Monthly Archives: September 2012

in which I write an open letter to my twelve-year-old self

Dear Twelve-Year-Old Self,

First of all, hi, it’s me, future you. Second of all, you are rocking the crap out of that perm, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Third of all, if you ever get the chance to go to Latvia, don’t do it. A volcano will erupt while you are there, and you will be stranded. That has nothing to do with the story I am about to tell you, I just needed to get that out there.

Right, now let’s talk about you.

Now Self, right now in your life, you spend a lot of time doing three things; one, watching the movie Newsies and then recreating it in your bedroom1; two, reading books by people like Shannon Hale and Avi; and three, writing really terrible poetry.

Good news – you’re doing everything right.

And one glorious weekend in New York City, ten years from where you are now, these three things will culminate in a trifecta of awesome.

Right now self, you harbor a secret desire to be a writer. In fact, you’ve already started working on your first novel. It will be sixty glorious pages of hand-written tripe, but that’s okay, because everybody starts somewhere, and these habits that you make now of doing ridiculous things with great vigor, and being passionate about something – those are the traits that will sustain you through the next ten years of your life.

But you want to be a writer. You don’t tell many people this, because you’re a little bit scared of how much you want it.

Now over the years, Self, you are going to start to have to face the Realities of Life, namely that writers don’t really make money. And so you are going to tuck your writing dreams into your back pocket and forget about them for a while. You are going to search for years, looking for something else you want to do with your life. There will be several times you think you have found it2. But in the end, nothing is going to feel right. Nothing is going to fit. Don’t panic. Because one day, in a train station in England3, you are going to find it again, in the pages of a book. And on that day, you will remember the feeling of being twelve years old, obsessively rereading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and writing in that sparkly green poetry notebook. You will remember that nothing makes you happier than being a writer.

And that feeling of knowing exactly what you want to do is going to scare the crap out of you.

But trust it! How you feel now, every time you write another ridiculous poem – hold on to that feeling. Keep it close, and remember it. Because the journey is important, but what’s going to matter is that someday you come back to that feeling. That is your Santa Fe, Self. And we may not quite be there yet, but we’re finally heading in the right direction. Save our place, we’ll be there.

And twelve-year-old Self? Someday you’re going to meet Avi. I know – I KNOW! And Shannon Hale is going to sign a book for you that says “I look forward to reading your novels4.” In fact, after a very awkward conversation where you try not to be exuberant but can’t help yourself5, you’re going to stand between them and take a picture6!

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can you believe this is what you look like in the future?

I KNOW! And someday, in the basement of the New York Public Library in a roomful of other aspiring YA authors and people who love children’s books, you are going to experience the strongest sense of belonging you have ever felt. You are going to feel that you are part of a community. An awesome community who shares your love of doing ridiculous things passionately. And you will know in that moment that you are exactly where you want to be.

And as for Newsies? …well, I don’t want to give anything away. But let’s just say your impossible dream of someday seeing it live on stage may someday not be so impossible.

spoiler alert: we never get good at photography.

And I know you don’t believe me, but Corey Cott is way hotter than Christian Bale.

Love, Future Mackenzi

And PS, Hold on to 14. You’re going to go through a lot of friends in the next ten years, but she’s one to keep around.

  1. You make a rocking Jack Kelly, by the way.
  2. Spoilers: it’s not being a blacksmith, or a travel agent. Both of those careers have been dead for years. Update your dreams, twelve-year-old me!
  3. Yes, we go to England. We do so much more than just go there. We fall in love there. Though not with a boy, because I totally agree, boys are gross. Oh twelve-year-old self, just wait until you see England.
  4. Go ahead, wear a cape when you go to her event at the library next week, those are the sort of antics you won’t be able to get away with for much longer.
  5. This photo should be motivation enough for you to start working now on decreasing the squinty eyes in photos. It can be done, and then, in your future/my present, you won’t look this ridiculous.
  6. Your future can essentially be boiled down to a series of awkward conversations with people you admire. Just get used to that now.
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in which I attend a sort of book event

If there is one thing I love more than actually reading a good book, it is meeting the person who wrote that good book that I am reading.

