The Day Boston Stood Still – A Photographic Tribute to Life in Spite of Tragedy

I debated for a long time even writing anything about the one-year anniversary of what is now infamously known as “The Boston Marathon Bombings.” What more can possibly be said? Terror threats have been analyzed and debated for this year’s race. Emails have started collecting in my inbox about safety for Monday and what items not to bring while cheering on the runners. My university held a memorial service last night for the graduate student killed at the finish line. After all that, I didn’t think I would have anything to contribute to the conversation.

Then I saw the flowers placed outside the university chapel as I walked home from the library, and I decided that it just might be worth something to sit down and write.

A year ago, an alter of flowers and candles and notes began cascading down the side of the statue in Marsh Plaza. People tied ribbons and roses into the police barricades down Newbury Street. Candles lit the streets and the parks. It’s a hallmark of tragedy in the city, a beautiful and arresting tribute of remembrance for the victims of terrible things. The flowers always build up and pour into the sidewalks until the air around the memorials drips with a sweet rottenness. It’s a smell you can’t forget.

In truth, I was asleep in my room when the bombs went off. I woke up to knocking on my door and frantic voices in the hallway of my house. My phone had a whole list of missed texts and phone calls from friends and family all over the country. Since that day, I’ve met friends who were on the same block as the pressure cookers and who couldn’t stand loud, sudden noises for months afterward. Stories were posted anonymously online by students in my own school who bravely confessed that they were afraid to go outside for days because their religion made them somehow dangerous to the rabid speculators tearing up social media.

I woke up, and despite everything that everyone I knew told me, I was unafraid. Like some automatic instinct, I grabbed a camera and headed outside.

The following is a handful of pictures taken that afternoon and evening that have never been posted until now. I kept them tucked away in a subfolder on my computer, because the grief of the moment was not something to be paraded around, and I wasn’t walking around to prove any kind of point about courage. There were enough images at the time of the military in the Boston Common and the bloodstains on the pavement. There will always be enough of those photos. Instead, I tried to captured all the things that were not right about that day, all of the irony of heavy security against the backdrop of a city silent but defiant. I’ve captured a lot of these same scenes on tranquil afternoons, and the difference is still jarring.

These things I cannot stress enough: The sunset was breath-taking, the police presence outside of the glamorous stores was completely unnerving, and the quiet was absolute.

Yet, in the sadness, beauty was there. Solidarity flooded the internet. People went about their normal lives the next day and refused to be intimidated by violence.

In the tragedy, there was life, and there still is. But first, there was the day that Boston stood still.

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Peace be with those afflicted by violence. No matter the form, no matter the circumstances, no matter the intensity, no matter the place. Peace be with you.

Categories: I Came, I Saw, I Pahked The Cah In Hahvahd Yahd | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Seven Steps of A College All-Nighter

The first step of an all-nighter is acceptance.

The clock hits 11:00pm, and suddenly you know that you are not going to get any sleep tonight.

Image (gif from whatshouldlawbroscallme)

Stacks of papers litter the table and floor around you, and your computer has too many windows and tabs opened on its screen. You’ve spent the night letting those basic distractions like Internet and friends pander to your procrastination instincts, and now you are going to pay for it. Blame school, blame the karma powers of the universe, but you better sit down and get to it.

The second essential step is sustenance.

A wise and somewhat sassy professor once yelled at my class that “if you aren’t going to sleep, then at least eat something!” This section should be pretty self-explanatory. Grab a coffee, tea, water, junk food, vegan snacks, everything and anything that will keep you from laying down on your bed and not getting back up again.

80b00be51afeed23263e520752f0d8b5 (photo from adultquiescence)

The third step is having a minor existential crisis.

“You know what’s sexy? Intelligence. You know what you are not right now? Exactly.”

Resist an internal monologue the one above, but eventually give yourself a five-minute talking to in the hopes that you’ll change next time. It’s almost guaranteed that this crisis brought on by bouts of irresponsibility will happen again, but let yourself ponder the idea of a better version of yourself long enough to gain some motivation.

tumblr_m2e92nPjpQ1qc4uvwo1_500 (photo from chibird)

The fourth step is a prolonged period of productivity.

Look at you go! You’ve got this! Read that, check this, type that. Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK AT THE CLOCK.

xfNU6 (gif from gifurl)

You accidentally look at the clock, and horrorstruck, you enter the fifth step of taking a recovery break.

It might look something like this:

619208 (gif from goodreads)

Own your hot mess self. Own it.

The sixth step is getting down to business.

Reinvigorated by what might have turned out to be too long of a break, you dive back into your work. Pages go by in a blur, and you start asking yourself why you thought all this work would be hard. Procrastination now seems especially silly. You renew your promise from step three that never again shall you put off that paper or that research project until the last minute.

This is also the point that you realize that there isn’t much of a difference between 3:00am and 5:00am. Once you slip past the 4:00am wall, nothing can stop you.


(Repeat the fifth and sixth steps as necessary.)


master-commander (gif from mashable)


Tobias-Funke-Crying-in-Shower-Arrested-Development (gif from gifrific)

Categories: You Just Gotta BU...Because, College. | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Write Poetry On The Walls

If you haven’t figure it out already, dear readers, I am absolutely and madly in love with words.

It doesn’t matter if they come bound up in a book or spray painted across the side of a bridge. They bind ideas together, and written down, they can give expression to emotions we could never get across otherwise. Words are powerful. They can cut people down more effectively than a bullet. They can raise up and empower the dissatisfaction of a generation.

