NextGen Johnsons, checking in at 34,000 feet on our way to Las Vegas, Nevada. Phew – it’s been a crazy few months.  It feels like as soon as we arrived in Boston we left again!  Let me explain.

In July 2012, our first month in Boston, we had a wonderful welcoming party that took place in the form of a boat ride on the 4th of July with cousins and friends. It happened to be a special 4th (some sort of decade-year, or an alignment with another historic event – there’s always something historically special going on in Boston) and so there were boats and planes and people galore!  We spent the morning driving around the Hahbah (Harbor) watching the boats and admiring the show that the Blue Angels were putting on.  There must have been hundreds of boats, from tiny sail boats to giant yachts, and every size in-between.  There was also quite a military / navel presence there, which we found out when we got too close to a Navy destroyer that was docked in the harbor.

It was a hot day, but mostly cloudy, providing a nice layer of “shade” for everyone below. We kept cool by drinking plenty of “juice” and munching on chips and all the junk food you can think of.

After the hahbah tour, we drove through the water-lock into the Charles River where we anchored for the rest of the day right by the Hatch Shell, where the Boston Pops play their traditional 4th of July celebration concert.

… I don’t know how this turned into a recap of every moment of that day. I don’t have time for that, and who cares?!   Suffice it to say, the day was “fine.”

July turned to August.  August turned to September, where the first chill of fall hit exactly on Labor Day.  The Rose found a paralegal job in the city and I continued to work on the little app project of mine.

Normalcy was slowly forming as we continued to settle into our little Southie apartment… until one day in November we got the notice from TechStars that we were accepted into the program.  That changed everything.

From that point on, we were essentially packing our bags for San Antonio, TX.  We knew we’d be there for 3 solid months, and so the idea of doing much of anything here in Boston seemed a bit useless.  Sure, we did the holidays and purchased some warm clothes to keep the Rose from freezing in the brisk Fall / Winter air. But for the most part, our eyes were now set on Texas.

After TechStars (see previous entries about that) we immediately were accepted to another startup accelerator, but this time in Los Angeles, California.  Yup, for the next 3 months we’d be spending most of our time in our old home, which we left only months before.

To clarify, here’s the timeline:

July 4th:  Arrive in Boston

Jan 14th:   Arrive in Texas

May 1st: Arrive back in Boston

May 14th: Arrive in Los Angeles

August 14th:  Arrive back in Boston

Unlike Texas, we’re not staying in LA for the full 3 months.  Rather, we have chosen to commute 4 or 5 times throughout the 3 months, with the final trip being the longest  — basically the entire month of July.

I don’t know about the Rose, but I’m looking forward to being done with “accelerators” for a while.  Too much accelerant and not enough life-wood means the fire burns too quickly and doesn’t last.   Eh. Not the best analogy, but you get the idea.

 

It Snowed Today

All of the news stations were a buzz — The snow is coming… The snow is coming!   And sure enough, at about 10pm last night a silent shower of cold whiteness came down upon Boston.

My wife, although sick with a cold, was giddy at the prospect.  “It’s Snowing! Yeaaa!” She exclaimed as she turned off the lights in the house to see outside the window into the nighttime snow scene.

Within an hour, everything was covered in a cozy layer of white. And the the non-stop news coverage seemed to indicate the end of the world was coming…by snow storm!  There were reporters standing by the major highways and in vast parking lots, covered in wet snow, hoping to deliver their live report in perfect sync with the snowplows that occasionally passed by (for without that, the scene was pretty calm and desolate).

I particularly enjoyed watching each of them (all 5 I saw) bend over to pick up a snow ball while doing their routine walk and talk towards the camera, as if to prove to the audience that the snow was there.  “See? I can hold it – it’s real snow!”

And in part because of their overzealous reporting my hopes were lifted.  Was this the first major snow of the year?  Would I wake up to a good 6-12″ of white fluffy goodness?  Would my wife be able to make her first snow angel ever ever?

The harsh reality began at 6am the following morning.  I was suddenly awoken by a harsh scraping sound coming from outside my 1st floor window.  My attempts to sleep through it were thwarted as more frequent and louder scrapes echoed through the otherwise peaceful snowy nighttime scene.

I sat up in bed and for a moment, it was quiet.  The air was cold and the only light was coming from the streetlamps — the sun was still about an hour away from rising.

“SCRAAAAAAAPE — Scrape–Scrape”  — there it was again.  Who could be shoveling at this time of night??!   I looked out the window and to my dismay found my landlord, an 85 year old woman who can best be described as “stubbornly feisty” shoveling the front sidewalk at 6 in the morning.

It should be mentioned that I made a verbal agreement with my aging landlord to shovel when a snow storm hit. But the terms of when and how much shoveling should occur were never set.  Nevertheless, I knew I had to go out there.