This is more difficult than you would imagine, especially when you are living in Salt Lake, the city of one indie bookshop that even makes an effort to organize author visits1. But even then, their authors are primarily limited to local adult authors – YA always gets the short end of the stick. So in the end, then YA signings you can go to in Salt Lake are usually limited Shannon Hale, the guy who writes Fablehaven, and then occasionally Ally Condi wanders through.

So imagine my joy upon moving to Boston and discovering that every awesome YA author ever puts Boston on their tour. Lots of them even live in Boston, meaning they randomly show up at other people’s book events. It’s like an awesome two for one.

In the four short weeks since I arrived here, I have already attended a slew of book events. They have ranged in level of excellence, but I have generally enjoyed them all. Now when I go to book events, especially poorly attended for book events for debut authors, I like to buy their book and have them sign it. This is in the hope that someday, when I am a debut author with a poorly-attended book event of my own, someone will do the same for me. However, this means I end up buying a lot of books. The other people in my MFA program have already told me I am a signed book hoarder.

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and that’s just from this week.
Also, please note creeping Shakespeare behind these books. He makes me laugh.

But there is something about an inscription, about seeing handwriting on the title page and knowing that is the same handwriting that pieced together the words of this story, that makes books a whole new level of awesome for me. Some people, like my father, hate tearing down the curtain between author and reader. I say, “Tear it! Tear it all down!” I like to look in an author’s eyes and tell them thank you for bringing this story into the world, and congratulations for getting it this far. Because writing a book is hard, and getting published is harder.

Plus, it’s really awesome when Libba Bray can’t spell “accommodate,” so she ends up leaving a great big sharpie cross-out inside your book.

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Looking ahead, the book events only get more awesome. Coming up this month, I am planning on meeting Terry Pratchett2, Michael Chabon, Avi3, Richard Peck, Lemony Snicket, and Lois Lowry. Which should be all kinds of awesome. Stay tuned – perhaps we shall make the book signings section of this blog a reoccurring one.

Also, if I ever become a published author – will you all come to my book events4?

  1. Thank you, King’s English, you are a gift from God.
  2. Really. REALLY!
  3. The Madonna of children’s lit.
  4. Points to anyone who correctly identifies the reference in the title. Though if you know anything about me, it really shouldn’t be that hard to guess.
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in which I join the ranks of the employed

Guess what? I got a job. Actually, I got three jobs1. But I can only work one of them.

So I got a job!

Which is a relief. Grad school puts one in the very difficult position of desperately needing money to support oneself, but having not free time in which this money can be earned, and usually very few skills relevant to the sort of job they do have time to do. When I first started applying for jobs here in Lexington/Boston, I thought I was unemployable. Mostly because my work experience fit in a weird grey area typical of the post-college grad. I was under qualified for most real, 9-5 professional positions, but I simultaneously had no relevant experience that would make me a passable barista or waitress2. I felt myself under and over and not at all qualified all at once.

And yet yesterday, I still found myself in the awesome position of choosing between jobs. Let me tell you friends, there is no more empowering feeling. After interviewing and sweating and working so hard to make them like you, suddenly you’re the one that everybody wants. To quote Moriarty….actually no. Not going to quote Moriarty, because he’s a creeper, and this is a happy place3. It is very empowering, and good for a little confidence boost.

In the end, there really was no question in which job was best for me, so next Wednesday I begin work as a writer for the MIT communications department in the office of the dean for student life4. Basically, I’m writing about life at MIT and then somebody publishes it online and emails it out to all the alumni and students.

You may be saying to yourself, “But Mackenzi Lee, you don’t go to MIT!” That is true. I do not. I simply work for them now. Don’t let it confuse you – Simmons is still the superior college in every sense.

Except the Pepsi. I still can’t get over that.

  1. Not to rub that in the face of unemployed America or anything.
  2. Starbucks clearly did not know what to make of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! on my resume
  3. ….okay, the Moriarty quote I was going to use was, “Suddenly, I’m Mr. Sex.” ….yeah, that’s creepy, not going to use that.
  4. Wow, you gotta take a nap in the middle of saying that.
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in which i have a perfect saturday

Yet again I find myself trying to blog while watching Doctor Who. I’m sensing a theme in my life.

