Category Archives: Uncategorized

Boston, You’re My Home

When the explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:50 p.m., I was sitting at my desk at work.

I wasn’t at the finish line in Copley Square, or watching runners along the route of the marathon. My town wasn’t one of those locked down during the manhunt last Friday. None of my friends were running the marathon, and thankfully, no one I know was injured.

Like many others throughout the Boston area, I was not directly affected by this terrible tragedy. I know that I feel a speck of the pain, confusion and fear that all those who were at the marathon are experiencing. That fact alone made me wonder if I had any right at all to try to write something about these horrible events.

But as I watched the nonstop news coverage of the bombings, I was plagued by the same sense of pain and confusion and fear that many in Boston were feeling. I was shocked to see the panicked face of a high school classmate, crying as she frantically searched for family members at the finish line, replayed over and over again on the news. I was pained to see the smiling faces in photos of the three innocent victims. Like so many in Boston and around the world, I wondered what brings someone to kill innocent people. Wondered…why?

And we may never know why three innocent people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed. Or why hundreds more were injured and their lives forever altered. But after one of the most terrifying weeks in Boston’s history, it is clear how the city will move on: together.

I am a transplant to this city. My family moved to Boston from New Jersey when I was six years old, for my dad’s job. I don’t have the accent; I pronounce the letter “r” and have never declared anything “wicked cool.” I still get lost on the city’s confusing and winding streets. I was probably the only person in the New England area to cheer when the New York Giants beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

Last Thursday morning I watched a live stream of the interfaith prayer service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross with my coworkers in our conference room. And when President Obama told the audience, “I join you in saying: ‘Boston, you’re my home,’ ” my eyes welled up with tears that I tried to keep from spilling over.

Because I love cheering on the underdog Red Sox and singing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park. Because I love riding the Green Line on the T (the oldest subway in America), no matter how many times I lose my balance and fall over as the driver goes too quickly through the narrow and twisting tunnels. Because I love that our mayor checked himself out of the hospital just days after surgery, and took to a wheelchair to go help his city without a thought for his own recovery. Because the spirit of this city, which is often seen as arrogant and even ridiculous by others, couldn’t be crushed by these horrific events.

And that spirit was bolstered by the support of the entire nation. Other Major League Baseball teams—even the rival Yankees–played “Sweet Caroline” at their games the night after the bombings in tribute to the city. Phones were ringing and buzzing off the hook, as friends and relatives from near and far checked in on residents of Boston. I felt enveloped in the love and support of friends, who texted and emailed from around the country to make sure that my family and friends were safe. People donated millions of dollars to The One Fund, created to support the victims of the bombings, in a matter of days.

Part of the sadness I feel is because, sometimes, it is only the most horrific of tragedies that remind people of our similarities, that we do in fact stand united. They remind people that our differences make us a stronger, better country. But I am heartened by the fact that when people tried to divide a nation and paralyze a city with fear, the response was compassion and heroism. The response was running towards the injured or donating to their cause. I’ve heard that bad things can bring out the best in some, the worst in others. We saw the worst in the individuals who attacked Boston last Monday. But we also saw that Boston’s best—and America’s best—was goodness.

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April 25, 2013 · 5:18 pm

Pray for Boston

From Dan Shaughnessy’s column in this morning’s Boston Globe:

“You live here, so you got the calls. And the texts. And the e-mails.
Are you safe? Are you OK? Were you there? Is everybody in your family all right?
This was one of those days when you found out how many great friends you have. Worldwide, word spread that Boston — the Boston Marathon — was under attack, and folks from other corners of the country and the world reached out to find out how you and your family were doing.”

Thank you to everyone who checked in on me and my family yesterday. Keep praying for all those who were at the marathon and all the law enforcement officials, first responders, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who are caring for people in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy.

I also recommend you read the rest of that column. Though nothing can make sense of it, Shaughnessy’s words capture the impact of what happened yesterday. And if you start to lose faith in humanity, here are some words to remind you of the inherent good of people, and of the heroes who were in Copley Square yesterday.

