Abominable Behavior

Boston-YetiAbout ten years ago, when I was living in Boston, a major snowstorm hit the city while I was traveling on business.

As fate would have it, parking at Logan was limited, so I had to park on the roof. That’s right. The roof. The part of the building without more building above it.

I was totally screwed. Not only would my car be covered with eight inches of snow, I would be boxed in by whatever the plow left behind my car while clearing the roof for everyone else. In the time I was gone, surely it would have half-melted and re-solidified into a natural barricade which would require a jack hammer to get through.

Come to think of it, I wasn’t entirely sure exactly which row I’d parked in. It’s not like the roof has a lot of identifying characteristics, and I sort of counted on having the identifying characteristics of my car to rely on, unless, of course, it was the only one still covered with snow. Then it would be easy to spot.

I had a snow brush in the car, but what I really needed was a shovel, or a pick axe. Maybe I’d be better off taking a cab home, and then going back the next day with a jack hammer.

And that’s when my husband called.

“So you and the dude are going to drive over and dig me out before I get home, right?”

The dude was six. At seventeen, he still is useless during a snowstorm. If only he shoveled snow as effectively as he manages to shovel everything else.

“Hahahaha. Right.” My husband is such a romantic soul.

When I finally arrived in Boston it was late–well past midnight–and I made my way to the roof of the parking ramp. As expected, the rooftop was a sea of white under bright lights, each car an indistinguishable white blob next to another white blob.

All except for one. Mine. Completely cleared and shoveled out of the mess. All I had to do was back up and I could head home.

I called my husband. “I was joking, but really, thank you. That was amazing. You really didn’t have to dig out my car.”

I basked in the feeling of overwhelming love. It was so good to be home.

“Good, because I didn’t.”

I’ve always wondered who shoveled out my car. My husband’s theory is that someone spent an hour digging out a car only to figure out it wasn’t theirs. Their silver Sienna was one more row over. Their worst night ever had become my coup.

But as of today, I know the truth. It was the Boston Yeti.

Boston has been hammered with snow the last few weeks, and the Yeti has roamed empty streets late at night, played in the snow, and even hailed a cab. Folks all across town have tweeted their sightings using #BostonYeti2015. Last week, he began digging out cars, and he didn’t even put a lawn chair with a box of cat litter on top of it to call dibs on the space for later. I told my family that my mystery was solved.

A lot of really shitty stuff is happening in the world right now, like we’re engaged in a sick one-upsmanship to establish who can be the most horrific of all.  Ironic, isn’t it? Someone in a an abominable snowman suit is representing the best of human spirit, while others engage in abominable behavior while pretending to be human.

The Yeti says he’s just lending a claw, but I’d like to think he’s starting a movement. What would the world be like if we were all Yeti, just doing what needed to be done, without fanfare or attribution, just to make the world a little better for one person on one day by doing one simple (or not so simple) thing.

Is today’s Yeti also my Yeti? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. It’s been over ten years since my personal Yeti rescued my car from burial by snowdrift at Logan, and just thinking about it renews my belief in magic. We could use a little magic, don’t you think? Maybe we could all be someone’s Yeti.

Go do it. Be abominable. Be a Yeti.

Photograph from Mashable

Be strong, be brave, be a badass

Boston-StrongWe’ve been in Virginia for seven years, but when Patriot’s Day rolls around, I really miss  Boston. We lived in Lexington, the cradle of the revolution, where relatively sane people get up at the crack of dawn to watch the reenactment of the first skirmish on the battle green. It’s over by 6:00 a.m. Then everyone leaves to eat pancakes.

Over and over again, the Dude and vowed to get up in time to see it. When 5:00 a.m. rolled around, my husband would go to work and the Dude and I would go back to sleep. We’d make pancakes at a more reasonable hour and say “next year.” Next year never came. We moved.

