunter along walking their dogs, all while paying no attention to anything other than the gaps hiding in the brick sidewalk. At first, the detached demeanor of the people in the city had me disgruntled. For example, after a man bumped in to me in an old clothing boutique, I reflexively exclaimed, “Oh, I am so sorry!” as if it was my fault. Silence. I was invisible. This sort of thing just doesn’t occur in the South.

Like I said, at first this disconnect was unnerving, but the more I became immersed in the crowd, the flow of the city, and the collective feel of Boston, I began to enjoy their way. No one cares what you are doing, where you are walking, how you are walking, what you are wearing, or why you are even there. Everyone seemed dedicated to their own world and possessed no interest in invading another’s. It was a refreshing change from the over friendly, intrusive way of Southerners. The scope of the existing cultural polarity had really hit me, and it was just what I so desperately needed. It was more than lack of obligatory small talk. It was full opposition.

I could ramble on and on about the beautiful architecture of the old buildings and the rich historical scenery of Boston. Relishing in our field seats at Fenway Park was also well worth putting in to words. I could even elaborate on how wonderful the harbor is in person or the overwhelming beauty of viewing such a vast city from atop the Prudential Center, but I won’t. I wont, because sitting on that stoop at ground level with all of ordinary Boston surrounding me was, for me, more breath-taking than all of the main attractions. Just like the perfect air, I couldn’t inhale enough of ordinary Boston.

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I’ll See Your Air And Raise You a Jetty

Jetty

[Hampton Beach sure did rock my world. That pun was just embarrassing. Can I get my groove back already?]

Northeast air seduced me from the moment I stepped out of Logan Airport. There was a blunt and intense sensation hitting me almost immediately that I could not ignore. I… I could breathe. The air was positively intoxicating as opposed to the suffocating sauna-like air that radiates the South. Instead of dragging around choking on the heat, I was frolicking about in a humidity-free trance. I couldn’t help but wonder how I might bottle it up and bring it home with me.

Rarely have I experienced a place with days warm enough to sport a tank top and shorts and nights that require a sweater (fleece jacket in my case). I always watched films in which this phenomenon occurred. The actress runs wildly in a bikini during the day scenes, and come nightfall, is cozied up in a big long-sleeved poncho on a porch somewhere. It always confused me. Now, I had full understanding of the different weather outside of Louisiana’s inferno. It is safe to say I fell in love with this aspect of the North, and I also must say my hair was looking mighty lustrous minus all the frizz action.

The beach in New Hampshire, where we spent a day before storming the city of Boston, was unlike any beach I’d ever seen. Read the rest of this entry

Living With PVD

Boston skywalk

[It is official. I am experiencing PVD. For those of you who are unfamiliar, post vacation depression is a very real and debilitating condition. While it is not fatal, those who suffer from it often wish it was.]

As I return to my abandoned blog, as well as reality, I am finding it harder than expected to jump back into motion. It is kind of like the water up in New Hampshire on Hampton Beach. It was so frigid that I couldn’t do anything other than slowly ease myself in to each new wave. Even then, with each step deeper I was getting slapped with a little more of the arctic liquid than I anticipated.

I worked pretty feverishly on some projects before I jumped ship (which I am hoping to have word on soon), so the disconnect I enjoyed and carefree role I assumed in Boston were quite liberating. Alas, it is time to soldier on. I will be working on a series of posts featuring the parts of my trip that were (in my mind) the most significant. I’ll also be walking around confusing people by saying things like, “that’s wicked, y’all”.

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Abandon Blog

You have reached my blog answering machine. Leave a message after the beep comment box. I am currently off running around in a Red Sox cap.

becca cord in a  hat

[See it is true. I am not just screening your call comment]

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How Do We Stop Talking About Work?

While I often take pleasure in cooking and eating at home, I just as equally fancy dining out. Often I am alone, and therefore I belong to a certain club. The i’ll-just-have-a-seat-at-the-bar club. Not only is there a certain sense of empowerment from bypassing the wait (if there is one) or reign of the host, but it also feels there is a certain collective understanding between fellow bar bandits and lounge loiterers. I like to believe we are all there for the same reasons.

