Monday, April 14, 2014

Fresh Perspective

It feels like yesterday that I walked 2 miles home on a Monday afternoon--stranded and scared and in disbelief after two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I watched in confusion as my underdog holiday became a moment fit for a national audience. 116 years of sweat outdone by one year of blood.

Though we vow to never forget, we overlook the fact that, for many, the price of being "Boston Strong" is far more than a $20 t-shirt.

And though we will show up and cheer our hardest this coming Monday, so many people will wake up on Tuesday still limbless, or childless.

This reality is why I both look forward to and dread the Marathon this year. We need this day in order to move forward. But it feels like an insult to not look back.

To reconcile this time spent in limbo, I've thought a lot about what the Marathon has meant to me, and what it means to me now.

And I was pleased when I finally came to a word that embodied the Marathon of both past and future, just when the two were feeling so different from one another. 


At its most basic principle, a 26.2 mile footrace has always given me perspective. It has humbled me during my own workouts, and inspired me to push harder. It has made me think twice about how tired I truly am, and how much energy I really have left in me.

The most crucial part of any race, the competitors, also put things into perspective. As I watch Dick Hoyt run by, pushing his son uphill in a wheelchair, the weight that I carry suddenly seems less of a burden. My struggles seem a little easier.

This past year, I involuntarily and unwillingly took on a different perspective. I was forced to see that I was not entitled to a violence-free life despite living peacefully. I was forced to watch an event taken to the ground by two men who hated it for every reason that I loved it--who raged against its pride and tradition perhaps even stronger than I was drawn to it.

And this year, as I search for the feelings that used to overcome me when I watched the Marathons of years past, and seek to avoid the sinking perspective forced upon me last year, I will surely find a new perspective. 

I hope that what I find is that no matter how far we feel from hope at any given time, we will find it again. Whether we are in the middle of Heartbreak Hill, feeling the absence of someone or something you loved, or waiting for the city to heal, there will be a brighter moment than this. But without experiencing this heartbreak, we won't know how far we've truly come.

Whether it's an actual finish line that you cross this coming Monday, or more of a metaphorical one; we all should gain a fresh perspective.

"And the walls came tumbling down in the city that we love. Gray clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above. But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing's changed at all?"
-Bastille, Pompeii

Sunday, February 2, 2014

On Mourning Celebrity Deaths

With Philip Seymour Hoffman's recent death, I have already seen the posts coming in from those who believe that we, as a society, should not waste our time mourning the death of famous people who "threw their lives away," "made poor decisions," or "contributed nothing but fluff to society" when there are people who "gave their lives to save others" particularly soldiers, firefighters, etc.

These posts bother me for a number of reasons that I'm about to outline here.

1.) Claiming people are stupid, poorly informed, or otherwise wrong for mourning celebrity deaths and not mourning deaths of those they believe have contributed more to society is inherently a flawed argument. Celebrities are not famous for dying, they are famous for living. Suggesting that other non-famous persons deaths should be recognized and honored instead of celebrities' deaths is a comparison of apples and oranges. What we are mourning when we mourn celebrity deaths is the ending of a life that we were familiar with. Those who were familiar with non-famous persons' lives certainly mourn those people. There are simply a larger amount of people that are familiar with celebrities, leading to a naturally higher amount of mourners.

2.) As distasteful as the chastisers find the public mourning the death of celebrities instead of the death of people whose lives they subjectively believe were more important, I find it equally distasteful that the chastisers pick and choose which deaths they believe are "more important" than others. What they don't realize is that while blaming us for putting one death "above" another, they are doing the exact same thing. There is no universal criteria for who deserves to be mourned after they die, and who doesn't. 

3.) These posts all indicate that your life is somehow validated by the number of Facebook posts and tweets about you when you die. Is this really what it's all come down to? Was a soldier's death truly "wasted" because I didn't tweet about it? Was Paul Walker's life truly of higher value because I did tweet about it? 

“We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Top 5 Things People Not From Boston Think About People From Boston

What's with the ridiculous amount of Boston stereotypes being thrown around these days? What did we win the World Series or something? Seems like everyone lately wants a piece of Boston, whether to build us up or tear us down. And since I'm a loud-mouth, it's been really hard for me to sit around and listen to people who don't live in Boston talk about Boston.

So, while I've been stewing over horribly inaccurate articles like this one (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JOHNNY CUPCAKES SELLS TSHIRTS!! NOT CUPCAKES! TSHIRTS!! AND YOUR PICTURE OF A ROTARY IS AN INTERSECTION!!!), I've been compiling a mental list of the stereotypes that bother me most. Then, when I put that list to paper I sounded like a jerk. And while sometimes I can be a jerk, I wanted to show at least some restraint. So I decided to cut it down, and settle in on my top 5 instead. 

