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2013 Year in Review: Winter

Well since my flight get delayed by an hour and a half, I’ve found myself with some spare time. Might as well wrap up this series! Here’s what went down this winter:

Thanksgiving trip to DC + Dogfish Head 

Every Thanksgiving for the past few years I have taken the opportunity to go on a trip. This year, my friends Katie, Tim, and Eryn took a trip to DC and Delaware for the long weekend.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in DC where we rented an apartment through Air bnb (which started out as a nightmare when the person fell asleep and couldn’t let us in so we had to get a hotel, but it all ended well in the end). It was really fun to prepare a Thanksgiving meal with friends and enjoy one another’s company.

On the second day in DC we headed out and did some sightseeing before making the drive to Delaware. As someone who has an over the top love for America, it is always great for me to walk around DC checking out the monuments.

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Then it was off to Delaware! We rented a really cute little house in Rehoboth that was right near the downtown area. We did a lot of eating at the Dogfish Head Brew Pub, which was a really amazing experience. We had totally awesome service, had access to a ton of different Dogfish beers, and the food was great! It was awesome to see the experience of their brand come to life in such a way – I was totally impressed.

Then it was off to tour the brewery! We did the public tour which was really interesting and fun, but the highlight of the day at the brewery was definitely getting to go behind the scenes and check out pretty much anything we wanted to! A huge thank you to Rebecca (who used to work in the R&D lab at Sam and is now working at Dogfish Head) for showing us such a good time. It was an experience I will never forget.

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Holiday Party at 23 Union (2nd Annual Post ‘PIC Party’ Party)

Every year my roommates and I host a holiday party which had ended up serving as an after party that non-profit folks hit up. It was a really fun time this year (as always). Sadly this is the last holiday party we will have together as roommates, but I’m sure Katrina will continue to host this at her place in the future and you better believe I will be there (with beer in hand).

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SA - Rebel IPA Launch Party & Holiday Party with Joe 

In terms of work, December was a very busy (but very fun) month.

We recently launched a new West Coast style IPA called Rebel and had been hosting some pretty awesome launch parties around the country. In December we hosted our Boston kick-off at The Middle East in Cambridge. We had live artwork with some of the incredibly talented artists out of Project SF and live music from a great local band, Viva Viva. I was really psyched that my friend Damon was able to make it out to the event – it was such a blast.

If you want to check out the event, we did a time lapsed video of the artwork and the event:

We also had our annual holiday party which was really nice. Joe ended up making it out for the weekend and we had a really excellent time (despite his lack of a smile in this photo). Thanks to Joe for being such a great +1!

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Home for the Holidays

I kicked off the holidays with a mini high school reunion of sorts. A bunch of us took a party bus to a Buffalo Bills game and it was such a killer time. I hadn’t been to a Bills game since I was like 5 years old, so as you can imagine, it was a completely different experience more than 20 years later. And it’s always nice to be there when the Bills “Squish the Fish.”

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Other highlights included:

  • Seeing Elton John in concert in the Garden – that dude rocks.
  • Visiting with Lauren for a night in NYC (we had gone a year without seeing each other – not cool).
  • Spending the night in Manchester with Emerald, Damond and the CYNH crew for “dogs and logs” – complete with a bar playing Taking Back Sunday the whole night and me kicking ass in a dance off at said bar.
  • Meeting my cousin’s baby Natalie for the first time – such a cutie.
  • Meeting my paren’t new puppy Caroline for the first time – also cute.

I think it goes without saying that 2013 was a really fun year. I made a lot of amazing memories, made a few big changes in my life, and made a lot of new friends. I’m looking forward to what 2014 is going to bring.

2013 Year in Review: Fall

I gotta say – this fall felt pretty amazing. It was my first fall since I moved to Boston that I wasn’t a graduate student and I certainly took advantage of all of the extra free time that I had!

One of the things I did was join the board of AmeriCorps Alums Boston. I have been pretty heavily involved with them since I moved here thanks to my City Year connections, but now that I was not working at City Year and had some free time on my hands, I wanted to become involved on a deeper level. It was really great getting to know this group of people and I have really enjoyed being on the board thus far.

