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Poland, Boston, and the Human Spirit

23 Apr

Poland was mainly a blur of food, sleep deprivation, drinks, people, and brightly colored buildings.  Krakow is called the Magic City for a reason. There is something to it that as a tourist, I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The city at night, I would compare to even the bright lights of Paris.  Tourists and locals alike strolled the city into the pink hours of the morning, laughing and filling the air with vibrancy. The life there seems to have actual quality. But I found myself most impressed with the people I met on this journey.

The people of Poland have a hospitality all their own. People genuinely wanted to meet you, speak with you, and like their European cousins–feed you.  The people I met while in Krakow, returned my ability to communicate face-to-face. For so long, I’ve been attached to the computer screen or my cell phone and in the States it is not uncommon to sit across from someone while you’re out to dinner and have nearly no conversation. Instead, there is a wall of cellphones between you both as you take turns surfing the web on your smartphones and exchanging minimal conversation. In Krakow, I felt a sense of intelligence return to me that I had thought I had lost completely. As it turns out, it had never left–but had simply gone into hibernation and  needed to be woken up.  Conversation ranged from music, to politics, to sports (which I know nearly nothing about) to the more complex issue of languages and how they may or may not translate. I was alive. Krakow revived me.

In five days, I experienced more powerful moments in my life than I had in months. This was even more amplified by my visit to the concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau on my last day in Poland. Though most people will flinch away from a difficult trip like this: I sought it out. More than ever, I feel that keeping the horrors of history alive so they are not repeated and so the lives lost in such an awful way are given their proper respect and recognition.

The camps were  overwhelming. A sense of feeling watched or hunted pervaded Auschwitz. My friend who had joined me looked faint much of the time, if not downright sick to her stomach. Openly, she wept for the loss of life while I stoically paid my respects to the lives lost. The place gets under your skin in a way I’ve never experienced before. It felt alive.

Birkenau felt more sad than alive. Abandoned bunks lay in places that had been built to house horses and instead housed starving, sick and dying human beings. The remains of the destroyed crematoriums sat like craters in the landscape that may have been otherwise beautiful. Our guide pointed out a family of deer that grazed nearby as if to prove this point and stated, “See how life must go on?” There is a large stone memorial here which is littered with tiny stones as a sign of respect. I left these places with a whole new perspective on the problems in my life. My problems were nothing. I was not starving. I was not being torn from my family, or watching loved ones be gassed, shot or beaten to death. I was not wondering if I would see another day, or live beyond barbed wire fence. I was alive. And I would embrace that blessing with all that I had. I left the camp with a need to celebrate my being alive–if for nothing more than to live in the place of those who had never had the chance. And for the ones who survived and still managed to live (almost) normal lives. These places reflect not only the power of humanity’s cruelty–but of their spirit and will to survive.

The stranger part of visiting the camps was what it coincided with here in the states. I didn’t know it yet, but my city was under attack at the very moment I was touring these Death Camps. The Boston Marathon Bombings have been plastered on every news channel here in Massachusetts ever since it happened. I found out what happened in Boston, a day after it happened. In a panic I found myself reaching out to loved ones for assurance that they were alright.  The city of Boston came together as one in a way that makes me proud. Here, in today’s history I witnessed the power of the human spirit that I had sought out at the historical sites.  It is something that I never imagined would happen. Only this time, when terror struck we charged it head on. Stories continue to come out about every day people who became not-so-everyday Heroes. A dancer who lost her foot, continues to hope to dance again, a man who lost both sons to war–saved others who would have been lost in much the same way. I am alive again–and grateful, and amazed by the ever powerful presence in the past and now in the present of the strength of the human spirit. Just as when I exited the camps in Poland, I find myself constantly humming the tune from Fiddler on the Roof, “To life…to life…L’Chaim…”

Boston Strong

Poland Strong

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This Pony is going to Poland!

4 Feb

Hello Everypony!

So, for a while there, I must admit that I was in kind of a slump. After finally finding myself a permanent position as an editorial assistant; my life consisted of a flurry of learning and attempting to put my best hoof forward at Baltimare. Not to mention there’s obvious tension between Trixie and myself, which is waning now thankfully as I feel myself growing more confident and able to push back when needed.

