Part 2 – Back Benching in Cambridge



How else could you follow up the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market – managed by daughter A  – but with a Saturday lunch with Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain. This was the first official function I attended.   My post would not do JZ’s talk justice, but his themes ranged from the potential lockdown of information by the Googles of the world to the word clouds that can now be created from the digitized collections of all US legal cases at the HLS library. I left feeling as though I would most certainly appreciate law school more now than I did when I was actually attending. And how many times has that statement been made following a reunion.

After the law school luncheon, class symposium (international perspectives on American politics – imagine that), we had a brief interlude of drinking champagne imported by a friend and classmate from small vineyards in France. Mr. Transatlantic Bubbles! I offered to be his marketing person. He even brought a box of his own Reidel stemware.

After catching up with old friends and surviving the stares of the 1Ls who couldn’t quite comprehend why the old folks had their own wineglasses and were drinking champagne in the student center, it was time to rendezvous with J, daughter A and boyfriend N. Off to the most trendy current brewery in Somerville. By the time  we left at 5, there was a three deep line stretching 30 feet out the door.


J and I changed for the class dinners at the Charles Hotel. A little bizarre to float back and forth between life as a parent to my now mid 20s daughter and then to travel down memory lane to meet up again with people whom I’d first known thirty years ago. But after the dinner and attendant speeches ended, we found ourselves back at that aging Cambridge establishment, the Hong  Kong. Up a grungy flight of stairs to a dank few second floor dimly lit rooms – it is the epitome of college dive. It’s famous for scorpion bowl cocktails. Imagine a 12 inch diameter bowl, filled with a lethal concoction of different liquors, muddled together with grain alcohol, and you’ll get the idea. Everyone partaking is provided with their own straw for imbibing.  Some  obtain extra straws, link them  them together, and suddenly  achieve the telekinetic ability to swill cocktails from a full couple of feet away.

It was time to go. Bowls only last so long. And we knew a brunch awaited the next day with A and N at Tap and Trotter m Somerville.

We made it to our rendezvous with A and N surprisingly early Sunday morning. But when we arrived at our brunch destination we learned that our counted upon Bloody Mary’s couldn’t be sold til 11. We managed to eke out our order until drinks arrived almost simultaneous with our entrees. From brunch, a visit to the remarkable Harvard art museum. Beautiful collection of 19th art  to present. Below – a painting that brought back memories of New Orleans. An absinthe drinker.


After, a visit to daughter A’s house and off to the airport, via a trip to see Old Ironsides, now mostly under restoration.

View next to Old Ironsides

We have a tradition of ordering scrod at Legal Seafood at the airport. The plane flight back was as smooth as ever. And even as we pulled into the semi humidity of Florida I still felt that little crackle and pop of a Boston spring.


Cambridge, Mass. – 30 Years Later


We have just completed the daughter circuit. It’s a little different than the Annapurna circuit (not that I’ve ever done that) but certainly has its own special highs. Still escaping the trigger points that exist everywhere at our house and remind us of Malcolm, our recently deceased Westie, husband J and I took off for the second weekend in a row early Friday morning to venture off to Cambridge, MA.  We were in New Orleans the prior week with daughter S, so we’ve managed to cover the Gulf and the North Atlantic within a week of each other.

I say Cambridge intentionally, as we barely set foot in Boston. The ostensible reason for the trip was my 30th year law school reunion. This reunion had special significance for me – five years ago we were preparing to climb Kilimanjaro in July 2011. That was the trip that – no exaggeration – changed our lives. As I reflect back – life since then? There’s been a lot more than work. Besides Kili, there’s Mt Elbrus, the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, Cotopaxi, Illiniza Norte, Mt Hood, Orizaba… The list continues.

Leaving such reflections in the wafting jet trails of our 8 am flight, now over an hour delayed, we arrived in Boston about noon and made our way to a trendy lunch spot near Central Square, close to one of daughter A’s two not for profit jobs. Following the obligatory sandwich and salad, we left luggage with A and did our first urban hike from Central Square to the law school so I could register. To say the place has changed is an understatement. Wyeth Hall, the ancient dorm where I spent my first year in 83/84 is no longer, replaced by a luxurious student center and administrative building. The parking garage I remembered is gone, with a below ground parking deck now serving that function. And the old student center, the Hark, has a fancy name, and the smell of a keg of beer gone bad that pervaded the pub vanished.


We’d decided that Friday was family night and Saturday would be devoted to more official matters. So after registering we walked back to Central Square, retrieved our luggage and went to pick up A via Uber at her second NFP job – managing the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market. Yes, my daughter is a market manager!

Since when one is with millennials one does as millennials – hence, the Uber took us to our AirBnb. A small studio, it was fine, but the last guests must have stolen the duvet because two sheets were definitely not enough covers for a Floridian couple. There was a brief moment of panic when I realized I didn’t know the unit number for the studio, but at least no one noticed us trying the key in various and sundry apartments.

From there it was time to meet boyfriend N’s parents, K and S (see The Real Mysteries of Puzzle Mountain, Maine), A and N for a free concert sponsored by the Harvard music department. Billed as Creative music, it was several steps beyond jazz improvisation. We saw improvisational pianist Craig Taborn perform “Avenging Angel: Improvisations for Solo Piano”…and I have never seen anyone’s hands move so fast and precisely over a piano keyboard – almost as if he was chiseling glass. But there was one moment when daughter – at a particularly discordant part – silently pointed out to me that the map of the building in the program included an area designated as “area of refuge.” I still have a sore spot from biting my lip so as not to laugh out loud in the awfully serious concert hall in which we found ourselves.

Following our foray into the world of musical virtuosity, dinner was at Shepard – where I found rabbit on the menu for the third time in a week. So much for my having recently predicted the demise of Thumper on menus.

After a chilly night at our AirBnB, Saturday morning was dedicated to the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market. It was “Get Growing” day and daughter A was in her prime keeping vendors that ranged from a duck egg purveyor to a seller of homemade marshmallows to a manufacturer of rain barrels all in order. And who knew about kombucha. A’s housemates had set up their own booth to give away samples of the fermented tea with a reputation for healing properties. Floating in it is a SCOBY – a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.” I kid you not. Supposedly its low alcohol content is what set off Lindsay Lohan’s anti alcohol bracelet.

Still to come….drinking fine champagne in the student center in the middle of the afternoon, some great speakers, an art museum, and that classic of Cambridge nightlife – bowling the Hong Kong.  You can only imagine. Next post.