Andrew Cook '15

Every once in a while, I can pay attention long enough to stop thinking about the latest episode of Doctor Who or my upcoming 1/2 marathon and talk about something more grown-up instead; this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those rare times. I stopped over the other day at the annual Holy Cross Summer Research Symposium to check out what some of my fellow Crusaders had spent their summers doing, and let me tell you: if you think YOU had a productive summer, prepare for an ego check! I like to think I’ve got enough brain cells to maintain average conversation, but it was all I could do to process the AMAZING work some of my peers had conducted over the last few months. Hailing from every imaginable subject and major, the research on display ranged from potential cancer cures to the societal role of decapitation in Shakespearean drama (I didn’t even know one existed, so thank heavens a brighter soul than mine was able to figure it out). Best of all, many of the presenting scholars were some very good friends, so here today I rounded up a collection of them, to give them all the just credit they deserve!

Only just back from a year of studying abroad at the Universidad de Palma, Spain, Mr. Martin Florimon ’15 wasted no time at all and dived right into a summer research position with the Autism Speaks organization in New York City.
Martin1Focusing his study on the lower diagnosis rate of Hispanic/Latino children with Autism, Martin proposed several explanations and even solutions for this deficit. The world of psychology will only grow brighter once Martin walks across the Fitton Field stage next May!
Martin2

Next up, Ms. Meaghan McGeary ’16, who took a break from pounding the pavement around Mt. St. James with the Holy Cross Running Club and set up shop at the Lupus Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, PA, for the summer. Meaghan1Working with a team of forerunner scientists and brand new computer technology, Meaghan conducted tests aimed at identifying early cellular indicators of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. I always knew Meaghan was science minded as soon as, on literally the first day of running club practice, she took me through the stages of anaerobic respiration our legs were undergoing as we ran up College Street.  I’m still just trying to figure out what anaerobic means.

Meaghan2

 

Next, someone who wore TWO employment hats over the summer, my fellow HC summer tour guide Ms. Jersey Burns ’16. While I came to know her as a great summer tour guide for the Admissions department (and fellow Game of Thrones fanatic), she spent her mornings in an entirely different setting.Jersey1Working with a team of peers, Jersey was engaged in – ready for this? – simulating the repair of cigarette-damaged lungs through the growth of stem cells in one of HC’s bio labs. I know she’s not keen on the spotlight, but seriously Jersey… that’s pretty cool.

One of my longest-known friends, who I met eons ago way back on the first day of high school, Mr. Vannak Khin ’15.

Vannak1
After spending last semester abroad in Vietnam, Vannak gained entry into the Mellon program and conducted research for an additional five weeks there. His presentation focused on the daily struggle of small, non-corporate businesses to maintain an existence in the Vietnamese special economic zone on the Cambodian border. Ms. O’Neil would be proud, Vannak.

Vannak2

 

And lastly, the OTHER new occupant of Williams 506B, HC XC senior Mr. Joe Seebode ’15.

Joe1

With all due respect to the other presenters of the day, in terms of the one position I myself wouldn’t have minded occupying, Joe here had the winning lottery ticket. He spent his summer on the beaches of the Bald Head Island Conservatory in North Carolina, assisting nesting sea turtles. For someone who’s heading into the field of marine biology after graduation, Joe probably couldn’t have had a better hands-on experience than this one.

Holy Cross is known for a myraid of things, from athletics to community service, but events like this Symposium serve as great reminders that, above all else, this is one of the strongest academic schools around. None of these scholars were forced or pressured into doing the work they did; they chose it out of deep passion, and all of it was on display that afternoon. Just walking around the posters, I could practically feel myself becoming more and more smrt!!!

 

 

Hey everyone! A fun late summer post today, and one where I yet again get to flex my muscles as HC’s resident geek authority. It’s on a topic that I’ll wager most of you have never even heard of before, but one that’s been an enormous part of my TV-watching life all the way since high school. It’s not a question of what the show is here, it’s a question of who – Doctor Who!

Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details of this post, I’ll first give you some context and background about the show, so you can understand why my Dad and I drove all the way down to NYC yesterday afternoon for a Doctor Who premiere! A disclaimer: the show is known for being cutting edge in the sci-fi world, so if that’s not your particular cup of tea (or heck, even if it is), some of the stuff I’m about to throw at you may make it sound like I’m in an altered state of mind, but I guess that’s just part of the show’s huge appeal. Doctor Who actually turned FIFTY years old last year… its first episode premiered back in November 1963, the same week as JFK’s assassination. The reason for the show’s longevity, still one of the most brilliant plot devices created in television history, is that the main character – the eponymous Doctor – is an alien from another planet, whose biology is such that every time he’s killed, he “regenerates” into a different body. AKA, every few seasons or so, the show is literally able to kill off its lead actor and recast the role, meaning it always stays fresh. Until Christmas last year, there had been eleven incarnations of the heroic Time Lord (twelve if you’re argumentative, hello John Hurt), before lead actor Matt Smith’s time in the saddle came to a tearjerking end.
So NOW: here we are today. The youthful, teenage heartthrob Matt Smith Doctor has died, and his sonic screwdriver has passed now to fifty-six year old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi! Many fans were surprised, and even skeptical, about the casting; Capaldi’s most well-known role before his casting as the Doctor was in the lead slot of the black British political comedy The Thick of It, as a VENOM-tongued spin doctor who elevated profane swearing to an incredible/terrifying artform. Hardly the stuff of the most popular family show in British history, basically.

Realizing this, and to promote the start of his tenure at the controls of the iconic TARDIS spaceship, the BBC organized a world tour for Capaldi and his co-star Jenna Coleman to greet fans and usher in the new era. Among stops like Seoul, Sydney, and Rio, the Time Lord and his human travelling companion were slated to make just one stop in the U.S., at New York City’s historic Ziegfeld theater. Diehard Whovians that we are, therefore, my Dad and I saw the announcement, nodded our heads, and shouted “Allons-y!”

It was my first time ever attending a red carpet premiere before. Although, call me Charlie Brown I guess, it wasn't even read. Much more of a TARDIS shade of blue.

It was my first time ever attending a red carpet premiere. Although, call me Charlie Brown I guess, it wasn’t even red! (The TARDIS shade of blue was much cooler though)

Of course, we couldn’t head to New York for an entire afternoon without taking in the sights and sounds. To let an opportunity like this slip by? Fugghedaboutit. In the hours before the premiere, we walked a few blocks from the theater’s off-Broadway location into the pulsing Times Square area. I’m by NO MEANS a country boy – I’ve divided my upbringing between Lowell and Worcester, two of Massachusetts’ biggest cities – but it’s still hard not to walk around NYC with your jaw on the ground. The incredible diversity of peoples, fashions, trends that populates the streets down there is pretty incredible, and one can very easily get overwhelmed by it all. More than a few times, I wasn’t quite sure if people were dressed like they were for work, or were on their way to the Doctor Who premiere in authentic alien garb. Go figure.

