Starting the year off right

If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to this month (since it clearly didn’t include posting here), I thought I’d share some highlights from the month of January…

I rang in the new year with AB and company, in Long Island. Kissed AB during midnight, and fell asleep about 15 minutes later… In all, a pretty great start to the year.

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I chipped away at a few of my bucket list items, including an amazing underground dinner (#22, check) with Captain America, that featured seven courses – five incorporated oysters (#20, check). I’m lagging on a post, but check out the beautiful things!!

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And speaking about posting… just because I haven’t been posting here, doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I’ve been taking on more and more writing opportunities with the Innovation Mill:

And (this is the BIG ONE), I’ve been cheating on MSW with another blog… I started a new blog venture with my supercalafragislistic mom all about travel. Check out Jet-Set Brunettes <3 (#40 Publish something, checkkkkk).

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While starting this blog was a bit impulsive, it’s nonetheless a huge accomplishment, and I’m so excited by the possibilities. When my mom visited me in New York in November, she’d just returned from Hawaii for a girls’ trip. While there, she resolved that in five years, she’d have put all the necessary pieces in play to be able to spend three months a year living elsewhere.

What is it about elsewhere that’s so damn sexy and exciting? I’m not the anywhere-but-here type, but I love travel and am thrilled at the elsewhere-ism of it.

Anyway… the blog is like a constant little fire under her (and me) urging us not to forget about that goal, and providing a creative outlet to boot. Spurred by my mom, and a few other travel blogs, I also established a little travel goal of my own: I want to take one trip a month. They don’t have to be extravagant vacations, but the idea is to get out and see new places, old friends, and eat some delicious food.

So this month I went to Boston. And I bought tickets to Houston for Laura Max’s wedding (WHAT?!) and I bought tickets to Chicago in June for a birthday weekend vacation with Ma. Busy, busy bee. I’ve got a handful of trips in the hopper – some big, some small, but it’s going to be an awesome year.

Some pictures from Boston, where I had bagels, mimosas, and facials with my girlfriend, and treated my baby brother to brunch :)

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In other bucket list news, I learned to make a bomb French 75 (I add fresh pomegranate seeds because why not; #19, check), bought myself some flowers (#3, check), and tried to keep the disposable cups to a minimum (for my first month of my 12 Months of Meaningful Improvement).

I slipped up a few times, and found my self unprepared, aka without my water bottle: New Years, Starbucks runs, and the bus ride to Boston. But in general, feel pretty good, and will make every effort to keep it up.

Next up: A month of only water and protein shakes. Meaning no booze, no coffee, I’m even trying to cut tea, but will allow myself hot water and lemon in the mornings. I’m so under-prepared for this, and totally forgot about the no booze thing. This will be interesting…

Stay tuned, and have a stellar February!

 

Sneak Peek: Long Island (photos)

IMG_0144So, my day was interesting. If feeling like you’re in a living horror film is “interesting.” Which it is… it’s also creepy/ terrifying/ exhilarating/ awesome/ amazeballs. Today, I went on a field trip to Long Island, Massachusetts. Never heard of it? Yeah, neither had I until I randomly searched “homeless people” on reddit because I’m weird like that.

Turns out Long Island is something of a quarantine/safe haven for the city’s homeless population, as well as a headquarters of sorts for Boston’s Public Works. But it’s also the supposed inspiration for the thriller “Shutter Island,” and there’s a guard at the entrance to the island, and there are a ton (I mean A TON) of abandoned buildings. Oh, and it’s haunted by some “lady in crimson.”

Well I heard about it and thought… hmm THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME. So I tried and tried and tried to get permission to visit and today, I finally did. Then they opted to give me free range of the island and I basically went hiking with my friend (whom I guess I’ll call Batman), where we found the abandoned, creepy Fort Strong, originally built in 1815 and moved to the island later. Naturally, we decided to go in it.

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You can’t tell from this photo, but it was the scariest “room.” Pitch black without flash or cell phone flashlights.

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Harbor lookout.

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Terrifying? Told you.

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Once we were done with the fort, we stumbled back down the island and came across an abandoned house. Naturally, we decided to go in it.

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This photo’s actually better in color, but the lighting was perfect. There was still a milk carton there, like someone had just up and decided to abandon their house. Apocalyptic.

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So far as I can tell, the papers here are doctors’ papers. Still legible.

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And thennnnnn we came across the hospital, with a gate with a lock. That wasn’t locked. So… naturally we decided to go in it…

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…where we found hospital beds. Terrifying? This. Is. My. Life.

And here are some other cool, slightly less terrifying photos from my little field trip. Amazing, overall. Video to come!

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If the above photos aren’t creepy enough, THERE IS A KID’S SUMMER CAMP HELD HERE.

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No clue what building this was but there was a pillar in it?

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Lastly, because my friend and co-explorer asked… I have to add: “#nosecurity #YOLO #wereprobablygunnadie.” You’re welcome, Batman.