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Another thing I was able to do that I have wanted to do for the past four years? Watch a damn Bills game! I was fortunate enough to have Kelly Brandt (and her lovely roommate Kat) live in Boston for the fall and winter. Not only did I have two more people to hang out with, but I had a buddy who loves the Bills even more than I do to accompany me to watch the games at Bleacher Bar and/or The Harp! Shout-out to Bleacher Bar for always having buckets of Blue Light and garbage plates. Great way to spend a Sunday!

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As for work stuff, I got to experience my first OctoberFest at the Castle, which was a lot of fun. I also had the opportunity to work a beer fest at Mohegan Sun, also a first. It was an incredibly busy fall (but I’m noticing that it is pretty much always going to be incredibly busy). Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I had the opportunity to go home in October to celebrate Kelly Zepp (now Bonaldi)’s wedding! It was really great to spend time with her and be a part of her special day. I have known her since my first day at Fisher and was there throughout the beginning phases of her relationship with John. It made me so happy to know that she is spending her life with someone who is really great for her. The wedding was SO much fun and it was beautiful – definitely a day I won’t soon forget.

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The end of the fall brought a couple interesting happenings – some sad and one very happy. A couple days after I went home for Kelly’s wedding, my parents had to put our dog Maxie to sleep. She had been suffering from seizures for a while and it was just time. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to say goodbye to her – she had been a part of my life for just over ten years. She was a crazy dog, but she was mine. I miss her a lot but am thankful that I had her in my life for as long as I did.

Another (more significant) heartbreak was that my Uncle Brian passed away. He had been fighting ALS for some time, which if you don’t know anything about, is a horrific disease. It was really hard to know all this was happening and to not be able to be there for my aunt and cousins. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them and what they’ve been through. Their strength has been truly inspiring to me.

As for the happy stuff I promised, my brother and his girlfriend announced that they were having a baby. It was really insane at first to think about my brother being a father, but as the time gets closer I get more and more excited. They are having a girl and her name is going to be Bailee Ann Baker. I can’t wait to have her be here and to quite frankly, spoil the shit outta her. I know my family is all so thrilled to have her in our lives and we all can’t wait to meet her.

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2013 Year in Review: Summer

Alright. I’m sick of feeling guilty every time I log into my blog for not finishing my year in review. This is something I have done for the past several years and for some reason I’m really struggling with doing it this year. I think that it’s because it really was a momentous year for me – I finished graduate school, got a new job, (spoiler alert) I found out I have a niece on the way. So for the remainder of the series, I’m going to do it by season. Trust me, it will be fine.

Summer Academy 

What can I possibly say about Summer Academy? It is intense, inspiring, a shit ton of work, hilarious, a bonding experience like no other, deeply gratifying…. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Academy this year. It was of course bittersweet because I was leaving City Year the week after it was over, but I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to end my City Year(s) any other way. I have been involved with Summer Academy for the past couple years and there was something really special about it this year (and I’m not just saying that).

I can’t thank the tremendous team and leadership enough for working so hard to create such an incredible experience and for helping me transition to the next phase of my professional life. You all mean so much to me and I will never forget the time we had together. Truly.

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Ginmann’s Wedding

Man – Ginmann and Grace really know how to throw a party! I had such an awesome time at their wedding – was so grateful to be a part of their special day.

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New Job

After the craziness of Summer Academy, I had one last week of work then a three day weekend before I started my new gig. I was SO nervous. On my one day off I took before I started, my new boss called me and let me know that we would be meeting with the CEO and founder of the company on my first day. Of course I freaked out over what the heck I was going to wear – the dress code at BBC is much more lax than City Year was, and has a pretty wide range. I could wear a dress one day and jeans the next and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. So I spent that whole day anxiously shopping around Cambridge Galleria to figure out what in the hell to wear (not quite the relaxing day I was hoping for).

