The Wild West and the 1980s


I’ve closed out the ninth annual birthday list with a film about the Wild West and a meal at an ’80s-themed diner.

The other night I watched Stagecoach (#63 in AFI’s Top 100 Movie List). I became cast under the spell of a fella named John Wayne. Where has he been all my life? I figured that I had seen him in something or other before. But he made quite an impression on me in this film. I didn’t think I was into the Western genre of film, until I started watching the ones on the top 100 list. Turns out they are pretty damn good. Drama, adventure, romance. It’s all there in the Wild West.

Today I went to an ’80’s-themed diner called the Breakfast Club. I had driven by it multiple times over the years. I don’t know what took me so long, as I love diners and I love the ’80s. Well, it lived up to my expectations. Anya and I waited in line for a few minutes, but it moved pretty quickly. We grabbed a spot at the counter and took in all the mayhem that is a diner on a Saturday morning. The food was great and I felt like I was in the movie The Breakfast Club when this song came on over the speakers. In other words, it was heaven on earth.













Here’s the recap. Thanks to everyone who accompanied me on excursions. Now I have four months off until the next list begins…


1. Eat at Michael’s Deli                        January 5

2. Watch Nashville                               January 5

3. Apply nail art to my nails              January 13

4. See a concert at Portsmouth

Music Hall                                            January 19

5. Get DNA analyzed                         February 1

6. Use teeth whitening strips          February 3

7. Eat at Busy Bee Diner                  February 8

8. Read Why We Can’t Wait                February 10

9. Visit Chinese bakeries                   February 28

10. Attend a genealogy workshop      March 2

11. Become a member of NEHGS       March 2

12. Read Henderson the Rain King        March 3

13. Watch Birth of a Nation                   March 8

14. Eat char roe                                     March 10

15. Eat at Sandrine’s Bistro                  March 23

16. Watch A Clockwork Orange             March 24

17. Take pearl knotting class               March 26

18. Buy Sonny Rollins CD                     June 15

19. Visit South Berwick, ME                 June 22

20. Visit Prescott House                       June 29

21. Make lotion                                     June 29

22. Watch Best Years of

            Our Lives                                   June 29

23. Volunteer at a monastery            July 5

24. Try foot reflexology                       July 8

25. Read Appointment in Samarra     July 10

26. Buy left-handed knife                  July 11

27. Try Shandy Bass                           July 17

28. Eat dim sum                                  July 20

29. Visit Plymouth Rock                     July 27

30. Make pickled carrots                   July 29

31. Read Invisible Man                       July 30

32. Visit Lovells Island                       July 31

33. Have a Ward 8                             August 2

34. Watch poetry slam at Cantab       August 15

35. Visit FL Olmsted Site                      August 17

36. Visit Constitution Beach               August 22

37. Watch Stagecoach                          August 24

38. Eat at Breakfast Club                    August 31



A Day at the Beach


I took a weekday off last week to accomplish #36 on the birthday list: try out a new beach. I decided to try Winthrop Beach in nearby Winthrop. I somehow ended up at an entirely different beach in East Boston. This chain of events reminded me that travelers must be open to the unexpected—even when traveling in your own backyard.

To get to Winthrop Beach, I had to take the subway and then catch a bus. At the subway stop before the one in which I needed to disembark, the driver mumbled something over the loudspeaker. I paid no mind, until the subway blew through the stop I was supposed to get off at. I thought to myself, are you serious?

Please note that I was completely unfamiliar with this subway line and area of Boston. I had only been to East Boston twice before in the past 14 years that I’ve lived here. So I got off the subway at the next stop, planning to backtrack a few stops. Then I saw a sign for a shuttle bus going back to the stop that we had blown by.

So I took the shuttle bus to the subway stop I had wanted (it is under serious renovation at the moment). I asked the bus driver where I could find a stop for the Winthrop bus, and she waved her hand in a direction and said, “Somewhere over there.”

I went “over there” and walked a ways down a residential street. At last I saw a sign chained to a lamp post. Board Winthrop bus here. PHEW.

I waited for about 10 minutes until the bus appeared. After about 15 minutes, the recorded voice announced the Winthrop Beach stop. I saw no beach. Just a bunch of buildings. So I asked the bus driver tentatively, “Is this where I get off for Winthrop Beach?”

“You want to go to the beach?”

“Yes, Winthrop Beach?”

“You want to go to the beach, beach?”


“You have to walk far to get to the beach here. I’ll take you up and around so you get closer. I’m not supposed to stop there, but I will for you.”

“Are you sure?? Ummm, OK. Thank you.”

So now I had no idea where she was taking me, and I had to worry that she would get fired for stopping where she shouldn’t.

Another 20 minutes went by and I saw an “Entering Boston” sign. Hmm, I thought. We are going in one big circle. A few minutes later, the driver told me that she would be dropping me off in a minute. I gathered my things and thanked her for her help. The bus left and I saw across the street a sign for Constitution Beach. What the!