In my mind, those reasons include allowing our minds to wander and get lost in all the conversations around us without actually having to put forth the effort of input if there is no desire to do so. We can let the day’s labor fall behind and just be our person. Sure, it may sound lonely to eat solo at a restaurant full of families, couples, and friends, but for me it is one of the most relaxing ways to end a draining work day. Plus, you get drinks the fastest and especially if you are charming enough to chum up the bartender. Then you are really in, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I actually enjoy just listening, observing and often laughing silently to myself over the various exchanges I witness. On the other side, when the mood strikes, you can almost always find an interesting character to chat with. My problem as of late is that the vibe of this club and its participants seems to come off as: we are all here because we want to forget about the work day and have a nice meal, but we have nothing else to talk about but the work we want to forget. Basically, my fellow club members have been leaving me with a sour taste in mouth. And no, they weren’t buying me margaritas.

Just the other night I encountered a perfect example of this. There was a man in his late fifties from New York visiting Louisiana for what he elusively called “some training” and a woman I’d place in her mid-thirties sporting a mouth full of braces and decorative scrubs. I sat there for a solid two hours merely a few bar stools away listening (like I had any other choice). In the first five minutes, these two exchanged your typical where-ya-froms and what-do-ya-dos. The next hour and fifty-five minutes consisted of  nothing other than exhausting work chatter.

She very obviously worked at some sort of doctors office or hospital and was carrying a practically unfitting and ridiculously tiny sequined purse, I assumed to distract from the shine of her braces. She insisted on talking about the problems of people living pay-check to pay-check and issues with employer promises that are left unfulfilled. This, in turn, left the conversation open for the man to repeatedly and vaguely reference how he recently made a “life change”. Eventually, she gave in and took the bait.

He then proceeded to unravel the details behind his “life change” which was really only an occupational change. He had left an unnamed company that he had been with for something like twenty years to help his friend with a big business venture. Wait for it. She pressed further to get answers from him all the while unaware that he was orchestrating her responses and puppeteering her curiosity. Finally, he made his big reveal. His big life change would be opening a new Pop-a-Lock branch.

Now, I am by no means anti Pop-a-Lock. Hell, had it not been for the friends I made working at the campus police station while in undergrad, I probably would have been one of their most cherished customers. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed in the anticlimactic end to his hyped up story. However, I was more unsettled, almost saddened, that the two couldn’t talk about one single topic other than work.

But it is not just strangers. Every conversation I have purposely over-heard in the past few weeks has revolved around work. Some of them were neutral chats about a particular industry, but more often than not, I witnessed heated rants by jaded employees who just couldn’t seem to stop spewing about the exhausting topic. It is natural to use venting as a coping mechanism, and believe me I have practiced my fair share of it, but where is the line drawn? Can’t we all just order a really big chocolate dessert, another drink, and talk about the fascinating concept of  hula hoops or something?

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What NOT to Do When Looking for Moving Quotes

moving truck companies

Put your junk in my trunk!

Last weekend, my impatience and curiosity got the best of me. Add in a little Saturday afternoon boredom, and I began scribbling figures on a notepad. I have been keeping on track with my plans for saving money for future moving intentions, but what exactly are the costs of moving over a thousand miles? Now that I had figured out how to drug my cats in a natural way, I needed to focus on the more serious details. Not only was I calculating personal costs to ensure a smooth transition (i.e. car maintenance for such a voyage, disposing/possibly selling unnecessary belongings in attempts to downsize, etc.) but also the actual heavy lifting and transporting of my furniture and belongings. Where is a teleportation device when you need one? Basically I came up with a list of costs in order to help me edit my savings goals:

  • New residence lease deposits, first month’s rent, and other new apartment fees
  • Vehicle maintenance – The last thing I need is for my brakes to give out while I am towing my life around in a metal box.
  • Gas
  • Moving truck/trailer and services

Considering the last time I moved there were almost a couple of deaths (resulting from the over-exertion of a 54-year-old dad and myself with the upper body strength of Olive Oil), I concluded that the next move I endure will be lead by a team of Magic Mike look-a-likes. Obviously, I will also need a portal rental truck. Having no idea what this might cost, I naturally took to the internet. Read the rest of this entry

