Tag Archives: boston


When you go to your first office party as a participant in the ugly sweater contest but it’s not an ugly sweater contest at all.

The first person you see is the admin at the front desk who is dressed in such a cute elf top she could be the lead toymaker in a live production of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Her green, red and white top even has jingle bells adorned on the cuffs and collar but you are naïve enough to think it is just attributable to her happy nature. Clearly she hadn’t sent the memo that she wrote to herself.

That’s when you go to the break room and see the one woman that is older than you in a gorgeous black velvet jacket with a silk embroidered Christmas scene that could land itself in a gallery. Obviously, she had not bought it at Walmart nor worn her best jacket because she thought it was an ugly contender.You smile and say hello like it’s any other December day but do not take off your coat.

A walk to your private office will help you sort this potential fashion blunder out. You stayed up all night sewing crocheted snowflakes to the oldest red sweater you owned. It was embellished with the worst felt Christmas decorations your kids had ever made. Even midnight hadn’t stopped you from adorning it with gold and silver glitter you threw into the smeared overdose of glue gun horror.

As you mentally change your mindset from clear winner to office loser, you wonder how to continue the morning? You start by rereading the office party luncheon invitation. Lunch is at noon and there will be two judging’s in the morning: one for the nicest office decor and a second for the ugly sweater winner. As far as you’re concerned, your sweat equity ugly sweater efforts are confirmed, so you proceed to the ladies room.

You just about melt when you see the lawyer leaving the bathroom in not just a gorgeous merino wool snowman sweater but an entire dress. She even has black high-heeled boots to emphasize her Christmas fashion statement. Only a top hat and pipe would have heightened the look. She probably had them back in her office so Kris Kringle himself could ask her to perform some magic during the luncheon.

You do what you have to in that situation. You take a shit to demonstrate how you feel, hold your head up high and own it as you strut back into the office – even when people look away or smile in a way that neither acknowledges nor inquires about your holiday sweater. You swallow hard once you’re back at your desk and realize you still have to stand in front of the entire office when it’s your turn for the Yankee swap.

All of this composure is held together even when you realize that joke gifts will not be the norm either. Booze and lottery tickets are the hit as you wonder what you’re reddened face will look like once someone opens your six pack belt of gingered ale.

The hour and day go by as slowly as an entire winter in New England. Snowman lawyer wins both the office decor and “sweater” contest with a fast tally of 32 to zero. A clean sweep…and all you can do is take the broom to clean up the glitter from your participation in the not-ugly-sweater-contest.


Libraries change lives

By the grace of God, the resources are all there. Invest in your free education and the stories will write themselves.


Yummy Expectations 

I rarely spend my hard-earned, save it for a rainy day, cold cash on beverages. I don’t drink coffee nor do I frequent the bar scene.  My nerves aren’t made of steel and I’m not a lush. I just know what I like. 

One of my favorites, my go-to drink versus coffee in the morning, is Tropicana orange juice. I don’t typically have brand loyalty but when someone or something has meaning in my life, I’m loyal to a fault. 

All that said, for me to buy a drink with a meal is a rarity. I just happen to like water with my sandwiches and pasta specials.  Yesterday was an exception. I looked in the beverage area at lunchtime because I’d rushed out of the house without my o.j.  I needed my Tropicana. 

I stayed brand loyal but spotted another juice drink that sounded even better than my reliable orange juice. It had all my favorite flavors in one  bottle – orange, strawberries and bananas. Acting on an impulse, I added a couple bucks to my lunch tab expecting a smoothie experience with my cheeseburger sub.

I gulped the thick liquid expecting it to go down smoothly. It was actually pretty rough. 


Ag – Au

My lifelong friend, Melanie, always turned the phrase “Make new friends but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.” The quote is spot on and my last few weeks can attest to it.

I met a new woman on the train. She lives in the town where I grew up and down the street from my in -laws. Somewhere along the way, we started sitting together and swapping stories during our long commute. I’ve since met her Air Force husband and young daughter and she’s seen pictures of my chia-pet-bearded husband and our two college-age girls. Maria is outgoing, ambitious, talkative and hysterical. We’ve chatted about challenges with our parents, children and life in general. Adding to that, we’ve also laughed about people on the train, our husband’s quirks and yesterday, winter laundry. She had me in stitches talking about clothesline-dried jeans that were stiffer than her husband’s military uniforms. She brought me right back to being a teenager in the 80’s. My sisters and I would want to wear our favorite jeans so badly that we would wash them at night and, since we had no dryer, hang them outside to dry regardless of the cold weather. They’d be stiffly standing at attention waiting for us in the morning. Maria is the silver lining to life’s problems and like the nanny in The Sound of Music – Maria, makes me – laugh!

