Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston, Sweet Boston

It is Sunday morning in the Boston area, two days after the capture of Suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon bombing that held an American city captive. In a sense, the entire nation was held captive via television, internet and radio reports, and the (gift? intrusion?) of on-the-spot cable news networks. Things are beginning to get back to normal here, although if I go outside, I can still hear the powerful pulsing of helicopters thirteen miles away, in Boston proper. I have been in the yard a lot, looking for my cat Girgir who disappeared about the same time. It's as if the scare wisked him away somewhere, and he has forgotten how to get back home.

I have a few friends and acquaintances who were running the Marathon, and my very dear friend was working in Boston, where she is a nurse at an eye surgery office. Her sister is an ER nurse at Mass General, where they received the first bombing victims, and she was on shift. This is my friend's second scare; she has hidden under the reception desk when her building was on lockdown previously. She gave my middle son Matt a ride home from his office in Boston, because the train had been shut down. I couldn't reach Matt by phone, as the police had interrupted cell service, in case the bombs had been detonated by cell phone. Thank God for email, and thank God he is always on it. I quickly learned that he was all right, and that his girlfriend was, too - she was at the race, but had been in a restroom during the bomb blasts. Thank God for all these things. It is frightening to know that these beautiful people - the shiny living threads that make up the very fabric of my life, were in danger as I blithely walked my dogs in my neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. Life is very uncertain.

It is really a strange and horrible feeling to be under seige. I don't live in the city itself, so I can't report on being right there, but my friends and my son can. It was horrible. There were armed (and I mean machine gun armed) police on every street, and driving down Rte. 93 it was not unusual to see a string three miles long of SWAT, police, fire, and rescue vehicles trundling down to the city, as if the whole world was ready to be lit up with explosions and death. On television, scenes of streets I know well were broadcast in all their abandoned silence, as thousands of police looked for the suspects. The grief for the victims bubbled up constantly as I ran errands, worked, or performed simple chores - trying to keep busy and yet stay ready, stay informed. I cannot believe that the victims were hurt here, at the Marathon, in Boston.

Marathon Monday is a fun day. If you are really lucky, you have tickets to go see the Red Sox play at 11 am, and then will head over to Boyleston Street to catch some of the Marathon. You can grab a sausage from a street vendor or dip into a pub for a beer, chatting with other patrons about how you will never run the Marathon, ever. How do they do it? Twenty-six (and change) grueling miles? It is Patriots Day too, so the stores and sidewalks are crowded with people laughing and smiling and relaxing together. And then there are the families wearing matching tee shirts, their small kids toting signs and colorful balloons, waiting to cheer their beloved runner on at the finish line, that special loved one who has trained and sweated and dreamed about running - and completing - the Boston Marathon. It is community at it's best. Every city has something like it, I'm sure - and yet not like it. The Boston Marathon is special, and has now become the site of explosions, mayhem, fear and death. It's a sadness and a loss that takes a while to absorb, fully.

I love Boston. I am not from here, and yet I guess that now, after twenty-five years, I am. The other day I was trying to say the name "Mark," and it came out "Maaak," and I was horrified, and my kids laughed about it. Am I getting an accent? Just as my family are the threads that make up who I am, I like to feel that my family is a part of the diverse quilt that is the Boston area, sheltering and warm. And we will do what we can, as a part of it's fabric, to help. My husband recently gave blood, we are signing up for a few fundraisers, and we will make a monetary donation. It feels like so little, but it's all we can think of to do, besides pray. We now have a scar on our Boston hearts, filled with sadness for the victims who lost life or limbs in our city.

We've got to keep on running towards the future. Now the people who are real heroes are being celebrated - police, doctors, nurses, and average Joes who rushed into chaos to help. And I will be at the finish line next year, cheering as the runners come in, glorious and trembling and whole, doing it for those who cannot. Our strength will become their strength, and we will offer it up in the face of danger or risk because you've just got to keep living.

One last thing..I hope our cat Girgir comes back. It's all clear now, buddy. All safe. Come on home to us.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

They Get By With a Little "Like" From Their Friends

Hi everybody,

Today at The Blend I need your help! My oldest son has just joined Boston band Mojo Kick as lead vocalist, and they are trying to get enough "Likes" on Facebook to be invited to music festival Bonnaroo. There they will have the opportunity to play with national acts and showcase just how good they are. They are already ranked 21st out of almost one thousand entries...let's help them get to Number 1!!!

Please click the link below to "like" their Bonnaroo page, and then share with friends! Also, please visit DAILY to "like" them - it's a daily thing.

Thank you so much! Link below photo.

mojo Kick


http://bonnaroo.sonicbids.com/artist/mojo-kick/

Friday, April 5, 2013

Boston to Baltimore

I just returned from a trip home to see my family. In years past, these trips were rushed and busy, toting children and gifts for the holidays, or children and "stuff" for vacations. Now that the kids are older I return home alone, leaving my husband to hold down the fort (thank you!!) as I travel down the highway, relaxing with each mile, drawn backwards in memory and time.

When I hit the Delaware Memorial Bridge, about hour six of the drive from Boston, my senses come alive. I can smell the sea, and I will soon be entering Baltimore. I cruise through the Fort McHenry tunnel, and I view the smokestacks of the city that speak of industry and effort. Then, it's a straight shot home, and I speed all the way, feeling the beat of my own heart.

In my mother's home are the things I love. Furniture that has been there forever (I talked on the phone as a teen sitting on that chair, I looked into this same mirror at nineteen, trying to puzzle out who was looking back.) Although my parents' home went through an extensive remodel back in the 1990's, I can look out the great room window - which used to be the family room window - and see the dogwood tree that was skinny and trying when we planted it. Now it covers the whole front lawn with glorious pink blossoms in the spring, as if to say "we are all well here." In the backyard sits the huge boulder I called my dog from as a girl, and the fir tree I used to climb with my favorite book. I see all my father's gardening efforts, and marvel at all the plants, grasses and flowers that spring alive at his touch. The wrought iron dining set is waiting in the garden, urging you to bring your coffee out and sit awhile.

At night I tuck in under warm blankets and relax, looking around the room. My mother always decorates my room with extra care when I am expected - a copy of "Garden and Gun" sits on the bedside table, or a book from childhood, or simply a candle, a vase, or a delicate figurine that glows in soft light. Something pleasing and relaxing she offers me each time, and I am grateful. I always wander to her bookshelves, and choose an old book usually on theology - I read the old words, and revel in what impressed her as I take note of passages she underlined, so long ago. She made notes, sometimes, and I get a glimpse into her thoughts, and what was going on in her life as she read these very pages.

I laugh with my sister, and tell the jokes we have been telling for so long, that we still find funny. I ask her if I look old, and she asks me the same. The answer is always - and will always be - an emphatic "No!" We talk about the changes in the world, and can now appreciate our upbringing all the more.

This house looks like the others on the street. It has the same lines, shares the same road, the landscaping is similar. But this is the mystery of home - when I walk through the door, I am in a world that belongs to me especially, that I can always return to, for respite and renewal. The peope inside make up the texture and fiber of my heart, and we need each other. It is love, pure and simple. I'm so very, very lucky to have it, that house on our street, sheltering and sound.