Pray for Boston.

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Money Management

Hi friends in the blogosphere. I’ve had a bit of a long absence from posting, but I’m back with what I hope will be an interesting and somewhat humorous post, about my lack of money management skills. I’m thinking many of you out there can relate (or hoping that you can?).

This year I started using Mint.com, a money management website, to keep better track of my spending and saving, etc. The best part is that it is free, because, really, why would I want to spend money to learn how to manage what little money I have?

So the website lets you do all these cool, adult things, like manage your retirement account, keep track of your student loans, and set spending budgets.  The best part is that it is all in one place, under one login.  (Am I the only person that has to try several different username and password combos every time I log in to my student loan account?)  They also send you these really useful reminder emails when you have bills coming up. See Exhibit A:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Geez, I sound like a commercial for Mint.com. Suffice to say I really like the site and how it helps me organize my finances. I’ve only hit one snag so far.

Remember those spending budgets I mentioned? Ideally, you set a spending budget and you stick to it. Those little red bar graphs telling me that I’ve exceeded my budget for clothing for this month should convince me to stop shopping and start saving, right?

No need to see the amounts on here, just the sad red line under Clothing.

No need to see the amounts on here, just the sad red line under Clothing.

Not quite. Every time I go over my shopping budget, I just increase the monthly amount, so that pesky little red graph turns back to green. It is the perfectionist in me. I can’t handle seeing the red on there, like I am some kind of money management failure. So instead I just up my budget.

I’m quite certain that is not what the people who created Mint.com had in mind.

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Think Pink: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

This morning, I walked in the Boston Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, along with over 200 students from the school where I work. Despite some rainy weather, it was a great morning for a great cause. Though my family hasn’t personally been touched by breast cancer, I know so many wonderful people who have been affected by this terrible disease, so I wanted to walk in support of the courageous survivors and fighters battling breast cancer every day.

Think Pink: Making Strides Walk Boston, October 14, 2012

One of the morning’s speakers was a woman named Tara, a 32-year-old mother of two who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She gave a beautiful, moving speech that brought me nearly to tears as she thanked the people at the walk for saving her life simply by their presence at the event. In talking with some other walkers, I discovered that she is blogging about her cancer battle. When I got home, I immediately looked up the blog and spent the entire afternoon reading it. I was completely riveted and read her story from beginning to end, and highly recommend that you do, too. It is a poignant, honest, brave and inspiring account of her battle with cancer. I don’t think I can use enough adjectives in that sentence to describe Tara’s writing. She doesn’t pretend that every day is easy, but throughout the ups and downs that she chronicles in the blog, a resilient, unstoppable spirit emerges. I was so touched by her words that I had to share them. If Tara can face cancer with such a courageous spirit, we all can face anything our Monday morning might bring, and realize that whatever life might throw at us actually isn’t so bad.

Read Tara’s blog at: http://www.tarabeatscancer.com/

The t-shirts our school community wore for the Making Strides Walk said “Think Pink” and that is something that I am going to try to do each day: to think pink, keeping all of these people, and especially Tara, in my thoughts and prayers.

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Revealing My Age

You know how some people tend to worry about “dating themselves?” They worry that by revealing certain facts or events in their life, they’ll make themselves seem much older than the people around them. So they’ll qualify a statement with, “I might be dating myself by saying this, but…

'80s perm

Jennifer Grey, from the movie “Dirty Dancing”
Source: Worst Hair Trends, from TotalBeauty.com

  • …I had a rotary phone in my house.”
  • …I went to Woodstock in the ’60s.”
  • …I had an awful perm in the 80’s.”

I’m sure you catch my drift. Basically any distinguishing fact that might reveal their (often times more advanced) age to the others in the conversation.

Sometimes, I swear I date myself in the other direction. Backwards dating, if you will.

I’m one of the younger people in my office, which isn’t that surprising, since I just graduated from college a little over a year ago, and I also still live at home (which I love, by the way. Can’t beat the home-cooked meals!). But these two factors often lead to me accidentally dating myself and unintentionally calling attention to how much younger I am.

