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2013 Year in Review: April – Marathon Monday

I typically try to get this year in review business done by the time the new year happens but every time I went in to write about this month I just couldn’t do it. I’d find excuses to not think about it and move onto other things. But now that I’m stuck in the laundromat for the next 90 minutes or so I don’t really have any excuses.

To put it lightly, April was a fucking roller coaster. I’ve never felt such extreme degrees of emotion – from fear, to sadness, to anger, to love.

The month of April (and the months following) have largely been defined by what happened on Marathon Monday.

It started out like a really beautiful day. I went down to the finish line with a few friends to see the winners crossing the finish line. It was really incredible – I had never seen anything like it before. People lining the streets from all over the world cheering on perfect strangers as they pushed their mind and bodies to their absolute limits.

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As my friends and I were leaving to meet our friend at a party in Brookline, I looked back at the race in awe and said something along the lines of “This is when you truly get to see the tenacity of the human spirit.”

Little did I know how true that would turn out to be.

After spending a good part of the morning at the finish line, we made our way out to Brookline (which ended up being a total pain in the ass thanks to the marathon). I was pretty miserable by the time we got out there from not eating in a while, so we stopped and grabbed a beer and some pizza at Otto’s. After that, it was time to go party with friends.

This was my first real marathon experience. It is a huge celebration – people are everywhere along the parade route, grilling out in their yards, and just enjoying the excitement.

My friend Caitlin and I were in a tight game of beer pong when I started receiving a couple text messages from people in other parts of the country asking me if I was ok. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, but they said that something had happened at the finish line and that the last photo they saw of me online was of me being there. I assured them that I was fine and then hopped onto Twitter where I saw what had happened.

There was a bunch of us outside drinking and grilling and I yelled for everyone to stop and pay attention – something terrible had happened at the marathon. There was an explosion. They didn’t believe me at first because there had been a “Back Bay Explosion” a year prior where there was an electrical issue that shut down that area for a couple days. With the blood draining out of my face, I said no, I don’t think it’s like that. We need to get inside and turn on the TV.

When I walked into the room a bunch of the party was already sitting there in silence. Then the footage showed up on the screen – a bright orange burst tearing through the crowd followed by a plume of smoke further down the route. I put my head in my hands and slunk to the floor – completely out of breath. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It simply could not have been true. I had just been down there only hours before – this wasn’t supposed to happen. Not here. Not today.

I tried to go outside and call my parents but couldn’t get anything through. Thankfully I was able to get a text message out to them to let them know I was ok. I knew that they must have known what was happening by then and wanted them to know that I was safe. I also updated my Facebook status to let people know I wasn’t at the finish line any longer and to not worry about me, but to send your thoughts to Boston.

The next few hours were filled with confusion and fear. There were reports of bombs all over the city – it was chaos. All transit was shut down. Thankfully my friend Abby lived near where we were so we went and camped out at her place and turned on the TV.

Our next major concern was making sure that the staff and corps of City Year were all accounted for. I got on the phone with several members of senior leadership to find out how the count was going – at one point I was on the phone with CEO Michael Brown. It was a conversation I never expected to have. Thankfully we were able to account for everyone and I was able to post that we were all safe.

When I got home that night, hours later, I still couldn’t believe what had happened. I felt numb inside. Violated. Scared. Angry. Confused.

And thus begun one of the most eerie, crazy weeks of my life.

…to be continued.

Top 3 Reasons Why I’m a Buffalo Bills Fan

Living in Boston isn’t always easy for a Bills fan. (Especially when you’re playing the Patriots). So before the slaughter game begins, I’d like to take the opportunity to clear the air and explain why I’ll be rooting for the Bills for all foreseeable NFL seasons.

3) They were THE SHIT when I was a kid

The 90’s were a blessing and a curse for the Bills. We won the AFC East championship four years in a row (which were then followed up by four straight Superbowl losses – but that’s besides the point). I know Bills fans get teased for holding onto those four championships, but you have to admit – pretty damn impressive. I only wish I could have been old enough to really truly appreciate it (I was the ripe young age of three years old when the winning streak began).

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Here I am right before the fourth Superbowl appearance. Sigh.

2) The Committed Fan Base

Yes, I know the #BillsMafia seem like a bunch of drunk schmucks, but you really have to admire their commitment.

