gratitude-a-thon day 550: the forecast

Cheryl Roegner of the North End neighborhood of Boston, sits in the sun and the snow on a bench in Paul Revere Mall next to a snow sculpture she says she did not have a hand in making, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 in the North End neighborhood of Boston. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Perhaps I have underplayed the winter weather that’s been happening here (you know how subtle I can be). Maybe, for those of you who are lucky enough not to live here, I’ve not given you an appropriate lay of the land.

We are buried in fucking snow.

There’s nowhere to park. That is, if you can even get your car out.

We are surrounded by walls of white. Our yards are filled, our streets are narrowed, our souls are weary. We wield not only shovels, but axes and hoes to cut through ice. We have 95.7 inches of snow. We are tired of our boots. We are down on our coats. We no longer have any gloves that match. We have icicles (the size of NASA’s finest) on our houses that threaten to kill our savings, or anybody who might be walking by when one decides to fall. We can no longer rely on public transportation. We are cranky, and short-tempered, and mean to even the nicest people. We are giving our dogs too many treats because we are too cold to take them on  longer walks (ok, maybe this is just me).

We are dreaming of vacations, where someone will serve us fruity drinks by a pool overlooking the ocean. We are googling real estate in sunny climates. We are wondering how we got here, to the Tundra, without consent.

Chris Laudani, a bartender at Back Bay Social and an avid runner, has been revealed as the mystery man who was photographed as he shoveled snow off the iconic Boston Marathon finish line during Tuesday’s raging blizzard.

But, we are Boston. A little snow won’t keep us down for long. We will rise up, (well, I might not, but most of us will). We will count the days until the magnolia trees line Marlborough Street, and Marathon Monday announces spring. We will crowd the Charles on bikes and feet, and skateboards. We will throw on our sunglasses and saunter down Newbury Street. We will applaud the Sox as they open up Fenway. We will hit the waterfront, eat outside, glory at the swan boats. We will savor every moment of warmth and sun, remembering the mornings of zero degree temperatures and  perpetual forecasts of snow. We will survive. We will get through. That’s what we do, in this town. Don’t forget we are Boston Strong (not be be confused with Boston Warm), this is nothing.


gratitude-a-thon day 373: Why this year’s Boston Marathon kicked some serious ass


I’m a day late, but the absolute awesomosity of the Boston Marathon hasn’t left me yet (and yesterday I couldn’t write because I left for Miami at 6:00 a.m.), so here are five things that made this year’s Boston Marathon one of the best days of the year (or any year).

1. There were 36,000 runners (my friend Dan being one of them, who cruised to the end like he was taking a run in the park on a Saturday morning), more than a million spectators, and if you were part of either group (or just watching on tv) you could see that there is so much more good than there is bad in the world.

2. The weather Gods convened and said, “Yes, this day’s weather will be beautiful whether you are fleet of foot, or sitting on your gluteus maximus drinking a cold one.”

3. I saw runners with cameras on their hats, three sets of bunny ears, six tutus, one pink mohawk wig, a man with two blade legs, a man with no hands, a kid on crutches, numerous flag holders from numerous countries, hundreds of “Boston Strong” shirts, and hundreds more with the names of those lost in last year’s bombings emblazoned on their shirts, a blind runner, a disabled runner running with a guide, thousands of charity entrants, moms and daughters, fathers and sons, friends and for the last time Dick and Rick Hoyt. And every one of these people, I realized, had a story. It was emotional.

4. Spectators were excited and supportive and downright nice to each other. There was no jockeying for positions or snarky “get outta my way” looks on the sidelines. We were partners in bringing back the finish line.

5. There was one arrest for disorderly conduct. This thing went off without a hitch. It was everything that last year’s marathon wasn’t. It was resilience, athletic beauty (Rita Jeptoo beat the course record and Meb Keflezighi from San Diego placed first), grit, joy, and a polite fuck you to the ugliness that ground this city to a halt on April 15, 2013. We’re back. From heartbreak hill to Copley Square. This city is back up and running.

gratitude-a-thon day 354: remembering this day a year ago today


It was today. A year ago today. When crazy broke loose and people’s lives were lost and changed in the  time it takes to buy a Charlie card. It was today, just 365 days ago when this city went haywire and psychological mayhem dominated. It was today. When for a week we glued ourselves to the news, trying to put unwieldy puzzle pieces together to figure out what went wrong, how it could go wrong, so wrong at the Boston Marathon.

Three people died that day, one year ago today. A college student named Lu Lingzi, a restaurant manager named Krystal Campbell, and a little boy of eight named Martin Richard. They died because they were at the finish line of a sporting event we love here in Boston, and you know how we love our sporting events. That’s what killed them, getting a sought after position at the finish line, who doesnt want to stand right there and watch the end of 26.2? Oh, and the two brothers. Actually, that’s what killed them. Two brothers who filled a couple of backpacks with explosives. I don’t know why. Does anybody know why? Has anybody figured out yet, why those brothers did what they did that day, a year ago today? Boylston Street turned into a smokey battlefield, and people into soldiers, who began to run, not to cross the finish line, but  toward this atrocity, toward people who had lost their legs and their loved ones and maybe worst of all (no, not worst of all, but as bad as any of it) the innocence they were born with.

Everybody changed that day. Everything changed. And in the year it’s been since that day, one year ago today, things have also gotten better, people have grown stronger, and a city has climbed up out of the ashes to the chant, “Boston Strong.” Maybe some would even say Boston Stronger.

But while we may have recovered from the initial blow, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking things will ever be the same. Those people who lost lives, like Sean Collier, an M.I.T. police officer who was killed in the line of duty, those people who have had to endure endless surgeries and rehabilitation, who have had to learn to walk on legs not made of flesh, just because they got some great real estate on marathon day, will not ever be quite the same, and neither will any of us who know their stories. Because this shouldn’t have happened. This should never be a day we mark, because of what happened a year ago, on this day, a year ago today.

But the thing is, the beautiful thing is, the survivors have endured. They’ve done more than endure in fact, they’ve show us the kind of kick-ass courage we all hope we’d have in the same situation. Those people who were injured, lives indelibly changed have shown us that there is only one way to go forward, on metal limbs or real ones, one step at at time.

And so we do. We do go forward, as a city, who remembers this day, one year ago today. A city who remembers, who will always remember, where we were, what was lost and what was gained. Take time today to remember.

As if any one of us could ever forget.