Heck, I even got photobombed by someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Heck, I even got photobombed by someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Hailing from a different part of the Galaxy, there was another Guardian with a bad temper. He would have been right at home in the NY traffic.

Hailing from a different part of the Galaxy, we met another Guardian with a bad temper. He would have been right at home in the NY traffic.

After a quick sandwich in the basement of 30 Rock, it was back to wait in the long line wrapping itself around the Ziegfeld theater block. There were people who had been camped out since midnight the night before, so needless to say, anticipation was high for everyone’s favorite Gallifreyan to show up. Capaldi and crew did not disappoint, and the atmosphere around me as he interacted with the crowd would have been enough to power the TARDIS for a whole year (but, let’s face it, time is relative…).

 

The stars!!! Jet lag never looked so darn cool.

The stars!!! Jet lag never looked so darn cool.

From there, it was past a patrolling Cyberman into the theater itself, which, luckily for the thousands who had been standing in line outside, was indeed bigger on the inside. Some of sci-fi’s biggest names were in the audience that night, along with HUNDREDS of eager Whovians; some were in costume, some were looking bemusedly at those who were, all were just relishing in the experience of it all. The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick was our host for the evening, and to a chorus of sonic screwdrivers, we all watched as the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure began before our eyes!
I’m mum as to actual details about the episode; it’s not airing to the public until August 23rd, and Whovians are famously set against “Spoilers…” Suffice it to say, however, that all those who had been hesitant about this new Doctor have been forever silenced by one of the most truly aggressive sets of eyebrows I’ve ever seen, an accompanying Scottish brogue, and darn near one of the best episodes of television I’ve had the pleasure to watch. It may be just the exhaustion kicking in from the whole experience, but I’ll place a fair bet that there might be a new preferred M.D. around after the coming months…

And then a REAL keeper for the memory books: Hardwick came back up on stage after the episode and began a Q&A panel with none other than the stars of the show themselves!

The Doctor will see you now

The Doctor will see you now

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and showrunner Steven Moffat (whom you all might now from his other show-biz responsibility as the co-creator of Sherlock)

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and showrunner Steven Moffat (whom you all might know from his other show-biz responsibility as the co-creator of Sherlock)

The actors and the most gleefully "evil" man in TV were very gracious and appreciative of the support, and spent the night fielding questions from the audience

The actors and the most gleefully “evil” man in TV were very gracious and appreciative of the support, and spent the night fielding questions from the audience

Soon afterwards, they were whisked from the theater as if an angry Dalek were in hot pursuit

Soon afterwards, they were whisked from the theater as if an angry Dalek were in hot pursuit. Capaldi signed autographs and shook hands on his way out, and I got close enough to snag this (no zoom added) pic

Before security tackled him, your intrepid blogger even took a spin in the Doctor's seat! Watch out, Weeping Angels.

Before security tackled him to the floor, your intrepid blogger even took a spin in the Doctor’s seat! Watch out, Weeping Angels.

Outside the theater, an aspiring reporter for Doctor Who Review asked me to stop and give my thoughts on the episode. I’m a sucker for blondes, and this one charmed me right into giving an on-camera interview.

Katie Couric, I'd watch your seat if I were you

Katie Couric, I’d watch your seat if I were you

Apparently she liked the new Doctor "this" much.

Apparently the under-7 crowd likes the new Doctor “this” much.

An utterly fantastic evening all around, one that got me truly excited for the upcoming season of perhaps my favorite TV show. Having my Dad, the person who introduced me to it in the first place, along for the ride just sweetened the deal all the more; our adventures in time and space still make the Doctor’s look like practice.
I’ve got several Holy Cross friends who are as addicted to the show as I am, and I can’t wait to watch Capaldi win his way into their hearts over the coming semester. Having been in the room with him for an entire evening, all I can say is that, Peter, I’m with you all the way. Somebody, call a Doctor!!!!!

14

2nd blog of the summer (and very possibly the last one I’ll write this side of 21), on a topic that I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about. It’s no secret how passionate I am about all things Holy Cross; three years in, I count this blog as a failure if that passion hasn’t shone through by now. Without sounding too doom and gloom and harping on it, the future of that passion as I head once more unto the breach is something I think about more than’d be decent to admit. So it’s always special for me – and I really do mean that – seeing that same Purple Pride in the incoming freshman class; it’s weird, but it’s nice to know HC is still gonna be fine, LONG after I’ve walked across that Fitton Field stage.

So for the 2nd year in a row, it was my absolute pleasure to help my local Merrimack Valley Alumni Association welcome the incoming Class of 2018! With an invite from fellow English major Martha McGuane, Class of ’77, it was over to North Andover’s St. Michael’s Parish this last weekend to meet with the newest members of ‘Sader Nation.

Know what, this is worthy enough for a cake. But maybe I'm not the best judge... I think waking up in the morning is worthy cause for one, most days.

Know what, this is worthy enough for a cake. But maybe I’m not the best judge… I consider waking up in the morning is worthy enough cause for one, most days.

Here they are, ladies and gents! Merrimack Valley's best and brightest, all in one convenient photograph

Here they are, ladies and gents! Merrimack Valley’s best and brightest, all in one convenient photograph

Remember these names, dear readers, because these’ll be some of the ones making headlines in the next few years (and I mean that in a good way): give the best, biggest Holy Cross welcome you can to Mr. Mike Gallaner, Mr. Joe Cataldo, Mr. Daniel Daley, Mr. Nick Guarracino, Mr. Will Cassella, Ms. Catherine Curran, Ms. Martina Umunna and Ms. Laura McElroy!

With about three weeks till freshman move-in day, and with the roommate and dorm pairings having just been announced, there were some obvious last-minute questions on people’s minds; after an entire summer answering similar inquiries in my position as an Admissions’ tour guide, it was a pleasure being able to do my part relieving any tension. To any other incoming freshman, yes – everything now DOES seem like it’s happening at once, I remember all too well. But don’t let the stress of everything overshadow one crucially important fact: you’re going to college! These are THOSE four years that everyone always talks about throughout their lives, and as someone for whom 3/4 of it has already happened, I can justifiably say, they ain’t lying one bit. So remember to enjoy every shower caddy purchase and Bed Bath ‘n Beyond splurge you’ve got coming, because it’s all gonna be worth it in just a few short weeks.

9

 

There were also a plethora of other past and present Crusaders on-hand to welcome in the new kids on the block, and my genuine hope is that, by the end of the day, the Class of ’18 were as excited as I was to be heading up to the Hill.

This is what I believe they in the trade refer to as a “money shot.”

