Boston: Day 5

I began the day with the Walk Through History tour along the Freedom Trail. The guide was in full costume and had lots information to share. It wasn’t even that bad that it started raining on us.

I followed with a brief trip to the New England Aquarium. It wasn’t high on my list so I visited for less than 90 minutes. The main attraction was the whale watch I was planning to take part in. It was going to be my first time on a boat. Of course it was canceled. So I walked across the street and watched two features at the IMAX theater. One on whales and the other on the Galapagos Islands.

I followed with another trip to Faneuil Hall. I ate and got to see three different street performers. All different acts, but all extremely entertaining. And that was my day. Today I pick up my rental car to visit some things a little outside the city.

I’m about halfway through my trip. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photos tomorrow. Stay tuned!

I’m off!

When I was much younger (nearly 20 years ago) I went on the vacation of a lifetime. Disney World. For something like three weeks. The experience was nice, but I was so young that I was limited in what I could actually do. And no roller coasters.

Today the vacation of a lifetime happens a second time. Eight days in Boston. As you can see my interests have changed as I’ve grown into an adult. Disney World is about magic. It’s about enjoying being a kid. It’s about escape. Boston? To some those things may also apply. To me it’s about history. The birth of this great, flawed nation I love with all my heart. It’s about growth. Learning. And Red Sox – Yankees doesn’t hurt anything. ☺

In the few short years I’ve been an adult I’ve wanted to travel the world. What better way to learn than from other people, cultures, and places? There’s so much the world has to offer to stay in one place all the time.

So I’m not. I’m not a multimillionaire. I don’t have a bank account with $50k in it. But I have a good paying job with a company that encourages its employees to take time away from work. I make more than enough to take one big trip a year, and if I really focus on my finances I can squeeze two trips out of a single calendar year without changing much of what I already do.

Last year I went to DC for only four days and it was INCREDIBLE. Guys, who cares what I say about books? If there’s one thing you take from your time reading my blog let it be this:

There are few things we’re able to do in our short time on earth that are as rewarding as traveling. I cannot encourage you to travel enough. Your reasons may be different than mine, but there’s really no reason not to take a trip every now and then. Cost. I know it’s expensive. Buy tickets way in advance. Save for months. It’ll be a sacrifice. But it’ll be worth it. I promise you.

On “Thirteen Reasons Why”

SPOILERS AHEAD

I posted yesterday about starting the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why. The series is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher.

I watched all 13 episodes in two days. I’ve not read the book, but after watching the first season I imagine the book is incredible.

The themes of the story include suicide, bullying, and rape. There’s more but this post would be 10,000 words if I discussed all of them.

Hannah Baker commits suicide after a series of events leads her to believe her life is no longer worth living. One event was a picture of her in an unflattering position sent around her school. Another was that she witnessed her friend get raped. Another was her own rape by the same student. The final event was that her counselor was unhelpful in her final reach for help.

Hannah records 13 tapes describing the things that were done to her in the time leading up to her suicide. Those tapes are given to the people mentioned on them after her death.

What’s most devastating about the story is that it isn’t really fiction. Rape and sexual assault may not happen at every middle and high school, but bullying? Yes. Cyberbullying? Yes. Verbal abuse? Yes.

Kids and teens are brutal. There’s no reason to question this. How many people don’t talk about their time in high school or college because they’re ashamed of the things they were doing at the time?

We have a president on tape bragging about sexual assault. What’s worse is 60+ million people STILL voted for him. It’s hard to address serious topics like sexual assault and rape if it’s being normalized.

No form of bullying is ever okay. No form of sexual assault is ever okay. No rape is ever okay. Depression and anxiety can be incredibly difficult things to deal with on your own. If you or someone you know is ever having urges to self-harm or commit suicide, then talk. Talk to a friend. Talk to a family member. Talk to a teacher. Talk to someone. Because then that burden is no longer on the shoulders of one individual.

You can speak to someone anonymously 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

This story is so much more than a story. It’s a wake up call to people who downplay the consequences of bullying and sexual violence. Why is it so hard to believe that people can push others to believe that death is the only solution to their pain and angst? Why is it so hard to believe that people who commit suicide were failed by people, policies, and institutions? Why is it so hard to DISCUSS suicide?

Just a couple of years ago someone told me they were having suicidal thoughts. But that person wasn’t nearby. I couldn’t just get in my car and go help. I told that person to speak with someone. Any one. I never told them, but I was terrified. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do enough. That I might text the wrong thing and make things worse. I don’t know for sure how that person ultimately handled their depression, but I do know they’re doing quite well now.

This story is the heartbreaking stories we see on the news every week. But it serves to show us all that we are not alone in our struggles. Even when things are at their absolute worst, someone will be there. The title of the book refers to 13 reasons why Hannah took her life. But it could just as easily refer to 13 people or things that could have saved it. Every human life is precious. Every single one. Yet we find ourselves valuing some more than others, and not valuing others at all.

This book is immensely popular. Please tell me your thoughts.

A Pleasant Surprise

I’m not always the biggest fan of literary adaptations, although there are definitely exceptions. Yesterday afternoon I opened up Netflix to see if there was any documentary I might be interested in watching. Before I even browsed the documentaries I came across something else. Thirteen Reasons Why.

I may be mistaken, but I think this book is assigned in some schools in my area. I’ve never read it but I know it’s still popular a decade after publication. I had no idea what the book was about. Then I watched the first episode.

What I’ve watched so far (6 episodes) reminds me of Looking for Alaska. There’s a death. And everyone is trying to piece together what happened.

