Tag Archives: boston

Back in Boston

21 Nov

I’m back in Boston (Sharon now, but who’s keeping track?) for the Thanksgiving break, getting away from Washington, DC for a week. On Saturday afternoon I took a flight out of Reagan National Airport and was amazed to find that we landed in Boston a half hour early. In all of the flying around the world that I’ve done, I’ve never been on a flight that got in so ahead of schedule. My old friends Dan and Scott picked me up at Logan International and we got ready to head out for the night, meeting up with old friends at a surprise party. Really, the Thanksgiving break doesn’t start for another couple of days, but since all of my classes for this week were canceled, I decided to take the days off of work.

The flight prices vary considerably, and by leaving on Saturday I was set to save about $400. The drastic price difference is the only reason that I’ve been able to come back home, and originally I was just planning on meeting my family in New York at my grandma’s. So instead, I had a good night out with some friends, followed by a brunch in Boston with my parents and sister, and will spend the next couple of days at my parent’s house studying and working on my final papers. On Thursday morning we’ll be leaving early to head down to New York, where we’ll have a feast with the family in Brooklyn. On Friday we’ll head down to New Jersey and I’ll visit my aunt and uncle who I haven’t seen in years, as well as cousins and their children who I’ve never even met. Finally, on Saturday morning I’ll take the Amtrak back to Washington to get ready to start up with school in the final stretch. It’s a real life version of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

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Winding Down in Boston

21 Aug

It’s been fun and refreshing to be back in the Boston area these last few weeks, but alas, it’s time to move on yet again. I know I always say I can’t believe how quickly the time goes by, but yet again I’m amazed at how fast things have moved. I spent a good five weeks or so at home and traveling around the upper east coast, I’ve got to head down to Washington D.C. to move into a new apartment and start graduate school. I’m not going to lie–I’m not totally thrilled about moving down to the capital, and I’ve heard mixed reports that some people love living there while others hate it. We’ll see how it goes for me as I adjust to a new kind of life.

It won’t be easy to get back into student life, especially since I’ll be trying to find a job at the same time, but I believe that there’s value in going back for a Masters degree, and hopefully this will be a way for me to get back to working with Latin America in a more stable platform. My time back home has been sweet and I wouldn’t have changed it, though I’d love to have been able to visit some more friends I couldn’t see and see others more frequently. I think it was the perfect amount of time to rest up and regroup, because while I was so busy for the majority of the time back, there were only a couple of days in which I started to itch with boredom and feel idle. There’s a lot to take care of after three years, after all.

For my last weekend here, I spent Friday in the area with my old time friends Scott and Fish. On Saturday I headed into the city to meet up with my friend Dave from UMass and we went to the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition off of the ICA building in the harbor. I got a lobster sandwich, we walked probably three miles through the city and even played some Frisbee in Boston Common. It was a nice way to cap off a summer at home. Tomorrow I’ve got to finish off the packing and load up the car, and on Tuesday morning at 6 am I’m heading down to Washington with my parents. On the road again…

One Month Back on the Ranch

12 Aug

A month ago today I arrived back in Boston and ended my three year run in South America. In fact, right around this time in the afternoon (3:30 pm) I was probably pulling into my parents home in Sharon and taking it all in slowly. It was a surreal experience, to finally be back and see how things had changed, as well as the other things which were the same as always. I stood barefoot in the backyard with a beer in my hand and must have looked dazed, the jet lag and toll of the last few days in Buenos Aires adding up and finally equaling exhaustion.

The first month back home has been refreshing and set at the speed of sound. The first week back I reunited with a lot of old friends and shortly thereafter, I celebrated my 25th birthday in Boston. I spent some time up in Maine with college buddies and set off for Washington D.C. to try to find an apartment. In the process I was able to catch up with more old friends and acquaint myself a little better with the city that will shortly be my new home. A short respite at home and it was off again to Cape Cod, again to visit an old friend, and tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving for New York City to visit my grandma and cousins.

The feeling of elation at being home again and seeing familiar faces has made the transition pretty smooth, and even though I was expecting a harsh transfer, I’ve been spared for the most part. I’m cognizant of the fact that keeping busy has kept me in good spirits, and that’s why I wasn’t surprised by a bit of a let down this week as my main goals have been accomplished and I’ve started to see my days clear up a bit. It’s important to keep busy, but also to have enough free time when you return from abroad to process it all in. After everything you’ve been through, it wouldn’t be fair to just move on and not think about it. I don’t think you need to analyze every moment, but you owe it to yourself and those around you to think seriously about what you learned and what has changed.

Though my track record might speak differently, I’m not a huge fan of change. I like ordering the same favorite dishes in restaurants and having a comfortable place to live that I can call home. However, in the last few years I’ve moved around consistently and grown considerably, learning untold things and seeing much more than I’d ever expected. But that’s life, and you have to keep moving forward or you just stagnate. So here’s to another month in the U.S. See you after New York.

