The night I became lead singer of an ’80s rock band

singer

“Man, we were killing time, we were young and restless, we needed to unwind”
—Bryan Adams “Summer of ’69”

Entertaining myself during work trips isn’t a hard task; there always seems to be a lively bar or old friend to visit during my off-hours. Looking to up the ante during a recent jaunt to Washington, D.C., I Googled the one attraction sure to make me swell with American pride: the live band karaoke bar.

For those unfamiliar with this concept, please forego previous experiences of a ball bouncing on multicolored lyrics on a screen, all to a (rather poor) rendition of a Pat Benatar song. Backed not by a recording but by an actual drummer, guitarist, and bassist, you become Pat Benatar.

My Boston friends, Steve and Colleen, first introduced me to this concept some seven or eight years ago. It’s been my habitual drug ever since. If we go more than a month without live-band singing, one of us (likely me) will send the text, “I need my fix!”
While in my nation’s capital, I find the local “supplier” in the dimly lit basement of a barbecue joint. The wood paneling, lack of tables, bar in the back, and stage in the front mirrors other live-band bar setups. Smoked meat, however, replaces the standard smell of booze. Tonight offers another variation. This is the first time I’m singing to complete strangers without the company of my karaoke companions. Full disclosure: they weren’t present when I attended “karaoke night” on a cruise ship once, but I had only performed to a father and his 30-something daughter. They slow danced with each other before said daughter takes the stage and serenades him to something called “My Father’s Hands.” Motion sickness wasn’t the only thing making my stomach turn that night.

Personally, song selection is an arduous process. Singing a song that sings to you and is within your range takes some thought. Some nights, there’s trial and error. (Feeling adventures, Colleen and I to attempted Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” but the nearby alley cats in heat sounded better.) Of course, we have our staples, mine being mainly ’80s: “Stray Cat Strut,” “Footloose,” and Berlin’s “Metro.” On occasion, you succumb to the urge of attempting something different. That’s my plan tonight.

Toting a Victory IPA, my aptly named cup of liquid courage, I stand in the back awkwardly near the bar and watch groups form around me. Nobody engages me in conversation, and (being a bit shy in new settings) vice versa. I text my friends, hoping to evoke envy or at at the very least fake preoccupation as the crowds fill around me. Following the standard “why-wasn’t-I-invited” text from Colleen back in Boston, I ask for song suggestions. Steve sends me my usual selections, Colleen fires off “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem. I laugh at the song (meant as a joke) since I rap as well as I yodel. Looking back on the song, though, I realize (likely unbeknownst to Colleen) there’s some hidden meaning in that selection. The control freak in me hates to lose himself. That’s likely why I’ve never taken any illegal substance or why I cringe while in the passenger seat of a car; if I’m not firmly at the helm, it’s harder to control the outcome.

I also thought losing yourself  on stage would be just as hard. Singing to a crowd of strangers, my inhibitions are initially on display at karaoke. My voice might be “karaoke good,” as I say, but there’s always the initial butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of being judged for my abilities. Karaoke, however, gives you a safety net. I’ve learned that no matter how badly you perceive your stage self or how deep the anxiety, you have the ability of getting lost in the music. On stage, it’s you, the band, and the song. As you soon realize that the karaoke audience rarely passes judgment, the insecurities start to melt. You get a heartwarming ovation for whatever comes out of your mouth, from both friends and strangers. You master your fears and sing your ass off in the process. You immediately want to sing something else. It’s a high likely unparalleled by any drug. Tonight, though, I don’t have the safety net of my friends. Would the experience be any different?

Squeezed out of my small space at the bar by the now sizable crowd, I head towards the sign-up sheet near the stage. I pass 20-somethings in jeans and T-shirts, Suits finished with the day’s business, couples in their 40s. The dim lights make it hard to see the song list but I find my choice. “Niiiiiice!” says the bald-headed Suit next to me as I share my selection with him. I convince him to add his name to the list.

Standard procedure before my first song, my nerves start to accelerate. The knots expand in size as each name gets crossed off the list. The beer and other songsters–each thoroughly enjoyable with their renditions of Tom Jones, Carrie Underwood, and Journey–ease the tension a bit.

“Fred to the stage!”