Exhibit A

Co-worker: “That pasta salad you brought for lunch looks delicious, Maura.”

Me: “Thanks! My mom made it for me.”

Exhibit B

Co-worker: “How was your weekend?”

Me: “Pretty good, watched a Law & Order: SVU marathon with my parents.”

Mostly, it’s pretty humorous. And I’d like to think that I don’t “backwards date” myself enough that they don’t take me seriously in the workplace. But I think the best evidence of this situation occurred this summer:

Foot Injury

Ignore the fact that my sister is in a neck brace. Another story for another post. Let’s just say it involved a concussion, and we thought it would be humorous to document our simultaneous injuries. Which makes this the only photo of me on crutches.

I had to have some surgery on my right foot in July, which meant that I wasn’t able to drive for a few weeks. Luckily, my mom is a teacher and off for the summers, so she was able to drive me back and forth (And let me tell you, my hour-long commute four times a day is no picnic…thanks for the rides, Mom!). Since I work at a school, she was once again “driving me to school.” Backwards dating, step 1.

Once we arrived at work, my Mom would walk me in, helping me with my bags. I was on crutches, but also had a very stylish walking boot and surgical shoe, so I was always carrying all of that stuff with me. I’m not the most coordinated person, sans crutches, so it really was for the best that my mom carried my stuff in, while I handled the walking scenario. That was really enough for me to handle, at that point. Backwards dating, step 2.

So every day for about a month my mom drove me to work, and walked me in, carrying my belongings. Which, let the record show, I sincerely appreciated. Until the day she decided to water my office plant.

Office Plant Photo

My cute round table and barely-alive office plant.

My coworkers sent me a “Get Well” plant when I had the surgery, and I happen to have a cute, round, plant-sized table in my office. So I brought the plant in, because it fit perfectly on said cute little round table. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my attention to the plant stopped. My office is also pretty warm in the summer, so unless this plant was something normally at home in the Amazon, it wasn’t going to fare well without me watering it. Which I never really got around to. So one day, my mom takes it upon herself to tidy up my office a bit (she’s the most organized person I know, so I’m thinking she couldn’t resist), and that included watering my plant.

Too bad the plant was in a basket, and all the water and a good amount of dirt spilled right through the spaces in the weave of the basket, onto my beige office carpet.

So there’s my Mom, mopping up the floor of my office with paper towels from the bathroom, as I beg her, “Please, please just leave and let me do this. Please. They already think I am 12 years old. This is NOT GOING TO HELP.”

Backwards dating, complete.

To avoid this situation in the future, I’ve started watering the plant myself. How do you think it’s looking?

Full disclosure: I pruned off all the dead leaves and flowers before I took that picture.

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London 2012 Olympics

Source: The Daily Mail UK

Now that the Olympics are over, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to watch on TV anymore (although the sheer number of times they showed the preview for that new show “Revolution” has almost convinced me to tune in when it premieres).  For the past two weeks, I’ve been glued to the TV watching soccer, gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, diving and basically whatever else NBC decided to broadcast in prime time.  I’ve always loved the Olympics.  I’m not ashamed to admit that NBC’s promo music makes me tear up (however embarrassing that might be), and I’ve had several Olympic dreams of my own through the years:

  • When I was in 3rd grade, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, though that dream died quickly when I was the only one in gymnastics class who had to be spotted for a back handspring.  I never was able to master that trick on my own;
  • When I was in 7th grade, Mia Hamm and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Champion US Soccer Team made me want to play soccer at UNC and then at the Olympics and World Cup;
  • And at various points throughout my skating career, I wanted to go to the Olympics in singles skating, pairs and ice dancing.

