Monday, April 29, 2013


What is there left to say to you, my dears,
what is there left for me?

What words are left to me? Which ones haven't been stolen, scrapped together and shoved at you?

What haven't you seen? 
By now, what haven't you heard?

Nothing, I'm afraid. I'm afraid you've all been so oversaturated with Boston, so goddamn sick of Boston, and here I am, worrying over a sore spot like a dog with a bone.

But here I am. In Boston. Moving forward, moving in general, putting one foot in front of the other. There is healing in the broken land. There will be more.


I had visitors after the lockdown. The day after. Out-of-towners off to see the city, my city, and they cheerily headed into town, onto the T, past the sights,  and they were so normal. So unbelievably, casually normal.  I couldn't believe it. I couldn't grasp that outside of my city limits there was normalcy to be had. I felt strained, stretched too tight. Everything was in boxes. I had no groceries to feed them because of the lockdown. I had spent the entire previous day glued to the news, watching my friends and co-workers get evacuated, seeing SWAT teams on their roofs, watching the city watch in disbelief. And 24 hours later, the tourists still came to see and marvel. And why shouldn't they? Life moves on, no? 

And it does. And I move on. But that day, that visit, it hurt to fake it. And I wondered about the Boston they were seeing as they moved through the city. I wondered what I would've seen differently, where I would have seen the healing and the hurt and the paranoia where they simply saw streets and buildings and passerbys.
I wonder if I would've seen nothing at all. 


We moved the weekend before the marathon. My first day commuting to the office from the new house was Marathon Monday. By right, the house should've been too new, too foreign to provide any comfort when I finally made it out of the city--my instinctual home should've still been my quirky 1950's rancher in the suburbs, not a cold, boxed-filled house across from, of all things, a goddamn cemetery.

But that house works magic, I swear to you. It is old, a 1920's house with old bones and a new face, and I swear there is magic, or there is something in the trees, or the water out back, or else it's just the serene, unbelievable quiet that comes from living across from a literal final resting place. The sun slants through the trees--real trees, woods, even; the sun catches the water of the pond out back, and there are birds and grass and turkeys and deer and everything, I think, a human being needs to heal.

A turkey was courting a female out front in our yard. The water sparkled. The trees moved. The house was brighter than any four-walled roofed structure had a right to be. And I realized many things, I think: that we had chosen the right house; that I never again wanted to live without trees surrounding me, and that it amazed me I had gone seven years without it; and that we would be okay. Okay tomorrow, okay the weeks after, okay in general. We'd be okay. And, largely, we are okay. Better, I think.

Macabre, perhaps, but it seems fitting that our immediate neighbors are both a cemetery and a garden center. Across the street there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of corpses, and the living come to grieve, solemnly plodding down our street in funeral processions with flashers on and tissues out. We deal with death every day here, indirectly, yes, but we face it--quite literally, in fact--every time we look out the front door.

And then next door there is life, so much life, with bright-colored flowers bursting out of their pots, herbs straining to reach the sun, plants heavy with blossoms and new limbs. There are children playing in the garden and women talking over vegetables and husbands leaving with flowers to bring home to their brides. And amidst this display of both life and death, we have the turkeys picking the crickets from the graves, the fish eating the gnats on the water, the plants stealing sun from the sky to feed the insects to feed the birds to feed the hawks; and we have the dogs and the sky and the water and the lush, green grass; and in the center we have us, the starry-eyed lovers in the middle of it all, moving forward, moving on.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

the house hunt is over but the zombie hunt is just beginning, y'all

I don't even know how I got here, readers. I know March and the end of February were utterly consumed with house-hunting. I know I spent every waking hour scouring Craigslist, realtor sites, and apartment search engines. I know I wrote more emails in 30 days than I had in six months. I also know that I dealt with more absolute idiots in those 30 days than I had in my entire lifetime. And 90% of those idiots were realtors.

Hi, my name is Nicki, and I'm looking for rentals with private yards and private entrances, preferably single families. I have two dogs, both about 70 lbs. each....

Ten minutes later:

Hi Nikki, here is a downtown studio apartment let me know what you think please...


Hi Nick, here is a townhouse, small dogs only, can you see it today?


Hi Niki, dog-friendly rentals are hard to find in the city, is there someone else who can take them?

Yes, city-dwellers, I know the fastest way to go certifiably insane is to deal with a realtor. Especially a Boston realtor, where apartments are snapped up faster than you can say granite countertops. But we were looking for a yard--and preferably a house--so we found ourselves in a lion's den. 
A lion's den of grammatically challenged young males with snappy names and several restraining orders.

And then there were the dogs. My God, I love them, but finding housing for two 70-lb. dogs in a city notorious for being one of the least pet-friendly cities in the country is a little like trying to shove a bloated elephant through a pinhole. Add the fact that one is a German Shepherd and it becomes like trying to shove a registered sex offender elephant through a pinhole in a daycare center. As in: it wasn't happening. 
We found ourselves scheduling meetings, running the dogs like mad beforehand, parading our dogs before landlords as if to say: See? They aren't dangerous, child-eating killers! They play fetch! They can sit! They can shake! For God's sake, they just want their belly scratched!

It was exhausting. And every day I'd send out twenty emails, and every day I'd get twenty nos. Or, more accurately, I'd get five nos, two I'll call the landlord and never get back to yous, twelve no-but-here-are-twenty-other-apartments-that-don't-meet-your-search-criteria-at-all, and one sure that got my hopes wildly up before turning into yet another no the next day.

One day, after having our house-hunting hopes and dreams crushed yet again, we spotted a perfect little house with a perfect little Home For Rent sign out front. A perfect little house about five minutes away from where we currently live. A perfect little house that, thank God, was not posted on Craigslist or in the grubby clutches of a realtor.

So we did what any reasonable house-hunter in the modern age does: we stalked the crap out of that house on Google Maps. And saw that had a backyard for days. And that the backyard was all woods. And that there were no houses nearby. And that it was about five minutes from our current house. And it was across from a cemetery, so hey, quiet neighbors. (Cymbal crash.)

And so Derrick called. And who should answer...but the cemetery.

And lo and behold, the cemetery had no problem with dogs. Even large dogs. Even German Shepherd dogs.

And so we found ourselves renting a darling little house from...a cemetery.

And so we find ourselves moving in to a darling little house across from...a cemetery.

Which sounds pretty sweet in itself-- the cemetery landscapers cut our yard and remove our snow, non-nosy neighbors, quiet nights, no chance of having the cops called if we have a party--until Derrick pointed out that we will be royally screwed when the zombie apocalypse starts.

So we're moving in. We're covering the hardwoods to protect them from our dogs' wrath. And we're stocking up on ammunition.

Because the way I see it, when the zombie apocalypse happens, we can all hole up and get trapped in our homes, Night of the Living Dead-style, or we can all arm ourselves with instruments of destruction and head to the Winchester, Shaun of the Dead-style. The choice is yours. But I know my choice is going to be the one with beer in it.

(Pictures coming soon.)