So you know how sports players have streaks? I actually don’t know anything about this, because I don’t watch sports, but I’ve heard that it happens, and have a general understanding of what it means.

I feel as though I am currently in the middle of a streak. A streak of awesome days. Because I’m going on my fourth awesome day in a row. From Florence+The Machine on Friday night to today, where I was just on fire, things have just been going great. Let’stake a look right in the middle of my streak, and talk about Saturday.

Because Saturday was kind of awesome. In fact, it was the kind of awesome Saturday that ruins every other Saturday for you.

Let’s go through the day1, shall we?

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We began the day at Walden Pond, one of the most serene and beautiful places I’ve ever been. It is the sort of place that begs to have books written on its shores. 

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After a brief picnic in Concord3, our pilgrimage continued at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house, where I found myself basking in the shade of a large oak tree, writing in my journal, eating grapes off an arbor built by Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism like a boss.

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And just a short jaunt down the road, all my dreams came true when we visited the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House. Little Women was a book I came to relatively late in life4, but it still had a huge impact on me, and remains one of my great loves in literature. I am also convinced that I am a modern-day incarnation of Jo March, but that’s a whole other conversation. Orchard House was more than just delightful, it was also surprisingly inspirational. The Alcotts were big on following dreams and supporting each other. Also Mr. Alcott basically invented recess. Which is just one more reason to love that family.

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We finished the day with a stop at North Bridge, the site of one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. We’ve previously talked about how much I love the Revolutionary War (also how sexy it was), and frankly, the more battlefields I actually walk across, the more I am aware of the reality of it. When you study history, it is so easy to think of everything in terms of story rather than as things that actually happened. Visiting the sites always makes me feel much more tuned in to the lived experience of historical events.

Oh. And then we got ice cream at Kimball Farms. Which I’m convinced is the ice cream served in heaven. It could make even the worst days awesome. It was an extra dose of awesome on  an already exceptional day.

  1. Primarily in photographs, because I have awesome photographs and because I’ve written so many words this week I just can’t think about writing any more right now2.
  2. Oh wait, I still have to.
  3. Where I ate a sandwich that I’m fairly certain weighed as much as a newborn child. It was uber large.
  4. Okay, I was like fifteen, so not that long ago.
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in which i do math

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a helpful note to self on my to-do list.

The first week of grad school, by the numbers: 

  • Novels read: 5
  • Total pages read: 1,350 and counting
  • Papers written: 4
  • Words written: 6,1001
  • Times I’ve wanted to jam a pen in my eye: 3
  • Amazing days: 7

TBC. Buckle up.

  1. Not including about 4,000 more of The Book.
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in which Stargirl grows up

Let’s start with a sad story: Once upon a time, in a town called Chicago, a girl named Mackenzi Lee worked for a lovely company called National Public Radio. National Public Radio was a good and generous company, who gave Mackenzi many wonderful things. Including a free ticket to Lolapaloza, where Mackenzi would get the chance to see one of her all-time, most favorite ever bands – Florence + The Machine. Tragically, time was not on her side, and Lolapalooza somehow happened at the exact same time as her friend Sondhein’s visit to Chicago. And since Mackenzi Lee only had one ticket, and didn’t want to leave Sondheim out in the cold1, she opted not to go. Mackenzi Lee is a very good friend.

However, this meant that she didn’t get to see Florence + The Machine. And that made her sad.

However, this story has a happy ending. Because yesterday, at last2, I found myself at the Comcast Theater, waiting to see Florence + The Machine.

And friends, it was good enough that it was worth the wait.

On a note that seems unrelated, this weekend, I found myself writing an essay about the novel Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. In my opinion, everyone should read it. Stargirl is one of the great achievements in modern young adult literature. If you haven’t read it, go immediately to your local library, pick up a copy, then don’t even go home, just sit down on a bench outside the library and read it. It will only take you an hour – it’s a quick read. I’ll wait.

Okay, are you back? Good.