Though it's probably self-explanatory, each item begins with a Boston stereotype, and then includes my personal opinion of this stereotype based on real-life experiences.

Here goes:

1.) 3 feet of snow is a "dusting"
3 feet of snow is actually a State of Emergency. First of all, our roads were made in the 18th century, and, no offense to the pilgrims, but they suck.(The roads suck. Not the pilgrims. I'm sure they're lovely people.) So roads are closed for days. In addition, we Boston people don't just shrug off 3 feet of snow and then drive to work. During our last big storm, I didn't have work for 3 days. People wait outside near parking lots to watch poor schlubs come outside and see the mountain of snow that used to be their car. I know this because during this particular storm, I was that poor schlub.
Photo evidence:
Anyways, in summation, old roads + old powerlines = big mess, no power, and a big deal.

2.) We know how to navigate rotaries like a pro
Have you ever tried to drive down the Cape on a Saturday morning?! We do NOT know how to navigate rotaries. And full disclosure, I just stay in the outside lane the whole way around because once you go in the inside lane you may never get out. Ever. One time I got in the inside lane and couldn't update my blog for a month. True story.

3.) We can drink you under the table--we're wicked Irish!!
I'm pretty sure that it's people who live outside of Boston proper who spread this drinking prowess rumor--and then they come in from West Roxbury and Dedham at 10am on parade day bragging about how much they can drink and get in a drunken fight (read: A light shove followed by a face plant on cobblestone) and close our bars down at 3pm. Good work guys. (p.s. I'm not randomly picking on West Roxbury and Dedham. There's a rhyme to my reason.)

4.) We love the Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots
This is completely true. But that's because teams are geographically based. I never quite know what to say when people try to heckle me for being a Red Sox fan. They're called the BOSTON Red Sox. I live in Boston. I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston. I don't really know what else you'd expect me to be. Go ahead and heckle Red Sox fans who are from Pittsburgh or something. Because that's random. But can I show my license and get a free pass or something?

5.) We run on Dunkies
Believe it or not, the people of Boston have preferences and opinions that differ, much like that of people in every other city and town everywhere. I'm a Starbucks girl all the way. Yet here I am, living in Boston. Been here for quite some time.

-Quite possibly the only lyric to a Dropkick Murphy's song that I know. So I just make sure I sing that line REAL loud to make up for all the other lines I'm not singing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

News Flash!

Because I spent my time last night researching data encryption for work, I didn't have time to write a post. And since I've spent the last few weeks making excuses as to why I can't write posts, I'm feeling kind of guilty. I like to keep things moving around here.

So, I'm going to cheat a little bit by repurposing some other recent writing of mine.

Every Friday, my office puts out a "News Flash" email that has all the weeks' happenings in it--new hires, promotions, birthday, computer tips from our IT department, etc. And one section is called "Who's Who" and it features one person in the office per week. Last week it was my turn.

Below are my responses:

·         What practice are you in and what accounts do you work on?
I’m in the consumer and tech practices. My clients are Stop & Shop and Nestle Waters (mainly Perrier) on the consumer side, and Veracode and PTC on the tech side.

·         What was your most embarrassing work moment?  
Luckily, my embarrassing work moments are minimal for now. Sometimes I give myself stress headaches from reading and re-reading emails before I send them to make sure I haven’t said anything dumb.

However, that doesn’t stop me from just actually being dumb. So, just recently, I had completely forgotten about an internal Veracode meeting and arrived about 10 minutes late. Typically, we call our London counterparts for this meeting. So I snuck into the room quietly, waving my hands and making sad facial gestures to express to Ellen and Caroline that I was sorry I was late. Ellen told me it was ok and then began talking to who I presumed to be the London office. In the 20-30 seconds she was speaking, I admittedly was paying no attention because I was still flustered about being late (I really really hate being late for anything, even internal meetings). All the sudden, the room goes quiet. I look up, and Ellen is staring at me. Turns out she had been talking to me the whole time, and I hadn’t heard a single word.  She and Caroline thought I was nuts. But that’s probably nothing new.

·         What’s your favorite 2 p.m. pick-me-up?
I like to switch it up, but a grande iced non-fat vanilla latte from Starbucks never disappoints.

·            If you could share some work-related advice with your peers, what would that be? (ex.   What do you do to prepare for a pitch? How do you keep track of billable hours? etc…
Never underestimate the power or skill of being in the right place at the right time with the right information. Even if you have no prior relationship with a reporter—that won’t matter if you give them the information they want before or as they realize they need it. Vice versa, the reporter could be your BFF but if you don’t have what they want when they want it, even they can’t help you.

·         What was the last book you read?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s weird and quirky enough so you feel like it’s speaking directly to you, but what makes it so great is that everyone who reads it feels that way too.