3

So long now to all, my hope is that I’ll be able to get back on to this in the next few weeks before move-in into Williams Dorm for a final summer check-in. If not, I hope the rest of the summer’s a great one, and I’ll be seeing you all back on the Hill soon!

Hey everyone! It feels good to have enough time to sit down and crank one of these out – the time since my last blog (Commencement for the Class of ’14) has been a little too hectic for my taste, but the upside of that is that I’ve got a whole bunch of material here to give you. The count stands at 46 days until move-in back at The Cross – not that I’m keeping track or anything – so there’s plenty more to accomplish still this summer, but just to give you an idea of how I’ve been keeping myself distracted until school starts back up again, here’s a CliffsNotes version of the summer thus far!

The first big occasion of the summer saw my dad Patrick hitting the half-century mark; yes, the Big-Man finally turned the big 5-0. Naturally, the rest of the family had to observe the event with all due pomp and circumstance, and so set about with the HERCULEAN effort of trying to pull a surprise party over on him. Dealing as we were with a man who got his career started in crime reporting and who is more attuned to the power of social media than his 17 and 20 year old combined (he had a Facebook and Twitter account before I’d even heard of either), this was actually much harder than you may be thinking. But after months of planning and several acts of light espionage, we were able to pull it off in the end, and the result was a better afternoon than any of our scheming could possibly have wished for.
We toyed around with the idea of inviting master red carpet photobomber Benedict Cumberbatch to the event, but alas, the man was too busy solving crimes, and more than a few of the womenfolk (hi Heather) may have been a bit distracted by his presence. The heavy, heavy burden therefore fell on to my shoulders to add a certain je ne sais pas to the photos taken during the party. As a result, the afternoon has been recorded for posterity as essentially a record of my ruining otherwise-perfect photos.
Just to provide some examples of my finer work:

50th1

50th2

50th3

It’s a month later and it’s already been said, but happy birthday (again) Dad, here’s to the next 50!

Party preparations out of the way, it was time for some unwinding. I rang up two of my cousins, blog veteran Ben Nicholson (HC Class of ’17) and blog newcomer John Blake (son of Anne Blake, née Nicholson, HC Class of ’86), and we headed off to go catch America’s most romanticized game in its most romanticized venue – yes, it was this year’s first trip to Fenway Park!

"Sweeeeet Caroline BUM BUM BUMMMM"

“Sweeeeet Caroline BUM BUM BUMMMM”

We're all Sox fans in the family, but as the night went on we found ourselves rooting for opposing Cubs' pitcher Jake Arrieta, as he made it all the way into the 8th inning on a no-hitter.

We’re all Sox fans in the family, but as the night went on we found ourselves rooting more and more for opposing Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta, as he made it all the way into the 8th inning on a no-hitter.

The Sox have fallen a bit from grace this season, but we’re all still riding pretty high on the blazing cloud of bearded glory that was last year’s championship.

8

9

One of these two is old enough to grow hairs on his chinny-chin-chin. The other one is wishing realllllly hard.

One of these two is old enough to grow hairs on his chinny-chin-chin. The other one is wishing realllllly hard.

For the past five summers, actually, my time’s been pretty occupied by baseball. My sophomore year of high school I started working at the Red Sox’s single-A affiliate team in my hometown, the Lowell Spinners, and it’s a gig I still retain. It’s hands-down one of the nicest single-A ballparks in the entire country, and even better, it’s a FRACTION of the price of its big green brother 30 miles southeast. The last two summers have seen me in a close working relationship with the Spinners’ mascot, the Canaligator (so-named for Lowell’s expansive network of canals – the 2nd largest in the world, only behind Venice, in terms of the amount canals it has – fun fact for the day). It’s the perfect summer job, and one that I’m lucky to have!

Mr. C. Gator himself. He gets cranky some days, and takes it out on his handler. I just hope one day he doesn't send me the Steve Irwin route.

Mr. C. Gator himself. He gets cranky some days, and takes it out on his handler. I just hope one day he doesn’t send me the Steve Irwin route.

Even on some of my tougher nights, I just have to say to myself, "Hey: I'm working in a ballpark." Could be worse, I'm telling you.

Even on some of my tougher nights, I just have to remind myself, “Hey: I’m working in a ballpark.” Could be worse, I’m telling you.

But maybe the only thing more American than baseball? The 4th of July! *accepts award for best segue of the year* It’s a yearly tradition in my extended family to commemorate the birthday of America with a two-mile roadrace in the neighboring town of Chelmsford. This go-around marked the first time my aforementioned cousin Ben laced up his sneaks for the event, and I want to put it out there for all the Internet to see,  he CRUSHED it out there! Here’s to the start of a long, prosperous career of distance running Ben!
Just as cool, in a crowd of as-near-as-doesn’t-matter-to-2000 runners out there, I still managed to bump into not one, not two, but three Crusaders before the race had even started!

Representing the old guard, two of the recent Class of '14 graduates, and my roomates for the past year, HC Track stars Tom Santa-Maria and Sam McGrath

Representing the old guard, two of the recent Class of ’14 graduates, and my roomates for the past year, HC Track stars Tom Santa-Maria and Sam McGrath

And the new kid on the block, incoming Class of '18 Crusader Liv Paulo! Keep an eye out for Liv, she'll soon be making the rounds in HC's running circles!

And the new kid on the block, incoming Class of ’18 Crusader Liv Paulo! Keep an eye out for Liv, she’s soon to be doing big things up on the Hill!

Ben, you earned every hot dog, burger, and rib you ate that day. Heck, I'll even give you a pass for the day afterwards too.

Ben, you earned every hot dog, burger, and rib you ate that day. Heck, I’ll even give you a pass for the day afterwards too.

Exercise in, it was time to get all spiffy-ed up, for this year’s annual Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum. My Dad’s been working at MCC now for nearly a decade, and Celebrity Forum has consistently been one of their biggest events of the entire year. Previous Forum alums include actor Michael J. Fox, comedian and talk-show host Jay Leno, and ex-First Lady and First Daughter Laura and Jenna Bush, just to name a few. This year, though, MCC brought in perhaps one of their highest-ranking stars ever, in the person of Hollywood legend Robert Redford. Redford’s incredible career spans four decades at this point, from earlier his iconic roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting (both alongside Redford’s dearest lifelong friend, Paul Newman) to his more recent roles in last year’s Oscar-nominated All Is Lost and this year’s (my favorite movie of the year so far) Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Beyond acting, Redford’s equally known for his philanthropic endeavors, founding the Sundance Institute and Film Festival to give starter film productions a venue to showcase their work in and almost single-handedly raising global awareness towards a staggering amount of environmental issues.
You heard it here on this blog first, though, that through it all, Redford could not possibly be a more grounded, less egocentric individual. It was an absolute privilege not only to meet him, but to hear him interviewed over the course of the evening (by my Dad, no less. Dad, you rocked it *taps nose*). My personal favorite of the night’s stories came in his recounting of a particularly long, expensive sounding practical joke between him and Paul Newman that involved a crushed Porsche and a block of sculpted metal – the rest I’ll leave unsaid. Anyone would be lucky to have a friendship like their’s seems to have been.