Still, I had found myself stuck mentally at the office and couldn’t seem to wriggle myself back into writing, or reading or doing any of the things that I usually enjoy. Daily, I face the daunting task of fixing grammatical catastrophes (as best as I can) prior to publication on my daily deadline. (Try saying that then times fast!) So by the time I got back home, all I wanted to do was crash into my bed.

I soon found myself stuck in a rut of the same old daily routine. I felt myself growing less and less enthusiastic about things that I usually would be thrilled about. At parties, I had even begun finding myself surrounded by people but feeling completely and utterly alone. I knew I had to do something to spice things back up.

So I’ve decided to take myself on a trip.

I had debated this trip: worried over it. Would I have enough money? Could I still pay my bills? Could I manage to get the time off from work to do it?

But my mother, the wonderful and amazing woman that she is, put all of my worries to rest.

“You’re always talking about moving out, and you’ve been paying your bills really well–why not do it before you move? Once you move, you’ll regret it if you haven’t gone.”

And I realized she was right. So, in I jumped.

Everypony–the restless writer is heading to Poland!  (Krakow to be specific.) I leave in April, and I managed to get a really great deal on airfdaire. It’s been at least three years since my last trip abroad, and I will never forget it. I hope this trip to see one of my best friends and a very old city will be just as unforgettable.

Krakow, Poland

 

 

 

 

2012 in Review and Thanks

5 Jan

Hi Everypony and Crimestoppers!

 

I know it’s been some time since I last made a post, as the end of the year has been chaos for me. But I would like to take a moment to thank all of my readers (loyal and not so loyal) for taking the time to read this blog.  My new years resolution consists this year of having more posts, more adventures and more snarky comments to fill this page with! I hope you join me for my upcoming adventures in the new year!

 

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Why Iphones Are One of the Most Irritating Advances in Technology

25 Nov

Riding the train is a normal part of my weekly routine. It has been this way for years, starting with my freshman year of college, and hasn’t shown any signs of ebbing. As such, I have long found myself tucking away my ipod for crochet hooks, and my books for people watching. (Mainly for paranoia’s sake, as news of weirder and worse happenings pop up more frequently in the news and I don’t want to be caught off gaurd.) Yet, what I notice more and more often as I glance around the crowds of faces on the T, is down turned faces with slightly unfocused eyes and ever-scrolling fingers. The ever-popular Iphone used to be hard to come by, reserved for people who had that sort of money to spend and felt the need to impress their peers. Now, it’s everywhere–and everyone seems to have it. (Most recently both of my parents have adopted one of their own little monstrosities.)

At first, I went along with the idea that they were cool. I mean, what could be so bad about a phone combined with massive internet capability and a music player? A lot, apparently. As more people obtained these irritating phones, I found more people on the train would blast music from them (usually irritatingly bad rap music saturated with curses that make you uncomfortable, especially if there are children or elderly women nearby.) and would forgo their provided ear buds. It makes me furious. It’s rude and inconsiderate of their fellow passengers. But this is not my only qualm with these annoying gadgets.

I miss normal conversations with people. Before the infestation of the Iphone, I could go out to dinner with a group of close friends, or a loved one and have real conversations. Intelligent conversations. Now, I long for those days as the Iphone invades the tables. More often than not, conversations lack significant eye contact as whoever you are at the table with fiddles with their phone; texting or forever scrolling through their memes or random photos they have taken of themselves or their food in the past week. They are distracted–and when you cease talking, a horrible awkward silence in which you can only hear the sound of their skin against the phone screen fills the air. (Or more upsetting, is when during this break in conversation, the iphone owner suddenly laughs at something on their phone–and it is the only interest they have shown in anything all evening.) If the silence goes on for too long, that Iphone person will lean across the table to you to show you whatever it is they are looking at on their phone, as it is clearly more interesting than–whatever it was you had just been talking about by yourself.

No one listens anymore. No one really talks or communicates. And no one gives their full attention to anything. Sometimes, I feel I could be on fire beside someone with an iphone, and they would only stop to take a photo of me to add to their creepy scrolling collection.

