Seven Feet Under

Boston and surrounding areas are literally buried in snow. The entire public transportation system – commuter rails, subway, trolleys, ferries – have all shut down. The only thing moving is snow plows and a couple of buses that are groaning and creaking their way along snow filled roads. We have had seven feet of snow in two weeks.

Outside our apartment is a mountain of snow. We think there is a car in there somewhere but there is no way to tell.

With far less snow I have been known to shake my fist and unreasonably yell at God and man, but this is so unbelievable that all I can do is shake my head in that disbelief. And laugh.

My husband and I plan our clandestine escape. We will leave jobs, home, everything and just go. We will go to warmer places and we won’t come back until June – when sunshine is predicted and all of life feels bearable. Of course, for this to work, the airport has to be open so even our escape is thwarted.

I’m doing all I can to escape the weight of snow – all the weight, not just the physical stuff but all it brings with it. Anyone who waxes poetic about snow has never dealt with seven feet of it in the city. (That would be Robert Frost who stops in the woods on snowy evenings….) A picture taken in the Southeast part of the state shows a parking space shoveled and heavily guarded by statues of Mary and Joseph. My friend sends it to me with the caption “I wonder who would dare take this parking spot!” Anything to add joy or humor to this seven-foot weight is welcome.

Who would dare take this spot

Here’s the thing: I’d love to indulge in a heaping helping of self-pity topped with whipped cream, but there are hundreds of thousands of people in the same place, and many of them are worse off. You can see it on the faces of people who get paid by the hour: when the subway or bus is late or doesn’t arrive at all, their pay check will suffer. You can see it on the faces of young, single moms just trying to get kids to day care and themselves to work. You can see it on the faces of the elderly, worn down with the weight of age and snow. And you can see it on my face.

It struck me yesterday while walking home from work that any thoughts of self-pity need to be replaced with solidarity. We are all in this together. We are all cold. We are all buried under snow. We are all tired. We are all late. We all hate Robert Frost.

I need to bury the self-pity seven feet under — like the car outside my doorstep. But can I indulge a moment longer? Just until the next snow storm due on Saturday?

Picture Credit:

Nemo Wuz Here – Community to Cutthroat

Nemo it was called. Evidently winter storms will now be named — the ‘experts’ say this will make them easier to track. Ironically the name ‘Nemo’ comes from Latin and its literal meaning is ‘no one’. So Nemo raged for over 24 hours and by the end there were over 2 feet of snow as evidence of its force.

In the afternoon of the second day of the storm, the snow stopped. While it didn’t get sunny, clearly the storm was traveling on a predetermined trajectory and was heading quickly out to sea. That was when our neighborhood began heading out to look at the afterwards. Shovels of all sizes came out and there was an almost festive feel in the air. In an area of the country where people are not quick to acknowledge others or make friends, it was an extrovert’s dream. Neighbor shoveled beside neighbor, helping here, a side conversation there, laughter and shaking of heads at the seeming impossibility of the job.

Everyone’s goals were the same: Dig out your car, clear your porch, shovel your sidewalk. It was a community feel. I wanted to serve hot chocolate to everyone. It was great.

And then came day two and what had been community became cutthroat. People suddenly realized that if they drove away, their precious parking spot might be taken. Now if you don’t know the city, this won’t make sense to you. But parking spots are precious. More precious than money.

Plastic chairs came out of basement hibernation, put into use as parking space savers. Large, empty, grey garbage cans were placed in the middle of spaces that had been shoveled, some even found orange and white cones normally used at construction sites. People were determined to keep their hard-earned spots.

It quickly became ugly. Community was gone. It was every man for himself. Within 24 hours it had gone from community to cut throat.

Living in a city you accept some things. The good is obvious – walking to the subway, grocery store, long walks on a river that is practically on your doorstep, walking to many coffee shops, book stores, restaurants. You can live without your car.

The bad is that you give up space. You give up yards, green space, and parking space. But theoretically you accept that.

Until you’ve spent 3 hours digging out your car! And then the rules change.That space is yours, dammit!

But for me it’s sad. As much as I love the city, I wish we knew our neighbors better, I wish we had block parties, I wish no one on our street had to put chairs or cones in their parking spaces, instead accepting the annoyance of parking a block or two away.

I wish community didn’t leave so quickly, leaving space for the cutthroat “Hey that’s my space!” yelled angrily at one’s neighbor. Because Nemo wuz here and for a moment, community ruled.


blizzard 2013, Nemo, Boston, Cambridge
Our sturdy PT Cruiser poking out of the snow!








Wrapping Up the Week

Blizzard 2013 near the beginningI’m writing this while looking out at piles on piles of snow from what perhaps will be known as the famous blizzard of 2013! In the city we don’t have the luxury of pretty snow for very long, so soon does it bear the marks of the dirt and pollution of our world – but right this moment it’s a white wonderland. As though God took out a paintbrush and painted white across our canvas. Or as though we are in the movie Dr. Zhivago and Omar Sharif is inviting us into the ice palace.

But on to the wrapping up the week.

On Malala Yusufzai: This now well-known Pakistani teenager, Malala, is released from the hospital. Her story is amazing and I look forward to watching how she continues to change her (and our) world. Here is an update on her story.

On Abuse: I wrote a post this week called Out of Darkness, Into Light. I received many private messages and it was shared a good bit through various means of social media. I wrote it with fear and trembling, but more so a prayer that it could be used in some small way to bring healing and hope. Here is a comment from a reader posted on the Communicating Across Boundaries Facebook page.

“I think like all circumstances, the healing is an ongoing process. There are still some people I never want to see again, and some people I have yet to be able to forgive. Perhaps the greatest blessing is that I’ve stopped telling myself I *should* forgive, and just accept that I’m still hurt and angry. If and when all of it heals enough so that I can forgive, I will be grateful.”

Thank you Vivian Monterrosso for these words and for allowing me to share them. If you want to take a look at the Facebook page, here is the link:

On Women: I haven’t announced this in the blog until now, but last year I had an essay accepted to a book project called What a Woman is Worth. The editor is a gifted writer named Tamara Lunardo. She is in the final editing process at this point so stay tuned for the release of what is sure to be a redemptive set of essays looking at the worth of women in the sight of God. Tamara wrote a beautiful and personal essay on her blog this week called Taking Back Buffet. Reading it will give you a preview into the pain and redemption of this project.

On my beside table: Can we maybe just not talk about how little I’ve been able to read of the books that I want to read?! I did read the first part of the essay Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky to the delight of my son! I’m still processing this in between shoveling, laundry, and eating homemade bread.

And finally, the view from my window! Enjoy and lend a virtual hand to us as we try and shovel our way out of the snow cave.