Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Boston, my love

The last few days have been emotionally taxing for me, so I have turned to blogging as a release/source of happiness. In order to boost my spirits and give me the spark I need to finish this week on roughly 20 hours of sleep, I have decided to write about two of my favorite things: The city of Boston and journalism. 
Last weekend, I, along with 24 other Publications staff members, went to Boston for the annual National High School Press Association Convention. Here's the highlights of my trip to Beantown:
  • Wednesday- I slept in until we left for the trip, since my Grandpa's Shiva [Jewish mourning service] was the night before and I just could not get myself out of bed. My spirits were immediately lifted when we got to the airport and I was surrounded by people who were as excited about Boston as I was. We crashed really hard in the super fluffy hotel beds on the first night, since we were so exhausted from traveling. The beds were actually not queen size, but full so my friend Jill and I repeatedly hit one another in the face. It was hilarious/painful. 
  • Thursday- We woke up relatively early to go meet our Freedom Trail tour guide in Boston Common, the oldest public park. His legal name was Jeremiah Poope and he was SO funny. I can't even begin to describe the stories he told. Definitely worth the cold, 90 minute walk around the city. We saw Paul Revere's grave, learned about Mother Goose's origin, visited John Hancock's memorial [his body was stolen twice, so it is not buried in the cemetery with the other founding fathers], saw Samuel Adams' grave, went inside the Omni-Parker House [serves the original Boston Cream pie recipe, housed Stephen King when he stayed in room 1408, and is the primary place for Boston's guest celebrities], and stood on the corner where the Boston Massacre broke out. After Poope's tour, we all followed him on Twitter [@tourguidepoop] and parted separate ways. Some kids went on a tour of Fenway while others shopped in the Quincy Market area [myself included in the latter]. Later that night, we headed over the convention center to register for our write-off events. I met with a Herff Jones representative concerning this year's yearbook. Her positive criticism/praise gave me a whole lot of faith that I really needed. We later went to the first keynote speaker, Juliette Kayyem, a Democratic candidate running for governor of Massachusetts. She talked about the importance of writing, being a smart woman, and how to report effectively. She was inspiring and sweet and very personable for being such a huge public figure. After her speech, I met up with Anna, one of my best friends who attends Boston University [the one I stayed with only a few weeks ago]. We met for a 25 minute coffee date. It was brief but so worth it. My friends and I stayed up super late that night, talking about life and journalism. 
  • Friday- I attended a writing session about making readers laugh through true humor, taught by Kathy Craghead, a hilarious, seasoned journalism adviser. I later attend the second keynote speaker, Raney Aronson, a producer for Frontline as well as a super inspiring feminist figure. She was all about "going for it," which is appropriate, since she randomly decided to go to Southeast Asia to do some reporting during college. Raised by parents who sheltered her from any and all news in her tiny Vermont town, she was starved for media and she made a life out of it. That night, I met up with Emily Theis, who was definitely the highlight of my trip. I met Emily when she taught a very basic design class at Ball State J-Day last spring. She dropped out of college this year to fill in for a designer on maternity leave at the Boston Globe. Her spontaneity and passion is admirable. We ate spicy Thai food at a tiny little restaurant in Back Bay and talked about life, journalism, college, people, and vegetarian diets. She spoke about not being too hard on oneself, treating oneself like a human before a designer, and following ones dream even if that dream is something one knows very little about. She changed my views on the stressful Hell that is senior year of high school. She bought me dinner, so I bought her chocolate at Max Brenner [heaven on Earth]. I found myself in this strangely elated creative mental state after that night. She's such a great role model. 
  • Saturday- After a couple super idea-sparking design sessions, we headed to Newbury Street to shop and such and we ended the day with a huge group dinner at Cheers [the restaurant in which the television show was shot]. My friend consumed one and a half full bottles of ketchup with her order of fries. I had such a warm feeling being with everyone, even though our adviser was hotel room-bound with strep throat. 
  • Sunday- All great trips must come to an end, but this end was not ideal. We left at 9 am for our flight, which left at 10:45. We were supposed to land at O'Hare at around 1, but after circling the airport for 40 minutes, the runways closed due to weather and we made an emergency landing in Cleveland. Where waited. For 3 hours. We flew back to Chicago at 5:30, when we landed about 2 hours later. Because of the heavy traffic on the runway, we had to wait on the plane for an additional hour and a half. It was painful. The tweets coming from my staff were absolutely hilarious [I've never laughed harder] but eventually went from funny to desperate. We arrived home almost 10 hours after we were supposed to, and it seemed like everyone except me ditched school the next day.
I apologize for the extremely long post, so here's a visual break for you, reader. You deserve it. 
famous cemetary where many founding fathers and authors were buried

Mike's Pastry, my true Boston love 

Me and Jill in the Italian Village

Our hotel view


keynote speaker gave me fun stuff to doodle about

so did Kathy Craghead

my little swaggies [roomates] at the convention dance 

Max Brenner chocolate box from my night out with Emily

$5 ice cream from the convention center

The Boston Marathon finish line where the bombs went off in April.
The memorial there was very touching.
Almost spooky.