No matter how badly the Bills sucked the season before, we always hold out hope that this year is “our year.” Annnd it never is – yet we continue to “Billieve” season after season.

Are we gluttons for punishment? Maybe. But you won’t see us walking out of a game early (ahem, Miami Heat fans) because we know that the game isn’t over until the final whistle – and typically not in our favor.

1) I Really Didn’t Have a Fucking Choice in the Matter

When it comes down to it, my mom made me a Catholic and my dad made me a Bills fan. I didn’t really have a say in the matter on either end. (I did somehow manage to dodge the whole becoming a Republican thing – but maybe I’ll marry a nice Republican boy someday. They’re good with money, after all).

So, there you have it ladies and gentleman. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Bleacher Bar to drink buckets of Blue Light, jam a garbage plate, and begin commiserating with my fellow Bills fans. Here’s to a new season!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Bring You… My First EVER Blog Post

So today my friend Joe was able to track down my Live Journal for me (no I won’t share the link, it’s horrendous).

Picture 6But I did find my very first blog post, which was published on July 31, 2003 – which was the summer in between my sophomore and junior year of high school. (I was kind of surprised by this because I thought I started my Live Journal when I was 14 and in eighth grade, but turns out I started it when I was 16).

(That photo to the right was my user photo – well it still is, but you know what I mean).

Anyways, here it is. My very first blog post:

Well, Im having a hard time trying to figure this thing out, but hopefully Ill get the hang of it. A big thanks to Stacey for working hard and finding me a code! I feel dumb right now because I am super confused, but oh well. ::Blonde Moment:: 

Anyways, my team had a soccer game vs. Rush Henrietta, which is really pretty much Wheatland Chili. We tied 1-1. It was an exciting game, but my new cleats gave me blisters, argh! We won the league by one goal! Great job girls, Im so proud!

To set some context, the Stacey I’m referring to is Stacey Snyder, who was a year ahead of me at Kendall Jr.-Sr. High School. We’re still friends and it’s funny to think how much our lives have changed since this post. She was recently engaged and lives in a log cabin. I moved out of my parent’s log cabin and now live in Boston. Funny.

Anyways, I was hoping to find some sort of ground breaking post where I declared my excitement about having a space to share my thoughts and express myself. And how I was going to change the world with my words. Turns out, I started out being incredibly confused and well, blonde. (Both of which I still relate to – especially the blonde part).

I’ll have to remember that July 31 will be the ten year anniversary of my blogging. Maybe I’ll do something special now that I “got the hang of it.”

Remember to Smile

Over the past couple weeks I’ve found myself feeling really bogged down. The whole work/school combo has been making me feel a bit overwhelmed, I have been feeling a bit homesick, and every time I turn on the news there’s more bloodshed.

It all sort of came to a head on Thursday. I was feeling frustrated about a few different things and as I was walking to class I realized wow – the negativity I was consuming myself with was really impacting my day to day life. I was being snippy in my interactions with people, avoiding social situations, and just generally feeling well, shitty.

I sat down and made myself think about what was getting to me and took ownership over it. (The first step is always admitting you have a problem, right?)

This morning as I was waiting for the 66 in Allston after a night out with friends, an older African American man approaching the bench I was seated on. I looked up and decided to smile at him. I was a bit hungover and exhausted, but that wasn’t his fault, now was it? The least I could do was offer a smile to a stranger passing by.

He stopped in front of me, grab my hand, and thanked me for smiling at him. He told me that he had just found out last night that one of his friends had died and he was feeling down about it. He smelled of booze and admitted to me that he was drunk – it was about 1:00 or so in the afternoon.

We stood there for awhile talking, with my hand in his (which if you know me, you know this is odd for me – I barely even hug my own parents) and I have to admit, it felt nice to connect with someone that way, if even for a few fleeting moments.

And to think, it all stemmed from a simple smile for a stranger who ended up really needing it.

Stuck in the Middle – 2012 Stats

Thanks everyone for reading Stuck in the Middle in 2012! It was a great year of blogging and I appreciate everyone who read, commented, and shared my posts.

WordPress compiled a pretty neat report on how the blog did in 2012, so I thought I would share the results with you (since you made this all happen, after all).