When meeting Hollywood royalty, I OF COURSE had to represent Holy Cross. Purple and white all the way!

When meeting Hollywood royalty, I OF COURSE had to represent Holy Cross (the tie). Purple and white all the way!

One of these guys is an absolute legend. The other is a Hollywood actor and philanthropist.

One of these guys is an absolute legend. The other is a Hollywood actor and philanthropist.

And finally, the Circle of Life added a new member into its midst; a BIG congratulations to our dear family friends the Vergadoses/Simoneaus on the birth of their new baby, Desmond! Knowing (and sharing) the family’s love of the TV show LOST, I couldn’t let my first meeting with the lad go past without slipping in a reference to one of the potential inspirations for his name.

"See ya in anutha' life, brutha."

“See ya in anutha’ life, brutha.”

Even more importantly, I think I started Desmond’s initiation into Red Sox Nation. Coming as he does from a family of Yankees fans, I figured I’d make a claim for Desmond’s fandom early on, and so save his soul. Desmond, we’re glad to have you buddy!

DesmondSimoneau

That about wraps it up; if I continue on, this blog will stop being a mid-summer check in and become instead a summer send-off! It’s been a lot of work and some pretty sweltering heat so far, but as you can see, I’ve hardly been idle, and the next month doesn’t seem like it’ll be any slower by any means, so until the next post, stay cool, and have a nice summer!!!

 

Hey again, all! These blog posts have been coming fast and furious lately, but hey, it’s been a productive start to the summer – it’s so unlike me, it’s weird. Wanted to talk a bit about the big event that just happened down on Fitton Field last week, which I was honored to witness – commencement 2014! With the doomsday calendar ticking down to my own graduation in less than a year now, I figured it was time to go and see what I’ve got coming my way. Even just sitting there in the stands (with my awesome friend Colette Houssan ’15 keeping me company), I got premonitions as to what’s coming next May, and I can already tell… it’s gonna be a DOOZY.

With the Fitton Field stands packed to bursting – I had to park all the way up the mountain on the Hart Center lawn, it was so crowded by the time I got there – we all watched as the graduating seniors and Holy Cross faculty processed in full regalia onto the field.

They clean up nice, huh?

They clean up nice, huh?

NO time was wasted before Fr. Boroughs dived right into distributing 675 Bachelor of Arts degrees to an outstanding group of men and women, who are all headed off to do some BIG things in the world. Keep an eye out for these guys, I’m telling you!

Fr. Boroughs handing out some pre-tty impressive stationary

Fr. Boroughs handing out some pre-tty impressive stationary

Even to my friend Karina O'Friel, one of HC's BEST long-distance runners, the walk across the stage probably felt a little longer than it should have

Even to my friend Karina O’Friel, one of HC’s BEST long-distance runners, the walk across the stage probably felt a little longer than it should have

Diplomas taken care of, it was time for the speeches to begin. The first was from Class of ’14 valedictorian Jeff Reppucci, featured recently on NBC Nightly News for his extraordinary service project, Working for Worcester. A member of the varsity Men’s Hockey Team, Jeff’s done some pretty amazing things in just his four short years at the Cross, and his speech – about how community service can be done by anyone, anywhere, even after they’ve left school – gave absolutely no indication of his cooling down anytime soon. Go get ‘em, Jeff!

Jeff Reppucci 14's valedictorian speech

Jeff Reppucci 14′s valedictorian speech

"Two's company"

“Two’s company”

Next came one of the headlining events of the day, something that set the bar SERIOUSLY high for my own graduation next year: the commencement address, delivered by none other than Jon Favreau, Class of ’03. For those unfamiliar with what Jon’s been up to in those eleven years, go find one of the speeches that have come from the Oval Office since a certain Barack Obama (you may have heard of him) took office, and you’ll get your answer. The amazing talent behind those historic speeches was on full display last Friday, and all I have to say is – wow. Favreau offered advice on professional life, personal life, & the world at large, and I was leaning further and further forward as he went along. One particular chestnut that stood out: “There are two kinds of people – people who want to BE something, and people who want to DO something.” Well, Mr. Favreau, just let me be one among many to say you DID an incredible job, and I thank you sincerely.

I have a whole new understanding of the President's oratory skills...

I have a whole new understanding of the President’s oratory skills…

And after a singalong “Alma Mater” that I’m sure brought out a few purple and white tears, it was up to Kimball Dining Hall for a reception with the newest members of the Holy Cross Alumni Association. Two in particular I want to give a special shout-out to (and coincidentally, the very two I was able to snag pictures with).
1) The aforementioned Karina O’Friel! A fellow English major, I got to know Karina really well this past year after taking a Shakespeare and a detective literature class with her. She’s actually been featured on this blog previously for her prowess as a long-distance runner, and the streets of Harrison, NY, should be excited as she blazes new routes from her new place of full-time employment!

Karina, I hope the only mysteries coming your way in the future involve deciding what races to enter!

Karina, I hope the only mysteries coming your way in the future involve deciding what races to enter!

2) Sam McGrath! I’ve known Sam since I was a freshman, he’s been my RA for the past two years, and he was a roommate for the past two semesters. Besides being a school record-holder for the Men’s Track Team and 2014 recipient of the Varsity Club Norton Prize, Sam’s the biggest Springsteen fan I’ve met at Holy Cross, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Boss’ history has fueled many a discussion. A true gentleman, an all-around nice kid, and someone I’m honored to call a friend!

"Blood Brothers"

“Blood Brothers”

Sam, Karina, and many, MANY others who I unfortunately don’t have the time or space to single out here, will be sorely missed on campus now. I know they’re each headed on to change the world in their own individual ways, but they’ve left some mighty gaping shoes to fill on campus as a result. I’ve got a whole summer in front of me to prepare for that gauntlet, but sitting in the stands at Fitton Field, I was struck by the discomforting realization that it won’t be long AT ALL before I’ll be witnessing commencement from a ground-level perspective. Here’s hoping I can live up to the potential of my senior year the same way these men and women lived up to theirs!
Good-bye, good luck, and CONGRATULATIONS to all of you!!!

When last we left our Tramps, they were spending the night in a hotel outside Newburgh, NY. These are the continued adventures of SPRING(steen) BREAK, 2014. 

