I Did A Brave Thing

I did a brave thing this week. This week I stepped outside the boundaries I had set up for myself. I weighed the pro's and con's, made lists and arguements, backed out a few times, and in the end I threw all of that away and just said what I needed and wanted to say, without apology. I immediately felt like throwing up.

Being honest is scary, especially when you stand to lose something or be rejected. What I had to decide is this: Is it worth it to be scared and go for it anyway?

For the past four years I have not let myself get into a situation where I could be emotionally at risk. I refused to take a leap of faith because, really, how often do you get caught? It might be a while before someone catches you with the correct finesse. Too much could go wrong and I might hit the ground too hard and I might even (gasp!) cry! So, I'd just rather not try. That is honestly how I felt about the whole "putting yourself out there" thing. I know I'm not alone in this.

But all of that had to come to an end some time. So, I made a decision. I was ballsy-er than I have every been before. Oh my Lord, was I ballsy! And you know what? It actually worked out.

Is there something completely outside the box that you want to do? Is there something you want to say to someone but can't build up the courage? I know, it seems like a fail/fail situation. Never in a million years is it going to work out the way you are imagining it. You realize you are saying things to yourself like, "If this was a movie it would happen like this", and then it seems even more impossible because we don't live in a movie. This is real life and real life never works out the way you want it too! At least, that's what it feels like, isn't it? But sometimes, every once in a while, there is something that is so important it's worth going for it. It's worth it to admit to yourself that you are terrified and do it anyway. Because sometimes it does work out the way you imagine it will.

I did a brave thing this week. You should too.


My First Time At Fenway

Author's note: I will be putting up several postings this week since I am in Boston and will be sure to experience something new every day.

We waited in line for an hour and a half to be sure that we would get tickets; my sister, Jessica, and I. I’m not what you would refer to as a baseball fan and I’d never been to a game at Fenway Park before, but every movie I’d ever seen about it and every story I’d ever heard about it made me sure it was yet another part of Boston I would fall in love with.
Sitting on the curb in line, I looked out over the street at Gate D. I could feel the excitement mounting in the air as the food and clothing vendors took their places and were immediately swarmed by fans. You can imagine that these are the exact spots the vendors take every game day. A personal tradition as important outside the stadium as “Sweet Caroline” is inside the stadium.

In the movies it always looks like a huge party where everyone is smiling, having fun and what appears to be the best day of their lives. It is no different in real life. Actually, Boston as a city feels like a big Fair. There’s always something tasty in a food cart on every corner, there are people playing music in random places, and everyone looks like they are having a good time! But I digress.

Fenway is a street fair all its own with street performers on stilts, foam fingers, and tons of food including (what else) the Fenway Frank. Jessica and I each got a frank first thing when we entered the stadium. There was a lot of hype built up around this little dog and I was anxious to try one. I wouldn’t dare tarnish the name of the Fenway Frank by saying anything other than it was delicious, which it was. But we didn’t stop there, oh no. During the course of the game we shared French fries, cotton candy, and peanuts in the shell (which went a hundred times better than the sunflower seeds!). We had planned on also getting nachos, but were too full by the eighth inning to get anything else.

The Red Sox were playing the Oakland A’s that day. The spirit of Red Sox’s fans showed when a player on the A’s who had been on the Sox last season got up to bat for the first time (I don’t remember his name. I know, that’s terrible journalism. I am not proud of myself). The entire stadium stood to their feet and gave him a standing ovation for at least a full minute. It was truly touching and was a wonderful example of how loyal Sox fans are. It had a feeling about it of “once you are in the family you are always in the family”. Very Italian/Irish mafia.

I can understand why Bostonians feel about baseball the way they do. I’d been to baseball games before, but somehow it felt different here. It was like its own little culture and every stranger was welcomed in with open arms (as long as they weren’t wearing a Yankees jersey) and given food and a nice place to sit and watch all that happened. Even though the Red Sox lost, it was still a good time and I would go back to Fenway Stadium again in a heartbeat. If I lived here I might even become a real baseball fan.


Arriving Bagless in Boston

Author's note: I will be putting up several new posts this week, as I am in Boston and will surely be experiencing new things every day.