Equal parts terror and excitement, I climb the stairs to the band. I place my beer in a holster attached to the mic stand. Also in front of me are two iPads also on stands that display the song lyrics. To advance the screen, I’m told, you need to tap the adjacent arrow buttons. Way more high-tech than the lyric sheet we’re typically given by our favorite karaoke band. The band tunes up as the spotlight warmly beams on me. Mainly congregating near the front of the stage, the crowd curiously stares at me, and I nervously smile back. I take the mic out of the stand, and wait.

The band confirms my song choice with me. “I think we know this one,” says the grinning bassist. The audience immediately recognizes the iconic opening, which is a quick slam on the drums followed by those unmistakable guitar chords. “I got my first real six-string/bought it at the five-and-dime/played it ’til my fingers bled/was the summer of ’69…”

They stare curiously at me as I sing the first stanza. I notice heads bobbing, hands raised, beers in the air. Until that moment on stage, screaming into a microphone, I never realized how high the notes for “…that summer seem to last forever” get. I feel my voice strain a bit during this part, but neither I nor the audience cares. I start dancing in place. When we come to the part “…and that’s when I met you, yeah” I point to the audience. They point back. We’re now feeding off each other’s energy.

The physical barrier between stage and audience is severed. We’re one unit, singing in unison: “Those were the best days of my life/oh yeah/back in the summer ’69!” It’s an amazing feeling to sing one of your favorite songs for an audience, knowing you’ve moved them and are being moved in the process. My focus wasn’t about sounding the best or the fear inside. It’s about getting lost in a moment when, for a mere three minutes and 25 seconds, I learn the magic that is being a rock star.

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How I attempted to ‘enjoy the silence’ like Depeche Mode during a yoga class

“Words are very unnecessary
they can only do harm…”
-Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”


Juggling a blue yoga mat resembling a Fruit Roll-Up for giants, water bottle, and face towel, I timidly enter the yoga studio. The paraphernalia is necessary, as is a lack of “strong colognes or perfumes,” per the studio’s website. I secretly pray nobody has an aversion to my heavily scented Old Spice deodorant that will eventually activate; when physically exerted, I sweat worse than an on-stage Whitney Houston (RIP) patting herself dry to no avail.

The instructor warmly greets me after realizing I’m a first-timer there. Full disclosure: I’m not a yoga virgin, but I’ve done it so infrequently that my muscles have become overexerted from too much weightlifting and too little stretching. That is what a masseuse told me a few months ago. She performed what is widely known as a deep-tissue massage on my heavily knotted back. I like to call her technique a spinal cord-ectomy, since the pain couldn’t have been any worse. “Yoga,” she said while jamming her elbows up and down the sides of my spine as tears quietly streamed down my face, “will help your muscles.”

I begrudgingly took her advice. And why not, since this is my year of living out new experiences tied to ’80s songs. Yes, yoga can salve the body, but it’s also nourishment for the mind. With enough practice, I’m told, the movements and breathing can silence thoughts and focus attention on the moment. There is a perpetual whirlwind inside my head, thoughts that seem to never end, which needs more attention than my muscles. The thoughts don’t fixate on one thing; one minute it’s work related, the next it’s remembering what ’80s tune played during last week’s episode of The Americans. It would be nice to “enjoy the silence,” as Depeche Mode sang in their hit that talks about the insignificance of words (or thoughts, for that matter) and the feelings that can be discovered in their absence. “Pleasures remain/So does the pain/Words are meaningless/And forgettable. (Music buffs: yes, I know the song was released in 1990, but it was written in the ’80s, so it’s fair game for my experiment.)

The yoga instructor points to the place where the magic happens: a darkened space save for three stationary lamps at the front, middle, and back of the room. Playing Goldilocks for a minute, the front would be too close to the instructor’s gaze as she eyeballs my completely botched poses. The back isn’t close enough for me to watch her perform them accurately. The middle is just right.

I sit on my mat and take in the serenity: a soothing hum from an above vent gently pumping warm air into the room, a mini tree with white lights, the utter lack of chatter. I’m feeling at ease and lie down on my back for some light stretching. Words quickly pierce my zen moment. “I’m not the one that spent $30 on Mexican!” says one Chatty Charlie to his tatted-up friend in front of me. Isn’t there an unspoken rule about keeping quiet in yoga studios?

Luckily, everyone–some 20 or so wannabe yogis–shuts up once the instructor enters.The first exercise seems simple: take in a few deep breaths. “You’ll notice how  you’re breath gets manipulated once you’re aware of it,” she says. I do the required inhalations and exhalations but get sidetracked by the weird undulations of my stomach. My three-steps-ahead mind is also thinking about what’s next vs. practicing being present with the task at hand.

