Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Boston’s Pride

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On April 15th, 2013, twenty-six thousand people lined up at the starting line for the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. These people were runners who worked their asses off to train for one of the oldest and most celebrated races to occur each year. A race held in one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the world, and my home town. All around them, hundreds of thousands of supporters lined the streets from Hopkinton to Boston. On April 15th, 2013, these runners and their amazing Boston-bred supporters showed the entire world just how incredible the human race is.

You’re probably expecting to see hundreds entries pop up all over the blogosphere about this awful tragedy. Many writers will seek solace in putting words to paper on this day. Everyone is sad. Shocked. Angry. Hurting. But, at least for me, there is an underlining emotion behind all of the negative ones: pride.

If you love movies like I do, you’ve seen a thousand tragedies happen on screen. You’ve seen it all. Bombs blowing up in buildings, cars, on airplanes, you’ve seen depictions of war, destruction, distopia. You’ve seen giant alien monsters crush entire cities and bullets pierce hundreds of brave main characters and evil bad guys. In the movies, where the one or two bravest and best fictional heroes fight evil to its doom every time, the hundreds of innocent nameless people caught in the mix are always running fast and far away from the danger.

What I saw yesterday afternoon when I turned on my television was a scene right out of a horror film. Giant explosions of fire and smoke, people screaming, glass shards blowing. Nothing could prepare me or anyone else watching for that reality, and my brain wanted to remain convinced that it was all fake.

But, very much unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a movie screen, everybody close to the explosion was running into the danger, not away from it. It was one of the most incredibly unexpected things I have ever seen. Runners, spectators, officials…all of the innocent nameless people. They were running toward the fire, the smoke, toward the people who were hurt by the blast. They didn’t know if there were going to be more explosions, and they didn’t care. They pulled down fences, they ripped off their own shirts to use for rags, they came in droves to help wherever they could. They weren’t asked. They didn’t even think about it. On my television screen I saw dozens of nameless innocent people becoming heroes, right before my very eyes.

What a sight. I just couldn’t ignore the incredible goodness amidst the badness.

mrrogers1Many people will recall this event as an awful tragedy, a terrorist act, a bloody date in history. And it is all of those things. But perhaps even more importantly, this event is an opportunity. That’s right. It’s an opportunity for each one of us watching that dreadful horror movie to remember the enormous amount of good that exists in all of us. And the courage. With all that’s going on in the world of politics and international affairs, it can be easy to lose your faith in the altruistic nature of the human race. Yes, one or more – but few – individuals are responsible for creating this evil. But their numbers are infinitesimal, as compared to the many, the droves of the benevolent.

Events such as the tragedy at the Boston Marathon ask us…no, beg us to unite in recognition of the greatness that we are, and the greatness that we can be for one another. On April 15th, 2013, there were no Democrats, no Republicans, no minorities, no gays, no Muslims, no gun-supporters, no pro-lifers, no politicians…just a lot of great people. A lot of heroes.

You make me proud, Boston.

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Notes from 3,000 Miles Away

One of the really bright flowers growing in my yard. What is it? No idea.

Shawn and I are about a month into our new life on the West coast, and a lot of friends have been asking me how I like it here. My answer is always: “It’s Great! I love it!” because, well…I simply don’t have the time (nor do they) to sit down and explain my whole array of feelings about it. The true and short answer is that my feelings about the move are great, but mixed.

Just yesterday Shawn and I were talking about this, and I’m pretty sure we feel roughly the same way at this point. The “oh-my-god-we-are-finally-here” honeymoon is over and the real feelings are starting to move in like so many storm clouds. I have a tendency to hold in my feelings, but I think it affects Shawn in a more outwardly obvious fashion. As he explained it to me, he’s been feeling sort of “blah,” and as a result he’s been unmotivated to do much more than sculpt and watch television. It’s hard to get him to even come out for a walk or go to the movies. He knows that he made the right decision to move out here, and he knows intellectually that his feelings of homesickness and uprooted discomfort will pass, but it still bothers him at the moment. It doesn’t even matter that he grew up here. The friends we have known for a dozen years are 3,000 miles away. Our families, our favorite restaurants, roads and highways we are able to navigate without help from technological devices, they are no longer things we can get to without a pricey plane ticket. And although we thought the decision through for several years, no amount of sureness and careful planning can circumvent that feeling of having been transplanted into such an unfamiliar section of the world.

