Category Archives: Boston

Office Gender Politics

Standard

For the first time in my life (save for productions of The Vagina Monologues), I am working in a group that is overwhelmingly female, although the lead doctor is male. The gender politics are also reversed from what I am used to. For example, there was this exchange in yesterday’s group meeting:
Lead Doctor: So you’re saying {specific drug} affects women differently than men?
Female Doctor 1: Yes.
LD: It must be estrogen related.
*Cadre of women in the room start laughing*
{The following dialogue was all overlapping chatter.}
Female Doctor 2: Oh, it’s *always* estrogen.
Female Doctor 3: Why is it every time I’m a little bit crabby men attribute it to PMS?
FD1: Just because women have periods…
FD2: I know, right? Sometimes I’m crabby just because I’m in a bad mood.
FD1: Men are always so quick to attribute everything to hormones.
FD3: My husband does that too!
etc, etc…
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table…
LD (sheepishly): All I said was estrogen.

Celebrity Sighting

Standard

I just saw Steven Tyler in the elevator — he was getting off as I was getting on. Everyone that got on the elevator with me did the exact same double take as soon as the door shut. “Was that… ?”
Yes, his mouth really is that big.

A Request to Fellow T Riders

Standard

I know morning commutes are crowded and people are often in awkward positions grasping for the nearest railing to hold onto, most of which are above their heads. Thus, while annoying, I don’t fault the young man who decided to thrust his armpit in my face for most of this morning’s commute. But please, please, if you are going to do that, wear deodorant.

The Apple Lady

Standard

Today is Halloween. I know that — I even wore my Lucille Ball costume to work. However, having not lived in a family neighborhood since high school (when my parents took care of such things), the idea that I might want to have some candy on hand completely slipped my mind. And it turns out, I live in a very family friendly neighborhood.
I let the first doorbell go, but felt guilty and frantically started rummaging around the kitchen looking for anything that might be remotely candy like. I saw the gourmet chocolate bars I had impulse bought from Whole Foods, but decided that a) I didn’t want to give $2 chocolate bars to kids and b) I only had three, so they wouldn’t last me that long anyway. And then I saw the bag of apples from last week’s apple picking excursion…
Now I know that kids are warned about apples because they can be poisoned or whatever, but the sounds of all of the costumed monsters and princesses outside were making me feel increasingly worse for having nothing for them. So, at the risk of having them all thrown away, I became the apple lady.
Reaction was mixed, tending toward the negative “Apples?! Yuck!” with a few “I love apples!” thrown in, and one precocious little boy who asked if I was a wicked witch who had poisoned them. My “No, I’m ‘I Love Lucy’,” was enough for him to trust me and take the apple. There were also a couple of parents who thanked me for my “healthy” choice. Yeah, sure… that’s right… I was being health conscious for these poor kids.
Fearing a revolt from the apple hating kids, I called Deb and was relieved to hear that she was already on her way home with candy. When she arrived, I stood on the porch with the bags of Snickers and Three Musketeers… and the apples, just because they were already there. No longer did I have to fear the disappointed faces of Spiderman, witches, and one adorable Raphael (the Ninja Turtle, not the Renaissance painter).
And yet, much to my surprise, word had gotten out that I had apples and some of the kids were actually coming by asking for them. Go figure.

Baby Sox

Standard

According to this article, we’re only just now beginning to see some of the results of the Red Sox World Series victory last fall. Nine months after the win, couples who opted to celebrate in a less destructive way than rioting are beginning to see the fruits of their celebration. A number of them are considering naming their newborn Sox fans Tim, Pedrina, or Papi, a theme that bears striking resemblance to a number of vows I made during the 2003 playoffs. (For those not around at the time, should I have three sons, I am bound to naming them Derek (Lowe), David (Ortiz), and Todd (Walker)… or maybe I am supposed to marry Todd Walker and have two sons. It’s hard to remember.)
The question really becomes, years from now when the babies are old enough to comprehend these things, will they be told the reason for their conception, or will they just have to figure it out on their own? Although being named Trot or Manny might be a giveaway. (As a fun exercise, take your birthday, go back nine months and see if it’s on or near any sort of meaningful date for your parents — I land right around my mother’s birthday.)