Even if you haven’t read the book, the point is that the most wonderful part about the book is the main character, Stagirl’s insistence on being totally true to herself at all times.

I am pretty sure Stargirl grew up, dyed her hair red, and became an internationally renowned singer named Florence Welch.

concert photography is hard, okay!!

Florence Welch is a force of nature, because she is unique. It’s like she’s from another planet. She is part nymph, part goddess, part siren. To quote the lovely Laini Taylor, she moves like poetry and smiles like a sphinx. Her songs are about seahorses and demons. She wears floor-length skirts and performs barefoot. She skips around the stage, moves to her song like she is some wood elf lost from her tribe, but totally content to just dance around the forest until they find her. She is Stargirl, all grown up.

Florence is outstanding. You can’t take your eyes off of her. Yeah, she has an extraordinary voice. But it is how she moves, it’s how she presents herself. Her confidence. She is totally herself, the kind of self that if she walked down the street and wasn’t famous, people would probably cross to the other side.

But they don’t. They cheer her. They scream her lyrics. They dance when she tells them to dance.

You all know how I feel about spending money to support the sort of things I want to fill the world with. And I want to tell the world I want more people like Florence Welch, who are not afraid to be themselves. I want to celebrate people who are true to themselves. It made me so happy last night, to see so many people embrace Florence Welch and her wild personality and the art that comes from it, and love her for it.

So thank you, Florence Welch, for being exactly who you are. For being beautiful, and making beautiful art, and inspiring so many people with that beauty. You inspire me. Thank you for an amazing show.

  1. Or rather leave her out in the heat.
  2. At long freaking last.
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in which I mark an anniversary

So if you don’t know me in real life, or perhaps even if you do, you may not know that I am sort of kind of extraordinarily young. How young? We’ll get to that.

My age relative to my current position in life results from several things. One is a September birthday that resulted in my being a year younger than everyone else in my grade, meaning I also started college a year earlier than your average person. Second is the large amount of AP and IB credit I accumulated through hard work and persistence in high school1, which got me in an out of college in three years2. Meaning that though I am at the age at which most people are a sophomore in college, I’m already out. Third is my penchant for doing things that are way beyond my maturity level, like living alone in a foreign country and working for NPR. Fourth is my tendency to gravitate towards and prefer the company of people who are a considerable amount older than I am. This, along with being raised by parents who subscribed to the medieval attitude of child rearing, i.e. treat your children like mini-adults, and my tendency to avoid booze, loud music, and crowds, generally results in me coming off as a fifty-five year old with amazingly good skin. In the words of my former roommate, Nevada, I’m a bit of an old soul.

Whenever I meet new people, particularly in mass, the “so how old are you really?” question comes up pretty quickly, usually because I try too hard to hide my actual age, then overcorrect, and end up giving myself away.

Really, I should be proud of my age. I’m going to have an MFA and be entering the world as a young working professional at the age that most people are barely escaping the jaws of the undergraduate degree. But I shy away from telling people my real age. Why? Mostly because I worry people won’t take me as seriously if they know how old I really am. Even though I know it is usually meant in good spirit, the most patronizing thing anyone has ever said to me3 is, “Oh, you’re just a baby!”

Baby? Friend, I graduated college before you were old enough to legally drink, speak two languages, have been around the world, and can recite the kings of England in order. I am not a baby. I deserve to be taken no less seriously because of how old I am.

Why am I telling you this?

Because friends, today is my birthday.

As far as birthdays go, I don’t have a great track record. Moving around as much as I have in the past four years has resulted in me starting over somewhere new around my birthday every year, meaning that no one around me knows it’s happening. And I’m not the kind of person who hangs up banners and throws parties for myself4. I don’t even put my birthday on facebook5. So if I’m being totally honest, the last four birthdays have been kind of miserable and lonely for me. The ones before that weren’t great either – all my best birthdays were pre-sharing this day with the most tragic event in American history. And, after a disastrous failed party in high school, I sort of swore of natal celebrations in general.

So I thought today would be no different. I was ready to draw myself a birthday cake in the dust like eleven-year-old Harry Potter and call it a day.

