Friday, April 19, 2013

Sitting here in Limbo....

I fell asleep watching "Project Runway" (really, they cut Daniel?) and flipped to the news as I fell asleep on the couch... again.  Around 1:00-1:15 am or so I woke up to the sound of a siren buzzing past on the Mass Pike and the voices on the TV began to register: there was a major police action happening a few miles from my house.

My first reaction: fear.  I quietly crept upstairs to see if my 21 year old son was sleeping.  He was.  Had he been awake, I would have told him to get dressed and we would have driven to a family member's home on the South Shore.  So I crept back downstairs and called my husband and told him I was scared.

My husband is a good man and he stayed on the phone with me for an hour.  Yes he had to walk into an office bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Yes there was nothing he could do outside of talk to me.  Yes he was just as powerless as I was, but he was there and suddenly cowering under the blankets with a death grip on the cat didn't seem like a necessary thing to do anymore.

He pointed out that if the police were telling people not to stop for anyone and these guys had carjacked someone, then exposing ourselves to get to the relative safety 20 miles south was not necessarily a good idea.  He was right.

What he didn't say was me driving at night on little to no sleep is a bad combination and there are people who have witnessed why this is a bad idea and have (fortunately) lived to tell the tale.

As tired as I thought I was, the poor news anchor on one of the Boston station kept making gaffes that couldn't help but make me laugh and wish someone would bring her a cup of coffee or let her take a nap.  By the time I fell asleep around 4:30 this morning, I had slipped back into an ice cream sandwich eating angry woman... or so I thought.

Being ticked off about being stuck inside on a beautiful spring day with no half and half, no bacon and no cookies (but plenty of Guinness from the other night - so there's a bright spot) was nothing compared to a stupid tweet from an elected official.

My friends are reporting about armored enforcement folks knocking on their doors to make sure they're OK as they do door-to-door sweeps.  Friends in the neighborhoods being evacuated are checking in via social media so we all know they're OK.  Once again I'm giving thanks and wondering how this is happening here when I see this:

Is this asshole serious?

Well Rep. Bell, as a Bostonian that was scared but found my balance and center I say this:

Bite Me

If the son of a bitch had shown up on my doorstep, I suspect the police who are TRAINED to use an AR-15 would have been right behind him.  I know how to shoot and I'm a damn good shot but I never once wished last night, even in my darkest hour, that I had a gun.

I'm from Boston, I don't need a stinking gun.  I'm also educated and have something called common sense (you may have heard of that and I don't mean the pamphlet by Thomas Paine) to know that if you shoot a maniac wired with explosives, you're going down as well unless you're a sniper and can pick him off from a safe distance.

I know that the kick of an AR-15 would do more damage to me than it would to him because, again, not trained on that kind of weapon.  You think it's easy for a civilian to use an assault weapon?  May I refer you to a semi-realistic scene from one of my favorite movies, "True Lies."  There is one point where Arnold puts an Uzi in the hands of his still stunned wife and directs her on how to use it.  She steps forward, starts to shoot and realizes she can't control the weapon.  That, sir, is how most people would handle any assault weapon - with fear, trepidation and not the results they were expecting.

In fact, most people carrying any weapon would handle it the same way I would an assault weapon: with fear, loathing and bungling.

Now had you suggested I wished I had a .45 or some such... perhaps.  I haven't shot one in almost 30 years and I know I tend to flinch when I do shoot (thus I aim for the chest and know I'll probably get the target in the face) but then I would also have to process the taking of another human life.  Unlike most folks who tend to judge and act as if the Creator was cast in their image rather than the other way around, the taking of another's life does not interest me.

A more worth fantasy would be taking the Boston bomber, putting him on the starting line at Hopkinton and giving him a 10 second head start with a full pack of marathoners behind him.  Mowing him down with an AR-15 is cowardly and lazy.

So yes, I will continue to jump every time I hear a Statie's siren on the Mass Pike for a bit.  I will sulk that I am inside on a beautiful day instead of going for a run or riding my bike on a day because a coward who thinks violence is the answer.  Instead I will make cookies, play with the cats and laugh with my son at the sheer ridiculousness of life, the universe and everything.

Understand that I am #Bostonstrong.  I am not a coward and I don't need a gun.  I have a that is set up in such a way I should never need one.  Should I chose to move to Syria, Israel, Bosnia, Kabul, Johannesburg or any number of cities in this world, we'll talk.  Being trained in use of and owning an AR-15 would make sense then, but not here.

Not in Boston.

And certainly not when I have well trained military and law enforcement officials in place to take care of this stuff for me.

Because #Bostonstrong is more than a hashtag, it is what Bostonians are made of: piss and vinegar with a big enough heart to tip the scales to make us some of the best people on earth and don't you ever forget that simple fact.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston you're my home

I don't do big tragedies well, never have and probably never will.  My heart breaks and all that passion comes out it unexpected ways.  So yesterday's cowardly and senseless act at the Boston Marathon finish line is no exception only this time my anger and pain was very different.

Boston is MY race.  Not because I've ever run it but my brother has run it 31 times.  For the last 5 years I have worked the Mile 18 hydration station making sure runners' needs are attended to and have walked more than my share of hurting runners to the med tents a quarter mile away.  I aggressively rake the discarded cups from the road before it turns to a messy paper maichĂȘ carpet, often thanked by the later runners who make a point of saying, "This is the cleanest bit of road I've run on all day...."

So it is fitting that I took this photo, my last of the day as I worked, of "the juggler."  Every year this guy does the whole route while juggling and is often the signal to us the road is about to reopen and we need to finish.  He was late this year and with a bunch of noobs in charge of the water station who were trying to do things by the book instead of listen to the experienced folks, I was concerned he wouldn't make it.  A couple of us were there to greet and applaud him.