Well, a beach is a beach, I thought. I hadn’t been to Constitution Beach in East Boston before, so it was all good. The beach was very small, but there weren’t many people there. And I was kind of psyched that the beach was across from the airport, so I could watch planes landing and taking off. Behind the beach, the subway roared by every few minutes.

I was in my element. I love hearing the sounds of the subway and of planes driving around. And I love the beach. An urban beach…what a concept! This combination is not for everyone; I’m sure most people would not want to hear planes and subways while lying on the beach. But it was perfect for me. I’ll go back to watch the planes sometime.













I’m Walking Because I’m Pissed


I’ve done a few walks before. A few years ago, I participated in a walk on World Water Day, to raise awareness about the fact that hundreds of millions of people don’t have access to clean water. And for the past few years, I’ve participated in a walk for animals, raising funds for the animal shelter where I volunteer.

This year, I’m walking for cancer.

Because I’m pissed.

It begins with my maternal grandmother. As I started researching my genealogy in earnest earlier this year, I thought about the loss I’ve felt by not knowing my grandmother. And I’ve often thought about the loss my mom has felt due to her mother dying from cancer when she was 14. Grandma Nancy was diagnosed with rectal cancer in the fall of 1959. They surgically removed the cancer, and that was it. That was all that could be done. She died in the spring of 1960.

Here we are, 53 years later. I have more than a few friends who have lost their parents to cancer. I can think of three friends who have lost BOTH of their parents to cancer. I have a friend who just lost her spouse to cancer. I have friends and acquaintances who are currently being treated for cancer.

I want to say ENOUGH with the cancer. I am sitting here waiting for the day that cancer will strike again, more closely. I am sitting here waiting and thinking, Who’s next?

And this pisses me off. So when my friend and her sister created a team to walk for the Jimmy Fund, I joined the team.

I’ll be walking to raise money for cancer on September 8, and I am really looking forward to it.

There’s a cure out there somewhere. And while we’re waiting for a cure, I hope that there is also a lot of research being done regarding preventative measures. Here’s a website that I will be reading thoroughly:

Knowledge is power!


Courtesy of
Courtesy of



Final Stretch


35 down, 3 to go. I’m in the final stretch of the birthday list. This past week, I accomplished two things.

1. I went to the Cantab Lounge. This excursion ended up being a triple whammy. I was going to the Cantab to see a poetry slam competition. AND, I ended up being a judge at said competition, with my friend Melissa. It was a preliminary bout of the annual National Poetry Slam. We watched groups from New York, Massachusetts, and Texas.

All of the performers were good, but some were absolutely mesmerizing and made my heart skip a beat. The judging went pretty well; Melissa and I were on the same page with the scoring. And I don’t think we got booed very much. The place was packed with a enthusiastic and engaged crowd. I liked the Cantab’s intimacy and whiff of diviness. I shall return.

2. I went to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, run by the National Park Service. FLO is one of the founders of landscape architecture. He was a bit of a Renaissance man in his earlier years, writing books and taking to the sea. He found his life’s work when he was hired to survey the workers creating Central Park in NYC. When a design competition for the park was announced, he and partner Calvert Vaux entered it and won. FLO went on to design thousands of parks and university campuses in the United States and Canada, including Boston’s Emerald Necklace, which happens to be one of my favorite places in the city!

He bought a home in Brookline at the height of his career, and built an office onto it and established his own design firm. His firm was active from 1883 to 1979 (one of his sons took over when he became ill). The National Park Service bought it in 1980. There is not much left in the house, but the design firm space looks untouched. It was fascinating to see the huge drafting tables, printing rooms, filing systems, and random drafting equipment used in the early 20th century. The grounds of the house and office are small, but beautifully designed, of course.

Here’s a picture of the house:











And a pathway in the yard:











Anyone who has an interest in landscape design will want to visit the FLO National Historic Site sometime.


So, three things left…any ideas?


One of My Favorite Holidays


Tomorrow is one of my favorite holidays!! Yes, folks, it’s International Left-Handers Day! It’s a happy day for 15% of the world’s population.

Here’s a cool infographic. I’m boggled by the fact that I am left-handed, seeing as males are twice as likely to be left-handed and two right-handed parents only have a 2% chance of having a lefty kid. Talk about beating the odds.

It’s funny to think about all of the things I’ve adapted to, and all of the things I do differently, which I don’t even consciously think about. Cutting with scissors and knives, using spiral notebooks, turning doorknobs, drinking from designed coffee mugs (the design is on the “right side”), using rulers, having ink on the side of my hand as my hand moves over wet ink while writing…

A very happy holiday to Tracy, Mary, and Amanda (have I forgotten anyone??), and my boys Prince William, Michael Stipe, and Barack Obama.

Want to learn more about left-handedness? This is a great resource for all things lefty.