A Boston journalist’s take on the marathon bombings

58128_10151616813503760_94963851_nA week ago today, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two hours before they exploded, I’d been standing at the second bomb site.

For the past week, the bombings are all anyone’s been able to talk about. It’s a “where were you when…” situation that’s sickeningly similar to 9/11 recollections. I’ve waited several days to try and grapple with, to evaluate how I feel about everything. I know it’s something I want to write about, something I want to encapsulate in the foreverness of the Internet, but something deeply personal, too.

The United States of America was assaulted on Monday. Boston was assaulted on Monday. The 190 people that were killed or maimed in the past week were assaulted. And so was I.

AB kept asking me if I was okay because I wasn’t talking a whole lot (To be fair, I’ve been really sick and couldn’t talk if I wanted to). Mostly, I’ve just kept quiet because I don’t really know how to process very well. When 9/11 happened, I was 9 years old and 3,000 miles away, so everything seemed eerily distant. Most of my classmates had never seen New York, and most didn’t have family working to rescue victims and clean up the aftermath—For the most part, I felt very alone in my naive perspective of terrorism.

Though the scope of this attack is only a fraction of the World Trade Center, it’s admittedly more impactful for me. I’m older, for starters; and I’m a witness to the horror. I’ve walked that street, I’ve seen people crutching through the city with bandages covering their shrapnel wounds. I’ve come to adopt this incredible city as my own in the past 4 years, and I was deeply offended that someone could attack it.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to get ready for my internship. When I’d gone to bed hours earlier, two bombing suspects had been identified in photos by the FBI, and an MIT security officer had been shot and killed. Overnight, the events had escalated far quicker than I ever would have thought.

I got into the newsroom early and spent the next 13 hours stalking the Twittersphere, calling sources, running memos between the newsroom and the studio, and doing—for lack of a more comprehensive term—journalism.

Halfway through the day, I drove back into the city to pick up a friend. I was chilled by the empty streets, how a thriving “Hub” of a city could turn into a war zone in minutes. My city looked downright apocalyptic. I let the radio gab in the background and drove my friend to the newsroom, where producers promptly put her on air. A native Russian, she translated the living suspect’s social media page, summarized Slavic news coverage, and kept me company. Everyone was so thankful, and anchors and producers told me I’d done great work…

Me? I’d brought in a girlfriend. But then I kind of realized that that’s what journalism is: It’s networking and pooling resources, sharing knowledge—and I’d helped that process. With her knowledge and my journalistic intuition, we were able to pull relevant information that helped our viewers contextualize the situation.

If I’ve ever had a doubt in my mind whether I loved journalism or not—and we all know I have because it’s been on this blog—it was dispersed on Friday. In a sad way, that fiery, crazed mess of a newsroom was everything that makes me love journalism. Every scoop is a race, and even when I lost, I just kept running.

Hours later, I stumbled into AB’s apartment, crumpled onto appropriately named “Fancy Couch,” and fell asleep to the familiar sounds of on-air ad-libbing. I woke up to the 6 p.m. newser wherein officials basically said “We have no leads and can’t keep people contained anymore.”

When I woke up next, he’d been caught. Continue reading

2011 Bucket List

Remember that first post in July? This may look familiar…

Jumping right in, I’m not a believer in New Year’s resolutions. I just think they tend to revolve too much around losing weight and looking better and petty bullpucky that sparks a temporary spike in gym and diet industry revenues and doesn’t budge the scale a notch. Plus, I’m don’t have enough will power to diet, so I take a different approach to the New Year.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m kind of a freak about lists. I read once that writing lists is the best way to naturally combat ADHD… maybe I’m undiagnosed? whatever. Anyway, I write lists all the time because it makes the brain clutter (which sounds something like “BZZZZZZZZIHAVETODOALLTHISCRAPANDICAN’TSORTTHROUGHMYTHOUGHTSENOUGHTOCOHESIVELYFIGUREOUTEXACTLYWHATI

NEEDTODOBZZZZZZZZZ”) and it makes it all pretty too. When I write lists, I’m more proactive. Case in point? Lists=shit gets done.

Anywayyyy, for this year’s bucket list, I compiled 80 things I wanted to do and am already working on many. Given my new address, there’s much to explore. I’m determined to fall in love with this city, even if I have to trip myself to get to that point. Bygones.