Looking back, that was incredibly silly. Everyone was so welcoming and dare I say excited to have me there. I’m so grateful for Jess Infante for immediately introducing me into her social circle and making me feel like I wasn’t an outsider from day one, and for my team who put me to work right away and for being patient with me as I asked tons and tons of questions.

One of the (many) cool things about BBC is that when you start, you get to go through an Orientation. It is really great because you get a whirlwind look at a lot of aspects of the company – its history, the beer making process, sales, brewery tours, you name it. You also get to have a ton of fun and start your career with a great new group of friends all over the country (much like City Year).

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The week before Orientation I went home for the weekend for Kelly Zep-er Bonaldi’s bridal shower. It was really great to be home to spend time with my family and see friends. I went and checked out Roc Brewing Co. (which you should definitely check out if you live in the Rochester area!) with my family and had dinner at Aladdin’s (another one of my favorite things in Rochester). Was really nice to spend time with just the four of us – that is definitely a rarity.

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So there you have it – that was my summer. Up next? Fall…

2013 Year in Review: July (Getting the Job)

I’m going to need to break this up a bit – here is the 24 hour period where I got the new job. 

I had one more interview for the position at BBC – a breakfast meeting before work. I sat and talked with my (now) boss and the head of the PR/Digital/Government Relations departments and had a really honest, thoughtful conversation about why I wanted to work for them and what I thought I could bring to the team. I was completely honest with them – I wasn’t 100% sure when I first started interviewing that I would have even accepted the job if they had offered it to me.

But after spending eight weeks interviewing, I knew that this was the right career move for me and that I had never wanted anything so badly in my life.

At around 7PM that evening while I was working at CY HQ, I got the call. They were offering me the position. As they were telling me I had it, I was so excited I jumped up and mouthed to Sean Edwin (who was leading the Culture & Community Team for Academy) that I had gotten the position. I had confided in him the day before that I had this interview and that I would know what was coming. He was the first person I told.

What I felt was a big mix of excitement, relief, pride, terror, and a bit of anguish. I was really proud of myself, but was feeling really anxious about breaking the news to my co-workers at CY. After making a couple phone calls to share the happy news (my work husband Elliot, my mom, my friend Molly who had gotten me into craft beer when I lived in San Jose, and Maria, a friend who had been there for me through the whole process) I called up Beach Pace, who had been one of my recommenders.

It was a really great conversation for me since she knew what it was like to leave CY – for those of you have done it, you know that it is a really scary thing. It is more than a job – it is a family. A greater purpose. So much of my identity had been tied up in CY that knowing the reality that I would be leaving was quite perplexing. How would people take it? Will I still feel like I’m living with purpose working at a beer company? Will I fit into the culture? Will I be happy?

We talked about what I was trying to process – as much as I was thrilled about getting the job, I was sad and scared at the same time. I think most people probably assume that this was a really easy decision for me to make. It really wasn’t. In my last interview, one of the questions they asked me was what was the toughest decision I had to make within the past year. I replied that it was the decision to apply for this new job. This job was my dream job, but I already really loved my job at CY. The thought of leaving that job for something that might be better, but wasn’t a sure thing, was a leap of faith for me.

Beach told me that there would be a grieving process – that I would probably regret this decision at first, but that I needed to push through it. That people would be sad to see me leave, but ultimately they would be excited for me and that they would still remain a big part of my life.

I tossed and turned a lot that night. I knew that I would have to start telling people immediately because they wanted me to start in 2 1/2 weeks.

The next morning I put some time on Elizabeth’s calendar to meet, but that didn’t work out as planned. Ted Marquis of Care Force called me over to his desk and offered me a spot on a trip to Ireland that they would be taking. (Figures, right?) I told him that I couldn’t go, and he asked why, and I gave him a look and I think he figured out pretty immediately that something was up.

Elizabeth overheard me and said, “Did I really just hear you turn down a trip to Ireland?” And that’s when I told her we needed to talk. I told her about the opportunity that I had accepted and her reaction was pretty priceless -

“That’s great! F*&% me, but that’s great!”

I was so relieved that she was excited and happy for me. Looking back, I don’t know why I ever expected that she would have been anything but that.