But today was actually kind of awesome. Utah friends sent gifts, and texted, and my grandparents and aunt and uncle sang to me over the phone. My landlady gave me socks6. My dad sent his customary inspirational birthday email. I treated myself to French toast for breakfast, and spent most of the day happily reading in the library. And then, in what I’m going to add to the list of one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, my roommate, TOMT, bought me balloons and organized a mini surprise party for me at the most delicious ice cream dive I have ever been to.

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Ginger snap ice cream. Unappetizingly yellowed by the creepy light emanating from the stand where it was purchased. But seriously, this ice cream was out of control.

In short, today has been a kind of awesome birthday. An awesome 21st birthday7.

Thanks to everyone for everything you did to make today awesome – and to everyone reading this now, don’t feel obliged to leave a comment saying “Happy Birthday,” or anything. I just like to write about my life here, and sometimes, my life involves awesome days that just happen to be the anniversary of my first day of consciousness.

This past year was awesome: I graduate from college, lived in three different states, worked, studied, played, and was surrounded by some pretty amazing people.

And really, it only gets better. I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up.

  1. Read: ability to BS.
  2. That plus me never changing my major. That really helped.
  3. And more than one person has said it. I’ve been slapped by this bad boy on multiple occasions.
  4. You know, none of that “I was born x amount of years ago today – you’re welcome, world.”
  5. But I blog about it. Figure that one out.
  6. On the matter of socks, I stand with Dumbledore – truly, they are the best present one can receive.
  7. On an unrelated note, I had a dream last night that Jim Moriarty, notorious Sherlock villain, took me out for drinks in honor of my birthday. Surprisingly, I went along without a fight.
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in which an MFA begins

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apologies for the lopsided-ness. This was taken right after running into a door, if that’s any excuse. See story below.

So today was….

Wait for it…

The

Wait for it…

First…

Wait for it…

I can’t wait anymore!

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

And as far as first days go, it was pretty stellar. Stellar in the sweet-mother-of-Abraham-Lincoln-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into kind of way, but also a this-might-be-the-start-of-the-best-thing-that’s-ever-happened-to-me kind of way.

Even though class didn’t start until three, I got on the bus at eleven, because I wanted to get there with plenty of time to get oriented, get my student ID1, and then have a period of meditative, uninterrupted, not-in-Lexington thoughtfulness before class began. For the most part, that’s basically what happened. But, since this is me we’re talking about, there was also an extra dose of awkward thrown in.

The first thing I did at Simmons was run into a door. True story. And I ran into it hard. And loud. And everyone looked at me. A few people might have laughed. And it really hurt. In fact, my arm still hurts. Which should tell you just how hard I hit the door.

So after getting off on that stellar start, I went to the cafeteria to get me some lunch. At which point I discovered that Simmons only sells Pepsi products.

Which was terrible news.

But I am willing to put that aside.

So after drinking Pepsi and losing fights with doors, I proceeded to spend the next two hours sweating, worrying, and imaging a creative array of scenarios in which something terrible happened that ruined my MFA dreams or, worse, resulted in my total humiliation in front of everyone on the first day of class. You know, the sort of life-ruining first impression that results in a permanently tarnished reputation. If we were still in high school, it would probably also result in a horrific nickname. Time moved unbelievably slowly. I had hoped to get some work done on The Book2, but instead, I just ended up doing a lot of staring at a blank screen, simultaneously wishing it was three o’clock and wishing three o’clock would never come.

Two-thirty hit, and I decided to strike out for my classroom. Half an hour earlier than I needed to. Because that is how I roll. It took me approximately seventeen seconds to find the classroom. Meaning that I ended up sitting in uncomfortable silence with several of my new anxiety-ridden classmates for the next thirty minutes, all of us with spiral notebooks and critical texts poised and waiting in front of us.

Me, I was totally calm, as per ush. I just sat there and wrote in my journal.

The page of me being totally calm and not at all worried looked like this3:

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Okay, so I might be lying about the calm part. I was totally freaking out.