Virginia doesn’t recognize Patriot’s Day as a holiday. Most of the United States doesn’t recognize Patriot’s Day. I do in my own way, by watching the Red Sox game. The Dude sometimes gets home from school to see the end. Last year he got home in time to see all hell break loose.

Boston owns its position at the center of the revolution story with pride. The city does not capitulate and it does not forget. Just say the name “Bucky Dent” in a Boston bar and you’ll see what I mean.  It only makes sense that one of the world’s most grueling, challenging tests of human endurance takes place  in Boston. The Marathon has always been one of the city’s hallmark events, but now it’s sacred.

It’s so easy to sleepwalk through our days, lulled by routine and repetition. Then something happens to remind us that life is not endless and time is finite. We say “someday” or “next year” or “tomorrow” knowing that, of course, we will. Right?

You can’t finish the race if you don’t start. Do something defiant today. Something audacious and exhilarating and maybe even a little crazy. Because next year is 365 days away and there’s no good reason to wait. Because in 1775 people in Boston said “now.” Because today 35,000 people will run 26 miles because they can. Because there will always be people who say you can’t, or you shouldn’t, or you won’t be able to in ways both dramatic and mundane. Because sometimes that person is you.

Do it. Be strong. Be Boston Strong.

What badass thing will you do today?

 

To Quote Big Papi, This is our *^&#)$@ city

Boston-StrongI’ve lived all over the country. I was born in Detroit, moved to Cincinnati, and then Chicago. After a number of years, I left the Midwest for Silicon Valley where they have climate as opposed to weather. I didn’t miss the seasons. Then I moved to Boston.

I don’t know what it is, but Boston wedged itself in my heart. It really shouldn’t have.

First of all, the weather sucks. We moved into our house in April. It had been a warm winter for Boston, and Spring came early. By mid-April it was in the 70’s every day. One sunny Saturday I put plants out on our deck. Basil, and petunias and some Impatiens. I even got a sunburn.

Two days later we got two inches of snow.

Every year after that, Boston got epic levels of the white stuff. I grew up in Michigan, so I’m no stranger to blizzard conditions, but not until Boston did I understand what a white out really looked like. I remember when I was little, reading the “Little House” books, I wondered why everyone got all tragic when Pa had to go to the barn during a snowstorm. After Boston, I got it. One time I walked to the dude’s school during a storm to get him and wasn’t sure if I was even going in the right direction. I planned ahead, however. I had Oreos packed in my coat pockets. It took an hour and a half to get one mile.

Boston has  too much traffic, and the drivers are awful. I know that every city says their drivers are awful, but in Boston, it’s true. And they’re proud of it. The street names change every two miles. Giving directions is not simple. Turn left on Waltham, but then it turns into Ridge, then Forest, and then Park, but just keep going until you get to Lowell, which looks like it should be Bow, but it’s not. Just trust me. Don’t even get me started on people that run red lights, traffic circles or Storrow Drive.

The road construction was endless. There were so many detours, even the Garmin got pissed off. Recalculating. Again. What’s wrong with you people?

And yet, here I am in Virginia, and my basement wall is painted like the Green Monster. The dude has Patriots stuff all over everywhere. I stream The River, which is the only decent radio station in the universe, from every electronic device I own, and I feel a rush of pride when I hear “Dirty Water.” I miss the accent, and Wilson Farms, and Crane Beach, which is actually in Ipswich, but it’s close enough.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy in Virginia. I have an amazing group of friends that make my heart light. I can run year-round. The dude can play baseball Spring, Summer and Fall. In so many ways, I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my lifetime. Yet, when everything went down in Boston last week, it felt personal.

I will never understand the heinous things people do, or how they rationalize their actions. I do know this–they messed with the wrong city. I’m not the first to say it, or even the most eloquent. That would be Dennis Lehane.  Boston is the most stubborn, f*** you, this is me, take-it-or-leave-it city I have ever known. And in the few years that I called it home, it left a mark on me that will last forever.

Love that dirty water. Boston Strong.

