learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: off topic (Page 2 of 2)

@RedSox this one is about you.

Hoping Twitter hollers at my boys there.

Anyway, two posts, one day. This one is purely mine, though J had a huge part in what I’m writing about.

March 2007 was a weird time. I was helping out at my family’s business due to familial strain, watching a beautiful member of my family battle an awful disease and feeling pretty much the smallest creature on the planet. The business my family owned at the time was a small store and deli on Cape Cod where I met some of the most amazing people. One, Joanne, would come by each night I closed and make sure I was never left alone to close up. I wonder today if she knows how very, very much I appreciated her company. We had a lot of laughs, she and I, alongside my stepsister, stepbrother and the rest of the store’s staff. Great, great people.

Anyway as usual I got sidetracked.

There was a listing online for staff members for Fenway Park to work the upcoming baseball season. I wasn’t making much (any) money working where I was and I was travelling 2 hours a day. I knew I was helping family, and my stepfamily knows I’d do it again for them in a heartbeat, but something needed to give just then. My home was Boston and points north, not Cape Cod. So, on a lark and with my friends at the store to encourage me, I applied.

The interview was a hoot. A bit of a cattle call, you get sent into one of the clubs to meet with various supervisors who go over your strengths, weaknesses and how you can handle working Day of Game, which has its own peculiar set of demands. I have a great hospitality background and am good at problem solving, so I interviewed for Customer Service.

I was hired within weeks.

Now, the Boston Red Sox have been a beloved team of my family for generations. My great-grandfather, my nana’s brothers, my father and his brothers, my own generation and now my son were all raised with Sox games as the soundtrack to our summers. We all, with the exception of J-bear obviously, bore witness to the curse’s seemingly unending wrenching of our hearts and then the miraculous 2004 ALCS and World Series. The Red Sox aren’t just a team to a lot of us, they’re like a religion; a hallmark of our culture and our upbringing, something we corner our calendars and way of life around no matter how good or bad things are.

So there I was, a staff member of the Boston Red Sox. And I loved it.

Between 2007 and 2013, I worked many games, met many people, and did two separate jobs. 2007-2008 seasons saw me working Customer Service solving fan problems face to face then 2009-2013 saw me working with Quality Control maintaining to integrity of the seating bowl as A2 called it. From March through September/October those years, my summer family was there for me: fans, staff and all those in between.

My friends there helped me through some of the darkest and some of the brightest times in my life. A disastrous choice by one family member left harrowing situations and choices being made just before I started at Fenway. Another family member found herself the center of many a prayer from us but, in 2009, we all said goodbye to her. In 2010, we buried one of our own, our beloved Ramone, and welcomed the next generation with the birth of my son in June. 2012, my son’s autism diagnosis… 2013, the decision for me to leave so I could be there for my son’s needs.

I write this because tonight, as I drove home from an errand, I saw the Sox game on on a television inside a gas station. I immediately started to cry. I miss my summer family. I miss those I was close to there, their weird version of love and their unparalleled sense of care and loyalty. When I had few to no others, they put their arms around me and helped me not just stand but to walk and flourish. They looked out for me. They just cared, and let me care for them in return.

Jeff, Scott, Marcita, the one and only Juliet, Garrett, Andy, Ferg, Al, Tony, Ramone (RIP dear boy), Andy K, Donnie, Emily, Kim, Erin, Gene (RIP, hope you have lots of dessert) and so, so SO many others…. Thank you for having made my life better. I miss you guys all so damned much. Take care of that ballpark for me.


.. And for once it has nothing to do with IEPs, public schools or autism care.

On 6/20 I went to the ER and spent a night in the hospital because there was a distinct worry that I had blown my heart out or something given the intense pain and pressure in my chest. The discomfort was crazy and I spent the night getting bloodwork, a nuclear medicine test to determine my lungs were free of embollism and finally a stress test come morning. My heart and lungs passed with flying colors. I was discharged with a curt “follow up with your primary care doctor and take some antacids”.


The discomfort has never left and I have felt blown off repeatedly. The GI doc sent me for an ultrasound just to rule out problems in my abdomen.

She never got back to me to inform me I had gallstones. In fact, I didn’t learn about them til my trip to the ER last night because I felt like I was unable to breathe all over again from the unending pain and pressure.

So now I have a gallbladder full of stones I am sure the surgeon will pat me on the head and send me on my way over.

So tired of doctors.

If I go quiet for a while, it’s cause I am that fed up with the medical profession and took out my own gallbladder.

How To Be a Mother

Mother’s Day is a strange holiday for me. I have not had a significant relationship with my natural mother for years. My maternal grandmother was sadly gone from my life by the time I was 15, through little fault of her own, and the maternal figure that my father brought home for me was a disaster and a half. Women, good women, were infrequent in my life until high school due to my father’s poor life choices. I grew to ignore the holiday nearly entirely but for one lady.