And as you may have noticed from the bottom section of that page, the class was hard. Like, hard. The first day and it is already the hardest day I’ve ever spent in a classroom. But it was good. Good hard. When was the last time I had a class that was good hard? Usually for me, classes are either one or the other. But this was good hard. The blow your mind kind of hard.

And I am excited. I am excited to be reading four hundred plus pages of mind-bendingly difficult critical theories every week. I am excited to read two novels every five days. I am excited to turn in papers every Monday. But mostly, I’m excited to be challenged. I’m excited to get better.

My day ended with an extra dose of awesome, because I got to see Hilary Weisman Graham and Kristen-Paige Madonia, two really excellent authors whose debut novels were just released, speak in Harvard Square. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, I also ran into Gina Damico and Diana Ren, two more excellent debut authors, at the event. They all signed my books4. They all seemed excited that I was so excited to be meeting them. Or perhaps they were actually bewildered by my exuberance and they’re just really good at hiding it. But they were all lovely, and sweet about welcoming me into the young adult community when I told them that I was fresh off my first day in the MFA.

And if that wasn’t enough YA awesome for the day, I exchanged twitter messages with my writing crush and fellow Simmons kid, Karsten Knight.

So as far as first days go, this one gets a solid A. Things are looking up.

  1. In unrelated ID news, I just got a new driver’s license with a new photo, the first time since the original driver’s license I got when I turned sixteen. Because of some unfortunate timing, the picture was taken when I was in my recent weird half-pink half-blonde hair stage. I’m pretty sure my mother did this on purpose to try and teach me a lesson about dyeing my hair weird colors. But the message of this story is that every time I open my wallet, I throw up in my mouth at my picture with sherbet colored hair. And on top of that, my hair is poofing out weird. Really picture guy? You couldn’t have mentioned that?
  2. Still not going to talk about it. Don’t ask.
  3. Those of you who know me well know that me putting a page of my journal on the internet is, in the words of Joe Biden, a big effing deal. Savor it – this may be the only time you ever get to look into what was affectionately termed by a high school friend, my “life”.
  4. Which I purchased for myself as a birthday present.
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in which I look back on a turbulent week

So the first week in Boston has come and gone.

And kids, Boston and I did not get off to a great start.

It was a lonely week, an isolated week, as most first weeks are. It was a stressful week, a week of not knowing where anything is1. It was a week of me spending a lot of quality time with The Book2 and the Doctor3. It was a week of fighting with buses and waiting at bus stops and swearing at buses as they pulled away with me running after them. It was a week of worrying about tomorrow.

Because tomorrow, the masters4 program begins. In the words of Nemo, “First day of school, first day of school, first day of school!” And in the words of me “Panicpanicpanicpanic.” Not that I haven’t already started schoolwork – I have been knee deep in reading for the past week5. As is my custom, I am alternately freaking out and chomping at the bit because I’m so unbelievably excited. No going back from here, though. No more talking about “Someday, when I’m a writer.” That all starts tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to stop talking and start doing.

Brace yourself for awesome.

Even though things here got off to a rocky start, I’m looking ahead with cautious optimism. There are awesome things in my future – including a Florence+The Machine concert, a trip to Amherst, and KidLitCon in New York City6 – and I am looking forward to getting better acquainted with Boston. We will be friends yet!

  1. This statement applies to both Boston and the kitchen in my house.
  2. Work in progress, unnamed, don’t ask me about it, I won’t tell you, but I figure I should start working on something since someday this will maybe hopefully be my job I had to start at some point.
  3. Doctor Who – don’t panic, grandma.
  4. Point of clarification – when you’re talking about a master’s degree, where the hell does the apostrophe go? Is there an apostrophe? Please help.
  5. What sadistic teacher assigns 400 pages of reading for the first day? Welcome to the first day of the next two years of your life.
  6. Which means guess whose childhood dream to see Newsies on stage is coming true!
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in which i experience public transporation hell

So the Boston public transportation system and I sort of got off to a rocky start yesterday.

Which was certainly unexpected. Having lived where I have lived and ridden all the various buses and trains and donkeys I have, I thought that Boston public transit would be a synch. And it definitely should have been. But it was not. Instead, it turned into one of the more traumatic days of my life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s back up to yesterday morning.

