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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Boston. Because F--k You!"

Navigating in and around Boston takes more than a mere map. Outsiders marvel at the high percentage of super-charged conversations between residents that focus entirely on driving, traffic and parking. It's as though the Dunks-torqued citizenry is collectively compiling an epic saga entitled How I Survived My Commute Today, and a handbook series with titles such as, Nobody In History Has Ever Parked A Car Anywhere Near Harvard Yard, Asshole. 

If residents need a certificate in Getting Around in order to, um, get around, then visitors don't have a chance. Especially the parents at the wheel of packed-to-the-nuts SUVs delivering freshmen to one dorm or another. Those people will sooner sprout wings and take flight before they get where they're going on the first (or 10th) try, and they're in your way every September.

Maybe "just pave over those cow paths" wasn't the best strategy for city planning.

You Can't Get There From Anywhere


My personal story goes like this. My then-boyfriend and I moved to Boston in the early 90s after college. Flummoxed by the seemingly inexplicable one way streets, traffic circles, scant signs and dead ends, he and I mounted a self-imposed seminar on Getting Around Boston. 

We would get our maps (which is a very old-school way to start a sentence) and set up destination-based challenges. We'd simulate the gauntlet for a variety of trips. These were practical recon excursions. "OK," we'd say. "Right now we are in Union Square in Somerville. How do we get to the Prudential Center."  And so forth.

Our skills would be put to the test in the real world, but only at quiet times. During the day it's too chaotic. So we'd wake pre-dawn, and get out there when the only other cars on the road are bread trucks and cabs.


"There's Big Ben, kids! Parliament!"


"Is this Comm Ave? I think this is Mass Ave! Wait, was that our right turn? You can only go left here, WHAT THE F....?" 

Do you know they change the name of the road you're on sometimes here? Sometimes it changes back after a few miles. Or not.

Did you know that it's possible to have a dead-end, one-way street?

Did you know that the compass points -- North, South, East and West -- can exist in some sort of hazy in-between space like those random thoughts you have when you're half awake or half asleep and don't know what day it even is?

Death grip on the wheel at 10 & 2. One way streets, traffic circles, dead ends. Blink, and you miss a vitally important sign the size of a greeting card, and now you have to drive out to the airport in order to get back to downtown.

One night I swear I turned right at three Dunkin Donuts' in a row and ended up at the corner of Tremont and Tremont.

Lest you think, oh, but that was before GPS technology got really good. Sure. It's a theory. Try it out. Have fun!



Parking Wars


Even if you reach your destination, my friend, you still have to park. The question, "where did you park?" never even comes up in other places, but here that's an ice breaker. Some years ago, I wrote a poem about giving up and just going home. 

Ode to Star Market