i’m not sure what to say.

as of june 2013, i’ll have lived in the greater boston area for 10 years and to quote this article: “Even if we can’t say we are “from” Boston we surely confirm when asked that we are “of” Boston. It remains in our blood.”

that’s the beauty of boston — its small town feel.

patriots day is our day. it’s a day of cheer and celebration. as a state holiday, there’s no school or work and people flood downtown to take in the exceptional endurance of the marathon runners, to revel in the sense of community as spring like temperatures thaw our winter hearts, and to watch the red sox win, as they always seem to do on this day. smiles and beers and applause flow freely.

not blood. that’s not supposed to happen on patriots day.

nor fear or chaos or anger or confusion or explosions.

i used to work downtown two blocks from the finish line. i still know people who do. i know three people who ran the race. i know even more who were watching from the sidewalk sidelines. i sat there on the safe shores of the other side of the river at work and never before so grateful to be in the office on a day when the majority of this state isn’t.

on 9/11, i was ensconced in a classroom and missed everything as it unfolded. the devastation was external and internal and widespread and it felt far away and yet, too close. much too close.

on 4/15, i was in front of my work computer. the hallways were quiet, but the twitter updates roared in my ears and eyes. i couldn’t believe what i was reading, seeing, feeling. it was the first time i “experienced” a horror in real time.

i recognize every patch of the runner-covered street, each panel of blood splattered sidewalk, each blown out storefront window. this is my city and that area is the heart of it. i felt the panic, the horror, the confusion, the noise.

the love.

texts and voicemails (calls weren’t going through) and tweets poured in from all my long-distance family and friends. i sent out my own emails and texts checking in, accounting for, reassuring my local people. we all wondered what was going on and what was going to happen next.

we still are.

and so for now, amidst our search for answers, it’s important to focus on the good. the first responders who sprang to action. the runners who wore their hearts on their sleeves and left their best efforts on the race path, whether they finished or not. the civilians who offered help in any form they could, be it food or shelter or coats or phones or hugs or support.

the sense of community that always blooms on patriots day has grown wild and free enveloping us, encouraging us, strengthening us as we attempt to move forward, move away from the shadow of the bombing, together.


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convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #56

i sometimes converse with strangers. here’s why.

cashier: do you want paper or plastic?

me: plastic’s fine.

cashier (to bagger): she said plastic is fine, indeedy. i’m just going add indeedy to the end of every sentence.

bagger: that’s cool, indeedy.

cashier: to be or not to be. that is the question, indeedy.

cashier (to me): do you have your shaw’s card? it’ll save you a lot of money, indeedy.

me: *eavesdrops* *grins* *hands over card*

bagger (to cashier): wrap that chicken in a separate bag, indeedy.

cashier: i know how to do my job, indeedy.

bagger: i’m just reminding you, dude. i mean, indeedy.

cashier (to me): do you want some coupons along with your receipt?

me: yes, indeedy.

i walked off with the memory of the cashier’s delighted face imprinted on my brain. sometimes, you just have to liven up those mundane errands.

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convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #55

i talk to strangers. here’s why.

no matter if you commute by car, bus, plane, train, or foot, you tend to do so around the same time every morning and you probably see patterns in the faces surrounding you.

i do. this is probably due to the fact i wear sunglasses most days, a happy side effect of which allows me to spy peak at the passersby.

despite the fact i moved almost two years ago, i’m still able to walk to work and i still see this one lady at least once a week. she’s scurrying and i’m rushing and usually not paying too much attention to my surroundings other than what’s lying on the sidewalk in front of me. for some reason, whenever i’d see her in the distance, i’d studiously not look at her because it was awkward seeing the same person day after day and not saying anything.

little did i know that woman was thinking the same thing, and yet, the exact opposite.

she was thinking since we pass each other enough days of the week to recognize one another, we should say hi. in fact, she was trying to initiate a hello, but due to my downcast eyes, her smile was unrequited.

how rude i must have seemed.

at one point, a year ago, i happened to look up just as we were passing and she had a smile on her face. nothing too much because after all we don’t know each other and yet, not too small to risk going unseen. it was just right. like goldilocks (except she’s brunette) and the chair and the oatmeal and the bear and the bed.

my own mouth turned up in reflex, in surprise, in delight, in horror.

has she been smiling at me for years and i’ve never noticed it?!?

every time i see her now, i wait for the precise moment and then beam my smile at her. said beaming is certainly coming from my desire to make up for years of missed opportunities. she brightens my day without even a word and i hope to return the favor because even the smallest, wordless conversations can mean so much, especially since our smiles have grown into more genuine things as the days/weeks/months have passed.

and guess what? today, we both uttered a soft “hi.”

what next? world domination?

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convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #54

i am talking to strangers?! what? why?

the line stretched five people deep, and though i was in a hurry, it was warm inside the library and i needed to thaw. the mother in front of me placed her two books on the counter next to her son’s two books. the librarian scanned the boy’s books first and he eagerly grabbed them as soon as they were ready. his eyes were saucer sized and his grin even larger as he flipped through the pages. the mother traded her thanks for her two books from the librarian and nudged her son.

the turning of the page was his only movement.

his mother rubbed his head.


his mother patted his head and whispered something in his ear.

he looked up, startled, and breathed, “thank you.” even from my angle, i could see him blinking the wonder of that book out of his eyes as he focused on his manners.

as they walked away and i stepped up, the librarian and i were wearing identical smiles.

librarian: he was so engrossed in that book.

me: i know. i am so charmed right now.

librarian: that’s enough thanks for me, really.

me: exactly. exactly.

she handed me my book, told me its return due date, and now thoroughly warmed by the place and its patrons, i was more than prepared for a return to the winter temperatures outside.

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convos with strangers

the other side of publishing

once upon a time, the phone rang.

me: this is abby.

him: this is pain in the [butt].

me: *laughs* what can i do for you?

him: what margins do you want for that book?

me: *brains fires* *thinking thinking thinking, i know i just sent him a book. what was it? oooh, the author is on the tip of my tongue* *think think think, the title, yes, oh, i know this* going out. *balances phone on shoulder* *types into database*

him: oh, well can you call me back?

me: what? call you back? no, i just need one sec. i can’t get the database to work right. *types furiously* just one more sec. one more…

him: you said you were going out.

me: oh, no, *laughs* that’s the book’s title.

him: *pauses* why, yes it is.

me: you thought, what, i don’t speak in complete sentences anymore? going out. no talking. done here.

him: hanging up now.

me: i like it.

him: *coughs* *clears throat* *coughs* keeling over.

me: how about if i give you the margins? will that make you feel better?

him: it would.

and that’s how books get made, or more accurately, a really old book gets scanned in hopes of becoming a print or e-version.

the end.