I met an old friend in the subway station last week. Susan and I originally met in high school but have kept in touch in a variety of ways over the years. I was not only thrilled to see her but also glad she knew me under other circumstances. It was an incredibly hot summer day, I didn’t have on any makeup and I think she caught me cursing the subway car that closed its doors in my face. As a former teammate, she is familiar with my intensity;  she’s seen me sweaty and talking smack in the past. I think she also knows I can clean up pretty well (if I need to). We started talking a mile a minute.  We picked up where we left off  the last time we talked, updated each other on our families, talked about her recent house purchase, my new job and mutual friends in just a few green line stops. Seeing an old (longtime!) friend was, as we said in the 80’s, “awesome”! Sue always has a smile on her face, tells a great story and laughs at my jokes. Who wouldn’t want to keep a friend like that around?

Maybe Maria and Sue will be my lifelong friends too.  They hit the spot.  If not, maybe I can get them  bronzed?



June 22, 2016

When the commuter rail approaches my stop, I’m not one of the people that stands up and waits two miles for the door to open. I’m folding my magazine or finishing a chapter and waiting for my row to disembark. Im never sure if either strategy is saving any of us time or energy. Either way, we all herd into the subway station at once.

Today,I was in the back of the pack when we left the train. As I got to the bottom of the subway stairs, I saw the start of our herd walking off the platform and into the red inbound car. The subway doors closed in front of the rest of us that were still on the approach. We missed being passengers by seconds. We got burned. Branded. It left a mark. I will not let that happen again….mainly because the cars after that hour get cramped. Just Two minutes later I was on the next car – but I was also on my feet. All The seats were taken.

It was the first time I had to stand up on the red line.

For five stops. 

I was tired and It was early. I tried to think about something else. Horses came to mind. I wanted to be like them. Horses can sleep standing up.

I’m not experienced enough to read from my book or iPhone while standing up and holding onto a strap or railing. So, I read the ads on the car walls. The hospitals I was passing had ads about vice self-help courses and an adult ADHD study. The Tech school wanted members for its credit union. The school on the other side of the Charles had me convinced I could be a professional photographer. 

Then there was the ad with a phone number in 140-point font. It merely said – “Overweight and feeling down?”

No! I’m just over the wait and feeling downtown is still too far away.

What’s your game plan for the day? 


Great Expectations

I’m quickly becoming a more seasoned commuter. I already have standards and expectations related to what services my ticket should provide. Between last night and this morning, I identified three city traveler, not necessarily basic needs,  but very reasonable wants. 

Even though I’m taking public transportation, I want and expect a certain modicum of privacy. Especially when I’m on the quiet train car directly behind the engine.  So busy body lady, if you have an issue with the guy who answered his cell phone only to tell his daughter he was almost there for pick up, take it up with him not me. I’m on the quiet train and I want more disruptive you to shut up. 

I want the city to issue entertainment permits on a daily basis for the stations I frequent. I was introduced to the Porter Square players, and others within the underground world, as a daily occurrence. Therefore, I expected to hear someone there again today. I enjoy my concerts down under and find them to be a valuable service for the city to allow. The music makes my heart happy and I am giving up heart and soul to be here.

My third of three want list items is just good business sense.If there are 8 train cars arriving to pick me up, I expect them all to be in working order. Don’t send two darkened train cars down the line and expect me to triple up with my fellow passengers. We were already getting to know one another in an up close and personal manner. I want to be able to sit down in Cambridge to do my thing, whatever that may be, and get up in Boston ready to start my professional day.

I understand that these aren’t all necessarily controllable but I want what I want. I do have standards, ya know. 


I couldn’t make this stuff up!

I see a newspaper man every morning and evening as I enter and depart the subway station. I don’t know if he’s there all day or if the papers in his hand are sold or given away. I’ve never seen anyone take one or exchange money with him. Everyone herds right past to enter the morning turnstiles or continue their way home at night.

This evening,  I knew I’d have an extra few minutes before the commuter train arrived. So, after walking up my steps 

and getting to the Mezanine, I caught my breath as I also caught up with this curious guy.