After suiting up in full winter gear, I trudged out into the darkness and greeted my landlord, who greeted me with, “I suppose I’m waking everyone up here, huh?”

After a lengthy debate I managed to convince her to go inside but not after learning a pearl of wisdom I’ll never forget when I explained, “it’s only 6 in the morning, we don’t need to shovel this early.”

She replied, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, if it snows, you don’t sleep.”

 

Thanksgiving Time

Hello, my name is Montego, and it’s been 5 months since my last blog.

Audience: “Hi, Montego.”

Over the course of these last 150 some-odd days, there have been plenty of blog-worthy events to share. I’ve been keeping a list and hope to find the time. But tonight, as I lay in the guest bedroom at my parents house with nothing but the glow of the monitor and the clickety clack of the keys to break the dark, silent winter nighttime atmosphere, I can’t help but ponder about Thanksgiving time.

There are only a handful of universally respected dates on the calendar.  New Years, and Christmas (or your preferred equivalents), and your birthday represent probably the top 3, with Thanksgiving a strong 4th place winner.  What about Easter?  Too denominational to be universal.  Vetrans Day?  Important, but not nearly as impactful as the top 4.  Even Memorial day is lower on the Totem pole than Thanksgiving.

Yeah, Turkey day is a pretty big deal for everyone. And what’s not to love?  You get to cook and eat and drink, you get a 4 day weekend (sometimes more), and there’s some great TV to watch like the Macy’s day parade and a few football games.  Oh – and you get to spend time with family and think about what you’re thankful for too.  Right.  Between the glasses of champagne and the pie and ice cream overindulgence  I almost forgot to mention what this day is REALLY all about.  Being thankful, being together, being thankful you are together.

My parents, and to some extent my extended family did a marvelous job teaching me the “true meaning” of various holidays. Teachings that were always taught by example, not by instruction.  Each year at Thanksgiving we would all somehow get together, usually at Nana’s place, but occasionally elsewhere.  We’d each have our own “thing” we’d bring.  My Aunt, a baker at the time, would bring her famous Swedish bread.  Nana would cook Swedish meatballs if she felt like it, and others would just bring themselves, which ment a lot given how far (and sometimes treacherous) the trip was for them.

After a few glasses of wine, everyone would be taking up a storm and building up their appetites.  And when it came time to eat, we would carefully file into the dining room that had been transformed to be 90% table and chairs, 10% floor space.  But nobody seemed to mind, as the spread looked amazing.  The nine plates circled the table — with most of them matching– were framed with polished forks, knifes, and thanksgiving-themed paper napkins.  Everyone had their water glass and wine glass, and the salt, pepper, butter, and bread were all within reach.  Add a few candles and the table was full, forcing the food dishes to be placed on surfaces around the table — anywhere would due.

We quickly past around each dish and loaded our plate with a serving.  And before you knew it, you had green beans, mashed potatoes  butternut squash, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, and one of two types of gravy drizzled over everything. What a masterpiece of meal!  Oh – and there was plenty of Turkey to be had as well, if you could fit it on your plate.

When everyone was finally served we took time to say a few words, usually focused around how happy we all were to be together, and how thankful we were for such an amazing spread.  We could hardly get the words out of our mouths though without drooling over the steamy plate of goodness in front of us.   Nana, we decided, was the only one entitled to start eating even before this quick “grace” of a moment. She was the guiding light of our family and so had every right to dig in.

The meal portion of Thanksgiving usually lasted only 30 minutes or so. People filled their plate as often as they’d like, and the wine seemed endless.  And after a short break to wash some of the silverware, it was time to reconviene in the cozy room for Thanksgiving part 2: the attack of the killer deserts.  Pecan Pie was Nana’s favorite, but there was also Apple, pumpkin, and chocolate cream pie — my Mother’s signature offering.  Cool Whip and Brigham’s Ice Cream rounded out the belt buster meal, and when everyone had tried everything, we retired to the living room to rest.

Aside from some small talk here and there, the tryptophan induced food coma hit quickly, encouraging most to hit the road before it took full effect.

And this is how it was for Thanksgiving at the Johnson Family for year upon year upon year.  And when I think of the 4th most universally accepted and important day of the year, I conjure up the great memories of past Turkey Days.

But as time passes, things change, and Thanksgiving is different now.  Much different.  I wouldn’t say it’s any better or worse.  But the days of 9 people at the table have given way to a smaller meal and a more intimate audience.   However, the spirit of Thanksgiving is still alive and well.

I’m starting to think of this current “decade” of Thanksgiving as a transition period. A transition from Father to Son, from one family to another, from old friends to new friends, and from current gen Johnsons to the next gen. Works for me.