·            What’s the best song on your ipod/mp3 player right now?
I’m obsessed with “Springsteen” by Eric Church. I took a trip to Seville and Paris with a friend of mine last spring and that song was her alarm for the entire trip, so now whenever I hear it I think of all the fun and crazy times we had there. As Church says in the song, “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a true-life Saturday night.” So true!

·         If you could go anywhere in the world on your next vacation, where would it be and why?
I would go to Austria because I have an embarrassing affinity for The Sound of Music and want to see all of the places it was filmed. I’ll be damned if I don’t march around that giant fountain singing Do Re Mi at least once before I die. In that same trip I would also go to Germany because I feel as if telling people that I drank a lot of beer in Munich would somehow even out the fact that I flew to Austria because of The Sound of Music.

·         If you had a million dollars how would you spend it?
Re-filming The Sound of Music with myself cast as Maria.

No, I’m kidding.

I think I would have to buy a house. I spend a lot of time worrying that I’m going to live my whole life never owning anything more valuable than an Ikea wardrobe, so buying a house would make me feel better, I think. (House owners are shaking their heads right now thinking, “no, no it will not make you feel better.”)

Oh, and was I supposed to say charity too? …I’d give some to charity.

·         Tell us something that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you.
I know all the lyrics to a very large amount of rap songs—from Jay-Z to Nelly to Eminem to Drake, and so on. I understand it’s an embarrassing talent because I have no actual rhythm and a terrible voice, but if you ignore that, I’m pretty good. I rapped Busta Rhymes’s verse in “Look at Me Now” for the PTC (internal) team one day. They can attest to my skill in being able to say a lot of words really fast, as well as my lack of rhythm and actual rap talent.

·            What is your favorite cell phone/ tablet app?
Anything that can tell me the news. I scan and probably 50 times a day. I have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Sometimes, when I walk outside and the streets are really deserted I get paranoid that something really huge is happening and everyone is inside watching it on TV. That’s when it helps to have the news on your phone, and a good Twitter feed. 

·            What is your favorite blog/blogger?
I’m a big fan of Jarrett Bellini’s blog on CNN (shocking) called “Apparently This Matters.”

·            What is your motto/what words do you live by?
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle.”

Even though this post technically would have ended with a quote ^ see above, I've already used that one here before. So I'm offering up another.

"At 56 percent, German companies appear to have the highest rate of sensitive or confidential data transferred to the cloud."
-"Encryption in the Cloud," Ponemon Institute

Oh woops, sorry. I mean...

"I can't seem to stop singing wherever I am. And what's worse, I can't seem to stop saying things - anything and everything I think and feel."
-Maria (Julie Andrews), The Sound of Music

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In Defense of Generation Y

I have never been a fan of people scolding me for things that I have no control over.

I don’t actually think that anyone is a fan of that. That’d be weird. But I’ve always been pretty vocal about my hatred of being blamed for things that aren’t my fault.

So, one thing that’s been grinding my gears lately has been all the hate towards “Generation Y.”

I had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was born in the late 1980’s. You’ll have to bring that issue up with my parents.

The reason I don’t know about movies from the 1940’s isn’t because I’m uncultured. It’s because I didn’t grow up in the 1940’s, and I’m not a huge movie buff. I don’t even really know too much about movies from the 2000’s.

The reason I don’t know how to use a record player isn’t because I’m stupid. It’s because by the time I was old enough to listen to my own music, records and record players were no longer easily available. And CD players were. And guess what? The sound quality is actually better. I promise.

The reason I don’t know my friends’ phone numbers by heart isn’t because I’m too self-absorbed to remember them. It’s because there is absolutely no need for me to remember them when I have a tool that does that for me. You buy butter instead of churning it yourself, don’t you? And it’s not because you’re too weak to churn it—why would you bother spending your time doing something that’s completely unnecessary?

I’m tired of hearing about how I’m socially inept because I text instead of calling or meeting people in person. Since the founding of the Pony Express people have been looking for ways to not meet up with people face to face. It’s not just the people born between 1970-1995. 

I’m tired of being called lazy and entitled and unwilling to settle down and disrespectful and irresponsible and all of the other things people who complain about Generation Y say about us. And then, when I defend myself by saying any of what I’ve written above, they say something like, “Oh, not you,” or “Well you got a job right away so that’s better than most other people your age,” or some other placating remark that somehow suggests that I’m not “as bad” as the others. THAT is the exact reason we all supposedly feel entitled! Now I get to walk away from the conversation thinking that I'm special and better than the others because you told me so.

And for other Generation Y’s who have lamented about your own kind, I hate to point out that that makes you no better than the people you’re putting down. It means you somehow think you’re better than other people your age, and you’re exempt from their perceived flaws and shortcomings---but their perceived flaws and shortcomings is that they think they’re better than others, and exempt from flaws and shortcomings. See what I’m saying?