I love San Diego, and I have no doubts in my mind that I belong here. In a very general and sweeping way, southern California people are more like me than New England people are. They’re…sunnier. More calm and trusting. Open-minded. They like to be outdoors a lot more, and are healthier in many ways. To them, life is less complicated. Of course, I’ve made some great friends with all of these qualities back in New England, but here I see people like this just about everywhere I go.

This is a beautiful place to live in, as well. Yes, of course there’s those several hundred miles of beaches and ten months of summer each year, but it’s a little deeper than that. We have mountains. Everywhere. In the next town. In your back yard. I’ve seen views from places less than ten miles from my home that stop my breath and make me so thankful to be alive that it’s almost like praying. There are bunnies and lizards, coyotes, hawks and deer everywhere, and there are even a couple of bats that like to sleep in our palms. There is a myriad of trees and flowers all around me that I’ve never seen before, like eucalyptus and olive trees, cacti, three types of palm tree, and several decadent, bright florals that I can’t yet name. There is so much sky that I don’t know what to do with it, except feel really, really small. And it’s blue…all the time. I know that these things are all novelties to some people, but I’ll never get tired of seeing the beauty the world has to offer. And this is one incredible place to see it from.

See if you can figure out what’s different.

But upon my inevitable exit from that sweet, rose-colored honeymoon phase, I’ve found myself mixing old home comforts with the new ones. I put the same books on the same book shelves and kept most of the old knick-knacks from my cubicle desk in the Boston office. I work the same hours every day and go to bed around the same time at night because routine comforts me. I listen to radio stations that play the same seemingly incongruent mix of 80’s hair band, 90’s alternative and Mumford and Sons that populates my iPod. I pump Florence + the Machine through my earphones during runs because the sound of it reminds me of winter long runs back home. I spend as much time as I can keeping up with my friends back home, texting them, reading their blogs and watching their lives unfold on Facebook. I make the same recipes and shop for my favorite food brands.

But even still, the unfamiliar has crept into my bones and caused a melancholy sort of homesickness that will take me some time to recover from. I am eternally in love with the sunshine but it is so strong here that it sometimes feels alien, as it leans heavily over my shoulder during an afternoon run. I have become a friend of shadows, darting from one to another and seeking the rare tree cover that was so prevalent in New England.

I miss the tall and shadowed forests of trees, and I miss the smells that the air carried in – the scent of fresh life. Wet grass, rich soil, pine. Here the air smells heavier, spicy. It’s so different, in fact, that it was the first thing I picked up on when we arrived.

In this heat I have learned the usefulness of house-cooling window blinds, which were previously a nuisance to me, always keeping out the precious light of day. I’ve learned to appreciate the cooler air, as well as the hot summery days. That’s something I didn’t exactly expect to happen.

But I have also embraced so many things quite seamlessly. I relish the prevalence of runners, bikers, dog walkers and lots of other folks getting exercise and enjoying the day. I appreciate the wider roads and freeways, the fresher produce, the prolific Starbucks stores and Mexican restaurants. I can’t stay away from the beaches, and the thought of driving only twenty minutes to one puts a huge smile on my face.

The trails here are achingly beautiful; moreover, they feel so much more like real trails to me. I don’t know why, could be all the books and blogs I’ve read with photos of western trails have shaped my own internal definition of what a trail should look like. They’re dustier, more sandy and dry. The hills are astounding. And, surprisingly, I have found myself seeking out hills during runs, rather than shying away from them. It’s as if I’m finally making peace with them.

I miss my friends back east. Some I miss so much that it’s difficult not to cry a little when I think of the vast new distance I’ve put between us. At the same time, I appreciate the few friends I have made since we arrived. Friendships are important to me. I don’t need many, but I enjoy nurturing the good ones.

Working from home has been a blessing I didn’t quite expect. I mean, of course I knew it was going to be awesome to be able to work in my pajamas. But would I thrive working this way? Could I keep motivated and stay happy working outside an office environment? I didn’t know. But what I’ve learned is that working in my home suits my personality much better than working in an office. I like having my own space, and the relative quiet helps me focus better. I like being able to start work early and end early, or work later if something comes up in the morning. I can get to my work files at 8pm on a Sunday if I think of something, and I can go for a run on the beach before it gets dark. It’s like I’m always working, but also never working. This is an ideal situation for me. And for my employer, who gets a happier, more motivated employee out of the deal.