Suburban Boredom Sets In

11 Aug

Spending a few weeks at home is always nice and refreshing. It allows you to rest up and regroup, but if you kick around the old town for too long, it gets boring and if you’re like me, you start to feel a sense of uselessness. There is nothing to do in a suburban town in the middle of the day during the week. I’ve already gone through numerous seasons of television shows, have read a book, and have been traveling somewhere almost every week. Luckily those trips have broken up the monotony, but I’m beginning to feel like my days are just wasting by. This is a familiar feeling for summer at home.

If we were closer to the city it wouldn’t be bad. I would easily go in and walk around Boston or visit friends for dinner. But in reality, getting into the city can be a bit of a hassle sometimes. I either need to get to the commuter rail and take the train in or drive to the nearest T station and head in. Then I have to work off of train schedules, and staying over makes me a bit of a nuisance. I feel like I need a purpose, or something to do rather than just sit around and watch TV, waiting for the day to end. I need to get on with my life.

I realize that I only have a couple more weeks of this boredom problem until I move to Washington. Soon I won’t have a minute to spare and that will be the new concern, and these days will seem like a dream, but as the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side. I do have things to look forward to at the very least. On Saturday I’ll be heading to New York for the first time in a very long time–at least 4 or 5 years–to visit my grandma and cousins. I’ll be there a couple of nights and then head back home.

How to Speak with a Bostonian Twang

9 Aug

Copley Square, Back Bay, Boston

Bostonians are known for having a very distinct and unique accent, yet people are always surprised to find out that it’s my hometown when they hear me speak. “You don’t sound like you’re from Boston,” the smug jackass will usually say, as if they are from Boston and can spot the differences. Truth be told, the Boston accent has been greatly sensationalized by Hollywood, and if you just ask any number of my friends from this area, not everyone speaks like Jimmy Fallon or Ben Affleck while acting poorly. Once in a while we may drop an “r” or two, or even add one in unnecessarily, but generally speaking, the thicker the accent, the more of a show someone is putting on. Don’t even mention the Kennedy’s because they have the Kennedy accent, which is from another planet.

I once heard a guy from New Jersey telling me that I wasn’t from Boston because I didn’t speak like he expected me to. Apparently he had a friend from Boston and that made him the Nobel Prize winning scholar on Bostonian linguistics. The nerve. A Boston accent is not forced, and it cannot be faked without everyone from the area immediately seeing it for what it is: a fraud. If you are from Boston and watch a movie with a well-known actor like, oh let’s say Tom Hanks in “Catch Me If You Can” or Kevin Costner in “Thirteen Days,” and listen to them speak, it makes you cringe and laugh at the same time. I have a theory that our unique twang comes from a mix of English and Irish immigrants slowly accepting the harder American accent, but never really giving up their roots. Let those “r’s” roll off, baby. But just don’t do it if you have no idea how.

Still, it’s fun to joke around and mock ourselves and the fake accents we are thought to have. For some reason, a certain phrase has been engrained in the American public’s mind as the quintessential Bostonian phrase. You know the one:

Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Translation: Park the car in Harvard Yard.

Well, last week on my way back from the Cape I had to entertain myself somehow, and so I thought of a new and perhaps even more accurate phrase which should hit most of the Boston syllables. Without further adieu:

My fahthah was a pahk rangah in Bahnstable fah fahty-fah yeahs until he retiahed last Decembah. Translation: My father was a park ranger in Barnstable for forty-four years until he retired last December.

Don’t forget, it’s not just in mispronouncing words. It’s also about throwing in “guy” and “dude” a lot. But please note, when using words that start with “d,” put a lot of emphasis on the “d”. “Dude” should really be, “Dood.” For good measure, here are some other common words that you can practice for your next trip up to Beantown:

Hammahd: Hammered

Vodker: Vodka

Retahded: Retarded

Looga-disguy: Look at this guy

Backtracking on Spanish

8 Aug

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and was maybe secretly one of my biggest fears about returning home. After reaching such a high level of Spanish fluency, and nearly four weeks at home in the United States, I can see that I’m starting to lose some of my second language ability. I haven’t totally lost the edge, but going so long without consistent practice has caused me to start making some mistakes and to blank on some obscure vocabulary I wound up learning over time.

It’s hard to notice the setbacks immediately, but after talking with a few friends back in Buenos Aires, they joked about how my Spanish has gotten worse. Even just a short time away from a Spanish-speaking environment can affect how well you formulate the words and your response time. In a rush to overcompensate for possibly sounding off, I might speed up how I talk, ultimately causing me to make more errors. It’s nothing monumental for now, but I’m afraid of just how far it can go.