We move into child pose: my face flat into the mat as my bum is pushed back toward my heels. My arms stretch out on the mat, but the instructor tells us to elongate the arms even more. If I reach any further, I’ll tickle the tootsies of the person in front of me.

During the next sets of poses, I notice two things: a.) I have trouble following directions when mimicking a pretzel and b.) my knowledge on the human anatomy is laughable.

Balance on the balls (?) of your feet.

Take the pose into your shoulder blades (?). 

Tuck in your tail.

Huh? Is “tail” another word for butt? Couldn’t she just say butt? I’m too deep into my thoughts to actually listen to her instructions for the poses, which are supposed to begin with an inhale and end with an exhale. Your breath is supposed to help guide your movements, but mine is so labored, I barely remember the importance of oxygen while the blood rushes to my head during a downward-facing dog. And don’t even get me started on the triangle pose, which Gumby himself would have a hard time mastering.

An hour into the class, and my face towel is soaked. My muscles finally get a break when the instructor asks us to relax on our backs. She turns off all lights. Legs spread and palms facing north, my breath returns to a steady pace. I slowly feel the air enter my nose and exit my mouth. If your thoughts veer from your breathe, she says, delicately bring your attention back to the breath.

What should I have for lunch? Come back to the breath.

My contacts feel glued to my eyeballs. Come back to the breath.

I hope I don’t fall asleep and start snoring in front of all these people. Come back to the breath.

Five minutes in, silence arrives inside my head.There is only breathing, the rising and falling of my stomach, the rush of air into my nose and out the mouth.

“Namaste,” concludes the instructor. I float to my car, guided there by all the air that was expelled during our exercise. While I know this feeling won’t last all day, I savor it for a few more minutes. Going against my instinct to crank up the radio, I ride home in silence.

How I came down with a case of Pac-Man Fever at an adult arcade

ms-pacman

“I’ve got Speedy on my tail, and I know it’s either him or me.”
–“Pac-Man Fever,” Buckner & Garcia

It’s Saturday night in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I secure my place in line, which is already 50-people deep. The human overflow snakes down the sidewalk, many fighting off the bitter cold by dancing in line. I keep warm by complaining to Jeff, my boyfriend, about the two personal space invaders in front of me that keep dropping it like it’s hot within inches of me. The mild infraction is worth it. Rather than enter some trendy club, we are setting foot inside a time machine. Destination: 1981.

The era of the arcade–which inspired the early ’80s song, “Pac-Man Fever”–was something I had sadly missed. By the time my hand-eye coordination was developed enough for me to master video games, I had a Nintendo Entertainment System. I didn’t have to hightail it to the arcade to play Tetris, Double Dragon, or my greatest hits. I knew, however, that something was being sacrificed for this convenience. The arcade seemed as fun a getaway as the otherwordly worlds portrayed in its games. Where else, for instance, could you spend a couple fistful of quarters to experience a cornucopia of neon, pinball dings, and the ca-ching of coins while geeking out with others? My cramped, no-frills bedroom, where I played Nintendo mainly with my younger sister, Lisa, barely had the same effect.

On a deeper level, arcades are emblematic of simpler times, or perhaps a decade when the child me didn’t share as many worries as the thirtysoming-me. There were no concerns about having enough money saved for that first home, the realities of becoming someone a younger version of yourself wouldn’t grasp, lingering concerns about how I’m perceived by others. For a night, I’d like to have my worries, big and small, gobbled up like a Pac-Man pellet.

pacmanThe arcade I’m waiting to enter isn’t a teenybopper hangout. It’s adults-only. We eventually work our way to the front of the line and acquire our 21-to-play wristbands. First passing the front counter at Roxy’s, selling some of Boston’s best grilled cheeses, a worker points to a door beyond the counter. Inside is another door resembling a metal meat locker. What’s inside is better than beef.

The sounds of a Ghostbusters pinball game first get my attention. Though eager to play, we take a loop around the place, which is big enough to hold maybe 50 or so arcade games and a few surrounding bars. Someone sipping a straw emerging out of a handheld R2-D2 entices us to beeline to one of its few bars. I order a Land Shark, a delicious concoction of passion fruit and booze served in a ceramic shark that resembles  Jaws’ friendly brother. Drink in hand, I gasp at Super Mario Brothers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat, and an AC/DC pinball game. I had assumed you simply insert dollars into the machines, but nearly die from excitement when told we need to purchase tokens. TOKENS!