We had a nice talk as he explained his schedule. For a month now, I’d noticed no change to his expression amongst all the hustle and bustle. Tonight his demeanor and laugh were brighter than the skylights. I now know the cost of a smile, the  paper and his commission. I bought one simply because I considered him the entertainment section.  

With our moment in time, less than a minute, I also learned his name. As I walked toward my ride home, the grin on my face only took a second. I smirked because I’d already given my new Porter Square acquaintance a nickname. 

Tomorrow morning before I head into the subway, I’ll say hello to my newspaper guy, Harold. 

Harold Square.


A Stella(r) Day 

Day 11 – A.M. (2)

In  one of my prior entries,  I explained why the start of my commuter routine was not exactly routine. The rest of my morning travel supported that conclusion. I was so busy expressing myself in writing that I forgot I was on the Express. I wasn’t listening for my stop. When I noticed how many people were lined up next to my seat, to file off the train, I realized we were already at Porter Square.

I jumped up, and with the fire lit under my ass, ran down all 150 steps into the subway. I caught my breathe only to have it taken away by the musician of the day.

(So much happens in the city that I haven’t even written about what I will term “The Porter Square Players”.  Monday was a guitarist playing A Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. I remember because I wondered how far I was below sea level at this deep subway station. Yesterday there was a saxophonist but the subway car was already in the station, so we jumped right on without appreciating all his Jazz.)

Today we had to wait three minutes for the next train. Or, should I say,  I had to get to work instead of staying for the fabulous violin concert. Commuters are in their own world and usually just face the tracks with their back toward the street players. This tiny young Asian woman, in her short shift dress and 4 inch white go-go platform shoes (so appropriate for the setting), was putting on a show. I didn’t care where I was, she had my full attention. I faced her with my back to the subway rails. She was hooked to an amp playing I’m not even sure what. It was a fast up-tempo classical rock that I’ve never heard. Slowly, others turned around too and I started to wonder if I was amongst a flash mob. She performed on the platform like it was her stage. She felt the music. So did we. Change and bills went into her case in the minute that followed. She ended her repertoire with the trains arrival.  Applause, smiles and review chatter went into tunnel. Something you don’t always see and hear but Boston does support their own.


At Providence Street, I was happier than ever to give my granola bar to Scott.

Yesterday I’d asked his name.

Homeless people shouldn’t remain nameless too.

His dirty toothless smile made me smile too.


My morning was looking up after the backpack trouble I had boarding the train.


Day 11 –  P.M.

My breath was taken away on the commute home too. When I arrived in Porter Square, just before the hour, there was no time to lose. I was on the verge of missing the commuter train. Passing the elevator and escalator, I ran the 150 steps to get to ground level and listen for the train. It’s arrival was hard to hear over my heavy breathing but I did make it. I just needed to catch my breath.

What are you running towards today?


Dirty Dozen

Day 12

On the train into work this morning, a woman asked if she could sit before she joined me. Others just plop their ass down. Her manners were a pleasant surprise since conversation is minimal on public transportation. I was going to provide more than a response but noticed she was also trying to get her two young girls settled. The kids ended up in a triple seat directly across from us. When the conductor arrived for their tickets, my new seat mate was excited for the money exchange. That’s not a typical female reaction unless shoes or fine jewelry are involved. She also asked the conductor if her family could take a picture. “It’s our first time on a train!”, she announced excitedly as she snapped her photo. What a joy to experience this family on my scheduled early morning train.
On the subway out of town this Friday evening, the green line was packed. Nobody said anything as we all grabbed for a handle or GYN-inspired strap before the train took off. I was suddenly glad to be somewhat tall and not have an armpit in my face. I also wondered what these rides would be like in a hotter July or August?. I endured my two stops wishing my way to the cleaner, faster uncrowded red line so I could just meet my train. 

It wasn’t long before I remembered the phrase, “be careful what you wish for”. 

Yes, I was in my own air conditioned clean seat but the train hesitated between 
Minutes passed quickly as my commuter rail departure time approached. I got off the subway at 5:14 trying to catch a 5:07. 

Sonofabitch! I missed my scheduled train and have to wait another half hour on a Friday night.

 It’s not a thrill like this morning but it doesn’t REALLY bother me. I decided to just sit down and finish this entry for you fine people. 

Who will you be with this weekend?