I was aware of this for a long time and after putting so much work and effort into becoming a Spanish speaker, I feel like the ability is my baby, and I don’t want to lose it. I plan on doing as much as I can to stay sharp on Spanish, which means not only staying in touch with my friends in Latin America, but making new Latino friends in Washington. Language is a constant back and forth, and the old saying holds true: if you don’t practice it you lose it. Feeling it slip away is a helpless struggle, and it makes me want to go back to Argentina today.

Similarities in Argentinian and American Barbecues

7 Aug

An Argentinian Asado

I wrote a post a couple of months ago about what you might expect to see at a typical asado, or barbecue, in Argentina. Admittedly, I hadn’t gone to too many asados during my two years in Buenos Aires, but in the last month I was invited to a few of them and really grew to love them. Though they hadn’t been a staple for me, I could easily see how just a few more of them and I would have placed them highly up on the list of things that I will always miss about that country. Now that I’m back home and I’ve been to a couple of barbecues with some friends and family, I can see how our cook outs are similar and different from those in Argentina.

Even though it’s not exactly a written rule, there seems to be some form of sexism involved in both barbecues. It’s not overt, but everyone kind of knows their role. The men will be in control of the grill and the meat, while the women are more likely to help out by preparing some kind of salad or side dish. You can feel free to write in with whatever comments and suggestions you might have from your barbecue, but this is just what I’ve seen in mine and my friends’.

The meat is always the main event, but in Argentina, the meat is on a different level. Don’t even think of seeing a hot dog or hamburger on the grill, but you will find cuts of meat that you didn’t even know existed. If you’re instinct is telling you not to eat the suspicious meat, just close your eyes and swallow. You will probably not be let down. Back here in the States, expect to see a plentiful supply of hot dogs and/or hamburgers, chicken, steak tips, corn on the cobb, and such common side dishes as potato salad and pasta salad, among others.

An Argentinian asado wouldn’t be complete without an ample supply of red wine, or possibly Fernet or some beer. A barbecue in the United States will have enough beer to go around for the neighbors and maybe even some hard alcohol for those who are watching their figure. What do you do during the barbecue? In Argentina, the men crowd around the grill and discuss the meat, soccer, or something equally important. Our patience is a bit harder to maintain up north, however, and so while we wait for the food we’ll play a number of backyard games like Polish Horseshoes, Ladderball, Ring Toss, etc. It’s fun, but these games can often drag on much longer after the thrill they started out with.

So who has the better barbecue, Argentina or the U.S.? This is a really hard call, and I might have to just call a wash on it. I will say that Argentina by far has the best meat, but then again, you can’t beat a good old fashioned hot dog or cheeseburger right off the grill. (Note: Not the hot dogs sold in Argentina, which are terrible, but the good kind sold in the U.S.). At both parties you’ll most likely find good people, happy conversation and wind up feeling overfed and ready to pass out in a food coma. Hey, it could be worse.

27 Hours in Cape Cod

4 Aug

East Dennis, Cape Cod

Crossing over the Sagamore Bridge and entering Cape Cod, you can start to feel a bit more relaxed in knowing that you’re about to enter a vacationland with beaches and laid back vibe. Unless you have weekend traffic which is common in the summer, you can pass by the Cape towns fairly quickly, arriving to your destination with ease. Yesterday I left for the town of Dennis, on the northern arm of the Cape, about half way up the extension of land. My friend Elyse is living with her grandpa for the summer there, just a short walk to the beach, and I went up to catch up with her and see the Cape for the first time in about four years.

Getting in early in the afternoon, we headed to the town of Hyannis, famous for its quaint center with shops and restaurants, as well as beautiful waterfront properties. Elyse and I window shopped a bit and then settled on some ice cream, eventually driving back to the house to go to the beach. Cape Cod is heavily settled by summer vacationers who either have second homes or rent for a few days or weeks, but you often have to drive pretty far to get places. There are restaurants, bars, and mini golf courses in certain spots, but if you’re not near those you might have to drive for a half hour.

Hyannis, Cape Cod

The weather wasn’t working with us as it was a bit chillier over the last two days, but I still went into the water for a bit. We walked along the beach and watched the many hermit crabs scurrying along as the tide pulled out by sunset. For entertainment at night we hit up the local restaurant and bar where Elyse works, and I got my first bowl of New England Clam Chowder in at least four years. It didn’t let me down, and after I ate we watched a local band play some hits.

Today was more laid back as we were tired from the night out, but we made it back to the beach eventually and I burned up badly without any sunblock on. I now look like a lobster, even though I didn’t get to eat any on the trip. I’m back home in Sharon now, resting up before the next outing. Tomorrow I’m headed back to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play, again for the first time in over four years. My friend Fish is treating me to the game, and though I was planning on heading to Amherst on Sunday afternoon, that has been scratched for a possible trip to the beach instead.