I love traveling, especially at night. I’m not sure what it is, but traveling in the dark makes me feel cozy and free. That is why I took the red eye to Boston on Saturday night. That and I didn’t want to spend an entire day of my vacation traveling. I left LAX at midnight and arrived in Boston at 10:00 AM. My bag, however, did not.

I had a connecting flight in Baltimore around 7:30 AM, but my flight from LA had been delayed about an hour. I had 20 minutes after we arrived in Baltimore to get to my connecting flight. That apparently was not enough time for the baggage handlers to sort and reassign the bags of the seven of us who were flying through to Boston. It might just be naiveté on my part, but I feel that there could be a better baggage system like, say, put the bags that need to get onto connecting flights all together in one easily accessible spot so they are the first ones to be removed from the plane. I know, it sounds too crazy to actually work, right?

The first thing I did when my plane landed at my final destination was find a restroom so I could brush my teeth, fix my hair, and apply a little mascara (I had, after all, been traveling all night). I took my time because I’m on vacation and that’s what I like to do when I’m on vacation. When I sauntered back to the baggage claim I ran into a guy who had been on my same flights. I smiled a very relaxed, unassuming smile at him and he looked at me and said, “Are you missing your bag too?” “I don’t know”, I replied. “I haven’t looked for it yet.”

After establishing that our bags were not going to magically appear on the now empty and still carousel, the seven of us who had come from LA marched over to the office of the airline carrier we were with. We each took our turns talking with the two friendly guys as the counter, describing our bags and giving our personal information so that our luggage could be delivered later in the day after they arrived on the next plane from Baltimore. “I’m pretty sure they should be on that flight”, Obanit assured us. Comforting.

When my sister, Jessica, her husband, Torre, and I got back to their apartment I called the airline to see what the deal was so that we could make plans for the rest of the day. Obanit said that he had just handed my bag over to the delivery service and gave me their number. I wanted to see if someone had to be there to sign for the bag or if they would just leave it inside the main door of the building so that we could go into town.

The conversation with the man I reached at the delivery service went like this, I kid you not:

Me: Hi you guys just picked up my bag from (the airlines name) and I was wondering if I have to be here to sign for it when you drop it off or if you can just leave it inside the main door of the building.

Delivery man (Derrick): What’s your address?

Me: yada yada yada, Boston, zip code

Derrick: We don’t have your bag yet we will call you when we get it.

Me: Really? The guy at the airport said you picked it up already.

Derrick: Ma’am, Ma’am, Ma’am Ma’am! We do not have your bag! This is the warehouse and we do not have your bag yet!

Me: Oh, I didn’t know I was callin-

Derrick: Ma’am, Ma’am, you need to wait for us to call you!

Me: I just was wondering if I’m going to have to sign for it or if you can just leave it.

Derrick: What is the first thing you said when I told you we don’t have your bag yet? What is the first thing you said when I told you we don’t have your bag yet?!

Me: You don’t have to talk to me that way, I’m just asking a question.

Derrick: You are not listening to a word I’m saying.

Me: I am I just want to know-

Derrick: You did not hear a word I said! What is the first thing you said when I told you we don’t have your bag yet?!

Me: Are you really yelling at me right now? Just tell me if you generally leave the bag or if you generally make someone sign for it.

Derrick: Not on that street we won’t leave it!

Me: Thank you! *click*

That is how the actual conversation went. I was so pissed off when I got off the phone. And it didn’t end there. I fell asleep waiting for the delivery guy to get there and I woke up to my phone ringing. When I answered it was my old buddy Derrick.

Me: Hello?
Derrick: Ma’am we have been calling you and calling you! Did you call me about a bag? My guy has been calling and ringing your doorbell and you have not answered! Did you not call me about
your bag?
Me: I did not hear the bell and I haven’t had any calls.
Derrick: Yes we have been calling you! I can’t believe this. You need to go outside right now because he is there. Did you not call me about your bag????!!
Me: Just tell him to come back. I’m going outside right now. *click*

I went outside and the driver pulled up. He was a very nice, little man who gave me the name of the man I had been talking to, Derrick, the name of his supervisor, Jason, and the next time Jason would be in the office. Jason will be hearing from me about the ridiculously unacceptable service I received. The whole thing was surreal, in a bad way.
So, I got my bag back, everything was in it, I got yelled at twice by a stranger, we wasted hours of my first day here waiting to hear from the delivery people, and I got the experience of my bag being lost on a flight. All in all I think it was a success.