I feed the gold coin into the Ghostbusters game. Since I’m hardly a pinball wizard, the game ends fairly quickly, but I can’t stop force-feeding it more tokens. I’m eventually lured to the pellet-eating vixen herself: Ms. Pac-Man. I feverishly manhandle the joystick to avoid the ghosts, but then realize that I can gobble up more pellets without the ghosts in my way. I eat the larger pellet, giving me the power to kill the ghosts. Without these things haunting me, constantly trying to chase me down, my path toward winning is clearer. The game is subtly trying to tell me something, and it has nothing to do with pellets or high scores.

I don’t win the game, but feel satisfied I found a tactic to conquer the game’s ghosts, and perhaps a way to silence a few of my own.

How I embraced the 80s song, “Shout,” during a presidential inauguration protest

protest

“Shout, shout, let it all out
These are things I can do without
Come on, I’m talking to you, come on”
–Tears for Fears, “Shout”

I’m the farthest thing from a political activist. Sure, I support many causes, including the environment, but you wouldn’t catch me chained to a tree while screaming at a bulldozer about to tread on pristine land. I’m a bit too reserved for that level of public protest.

How, then, did I end up among a mass of hundreds at Boston Common the day America swore in its 45th president? My current quest to live out lyrics/themes of my favorite ’80s songs (full details here) had something to do with it. Really listening to the lyrics to the Tears for Fears song, “Shout,” a day before the inauguration, I felt it was underscoring protest. This ye olde MTV clip from the dynamic duo, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, confirms my theory. “It’s partly saying to make a noise about the things that disturb you,” Roland said in the interview.

Well, Roland, I’ve been disturbed. The night of the election, I lost sleep. Politics has never–ever–impacted my slumber, nor has it made me this scared about my country’s future. I’m slowly learning that many others were scared about the current state of our country, a feeling only to be masked by another: anger.

I respect the feelings of those who voted for our president, but I have gotten angry for other reasons. Waking up this weekend to reports that Trump called journalists “one of the most dishonest human beings on Earth” doesn’t represent me or many others in the field who diligently honor truth and veracity. Calling his own honesty into question, I was aghast when learning the new press secretary, his spokesperson, touted factual inaccuracies during a recent news conference. In short, it’s been harder and harder for me to just sit on my keister and stay quiet.

 It’s nighttime, and I timidly approach Boston Common alone, since the friends I had asked to join couldn’t make it. The sounds of an impromptu band compete with shouting organizers handing out multicolored flyers. “Join us as we build a movement together!” states one flyer. “Defend Immigrant Rights!” states another. I head to a darkened area near a gazebo on the common where I had read a demonstration would commence. Not knowing anybody, I resort to my reporter habits and start jotting down notes in my steno pad. A small group congregates near what looks like either a papier-mâché  Trump or Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, nearly seven feet tall. It’s so ginormous and awkward-shaped, that those tasked with moving it and maneuvering its hands nearly trip over each other.

“Ok, everybody, our first speaker will present in five minutes,” says one of the timid organizers in a manner that resembled Carol Brady talking to one of her six kids. I’m no event organizer, but where’s the passion? Where’s the crowd? Where are the people letting it all out, a la Tears for Fears? I had hoped for more.

I check my Twitter feed, and notice that a large, roving crowd is in nearby Downtown Crossing, so I start heading there. A mass of people, likely the crowd I was about to find, then descends onto the Common. TV cameras join them as they, by the hundreds, surround a small platform where speakers begin presenting. I stand towards the back, notebook in hand.

“He was sworn into office this morning. We are here to swear to protect each other,” says a woman to the crowd filled with representatives from the city’s Muslim, LGBT, Hispanic, and other groups. Happy shouts and claps fill the brisk air. The mood is peaceful, energetic. A spokesperson from each group has their turn at the mic. After each one speaks, the entire crowd chants, “Rise. Resist. Protect!” Eager to get a better view, I edge closer to the the crowd.