 

Nerd York City

20 Oct

Picture this if you will: cramped, but unperturbed you are riding  on a bus beside the one you love (who has long since fallen asleep on your shoulder and is softly snoring) and the sound of the road hissing by the window fills the cabin. Then, to your right, New York City comes into view on the midday skyline. The Empire State Building is a needle, proudly displayed as if in welcome to you and your fellow passengers just before you plunge into a tunnel into darkness.

Last weekend, I found myself in the Big City for New York Comic Con (NYCC).

I was eager to plunge into the nerd culture, and clutching  my Ann Rice novel and my luggage off we went from the bus stop through the city streets. It was well after noon when we finally arrived (after being lost for some time of course) at the hotel we would be staying in: The Paramount. I was proud of myself when I managed to get a room at The Paramount from the NYCC website. Yet, the hotel was nowhere near as close to the convention as it was advertised and the hotel wouldn’t let us check in until after 3 pm for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Still, we were not put off and we charged onward to our destination: Comic Con.
This was my first visit to New York Comic Con, and I was eager to see the many comic, literary, and entertainment stars that the convention had boasted. We were not disappointed. Day one was exhausting, filled with attempts to wade through the shoulder to shoulder crowds throughout the Javits center and tries at navigating and an overwhelming sense of amazing comic swag. Cosplayers were hard to pick from people loaded with bags of goodies bought at the floor upstairs. But my main event was to meet Ann Rice and have her sign my copy of Interview with a Vampire. Unfortunately, after lining up and waiting for over two hours–it was not to be. I was disheartened, but one day hope to get my chance. Both worn out from our day of travel, my boyfriend and I left for the hotel early, got dinner at a nearby Subway and spent the night discussing how to tackle our next day at the Con.
But a restful night, we soon found, would not be possible. The walls at the Paramount were paper thin–and at roughly midnight, an alarm began to sound on our floor. Having flashbacks to our last trip to New York, my boyfriend and I began to gather our things to leave just in case. But after calling the front desk, we found the alarm to be accidental and was assured we were safe. We woke the next morning around 7 to the sound of the Housekeeping staff knocking on doors. Check out isn’t until noon. I was furious and couldn’t manage to fall back to sleep–but after a shower and breakfast at a nearby deli that was absolutely delicious–I was in a better mood.

Shopping here was by far my favorite part of the Con–but also–meeting and getting the autograph of Adam West. (Batman from an older generation for those of you confused.) He signed my newly bought RC car 1966 Batmobile and essentially made that a memorable moment in my life. My boyfriend had a fanboy moment upon meeting the former Green Ranger.

While he was in line for the Power Ranger, I wandered the con solo, making short-term friends, and rotting my brain on video games. The most exciting game I got to demo is for Ghibli’s upcoming masterpiece, Ni No Kuni. What seems to be a gorgeous mix of Final Fantasy and Pokemon game play with Ghibli Movie style cut scenes–I have already reserved my copy for January.

 

That night, we headed for Times Square and had a somewhat romantic walk around Rockafeller Center. Trees strung with lights hung around the ice skating rink made the moment feel ethereal and surprisingly serene.

“Want to skate?” he asked me, am impish glitter in his eyes.

“You don’t know how.” I replied, watching a man below as if on cue slip onto his back.

“I would be willing to fall a few times for you.” He said, pulling me close. I smiled, knowing as corny as it was, that I had fallen for him long ago.

We didn’t skate, but made a promise to someday and together wandered back to the Hotel.

 

 

The Australians at the Omni Parker

9 Oct

The funny thing about plans, as cliche as it sounds, is that they never go the way they’re supposed to. Yet, what I love most about making plans often times is breaking from them and deviating to a path that I may have never otherwise taken.

Last night, I had  originally planned a time out on the town with one of my girlfriends who is visiting from Europe.  I decided that once I left Baltimare at 5, I would meet her at” the place”, Max and Dylan’s for dinner, and once we were full (and probably a bit tipsy) we would stake out together on one of the many ghost tours that skulk around Boston this time of year. It was a good plan. A solid plan. And I had always wanted to go on a ghost tour. So, I booked the non-refundable tickets, eager for the night to arrive.

