Thursday, April 18, 2013


I've not always had the nicest things to say about Boston. Then on Monday, my heart broke. Marlana wrote a great blog post about her feelings about the tragedy that struck our former city, which you can read here! I left the following comment:

I spent five years in Boston. When I left, I was glad to be getting the hell out and returning to my favorite place in the world: Pittsburgh. But, in the end, Boston served me well. It was a test-run at adulthood. It was a crash-course in falling in love and getting my heart broken. It was five years when I lived life to its fullest possible extent. It was where I met Marlana!
Here are my five favorite Boston things/people/places/stuff that I sometimes find myself missing:
1. GREAT SCOTT, Friday nights. I danced my face off, sweated through t-shirts in the summer, and drank so many vodka red bulls. Dancing with all my friends at my last Great Scott as a resident of Boston was a chart-topping life moment.
2. The Pizza Ark aka Beaconsfield Park. This is a park tucked away in Brookline between the C and D line and Coolidge Corner and Cleveland Circle. It had a couple ballfields, a playground, and some tennis courts. It also had a nice sloped hill, which was a great place to recover from hangovers, picnic with friends, or sleep…at night. I only managed this twice (friends foiled a third attempt…in the wintertime), but both times were kind of awesome.
3. Biking along the Charles. Boston is where I bought my bike, and it’s where I started riding a lot. I went up and down the Charles for hours when the weather agreed.
4. Walking EVERYWHERE. I walked so much in Boston. It’s so walkable, it’s almost a crime not to. On nice evenings I would walk the four miles from Copley Square to Brighton. I did the Walk for Hunger a few times. I made my parents walk so much during a visit that they each had to buy new shoes when they got home cause all the walking I made them do wore them out!
5. The friends that came out of nowhere. I went to Boston knowing one person. I left Boston knowing a bunch of incredibly awesome ones. There is a core group of people I will never forget. There are inside jokes I will never stop laughing at. When I moved, I wanted to bring them all with me. I hope one day for a grand reunion over PBRs and free popcorn at the Silhouette.
Boston was super good for me. The city nurtured my interests and helped me develop talents I didn't know were hiding. I sold my soul for a few years working sales for a textbook publisher, but the bonus checks helped fund awesome purchases (guitar, DSLR camera, bike) and adventures (I have been to every Canadian province and am an honorary Newfoundlander). I met awesome people, who I would stay up with for all hours of the night laughing until we cried. We used to have these crazy friend sleepovers when it was too late and everyone was too drunk to go home. Thinking about Boston so much in the past four days has made me uber-nostalgic for those times we had. Boston was like a different life I got to lead, and it will always be special to me.

The Public Garden - many walks taken through here with the best boss I've ever had (hi, Stephen!) cause we shared a love of soft-serve ice cream from the truck.

Apple-picking, an annual activity with Mullen and Erin. Often followed by a trip to the Topsfield Fair.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Most. Delicious. Pancakes. And those toasted blueberry muffins. My friend Jack and I took this for a breakfast blog we wanted to start, but we could never get enough of Breakfast Club (or Zaftigs).

Boston is a town that gets the fall. I will love Pittsburgh forever, but I'll always miss Boston in the fall.

This is from Salem, not Boston. But the Pirate Museum in Salem is NOT to be missed.

The Silhouette. Pitchers of PBR and free popcorn. I loved this place.

Taken during Head of the Charles.

I lived walking distance from the Reservoir in Cleveland Circle.


Boston's Holocaust Memorial

Boston's Afghanistan War Memorial

Cambridge and Boston, from atop the tower in the Mount Auburn Cemetery

9 Egremont Road, Apt 10: The morning after an epic Halloween party.

From atop the Bunker Hill Monument.

Hanging out with the seals outside of the New England Aquarium.

When I left Boston, I wanted to leave something of me behind. I gave my friends a mix I had made of all the songs that would forever remind me of the five years prior. Here's the list of what's on there. As I listen to it tonight, I can't help but miss the crap out of Beantown.

1. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
2. The xx - VCR
3. Loney Dear - I Was Only Going Out
4. Lemonheads - Into Your Arms
5. Georgie James - Cheap Champagne
6. Stars - 14 Forever
7. M83 - Graveyard Girl
8. Passion Pit - Moth's Wings
9. Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
10. Rocky Votolato - Before You Were Born
11. Josh Ritter - Monster Ballads
12. Noah and the Whale - Blue Skies
13. Bon Iver - re: Stacks
14. AA Bondy - There's A Reason
15. The Weakerthans - Left and Leaving
16. Slow Club - When I Go
17. Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
18. New Order - Run Wild

In a goodbye letter I received, I was told I would always be a Bostonian. I'd like to think that nearly three years later that still applies. Be strong, Boston.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Evening Bike Ride

It was a rough week. Not rough with a string of bad days. But rough in the "things are a little weird right now" kind of way. Some weird and good! Some weird... and not exactly great. Fortunately, the shift in the weather means bike rides after work. I had my heart set on doing twenty miles today. I planned a route and set off. First the wind was a bit annoying. And then the wind got super annoying. And never at my back. The wind continued to chill, and I cursed myself for not having my entire arms and legs covered. I was about two-thirds of the way through my route when I had a decision to make at the end of the Hot Metal Bridge. Go right and I shorten my ride, but probably make it home without totally losing feeling in my hands or falling over from sheer exhaustion. Go left and finish the whole twenty miles, giving a mental middle finger to the recent memory of winter.

Note to self: Put binoculars in bike bag.

I went left and quickly realized I should've gone right.

Not the prettiest spring day, but I'll gladly take it.

I knew not long after I started back toward the city that there was no chance of making it all the way back to Bloomfield without stopping. My new plan was hatched in an instant.