After just a short night’s sleep (to me, anything less than the recommended twelve hours is a short rest), we were back on the road again. The NY Thruway and Rts. 287 and 78 fell away as my Dad and I powered through Jersey and Pennsylvania en route to the house of my Dad’s friend on the outskirts of Allentown, PA. The Beaupre family couldn’t have been more gracious or hospitable hosts, and if any of you are reading this: thank you again!
Stopping like this meant that we only had about an hour’s drive to get to the second venue of our Springsteen Pilgrimage – Hershey Park, PA! I’d been to Hershey once before, back when I was seven, and my only memory from that prior trip was a feeling of disappointment that the chocolate factory had neither an all-edible display room or oompa-loompa workers. This second venture was a much more satisfying experience, because instead of Loompaland residents singing Roald Dahl songs, the music on tap for the night was hardcore Jersey rock’n'roll.

43

 

Like I said, I’ve been to my fair share of Bruce shows, but out of all of them, I’ve never seen stronger attendance from the 25-under crowd as there was at this one. From our ground-level seats facing the stage, Hershey could have been mistaken for Coachella or one of those other big festival crowds. There’s some young blood moving onto E-Street, and it’s about time!

We were in the back posing for kisses. Hershey's kisses, that is.

We were in the back looking for kisses. Hershey’s kisses, that is.

Over the two nights, Bruce and the band played forty two songs, covering a span of releases from 1964-2014… that’s fifty years’ worth of material. Not too shabby. And my Dad, who reached show #59 at Hershey, leaned over after one song (a solo number by Bruce on the piano), and said, “I’m gonna say it. That’s the best vocals I’ve seen him do. Ever.” Totally ignoring the rain that was pouring down by the end of the night, everyone had a phenomenal time, and we were still grinning by the time we had reached the car afterwards.
We slept the night at the Beaupres, and left early the next morning to beat the highway traffic. It was onto the last stop of our road trip, the Canterbury Cathedral of our Chaucerian pilgrimage (you’re welcome, Professor Kee). Yes, we went allllllll the way back to the beginning, the spot where Springsteen got his start… Asbury Park, NJ! There are a lot of HC people from the Jersey area, who know Asbury Park for its mainstream purpose as a beachside resort. For E-Streeters however, this place takes on mythic proportions; Bruce got his first guitar at this store, played his first concert in this park, met wingman Clarence Clemons down this alley, so on. The Boss tells tall tales of Asbury Park at all his concerts, so I figured it was high time to see what lay behind all the mystery.

Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (it's an album title) !

Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (it’s an album title)

A thick, thick fog had descended on the Jersey Shore by the time we arrived, so that feeling of ghost stories was enhanced quite a bit.

"Kids are huddled on the beach in the mist"

“Kids are huddled on the beach in the mist”

"The pier lights our carnival life on the water"

“The pier lights our carnival life on the water”

 

"Did you hear the cops busted Madam Marie, for telling fortunes better than they do?"

“Did you hear the cops busted Madam Marie, for telling fortunes better than they do?”

I don’t know whether it was just off-season, or if the area is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but many of the structures were closed for repairs, and only skeleton remains of the architecture were left standing. It was kinda really cool, actually.

3419

32

25

And then it was a stop by the Stone Pony, perhaps the most famous bar in rock’n'roll. Bruce and the E-Street Band, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, they all got their start at this one venue. While it’s still a fully functioning barroom and concert venue, it’s really more like a museum inside; the walls are papered with pictures and newspaper clippings from the different times some of rock’s biggest superstars have come back to visit their humble roots, and it was like discovering Eden for someone like me who’s grown up on Springsteen’s music.

48

44

 

26

Of course, I couldn't resist the temptation to jump up on stage and do some Dancing in the Dark

Of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation to jump up on the stage and do some Dancing in the Dark

It was back in the car, then, to wage war against the traffic for another 5 hours, eventually pulling back into good old Lowell, MA, just around dinner time. Get this: as the car turned onto our street, the mileometer reached 1000 miles EXACTLY, and the gas light came on. Freaky, man. Don’t believe me? HA.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE

PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE

By the end, the car was running on sheer power of rock'n'roll. The collected Springsteen discography is good like that

By the end, the car was running on sheer power of rock’n'roll. The collected Springsteen discography is good like that

After three days of driving together, we haven't spoken since

After three days of driving together, we haven’t spoken since

So that was it! To those uninterested in Springsteen or rock history, these last two posts were probably as interesting as a black and white movie through the prairies of Nebraska, or a sparse, acoustic folk album. To me, though, it was, as I’ve said, nothing short of a pilgrimage. I was listening to Springsteen literally in the womb, and I’ve grown up going to his concerts with my Dad. Bruce concerts aren’t just filled with great moments, they’re filled with great bonding moments, and this road trip offered just some of the latest in a long line of them. People scratch their heads as to why we follow the E-Street Band around the northeast like we do, but I hope this blog has given them an answer. If your dad was cool enough to do crazy stuff like this with you, wouldn’t you be doing it too? Yeah, I thought so. Will we ever stop doing it? Will we ever get to a point where we say, “ENOUGH SPRINGSTEEN ALREADY?” Someday, girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go, and we’ll walk in the sun, but till then, tramps like us, baby we were Born to Run.

 

Sometime late last year (I don’t really know when, I never saw it, to be honest), a black and white movie called Nebraska hit theaters, and it made all the rounds during awards’ season. Wikipedia has just informed me the plot runs something along the lines of a 21st century Don Quixote, with a father and son embarking on a cross-country journey to pursue a madcap scheme of the father’s. With all the free time I have now, this one’ll probably be on the Netflix cue before long.
September, 1982 (I’m told, I wasn’t born yet), the music world produced its equivalent of a black and white movie, a Bruce Springsteen album called Nebraska. It’s only ten songs long, the whole thing is just Springsteen himself with a microphone, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar, and it was all recorded over the span of just one afternoon in Springsteen’s living room. It was originally intended as a series of demos, there wasn’t ONE single from it released to the charts, and it’s one of The Boss’ most lesser known works – and music critics now agree that it’s some of the most astonishing songwriting ever done.
Remember these two facts, they’ll come up again in the future.

