Tag Archives: commute

Running on empty

Throwback to being a younger Mom with a million things to do and not enough time for half of them. 

My heart went out to the young woman I  just saw running for the train. She had a bag wrapped around the front of her, a briefcase in one hand, a folded umbrella stroller in the other and oh yeah, a large infant strapped to her back. A woman trying to make it all work and not finding time for herself. I was tired for overloaded her as she actually managed to jump on the train. 

I still have a million things to do but I am making time for myself – and hoping my girls will never be too old for a piggy-back.


Fellow travelers 

Day 7 –

Every day I observe the vastness of Cambridge and Boston. The volume of stairs at Porter Square, the diversity of race, age, profession and status on the subway and outside of the underground, the homeless landscape. Each one of these humbled me today.

My train commute included reading and not quite finishing my breakfast. As I left the subway, I felt the uneaten protein bar in my coat pocket. I pulled it out, turned the corner toward work and acknowledged a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. He had “anything you can do” written on a trash can lid. I gave my wrapped food to him and we told each other to have a good day. 

After work, I headed back to Porter Square and another person stole my heart. I was reading the subway map, knowing I’d unconsciously memorize it over time, and noticed the elderly man across from me. He was was blind. He too had to navigate this system but with his other senses. Well, hopefully not taste. I notice the distinctive smells in the city but sound and touch must be critical to this man’s day.

The thought made me appreciate my own physical abilities and the underground infrastructure. So much so that I decided to take the stairs to the commuter rail.

<<I’m not a fan of the escalators because as they move (I don’t twitch a muscle because it seems I’ll lose my balance the higher they climb) I grow a white-knuckled death grip.  The top of any escalator is like the ledge of a mountain to me. I typically run off and don’t look back.>>

It was a quick decision to take the stairs.  I stepped out of the mob that was herding me from behind toward the escalator. I started my stair climb with pride – which is not necessarily a good characteristic. After the first flight (I think there were 8),  I started to count. My lungs told me it was approximately 120 stairs but I was light-headed by the time I ran from the top landing. I thought I’d made it but still had to climb to the train platform. More stairs. I counted every son-of-a-bitch additional one. There were 30.

It’s not rocket science or Braille but 30 plus 120 is 150. I  didn’t  have any more stamina to join a gym or get worked up over dinner. I did, however, still have the energy and appetite for words.

Who is part of your grand new tomorrow?


A weary traveler I am not. Not yet anyway. Commuting to the city on public transportation is a long day but I reenergize every moment I’m on the trains.  I don’t have to drive a vehicle, maneuver through traffic AND I get time to myself to do the things I love? To me, it’s a win/win/win. 

I use my commute time to read, write and reflect. 

Right now my reflection tells me I also need to exercise. 

The train returns to my home town at 6:15. Just up the hill is the local recreation facility. In my youth I biked there almost every summer day. Tonight I drive there to swim because it’s also halfway between the train and where I now live. 

I arrive as the last three members are leaving for the night. I have a three section, 5 lane lap pool all to myself. Swimming is the exercise I’ve always enjoyed most. Refreshing this way along my two miles home is the best way to end the day. 

How do you exercise – and relax- each day ?

PS – Not by waiting too long to go to the door for your train stop. I was writing this about the night prior when I realized I was at the wrong end of the train! The conductors had to wait for me to run through three cars before I could disembark.

Note to self: Listen to the conductors when you are writing. 

PPS – I made it to the pool again for my 30 minutes of peace and refreshment. The air was a cool 68 degrees but the water was 80!

T – issue 

I arrived at the depot ahead of schedule – which you have to do or you miss the train! Evidently, The MBTA doesn’t wait for me. (Do they know who I am?!) 

I climbed aboard the upper deck, which I seem to already prefer. The train is not crowded at this end of the line or hour. I picked my forward-facing seat, a type of loss control for my inherited motion sickness, and opened my free book (a benefit of working in publishing). I observed the expressions of passengers reading their morning paper before I started “Paper Daughter” on the express to Cambridge.

At Porter Square, I descended into the subway. When I transferred at Park Street, I did it too quickly and was on the wrong side of the tracks. City life does have its ups and downs, so I went back up, and then down, to wait for the next inbound car.

During the last two stops to the office, I noticed a young girl about the age of my own daughters. She caught my eye because she sounded and looked miserable. I would portray her as a young professional if she hadn’t continually rubbed her Rudolph red nose with the back of her hand.

As the subway car slowed for my stop, I pulled a travel size pack of tissues from my shoulder bag and asked if she wanted a kleenex? An astonished “Yes!” was accompanied with clouded, swollen red eyes.

I gave her the whole pack as I walked down the stairs. I didn’t wait for her expression because I didnt look back. My life in Boston is about making a difference, wherever I can, and moving forward – because I have  arrived.

How are you moving forward?

Do You Know Who I Am?!

I left work a little late but before 5:00 – around 4:50. I knew enough not to leave at the top of the hour. Those that do, just sit in an endless line of cars waiting to get off the premises.

I was ahead of the game.

My reliable bomber Camry hummed down the street not wanting to sit in city traffic. I arrived at the railroad bridge fairly quickly so I could cut over to the highway. I liked this shortcut because the next entrance was too far into the city.

In front of the railroad bridge was a sign.

“Local Traffic Only”.

I didn’t exactly ignore it. I just rationalized how it didn’t apply to me:

  • I work locally
  • I know some of the locals
  • I’m familiar with the neighborhood
  • I’m not turning back at this hour of the day!

I proceeded.

I drove passed the sign, around the ballfield and in front of the condos, so I could turn left onto the highway.

As I approached I saw the blue lights. Cops in this neighborhood must have been the reason for the locals sign.

When I readied to turn left toward the Interstate, I saw the DPW roadblock. Suburbanites that cross into this neighborhood must have been the reason for the bigger sign.

“Road Closed”.


I could see where I wanted to be but couldn’t get there. Worse yet, now I needed to go back into the city – after 5:00!

I was behind the eight ball.

I had to wait at the ballfield crossing. I stopped at the railroad bridge. I played stop-and-go down the country state highway with its multiple traffic lights. I got stuck in front of McDonald’s because their drive-thru lane was out into the street.

The highway is ten minutes from work. It took me forty-five to get there.

I’d been the first to start but couldn’t catch a good break.

…until I got some medium fries for the ride home.

Run on

Who the hell does he think he is and why in the world would he want to go 85 miles an hour onto an interstate when there are already two tractor trailers on the only two lanes here and i am by the way behind the 18-wheelers one of which looks like its carrying part of the Alaskan pipeline and holding my breath long enough to then explode in a fury of the alphabet but I cannot make my way to the letter G because suddenly all these F bombs are coming out of my mouth after i realize the jackass just took my life into his hands that probably arent even on the wheel but rather changing the radio stations or some damn thing while he gets a jam on that is now causing a traffic jam of quick confusion and it more than confuses me why people think this kind of driving will actually get them to work earlier where by the way I’ll be needing to tell my own employer that i had a heart attack and mini-stroke on my morning commute but now I don’t want to travel regularly over this distance although that son-of-a-bitch is back within my sight but now I see the blues got him so I am going to drive past him very slowly with a smile which is actually a huge grin on my face because he ended up getting his own dumb ass run off the road.