Friday, February 3, 2012

friday photoblog: what happens when you stumble upon a marathon and an Occupy protest in the same day

Two Friday photoblogs in a row? What is this? 2010?

Derrick's family came up to visit this fall. We drank. We laughed. We made short ribs. Derrick's 2-year-old nephew took a strange and sudden liking to our Wham! "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" record*. It was a good time.

*we did not pay money for said record, I swear. it came with a collection of my mother's records, including but not limited to: over 15 Duran Duran records, Hall & Oates, the Footloose soundtrack, Rick Springfield (!), the "Do They Know It's Christmas" single, Phil Collins, and -- wait for it -- Run DMC. I'm going to wait for you to stop laughing before I continue.

Derrick's sisters are both ridiculously artistic, smart as a whip, and outrageously pretty. Model-pretty. Like, I look into their eyes and I feel compelled to either run out and buy 30 Michael Kors handbags or kill myself because I'll never achieve that level of effortless gorgeousness. These girls can rock a goddamn towel like it's a Zac Posen original. I know. I've seen it. We only have one bathroom. I became intimately acquainted with these girls in towels. I wore eight towels every time I showered. Including one for my face. 

Also? They know how to walk in those pretty sky-high heels without looking like a drunken giraffe. I want to ask them for lessons but I'm afraid it's a gene I wasn't born with.

Hey. If it's genetics, Derrick would have that gene.

If I just got him drunk enough...


Anyway, as if rocking tanned skin and gorgeously toned muscles wasn't enough to render me speechless every time I'm around them, both girls own top-of-the-line drool-worthy cameras. One sister in particular has my dream, end-all, beat-all, bucket-list camera. It's beautiful. I want to lick it. 

She-of-the-Beautiful-Camera decides there's nothing she'd like better than to spend a day wandering through Boston, beautiful camera in hand. 

Oh, hey there, soul mate. 

Did I mention she also makes a killer (low-fat) White Russian and can put them away (almost) as neatly as I do? And she also makes her mimosas the same way I do: just enough OJ to tint it orange? 

I know. Derrick has some amazing women in his family. 

So we headed out to explore this newfound city of mine. And oh, God, the things we stumbled upon while we were out. It was honestly the most randomly serendipitous day I've ever had in my entire life.

We start in Boston Common. Because that's what you do when you take anyone to Boston. It used to be a public execution ground, now it's a park where people take young kids and puppies,  what's not to love? 

The park is also rife with random statues, fat squirrels, and relatively few rapists. Again: what's not to love?

We're taking pictures, doing touristy things, watching people play fetch or picnic or get engaged and such when we hear a woman who sounds suspiciously like Sue Sylvester start talking to a group of yet-unidentified "Ladies."

We're intrigued. We move closer. 

And we stumble upon a full-fledged 10K. Just for women. Well, "just for women" with a few suspicious males. I couldn't tell if they were transgendered folks, spouses that got sucked into running, or breast cancer survivors. 

And Sue Sylvester the Announcer? Hilarious. She seriously sounded like a cross between Sue Sylvester and Oprah. Like, YOU GET A BLUE RIBBON and YOU GET A BLUE RIBBON and YOU DON'T GET A BLUE RIBBON BECAUSE NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU NEVER TO WEAR SPANDEX BLENDS IN PUBLIC.

She kept saying "motivational" things like, "Raise your hand if you're a survivor! Raise your hand if you're a winner! Raise your hand if you're a mother! Raise your hand if you're a daughter!"

"Aren't they all daughters?" Derrick asked.


I mean, they were playing Lady Gaga and everything.

Derrick and I lead the way on an abbreviated version of the Freedom trail, from Faneuil Hall to the North End....

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the trip when I walk into a 100-year-old bakery and ask an elderly Italian women if I could take a picture of her rack.

I meant "display case." Really. I didn't even get a picture of her actual rack. Now I wish I would've. At least then I would've been honest.

We make it to Regina Pizzeria, the most famously delicious pizza in Boston. It's delicious. Ungodly delicious. I-can-easily-eat-a-whole-pie-myself delicious. If-you-don't-come-to-Boston-and-eat-this-pizza-you-will-miss-out-on-a-slice-of-heaven-the-world-has-never-known delicious. They plunk that pizza down in front of you and you dive in like a Chilean miner, my friend. So what if you're stuck down there for days? It's Regina Pizzeria. I could live for eighteen years on Regina Pizzeria.

Thanks, blog, for making me crave pizza. Really. Because those mega Sam Adams cravings you sent last week weren't enough. Really. Thanks.