I’ve enjoyed the series. I’ll always enjoy a book that hits on relevant topics. Suicide prevention and bullying will always be important topics to stay informed about, and those two things are at the forefront of this book.

Have you read the book or watched the Netflix series? Thoughts?

College Kids, Look!

College textbooks are way overpriced. There’s no getting around that. Every person who has ever been inside a college classroom knows this.

But there’s a new app aiming to help. Book Cycle is essentially a marketplace for college textbooks much like eBay or Criagslist. You can find the books you need locally, and there’s a feature that tells you if you’re getting a good deal is not.

I have no idea how much the app actually helps, but anything that aims to lower the costs of college is good in my book.

Did Murakami Write a new Book?

I spent dome time at my local Half Price Books last week and I discovered a new Murakami book among the new releases. Is it new? Anyone know?

I don’t own any of his previous work, but I did study something he wrote in college? I think? I could be mistaken and it was written by someone else. But I remember very much enjoying the writing. Perhaps it was Murakami, perhaps not. But since then I’ve held him in high regard, at least in my head. I could be crazy and not giving some other writer their due credit. OH WELL.

Have you ever read any Murakami? Also, since “allegedly” studying his work I’ve felt he should win EVERY award.

Saturday Selects: Why I Love Museums

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the ocassional Saturday about topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m discussing museums.

I think if you’re reading this you likely know about my trip to DC last year. For four days I went to every museum I possibly could. After the conclusion of the trip I still have a lengthy list of museums in and around DC I want to visit. A month before I went to DC last year I went to Austin for two days. It was the first time I visited one of the presidential libraries. In those two days I went to four museums and the state capitol of Texas. Next month I’m spending eight days in Boston.

As you can see I’m just about obsessed with museums. Quite honestly I’d like to visit every museum I possibly can during my brief time roaming Earth. But the question I often get is “Why?”. Why do I want to travel to different cities of the world just to go to museums?

I’ll tell you. That’s where all the history lives. I’m not saying there aren’t bits of history scattered throughout cities and historical places, but for what is typically a nominal admission fee you’re granted access to hundreds, thousands, and in some cases millions of pieces of individual history. How great is that!

You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the opportunity museums give us. We’re allowed to learn about cultures, eras, wars, and movements because people behind the scenes have usually devoted their lives to preserving history and historical artifacts of all shapes and sizes.

I love museums because I’m only one person in one era living one life experience, but I’m so eager to learn about the things I haven’t and won’t be able to experience. Museums are time machines. And who doesn’t love those?

What’s a Good Reason to Have Books Removed From School Reading List?

It doesn’t matter which state you live in or even which country, there are books that are taught in school that parents speak out against. I can name more than a handful of books that are constantly challenged.

I have no kids. My parents never had an issue with any book I was assigned in school. I don’t think I can come up with any reason I’d have a problem with any book assigned in school. If books deal with sex, mental illness, death, history, or any other “difficult” topic; then I can’t think of a better environment than a classroom to learn about those things. I see no reason why a parent wouldn’t be actively involved in those discussions if they’re being discussed in school.

What do you think is a good reason to speak out against an assigned reading book?

A Fresh Start

I’ve been keeping a secret from all of you. But there’s a back story I want to tell first.

Y’all know I worked at Half Price Books. Y’all also know I quit that job in search of something better. Y’all know I haven’t been quite as successful in my job search as I’d have liked. But y’all don’t know I accepted an offer a month ago.

In December I interviewed with a highly respected and very well known company. It’s a company I firmly believe shares my values and encourages inclusiveness and diversity at every level of the company. People say a lot of things about millennials, of which most are patently false. But I know this is one that’s widely true. Young people want to work for a company that shares their values, and I’m no different.

I spent a Friday afternoon taking various tests for the position I applied for. Then interviewed the following Friday. After months of interviews with different companies and law enforcement agencies, this interview was the longest and most conversational. I didn’t feel like I was being interrogated.

They said I’d get a response after about three weeks once all interviews were completed. I got the answer I was hoping for. My first day is today.

I know no two experiences are identical. And I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m fortunate to have found a position within such a great company. But so often I see people essentially giving up. Sometimes they’ll blame the economy or they’ll blame politicians or they’ll blame themselves. I could have done ALL of those. I believe in December the unemployment rate among college graduates was less than 3%. Underemployment was slightly higher, but I wasn’t underemployed. I was unemployed. I could have lashed out. I could have let the months of not knowing really get to me.

But I didn’t. I kept applying. I kept reviewing my resumé to make sure it was polished. I kept interviewing with companies from all kinds of industries. But most importantly I kept believing in myself. And that’s what I’d tell someone in a similar position. Believe in yourself. Be confident. Be open-minded. Be true to you.

Today I start what I hope will be a long journey with a company I’m proud to work for. And not everyone gets such an opportunity.

I’ve had plenty of encouragement from a number of people on here when I’ve written about my job search. It is ALWAYS appreciated.

Also, I’ve posted every day of 2017! Ayye!


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A Series of Unfortunate Events

I have a bit of a special relationship with this series. In elementary school my art teacher would play the audiobooks while we worked. I believe it’s also how I was first introduced to Harry Potter.

I’ve never read the books. I definitely don’t remember any of the stories from 13-15 years ago. The one thing that has stuck with me is that I know I enjoyed listening to the stories.

Now Netflix has adapted the first couple of books in season 1 of its new series. It may be time to read the first few books and watch the series. I mean, a trip down memory lane never hurt anyone.

What’s your experience with this series?