The Magnificent Seven celebrates the first Olympic Gold for a US Gymnastics team at a non-boycotted Olympics.
Source: The Mrs of Media

Perhaps my lack of ability to focus and choose one sport contributed to none of those Olympics dreams panning out. 😉  But I am still an obsessive fan of the Olympics, of the athletic feats and the triumphs of the human spirit that the Games bring us every two years.  I love to watch it all: the games and events, the post-game interviews, the back story pieces that detail an athlete’s journey to the Games, even the P&G commercials with athletes thanking their moms (those are tear-jerkers!).

My love for the Olympic Games was born in 1996, when I was a 7-year-old astounded by the tricks and moves of the Magnificent Seven USA Gymnastics team, and most especially Kerri Strug’s courageous vault that helped earn the Olympic Gold for the team.

I’m pretty sure that team is what inspired me to sign up for that gymnastics class where I needed a spotter for those back handsprings.  Cheering on the ’96 gymnasts is one of my most vivid memories from watching the Olympics.  So when Bob Costas interviewed the Fab Five of the 2012 US Olympic Gymnastics team after their gold medal-winning performance, I was shocked to hear him say that some members of

The Fab Five of the 2012 US Olympic Gymnastics Team celebrate their gold medal, the first for a US gymnastics team at an overseas games.
Source: People.com

the Fab Five weren’t even born in ’96, and the ones that were alive were too young to even have memories of that team.

And then I felt old.

Super old.

Or maybe the adorable Fab Five is just young, which is probably the more logical conclusion…especially considering that being in your 20s is old for gymnastics!

But maybe it’s not too late to take up shooting, or one of those other seemingly random sports where age is less of a factor…Rio 2016, anybody?  At the very least, I’ll be parked in front of my TV, cheering on the USA and all the athletes in Rio, and in Sochi, Russia in 2014 (Go US Figure Skating!).  Just call me an Olympics junkie.

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Update to the Blogroll

Boston.com Blog: The Next Great Generation

Source: Boston.com

I added a new blog to my Blogroll (that little box on the right side of your screen that has the blogs I’m reading/like/recommend) that’s definitely worth checking out. It’s Boston.com’s The Next Great Generation blog, which they bill as: “opinion and insight from Boston’s students and 20-somethings.” I’ve read posts on everything from summer beach reads to local politics to pop culture. And don’t think it’s just for Boston residents. The most recent post was advice for “the 20-something bridesmaid.” Since I happen to be a 20-something bridesmaid, I immediately emailed the post to my fellow bridesmaids, living in Washington, DC, California, and Indiana.

And all credit and thanks to Steph for finding this blog in the first place!

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Zumba Fitness!

Something that I have actively been trying to do lately is step outside my comfort zone and try new things.  When I was in college, it seemed that things like that happened much more naturally and often, and they were some of the best experiences in my four years at Notre Dame…

Tomatina Survivors!

…Like on the first weekend of college, when the girls who lived down the hall knocked on my door and convinced my roommate and me to come to the Morrissey Tomatina, one of the signature dorm events at ND.  Morrissey Manor, one of the boys’ dorms on campus, stages a giant tomato fight in a parking lot behind the dorm.  You pay for goggles and the privilege to throw tomatoes at friends and strangers, with all proceeds going to charity, of course.  Chucking tomatoes at each other was the beginning of some great friendships.

…Or the time three of my friends and I ended up as the lone members of the church choir at a little parish up the street from our flats in London.  For full details of this slightly mortifying, slightly endearing experience, I will refer you to the post on my blog from my semester abroad in London.

…Or when some of my friends decided to take an “Irish-American Tap Dancing” class during our last semester of Senior Year.  With my natural grace and coordination (not), of course I was game!

Tappers!

So since I haven’t been throwing tomatoes at anyone, singing in a choir, or tap dancing, I figured it was time to try something new.  Ok, that last part isn’t true.  Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” was our big tap number–ask anyone who saw us do the dance at every single party during second semester senior year…I’m sure they never want to hear that song or see us tap dance again.  Anyway, so the song came on the radio as I was driving yesterday morning, and I may be guilty of doing a little tap dancing/bopping at a red light on the way to the rink.  But I digress.  It was time for something new.