In my constant endeavor to decorate the plain white walls of my room, I have literally started to surround myself with words I have found over the past few years. My soft spot for poetry has merged with my sporadic creative tendencies. My drawing ability is not spectacular, but I can copy images well enough, and I can make up calligraphy-like handwriting. I can tear out magazine pages and create collages. The results look like this, and my walls are that much better for it:

photo 1 (6) photo 2 (6) photo 3 (2)

First: hand-drawn cypress tree and “The Black Finger” by Angelina Weld Grimke.

Second: “Heat” by Lucie Brock-Broido, taken from The New Yorker magazine.

Third: “in Just-” by E.E. Cummings, with hand-drawn background based on the map of the Hundred Acre Wood in the Winnie the Pooh series of books.

Categories: A Slip Of The Pen, You Just Gotta BU...Because, College. | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Lost Girl

I usually get a good chuckle at the look on people’s faces when I tell them what I study in school. I say, “International Relations, with a focus in Asia and China and Security Studies…and Chinese…and Archaeology. You know, for heritage management.” The confusion is truly a work of art.

I have always known that I am interested in a lot of topics. I consume information that comes to me with lightning speed and attempt to digest as much as possible, even if it only results in an elementary understanding. The ubiquitous “they” tell you that college is your time to be anything, do anything, so that’s exactly what I do.

My friend calls me Indiana Jones. My advisor specializing in Chinese bureaucracy didn’t know what to do with me, so he told me I should go talk to the Art History department. Meanwhile, I just sit back and keep reading my textbooks on terrorism and trying new things like dancing (“What do you mean I can’t tackle someone?”). I justify it all to myself by asking, “Why not?”

It took a lot of effort to get myself into such a state of beautiful disarray, and I am oddly proud of it. Yet, now is the time where I should be figuring out where I am going after college. What will you write your senior thesis on? Are you going to grad school? Law school? Getting a job? What kind of job?

Too many questions.

But I need to start developing answers, and it makes me wonder sometimes if I can. The problem with being the little lost girl is that people perceive you as being a lot of things but never quite enough of anything in particular. I am not enough of an archaeologist, nor enough of a linguist, or even enough of a diplomat. I can write a mean paper, lead a meeting with charisma and a plan, but do these skills add up to something?

I have to make it add up, and it will in some shape or form. I will give myself direction and barrel along from there. This little lost girl might not be as lost as you think she is. She needs to do what her interesting personal statements and piecemeal resumes say is her skill: flipping all kinds of expectations on their heads.

Categories: I Came, I Saw, I Pahked The Cah In Hahvahd Yahd | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dance Out The End of Music Appreciation Week!

Thanks to all who gave me suggestions and feedback during this past week for Music Appreciation Week. Here is a parting song to kickstart your Monday with a moment of dancing bliss.
As always, thank you for reading ThePendulumFiles, and stick around for more adventures.

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A Song for Sundays, Part 2

Oh, the accuracy of this song is so funny it hurts. Just be sure to always be that person that steals an entire dish from the potluck.

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A Song for Sundays

In honor of not getting out of bed until 3pm myself today. Would you listen to that orchestra in the background? Check out the rest of Les Friction’s album for a musical story of futuristic proportions. Lyrics and more information can be found at their website.

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Raw Songs On The Realities Nobody Wants To Talk About

*trigger warning*

Get on any social media site or even a main stream news source, and you’ll immediately find stories big and small about social injustices and real problems like bullying. Even the fact that articles on topics like this now include the phrase *trigger warning* show how sensitive people are becoming. It’s a great step in the right direction that society is starting to talk more publicly about these things, and yet, how often do we have discussions about these things with the people closest to us? The conversations that should be happening at both the private and the public level still have a long way to go.

In the last decade, the popularity of constructive and raw songs about these issues has gone global. The most recent example might be Macklemore, but he is far from the only artist. These songs are not apologetic in their tones and have sometimes generated substantial backlash from the public for not having an end message of seeking a way out. Regardless, these songs are important, because they are realistic. They don’t make it pretty. They may or may not include a call to action from bystanders and friends. They leave you conflicted, emotional, or even angry. They deserved to be listened to hard, and a handful of them are gathered below.

Let the music do what music does best: make you rethink.

Drug Addiction, Alcoholism – Macklemore


Bullying, Eating Disorders – Superchic[k]


Abuse – Rihanna, Eminem


Family Breakdown and Cover-Ups – Melanie Martinez

Categories: Music Appreciation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BIRDS OF TOKYO – “Lanterns”

Originally posted on The Fat Angel Sings:

Bittersweet rock sounds of this Australian band have had critics and fans alike glowing with praise, their new album “March Fires” out now

View original

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Songs for A Café Life

As if café culture needed to be romanticized any more than it already is, there are an enormous group of songs that are either include musings on coffee or are set in a café as part of their charm. Next time you’re in a cafe, put up the soothing jazz background music and give some of these a try instead. Have a suggestion for your favorite coffee shop soundtracks? Leave them in the comments below!

Elizaveta – Breakfast with Chopin (2012)


Landon Pigg – Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop (2009)


Oren Lavie – Her Morning Elegance (2009)


A Fine Frenzy – You Picked Me (2007)


Erick Baker – Stay Awhile (2008)


BONUS: Michael Bublé – Just Haven’t Met You Yet (2009) 

*not a coffee shop, but the most epic dance montage ever filmed in an everyday place*

Categories: Music Appreciation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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