With junior year at Holy Cross now OFFICIALLY in the rearview mirror – holy mackerel – it was time for summer ’14 to begin. That meant – SPRING(STEEN) BREAK!!! Yes, the lesser known E-Streeters you’ve been reading about on this blog here went on an epic journey this week to go see the genuine article. We’ve all of us been to plenty of Bruce shows in the past, but I’ll be the first one to unashamedly admit it – we’re addicted. Explaining a Bruce Springsteen concert to someone who hasn’t been to one is like trying to explain how the Mona Lisa smells – you just can’t do it (and it’s weird when you try). The 64 year old legend radically changes his concert every night, and literally no two shows are even close to being the same. For most other bands, I grant, that’d mean swapping a song or two in the encore; elaborate special effect gimmicks usually limit the amount of randomness in a set. But when you’ve got nothing but a flatbed stage and the tightest band in the land backing you, the sky’s the limit. That makes it not only worth it, it practically makes it necessary to go back again…and again…and again…
The guy’s got 40+ years and eighteen studio albums’ worth of material to pull from, so you’d think Bruce would  have enough to work with in terms of song selection, but NO: the Clash, the Rolling Stones, ACDC, the Bee Gees, Lorde for Pete’s sake, have all had their songs covered by the E Street Band in this latest tour. No-one, and I mean no-one, has nothing short of an amazing time at a Springsteen concert as a result of all this fun, so I hope you can understand why all of us follow him around like we do. They don’t call him the Boss for nuthin’.

Since Bruce wasn’t making any stops in the Massachusetts area this time around, that meant my Dad and I had to go to him. The scheme was hatched a few months ago, and so began our first ever father-son road trip. First stop: Albany, NY! Besides a family vacation a few years ago that included a stop in Cooperstown, I’d never really been anywhere in NY north of the Sleepy Hollow area, so this was all uncharted territory for me. There are a lot of people at Holy Cross from the circa-Albany area, and now that I’ve been, let me say: it’s beautiful up there! We arrived a few hours before showtime, and took advantage of the opportunity to check out the Empire State Capital!

1

The HUGELY impressive NY state capital

The HUGELY impressive NY statehouse…

Ruined, sadly, by these two schumcks outside.

Ruined, sadly, by these two schmucks standing outside.

39

It's just like Abbey Road! Except without the Beatles. Or a road. Or anything.

It’s just like Abbey Road! Except without the Beatles. Or a road. Or anything.

The Eye of Sauron

The Eye of Sauron?

I don't get this modern art nonsense

I don’t get this modern art nonsense

After a quick bite, it was showtime! My Dad and I took our seats directly behind the stage, and strapped in for three hours of pure rock’n'roll. Opening with a cover of INXS’s “Don’t Change,” Bruce sprinted headfirst into – I’m saying it here and now – the best concert I’ve ever been to, and he never looked back. Sitting in with the E-Street band this tour is Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, whom we sat directly behind, and the man is a shot of adrenaline into a full tank of gasoline. In a word, he’s also a wizard; human beings just can’t do what he does with a six string. My hands were sore, my feet were sore, my ears were ringing, and I had entirely lost my voice by the end of it all, and it’s a good a time as I can remember having in recent memory. And then I did it all again the next night!!

Our seats!!

Our seats!!

Jake Clemons, "The Little Big Man," KILLING it on saxophone

Jake Clemons, “The Little Big Man,” KILLING it on saxophone

The Boss

The Boss

We were honestly this close. This close to an icon.

We were honestly this close. This close to an icon.

Tom Morello!

Tom Morello!

7

12

We done good.

We done good.

After the show, Bruce came back and said good night to his adoring public. "What more do you want from me???"

After the show, Bruce came back and said good night to his adoring public. “What more do you want from me???”

We booked it back to the car and drove an hour south to Newburgh, NY, where we spent the night, dissecting the epic-ness of what we had just witnessed over the last three hours, and preparing ourselves for the next night. And what happened the next night? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ON SPRING(STEEN) BREAK 2014!!!

HOLI7

Feliz cinco de mayo, amigos (and happy quatro de mayo, for those who know about it)!! Shockingly, this is very likely to be my last blog post of junior year. If you’re having a hard time believing it, imagine how I feel. It’s a very fitting final post, though, and one that I’m happy to head into the summer with. In the midst of writing a Hercule Poirot murder mystery, compiling a writing portfolio, and so on, now is the only time I’ve had in this week or the last one to take some time aside, and I want to use it to tell you all about Spring Weekend!

Perhaps as a send-off present, perhaps as compensation for the horror of finals, I don’t really know, but Holy Cross always does an AMAZING job putting together Spring Weekend festivities for its students. Some of the various ones will be shown here, but seriously, we were treated from everything to a pig roast to a HOLI festival of colors, from an outdoor carnival to a Nelly concert tonight. With the exception of the concert, ALL OF IT was free to the student population, and this writer just wants to take the time to thank Holy Cross for its amazing generosity – I can’t think of many other schools that cares about its students as much as HC does, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

HOLI1

We’ll start off our pictures with the HOLI festival, which took place on the lawn of Figge Dorm Saturday afternoon. As I approached, a big plume of color just erupted out of the crowd, and I was able to snap a few pics before diving headlong into the fray myself. There were bags of (we’re told) launderable paint dust that anyone could pick up and just pour on unsuspecting bystanders, and at the end of the day it looked like we were all victims of a Crayola drive-by. Beneath all the paint and the dust, I think I ran into and took some pictures with my friends Nick and Michaela, my soon-to-be-roomate Joe, and my cousin Ben; the key word there is think, because I really couldn’t tell who was who beneath all the colors. So if I didn’t know you, thanks for taking a picture anyway!!

Proud future residents of Williams 506

Proud future residents of Williams 506

Michaela? I think you have something in your hair

Michaela? I think you have something in your hair

Dude... What happened....

Dude… What happened….

BRING IT ON

BRING IT ON

I can't recall EVER getting this dirty at family cookouts

I can’t recall EVER getting this dirty at family cookouts

There was then, as  I mentioned, a fantastic cookout up at the Hart Center, catered with BBQ fare by Kimball Dining Hall. Maybe it’s just been so long since I’ve had them, but it was pretty amazing having some “straight from the grill” burgers and dogs, with all the fixings . If I needed any more sign that summer’s on its way, that was it! Once we had eaten, there was also a giant inflatable obstacle course, a shooting gallery, a hoops contest, a mechanical shark (a mechanical bull, but a shark), and a bungee trampoline, among other things.

The view from the top was great, but my stomach (with dinner in it) never really got off the ground

The view from the top was great, but my stomach (with dinner in it) never really got off the ground

And from there we were treated to Holy Cross’ annual year-ending fireworks display! We’re so high up that I feel Worcester as a whole is treated to this spectacle, and the school spares no expense in making sure it’s a cracking (see what I did there?) good one.

Firework1

Firework2

My own personal highlight of the weekend was on a much smaller scale, though, to be honest. Two of my best friends who’d been away in Washington DC for the semester – doing big things in the Attorney General’s Office and U.S. House of Representatives, I might add – came back to visit for the weekend, and just to see them back on campus was more than the price of any fireworks display or pig roast. Meeting up in my other friend Adam’s room after the fireworks, we just chatted for over an hour and caught up on life. I smiled to myself about halfway through and thought, for the first time this semester, “it’s just like the good old times.”