As I went through the process of telling people at CY that day and the days following, there was certainly a lot of shock. But when I told them why I was leaving, everyone was really excited for me – which meant the world to me. I even got a lot of offers from senior leadership to come back whenever I wanted and that they hoped I enjoyed my sabbatical.

There is this quote that I found recently that really made me think:

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” – Bette Middler 

I used to struggle with this a lot. Thankfully I have a lot of truly supportive people in my life who I have been able to turn to and who have been genuinely happy for where I am in my career now. Having the support of family and friends is what gave me the courage and strength to go through this process and ultimately make the decision I needed to make.

(The book Lean In also helped me a lot – if you are a female professional, I highly recommend reading it).  

2013 Year in Review: June

June was definitely one of the toughest months I have had since I was a corps member in San Jose. I had a whole lot of things going on all at once, all of them pretty important. I was also having a pretty difficult internal struggle in terms of what I wanted to do in my professional life as I was in the throes of interviewing for my [SPOILER ALERT] now current job. I did manage to fit in some fun along the way (I mean come on, it’s me we’re talking about here…)

Summer Academy Team

During my time at City Year, one of the most rewarding, fun, and challenging projects I have had the pleasure of being a part of is Summer Academy Team. It is where I have made lifelong friendships, worked 20 hours a day, and cracked plenty of inappropriate jokes. This year would be no different!

I served on the Culture and Community team again this year, only this time I had a direct report to do my bidding. My homegirl Frankie Donlon was such a good sport. I pretty much had to be in and out all the time because I still had to do my normal job and I was taking one last grad class, so my availability was spotty at best. It was also my first time having a direct report, so that was a challenge all in its own. It was definitely tough for both of us at times, but it was a huge learning experience for me and I (think) it was for her too.

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I really enjoyed our mini Culture and Community family. We definitely had a lot of fun and kept things weird. I was so inspired by all of them – Sean Edwin and his meta way of thinking, Selina’s ability to keep everyone calm and cool, Carlton’s flair and commitment to dreaming big, Griffin’s contagious laugh and creativity.

The overall team was a lot bigger this year too so it meant a lot of new people to hang out with! I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and having more time and resources to plan this event. (More on how it turned out in the next post).

Graduating from Emerson FOR REALS

While I walked across the stage in May, I still had one final class looming over my head – Negotiation. It was a pretty good class I was just so totally over grad school. I did get to do a project with one of my Emerson besties, Paul. We did a blog called Negotiating Education where we wrote blog posts about different issues revolving around negotiation in the sphere of education. He focused on higher ed, as he worked in recruitment/admissions at Emerson, and I focused on elementary and high school education since I was well versed in that from my work at City Year.

1012737_733337559139_39631144_nGetting my Master’s is something that has been important to me for a long time. I always knew I wanted to further my education and this was a really proud moment for me. It was a hell of a lot of work. There were a lot of late nights, frozen dinners, early alarms on weekends, and missed Bills games, but it was all worth it. I made some amazing friends from all over the world, challenged myself in new ways, and learned some great things along the way. That being said – I sure as hell am glad that it is over!

Interviewing with BBC

(For those who are dedicated readers, I’m going to refer to my current place of employment as BBC in future blog posts as I want to try to avoid having my blog show up in our media alerts. Not that I mind them reading my blog, it just weirds me out to see myself in there). 

So while I was working my regular job, being a member of the Summer Academy Team, and finishing graduate school, I was also interviewing for what could arguably be called my dream job. Talk about stress, huh?

I’m not going to go into detail about the interview process, but I will say that it was certainly challenging. This was my first time really going through this process since I had interviewed as a corps member with City Year right out of college. I was feeling really confident with how it was going, but I also had no idea how many people I was up against or if I really had all the qualifications they were looking for.

On top of that, I felt really terrible that I had to keep this a secret from my boss at City Year who had become one of my most valued mentors. Looking back, I know she would have been supportive of me, but I didn’t want to get them worried about me leaving until it was an actual possibility. I didn’t know how to handle the situation as a whole – I knew that I was happy at City Year but also felt that this opportunity was something I couldn’t pass up.

