Breaking Nemo News: from the front lines of Stoneham MA

This fall, your brave correspondent risked life, limb and coffee to bring you hourly, real-time updates about the ravages of Hurricane Sandy in Massachusetts (as seen through my windows). Trash cans fell over. Branches swayed. It was epic.

Now that we’re ACTUALLY going to be in the middle of a storm that might even AFFECT us, I thought there was nothing for me to do but put on my galoshes (or fuzzy slippers – whichever is more convenient) and continue that fine reporting tradition. Come back all day to find out what’s happening in Stoneham during this Epic Winter Event! You can also follow this on my twitter feed, Facebook page and G+ pages… until such a time as I get too lazy to update in four locations.

#Nemo 10 am: Actual snowflakes have been spotted in Stoneham, MA. I would get a head start on shoveling, but it’s not sticking yet.

#Nemo 11 am: Trying to figure out if we should expect two feet of snow or three. Turns out the scale maxes out at 24″ – which is shown as white. SOMEONE is getting clever!

Nemo snowfall predictions
Nemo snowfall predictions

#Nemo 12 noon: The snow is starting to thicken. Unsalted surfaces have started to look whitish. School was announced closed on Wednesday – starting to think they could have made it until the 2:20 closing time. Daycare closes in half an hour: prepare for influx of children!

#Nemo 1320: Roads closed. Children home. Mass transit shut down. Snow accumulation at nearly an inch. Proactively eating chocolate to prepare for possible future starvation.

#Nemo 1400: Snow day pirate map comics while we wait for enough snow to play in.

A productive snow day!
A productive snow day!

#Nemo 1420: BREAKING NEWS! My husband just brought me warm-from-the-oven cookies! And you were wondering why people always stock up on milk before snowstorms.

#Nemo 1500: Three hour long conference call complete. Snow now covering most surfaces outside and falling at a moderate rate. Pirate-comic completed and AWESOME.

Buried maternal treasure
Buried maternal treasure

#Nemo 1600: As the blizzard begins to bliz with increasing seriousness, I am preparing the emergency survival plan for my family. As night falls in New England, I have laid careful plans for gumbo and The Princess Bride. I may be so consumed by these dire tasks that I am unable to make updates for an hour or two, so do not send the Sherpas out for me until at least 2000.

#Nemo 1820: actual blizzard has arrived. There is probably six inches of snow, hard winds, and more falling. The only moving vehicles I’ve seen in three hours are plows. So far, so awesome!

#Nemo 2130: there are currently five dads and a dog sledding down our street. Wouldn’t the kids be jealous if they were still awake!!

There was no chance of this picture coming out as seen by the human eye
There was no chance of this picture coming out as seen by the human eye

#Nemo midnight: I have a table full of men eating pancakes and discussing Superman movies – after 2 hours of sledding. The snow is taller than the top step and falling fast. The windows are opaque with blown snow and ice. The wind is howling. The children are sleeping. Life is very, very good.

Men. With pancakes.
Men. With pancakes.

The last scion of a great house

My state lost its senator this morning. You might have heard. I believe there were a few glancing mentions in a news organization or two.

I live in Massachusetts. I have lived in Massachusetts for 9 years now. But I’ll likely never be a Massachussan. I speak with an indistinguishable accent. (My husband and I were raised 12,000 miles or so apart. We have the same generic American accent.) I drink Starbucks, not Dunkin’ Donuts. Growing up, I thought the mob was about as real a threat as Bigfoot and the Windigo. I arrived when the Big Dig was a fait accomplis. I never expected to live here so long. I vote regularly in both local and state elections, but I feel a bit like an outsider looking in. I must’ve voted for Ted Kennedy, but I don’t remember doing so. To me, he was a politician with a national profile who had a bunch of good ideas and plenty of prior personal issues. The name Kennedy is no magic to me.

Some of the politicians in our commonwealth seem to be more like me, or at least less like the old-New England types. For example, our governor Deval Patrick has no accent and has lived in places outside “the hub”. I’m quite fond of my current state representative Jason Lewis, who is local enough to have spent five minutes selling his candidacy to me 1 on 1 and seems (in the local parlance) wicked smaht. I can connect with the Harvard/BU/Tufts folk who, like me, came to New England for college and stayed for the jobs.

But there’s the other Massachusetts – the thick accent, old boy, Irish-Catholic Massachusetts. For example, I can’t for the life of me figure out why Boston accepts a mayor who can barely string together a coherent sentence. Mayor Menino is an excellent example of this kind of New England politician. His power base is built on unions and knowing everyone, as far as I can tell. And for all this stumps me, it appears to be a very strong power base (although thank heavens he has real challengers this year – more power to them).

A friend of mine told a story about running for city council many years ago in Boston. Some of the “good ol’ boys” took her aside told her to be a good girl and not upset the boat. They told her that she had no chance and mentioned that friends of theirs ran the polling stations. Were there actually polling irregularities? Who knows. But the “interlopers not welcome” ethos behind her story rang very true. There seem to be areas of politics that are reserved for the third generation and connected.

Now, I am no better than a casual observer of local politics. It’s entirely possible that my perceptions are out of date and untrue. But I find myself wondering which side of this divide our new senator will come from. I worry that the choice of who we’ll get to vote for will be made in a smoky room filled with men from large families. I worry that the Democratic candidate offered to us will be the one whose “turn” it is. A special election does not have a primary. There is very, very, very little chance that Massachusetts will send a Republican to DC instead of that critical 60th Democrat.

I wish that Teddy Kennedy, who had plenty of time to think about his last days, had resigned in such a way that we could have found his successor in a more orderly fashion. I am glad that he didn’t name an heir, but I’m concerned that the decision will not be one that I, or ten-year outsiders like me, will have much to say in.

Edward Kennedy was the last scion of a great family. But in America, power is not intended to be inherited, father to son, or brother to brother. I hope that the Senator who next represents our Commonwealth will be a person of great intelligence, persuasion and integrity, and will somehow manage to represent ALL the Commonwealth. And I hope they will have earned the post on their own merits.

My walk to daycare

The other day I took my camera with me as I walked to daycare. On that one mile, I pass through and past so many different stages of Lawrence: the historic 19th century mills (and bridge), the renovated future with offices and transportation centers, the incredibly depressed and depressing present of boarding houses and neglect, and the remnants of a modest suburban immigrant town.

I’ve created this album so that you can walk with me.