Snowy backyard

Last night the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and today the sky is falling as snow: another day in New England. After the snow tapers, we’ll dig out our sidewalks, driveways, and cars, and tomorrow, the Patriots will parade through downtown Boston, victorious. These two things—digging out from a foot of snow and celebrating sports championships—are part of what it means to live in New England.

Snowed in

The rallying cry for the Patriots this year has been “Do your job,” a concise summary of Bill Belichick’s no-nonsense coaching philosophy. The motto “Do your job” seems particularly apt here in the Boston suburbs right now as we start cleaning up after another whopper of a storm. There’s nothing glamorous about snow shoveling, roof raking, or other winter chores: I’m guessing most folks would happily live their lives without ever once having to dig out a snow-buried car. But here in New England, doing your job means digging out your car, sidewalk, and driveway several times a year, every year.

Long icicle

This morning I woke before my alarm, checked my phone, and saw that Curry College had cancelled classes, so J and I slept an extra hour. But even on a snow day, we couldn’t sleep too late, as there are dogs to be taken out and in, dishes to wash, litterboxes to clean, cats to feed, and a diabetic cat to inject with insulin. “Do your job,” I think every morning when my feet hit the floor and I begin a routine of daily chores that’s become automatic, pulling on a faded Patriots hoodie whose cuffs are frayed from housework. Bill Belichick is famous for wearing a slouchy hoodie, the sleeves cut off without any eye to fashion. But why roll up your sleeves when you can simply do without them?

Inside looking out

“Do your job,” I thought this morning as I turned on my laptop to post an online equivalent of the work my students would have done in class today: snow may come and go, but the work of teaching and learning always remains. Regardless of the weather, the dogs still need to go out, the cats still need to be fed, and the blank page still waits to be written. In my Zen school, we talk about inside jobs and outside jobs. Your outside job is what you do for a living, whether you’re a football coach, college writing instructor, or housewife. Your outside job can change—you can switch careers, take a day off, or enjoy a snow day—but the inside work of keeping a clear mind always remains.

There used to be a sidewalk there

Just as “Boston Strong” was the perfect rallying cry for the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run, “Do your job” is a perfect fit with New England sensibilities. New Englanders are renowned for their reserve, and Belichick’s reticent on-camera persona matches the local temperament. Why talk about your job when you can simply do it, regardless of what it is? If you have breath enough for chatter, you’re probably not working hard enough. In winter, after all, the snow piles as deep as the nights are long, so there’s little time to waste.

BC vs. NC State

Today J and I walked to Boston College, where we attended the last home football game of the season. The last home game is traditionally dedicated to graduating seniors, so there were ceremonies before the game and during halftime to honor graduating members of the football team, marching band, and drill team.

BC vs. NC State

From our seats in the south end zone bleachers, we had an excellent view of the visiting team’s cheerleaders and mascot. The North Carolina State “Wolfpack” has two mascots, Mr. and Mrs. Wuf, and it was Mrs. rather than Mr. who made the trip to Chestnut Hill, sashaying around in a flouncy skirt and generally hamming it up for the crowd.

BC vs. NC State

Even more entertaining than Mrs. Wuf, however, were the Wolfpack cheerleaders, who showed off their impressive tumbling skills during time-outs.

BC vs. NC State

BC vs. NC State

BC vs. NC State

BC vs. NC State

BC vs. NC State

Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, however, football games are decided by the action on rather than off the field. So while the North Carolina State cheerleaders were flipping out, their team fell to the Eagles by a decisive score of 38 – 21.

BC vs. NC State

This is my Day 16 contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Kick it!

Saturday morning while walking the dog, I encountered a throng of well-scrubbed Boy Scouts in front of the local coffee shop selling raffle and pasta dinner tickets. I remember encountering a similar group of clean-cut, uniform-clad boys in front of this same coffee shop last year; their annual dinner and raffle are apparently a tried-and-true fundraiser. Last year, the boy who sold me several raffle tickets was awkward and soft-spoken, not cut out for sales; this year, the boy who stroked Reggie’s fur while I filled out my tickets was chatty and self-assured, obviously accustomed to making small-talk with grown-ups. He’ll grow up, I predict, to be a successful salesman, or a winning politician, or both.


I follow an unwritten rule that says you should make a habit of donating to whatever charity that is soliciting contributions outside your local coffee shop, grocery store, or other gathering spot. If you have spare change, you should give it; if you can find any possible use for whatever the organization is selling, you should buy something. And if you can possibly take the time to chat with the person working the sales table, donation can, or ticket roll–usually an embarrassed teenager or an earnest parent shepherding a younger child–you should say something nice to help pass what would otherwise be boring hours spent soliciting donations or selling miscellany to strangers. You should, in other words, spend a couple minutes and a couple bucks helping your local scout troop, cheerleading squad, or Little League team with whatever fundraiser they’re doing. This is, in my mind, one of the things it means to be a good neighbor: a member of the home team.

High kicks

Every year, for instance, the Girl Scouts set up a table at cookie-selling time. I’ve seen them outside this same coffee shop, and I’ve seen them outside my local grocery store: in both cases, I’ve bought cookies even though I didn’t need them (and even though Girl Scout cookies, to be honest, are no better–and significantly more expensive–than store-bought cookies). What you’re buying when you buy Girl Scout cookies, in my mind, isn’t cookies: you’re buying a slice of faith in the young women of your local community. The last time I bought Girl Scout cookies from several girls and a Den Mother sitting at a table outside my local grocery store, twenty bucks bought me several boxes of cookies, an extra box to donate to troops overseas, and a priceless sensation of having helped a worthy cause. It was the best twenty bucks I spent that week: a small but personally significant investment in the social capital of my community.

Rah, rah!

J and I make a habit of cheering for the Boston College football, women’s basketball, and men’s hockey teams in part because I went to BC for my Masters degree…but mostly we root for the BC Eagles because their campus is within walking distance of our house. The students we see on the football field, basketball court, or hockey rink are our neighbors, as are many of the folks who sit next to us in the stands. Rooting for the home team is one way we establish allegiances by rooting ourselves in a particular community. Instead of remaining standoffish and aloof, refusing to make eye-contact with the folks we pass on the sidewalk–instead of insisting on our outsider status, refusing to take off our proverbial coat and make ourselves at home–we make a point of cheering for the home team, contributing to the cause, and buying a fundraiser’s wares as a way of belonging in our local community: a way to only connect.

Today’s pictures are from a Boston College football game J and I went to back in September. The title of today’s post, incidentally, is one I used in another context several years ago.

Get your kicks

Surely it says something about my priorities that the best photo I took during Sunday’s rainy Patriots game was an image of high-kicking, Santa-suited cheerleaders. Why settle for “ho, ho, ho” when you can have “rah, rah, rah”?

Click here for a photo-set of appropriately blurry images from Sunday’s gray and drizzly game. Enjoy!

What's it spell?

It looks like today’s Boston College football game against Florida State is going to be similar to last month’s game against Kent State: rainy.