The city of Boston is observing a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. this afternoon in honor of the victims of Monday’s bombing. Find a moment today to do the same, and pray for peace and understanding.

J. B. Everett

 

 

I’m okay with that

I have said that I hate

The cold

Paper cuts

And broken strings

And brussels sprouts

And running out of printer ink

And people who don’t use their turn signals

Or interrupt me while I’m reading

But then the world reminds me

That I am falling behind

I can take all that hate

And barely fill a thimble

Or tip a scale

Or hurt a fly

And for once

I am profoundly glad

To be below average

Of luck and loss

fingerscrossedMy son is superstitious. He looks for omens everywhere, signs that his team will win their scrimmage, signals that portend a snow day, the tell-tale markers for a Pats win. He believes you can jinx things by being too confident or test fate by making any sort of provision based on an outcome.

He’ll even ask for them outright. He’ll stand roughly where the three-point line would lie on our driveway and say “If I make this shot, the Sox will win the series.” Never mind that the season is months away and the Sox were epically bad last season. I seem to recall his taking quite a few shots to determine the outcome of last season. Clearly he missed more shots than he made. If only it were so easy to do and undo some seemingly inevitable future with nothing more than a lucky long basket or a wad of paper actually reaching the garbage can across the room.

He had a cow two weeks ago when his father commented that the Pats had the lead going into the last two minutes. “Don’t say that! You’ll jinx it!” There were only two minutes left, although I suppose a lot can happen in two minutes. I find it hard to believe that one middle-aged dude in Virginia can sway the outcome by commenting on the score more than say, the entire state of Massachusetts.

I may be to blame for some of my son’s superstitious nature. When we moved to Virginia from Boston, my son was not happy. He felt we were leaving the town he loved for a sports wasteland. He remained loyal to his beloved Pats. We assuaged his homesickness by taking the flowered wallpaper out of the upstairs bathroom and making it a Patriots mecca. He could smile at Tom Brady while he stood before the toilet every morning.

When the Pats went to the Superbowl, I said I would throw a party. He helped me with the invitation. He chose a picture of an unhappy Eli Manning and declared it a victory celebration long before game day. He never thought they’d lose. Neither did I. Helmet catch anyone? He didn’t take it well. Most 9 year olds don’t take heartbreak well. Ever since, he’s refused to call a victory until the game is good and over. If anyone else does, it might unravel all of the protections he’s put in place.

My husband, the man of science, gave  the dude a lot of grief about his superstitions last week. He teased him about the lucky jersey, the no-chicken-counting rule, the finely tuned calculations that favor the Pats. Nothing lies better than well-chosen statistics.

Sunday was a rough day around here. The game was physical and nasty. The Ravens were out for blood and they got what they were looking for. The Pats went down. My son got increasingly upset as the night wore on.  He even tore the lucky jersey in a Hulkian fit of anger. Not much, he’s a skinny thing. I can fix it.  Any broken luck–I don’t have a patch for that.

I’ll give him some credit. He didn’t blame his father for jinxing the team. At least not out loud. Monday morning he slept in late, taking advantage of the holiday. He wasn’t too morose. He didn’t have to face the kids at school who know he’s a Pats fan–particularly the ones that have suddenly become Ravens fans. He has a particular disdain for bandwagon fans that jump on to root for the team of the moment. You have to have a connection to root for a team, he says. Someone has to live there, or have parents that lived there. Cousins, traded favorite players, or admiration aren’t enough.

“Anyhow,” he said, “it was all because of the refs. Those calls were ridiculous!”

“It’s it always?” I replied.

“Yeah. Like really!” He said it without any trace of irony, nor did he register my own. “Can you fix my jersey?”

I told him I could.

“Good. I’ll need it for the Superbowl. The 49ers have to win.” I gave him a raised eyebrow. “Hey–We lived in San Francisco for five years!”

At least he’s consistent. Better go fix that jersey.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Jens Rost © 2012 Creative Commons