OutdoorEdge

Junior year was a great one, undoubtedly: I’ll never have a schedule this sweet ever again in my LIFE, my room and roommates were incredible, and I’ve made some really unforgettable connections on campus that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. It was tough, though, too. The school itself remains as great as it ever was, but it’s really the people in it that make Holy Cross what it is for me. Over 2/3 of the friends I’d made as an underclassmen were abroad this year, and I’ve missed each and every one of them dearly. Selfish as it may be, I’m super excited they’re all leaving their host countries one by one and heading back to the States, because it means Holy Cross will become whole for me again. Having some of them come back for Spring Weekend was the chance to simultaneously both think back on my freshman roots and look ahead to my time as a senior. It felt nicely full circle, and it only added to the great time I’d had the rest of the day.

Before I keep rambling on, though, I’ll just end it here by saying that Spring Weekend was a great way to wrap up my 3rd time around at Holy Cross, and I’ve never been more ready to see what Senior Year has in store. Good Lord… where’s the time going???? 3 down, 1 to go!!!!!!

 

My Lord… where to begin? You know when you look forward to something for so long, you have no idea what to do once it’s over? Welcome to aftermath, population me! My legs are still cramped, my toes are too sensitive to even put bedsheets over at night, and just walking from class to class has become a HERCULEAN effort on Holy Cross’ stair-filled campus. But the 2014 Boston Marathon, the reason for all this discomfort, is in the rearview mirror now, and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had during my 20 years. Here’s how it happened.
As I shambled to my car last year, my legs in even more pain than they are now and with the ringing of two explosions still buzzing around my skull, I think I was already formulating my return to Boston. I could barely stand for a week, yet I knew that I didn’t really have a choice – I’d be running the Boston Marathon this year. As President Obama himself said, “BET ON IT.” 365 days of “Boston Strong” reminders later, I found myself back in Hopkinton yesterday morning – and 36,000 of my closest friends showed up with me.

The 2014 E-Streeter Boston Marathoners, pre-departure

The 2014 E-Streeter Boston Marathoners, pre-departure

Barry and Tommy Scanlon wearing matching t-shirts to honor their sister Sue, who inspired their running

Barry and Tommy Scanlon wearing matching t-shirts to honor their sister Susan, who inspired their running

The Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, the resting place for runners before the race. Notice the security on the high school rooftop

The Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, the resting place for runners before the race. Notice the security on the high school rooftop

Never was there a hardier, more battle-tested band of brothers (and sisters) ever assembled

Never was there a hardier, more battle-tested band of brothers (and sisters) ever assembled

He's fallen, and he can't get up. I'm just scratching my head

He’s fallen, and he can’t get up. I’m just scratching my head

Due to the increased amount of runners this year, the B.A.A. added ANOTHER starting wave onto the preexisting three. This meant that, by the time we even crossed the starting line at 11:25am, the elite leaders were already thundering past Boston College (at a guess). I’m not saying that’s why they beat some of us E-Streeters, I’m just saying I think it’s an unfair advantage on their part…

This was the line TO GET TO the starting line

This was the line TO GET TO the starting line

Dad and I before the starting line. We're both doing our star-spangled duty in Captain America gear

Dad and I before take-off. We’re both doing our star-spangled duty in Captain America gear

AND THEY'RE OFF

AND THEY’RE OFF

I can’t describe the rush you get crossing that starting mat – any injuries you’re nursing (and we all had them) simply fall away, and the surge of pure adrenaline you get feels like it just might carry you straight through to Boylston Street. A half-mile in, my hands were already sore from high fives!

Marathon11
Marathon12

Dad with MCC and LPD buddy (and hardcore marathoner) Joe Patuto

Dad with MCC and LPD buddy (and hardcore marathoner) Joe Patuto

Runners are all about stats and numbers; what was that last mile split, what’s the weather gonna be like, how many people are in that line for the porta-potty, so on. Not a single guess could be reasonably made as to the number of spectators out along that 26.2 mile distance yesterday. Up into the millions, no question, without breaking a sweat. Not an ounce of ill-will to be found, just an entire state turning out in unadulterated support for this year’s marathoners. You’ll notice in most of these pictures I don’t have headphones in – I genuinely didn’t need them, the soundtrack of cheering from the crowds was so uplifting. You keep your running playlist on Pandora, give me a Patriots’ Day crowd in Framingham or Natick.

All the way from the North Pole, even Santa came to watch!!!

All the way from the North Pole, even Santa came to watch!!!

A superhero reception

A superhero reception

Dad stops for a second with his friend, Natick Police Chief James Hicks. Thinking about it, why do you know so many police, Dad??

Dad stops for a second with his friend, Natick Police Chief James Hicks. Thinking about it, why do you know so many police, Dad??

Marathon18
As I was prepping myself for the Wellesley College scream tunnel, coincidence and luck found me right smack dab next to another Holy Cross Crusader, Class of ’06 alum Bryan DiMare. It was great seeing another member of ‘Sader Nation out there, Bryan (and wishing the rest of your race was successful)!!!

We're 'Sader Nation AND Boston Strong!!

We’re ‘Sader Nation AND Boston Strong!!

Next came what was UNDOUBTEDLY the highlight of my day. There’s a blog’s-worth of material on my Dad’s phone from my exploits over the next mile planting kisses on screaming Wellesley girls, but in the interests of time and a PG-rating for this post, we’ll just skim. The enthusiasm from the girls is always an enormous boost, but this year especially it was particularly *ahem* unforgettable. Special shout-out to my best friend growing up, Nicole Hatem, a Wellesley senior who closed out her scream tunnel days with an exclamation point!

Marathon20

Marathon21

I'm told this is the favorite day of the year on the Wellesley campus. Bless them.

I’m told this is the favorite day of the year on the Wellesley campus. Bless them.

A glute injury blossomed into something pretty terrible from this point on, so the rest of the race went by in a bit of a haze. The crowds and their enthusiasm never let up, but I just put my head down and soldiered on as best I could. Apologies if I ran right past anybody reading this – I swear, I didn’t mean to offend you, I was just confronting all my inner demons at the moment and the outside world became kind of secondary.

A much-needed stop with Mom and Heather at mile 16.5. I wouldn't have finished the race without you two, and I mean that.

A much-needed stop with Mom and Heather at mile 16.5. I wouldn’t have finished the race without you two, and I mean that.

Dad with Holy Cross bud Karina O'Friel, Class of '14. Heartbreak Hill has NOTHING on Mount St. James.

Dad with Holy Cross bud Karina O’Friel, Class of ’14. Heartbreak Hill has NOTHING on Mount St. James.