no caption needed

cookie truck aka diet buster

cheers at Cheers! We got 10th place in the nation for our yearbook and 9th for our website!

imagine 24 kids from Indiana on a subway. Multiply the stress by 10.  Now you should have an accurate picture. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

give the locals some loving

As I head into my ninth month as a server at Tyler’s Tender Railroad Restaurant, I have begun to appreciate the quality of service that comes with a local business.
Tyler’s Tender is the cleanest, most well-kept restaurant I have ever stepped foot in, and, like many local businesses, has owners who truly care about the happiness of their customers and the quality of their service.
Similar businesses enforce a strong sense of community and keep dollars in the local economy, a breath of fresh air in the heavily franchised area Northwest Indiana has become.
Paul and Emily Petrie, owners of Tyler’s Tender, are two outstanding examples of everything hardworking business owners advocate. By spending the past several months working for them, I have come to understand the trials and tribulations of maintaining a local restaurant while learning to appreciate the love and dedication that goes into owning a family business like Tyler’s Tender.
Emily and Paul’s experience in a major fast food company drew them toward buying a franchise, but to Paul Petrie “it was counterintuitive to pay money to someone else for my work in the form of franchise fees, so we decided we were going to do our own thing.”
Inspired by their children’s love for trains and their appreciation for fine dining, Emily and Paul went forth to create a restaurant atmosphere that appeals to families like their own. The Petries wanted a place in which children could enjoy themselves while the parents could, too, have a positive dining experience.
“We tried to meld really good quality food for the adults and a really fun environment for the kids,” Paul Petrie said.
This beginning idea has fruitfully progressed into the restaurant that is now in its seventh year of business. Successful small businesses are vital to the success of the economy, meeting local needs by spotting a gap in the market and taking the risk to fill it.
Local businesses also develop personal relationships with regular customers, as I have grown to learn from the families that come into Tyler’s Tender week after week. The sense of familiarity is vital to generating the tight-knit community many towns strive to create.
Above all, local businesses need local support. Without it, they have no foundation to build off of. So as a local business enthusiast [and employee] I urge those in the community to step outside your franchised realm and try the bakery your neighbor opened or that little restaurant that has always appeared interesting to you.
Small businesses, unlike the franchises that engulf our scope, offer services that are from the heart.
“I think you are going to be far more passionate about, and put much more heart into, something that you own yourself,” Petrie said.

Dr. William Ralph Behm [Grandpa] 1931-2013

He was the single most positive influence in my educational career. He was the man who put the book in my hand and told me to read. He was the poor child, living in a tiny apartment with a giant family, who made his way to be #1 in his class at Northwestern University. He was the smartest man I knew but also the most loving. He was not just an educator, doctor, husband, brother, or father. He was Grandpa. 
Throughout his entire life [as I knew him] he was a family man. He never went anywhere without my Grandma and they had the most amazing marriage I had ever seen. They entertained their friends with lavish dinner parties together, went antiquing together, traveled to Florida for the Winter together, and always had an amazing time. They were always laughing. They loved family time. 
When my Grandpa decided it was time to retire from the incredibly successful Orthodontia practice he built, my grandparents decided to open an antique store, to keep his hobby alive. He was always doing things he loved. He played dominoes, read stories, told jokes, ate bialy bread with disgusting fake butter, and kept lists. He was the most organized human being I think there ever was. 
My Grandpa would call me whenever something happened that he wanted me to know about. Whether it was a dog show on television that was showing the same breed as Charli, or a funny comic he saw in the newspaper that he just had to tell us about, or just to say hello and make sure school was going okay. He loved to talk about school. He was on the "fast-track" at his primary school and when I got into the "merit" program at the same age, he knew that my future was as bright as his was. I wish he was here to help me through the hellish college application process. 
My Grandpa was all about making the most out of life. When my Grandma died a couple years ago, he was so sad for a couple months but he then came to realize that my Grandma would have hated the sad man he became. Grandpa started dating Natalie, a friend from primary school, and he was rejuvenated. They traveled, saw shows, and took adorable tours of Chicago as if they were tourists [even if they both had lived there since birth]. They were supposed to get married. They were supposed to go to Paris. They were supposed to go to the fanciest New Year's Eve party in the city of Chicago. 
But my Grandpa had a stroke. A disabling stroke that left the entire right side of his body paralyzed, his speech impaired, and his love for life completely obliterated. He no longer laughed, but repeatedly threw around his lame arm in anger. His only joy was seeing us, but it made my mom sad to see him the way he was, so we visited less and less frequently. He was so upset to have his upswing cut short. He lived in this anger for two years. Until Saturday. He was set free from his suffering. He was set free to see his wife. He was set free to walk and speak and enjoy life again. I generally cringe at euphemisms about death, but I truly do see it as him being set free from his anger and suffering. He did not "pass away" or "move on". His heart stopped and his body shut down and he died at 6:30 am. Right on time. He was never late for anything.