It was a really tough time for me and I want to take this opportunity to thank some of the people who were really there for me as I was going through this process – Maria Aurora, Caitlin, Tavia, Andy & Erica, Jess Infante, Beach, Romel, and of course, my parents. (There are others – but these are the people who had to hear me talk about it almost every day). I really couldn’t have done it without your love and support – no matter which way it ended up. Thanks guys :)

Weekend in New Hampshire

Big thank you to Lila for hosting me, Abby, and Josh in New Hampshire for a weekend in June! I was totally psyched to get out of Boston for the weekend and you showed us a really awesome time. We got to check out a beautiful beach that had a really cool sand castle competition, have a lobster roll for the first time, and experience Manch-Vegas. Really awesome weekend.

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NYC Trip for Pride

I ended the month of June with a weekend in NYC with some of my favorite people. Big thank you to Emmanuel for hosting us and showing us a good time! But I’m still mad at you for deleting that HILARIOUS photo of yourself at brunch. That will always make me laugh.

As always, there was lots of booze, shit talking, tank tops, and laughs. <3 you guys!

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2013 Year in Review: May

May was a whirlwind of a month. There was a lot of travel, some exciting happenings, and a pretty big decision was made. Here goes…

Kansas City Trip 

At City Year we were working on rebuilding the website from the ground up and we began our partnership with a really great digital agency called VML. To kick off our partnership, the City Year Mar/Comm team took a trip to Kansas City to check out their offices, do some team building, and of course, have some BBQ.

I didn’t really know what to expect since I had never been to Kansas City before, but it was actually a really cool place. I would totally go visit it again.

Graduation/Parent’s Visit

While I wasn’t technically done with graduate school yet, I did participate in commencement. My parent’s came out to Boston for a really fun weekend – was really glad to be able to spend that time with them. We went to a Red Sox game and did some sightseeing around Boston. All in all, a great time.

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National Leadership Summit 

I also spent some time down in DC to work the City Year National Leadership Summit. This was my third year working on the Summit team and I always really enjoy this event. It is a great mix of celebrating City Year’s service in schools, fun times, and national service advocacy.

This year my favorite part about the Summit was a concert we had at the Howard Theater, which was an incredibly beautiful venue and we had a really inspiring program. We got to hear from Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (one of my favorite people on the planet), Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Bryan Stevenson, Founder & Executive Editor, Equal Justice Initiative, and an amazing performance by the South High Harmony Choir from Columbus, Ohio with Nicolas David who was a contestant on “The Voice.”

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(Photos via the incredibly talented Elliot Haney).

919421_10151381045466680_1614911084_o(Except this one – kudos to Charlie Rose!)

It was also during the National Leadership Summit where an opportunity came my way that I could not pass up. While I was in DC I heard from a former co-worker of mine who had since left City Year to work at the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams). When she left, I looked her dead in the eye and asked her to take me with her. I was half kidding at the time because I never really thought the opportunity would present itself.

But right before the Congressional luncheon, I got a Facebook message from Jess. She told me that she knew I wasn’t looking for a job at the moment, but that a social media position had opened up and she thought the job had my name written all over it. I clicked the link to the job description and as I was reading through it, my heart jumped into my throat. It was everything that I wanted in a position in the field that I ultimately wanted to end up in – the craft beer industry. I really didn’t think I had much of a shot at the job, but I passed along my resume (which I had just so happened to have updated only a week or two prior). And so began many sleepless nights…

Denver/Sacramento #makebetterhappen Trip

Pretty much right after the Summit the Mar/Comm team had a trip planned to Denver and Sacramento to get imagery for next year’s iteration of the #makebetterhappen campaign, which was City Year’s marketing campaign that I was working on.

It was a really fun trip. I really enjoyed meeting the corps members whose Tweets I had been following all yearlong and visiting schools in different cities. I did a lot of stand in modeling while we scouted locations (Andy and Elliot know how much I loved that).