So we're walking home with a belly full of Regina and we stumble upon a massive gathering of people. All marching in the same direction. Bruins game getting out? Maybe. But I'm not seeing a swarm of black-and-gold -- in fact, I'm seeing police cars and -- are those picket signs? 

Why yes, Nicki. Yes they are.

"What is this?" Derrick's sister keeps asking. 

"It's Occupy Boston," I keep answering. Finally, she says, "Yeah, I got that, but what is it?"

Keep in mind that this is back when the Occupy movement was at its greenest -- no park sweeps, no make-do amplification systems, no impromptu libraries, no major media coverage outside of a few meager Occupy Wall Street articles. Imagine trying to explain a movement who doesn't know how to define itself yet to someone else. These pictures reflect that. This is no unified "WE ARE THE 99%" movement -- this is a bunch of angry people coming together to voice their concerns. Concerns on housing, concerns on war, concerns on unemployment, local concerns, national concerns, a big beautiful melting pot of anger that was impossible to explain.

So I don't. I just repeat, "It's Occupy Boston." And I stare. 

I feel a little stirring somewhere -- something like remember when you used to be abreast of every movement, every protest, every riot? Remember when you didn't just know what was going in the lower 48-- you knew every political climate from Nigeria to Taiwan to Burkina Faso to Germany

Ahh, stop your eye-rolling, readers. I'm not a political soul. I will never try to convince you that your political/religious/ideological beliefs are unsound. You won't change my mind, I won't change yours. But I did used to believe staying informed was one of the greatest weapons a citizen could wield. And this girl who almost majored in International Studies: Conflict Resolution, this Model UN Secretary General, this wide-eyed girl with a belief that she could change the world lost touch with that.

Please don't misunderstand me: this is not a sweeping, glowing appreciation of the Occupy Movement. This is not a plea for y'all to go out and read BBC news 'til your head explodes. This is just a personal understanding, a self-awakening. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

I used to listen to the BBC World Service every morning. I used to care. And I started caring again. Subscribed again to Time (say what you want, I can get through them every week). Started reading online news again. Started reacquainting myself with the world at large. 

Because standing and watching that massive flood of people pass you by, you remember why it's important to care -- because humanity is something too vast and varied to be written off with a smile or a shrug. Because next to the outraged protesters and the tragic stories and the heartbreak and the sadness and the anger I saw this:

And this -- whatever this means or represents or does or thinks -- this group of people moving and thinking and fighting about something you may or may not believe in --  this is worth caring about. 

Especially when they do it with a sense of humor.



  1. Aren't SIL's the best? It's awesome when you love his sisters because it lets you love him that much more!

    And I LOVE those songs. I am NOT kidding. I paid money for them when they came out (except we are the world. gag). I was in High School. Feeling old now.

    I LOVE the run! Wish I was there!

    The Occupy? maybe not. I dunno. I'm not as up on it as I should be.

    Should I be concerned that I get my world news from you & the Bitchy Waiter?

    1. I swear I chose Derrick just as much for his family as I did for him.

      Those women were BEASTS. We got to see the first ones cross the finish line -- awe-inspiring.

      And I say the Bitchy Waiter and myself are EXCELLENT source of news, my friend.

  2. I come from a news family. We love the news and I'm the least news-lovey of the bunch. We make a party out of election season. There are home-made treats to accompany the debates. Doesn't matter who's debating of course. Any one of them could end up our leader so we'd best see how they be. Or something like that. Anyway, while my taste for the news runs to the local (Boyfriend mocks my need to buy 4-5 papers on Sundays so I can stay abreast of our metro area activities), I support your interest in knowing what's going on. The world is full of people and it's full of stories, and all of them come back to people. We ought to know before we complain; we need to know before we can change. As said by the schoolhouse that rocked, "Knowledge is power!"

    1. ELECTION PARTIES?!? That's amazing. And "Any one of them could end up our leader so we'd best see how they be." is EXACTLY why I care about news -- ya gotta know what you're facing, whether you agree with that leader or not.

      I'm trying to get a lot more invested with local. The problem is that I have two locals: the suburbs and the city of Boston itself. Trying to keep track of my town, my region, AND the greater Boston area is kicking my butt. But I keep on trying. I'll get it someday. Maybe in ten years.

      And as to your ending line? AMEN I FREAKING LOVE YOU.


  3. Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston, Occupy Austin...lots of occupation and I don't think anything has changed yet...

    Oh, don't look at me like that. I've been to protests and stood in picket lines. My own father refused to speak to me for a week when I went to a huge demonstration against the war when I was sixteen. (I hate war, not the soldiers. Let's not get confused. Support the individuals, despise the powers that sent them out there to kill or be killed.)