I didn’t expect Baltimare to be so overloaded and hold me up until 5:30, or the trains to lock one side of the station due to a holiday that I didn’t have off so I would have to take an extra 20 minutes to get to the platform–but most of all I didn’t expect my girlfriend to find herself deliriously ill and cancel on me last minute either. There I was, staring miserably at her mess of missed text messages that I hadn’t seen until hours after she had sent them, feeling my night was ruined. Without her–there would be no dinner, no drinks, and most disappointing of all: no ghost tour. I was beside myself–until I decided to embrace this alternate path.

My fingers flew across the tiny keys of my phone as I dialed up another friend in hopes that he could make plans with me last minute. Somehow–he was free. I felt myself lifted from my disheartened state as if I were tied to a Zeppelin. So the adventure was back in business.

Our tour group met at the mouth of the Central Cometary across from the Colonial theater and my friend met me at Boyleston Street Station. I felt giddy that I had managed to get a hold of someone on such short notice. Our guide was a stocky man of a regular build, and glasses dressed all in black with a battery lit lantern to guide us to him. A message bag was slung over his shoulder like so many other Bostonians, giving him an oddly immature appearance. He spoke in a light Boston accent and to our great relief was interactive, expressive and captivating. As our guide led us around the commons, to the site of the “Great Oak” where people were hung for crimes, to the library that houses a book bound in human skin–he constantly kept us as well as the rest of the group enthralled in his stories. I was fascinated by the stories he came up with–mainly in that I had never heard them before. As best put by my friend during the tour, “Even if it’s all B.S. they’re interesting stories.”

Our tour concluded at the most haunted hotel in Boston, The Omni Parker House Hotel. Built in 1855 and located at 60 school Street, just down the street from Park Street Station, this hotel (though old) still speaks volumes of its rich and luxurious past. I have walked by this hotel more times than I can count over the years but I had never taken the time to go inside. Crown molding like I had never seen up close before lines the vestibule all the way to the concierge desk in the back. Heavy, dark wood paneling covered the walls and floral somewhat antique-looking furniture was placed against the walls and around small tables in a welcoming fashion as you pushed your way from the cold into the lobby. A smell of liquor greeted our noses as we entered, as we walked past the hotel bar and restaurant, “The Last Hurrah”. This hotel seemed to give off a slightly masculine scent of sweet cigars smoked over many years (but not in an unpleasantly overpowering way) mixed with brandy aged to perfection. I found myself more fascinated by the hotel itself than our previously enchanting guide. Here, we were told of the many haunts the hotel boasted, as well as being the inventor of the Boston Cream Pie.

Evan and I eagerly wandered into The Last Hurrah after tipping our guide, and after some finagling, managed to get ourselves a table. Here, the molding seemed more modern, but the feel was still of a gentleman’s lounge. I could imagine men in three-piece-suites, brown in color, smoking cigars in the high-backed armchairs having once sat here among friends, and possibly women, for some reason in my imaginings to be in flapper dresses and pearls. This was a place of masculine beauty and great comfort; and I immediately liked it.

We found ourselves seated beside a couple, possibly in their 50’s, with twanging Australian accents and smiling eyes. They were married, on vacation from home to visit their daughter who was going to medical school at Harvard. The man wore a bright yellow sweater and had striking blue eyes that seemed to be constantly twinkling with mirth beneath the surface. His hands were large and rough, wrapped around his half-empty glass as he jokingly complained about a woman who had “a big fat head” at the bar who was blocking his view of the baseball game.  His wife was a fair-haired, petite woman with laugh lines around her mouth and eyes that made me hope I would look that pleasant and warm as I get older. I liked the woman at once, and wish that I wasn’t so horrible at remembering names that I could recall theirs. She had once been a nurse, I learned, and was now happily retired with her husband. She and I struck up a conversation and somehow it turned to literature and books that we loved, the love of physical books, and our dislike of the modern “Kindles” and “Nooks” available. When I told her of my hopes to one day be known as a great young adult novelist–she wanted my name at once and I gave her my card with an autograph at her request.