2011 BUCKET LIST

  1. Move to New York.
  2. Do something crazy.
  3. Visit the South.
  4. Dance on a table.
  5. Host a dinner party.
  6. Write a letter to a political figure.
  7. Raise $500 for a charity.
  8. Sing karaoke.
  9. Send poetry in to get published.
  10. Find the best coffee house in the city.
  11. See a show.
  12. Try speed dating.
  13. Learn to photograph.
  14. Buy myself a Michael Kors watch.
  15. Spend a weekend in D.C.
  16. Take a roadtrip.
  17. Find an excuse to wear a tiara.
  18. Read 5 books on my list.
  19. Design an outfit.
  20. Make business cards.
  21. Volunteer a week in Costa Rica.
  22. See Austin.
  23. Have a shower beer.
  24. Perfect my dougie.
  25. Have frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III.
  26. Go to a concert.
  27. Skinny dip.
  28. Spend a Sunday volunteering with The Breakfast Club.
  29. Picnic in Central Park.
  30. Toast our Sep. apartment with champagne.
  31. Skateboard to class.
  32. Get a Boston Athenaeum membership.
  33. Go to a BRUINS game.
  34. Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
  35. Slow dance.
  36. Visit every Manhattan bridge.
  37. Learn something new.
  38. Have lunch on the Staten Island Ferry.
  39. Wear fake eyelashes.
  40. Waitress.
  41. Have three differently themed dinner parties.
  42. Buy myself some letters.
  43. Visit Canada.
  44. Get better at French.
  45. Send Amanda a care package.
  46. Take a dance class.
  47. Spend a day on the beach.
  48. Watch all the epic movies that I never did.
  49. Plant an herb garden.
  50. Write my number on a bathroom stall.
  51. Help make Thanksgiving dinner.
  52. Send in a Postsecret.
  53. Write a note and leave it in a book.
  54. Learn to master a stick shift.
  55. Do a cartwheel.
  56. Kiss someone under the mistletoe.
  57. Pay for the person behind me in a drive thru.
  58. Sneak someone into the Webster.
  59. Get a massage.
  60. Bartend.
  61. Create a poster memorializing random quotes.
  62. Take a CPR course.
  63. Take a ride in a town car.
  64. Make something for the apartment.
  65. Start a journal (again).
  66. Create a drink.
  67. Give someone a piggy back ride.
  68. Shake hands with the Editor in Chief.
  69. Take myself on a date.
  70. Talk someone into going to school.
  71. Buy myself a dress without a reason to wear it.
  72. Find a place to wear said dress.
  73. Dress like Jackie O.
  74. Play an intramural sport.
  75. Try a new Ben N Jerrys flavor.
  76. Blog once per week.
  77. Get to know someone in every Greek organization.
  78. Force a guy to come over and put up shelves (ha).
  79. Start a tradition.
  80. Read every night M-Th.

Here’s to an awesome year!! Happy New Year!

“It feels like home to meeeee…”

So there’s this boy… man? boy? I suppose he’s a 70-something manboy. Yup, that sounds pretty accurate.

I’ve briefly mentioned this old fart before. But his name is James Francis Bunker. And my relationship to him is that he’s my dad’s college roommate’s old boss. Sounds kinda like that Spaceballs scene doesn’t it…

Anyway, our mutual connection introduced us because Jim went to Northeastern and still plays an active role on campus. Turns out, he put in a good word for me.

And now? After a wonderful first lunch in February, we see each other whenever we happen to be within driving range of each other. And for the rest of the time, we email and talk and keep each other updated about the latest happenings in our lives (actually.. maybe it’s more about whats happening in MY life. Oops).

He’s a kook and takes every opportunity to make fun of me. But, at the same time, I’m not afraid to dish it back out. And in our teasing and mockery, we are able to communicate in our own language. To the outside world, we probably look like the silliest pair ever. But I don’t know… I just like this crazy old man. He’s lived quite a bit more than I have, but is happy to share his experiences and his wisdom and the best cafes in Paris.

This summer, I was SO blessed to meet his firecracker of a wife. Not only was she wise enough to con him into going to college when she was 14, but she’s put up with him ever since then. And knowing him, that deserves a ton of respect.

And through him (or those he knows), I’ve been able to meet some other people, too.

I called him this morning and suddenly came to the realization (albeit, belated) that this poor sucker is family. He, combined with the other Bostonians that I love, is the family that I’ve built for myself in my beloved city. No wonder it feels like home to me… I’ve got a crazy “uncle” and his wonderful wife, 80 sisters and countless treasured friends to keep me company.

Vanessa Carlton, in her song “Who’s to Say,” concludes that “sometimes family are the ones you choose.” Now, I’ve got one of the most incredible, dysfunctional-but-it-works-for-us families in the world. But it’s nice to know that I can build one for myself, too, compiled of people that I love and choose to love and who happen to love my city as much as I do. <3

I Love You, Boston

Minimal posts lately… I’m on vacation!

I wiggled my way into my dad’s east coast trip. We spent a day in San Francisco then jet off to Connecticut to pick my baby brother up from school.

Thennnnnn we drove up to beautiful Boston, to kill some time and see some WONDERFUL people. And I’ve fallen in love all over again. This place is such an integral part of me; I don’t even see the gum splattered cement. I don’t smell the subway perfume. I don’t mind to hustling commuters or the bikers who don’t stop. How could I focus on that half-empty stuff when I’m too busy jumping into (multiple) public fountains, catching up with the best girlfriends I’ve ever had, and walking the streets that saw me transition from small-minded freshman Californian to comfort-oriented, Bostonian journalist. I love this place.