Signs surrounding me range from clever (“Silence is violence”) to less than subtle (“We want a leader, not a bottom feeder”). Speakers from all walks of life continue to have their say, people who clearly feel threatened by the rhetoric aimed at them. And as one ’80s hair band has eloquently put it, their presence is basically saying “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”

I edge closer to the presenters and am now now behind a TV camera. “We come together tonight because we are committed to protect our future!” says one of the organizers. “This isn’t the last time we’ll see each other.” She commands the crowd of hundreds to clap in unison as we slowly chant “Rise. Resist. Protect!” My notebook tucked away, I’m no longer just an observer. I’m an active participant.

I mumble the chant quietly to myself. The crowd starts moving, one big act of solidarity as we make our way to the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House. And I’m a part of it. My voice enhances as we begin to move. “Rise. Resist. Protect. Rise. Resist. Protect.”

Rise, Resist, Protect! I eventually shout. I’m hoping the millions who raised their voices in unison the following day across the world felt the same rush of energy.

Glory Days

“Yeah, just sitting back, trying to recapture a little of the glory of,
well time slips away and leaves you with nothing, mister,
but boring stories of glory days”

–Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days”

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What better way to escape a dull present than to reminisce about a glorious past? Interesting idea, but being I was only three when The Boss released his 1984 single, “Glory Days,” these lyrics made no sense. Forget the lyrics; at that age, I probably had difficulty pronouncing Springsteen’s name beyond something that sounded lispy (“Mommy, what’s a Thpringthteen?”) It wasn’t until I was able to eat solid foods that I developed an obsession for this song and what I consider the Golden Age of music.

Just so I’m Crystal Pepsi clear: I love ’80s pop. Always have, always will. Hair metal, dance, hip hop, new wave–I’ve rocked them all. If you ever catch me wearing earbuds, chances are there’s an ’80s song playing. And it’s hard picking favorites. Making me choose between Gary Numan’s “Cars” and Wham’s “Everything She Wants” is like asking me to select my favorite child (if I had any). Cheesy as many of these songs might seem, I respect the cheese. And, in my opinion, the cheese has aged deliciously.

Too young to appreciate the totally tubular sounds of the decade, I spent my teenage years brushing up. Why was I obsessing over a bygone decade while the rest of my peers were glued to grunge? It might have something to do with how ’80s music made me feel. While I love it now, ’90s alternative at the time seemed moody, dark, depressing. Since I had been teased relentlessly for my skinniness (“Look how thin he is!” exclaimed a stranger while I was casually waiting at my supermarket deli counter), I didn’t need Kurt K. and Eddie (Vedder, not Van Halen) souring my mood any further. There was something so freeing and carefree about the ’80s. (I guess most things are freeing and carefree when you’re barely 10.) Maybe the music brought me back to a simpler time. Whatever the reason, these tunes had the power to lift me out of any funk, and still do. Cue up “Footloose” in my presence and watch what it does to me.

Lately, though, merely listening to the music hasn’t been doing the trick. I’m noting cynicism setting in. The original title of this blog,  “The Eternal Optimist,” , didn’t seem quite right, since I’d preach positivity online yet feel pessimistic about the state of our world IRL. Suffering through a mudslinging, divisive U.S. presidential election–and its aftermath– hasn’t helped matters. I’m having trouble seeing the silver lining, yet I know it’s out there amid the storm clouds that blanket my country.

Self-improvement has also been waning. Writing in this forum gave me the outlet to try  new experiences, but since I found it hard to find inspiration, the experiences stopped. I need to mention that I’m in no way a depressed or unhappy person, so no need to forward me your therapist’s phone number. With a little effort, Howard Jones might have been onto something when he said things can only get better.

Since ’80s music has been my catalyst for joy over the years, is it crazy to think that these songs hold the key to a happier, more enriched life? Do they have the power to boost my optimism to new heights? Can these songs help me ward off cynicism as “time slips away,” per Bruce? Can they inspire me to self-improve?

So begins my personal experiment. Rather than relive my “glory days” as a means to produce a temporary glimmer of happiness, I’m attempting something more substantial. Each month, I’ll be taking on some of my favorite songs and living out the themes and/or actual lyrics within them. Think of it as crafting my own ’80s mixtape to the next chapter of my life. My writings here will highlight the experience. Sometimes I’ll act out the literal meaning of the song, other times just actions related to the song. For instance, expect me to conduct something physically challenging, or “physical,” popularized by Olivia Newton-John, but don’t expect to read something related to the lyric “you gotta know that you’re bringing out the animal in me.” Expect posts to be equal parts ’80s nostalgia, self-improvement, and (hopefully) entertaining.