“For when you make it big one day–I can say I met you on Holiday.” She told me warmly. They were beautiful people. Warm and vibrant. And over an irish coffee and a piece of the Omni’s wonderful Boston Cream Pie, I felt myself feel suddenly very alive and connected to the world again. Though I stumbled home a tad later than I had planned–I couldn’t help but think how wonderful the unplanned moments in life can sometimes be for the littlest reasons. I smiled, knowing that if my plans hadn’t gone so wrong that the evening wouldn’t have felt so perfect.

The Omni Parker House

Ghost Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Sold by Patricia McCormick, a book review, and Moving to Baltimare

6 Oct

When I visited my local Barnes and Noble last night, I wasn’t sure what sort of book I wanted. The shelves loomed in a labyrinthine maze, lined with books of all sizes and colors as I wandered through them. Here and there, I would touch my fingertips to the spines of books on the shelves, as if this simple gesture would give to me some sense of the story that was behind the cover.

It was there that I stumbled across a bright yellow book with a striking black and white image of a young girl’s face peering from a sari. “Sold” the cover declared in bold plain red text. Drawn to this image, I left the store with my prize in hand.

I started it as soon as I arrived home, and found myself unable to put it down; worried for what might happen if I left the main character alone in the closed pages of the novel.

Patricia McCormick’s, “Sold”, is a striking story about a young girl named Lakshmi who is taken from her mountain home in Nepal under the pretense of being hired as a maid in the City to help feed her struggling family. To Lakshmi and the reader’s horror, she is instead sold into prostitution in India.

The story is written less like a novel, and more like a poetry anthology that interconnects perfectly. Each “Chapter” is  a literary poem that leads the reader along on Lakshmi’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad, but always powerful journey. Only 13 when she is sold by her stepfather, the reader is told through Lakshmi’s point of view the horrifying story that is sadly a reality for nearly 12,000 Nepali girls each year. (Figure taken from the afterword) It is by sheer power of her soul that Lakshmi seems to survive and (spoilers!) eventually escape from life as a child-prostitute. We see the young girl’s change from nieve and innocent, to self-loathing, to strong and determined as the novel progresses. Despite the novel’s heavy subject matter, I felt a great sense of relief and hope at its’ close.  This novel is certainly a three out of four cupcakes on the Pinky Pie scale.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

 

On a lighter note: I started my new job this week! That’s right folks, Pinky Pie moved to Baltimare! So far, the work is a horse of a different color from what I had been working on before. It’s tough training, and getting access for a while to all of the new systems I required for my work seemed impossible–but luckily things are working out for the most part.

My new manager seems sweet and somewhat soft spoken. When you speak to her, you can almost see the wheels in her head turning as she seeks out the most appropriate words to use in her next sentence. Despite her soft and careful ways, do not think she is a pushover. Already, I have seen her be firm with people–but always fair. So far, she seems to genuinely want me to succeed in learning all that I can. Meet Baltimare’s Cheerilee.

 

 

The pony who is training me seems very high energy, if not high strung. She is full of knowledge and excited to train me–but isn’t exactly the most patient mare for the job. She also has quite an ego–which for now–I will be sure to beef up as much as possible while we have to work in close quarters. Meet Baltimare’s  “Great and Powerful “Trixie.

To my left the “Great and Powerful” Trixie of Baltimare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pony who sits in front of her seems to be the oldest of the group, and also the most cynical. I find her extremely funny and charming. She likes to decorate her desk and provides everyone with candies. So far, I don’t know much else about her–other than that she seems to be harboring some inner sadness that she may be working out. (Still she’s very sweet.) Meet Baltimare’s Mrs. Cup Cake.

Behind Trixie sits a very quiet colt. He’s only there twice a week, and works from home primarily. Compared to myself and Trixie, he says very little–but when he does talk, it’s usually hilarious. He’s very sweet and patient. (Don’t tell Trixie, but I like it when he trains me better.) Meet Baltimare’s Big Macintosh.

So far, everypony is really nice. And I look forward to getting to know them all better. I also look forward to learning more and more about my new position.

Pinky Pie the restless writer–out!