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.47.13 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.47.03 PMI also got to spend time with a few friends I hadn’t seen in awhile (what up, Romel, Megan, and Ramzi)! It was a really fun, but really exhausting trip. I was definitely ready to be back in Boston for more than a few days.

Boston Calling Music Festival

One of the most fun things I did all summer was go to the Boston Calling Music Festival. This was the first time Boston had a really big music festival in the middle of the city and I was really pumped to go. Didn’t hurt that a ton of my favorite bands were playing – Young the Giant, Portugal. the Man, and Fun. to name a few…

It was really rainy and shitty the first day of the festival, but we didn’t let that ruin our fun. Thankfully the second day it was really nice out. You can never really tell what the weather will be like in May.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.47.54 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 8.47.46 PMI had a wonderful time in my Americana outfit. Even Jet Blue appreciated my patriotism:

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 9.21.27 PMMay really kicked off what ended up being a pretty crazy, life changing summer. More to come.

2013 Year in Review: April – The Manhunt

I’ve been stuck in bed for a few days now with the flu. It’s actually sort of fitting for me to write this portion of the series in my current state of delirium…

I had slept like shit since the bombing. My area of JP is pretty noisy, especially with a police station right around the corner. The old sounds of passing cars, loud bangs, and the occasional siren never really bothered me until then. Before I never really cared about who or what was causing those noises, but now, any sort of loud noise would make my heart jump into my throat.

I think it was somewhere around 3 or 4 in the morning when I felt my phone buzz by my head. It was my friend Ramzi in San Jose asking me if I was ok and telling me to stay in my apartment. I assured him I was fine and went into my living room to turn on my television. Sure enough, something was up.

I ran and got my MacBook to hop onto Facebook and Twitter to see if there were any updates about what was happening. I saw my friend Tim had been following what had been happening for a couple hours by then. He updated me on what I had missed and then I settled in for what would be the longest 24 hours of my life.

My roommates woke up a couple hours later to find me in the living room with my iPad on Twitter, MacBook on Facebook and other news sites, and flicking between national and local news stations. People were slowly waking up across the country, and I knew they’d be pretty shocked at what they’d be waking up to.

It just did not seem like real life. What transpired that day is what Hollywood movies are made of. Car chases, gunfire, a manhunt. This isn’t what happens in real life. Except here it was – unfolding right before our eyes.

First, the city of Boston and some surrounding areas were asked to stay indoors. Businesses were closed. No MBTA service.

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A few hours later, the screen looked a bit different.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.13.18 PMThis is getting hard for me to describe in a narrative what I was thinking/feeling/experiencing, so I’m going to try to boil it down to a few bullet points:

  • The virality of false information was astounding. Especially the garbage that was coming from the major networks (lookin’ at you, CNN). I ended up watching local news stations for the majority of this coverage, and I typically never watch local news. I find it hokey and annoying. However, the local stations in Boston did a really phenomenal job.
  • Access to information was even more astounding. It blew my mind that I could just listen to the police scanner as this whole thing was going down. That I could see images of SWAT teams crawling around people’s backyards. It was probably the most fascinating thing I ever experienced.
  • This totally and utterly consumed me. At any given moment, I was listening to the police scanner, watching 1-2 different TV stations, trolling several social media sites, and trying to boil down what I was seeing into my own posts (I only posted things that I had vetted through a couple different trusted sources). I almost feel ashamed to admit it now, but it was a huge high. I had news stations in Rochester following my posts, friends from across the country told me I was their trusted news source. It was incredibly thrilling, but totally unhealthy. I barely ate or drank anything. I didn’t sleep for nearly 24 hours. I was crippled by what was happening – and I wasn’t even all that close to it. I created a cocoon where I was really IN it, but I actually wasn’t. Knowing me, there wasn’t any other way I could have possibly spent that day. But looking back, it was pretty nuts.
  • I was scared. Once they shut down the city, I knew that this would have to come to some kind of closure. It just had to. But this is also why I felt so shocked when they lifted the closure of the city before anything had been resolved.