    I just think that something was fundamentally wrong with the entire Occupy Movement. Maybe it needed some better coordination or something.

    Anyway, photoblog is pretty. I especially love the abandoned jobs sign. It says so many things. Some of them funny, some of them serious. It's all about the angle of the beholder, I suppose, not necessarily the photographer.

    Anyway, I'm a little shocked to see you doing yet another Friday Photoblog...on a Friday. Something has shifted in the world. Perhaps...the Shift is coming. (If you do not get the reference of the Shift, I am sad.)

    1. who's looking at you like that? Silly Chanel, you can say whatever you want to say. I agree about the fundamental difficulties about Occupy -- again, this wasn't a glowing appreciation of the Occupy movement in ANY sorts. It was just an acknowledgement that I need to get my current events knowledge in gear.

      The abandoned jobs sign was my favorite!! I'm so glad someone picked up on it =) I agree completely -- some photos are blank canvasses, not statement pieces. Project your own interpretation upon it.

  4. Love your pics, you have an eye for the detail that a lot of people would miss.
    And I too had a recent "WTF happened to my enquiring mind" epiphany. Had visitors over the the UK and they bought a local paper every day, interested in what was going on in my area. Made hubby and I realise we'd stopped buying papers, a realisation we quickly addressed. To be informed, to truly belong to your community and your country and your world.
    Sooo, whats up in Boston today??!

    1. AMEN! Ya gotta know what's going on locally, nationally, AND internationally. How else can you be an informed, active member of your society -- both on a neighborhood and global scale?

  5. I wish I had sisters. I wish the sister in law I do have wasnt a nut job.
    I wish the others were closer.
    I still have hope that youngest brother will get his act together and marry his girlfriend.
    She is not a nut job and owns a fine food shop. She always brings the best cheese to go with the wine
    Your photos are awesome as always. I am just glad I didnt see the pizza. I still have to cook dinner

    1. I thought about posting the pizza, but I figured it'd be TOO mean.

      A fine food shop? MY KIND OF GIRL! Tell your brother to marry that girl, STAT!

  6. I loved this tour. Your excellent eye for the right photo, your excellent word smithing, and your general knack for the right topic told in just the right way all make for the best stories. "This is life." I say to myself, every time I read your blog.

    I envy. In a good way.

    1. your comments mean the most. thank you. sincerely.

  7. Did you just put Derrick wearing sky-high heels in our heads???

    I love the pictures!!!!

  8. Dammit to hell; I haven't even met these girls you speak of and my inferiority complex has flared up.

    Great photos. I do so desperately wish to visit Boston. Preferably with you as a tour guide, because it seems like you show tourists the good ish. And we could accidentally sexually harass bakers by implying we wish to photograph their bosoms, because that's the kind of shit I accidentally say on a daily basis.

    Hey, I'm all about staying informed. Journalism student over here. In fact, this one class I had required us to take current events quizzes like it was some kind of 6th grade social sciences class, but I have made it a habit to be in the know and I feel like a better citizen for it. I love to read all sides of movements and arguments, and your pictures do a great job of just presenting what's going on. They're real and unbiased. Fantastic stuff.


      I remember current events quizzes...we all read...what was that magazine for kids that focused on news? Like Scholastic News or something like that? I remember reading an article about Bill Clinton's...erm..."indescretions" in grade school. Thaaaaaat was awkward.

      thank you for your sincerely kind words about the photos, truly -- but I have to admit I am more than a little biased towards the cake sign.

    2. The cake sign is badass. I questioned whether it was a reference to the "cake is a lie" joke in the game Portal, but that's just where my nerdy mind goes.

      And YES. Time for Kids is what we read. I recall reading the stuff with the kids who sued McDonald's for making them fat. I think it was at that point in my life I gave up on humanity.

      Clinton story is so full of win. ESPECIALLY in grade school.

  9. Soooo I want the Wham record. And the Footloose soundtrack. I wish I could be a news girl. It's not that I don't care, it's just so overwhelming at times that I just can't keep up. In my defense, I watch/listen to the AM news as I get ready for work. That counts right?? Oh and your SIL's sound capable of taking over the world. WIN!

    1. The AM news toooooootally counts -- that's staying informed!! Is it weird that I miss NPR? Now that I don't commute anywhere I don't get my daily NPR fix. God, I am nerdy.

      The Footloose soundtrack is my current permanent soundtrack for anything I do in life. IT IS AMAZING.

  10. Derrick sounds like he grew up around exceptional women, so no wonder than he chose to be with you, my dearest one.

    (Protesting with a sense of humour is always a mad win.))

  11. I would show up if there were cake there, too! :)

    Derrick's sisters sound awesome. The End.


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