I called her Nana Anna Ryan O’Brien. She was my father’s mother, a woman who was dealt some hard blows yet always without fail had the most amazing smile and the warmest heart. She raised my father and his two brothers with the help of her parents after her husband died of walking pneumonia within weeks of her youngest son’s birth. She worked, supported her family and never ceased to love my Papa, David Ryan, right up to her dying day. She treated the world with love and humor yet never took any nonsense. Whether it be that she had to sit down with me all night to get me through math homework as I was absolutely stupid with math or that she had to plan to go to the bakery for cupcakes so she could tell us she baked all night before we came over for a visit she always just did the best she could by us kids. 

My Nana was the rock of my childhood. I have so many memories of sitting in her little house near Wollaston Beach huddled around her little kitchen table or snuggled down in her bed beside her for a safe night’s sleep. My only memories of feeling loved as a little girl came mostly from her, though I have some fond memories of my mother’s mother taking me to spend time with her as well. I was never a burden to Nana. I was always just right and just loved. 

1999 was a tough year. The day I got the phone call that she had been diagnosed with cancer was a rough one. It was the end result of Hepatitis C contracted through a transfusion in the 1980s and she wasn’t going to go through lengthy, draining treatments that would diminish her quality of life. Her courage was amazing. She traveled while she was still well enough to do so, going around the US and visiting our relatives in Ireland a last time. When she was finally too sick to be alone the answer was natural. We’d bring her back to her little house and we’d make the end of her life comfortable and content.

I’ll always wonder if I gave her even half of the comfort she gave me in my life while I helped care for her in those last months. The sound of her voice quietly saying “good morning, pumpkin” as I came through the door each day gave me the strength to keep going even when I was tired, strained, sad, worried… It made all the hard stuff easier. Even as she was facing the end of her life, she shielded me as a mother should shield a beloved child from the worst of the world when possible. Her worst episodes, the most difficult parts of her illness, somehow always happened when I wasn’t there and I was there 5 days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day! We laughed together, we cried together, we drove each other crazy and from it all, I learned so many lessons that bring me here to the present day.

I sit here now with a little boy who bears her smile and mischievous nature and I thank God each day for all that she taught me. She taught me how to just love and accept. She taught me that I had some worth. She taught me that I can be something to someone and that I am strong enough to do the toughest things. She and my beautiful stepmother Robin along with my Queen Mum Beverly put every tool in my toolbox to help me be the mother I never had to my little boy, a little boy who needs a mom a lot. 

So, when you see my little boy doing something great, thank these ladies and the others who have walked through my life since I was 16 onwards. I know I do. I know a lot of people aren’t religious, and generally I am not overtly so, but I have to say that God saw I had a need’ an empty hole in my world and He filled it to overflowing.

Thank you, Nana. I love and miss you. 


There is a sad thing I fear that I am going to be now sharing with the survivors, witnesses and first responders of this past week in Boston and that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I write this to all of you.

There are many hard things I have done in my life but I count trying to explain the major disconnect; the major fear, terror and agony going on in my brain as one of the hardest. Sure, the media portrays PTSD in simplistic fashion, showing flashbacks to events that caused trauma, and that’s a very bare bones way of showing the truth of PTSD features but it’s not the whole story.

The fear, the anxiety, the horror, the everything you lived through in those moments that caused you such damaging terror can come back to haunt you in ways you least expect. They can sneak back into your world on a clear sunny day where one detail can spark your mind’s return to those moments. You’re physically operating in the here, now, today of things but your mentally operating in the fear response of those horrifying moments, reacting to situations that are now ghosts haunting your memory. Your brain does not know how to let go of that response and like an engine stuck in gear, it remains there, holding you captive in a moment you logically do not for anything in this whole world want to relive.

That is how it is for me. That is how I spent years of my life living. It took the birth of my son and reactions I had in the year after it to realize what I was even doing. It took me too long, way too long, to get help. I did not have the support I needed, in some cases because I did not know how to ask, in other cases because I believed that in all truth I was simply broken.

This is not what I want for you. 

I want you to be free. I want you to face the trauma that occured, in your time and fashion, and I want to see you come through on the other side changed but strong. I want to see you supported and carried through so long as you need those shoulders to lean on. I want you to know that it is so very okay to ask for help; to ask for someone to talk it out with. You are not less of a man or woman for asking it but instead better and stronger for it.

Heal your bodies and also, heal your minds. You deserve that. Life will never be the same, or like it never happened, but it will go on, and it will get better. Tomorrow may be hard, and so may many tomorrows to come, but each can and will get easier.

And if you need someone to hold your hand or to listen to you when you’re scared in the dark of night or even if you just want a stranger who will not judge you for your fears, reactions and emotions right now… Hey. I’m here. My email is galebird(at)gmail.com. 

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those touched by the Boston Marathon bombings, the explosion in West, Texas, and the other tragedies that unfold around the world. 