I couldn’t believe it when Menino and the Police Commissioner told us to go about our lives as if nothing happened. I was furious that all of this was for nothing. So I took a shower, got dressed, and was about to turn off the TV to head to the bar when I heard it – “GUN SHOTS FIRED IN WATERTOWN.”

And so I sat down, cracked open a Blue Light, and watched the rest unfold.

There he was – a very young man, blood soaked, exhausted, scared, being attacked with smoke bombs and gunfire. They pulled him out of the boat, dragged him to the ground, and cuffed him. This was the person who brought an entire city to its knees. It is pretty scary to think about that.

I started crying when it was over. I was listening to the jubilant voices over the police scanners – the people who talked me through that entire ordeal. I felt as if I were celebrating with them. (And I did have a little celebration – I definitely needed a beer after all this).

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I was finally able to drag myself away from my living room – nearly 20 hours later – to grab a sandwich at the shop around the corner next to the police station. As I was walking home, the policemen were returning to the station. I stopped and thanked them with tears in my eyes, went home to eat my sandwich, and for the first time in a week, went to sleep feeling safe.

2013 Year in Review: April – Days of Mourning

As I was writing out my blog post about the month of April I knew I wanted to focus on the bombings. I also knew that there was no way I could fit it all into one post, so I am going to divide it up into (at least) three. Here’s part two. 

When I woke up the next morning after the bombings I tried to treat it like a normal day. I got ready, got dressed, and headed into work (which was just outside of the zone that was closed down for investigators). My mom didn’t really want me to go in, but I had that whole “I’m not letting these terrorist bastards win” attitude about me. I didn’t want to be scared, but more importantly, I knew I couldn’t sit at home and dwell about what had happened.

The MBTA was really empty that first day. Eerily empty. I felt grateful to have the National Guard at every station, keeping watch over all of us. I opted not to carry a backpack that day – or for that whole week. Didn’t want to do anything that would make someone uncomfortable knowing what had happened and knowing that whoever did this was still out there.

I went down to check out the pop up memorials that had started forming every day that week. I just wanted to be around other people who were grieving and trying to be strong for each other. Boylston Street is a street that I had gone down many, many times and now it was blocked off, with sneakers, signs, and flowers lining the fences.

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That first day I watched people in white hazmat suits coming out of the church in Copley Square – they were sweeping that whole area for other bombs or clues to what had happened. I knew that would be happening, but it sort of took my breath away to really see it.

That’s the thing that was really crazy. Watching my home all over the news. Seeing the explosions over and over again. I’m a pretty big news junkie so whenever something major is happening, I’m usually glued to the television. It was crazy to know that this was something that had impacted me and the city I live in. It all felt very, very strange.

One day while we were eating lunch in the office that week we were watching the news and saw that Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper were right down the street reporting live. We walked down to see it in person.

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IMG_2891Later in the week City Year was asked to send volunteers down to help with crowd control at the service that President Barack Obama was going to speak at. This was a tremendous honor and I was really thrilled to be a part of this. All we really did was help keep the lines organized for entrance into the service, but I thought it was really cool that the Governor’s office thought of us as representatives of National Service to be there and to play a role – no matter how small.

There were hundreds of hundreds of people there lining the streets. I later found out that they had been there to block the Westboro Baptist Church from picketing the services. I didn’t see any of that there, so I think that they understood that they shouldn’t fuck with Boston. (Which is something that ended up being a recurring theme that really helped the city heal).

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I had the opportunity to be in a small gymnasium next to the church where the services were taking place with the Adidas staff members and volunteers who put on the Boston Marathon. We huddled together in silence watching the services on big screens set up in the gymnasium. We were given a big surprise when Obama came over to the gymnasium after the services to address us separately. It meant a lot to me – and to all of us – to have him there showing his support, vowing to do whatever it would take to bring down the people who caused our city harm. It was an experience I will never forget.

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One of the things that amazed me the most about this incident was the response of not only the people in Boston, but people around the world. That week brought a lot of really amazing signs of support, including the One Fund which raised millions of dollars to support the victims directly affected by the bombings. But some of the more touching signs of support were things like newspaper headlines and when the Yankees played “Sweet Caroline” during the 7th inning stretch the day after the bombings.