A moment later 3 police cruisers raced past with sirens blaring and the news began to reach us.

In my mind I was calculating where my brother might be.  He had gone through about 45 minutes to an hour earlier and I was wondering about his pace.  I was thinking about his usual pacing and trying to factor in he had run the Paris marathon a week earlier and was in better shape but might be more tired.  I was praying he was no further than Kenmore Square when they stopped the race.

Having ridden my bike to the hydration station, about every quarter/half mile or so I had to stop because someone else was calling me and I won't ride and talk on the phone at the same time.

"Do you know where <insert name of family or friend here> is?"

"Are you and Pi safe?"

"Where are you on the course?"

I was also waiting for news on friends who were on the course running, watching and working.  I was thinking about my friends who work for Marathon Sports, where the first bomb went off.

It was the longest bike ride home I have ever had.  And much of it was in tears.

As I sat in a pub with fellow Mile 18 workers with a beer, eating fried food and transfixed on the news, my twitter and Facebook feeds I saw a call for me to check in.  I responded to a tweet from my husband about my brother's status and another friend replied he was not only glad that my brother was OK but that I had checked in.  Social media at it's finest hour - getting the word out quickly and easily to friends and family with a few keystrokes reminded me that I do indeed love technology.

Last night I originally tweeted, "Emotional eating may not be the answer but beer and cookies seem like a good idea right now."

Turns out it was because a lot of my anger began to redirect itself.  Do I still want to literally beat the shit out of the coward(s) that did this?  Yes, but it's back in the box where it belongs and my compassion and healing were unleashed with each sip of Guinness and bite of fresh peanut butter cookies from the local supermarket bakery.  BTW a thank you to the guy at the Packie who let me weep a bit and tried to comfort me as I bought the Guinness.  That helped diffuse things too.

I post this photo for a simple reason.  This pair of runners will be forever remembered for crossing the finish line as the bombs detonated.  It is NOT Rick and Dick Hoyt (who were hurting when they came through Mile 18 much later).  I don't know who these runners are, but if someone does, please let them know there is a photo of them where they can remember the triumph of their accomplishment instead of the horror surrounding their ending.

Also let them know that I apologize for not celebrating them the way I should have when I realized they were not team Hoyt.  I have met the Hoyts several times over the years and I did not mean to diminish this pair's accomplishments.  It's just that moment when you're like "Hey!" when you think you see a friend only to have a stranger stare at you and you feel silly.  I gave a cheer of encouragement, but I could have been more enthusiastic and for that I apologize.

I watched them and the wheel chair racers the same way I do every year, as a reminder that what does not kill us should make us stronger.  There are the blind runners who are tethered to sighted runners that come through, the people on blade runner style prosthetics, wearing "survivor" shirts for beating cancer and those wearing "In Memory of..." shirts for those who didn't.

Each year I remember that, even though I pretty much suck at this whole running thing. I love it so much and keep at it, but I'm fat and slow and have made peace with those facts.  It's cool but I have felt like a piece of me has been dead since that day I last ran when the plantar fasciitis brought tears to my eyes getting out of bed in the morning.  For months I slept in that uncomfortable and stupid brace but I have feared tying on my shoes and taking those first steps.  It's been gone for months now, but I have been afraid of it coming back and started training for a Century ride instead.  Today I will run, fear is no longer an option for me.

At the expo this year, I picked my Boston "pun" shirt.  In the past I have had picked out "Will Run for Chowdah," "Will Run for Lagah," "Boston, it's wicked pissah" and "Heart Breakah."  (The only year I didn't buy one was the "Wicked Fast Runnah," year because I'm not.)  This year it prophetically read, "To Hill and Back."

I run on Heartbreak Hill, which is a misnomer as it's really a series of hills.  I care for runners as those hills start to take a toll on them between the fire station and Newton City Hall.

One thing I have always said about the marathon, how can you not love a race where the logo is a unicorn head floating over a sea of jelly donuts? What a great sense of whimsy and inspiration for making the impossible possible.

Seriously, the mascot is a unicorn named "Spike."  Last year I saw a stuffed Spike at the Adidas booth and HAD to have him.  I got the last one they had on Sunday afternoon and he saw me through my MTELs this past year and has been there when I felt down.  This year, the yellow shirted Spike caught my eye.  She looked like she was wearing a ladies shirt instead of last year's mens shirt, so I decided Spike needed a girl friend.  I'm glad he has a friend to get him through now.  They sit here with me as I listen to Flogging Molly sing about living through the IRA years in Ireland before I go out for my first run in almost 6 months.

Boston will get through this.  Hold us in your prayers and thoughts, but do something practical.  Give blood, the Red Cross always needs it, and then put it on your calendar again and again and again.  Volunteer with a group like Back on My Feet if you're a runner.  Support a worthy charity with your time and money.  Get off your ass and start being more active if you're not already.  Hell, we're Bostonians and if you think getting your leg blown off by a coward will stop some of these runners, you're wrong.  We're the Massholes fighting with our insurance companies for a blade runner attachment so we can run the course next year - and years after - to let the terrorists know they lost because we're not scared, we're pissed.  You think messing with New Yorkers was kicking over a hornets nest, just wait and see what what we're made of here in this port city.  I can guarantee you Boston just got harder to get into than it ever was.

About 250 years ago we fired the shot heard round the world bringing down the world's superpower at the time, which is why we run a course carved for only the strongest on Patriot's Day.  We even ran it through a hurricane a few years back, it will take more than a coward's pipe bomb to stop us.

What has really helped put this all in perspective for me were the words of Patton Oswalt yesterday when he posted about his reaction to what happened in Boston.  He ended with, "So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you and we always will.'"

I'm going for a run now.