To make this experiment work, I’ll  need your help. Please follow this blog; knowing I have supporters will help me stay on task. Moreover, send any song titles/ideas my way by replying directly to these posts or shooting me an email. I’m not only encouraging song selections, I’m begging for them. Don’t be afraid to tell me which ’80s songs bring out your best memories. Or tweet them to me @VivaLa80s.

So begins a musical journey back to the heyday of the ’80s, but with a twist. Please join me as I create a new batch of glory days, and hopefully help you inspire your own.

Ferris Bueller for a Day

Ferris

(C) Paramount Pictures

I’m not one to play hooky. Lying to your boss or whomever superior you report to in order to skirt your daily responsibilities is an act more excruciating then getting frisked at the U.S./Canada border (yes, that happened and is a topic for a different post). Fibbing has never been easy for this former altar boy. If I were going to lie, it had better be for a good reason, and it had better result in something epic.

My reason, good or not, was that I was falling out of love with my city, Boston. Skyrocketing rent prices, an infuriating public transit system that constantly makes me late, endless news updates on Tom Brady’s new pets–all were impacting my mood. I was becoming the person I loathe: the perma-complainer. And I wanted to stop the insanity. (Cue Susan Powter.)

The idea dawned on me while leaving karaoke on a high with friends one night: what about a day to remind myself why I initially fell in love with Boston? A day that can only be experienced while most of the city is at their 9-5. A day filled with firsts. A day proving that life isn’t meant to be a monotonous repetition of work and sleep.

Some friends immediately and unofficially signed up. We were going to channel our inner Ferris Bueller, who made his mark on ’80s movie history by taking a “sick day” and hightailing it out of his Chicago suburb and into the big city. There was a ride in his friend’s dad’s sports car, lunch at a swanky eatery, a climb to the top of the Sears Tower, and (naturally) crashing a parade while initiating a danceathon to “Twist and Shout.” Parades weren’t scheduled for our own hooky day in Boston, but we were hopeful. [Writer’s note: in case former or previous bosses stumble upon this post, the actual day and year of my hooky day will not be revealed. Hey, even Ferris was able to keep his cover to authority figures in the film.]

water-taxiOur initial meeting spot was at a waterfront restaurant none of us had been to for breakfast. Jeff showed up in a red T-shirt promoting Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. (This reference shouldn’t be lost on Ferris fanatics.) Colleen showed up as she typically does–all smiles. (Another friend, Nora, made the trek from her home in Connecticut and met us later.) I arrived at my usual time–late–by way of a water taxi across Boston Harbor. The subway was for worker bees. Today, I was abuzz with excitement. Making the trek all the better was the cloudless sky and temps approaching 80 degrees.

As I OD’d on coffee amid my friend’s bantering, we leisurely mapped out our day. The Freedom Trail, which passes through Boston’s top historic sites, wasn’t a first for me, but for others. Our initial plan was to take the trail through the North End, the city’s Italian district, and climb the Bunker Hill monument. That idea was scrapped once we got sidetracked by sweets from a local bakery and a panini at a nearby restaurant.cookies Oh, forgot to mention that getting diabetes was also on the agenda.

“Huzzah!” we screamed in unison at our next stop. While mimicking the language of the late 1700s, we were also instructed to stomp our feet and turn our nose at England’s outrageous tea taxes while inside the new Boston Tea Party Museum. The structure actually floats within Boston Harbor, and gives you the chance to throw tea into the sea (their tagline, not mine). I was prepared to replicate history, when a sea of kids stormed the side of the ship and dumped all of the fake goods into the water. “Off with their heads!” I said to my friends, likely within earshot of hardly amused parents.

Custom-HouseThe top of my to-do list was an inaugural climb up Boston’s Custom House, my favorite skyscraper that has a sleekness and pointed top that separates it from nearby counterparts. The Interwebs said that the staff sometimes allows guests to access its observation deck. Missing the 2:15 p.m. tour to the top by only minutes, we each casually slipped the front desk person our crispest $5 bill and were granted access to the deck on the 27th floor.

I peered at the frantic downtown scene below me, and paused.  There were people heading here and there, likely too busy to appreciate the beauty I was witnessing from this vantage point. On most days, I typically am one of those people. But not today. I inhaled the cool breeze and admired the sparkling blue water of the harbor. I had some of my favorite people by my side and some of the best views of the city. Nothing else was needed.

Ferris was right. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Boston