Strange Coincidence

Standard

Amy was visiting this weekend, which resulted in a tiny reunion with the only friends from high school I still talk to or make a point to see when I go home — Amy, Lisa, and Nnennia. Strangely enough, even though she lives in Central Square, it was the first time I had seen Nnennia in the Boston area since our MIT graduation — or so I thought. Nnennia and I had been best friends since some ridiculously young age, but once we got to college, we drifted apart, even though we lived in the same dorm. Now we usually only see each other when we both go home to Minnesota.
At some point this weekend, the four of us were riding the shuttle bus from Park Street to Kendall, since the Charles/MGH T station was out of service. This reminded Nnennia of an evening last winter when the Red Line was shut down and she had to take a shuttle bus back to her stop at Central. “People started singing christmas carols. It was really weird,” she said.
Sounding oddly familiar, I chimed in. “‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ followed by ‘Jingle Bells’?”
“Yes…” she responded.
“Was it really really crowded and packed like sardines? And did the singing start from people at the front of the bus and spread backwards?” I asked.
“Yes… yes… how did you know?”
“Because I think I was on that same bus. And I joined in when the people started singing.”
Sometimes it really is a small world.

Emerald Necklace

Standard

As a result of not working, and in an attempt to procrastinate my inevitable need to pack and move away, Monday night I flipped through the Boston guidebook given to me in anticipation of my freshman year at MIT five years ago. I’ve never really consulted the guidebook before for anything other than the occassional quest for a new restaurant. But this time I was looking for something to do in the city that I had never done in my five years of living here.
And then I found it — The Emerald Necklace, five miles of parks that includes the Fens, Riverway, Olmstead Park, Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park.
So, early afternoon on Tuesday, I took the Green Line over to Kenmore and set off into the greenery. Somewhere, either in the Fens or the early part of Riverside (the parks blended together), I stopped to watch a high school fastpitch softball game — the team in green, with their hyperactive and aggressive coach, appeared to be dominating the team in blue. But, knowing that I wanted to be back in time for my last Gilmore Girls watching experience with Lisa and that I had much more park to go, I picked up after an inning and headed into the woods.
Riverway was my favorite stretch of the parks. I felt so separated from the city, and yet a D Line Train rode past me every few minutes, cutting through the trees and reminding me that I was still in Boston. It was also on the Riverway that the Canadian geese and their goslings crossed my path. Now, growing up we had lots of Canadian geese in our neighborhood. I learned very quickly to stay away from the ones with goslings, because if you even looked at them funny, Mama Goose would get defensive and start hissing at you. And believe me, hissing geese are not something you want to encounter from a short range. But Bostonian Canadian geese are much more polite — or perhaps more used to people. As I held my breath and walked through the gaggle that was spread out across the pathway, not one of them seemed bothered by my presence. City geese, I guess.
Olmstead Park was also very pleasant. At one point I opted to head off of the paved sidewalk, following a runner onto a dirt path into the woods (which looked like it may have just been a well worn erosion trail — my old camp counselors would have been very disappointed in me). Once the dirt path seemed to disappear and the runner I had followed was long gone, I started wandering the woods and I stumbled onto a pond. The pond, which based on maps I looked at later was probably Wards Pond, had a little boardwalk and I ran into a few dog walkers there. But I circled that pond twice, and I never figured out where the non-erosion trail entrance was. And so, I simply hopped a little brick wall and found myself ten yards from the shore of Jamaica Pond.
Now, I’m going to digress a bit here for a linguistics question. Why are Jamaica Pond and Walden Pond considered ponds in Massachusetts? Maybe it’s because we count everything so that we can brag about having the most, but in Minnesota, those bodies of water would be called lakes. Heck, even Turtle Lake isn’t referred to as a pond, and that’s just a glorified marsh in my backyard. (See Google map vs. satellite image.)
In any event, Jamaica Pond was lovely. From there I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, but I followed Arborway and walked myself around a rotary, the first time all day that I walked alongside cars. Yet magically I didn’t get lost and wound up at the Arnold Arboretum. The lilacs were in full bloom and it was under a lilac bush that I decided to finally stop and take my first rest since the softball game. I had brought a book of crossword puzzles, so I pulled it out and started puzzling away.
And then I remembered.
I’m allergic to lilacs. (Well, basically, I’m allergic to any flower in bloom.) My eyes started watering and my notorious sneezes started coming full force. So, I picked up and moved on, stopping to watch a pair of frolicking bunnies in the non-blooming rose bushes. As it was late in the day, I didn’t continue on to Franklin Park and the zoo. Instead I hopped on an Orange Line train at the Forest Hills stop and headed back into the city.
The whole day was a little surreal. For five years I have lived here and always missed the wildlife that used to live in my backyard. I’ve never really considered Boston Common a real park, as it is far too citified. And yet this whole time, a real park existed… I just had to venture out of my way a little to find it.