my heart belongs to the Boston Marathon

Boston 2013 Finish Line

A year ago today, I was at my first Boston Marathon with my sister. I loved it. I love races: running them, watching them, the whole thing. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed the enitre day. We watched periodically.  We went into some shops on Newbury and on Boylston. I remember wanting to go into different places or spend more time, but deciding against it. We were supposed to have hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s again (because soooo good!). But instead, we made a quick stop and continued on, making our way past the crowds, past the finish line, and on to pick up my niece.  

Yup. We walked past the finish line. Forty-five minutes later, we were walking back to my sister’s apartment when we heard what my niece thought sounded “like thunder.” I’ll never forget even where we were when we heard it. It was a perfectly clear, sunny day. Thunder? Weird. We were already in Cambridge and had no idea what was going on.
Boston Finish
And then the texts started to come in from friends: “Are you okay?” “Aren’t you in Boston?” At first, I didn’t know what was happening until finally someone told me. We turned on the TV and there was the smoke-filled finish line. The rest of the day, I was flooded with messages of love from all over the country.  (Thank you, friends.)

Most of what I remember next is just trying to stay calm, mostly for my niece’s sake. And sirens. It isn’t accurate, but it felt like the whole city was full of sirens. We went on with the evening sort of as if it wasn’t happening. We went to the craft store down the street. We went to dinner in Harvard Square. We exchanged pleasantries with our waiter, who admitted that he was pretty scared. Weren’t we all? What did we even know about details then?

I flew home the next day. Homeland security officers were walking around Boston Logan talking to anyone wearing a marathon related item. I don’t remember too much of that week until the morning of the manhunt. My sister, her family, and her city were in lockdown. I went into work late.

Corgi two week notice celebrationA week after the marathon, I was in a car accident. It wasn’t major, but it messed up my neck and shoulders for a little while. Four days later, I put in my two weeks notice at work. The universe had taken moderate attempts at my life twice in a week. Whatever I was hoping to do, I should probably just do it.

In the aftermath of the marathon, I’ve had some trouble. It isn’t every day that you are so close to that kind of situation. But I wasn’t a victim, not really. We weren’t there when it happened. We had walked away from that finish line with plenty of time beforehand. But I think a lot about the decisions I made that didn’t put us there at the time of the bombing. I can probably remember all of them. I wonder if we walked by one of the bombers and never knew. I think about how grateful I am that my niece wasn’t with us. Who knows what our time frame would have been then? I’ve had some trouble being in close quarters with large groups since: concerts, crowded restaurants or bars. I start to imagine what it would be like if a bomb went off. Sirens freaked me out for a long time. Even now, I see mysterious bags and think “that could be a bomb.” 

I’ve been on my “life sabbatical” since the beginning of last May, less than a month after the bombingRoad trip. I’ve traveled, I’ve almost finished school, I’ve taken on a lot of new challenges. It’s weird to say I’m grateful for the tragedy, but I am in a way. I have made important decisions and experienced amazing things since then. 

This year, I’ll be back at the marathon with my sister. I have a friend running it, who has worked so hard to get there. I’m excited to cheer for her and all the other runners. I can’t say I’m not emotional at the thought of being there. But I’m not scared. I’m so happy that I get to be there again. 

Things happen fast. You never know how close you are to something life changing or threatening. But that isn’t a reason to be scared. It’s a reason to do all the things you love and stop doing the things that aren’t doing you any good.  What did I learn from the Boston Marathon? Life is too short and too precious. Run whatever your race is with all your heart and love every minute, even the hard miles when you think you can’t go any further. 

View from the Mass Ave bridge on race day.

See you again in a few days, Boston.


Thanks for the last 20 years, Steve Jobs.

digital orphans

I learned about the passing of Steve Jobs via Twitter.  I take that back.  My friend said it and then to confirm, I checked Twitter.  There it was.  CNN. NPR. Everybody I follow. Steve Jobs was dead. My heart sank.

I have no connection to Steve Jobs aside from the use of his products.  My first Apple was a Mac Classic.  I wrote the first short stories I really remember writing on that cute little computer. That was 20 years ago.  For the past 20 years of my life, I have only owned Apple computers.  Every once in a while we would upgrade.  I remember going through Mac catalogs with my mom (pre-Apple store=catalogs) and the excitement of New Computer Day.  I remember when we got our first tower. I remember the colorful little apples on them before they turned to more subdued colors. I remember eWorld (how do you like them geek points?).

My first laptop was an iBook.  It was blue, had a handle, and probably one of my favorite keyboards ever. It came with me to my first college, where I got a job at the IT helpdesk as their “Mac girl.”.  A few years later, I replaced it with a PowerBook and gave my broken iBook to a friend in 2003.  It was his first Apple computer.  He took it to get fixed up and he’s been an Apple fan ever since, as far as I can tell.

Powerbook vs MacBook Pro

My Powerbook (on the left) lasted for a good six years before I replaced it.  It had taken a good beating: droppings, drink spillings, missing keys, etc. I type this on my MacBook Pro, easily the best computer I’ve had.  And, again, even at 27, I was beyond excited to get this home and open it up.  I sat in awe at the screen as it first booted. Lots of people get excited about their new gadgets.  I do too.  But I can tell the difference between bringing home a new toy in a box with a big apple on it vs anything else.  There’s something about all the details: the way that it’s packaged and presented, the feel of the product in your hands… My new TV was less exciting than any of my Apple gadgets.

No, my iPhone

Even the cat loves an Apple product.

Fast forward from 2009 (when I purchased the MacBook Pro) to today: I bought my iPhone last summer.  It sounds ridiculous, but it changed my life.  Get your eyeroll over with… I know it’s just a phone.  Everyone has a smartphone and apps and they all do amazing things. This phone made my life better.  I may be wrong, but I don’t think my long distance relationship would work out quite as well if not for FaceTime. Sure, we could have done any number of other video calling, but the convenience of FaceTime made a big difference. I can see one of my favorite faces hundreds of miles away with the tap of one little icon. That sentence alone is just crazy talk.

Kevin Smith on Steve Jobs

I could keep going about my iPad and how it got me to start reading and writing more regularly again, or how my AppleTV helped me get rid of cable and how all my iDevices work so great together doing this and that, streaming from one thing to the other, etc.  I could talk about how my phone and a little app have helped me start running, start communicating, start budgeting and bettering.  I could go on forever (and I have).  It’s easy to get lost in the technology and the devices and the materialism involved.  This whole post is full of that.  But it’s not the heart of it.  The heart of it is the good that all of it brings: the ways that these things can enrich your life.

All of this to say: I am heartbroken that a man who has made my life so much different than it might have been has passed away.

Steve Jobs + afterlife

I have never met or spoken to Steve Jobs.  I barely even thought about the CEO of one of my favorite companies until a few years ago. I only heard the stories about him, read articles, listened to keynotes, etc. But I have spent the last 20 years having my life changed by the products his company made. Whether it was from that first Mac Classic to my iPad, my life is better thanks to what he helped bring into it (and I haven’t even talked about all the other stuff he’s done like Pixar, etc).  Things I never thought would make my life better do so on a daily basis.  You can’t wish for more than that in a lifetime.  Steve Jobs is a lucky man to have had such an impact on so many people.

It Does Not Last.

Rest in peace, Mr. Jobs.  You have more than earned it, I’d say.  Thanks for everything while you were here.