According to my memory, I had orientation for school on Thursday. So I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me on Wednesday to go into Boston and map out my route to school. You know, just to figure out how long it would take.

So around ten o’clock, I headed to the bus station to catch the bus to the train staiton that would take me into the city. And I waited for a bus.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And forty-five minutes later, there was still no bus.

I have since learned that, here in Lexington, busses come once every hour. Which is sort of bad news if you miss it and are on a tight class schedule like I am going to be.

So after waiting for the bus for forty-five minutes, I thought “Maybe I’m in the wrong spot. Maybe I need to go to the main station instead of standing by a little side post on the side of the road half hidden by a garbage truck.” So I start walking there. Only to have the bus drive past me and away. Which means I got to wait another hour for another bus to come.

But I got there. Two and a half hours later I was in Boston, at the school, buying books and walking around campus1. Then, around two o’clock, I decided to head home, because I was sort of tired and had spilled something on my dress. So I caught the train/bus home. Which also took forever. I ended up again waiting for the bus, all the while trying to coax my practically dead phone into working for just a few more minutes.

Then, just as I walked through the door of my home here in Lexington after an almost two hour commute, I got a text from my mom that said, “Enjoy your orientation dinner tonight.”

So as you may have guessed, I had the day wrong for my orientation. I had spent weeks innocently thinking that it was on Thursday, when in actuality, it was Wednesday.

Let’s do the math, shall we? At this moment, with busses that only come once an hour, it would have taken me two hours to get to Boston. Orientation started at six. It was no four thirty.

Which was all a bit not good.

Oh, also, I had a phone with about twenty-two seconds of battery life left.

So I got on the first bus I could, then used my remaining battery life to call my roommate, The Other MT2, who works in Harvard Square. I left her a panicked message to the effect of, “I know we don’t know each other well enough for me to be asking you for this yet, but could you pleasepleaseplease give me a ride from Harvard Square to Fenway so I can get to my orientation dinner?” TOMT was not crazy about driving on the other side of the river at rush hour, but she agreed3.

So TOMT and I navigated the crazy strange streets on the other side of the river, and, by some strange, bizarre, amazing miracle, I walked4 into orientation at six pm exactly.

And frankly, it sucked. There was hardly anyone from my program there, dinner was awful, and the dean spoke for literally less than five minutes and then it was over. I was there for less than an hour and a half, and it was sort of a joke.

And then I had to fight public transportation yet again.

And for the record, the trains are stellar. They are awesome. The busses make me want to swallow a box of nails. And so I arrived at the bus station about 8:15. And you can probably guess the next part of the story.

I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited for an hour and a half.

No bus.

And then this little man came up to me and said, “Are you waiting for the bus? It stops running at 8 pm.” And then he vanished as strangely as he had appeared.

So here I am, in the darkness, at a sketchy bus station, alone, with no phone, in the dark.

And then a miracle happened. A really nice woman offered to give me a ride home.

And yes, I saw the stranger danger videos as a kid, but she had three teenage kids and a dog, and she was a Harvard doctor, and I probably would have gotten in a car with a guy with a ski mask and chainsaw at that point, I just wanted to be home so badly. But it was not a family of serial killers. It was a family of nice people who helped me, and who, it turns out, live only three streets away from me, and gave me their phone number and said to call them if I had problems again.

And so I arrived home, cracked a diet coke, turned on Doctor Who, and collapsed into a miserable, public transportation-hating heap.

And that is the story of me spending pretty much an entire day on public transportation, which would make any sane person want to jam grape fruit spoons into their eyes.

  1. I had this horrific Mr. Bean moment where I was walking down a hallway, and suddenly from the other end of the hallway, a processional of people in caps and gowns started coming towards me. And I had nowhere to go. So I just walked through the center of some weird graduation processional.
  2. Nickname derived from the fact that she has the same name as my sister, the MT.
  3. Can we all take a moment to appreciate the awesome kindness of TOMT for doing this? Because seriously.
  4. Okay, sprinted
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