Overall I can see myself slowly becoming a much more centered individual, with more balanced priorities and a healthier outlook on things. Almost everything is better for me here, but I still need to get used to it, give it all time to sink into my soul and start to feel like home again. And that’s okay because I’ve got lots of time.


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16 Things I Won’t Miss About New England

I just wrote a lovely post ruminating on the 14 things I will miss about New England, when we move to California at the end of this month. It was all very positive and complimentary. But it was only half the story. Seems only fair to also mention the things I won’t be missing, while I’m out there eating cheap avocados and lounging in my hammock suspended between two palm trees.

1. Interstate 93

North of the city, south of the city, at the 95 split, on the New Hampshire border….doesn’t matter where you are, I93 sucks during rush hour.

2. The accent

Yes, in some ways it’s endearing to hear your relatives mispronounce words like “harbor” (haaa-bah) and “chowder” (chow-da). But after awhile it just sounds like you’re surrounded by morons, even if everyone in the room has a PhD.

3. Fucking snow

You were waiting for this one. There it is.

4. Humidity

I will never miss feeling as though I’m running through a vat of tomato soup.

5. Rain dates

Sure, New England gets summer. It gets really hot for two months, to break up the really cold rest of the year. But guess what? It rains all the freaking time. For every three nice summer days, we get two crappy ones. And they’re usually Saturday and Sunday.

6. Boston pride

As I mentioned in my other post, New Englanders are a proud and hearty bunch. But there’s a flip side to every good quality. People in Boston truly believe that their shit doesn’t stink, and it’s always the most obnoxious of them who like to make sure you hear about it. We might even see a few of them in the comments section below. 🙂

7. The Red Sox

Sometimes I like to compare myself to living in Nashville, Tennessee and not liking country-western music. In other words, I hate sports (and I especially hate those stupid pink “B” baseball caps). But I am, per usual, in the minority.

8. The Patriots

What a ridiculous name. As if only New Englanders can be “patriotic.”

9. The Celtics

Irish name. Not exactly patriotic.

10. The Bruins

I actually liked hockey, until the first time I logged onto Facebook during Hockey season.

11. My neighbors

Meet my neighbors: Bob, Bobby, Robbie, Billy-Bob and Cletus.

Fireworks every weeknight from May to October. Screaming fights in the front yard, cars skidding through the 4-way stop sign at midnight. Harley Davidsons with pipes the size of weiner dogs waking me at 5:30 each morning by bumbling up and down the circle for 20 minutes. And the dogs! I once ran around our block, the equivalent of half a mile, and counted 14 separate dogs barking at me from their back yards. I swear our neighborhood wasn’t this bad when we moved in. What happened to all the quiet little old couples that used to live here?! Looks like we’re the only quiet old couple left.

12. Boston drivers

Nobody here knows what a directional light is. They took that whole section out of the Driver’s Education books, and they stopped checking for them during state vehicle inspections. And you can just forget about the word “yield.” Bostonians live by the law of the middle finger.

13. New Hampshire property taxes

Our house sits on 1/10th of an acre of land, is nowhere near a body of water and is over 30 miles from a major city. But we still pay over $5,000 per year in property taxes. And they don’t even pick up our garbage. But hey, good thing there’s no sales tax! That way everyone from northern Massachusetts can save a bunch of money by shopping up north.

14. People who love to ski

I just dislike them. End of story.

15. Martha’s Vineyard and The Cape

If I never again have to hear someone talk about their summer home “on the Cape” (on Cape Cod), it’ll be way too soon.

16. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts coffee tastes like brown water flavored with a jelly doughnut, and it’s almost always burned after 11am. I’m a Starbucks lover, but I’m one of few. I’ll tolerate a cup of Dunkin’ coffee because it’s typically my only choice. In most cases I have to go 3 or more miles out of my way to find a ‘bucks, while passing by 32 Dunkin’ Donuts locations on the way.

California is thankfully the land of Starbucks, so when we found our house in San Diego the first thing I did was check to see how many Starbucks locations there were within a half mile of our address. Six. Yes!

Anything I missed?


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15 Things I Will Miss About New England

This may actually be a bit of a faulty title, because a lot changed in the days between conceiving this post and writing it. Until Monday morning I really had no idea how my employment would be arranged once we moved out to California. Would I be able to remain a full-fledged employee and keep my status as art director? Or would I be relegated to the post of a contract worker and have to essentially set myself up as a business, buy all my own equipment and pay my own taxes? All in all, I wasn’t extremely worried about the outcome either way, and knew it would work out (like everything else inexplicably has).

