fall break

speaking of seeing professionals in their natural work habitat, sister E had a chance to see me in my home habitat. she had two days off for her collegiate fall break and parents who were willing to book her a flight, and so, she arrived. she’s been to boston lots of times, but always with a car full of family members.

this time, it was just her and me.

she got to see the (not so glamorous) two room studio i rent, and walk the neighborhood trails i frequent, and buy books from my mecca, and eat the (not so glamorous) meals i cook, and freeze in the apartment with the broken furnace and see what real life landlords are like (slow), and watch the first season of the oh so addictive DOWNTON ABBEY, and face time with sister J and baby and bubba mac, and go to the local college’s football game, and mesh in with the food truck throwdown crowds, and take public transportation, and see, really see how it is to live post-college.

but more importantly, i got to meet the adult version of sister E.

when i left for boston, she was 11 and sometimes my brain gets trapped and forgets she’s not a wee little thing anymore. i’ve heard stories that she gets to class and practice and meals on time, but i’ve never experienced it. i’ve been told she studies and gets good grades and pays for her own gasoline, but i’ve never witnessed it. i’ve been aware that she can pack her own bag and travel, but i’ve never been the final destination.

this time, she was participating in conversations and starting her own and even showing off her new found psych knowledge. she made plans with a friend and hung with him until it was time to meet me after work. she pulled out the credit card at the movies and paid for my ticket (um, thanks mom and dad). we cooked and cleaned and talked and laughed and read and talked some more. like sisters. like friends. like equals.

like the adults we are (or pretend to be).

but, it was good to find out when it came down to it, she still knew how to be silly…

sisters + face time
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at work

because we’re all so busy bringing home the bacon, we don’t often get a chance to see/experience/understand what our acquaintances, coworkers, friends, or family  members do from 9-5 (or however long it takes to get the job done).

ranging from author readings to rock concerts to educational seminars, i’ve had many opportunities recently to see professionals at work, to peek around the curtain, to learn what goes on behind the scenes or more importantly, within their minds.

the biggest cases i’ve seen recently have been (1) a coworker who spoke on a panel i happened to be in charge of where he put his fast thinking and worldly brain on display and (2) an acquaintance who, in person, is a humble, funny, generous, and kind person but at work is a total rock star.


to have the opportunity to see those at the top of their game in their element live and unfiltered but to know of the hard work, tenacity, and discipline it took to get there was a lesson i didn’t see coming. i mean, i was outside of a classroom! there wasn’t just one teacher and there wasn’t just one demonstration to illustrate the point. the two events weren’t even related or in the same week! holy learning curve!

fortunately, my mind made the connection (hard work, patience, practice, research, enthusiasm, and curiosity will lead you to the top whether you’re in the office or on stage or on the field or online) and i had a new wrinkle for my brain.

now if only i could answer the question of “what does your dad do [at work]?”

for the record, i usually say “something with numbers.”

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convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #43

strangers? why i’m talking to them.

laundry day equaled three loads of laundry and lots of time at the laundromat. the fall afternoon was stunning in its quiet nature and promise of cooler temperatures. i had just pulled a scarf out of the dryer and wrapped it around my neck, as the sun didn’t reach the bench i was sitting on.

now all sorts of snuggly, i re-opened my book and was a few pages in when i heard a slight crash / minor commotion at the window. i turned to look inside, but all i could see was the reflection of the house across the street. everything calmed down and so i returned to the book.

a girl walked out with her hands cupped around one another.

her: a dragonfly! i’ve got a dragonfly in my hands!

me: *smiles* *thinks to self, ah ha, that’s what that noise was. she was trapping the dragonfly against the window, catching it so she could set it free.* *has no words for this* *smiles again*

she saved the dragonfly from the laundromat, an odd juxtaposition of wild and domesticity. i sure wished i could fly away from the mounds of laundry that needed to be folded.

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BOOK HUNGRY: code name verity

who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbachand myself. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email/phone. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

(editor’s note: we’ve gotten a bit off track lately and so just discussed this book last week. this book was so unusual and so awesome (per my opinion), i figured i’d still post my review, even though the others aren’t. if you have read this or will read this, let me know what you think!)

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is: 

CODE NAME VERITY by elizabeth wein

what it’s about from amazon: 

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

my opinion: oh wow.

you think you know, but you don’t. not really. not until the very last page.

and this is a book that sticks with you, like a best friend would do. whispering its secrets late into the night. unraveling the truth one layer at a time.

it’s not what you’re expecting.

but it’s exactly right.

you’re given all the necessary information, but in a sneaky way. exactly how a spy should work.

then there’s the girls’ friendship. their bravery. their intelligence. their charisma. it all leaps off the page and wraps itself around you, holding you tight, keeping you warm, despite the depths and horrors happening.

each girl is strong and individual, but together, their friendship creates something powerful.

this is unlike anything i’ve ever read read.

this is something you should read.

p.s. as if that’s not enough to convince you, i first read this book when i borrowed it from the library. i then went out and bought myself a copy because it’s one i’ll be (re)reading for years to come.

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there are many ways in which a person can be spoiled. the typical things one thinks of are:

electronic gadgets

and so i didn’t see it coming, but after this past weekend, i’ve realized spoiled can be used to describe me.

not in the ways detailed above, of course, because the ways in which my parents spoil me include them driving 300+ miles for a visit that lasted less than 48 hours, them picking up the checks at all meals despite my insistence that i could afford (and wanted) to pay for a north end dessert, them walking all over boston as we attempted to change up our usual routine, them explaining math to me, them tasting beer with me despite the fact our taste buds are seemingly unrelated (aka, we like opposite flavors), them patiently waiting (ok, dad was across the street in the bookstore) when i wanted to browse a little bit longer in a store, them taking directions from their directionally challenged daughter and following their own much stronger sense when i lost my way, them bringing me gifts of new dish towels because i needed some fall themed ones, them being flexible with the days’ events, them killing time by visiting my office and pretending to be interested in the technical aspects of my day job, them splitting a chocolate mousse dessert so i could have two cannolis, them sitting in hours of traffic, and them encouraging me always and loving me no matter what i do (or don’t do).

i never expected spoiled to arrive in so many different shaped packages — tiny, intangible, tasty, large, hilarious, family saturated moments, but then again, i do have an awesome set of parents, who are an amazing duo of role models, and two people i’m proud to giggle with and on the other hand take serious advice from.

i also never suspected i’d be so excited about receiving autumn themed dish towels either.

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