I alluded to trying a Zumba class in a post from this summer, but that was a short-lived foray into this new fad form of exercise.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zumba, check out some of the sweet moves in this video.

My friend Kerrin and I thought that our usual exercise routine at our gym was getting boring, so we decided to try a Zumba class.  Enter my something new, my something out of my comfort zone.  Because, as I mentioned earlier, coordination and grace are not really two talents of mine, at least outside of an ice rink.  Just last week I walked right into the frame of my bedroom door, which left my right hand looking like I had punched somebody, bruised and cut.  For some reason, off the ice I am a complete and total spazz.  So I wasn’t really sure how this would translate in a Zumba class, but I was ready to give it a whirl.

Luckily, my years of skating and semester of tap dancing have actually somewhat come in handy in our Zumba class, although I still can’t say that I look coordinated.  I can at least follow an 8 count, and I haven’t fallen over yet!  Our favorite spot is in the back row, in the center of the room (so no one can see us through the class doors on the right and left sides of the room), preferably with someone standing directly in front of us, so we don’t have to look at ourselves in the mirror.  But once those requirements are in place, Zumba is actually pretty fun.  It’s a great workout (my very sore legs the next day attest to that), and I’ve even been brave enough to venture to a few classes alone, without the support of a friend to laugh with me at our mishaps.  I actually think it’s good for me to be able to laugh at myself, as I turn to the left when the entire class is going to the right.  It reminds me not to take myself too seriously.  I’ll get back to you if I break an ankle and my outlook changes, but for now I think I’ve found my new spot out of my comfort zone.  Maybe I’ll even gain some coordination when all is said and done (although I’m not holding my breath)!

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Acting my age?

So you may have noticed that many of my posts have a label, or category.  Sometimes it’s Writing, other times it’s the Future, or Musical Inspiration.  Whatever it is, the category is on the bottom left of the post, next to the words: “Filed Under.”  I started this post by labeling it “Uncategorized” because it doesn’t really fit into the categories I normally write about.  Basically, something wacky (or maybe just pathetic?) happened to me and I thought it was funny enough to share on this little blog (here’s hoping that’s true!).

As I’ve mentioned in some older posts, I teach skating on Saturday mornings.  Every week, I head to the rink with one of my oldest friends, who I have skated with since we were ten years old.  We practice for an hour, than teach for an hour.  And as it has always been for me, skating is the best stress reliever there is.  No matter what is going on in any other part of my life, I get such joy and happiness out of my time on the ice.  Which explains why my friend and I are still at it, 13 years later.  I might not be preparing for competitions or representing the Fighting Irish synchro team anymore, but I still love getting out on the ice and challenging myself each week.

Which brings me to this Saturday morning.  My friend and I are rinkside, stretching out and lacing up our skates, when a parent of another skater asks us a question:

“Does one of you have your license?”

We looked at each other, slightly confused.  Why the heck does this guy want to see identification?, I wonder.

“Excuse me?” my friend asks.

“How old are you two?  You can drive yourselves to the rink?” the dad responds.

“Um…23” my friend and I say in unison.

“WHAT?  No way, we all thought you both were 16.”  “Oh, me too!” chimes in another mother.

Seriously, people?

Somebody needs a few lessons from Miss Conduct.

Now, I am well aware of the fact that I look younger than my age.  I always have.  I work at a high school where I am often mistaken for a student (I always tell myself that they must think that I’m a senior…).  More people than I can count have told me, “Oh, you’ll appreciate it someday, when you’re 50 and still look 30!”  I’m not entirely sure that’s how this works, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I suppose I’ll have to let you all be the judges…do these two figure skating 23-year-olds look 16 to you?

Personally, I'd say we look at least 19. 😉

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“You need not be anxious…

“You need not be anxious if you do your best.”~St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline Sisters

I like to remind myself of this quote when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed, and I thought it would be a good one to share with all of you, in this busy month of December.  Whether it’s final exam stress, work stress, holiday stress, or just plain life stress, I  hope these words can offer similar inspiration to you.

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December 18, 2011 · 7:47 pm