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Five Years Gone, and the Feeling Remains

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people  will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them  feel. – Maya Angelou

When I was trying to decide how to commemorate Bridget on my blog this year, this quotation immediately came to mind. Last year I talked about how everyone who loved her shared the pain of losing her and that we should do our best to share with others about her life and not about her death.

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One of the things I admired most about Bridget was that she wasn’t afraid to feel. Whether it was love for her brother or hatred for bitches on the soccer field, Bridget never shied away from wearing her heart on her sleeve – and it was something I really respected about her.

When I talk to other people about what it’s been like to lose her, the feelings come rushing back. I remember picking up my phone to hear Sarah Gaylord (now Collyer’s) voice on the other end of the line saying “Bridget was in an accident – she’s gone.” I essentially blacked out and kept repeating, “What do you mean, WHAT do you mean?”

I ran outside of the newspaper office on the Fisher campus, sat on the sidewalk, and lost it. I absolutely lost it.

The striking pain I felt that day is something that will always stay with me. It was the first time I lost someone and really understood what it meant. And it killed me to know that I had passed up an opportunity to see her only three days prior.

So many of us (myslef included) spend our lives trying to stifle our feelings. We get embarrassed if we cry in public, we hold back punches (okay, so maybe that isn’t such a bad thing), but the worst thing we do is we rarely tell anyone how they make us feel.

Bridget brought a lot of joy into my life. I was constantly in awe of her energy, her spirit, and her determination. Losing her brought a lot of pain, as it did for so many of us. And while it hurts, I don’t want the pain to stop. It means that she truly meant something to me and that she had an impact on my life.

Today, and moving forward, I want to allow myself to feel. And I have Bridget to thank for that.

Experiencing UBUNTU

I wanted to say this in a Facebook post, but as I started thinking about what I wanted to say it definitely warranted a longer form…

Just had a really stressful day – work was crazy, wasn’t really that prepared for class tonight. Was feeling pretty down as I headed to the T to go home.

Ended up seeing three City Year Boston corps members on the Orange Line. Admittedly, a lot of times I don’t introduce myself to the corps members – especially when I’m in a crap mood and don’t want to talk to anyone in general.

But I decided to go over to them and introduce myself. Turned out they were on their way home from the Idealist.org graduate fair in Boston which they went to after a long day of service.

After talking to them a bit, getting to know them and such, a blonde girl sitting next to them quipped up when she heard I was from Rochester. She told me that not only was she from upstate NY (Syracuse area) but she was currently serving in Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) here in Boston.

I’m hosting my friend Daniel Becton at my apartment this week who is in his fourth week of Project UBUNTU, an incredible journey of service that I have been helping him with for the past couple years.

It was this moment on the T, and moments I have experienced regularly since I began my service, that remind me why I do what I do. I got off at my stop and my mood was instantly brightened. Today was hard, but it was a lot harder for these corps members who served in school all day then took the time to really explore their options for the future.

It made me thankful that I had that experience and energized me to know that the work I do brings these inspiring young people together to make a difference in the lives of students who need them and shapes them as individuals and leaders. 

A simple act of kindness

Something happened to me yesterday that really blew me away. It was a simple act of kindness (and a great act of excellent customer service) and I had to share it.

I was making pasta salad because I have had a huge craving for it and am really dying for summer to come. Alas, I had forgotten to purchase Italian dressing – arguably the most important ingredient of any good pasta salad.

I didn’t really want to take the T to the closest grocery store or trek down to Centre street where my choices are CVS who might not have had it and City Feed, where I would have had to buy some fancy organic local dressing that probably would have cost me an arm and a leg.

First, I headed to the trusty corner store. Sadly, they let me down. As I was walking downtrodden back to my apartment at the thought of having to spend half an hour going to Stop & Shop because I absentmindedly didn’t buy the ingredient when I was there less than 24 hours ago, I remembered there is another corner store close by.

I have only been there a few times, but I like going because the middle aged Asian man who owns the store and his darling preteen son are always a pleasure to interact with. Luckily for me, they had a small bottle of Italian dressing. But just as I had feared, there was a $10 debit card minimum and the only cash I had were the quarters for laundry sitting in my bedroom at my apartment.

When I turned around to either put the dressing back or figure out $10 worth of stuff to buy, the owner waved me over and said “No, no! It’s fine! You take it, I’ll give you a receipt and you come pay me later.”