I thankfully start remembering things (regained consciousness?) around Kenmore Square in Boston, and found that I was blessedly only about a mile from the finish. My Dad and I could actually HEAR Boylston Street before we ever even got to it. It was tough to judge while we were running past (the fact that we were 26 miles into our run may have had something to do with it, too), but I really don’t know how deep the crowds lining the home stretch were. A dozen deep maybe? Twenty? However many there were, they made one heck of a lot of noise! Running down to the finish line with telescope vision, it was hard not to imagine the plumes of smoke that had arisen there last year, and that added even more solemnity to an occasion that can already bring people to tears. But as we ran past block by block of happy, cheering faces, I had a realization. Last year, two cowardly scum had attempted to mar this sporting event with their evil, had tried to crush the spirit of a city and make a damning statement about human nature. Blessed as I was with a view from the trenches, I’m here to announce to the world, once and for all, definitively… BOSTON WON. Boston won, its people won, the people who come from around the world to run its streets won. Boston has expanded beyond a geographical location or a collection of stone buildings into an idea known around the world. Boston now means strength, means toughness, means tenacity, and my GOD it was on display yesterday. You can try to scar us, but you’ll never scare us. Not by a long shot. We’ll just keep on running.

Marathon30

Powering down the home stretch

Powering down the home stretch

Marathon31

People wonder why we do marathons. They ask (reasonably), “why do you submit yourself to that strain, voluntarily?” My answer: for the feeling I get crossing the finish line. It’s achievement, it’s success, it’s completion in its most un-distilled form. I threw my hands up and SCREAMED a victory shout, and I could feel all the muscles that hadn’t been burned away bulge. It was a pretty cool feeling, man. I turned, then, and just hugged my Dad.
Anyone who knows him will understand this perfectly, but he’s just the most rock-solid, inspiring, AMAZING guy I’ve ever known. He POWERED through the Marathon course Monday, there’s no other way to describe it. The man ran another marathon just three months ago, down in Disney, and he’s had a really bad calf injury ever since, but I swear to God he ran like a man possessed. I’m not even sure he felt the injury at all, he just took his resolve and determination to such a higher level. It’s no different than any other day of my 20 years, Dad, but when we crossed that finish line side-by-side I was just reminded how privileged I am to be your son. You made the whole thing possible in the first place, and I mean it when I say you carried me through to that feeling of victory.

Marathon Men

Marathon Men

A heavenly reunion

A heavenly reunion

Christmas card? We'll photoshop out the sweat lines and grimaces

Christmas card? We’ll photoshop out the sweat lines and grimaces

We trudged from the finish area to pick our capes and medals and over to the family car parked a few blocks away. We both sunk right into our seats, and I gotta say, I never knew Ford chairs were that comfortable before.

I'm modeling the silver cape look 14. "Real heroes wear silver capes."

I’m modeling the silver cape look 14. “Real heroes wear silver capes.”

The first and only selfie I've ever taken. I did it for the bling

The first and only selfie I’ve ever taken. I did it for the bling

So… that about covers it. Hopefully you’ve gotten a sense of my Marathon experience this year; truthfully, I’m not even sure if I have it nailed down myself yet. It’ll take me some time to work it all out, and sitting here now I’ve actually just realized that this is the first time in over two years when I don’t have a training goal marked on my calendar. It’s a brave new world for me! But I want to thank, DEEPLY, the E-Streeters who ran with me to get here – Mary-Jo Griffin, Donna Corbin, Sean Kenny, Nick Laganas, & the Scanlon Brothers – and my amazing family – Mom and Heather – for all your support. MVP, though, obviously is saved for Big Man. It was an unforgettable time we had together, and it’s something I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Boston Strong? You’re looking at it.

Marathon5

Expo14

Good morning everyone! Here’s the first of what will probably be several posts over the next few days, chronicling my own humble part in the historic 118th running of the Boston Marathon! A little secret – I may or may not only do the Marathon so I can go to the expo that takes place the weekend beforehand. It’s fairly Runners’ Mecca: a gathering of every imaginable sporting brand, from official sponsor Adidas to Saucony to Under Armour, and everybody in-between. They all show up with incredible gear unique to this weekend (plus all kinds of free giveaways) and a year’s worth of bank account savings is usually blown by the end of the day.

Expo1To start off the day, a truly amazing program that I want to give the attention it deserves. Since the attacks last April, Boston’s Old South Church has been knitting thousands of hand-made scarves for marathon runners. They’ve accepted donations from all over the world, and people from far and wide have been sending in every imaginable pattern of blue and yellow for the church to give away. With the qualification that you “Be swift, be safe” when you wear it, the Church’s volunteers wrapped people in both scarves and hugs over the course of the day, and I’m sure many a tear of emotion was shed.

Our Hogwarts House colors are blue and gold!

Our Hogwarts House colors are blue and gold!

Expo1.1

Expo3With the expo starting at noon, my dad and I, along with my dad’s co-workers and first time marathoners Mary-Jo Griffin and Donna Corbin, headed into BeanTown at 12:30, thinking the opening crowds would at least have dissipated a little. Yeah right. I’ve been coming to the expo for a few years now, and I’ve NEVER seen it as busy as it was yesterday. There was a thousands-long line just to get in the door and get our numbers!

Expo2.1

Expo4The magic number this year’s 31360, and for anyone who wants text updates from the B.A.A. as to my progress can just type that into their runner tracker program (which you can find at this link:  http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/att-athlete-alert.aspx ). Dad’s number is 31359, so follow him too!

GO-TIME

GO-TIME

Sader Nation meets Boston Strong

‘Sader Nation meets Boston Strong

Ladies, eat your hearts out

Ladies, eat your hearts out

From there, it was into the John Hancock Expo Center, where all those aforementioned treasures were waiting for us. It was so packed inside it was difficult to simply try on merchandise, there was that little room to move. We still managed to pick up some incredible swag though! Superstition prevents me from wearing any of it until I’ve actually crossed the finish line, but it just serves as a little extra motivation, that’s for sure.

This year's race colors, orange and blue! I'm still waiting for Purple and White... maybe next year's

This year’s race colors, orange and blue! I’m still waiting for Purple and White… maybe next year’s

 

Self-explanatory. At Holy Cross, it's a fact of life

Self-explanatory. At Holy Cross, it’s a fact of life

So that’s it – I’ve put in the training, I’ve got the number, I’ve got the jacket… as my high school track coach used to say, “the hay’s in the barn.” After a whole year of build-up, the Boston Marathon is finally here again! Thank you to everyone who’s supported me and my extended running family as we’ve prepped for this year’s running, in 48 hours it’ll be done and you won’t have to hear us go on about it anymore. Especial thanks, as always, to my mom Jackie and sister Heather, the best cheering section in the world! Can’t wait to see you guys out in Newton on Monday! That’s it for now folks, see you on the other side! WISH ME LUCK!!!!!!

I can't wait to be represent some Purple Pride!!!

I can’t wait to be represent some Purple Pride!!!

And P.S. – Happy Easter to everyone!