I rode back into downtown, locked up in Market Square, and took a seat at the bar at Winghart's. It was super crowded, but I placed my order quickly while the rush they'd just been hit with poured over the menu. I wound up talking to the people next to me, when I reached nearer to them for a handful of napkins. They remarked that I needed more than I grabbed for a burger as messy as mine looked, but I assured them I had "eating a Winghart's burger" pretty much perfected. Then then told me that they had passed me not once, but twice on the trail that evening.

They had traveled to Pittsburgh from Minnesota for the Frozen Four tournament. The end of this week in Pittsburgh has been buzzing with collegiate hockey players. Someone must have given them a memo about Market Square, because they seemed to flock there for food. This couple travels to every Frozen Four; I believe they said for the past fifteen years. They brought their bikes with them, and had been going around the city checking out local breweries. They'd already hit Penn Brewery and the Church Brew Works, and were heading to East End tomorrow. They were staying at the Priory, which is super awesome for them. I advised them to check out the War Streets and step into Monterey Pub.

A Yale Marching Band in Market Square at lunchtime.

A few minutes later I was warm and full of burger. It was time to finish the last four of twenty miles.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

City Dining with Dad: Sausalido

For Christmas, I got my dad a deck of City Dining Cards. The plan was to take him out for lunch and dinner at new restaurants now and then. Tonight, I treated my dad to a dinner at Sausalido, a small bistro on Liberty in Bloomfield. I've lived in this neighborhood for nearly three years, and I've walked by Sausalido many times and wondered. When I told my boss I was taking my dad out to dinner in Bloomfield, it was her second suggestion.

A lot of the restaurants with Dining Cards in the deck were more bar-food type places, and I wanted to buy my dad a nice dinner, because we were actually making a trade. He gets a good meal, and I get about four loads of laundry done. As in, he took my laundry home with him, and will be dropping it back off here in a few days all nice and clean.

Did I mention I have a pretty cool dad?

This was a most excellent meal. Both my dad and I enjoyed every single thing put in front of us.

There was bread and a white bean dipping sauce, that was great cause it came quick and I was starving. We each got a cup of the night's tomato basil bisque, and I think we both wished we had ordered the bowl instead. (Seriously, delicious.) My dad had a beet something salad. I stopped paying attention when he started talking about beets. He looked delighted with it though. We each had fish for our main course. He had halibut over some rice and stuff (I never claimed this was a food blog!) and I had salmon over a caesar salad. My dad cleaned his plate, but I saved half of mine for lunch tomorrow.

The only drawback of the night was finding out the white chocolate espresso cheesecake hadn't been made yet! We had apparently arrived at the start of a new seasonal menu, and the restaurant had been too busy (a definite good thing - let's keep this place around!) to make the new desserts.

Getting a slice of that heavenly sounding cheesecake is a reason to go back, but obviously not the only one. My dad and I talked about how good it was as we walked the way back to my apartment.

Then he took off into the night. Belly full of good food and truck full of my dirty laundry.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Really Backward Way of Convincing You to Bike

Finally. Spring.

Anyone else feel like it took forever to get here? Was it because last winter was so mild and so unobtrusive? Did it just suck more than normal? Or am I just getting older and grumpier when conditions aren't ideal for biking around all over the place?

This morning I was flying down Penn in a t-shirt and short-leggings. The weather was perfect and thoughts of "I love spring." or "I love biking." or "I love Pittsburgh." were populating my brain. This is what I had been waiting (im)patiently for as winter dragged on during the past few weeks.

And then I got downtown. And started navigating the disaster that is Wood Street. When I'm not on my bike, I'm usually on my feet. I'm rarely in a motor vehicle. so even when I'm on two wheels, I have a deep respect for pedestrians. But some pedestrians crossing Wood Street around 8 a.m. on weekday mornings are crossing Wood Street without a care in the world for what's coming their way. And I'm starting to have very little respect for them! Wood Street stresses me out, but it's the *safest* option to my parking garage. By the time I am crossing Fourth and about to turn down Third into my garage, I am relieved.

That relief started washing over me today - and then all of a sudden I was on the ground.

I had been doored.

Not something I want to experience again.

When I bike, I am always keeping an eye out for opening car doors. I've had a few close calls, and I've had to shout a few cautionary words here and there. But here's the thing about getting doored: I didn't see it coming. I was fine and then I was on the ground.

And then of course I was scurrying back up, feeling embarrassed (even though I know I should've been irate) and making sure all my limbs and appendages were still functioning. Thankfully, they were. And my bike was fine too. I think the people in the car were terrified, which made me feel bad, so I kept assuring them I was fine, but they had to promise me to be more careful. I explained that the driver is at fault in the dooring situation and went on my merry (and slightly bruised) way.

This is a really backward way of convincing you to get outside and bike. I've been on my bike most every day of 2013. I stayed off the roads if they were snowy or icy, but bared the freezing wind and cold when possible to get back and forth from work or places like the grocery store. I couldn't be more excited for spring, because it means many more miles will be pedaled. Biking around Pittsburgh may be intimidating at first, but it's easy to acclimate. The stories like the one above are uncommon. I've been biking steadily for three years, and that was my first dooring. And my worst bike crash to date was the fault of another biker on the North Shore Trail.

My advice: Wear a helmet. Take streets you're comfortable with. Push yourself up the hills. (Your body will thank you!) Become a BikePGH Member. (AND SIGN THE "I BIKE. I WALK. I VOTE." PETITION.) Make smart decisions. Be confident! If you feel nervous biking, you'll be a nervous biker.

And, probably most important: HAVE FUN.

(BTW: Sorry about the prolonged absence. My only excuse is that winter sucks.)