I was flabbergasted. I am by no means a regular costumer and don’t really have much of a relationship with the guy. It was just an act of kindness to a girl who really, really needed some Italian dressing.

I went back today to pay him and he tried to not accept my money! Of course I insisted.

Not only did he get his $4, but he just got himself a loyal customer.

2011 Year in Review: December

Finally made it to the last month of the review. I wanted to wait until after I celebrated the New Year to reflect on December (and because I figured I would have something funny to talk about related to my celebrations).

Thanks to everyone who has read these posts! I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. And a special thanks to the people who made this past year so special. I can’t wait to make more memories with you in 2012!

SantaCon

My friend Courtney held a bar crawl for her birthday in Cambridge and it just so happened to coincide with SantaCon, which if you haven’t heard about this before, let me enlighten you. Essentially, hundreds of people get dressed up like Santa, Christmas trees, Jesus (with a birthday hat on) and other types of holiday hilarity and get wicked drunk. It’s that simple. And so much more entertaining than I could even begin to describe.

Holiday Break

I came back home to Rochester, NY for holiday break. This was the longest visit home I’ve had since I moved to San Jose in 2009, so it was really nice to be able to see lots of people and have 1:1 time with folks I haven’t spent much time with over the last two and a half years.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Party at Joe Dorney’s house
  • Christmas eve/Day with family
  • Party at Rachel’s apartment
  • Taking my grandmother out to lunch at the Garland
  • Catching up with Lancers folks
  • Bob’s mini birthday party in the city
  • Lunch with Zep at Aladdin’s
  • Syracuse visit to see Chris, Andy, Erica and Colin
  • Baker/LaPenna family dinner at Krony’s
  • Wine tasting with Rachel (D)

New Years

I spent New Years out in Rochester with friends from high school. We partied at my buddy’s apartment then after midnight we headed out to Monroe Ave. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get into Oxford’s, so we went to The Thirst Parlor down the street. It was a pretty low key New Years, which was totally fine by me. I’m thankful I was able to ring in the new year with the people that were with me (I am bummed Evan couldn’t make it though…)

Other Stuff:

  • PIC Party
  • City Year Holiday Party
  • Secret Santa and Yankee Swap
  • Fisher Alumni Event/Bills Game in Boston

2011 Year in Review: February

So I’m into my second month of reviewing this past year, and all I have to say is thank GOD for foursquare, Twitter and Facebook so I can actually remember when things happened. I know people make fun of me for how involved I get in social media, but it is actually the perfect way for me to keep track of everything I’ve done.

I’m excited to go home over winter break and flesh out my Facebook Timeline. Just need to figure out how to get photos scanned in….

Anyways, after reviewing my foursquare check-ins, February was a lot of work! I went to career fairs for City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley at James Lick High School, El Camino High School and UC Davis. But, February was a fun month for work, too. It’s when we had our Advanced Training Academy (ATA) which included lots of fun things like a Winter Olympics (which I actually don’t have much fun at because I always get my ass kicked every year…)

But enough about work. There was a lot of fun stuff that went on in February too.

Exhibit A:

My friend Angela, who I served with my first year of City Year (second from the left) turned 21 so she came up to San Jose to celebrate! Since she had lived in San Jose for two years and wasn’t able to go to bars, I wanted to throw an event that gave her a whirlwind of all that she had been missing. To accomplish this feat, I organized a “golf tournament” in which we all dressed up in golfing gear and went to 9 “holes.” Unfortunately, we only made it to 6 of the 9, but it was still an amazing night. Great times.

Exhibit B:

I went on a really great hike with Cathy, Tom, Jeff and Erica (who is taking the photo). Not only was it a gorgeous hike with amazing views, but the hike ended at the top of a mountain at a really cool lodge/bar. There were a ton of board games, a few old German beers on tap and some snacks. I do remember being really let down because someone had said that this place had the most amazing grilled cheese but the only food they ended up having was dried sausage, pickles and potato chips. Despite that minor letdown, it was a really great experience with great friends.

Other stuff included:

  • Silicon Valley Roller Girls Derby Bout
  • Liz’s birthday celebration at Chevy’s
  • Redwood City Underground Pub with Jeff, Nick, Hans, Missy, Alex and Anthony for a Recent College Grads event