This morning, I had a plethora of other items, mundane and more thoughtful, to write about. I truly did. I had a list I was going to pic from and get to writing when I got home from another day at the ballpark. 

Then the world I know, the city I love, kind of went pear shaped.

Melodramatic, right? Only it wasn’t. Not to the people attending and participating in the Boston Marathon today and not to the people who live and work in the city I call home. 

Moments like this bring out the best and worst in people. Men and women I have worked alongside in my role at Fenway showed their true colors today as first responders. These seasoned officers ran into the danger we, as humans, instinctually run away from in order to do what they could to save and preserve lives. They, along with many brave bystanders, saved lives today. Their stories will be told in the days to come, the tales of how to someone they are truly an angel. They are the beauty in this tragedy.

Then there’s the ugly. After Newtown, it was the autism community that was side eyed and stereotyped in brutal fashion. After Oklahoma City, after both attacks on the WTC, it was the Muslim community and even the East Indian community. 

When did we, as a nation, start believing the actions of one defined the actions of all?

If someone came up and slapped me, I would be angry at he or she who slapped me – not at the innocent people who share similar traits to said person. If it was their family who taught and encouraged them to be that way, or their social club… I would be angry with the ones who gave them these values and showed them how to choose such a path, too. I would not hate the innocents who share traits with them. I cannot hate the innocents who share traits with them. 

There are bad apples in every bunch. I won’t let them ruin it for all the others. I cannot.

I don’t have time to demonize a group of people. I do not have the energy. My energy is spent on praying for those devastated today. There is one family who will bury a precious child. There is another family who will bury a precious loved one and still ever so many more who are changed in a way that will make it feel, for a long time, like they really may have died today despite still being here. The trauma of today feels fresh yet it is not fully played out. It will be written on the victims for years to come, in their flesh and on their hearts and minds. They need our love, not our anger and hate, to recover. They need our strength and support.

Do not mistake my rambling, I want to find who did this as much as the next person and I want to see them punished… I do not however want to watch witch hunts occur fueled by blind, ignorant hatred. 

We are Boston. We are better than that.


I should be focusing on Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day. I really should. It’s important to myself and those I love.

But I can’t. I’m too angry.

And I’m here to spill my tale to all who care to read.

In September of 2011, a water stain appeared on my son’s ceiling. It was small, but water stains are water stains and thus I contacted the landlady. There was no response.

One month later, the stain had grown. I contacted the landlady again. I was told she checked out the upstairs bathroom, which is directly above where the stain was, and it was “all fine”. 

It wasn’t fine.

This continued through til February, when water started dripping into my son’s bedroom. At this point we had to close off the room to his use and he began sleeping in the living room. NOT IDEAL. She sent a plumber, who informed me that without appropriate access to upstairs there wasn’t much he could do. No clue if he ever actually got access. Landlady informs me “all is fine” upstairs and sends a painter to paint the ceiling… which was still wet from leaking upstairs. Against the young man’s better judgement, he scraped and repainted the ceiling.

On May 24, 2012, the water stains began appearing anew and worse this time. By the time someone ever came to look at anything the ceiling was bowed downwards and cracking wide open.


June 5th, a plumber determines that a fitting in the upstairs bathroom (the faucet on the tub I believe) was cracked and had been leaking all this time, worse by the day. He replaced it.  Meanwhile, his inspection of my son’s room caused the ceiling that was damaged to completely come down, revealing an incredible amount of black mold, etc. No one came to clean up this damage for weeks. The Board of Health got involved and, after refusal to pay rent til this was rectified, the issue was resolved in July 2012. 

Now, once the Board of Health got involved, our upstairs neighbors were abruptly allowed to have a dog in their apartment. Strange, considering the landlady was so adamant about NO PETS ALLOWED upon our moving in. However, a dog is a dog, I can’t argue that. I can, however, argue against the fact that when she did this she arbitrarily had us informed after the fact that we are banned from the back yard. I had to remove all my son’s new toys – received for his birthday – from the yard immediately. We are still banned from the yard despite nothing in our lease stating we are barred from ANY common areas on the property. That in no way seems retaliatory does it? Cause her reasoning is us not “being nice” to our upstairs neighbors – never mind the ugly things they do to and call us.

Add on top of it that the last time she came into this apartment during the repairs she stood in the kitchen and demanded rent on an apartment with an uninhabitable room (didn’t get it til the Board of Health signed off) and then stood in my doorway, gestured at my son, and said “So what’s wrong with him?” like he wasn’t able to hear or understand her… Like he wasn’t human. I have never been so disgusted and upset with another human being.

Now, why is this making me angry today? It’s been quite a while, right?

Because last night part of the fence was damaged and the landlady could not get over here fast enough to do whatever our upstairs neighbors needed or wanted.

Now, oh readers – the few, the brave, the faithful – how would YOU react to that? Cause I’m ready to spit nails.

I’ll add some pictures tonight to illustrate some of this so this post will be edited later.

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