Children Underground

So far my little blog here has been about me experiencing new, pleasant, and amusing (I hope) things. As I was wondering what I would write about this week, I thought back to a documentary film I watched on Monday. It is called “Children Underground” and was directed by Edet Belzberg. The story follows five homeless children living in a subway station in Bucharest, Romania. Thinking about this film I realized that I may not have done something I’ve never ever done before (I’ve seen documentaries), but I learned something I did not know. I had no idea about this devastating, true story and I’m betting you don’t know about it either.

Romania’s former communist leader, Nicolae Ceaucescu, banned all forms of contraception and abortion in an attempt to increase the country’s workforce. As a result, 20,000 children were born into homes that did not want them or could not care for them. They were born into impoverished families, broken homes, and abusive situations. Many of these children ran away from home and ended up living on the streets either alone, or in groups.

“Children Underground” closely follows the stories of five of these children.

Christina- She is a teenage girl who has decided that only boys can survive in this world because of the way she was treated in the orphanage as a young girl. She shaves her head, dresses as a boy, and has adopted a very tough, mean, street exterior. She is the leader of the group of kids living in the subway and in the private moments that she is interviewed by the documentary crew, she shows glimpses of a young girl who has been wronged in many ways and just wants someone she can rely on to love her.

Ana- She is 10 years old. She ran away from home, the first time, alone. She then went back, broke in at night, and took her little brother with her. He is 8 years old. She will not say why she ran away from home, but when her Stepfather is interviewed it is plain to see that, although he was not unkind or harmful to Ana and her brother, he was fed up with his wife’s children and did not hide it. It was sad to see Ana start using the vulgar speech of the other street children towards the end of the documentary. Clearly, she was trying to be what she thought she needed to be to live in that environment.

Marian- Marian is the 8 year old brother of Ana. He does not want to live on the street, but is willing to do anything his sister wants just to be with her. Ana and Marian are extremely close, always together, even when Christina makes Ana beg for money all night to pay a shopkeeper back for a bottle she broke. Marian begs too until his little body can take the exhaustion no more and he walks, crying, back to the subway.

Macarena- She is called Macarena because she likes to dance so much while she was in the orphanage. She is probably the saddest case in this documentary because she is 14 and completely hooked on inhaling paint. All the kids do it throughout the entire documentary, even little Marian, because they say it makes them not hungry anymore. But Macarena is always high, mumbling incoherently, crying, and accusing people of not treating her the right way. A man in the subway beats her as she is high for no apparent reason. She struggles, screaming and crying, until Christina breaks it up and takes her away. She says, “People give me money for food but I buy paint, because if I get one bottle I’m no longer hungry. It’s like paradise! You dream that you eat, and I can’t give it up.”

Mihai- While watching the documentary I fell in love with this obviously intelligent, little boy. He is 12 and has been living on the street since he was 8. He does what he needs to do with a calm, seemingly grownup exterior. He says he likes living on the street because it allows him to “live freely”. His one complaint of street life is that there is no one there to educate him. He wants to go to school and “have a skill in life”. Mihai ran away from home because his father drinks and beats him, which his father denied when being interviewed, and is clearly afraid to go back. A social worker arranged for Mihai to go home and get his papers, because without them he cannot enroll in school, and at the last minute little Mihai freezes up and refuses to go into his house. Two of the adults go for him while two stay with him, but his mother will not give up his papers.

There is so much more to these children, I could write a book trying to explain them to you. I encourage you to see the documentary. It is saddening, enlightening, enraging, and compelling. Who will help these children? Who will love them, hold them and tell them it will be ok? It might not be ok for them. They are living in a hopeless world while desperately trying to wipe the mud from their eyes that is being slung at them every day, just so they can catch a glimpse of light. And most of them are failing miserably.

In my good natured search for knowledge and experiences I’ve never had before I came across this film. When I initially sat down to watch it I didn’t think about the fact that the stories in it would be real. The people in it are real. The situations they are living in are worse than a two hour glimpse can convey. From this weeks “new thing” I am taking away the fresh realization that I need to do more things I’ve never done before and learn more things I didn’t know before, about things that matter.