And then Friday happened…

2013 Year in Review: March

I’ve always been a big fan of March in my time here in Boston (you know, the two I have experienced so far). It starts to get nicer out so I’m not stuck in my house all the time and it is also when one of my favorite holidays happens – no, not Easter.

This month was an interesting one for me personally. I was crazy stressed out with my workload in graduate school as I was taking my capstone course, which was the alternative to writing a thesis, and an adult learning course (which I loved). This was my last real semester of grad school and I was really over it. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.

One of the cool things I did during this month was try yoga for the first time with Romel. He was in town for a City Year conference and I know how much yoga has changed his life so it was something I really wanted to experience with him. I have always been really intimidated by yoga for some reason, so it was great to try it out with someone I trusted. To my surprise, it really kicked my ass! Yoga is so different from what I thought it would be (in a good way).

St. Patrick’s Day was an awesome time as always. A group of friends from Rochester came up to visit for the weekend. We had a nice dinner in the North End Friday night then went to a little hookah/cigar bar that I’ve been meaning to go to again.

And then there was Saturday….

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The video and the Dare Dollar (which got us kicked out of Whiskey’s at somewhere around 3:00PM) are all you really need to know about that.

On March 26 I attended a Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Justice Rally at City Hall Plaza in Government Center. I am a huge advocate for marriage equality and it was really incredible to see so many people gather together for this cause. This was taking place during the time when the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in regards to Proposition 8 and DOMA. (As you know, in June the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA and declared Prop 8 unconstitutional – a huge victory for LGBTQ rights).

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I was also lucky enough to go home and spend time with my family in April. I hadn’t been home for Easter in four years, so I was really thrilled to be able to be with my family that weekend.

Highlights of that trip included grabbing beers with Grandma:

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And brunch with Grandpa:

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And there you have it.

2013 Year in Review: February

When I think of February 2013 one thing comes to mind. And that one thing is Nemo.

No, not the orange clownfish. The epic snowstorm that pounded the east coast. I was actually not supposed to even be in Boston when Nemo hit. I was scheduled to fly out to Washington, D.C. for the weekend before a Voices for National Service event. It looked like I was going to get out of Boston but my flight ended up getting cancelled for mechanical problems. Not even because of the snow.

Ain’t that a bitch?

Here I was totally not prepared for this storm and I find out the morning of that I will have to be here for it. I trudged my way up to Centre street and got the essentials:

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I grew up in upstate New York so I am no stranger to crazy winter weather, but I had never experienced anything like this before. We got somewhere around 25 inches overnight. When I woke up the next day, I seriously could not believe the amount of snow we had. I’m talking cars completely buried, people walking in the middle of the street like the world was ending kind of snow.

But my friends and I certainly made the best of it:

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While I was sad to not spend more time with my D.C. friends, I ended up having an epic time in Boston for the storm.

I did finally get down to DC after the weekend. But that was certainly a shit show. My co-worker Elliot and I got stuck in the Logan Airport ALL DAMN DAY. We had originally scheduled ourselves to get down to DC in the early afternoon so we would have time to check into our hotel and get settled. What started as an early flight ended up with us not leaving Boston until two hours before the event – we got there just in the nick of time. (But not before having to change my clothes in the airport and put on my tights in the car. Shout-out to Elliot for being a gentleman in that situation).

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I was also down there for Mardi Gras and the State of the Union address. I went to a cool little spot called Eatonville for some New Orleans cuisine and to watch the State of the Union with my friend Brian. Brian and I liked to Tweet at each other during the events throughout the election (he’s just as much of a social media and politics nerd as I am) so it was cool for us to be able to watch it together. We did end up spending the majority of our time on our phones Tweeting (yes, sometimes at each other) but I doubt anyone expected anything less of us :)

Last notable event in February was singing “No Scrubs” with Nan at Clery’s on Valentine’s Day. We nailed it.

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Shout out to her husband Josh for putting up with us being so ridiculous…