Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shopping on a Mission

When I tag along while someone else is shopping I'm pretty relaxed and chill, because it's more of a social event for me. But when I'm out shopping, I'm on a mission. I have something(s) I'm looking for, I go find them, grab them, hit the checkout lane and run.

The other day I was at Target. I needed one thing. I knew exactly where in the store that thing was located. And I made a beeline for it.

A Target employee walks out of the sporting goods aisle. Normally if you wander aimlessly or look like you're lost, employees will ask, "Can I help you find something?" Perfectly understandable.

That's not the case here. I'm almost running because I know exactly where I'm headed.

Still, the Target employee makes eye contact with me and asks, "Can I help you find something?"

I'm a little taken aback that he's ambushed me like this.

But I don't lose my focus.

"No," I say, without breaking stride.

As I leave him in the dust I hear him say, "OK," with sort of that sad-puppy-dog whimper.

I don't stop, but at the same time I feel like maybe I could've been a little more polite. After all, I'm just shopping. This isn't an emergency.

So, if you're out there, Target employee, I truly did not need your help finding something. But just know that I apologize for being rude. It was unnecessary and I'll try to be more social when shopping in the future.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

My MFA Little Sister's Wedding

Biologically, I'm an only child. But four years ago I was assigned to be a Big Brother in the Master of Fine Arts program -- of which I had just survived my first semester myself -- to an incoming student from Fall River named Erin. We were matched up primarily because we both hail from Massachusetts and there weren't a lot of Bay Staters in our MFA program.

I sent Erin an email, welcoming her to the program. And I waited for a response.

And waited.

And waited. (Eventually I emailed the woman who assigned me to be Erin's Big Brother and speculated that "maybe she would've preferred a Big Sister.")

Two weeks later, Erin finally emailed me back, apologizing for the delay in response because she had been away. A couple of days later I got a Facebook friend request from Erin, along with an email that screamed "I FOUND YOU!!!"

From that moment on, Erin wouldn’t let me become unfound. I say that as a positive. There were times in the MFA program when she would call or email or IM me, upset that she didn’t feel like she had what it takes to earn a Master’s. And I would talk her off the ledge, tell her to relax, take a deep breath, and reassure her that she’s one of the best writers I know and I’m sure her latest packet is another masterpiece. And shortly thereafter I’d get tagged in a Facebook post about how I was the best MFA Big Brother ever. In return, she’s been there at times when life kicked me while I was already down, and encouraged me to keep on fighting when I felt like giving up. I started this blog a few years ago and one time, after my life got hellacious and a month or so went by without me blogging, Erin IMed me that it was about time for me to "man up" and start blogging again. She’s the only person ever to write a guest blog for me, and while I’m always up for someone taking over the Philloverse for a day if they have a good idea, I think it was only appropriate that she was the first.

For my MFA cohort's graduation, I was asked to give the student speech. I asked Erin if I could read it to her, to practice speaking in front of an audience and to see if there were any last-minute tweaks I could make. She did an awesome job at handling both tasks. One semester later, Erin was asked to give the student address for her cohort’s graduation, and she didn’t need my help because she knocked it out of the park. But giving our respective graduation speeches was yet another bonding experience for us.

And, on the morning of this past Oct. 30, when the Red Sox needed one win to clinch perhaps the most improbable World Series championship ever, Erin tagged me on Facebook:

"Dear Red Sox,
Today is Phil's birthday. No pressure or anything, but a win would be a great gift.

And the Sox delivered to me the best birthday present ever. That’s Erin in a two-pronged nutshell: always thinking of you, and always getting results.

I bring all this up now because Erin got married yesterday down in Fall River. Let me first say that Ryan is one lucky guy. It was a great wedding, as nearly all are. But as things began to wind down late last night, Erin came up to me, gave me a hug and said, “Thank you for driving all the way down here. I’m so happy you came.”

I appreciate the gesture, of course, but I was taken aback. The thought never occurred to me not to attend. The Riv is only an hour away from me. She could’ve gotten married in Alaska and I would’ve found a way to be there. Because Erin’s always been there for me. She’s a true friend. And I’m happy for her.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

13 mph Part 2, Or CSI: Northborough

The flashing speed measurement sign I encountered last week on my run has disappeared, only to reappear about 1/2 or a mile from my place, which I noticed when I was driving up the street and saw it flashing "35" at me in a 30mph zone.


Perhaps Northborough PD caught wind that I was calling them out on the accuracy of their device and is now out to deliver vengeance.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

13 mph

I went out for a run earlier. I'm trying to whip myself into shape and, along with yoga and The Double, running is one of the methods to my madness.

Toward the end of the route I've started taking there's a school. Parked across the street from the school is one of those flashing speed measurement signs police departments employ. Makes sense. You probably want cars to slow it down near a school.

As I approached the sign there were no cars anywhere in sight, so I don't expect the sign to do anything.

Wrong. The sign flashes "13" at me.

No way. I am a slow, plodding runner. At 13mph I would be able to finish a marathon in slightly more than 2 hours, a world record.

Clearly this sign needs to be recalibrated, repaired or tossed in a scrap heap.