The Depths of Your Keyboard

It is eerie to think about just how much of the ocean man has yet to explore. Creatures that must exist out/down there are probably inconceivably bizarre, scary, and fascinating all at the same time. At the same level as it is incredible, it is equally as ominous. This reminds me of another shady habitat. The abyss that is my keyboard. Yes, I am comparing my keyboard to the ocean. What of it?

gross keyboard

Like most, I spend the majority of my days behind the computer screen with my fingers hovering the keyboard. It is your standard basic hardware. My sips of morning coffee take place directly above it, and the crumbs from my morning snack find their way to the caves between the H and J or W and E or… well you get the point. I often think about all the food matter, various liquids, dust, and bugs(?) that have ventured down below the glossy top surface of the alphabet decorated squares. At this point, I imagine there is a new strain of disease brewing down there, that if released from its enclosure will surely off me.

I once watched a very informative YouTube video that clearly described and showed how to properly disassemble the keys of your keyboard in order to clean out the trash trap below. Basically, one option is to use a can of air to blow debris out from underneath the keys. The problem with this, I assume, is that it is much like trying to floss around a permanent retainer. Or, like trying to use only water pressure to clean a dirty plate that has been sitting in the sink for days. It’s simply not going to do too much. You may feel like you are at least giving an effort, but come on. Who are you kidding?

The more efficient option explained in the video, is to just pop those keys off one by one.  You can reveal a whole year and a half’s worth (in my case and probably a lot longer) of accumulated heaping compost. I actually attempted to complete this horrifying task once. It may look easy enough to pluck out those keys, however, I personally felt a sense of panic each time one gave way to my prying. It doesn’t feel like they are supposed to be removable. Don’t worry if you get this sensation (assuming you even have the stomach to try this disgusting task), the keys will snap back in to place.

I personally never made it past the shift, A and Z keys when I threw in the towel. I am very much in denial/oddly and aggressively freaked out by the junk under there, so I put the keys back in their place and tried to bleach my mind of the experience.  I wont go in to detail of what was under there, partly because it was a collection of unrecognizable mutant spawns of whatever materials initially fell in, and partly because I still want people to think I have some sort of respect for my computer’s hygiene. But, before you judge you should take a look under your own keyboard’s hood, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Planning to Stop Planning

I’d hoped to soon post some brag pictures of myself casually looking off into the distance, wind in my hair, and with nothing but clouds in the background. Or, maybe me and Ryan Gosling embraced in a contrived but nonsensical pose as we ascended up and away. Unfortunately, my plans to ride in a hot air balloon for the 4th of July block party on Tuesday night crashed straight into a power line (not literally). Ryan stood me up too. Jerk. The weather decided to act a fool the afternoon festivities were to commence, and upon arriving home from work and seeing no over sized inverted tear drop shaped balloons in sight, I assumed it was a no go. So, I went to a bar to meet some friends  as consolation. Well, you know what annoyingly corny people say about assuming…

sugar mill pond 4th of july
[Apparently the balloon did manifest itself at some point in the hour that I was away from the party. There were also reports that Ryan actually showed up as well and did a nude swan dive into the pond. Bastards. ]

That is the thing about expectations and planning. Convinced that they are both almost always self-destructive, I think I will quit making them. That whole night was the exact opposite of what I planned in my mind. It was so disappointing, that I actually wrote the most depressing draft for a post while slouched in the corner of my balcony as I watched the last and only fireworks I got to see that night pathetically sort of half explode. Must have been the left over duds arriving late to the party, just like me. It was probably the most unnecessarily dramatic thing I have ever written and certainly not appropriate for the tone of this particular blog. Although I will say, I am good at following Hemingway’s advice to, “Write drunk; edit sober”.

I deleted the pity party post the next morning when I pretty much woke up face down on my keyboard. But, to end on a lighter note, while I did not get to balloon cruise that night, I did make up for it on the actual 4th of July. A few friends, a few beers, and lawn chairs on a roof. Can’t get any more redneck better than that. I regret nothing.

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