But, as it turns out, California laws will allow me to remain an employee to the company in the way that I am now, my boss can give me a computer, a happy raise and vacation time, and all is well. And that also means that I’ll be visiting the Boston office a few times a year, and will be able to delay some of the finality of the big move.

It’s natural for someone who is moving far away to focus on all of the exciting things that the new place will offer, and I certainly am doing that every day. In fact, several lyrics from the song “California dreaming” have already snuck into a few of my recent Facebook updates. Not to mention how glad I am to get out from under my upside-down mortgage, the sump-pump in our basement and our unbearably annoying neighborhood.

And then the other day I thought to myself: but what about all of the things I still love about New England? Surely there must be a few upsides, other than the obvious family and friends. And then after not too long, I started to get nostalgic and the list got longer in no time.

If nothing else, it was a nice exercise in remembering the most positive and wonderful features of good ole’ New England, where I have spent the first 33 years of my life.

1. The smell of the woods in the morning

Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved being outside. Sure, I had a definite city-girl streak in my early and mid twenties…but that warm, clean scent of pine, dirt, bark and dew on New England summer mornings always brings me back to my outdoorsy self. It reminds me of camping in tents as a kid, of waking up at 6am on Saturdays to take the boat out with my dad and brother before it got too crowded at the lake. It’s driving to work every morning with the windows down, inhaling the fresh New Hampshire air. And it really makes me smile.

Of course, that’s not to say the smell of West Coast sea air makes me smile any less. 🙂

2. The fresh atlantic seafood

Stop staring at me.

Maine Lobster. Freshly caught that morning, thrown in a pot and served shell-on at the local beach-side restaurant by the afternoon. Seasonally priced and worth every penny. There’s really nothing like having sand in your hair from a day at the beach, a nutcracker in your hand and a whole lobster and a cup of melted butter to all yourself. Only in New England.

3. The cities

I used to be able to see this from my bedroom window.

Boston is one of the most intellectual, fashionable, culturally diverse cities in America. New York City is another. And they’re both really close. In many ways I’m sick of cities, and I’ve never really loved going to New York as often as I do for work. But I have learned a great deal from being close to such trendy and relevant cities (like where to find the best sushi). And although San Diego is one of the most amazing cities, and L.A. is in its own way a mecca of sorts, there’s really nothing like the very singular grit and soul of an East Coast city.

4. The soul

Speaking of grit and soul, New Englanders have a rare and wonderful version of it. People who are from cities on the East Coast have a sturdy valor to them, one that is unflinching, unapologetic and undeniably intelligent (well, there are exceptions to the intelligent part – ask me about that another time). East Coast folks don’t trust you right away, but once they do they’ll never leave your side. They are proud, and not just of their sports teams, but also of their family members, of their well-manicured lawns, of their 60 year old family-owned restaurant.

East Coasters drive to work in blizzards and pay shit-loads of money to heat their homes. They also go to some of the best colleges in the country and become some of the best doctors and scientists in the world. They’re a bunch of hard-working people who make the best of what they’ve got, which is probably the only way to get through that miserably cold and damp month of February.

5. The “Bahston” accent

I don’t have one (and frankly I’m glad), but there’s definitely something to be said for this very singular accent. It is almost a dialect of its own, one that is exclusive to where I grew up. Moreover my entire family has one, so therefore it will always have a wicked place in my haaaaht.

6. Halloween

The chill in the air. Brown leaves crunching underfoot on the sidewalks. Pumpkins carved into evil faces glowing spookily on window sills. Halloween theme parks with nighttime hay rides and creepy haunted houses. I know Halloween exists everywhere, but in New England it has almost the same buildup of Christmas (but without all the snow and Christian influence).

7. The first snow

A New England snowfall in fantasy land.

I fucking hate snow. There is quite possibly only one thing I hate more than snow (namely, the ear-splitting sound of my neighbors speeding up and down the street on motorcycles at 5am). However, every winter we have our first snow of the year. And yes, I’ll admit it is always quite beautiful. It drapes the world in a perfect white blanket of chill. Inexplicably, everything goes quiet. It’s almost as if the snowfall puts a muffle on the sounds of the world, so it can be experienced by all in silent tranquility. It’s just stunning. That is, until the next morning when you’ve gotta go scrape that shit off the hood of your car before driving to work.