So I’m not even going to talk about the things I’ve done in my life that supposedly "prove" that I’m not lazy or entitled or socially inept or whatever else. I'm not going to distance myself from Generation Y. You mess with Generation Y and you mess with me.

And luckily, I have that college-level rhetoric training that you scoffed at, so I’m up for the challenge.

"They're all mistakes, children! Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one."
-Miss Trunchbull, Matilda

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Words I Live By: "The Busy Trap"

If you only read one thing today, don’t even make it this blog post. Make it the article that this blog post is about: "The Busy Trap"

If you read two things, then I guess the second thing could be this post. I wouldn’t complain.

If you just said to yourself, “well, I already clicked on this blog post, and clicking on another link to read that article is just too much work,” then I’ll just give you a quick summary and some of my favorite pieces from the article here, and you can pretend you read it:

In short, the author describes how Americans make themselves so busy that they lose out on leisure time, mistaking it as an unimportant or unnecessary part of life, when the leisure time is actually what makes life what it is. And when we really delve into the heart of why we do this, the author believes it comes down to some sort of self-assurance that we need to feel, because others have decided they should feel it, and everyone has to keep up with the next person. 

“I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.”

“It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.”

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary.”

The thing about articles like this is that, while they are great and inspiring and I’d love to model my whole life off of it, sometimes you just have to pick and choose what to take out of it. Because, let’s be real, I’m not going to just take to the forest, learn how to whittle and sit in a rocking chair (that I whittled myself) whittling more things and drinking tea (from a mug, that I most likely whittled myself).

So while it’s impractical and impossible to not ever say that I’m busy, what I really took away from this was trying to not use “busy” as some sort of masochistic badge of honor, or as a “one-upper.” Or, as the author puts it, “being a part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school.” So I try my best to duck out of “the busy trap” anytime I see myself falling into it. I see it as being a part of the solution. Nobody’s perfect, but it’s always good to try to improve, right?

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"
-John Lennon

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Words I Live By: Loyalty

I'm going literal with this week's "Words I Live By" because it's actually just a single word.


I'll start with a couple defintions:
  • Being loyal can take on a few different forms: loyalty to a person, loyalty to a cause, loyalty to certain beliefs. And in that sense, what it means is that you don't stray from the moral code and guidelines that are implied by whatever relationship/affiliation you have with said person/cause/belief. 
  • Having someone be loyal to you means trusting your friend/partner to not do you wrong or hurt you, knowing someone will always help you if you need it, understanding that someone else understands you and your intentions completely. At least, that's what it means to me. Maybe you have other ideas?
Loyalty is one of those things that you don't realize how important it is until you experience the opposite of it. Once you know disloyalty, how can you be on board with anything else but loyalty?

Throughout middle school and high school I was lucky enough to have probably the greatest group of friends a 13-18 year old could ask for. My friends and I were all nerds. We loved Student Council. And we never fought. Over time, I got spoiled thinking that all friendships were like this--never worrying if your best friend was secretly mad at you, or talking about you behind your back. 

And then, I learned that they weren't all like that.

And it hurt. A lot. And it was confusing and scary and unsettling to know that something I had learned to be true--that all close friendships were positive ones--maybe wasn't so true.

Lots of people learn about loyalty and disloyalty through relationships. To me, loyalty within a romantic relationship isn't different from loyalty in a platonic friendship. If you say that you would never cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend, then you should also be saying you would never sell a friend out. Loyalty is loyalty--it's something that you either practice, or don't practice.

Like I said earlier, loyalty is something that matters once you realize how badly disloyalty hurts. Or once you realize how badly you feel when you are disloyal to someone else.

I've felt both. You probably have too--in some degree or another.

It's easy to look back and find a time where someone has been disloyal to you.

Ever noticed that when you're playing "Never Have I Ever" and someone says "never have I ever been cheated on" almost everyone puts down a finger? Everyone's got a story about the time they were cheated on....

But then have you noticed that when you're playing that game and someone says "never have I ever cheated on someone" barely anyone admits to it?

Look, I'm not a mathematician, but statistically, this just seems impossible. If 9/10 people have been cheated on, but only 1/10 people has cheated...who the hell is doing all this cheating that is supposedly going on?? That 1 guy or girl is REALLY making the rounds, huh??

My point is--it's hard to admit to yourself, and to others, that you've been disloyal. But it happens. And it's worth fixing so it doesn't happen again.

Whether it's loyalty for and from those that you love, or for an idea or cause that you believe in, loyalty, in my opinion, is something that everyone should learn, live, and expect nothing less than.

To end on a high note, I really do believe that if you are loyal, you will find loyalty in others. 

I know that I have.

“You think I'm a fool?" demanded Harry.
"No, I think you're like James," said Lupin, "who would have regarded it as the height of dishonor to mistrust his friends.”

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows