Five Four and a Quarter

Questions, confessions, experiences, and inspirations of a twenty-something-year-old

In Loving Memory March 16, 2014

Filed under: bad experiences,Family,Life — Arianna Bolotin @ 5:31 pm
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March 6, 2014. A day that started out as a normal Thursday and quickly escalated into the day that I lost my first grandparent and the world lost a great man.

I never knew the young Sidney. The oldest memory I have of you is when we’d spend summers on the shores of Marblehead riding bikes and going crabbing on the rocky ledges of Devereux Beach. That’s the only way I can differentiate “young” Sidney from 80-year-old Sidney; your ability to be more active and the greater forgiveness your knees used to be able to give. But your wit, your humor, your knowledge, your love, even your sharp memory, never missed a beat from the younger version of you.

That’s partly what makes me so sad. You weren’t ready to go. Sure, your body hurt like hell and was constantly acting up in pain, but a body is just a body. As you proved to be true last year with your hip replacement, a body can be replaced and repaired. I know that if you had gotten to the point where you were hobbling around with a walker and you couldn’t drive or play pool anymore, you would have been miserable. I’m glad you never had to experience that. And I know that you died exactly how you wanted to and in the most peaceful way possible: in your sleep in your own bed. But there’s a happy medium and you weren’t there yet. We weren’t ready to say goodbye. That’s what makes it so hard.

As our family all discussed last weekend during your funeral and Shiva, you were our rock, sturdy as always. You were the force holding so many things together. You were the glue in the world that you had always searched for. You were, in our minds, dinosaur-like, adapting to and living through all of the tough obstacles that life threw in your way, and we just assumed you would always be there. I never even questioned that my visit to Florida over Christmas would be the last time I would see you.

As I said, I never knew the young Sidney like a lot of people did, including my dad and uncles. But what I do know about you, my Zaydee, is that you truly knew who you were, in a way that I can only hope I achieve one day myself. You were a spiritual man. Not religious, but spiritual. Through meditation, you found a way to connect your mind and body in such an incredible way. You were the son of a strong single mother. The proud father and grandfather, or patriarch, as you always like to say, of quite the clan of 17 and counting. You were a fixer, a problem solver, a do-it-yourselfer. You were an artist and a writer. You were a nurturer of both animals and hospice patients. You were active and athletic, for as long as your body let you be. Most importantly, for the sake of all of us, you were a bold seventeen-year-old who swept a young girl off her feet and never looked back. Now here we are, fast-forwarded sixty years.

What makes me happy, is that I know none of your family have any regrets. We so thankfully got to see you frequently and talk to you in between visits, and there is nothing we could have possibly done better. We carry with us pictures, writings and memories. But we also all hold a piece of you. For me, it’s your love for the written word and your dry sense of humor that shows through the most. For my brothers, I see your engineering mind. Your charisma and sense of caring. Your incredible intellect. In my cousins, you also shine through. Whether it’s your dark skin that those lucky ones inherited, your spirituality, your humor, your sense of purpose and love for family—it’s all there. So no matter where you are now, with us, you’re still living. We will always hold the Bolotin name and pass it along down the generations. You will be greatly missed. I hope that wherever you are, your joints don’t hurt you anymore.

 

Independence Day August 11, 2013

Filed under: College Experiences,having faith,Life — Arianna Bolotin @ 2:18 pm
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When I started college and I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t even walk one block by myself late at night to get back to my dorm. I would always be walked home, at least most of the way. I was new to this world of being on my own, of living in a “city,” and of walking places rather than having a car. Then we broke up and I adapted to living independently of anyone else. I started walking places by myself when it was dark out. Next, I got into the habit of walking home by myself at 2 in the morning when the bars closed. I know 2 AM is late for a girl to be walking alone, but in the thriving college town of Burlington, I swear sometimes the streets were more populated at this hour between dusk and dawn than in the broad daylight. My junior year I started running late at night  alone after getting out of work, which my parents and relatives weren’t crazy about, but I always stayed on safe routes through UVM and main streets. Honestly, running at night in Burlington was probably less dangerous than running on trails in the woods throughout high school in the middle of the day. My routine of late night runs and walking everywhere alone continued throughout the rest of college and the remainder of my time in Burlington until I moved to Boston. In my view, the independence that I acquired while off on my own for the first time is exactly what people are supposed to learn about themselves when they move out of their parents’ house and start college. Because of the independence that I gained while living in Burlington, I moved to Boston fearless of life in the big city.

My first fall in Boston two years ago was a huge lifestyle adjustment for me. I started working typical office hours and had to grow accustomed to waking up at the crack of dawn, rather than working 4-11 PM like I did in college. My family reading this will be happy to know that not once in Boston have I gone for a run late at night; I’ve run in the darkness of 6 AM or 6 PM when the daylight hours in winter become drastically limited, but I’ve never run at what could be considered a dangerous hour. However, although I’ve adjusted my running schedule to be “safer”, I haven’t sacrificed any of my independent lifestyle because of the dangerous possibilities that go hand in hand with living in one of the country’s major cities. If I take the T home late at night by myself, I obviously walk the 10 minutes from the stop to my house. If I leave a bar alone, I get from A to B just fine. Yes, I take cabs all the time, but I don’t solely rely on cabs because I’m too scared to walk alone.

The recent events of girls getting killed and stalked in Southie has caused fear in a lot of people I know. To be honest, it hasn’t really affected me. I’m not on my toes any more now than I’ve always been. I don’t carry a stick or weapon around with me. I still walk where I need to when I need to. I think my parents understand this sense of independence. After all, they’re the ones who spent their twenties traveling the country and the world–before they met– sometimes alone. I haven’t ever been in a dangerous situation like my mom was in when she was my age, in which she was picked up as a hitch hiker, driven down a back road, and she jumped out of the moving vehicle, possibly saving her life. An experience like this would probably make me strongly rethink the way I view my independence. Let’s just hope I never have to.

To summarize, this is my belief. Whether or not you agree with it is fine. Yes, it’s a dangerous world. Wherever you are and whatever you do. Terrorist attacks happen. People get killed, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. There are lots of crazy, sketchy people who live in every city. If I live with the fear of the countless dangerous scenarios I could get into by being by myself, I sacrifice my independence. I’m not willing to do that. I’m going to continue to live my life and not let the horrors of the world stop me.

 

Love For Boston April 17, 2013

Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my apartment in Brighton when I got my first text message from a friend telling me that there had just been an explosion in Boston. Immediately after, my brother called me from Vermont asking me if I was all right. The next fifteen minutes were spent immersed in multiple group text messages from all of my close friends and relatives, most of which I couldn’t respond to, since my phone wasn’t working properly. I had people texting me from both in Boston and also those living in Vermont, New Hampshire, and even California, making sure that all of us in Boston were OK. It wasn’t until a while after these initial conversations that it really started to sink in.

Holy shit. There was just a bombing in Boston. Two blocks away from where I work.

The office emails started to go out. Teams tracking down all of their teammates. Leadership and Security ensuring that all our people were safe and accounted for. Me talking to co-workers individually. “Are you in the office?” “Are you safe?” “Is everyone there OK?”

Two blocks away is just too close for comfort. Luckily, it proved to be all we needed, and fortunately no one had been in the danger zone of the explosions. Now, two days later, I still constantly find myself thinking about all the what-ifs? One of my close friends was two blocks away from the first explosion. What if she had stayed put for ten extra minutes? A coworker who was running the marathon was on the same stretch as both bombs. What if she had run two minutes faster? My roommate was at Fenway for a Red Sox game, with the plan to walk toward the finish line after. What if she had left the game early? A year ago on Marathon Monday, I took a break from the office, went out into the blazing heat of last year’s marathon, walked the two blocks to the finish line, and witnessed some of the runners crossing the final 26.2 mark. What if I hadn’t worked from home this year? What if, once again, I had been in Back Bay and had decided to go watch the Marathon at 2:30, as most of the runners were nearing the finish line?

On Sunday, the day before the marathon, a few friends and I walked all the way down Beacon Street in Brookline and Boylston Street in Boston. The last four miles of the Boston Marathon. The exact route on which Monday’s bombings took place. On Sunday, I stood at the corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets, on the block that these bombs were placed. What if I had walked this route on Monday instead?

Today was everyone’s first day back in the office since the horrific events of Monday. We started off the morning with an all-team meeting. 150 people gathered to listen to my bosses share their thankfulness for our camaraderie and our safety. They thanked everyone for our quick emergency responses. They encouraged us to all talk with each other if we need to, to show compassion, to take as much time as we needed to ease back into work. We spent the next few minutes looking at a montage of funny, happy pictures from work events and team travel. We were all smiling and laughing as my boss discussed where we’ve been over the years together, how close and friendly everyone is, and how we all spend more time together than with our own families and we really have a sense of all being family. I quickly went from laughing to tearing up as we had a moment of silence in honor of Monday’s victims and my boss once again expressed his gratefulness in everyone’s safety, saying that “I spent Monday trying to keep my eight-year-old away from the TV on the same day that another eight-year-old was killed.

I read an article today about things people forget to be grateful for. In addition to having food, water, the internet, growing up in a war-free country, and the eight other points listed in this article, after Monday’s events in my city I feel more fortunate than ever for everything else I take for granted. Having all four of my grandparents still alive. Growing up in a happy –yet crazy in a good way– family. Having a successful job that I love. Having the greatest friends, both those in Boston who I see or talk to almost every day and those farther away who I see far less frequently, yet it still feels like it was yesterday when we were last together. Having relatives nearby who I can easily see for holidays or “just because we need a girl’s night.”

I think the last time I had a true reality check like this was a year and a half ago, when I was hit by a car. It’s funny how bad experiences will do that to you. It’s made it clearer than ever that you need to be thankful for all the good things in your life, live each day to the fullest, tell people that you love them, have fun every day, and remember to smile. Because the harsh truth is, you never know if there will be a tomorrow.

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All The Single Ladies February 19, 2013

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A meeting that I had with my boss and coworker this morning quickly escalated from pure business into an in-depth discussion on life, love, reminiscence, and all the what-if’s and choices that a person makes as they embark down the path of their life.  My coworker–we’ll call her Emily– who’s also twenty-four, is a lot like me. Driven, independent, hard-working, energetic—Oh, and single. We’re both very content with our single lives. I’m assuming that she also is single by choice and, like me, doesn’t feel an urge or desire to have a significant other at this point in time. Nonetheless, it’s inevitable for small feelings of doubt to creep in, especially as we both take passive roles in watching people around us move into their future lives with a “soul mate.” This spring, I’ll be going to my third wedding of my high school girlfriends. Last week, Emily watched two of her friends get engaged. Emily and I agreed on the better-them-than-me aspect of our situations, but it’s still hard not to think about, “When will this be me?” “Will it ever be me?” “Am I missing out on opportunities because I’m not actively dating right now?”

My boss –let’s name her Erica– quickly set our unspoken concerns aside when she shared her own experience of being a twenty-something with us. She told us how fortunate she is that the man she married when she was only a few years older than Emily and me is the one; how hard it would be to run the Marking Services department at a 1 billion dollar company and manage a family at the same time if she had settled for the wrong person; and how it’s so much better to stay single, forever, if necessary, than to form your entire future with someone with whom you aren’t 100% compatible. To be honest, it feels a little out of my comfort zone to be writing about all this marriage stuff. I’ve never thought about having a wedding or whom I hope to end up with. But in terms of the here and now and the uncertainty that I do feel in terms of whether or not I should be actively looking for that “special someone,” I now feel content with my choice to live life in the moment and not think about the future.

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Erica met her husband in a very When Harry Met Sally way. They grew up in the same town on the North Shore of Boston, but a few years apart and in different neighborhoods, never meeting each other. After college, Erica was in a serious relationship and assumed she would marry her boyfriend, although she felt like there was something missing. Following her heart, she ended the relationship and met her husband-to-be merely months later, at which point they made the connection that they should have met long ago. –Her boyfriend ended up fleeing to the west coast and working at a “small startup called Google,” so I’m assuming he forgave her for breaking his heart.–

As we spent the next fifteen minutes internet stalking Erica’s ex boyfriends from when she was in her late teens and early twenties and restating the cliché “That’s what your twenties are for,” Emily kept saying that this reassurance that it’s OK for us to be single was exactly what she needed to hear after watching two friends get engaged. For me, I’ve never given the thought much analysis beyond the point that if I’m going to be single at any time in my life, now is the time, rather than down the road. This conversation did, however, support everything I’ve ever told myself when I’ve doubted my relationship status –or lack of it:– it’s OK to be single. My friends and my job are my life right now and I’m happy. Things tend to work themselves out. Everything happens for a reason.

I’m assuming that at some point fairly soon my view on being single will change and I’ll be eager to move on with my future, but for now, life is pretty damn good.

 

A Different Kind of Love December 5, 2012

 

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I think I’ve been too in love my friends.

 

Looking at my previous posts confirms this fact. Topics about my friends are extremely prominent. I started out, fresh out of college, worried that our friendship wouldn’t last. I cast this anxiety to the side last spring when we had proven that we would all put in the time and energy to get together. Then people followed me and moved to Boston. Life was amazing. This past summer was the best one I’ve ever had. I was constantly surrounded by my friends and there was nowhere else I wanted to be.  It even got to the point where I was selfish. I turned down opportunities to hang out with anyone besides my close-knit group. If I had wanted to, I could have grown my relationships with a lot of coworkers. But I didn’t want this. I wanted my friends. My college friends, who were starting to feel more and more like the family that I had chosen for myself. I was, in a sense, in love.

It’s  been a long time since I’ve been in love, which may be the reason why I forgot an important underlying fact. With love, there is great risk. With love, there is the potential of heartbreak. With love, a tiny, minor disappointment really hits you hard. The small jolt that I recently experienced in our friendship felt like getting rear ended but telling people you were in a head-on collision. No, nothing bad happened. I just feel let down. I honestly don’t even know why. As I said, it was a minor disappointment. So small, in fact, that I can’t even decipher what exactly lit is. I just know that it’s here and I can’t stop thinking about it, like having an elephant in the room.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. I’ve never felt that I needed to. Maybe this should change. Maybe, in 26 days, I should make a resolution to spread myself more horizontally across different people, rather than put my whole heart and soul into one box. It’s risky to believe in something with all of your heart. If you have any doubts, any at all, is it worth the risk? Do i let fate take its course, ride out the storm and see what happens? Or do I make a definitive decision?

I’m hoping that in a few days I delete this post because it was such a ridiculous thing to write. I want to laugh about it and find it amusing that I was so distressed by nothing. But right now, my faith is fading fast. Maybe it’s just time, for better or for worse. Time to make lives separate from one another. A lot of my friends just got new jobs, myself included. Could this be a sign that it’s time to move on, to grow up, to put our energy into bigger and more important things?

There are so many questions, so many maybes. But I guess that’s just the nature of life. No one really knows.

 

24 October 1, 2012

I just celebrated my 24th birthday. I wasn’t very excited for my 22nd or 23rd birthdays –after you’re 21, birthdays aren’t as thrilling,– but 24 proved to be the best one I’ve had in a few years.  I don’t really make birthday or new year’s resolutions. I do, however, have some big takeaways from the last four years.  With inspiration from Thought Catalog, I figured, what better time than my birthday to take a step back and look at all the things I’ve learned thus far in my twenties?

  1. The friends that you make your freshman year of college may not be the ones standing by you for graduation pictures
  2. Don’t take it for granted if your parents help out with your rent during college
  3. You will have a bad experience with certain liquors that result in you never being able to drink them again
  4. Your 21st birthday will be one of the best nights of your life that you don’t remember
  5. It might be important to you to launch your career as soon as possible. It might not. Maybe you want to travel, or work a dead-end job and have fun. There is no right answer. Follow your heart
  6. Your friends are 10 times more important than being in a relationship. Always remember: bros before hoes, chicks before dicks
  7. Keep a keen fashion sense from your childhood and even from your parents’ childhood. The popular fashion of several decades ago will come back into style. Except for cargo pants. Those are never coming back
  8. Social media is an amazing creation. It has made the world 3 dimensional. It requires people to share their lives with complete strangers. A lot of the time, it isn’t clear exactly what a large impact social media plays in your life. Love it. Embrace it. It isn’t going away anytime soon
  9. Sleep is overrated
  10. You aren’t still in college and you will get hangovers. Your body just can’t handle the binge drinking like it used to
  11. Freezing cold, frigid, snot-freeze-to-your-face weather sucks. It doesn’t mean you have to move to Florida. It just means it will be that much better when winter ends and spring arrives
  12. Spring break doesn’t have to be like it’s depicted in movies. You can have just as much fun relaxing with a few friends or going on a cruise with your grandmother
  13. Graduating from college doesn’t mean that the best years of your life are over. So far, my mid 20’s have been pretty awesome
  14. Change is scary and often unwanted. However, it can also be exciting. Try to embrace change and focus on the positives
  15. Carpe diem
 

The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer September 11, 2012

Filed under: friendship,having faith,Life — Arianna Bolotin @ 6:44 pm
Tags: ,

I find it hard to believe that summer is over already. It feels like July 4th was two weeks ago and that it was Memorial day was right before that. Between work and my endless weekend plans, the summer flew by. Looking back at the last few months, I am amazed at how busy my life was –I was really only in Boston two weekends without anything going on?!– Maybe I made so many plans because this was the first summer since I was fifteen that I wasn’t working weekends in a restaurant. No matter the reason, it was a go-go-go summer for me. One of my co-workers said it best: “We’re Facebook friends and it seems like you have way too much fun on the weekend.” Here is a recap of the last few months’ weekends:

May 11-13: NH to golf, then Portsmouth for Mother’s Day
May 18-20: Had a friend visit from California and visited friends in Marblehead


Memorial Day Weekend: Cousin’s college graduation in Western MA
June 3: Girls’ day in Boston and Beauty and the Beast at the Boston Opera House
June 8-10: In Boston, but had to lay low because of my foot injury
June 15-17: Reunion with all my college friends in NH


June 22-24: IN BOSTON!!!
June 29-July 1: In NH all weekend for a friend’s grad party
July 6-8: IN BOSTON!!!
July 13-15: NH for the weekend to lounge by the pool
July 20-22: Burlington for the Vermont Brewers Festival

July 27-29: The Color Run


August 3-5 Portland, ME for Gentlemen of the Road


August 11-19: Annual family vacation at Conway Lake

If I had a drink it my hand, I would raise my glass to the Summer of 2012; one of the best I’ve ever had. It enforced my decision to move to Boston without a job –I’ve never been happier!– It brought relief to my fear of losing touch with my college friends –we’re closer than we’ve ever been.– Most importantly, it helped me to realize that it’s OK to not have a plan, for the weekend or for your life. Things work themselves out just as they’re meant to.

 

 
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