I’ll miss the first snow. But – really, I’m okay if I never see snow ever again in my life.

New England snowfall, in real life. Get out your ice picks and hair dryers!

8. White Christmas

Speaking of winter, a list like this isn’t complete without a nod to the much adored White Christmas. In California I’ll likely be wearing shorts on Christmas day, and that’s probably going to be a little weird. But then again, in recent years we haven’t seen much snowfall until January anyway. Although, decorating a pine tree with the windows open might seem totally wrong. And fun.

9. The landscape

I’ve always been completely enthralled by topography. Whenever I enter a new place I love to examine the world beyond the dashboard of the car. How much sky do I see? What kind of trees are around me? Everywhere I go, stuff is different. Even when I drive to New York City a mere 3.5 hours away, I notice different foliage. Not surprisingly, Atlanta, Georgia has so many more flowering trees and plants than we do. Vermont has nothing but hilly mountains of green fur trees. Salt Lake City is disturbingly pancake flat, with enormous amounts of sky and resounding purple mountains in the distance. Wherever I go, I see what’s around me and immediately compare it to what I know.

So, all my life I have essentially lived in the middle of the woods, nestled a few dozen miles inland of the ocean. Except for the years I lived in Boston, everywhere I go, there are trees. Roads and highways are swaths cut from the edges of deep forest. Growing up, just about everyone’s back yard ended with some gnarled bushes, ancient trees and the darkness of the woods beyond.

I don’t know a lot about the land in San Diego, other than what I picked up from the few times I’ve visited and some photos from friends who live there. But what I’ve gathered so far is that there aren’t as many trees as there are bushes and canyons, and that there is a hell of a lot more beach and sky. I’m excited about the change in scenery, but I also know that I’m going to wake up every once in awhile and really miss running through the quiet, shaded woods.

10. The architecture

In New England, the city buildings are old. Many of them have been around for a few hundred years and they’re still made of stone. For these buildings, gargoyles and carvings still exist. Churches are still creepy, gray and very tall. The old architecture around here is just beautiful, and I’ll likely miss it in California, where the buildings are much newer and tend to have that Mexican-inspired adobe style. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mexican-inspired adobe style.

11. Knit hats and Uggs

And stylish winter coats. Big, fluffy sweaters. Scarves knitted from yards of thick, warm wool. I hate the cold for sure, but I do really love burying myself in some uber-warm winter attire. I know that it gets chilly in San Diego in the winter. Like, maybe 45 degrees. But, considering that you don’t even need to wear running tights to run in 45 degrees (well, at least I don’t), chances are my favorite pair of knitted Uggs probably won’t be seeing the light of day ever again.

12. The first perfect day of spring

Spring rocks.

Also known as the biggest smile on my face all year. You know the day: it’s somewhere between May 15th and June 1st. The day just springs up on you when you’re least expecting it. The sky is impossibly blue and you remember what the sun is. You tentatively open the windows and a fresh, warm breeze floods the inside of your house. For the first time in months you don’t need a jacket, and it feels exhilarating, almost naughty, to leave the house for a walk or sit in your car without the extra layers on.

The adjective I always tie to this day is “triumphant.” Because it feels like I have triumphed over something (the dreadful and dark winter), and that I’m a renewed person, ready for anything. Ready for those 11 nice days of summer.

In San Diego, every single day is the first day of spring. Some would say that might take the special-ness out of it a little. And perhaps it will. But, I have decided that I am willing to tough it out and deal with 365 days of sunshine. I know, big sacrifice.

13. The fall

Photo credit: Vered Galor

Speaking of seasons, Autumn is really my favorite, for obvious reasons. The air gets cool and dry, the trees do their colorful changing dance, and the ground turns into an orange symphony underfoot. I love the smell of fall, and I love the traditions that follow. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, impressing others with my one and only baking trick (old-fashioned apple pie). I suppose I’ve been lucky to experience all those New England autumns, because they’re just not the same anywhere else in the world.

14. No sales tax

Well, in New Hampshire anyway. What’s the sales tax in California these days? 23 percent?

15. Living close to history

About two miles from my current home in Derry, New Hampshire, lies the farmhouse of the late and great poet, Robert Frost. For several years my commute to work cut through the site of the historical battlefields at Lexington and Concord. I once went on a school field trip to Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau imagined some of his best writing. I got one of my tattoos in Plymouth, the first town in America. The colorfully historical witchy town of Salem, Massachusetts, where Halloween is at its hallowest, is located less than 25 miles from where I live. And so forth.

Massachusetts is the oldest place here, and filled with so much cultural significance. I am lucky to live in a place of such rich American history. I can’t exactly put into words why, but makes me a little sad to give up that small glory.

What do you love about New England?


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Running as Art

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Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like sports.

Despite having been raised by an athletic father who played softball in the summer and hockey all winter, despite having been a basketball and football cheerleader in high school, and despite the fact that I live right smack in the middle of Red Sox Nation, I have absolutely no interest in sports. It’s a lot like living in Nashville and not liking Country Music. While most of my coworkers are looking for tickets to the Yankees/Red Sox game during our next business trip to New York City, I’m mentally planning a quiet night at Shake Shack with the few who don’t give a hoot about which team wins.

No, I don’t like sports at all. But I am a runner. So what gives?

Last weekend I attended the Boston leg of Chris McDougall’s “Naked Run” tour. It was Marathon weekend, so there were tents, noise, streets blocked off and police everywhere. And the glorious finish line was all set up right next to the Boston Public Library, where about 60 barefoot and minimally-shod runners met up to run a 5-mile loop together. Regular Joes and Nancies all pounding the pavement with the likes of Scott Jurek, Dr. Daniel Leiberman, Lee Saxby, John Durant, and of course the man himself, Christopher McDougall. It was probably the coolest run I’ve ever done to date…yes, even cooler than that warm morning jog on Coronado Island last December. Kathy and I smiled until our faces hurt and she snapped a photo every 3 minutes. We ran behind McDougall most of the way, and at one point I was able to catch up to him for a quick chat. It was relaxed, laid-back and beautiful, exactly the things you want out of a run. With a half mile left we stripped off our shoes and ran “naked” across the Boston Marathon finish line and back to the library steps, still smiling like a couple of fools.

Running...ahem..."with" Chris McDougall.

What strikes me the most about that run, and about all of my running experiences since reading Born to Run, is that running represents nothing but joy to me. Unlike those who grunt out two miserable miles on the treadmill twice a week to fulfill their New Years resolutions, I’d rather be running than doing pretty much anything else. Could it be because I took my shoes off? Revamped my slacker running form? Could be. But I think the real difference is that now I see running less as a  sport and more as a practiced art.

The subject of barefoot running is filled with a ton of historical hypothesis, instructional information and biomechanical science. There are books, blogs, videos, forums, events and lectures all over the place about it. Anything you want to know about why you should run barefoot or with minimal footwear, it’s easy to find. There will be at least a few minimalist runners at every 5k and half marathon you’ll enter this year, and every running store worth its salt is carrying at least a few pairs of minimalist running shoes.

Running naked in Beantown.

I don’t believe that running should be thought of like a sport, or used as a workout that you do to get back into your high school jeans. Those jeans are out of style, anyway. I believe running should be approached as an art form, like dancing, singing, painting or writing. Things that we all do at some level all our lives, as a form of pleasure or social activity. For example anyone can sing, and it’s enjoyable even if you suck at it (think of all the times you’ve belted out “Happy Birthday” to your embarrassed friends and family at TGIFridays). And then there are people like Aretha Franklin, who sing too, just much, much better.

What I’m saying here is that some activities are part of who we are, part of our cultures, our societies. Why have we made running out to be anything different? Running is a default movement of our species. More specifically, it’s a default art form of our species. It’s inherent in all of us to run, just like bopping our heads to a great song on the radio, or drawing a stick figure of ourselves on our notepads during snooze-fest board meetings. We all have the tools to run; our bodies were built with parts meant to make us able to run, stuff that not all creatures have. We run constantly as children, and we do it without the aid of motion-control shoes or GPS watches. Certainly 99.999% of us will never win the Boston Marathon, we just don’t possess the talent. Still thousands show up every year to run it, just the same. It’s because these people know that running is a good thing, and that yes, it’s good for you. These people haven’t forgotten how to enjoy movement. Haven’t allowed themselves to become too distracted by their televisions, their careers or their iPads. They’re not members of the huge majority of Americans who have inexplicably convinced themselves that they can’t run. So let me take a moment here to remind everyone again, in the words of Chris McDougall:

  • You weren’t born broken.
  • Running isn’t a perilous punishment-for-pizza.
  • Everything you need [to run], you had the day you were born.
So yes, I believe that running is a form of art. Or at least that’s what it’s become for me (an artist by trade) since reading Born to Run last year. The book taught me that practicing my running form is cathartic on a level superior to deep breathing or antidepressants. That completing a difficult run is 90% mental. And that 10 miles is about so much more than just burning calories…it’s about the journey within myself. Learning these things has made my life happier, and in some ways it has even made me a better person.

Precisely the moment at which I choked. I thank my good friend Kathy for catching it on camera.

I wanted to thank Mr. McDougall for writing the book that would do such a thing for me, last weekend when I finally caught up to him on the bridge over the Charles River Basin. But instead I choked, and ended up asking him why he wasn’t running barefoot. It turned out okay anyway, and I even got a compliment on my running form. Maybe if I read the book again, I can learn to be zen enough to talk to celebrities without that residual “OMG I’m such a GEEK” side-effect. One can only hope.

I even geeked-out at the signing.



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Hey Boston, is that all you’ve got?

I don’t enjoy Boston-based films like “The Town”, “The Fighter”, “The Departed” and “Gone Baby Gone” as much as I thought I would. And I think it’s because I don’t have a Boston accent.

Whenever I hear a new movie is coming out that is based in Boston or some other area of Massachusetts, I feel a distinct mixture of pride and dread. I love Boston, and I love that I grew up around here. I love the culture, the soul, the colonial-style houses steeped in history and the beautiful stone-sculpted buildings. I love that you cannot navigate through Boston proper unless you already know the streets and side roads, even if you’re armed with a Garmin. It’s a city of beauty, of affluence, and of intense cultural exclusivity. We also have a concentration of some of the best colleges in the country; which is why I’m flummoxed by the portrayal of such ignorant characters in every Boston-based movie I see nowadays.

I swear I don't know anyone who still wears their hair like that. I really don't.

I think most of the problem is that so few actors, even ones who grew up in say, Cambridge, Massachusetts, can even use the Boston accent correctly on film. It is intricate, slight, and when overdone it makes everyone sound like a complete idiot. Some of my family members sport a thick Boston accent, but not the younger, more educated ones. They all sound like me. As does everyone I work with in Woburn (a town just 9 miles north of Boston). We might drop an “r” here and there, or give ourselves away with our use of the word “wicked,” but for the most part you can’t differentiate us from our accent-free newscasters. So why does Will Hunting speak like a bleeding idiot and still manage to be one of the world’s most genius mathematicians?

Dane Cook grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. Arlington is a suburb of Boston, so close that some call it a neighborhood of the capital city itself. But Dane Cook doesn’t have a Boston accent. Why? Because he’s not a moron (but to his level of douche-bag-ness, I cannot speak). Ben Affleck? No accent. He can’t even make one up on screen. So what’s the point of inserting this distractingly unauthentic dialect into what could otherwise be meaningful dialogue? Who is proud of the fact that the speech patterns of the least educated Bostonians are the ones that get put on the silver screen? Certainly not I.

Hey Blake, Pete Wentz wants his eyeliner back.

Dropped “R’s” aside, let’s talk about the way women look in many of these movies. “The Town” stars Blake Lively as the smelly-looking, claw-nailed, cheap hoop-earrings-wearing Oxycodon addict.  In “The Fighter,” Mickey’s five sisters look more like homeless trolls with, let’s call it learning deficiencies, than the family members of two talented prize fighters. Yes I know, the story took place in Lowell (ew) and the actors were probably trying to authentically portray actual living people. I get it. But a majority of the people who live around here don’t forget to wash their hair for weeks on end, didn’t miss every fashion trend that occurred after 1984, and aren’t throwing their talented lives away by shooting heroine and letting their creepily close-knit families ruin their careers. Moreover, there are more intelligent, successful, well-mannered people here than there are mobsters and criminals. But a majority of films about the people who live around here show very little about that.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh a critic, and forgetting that this is all part of Boston’s distinctive charm. But I’ll tell ya that I’ve never pahked my cah in Hahvad yahd because there are “No-Parking” signs posted everywhere, and besides, I know enough to take the T to Harvard Square anyway. I don’t follow The Red Sox like a religion, and even though I make a wicked awesome clam chowdah, I make sure that there’s an “r” at the end of it.