Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Meetiversary!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  

If you are in Boston, I hope you are recovering, as apparently the festivities began like… Friday.

I am old however, and spent Friday night in bed watching the old John Goodman movie, the Flintstones!  I had that on VHS…. recorded off of the TV when it aired during TGIF or something.

The heat in our apartment was also being weird, so it was too cold to move (aka, below 75) and I felt like I was glamping.  Not a fan.  Luckily it’s back on track now. I swear sometimes things in this house just exceed my technological capacity to understand.

Saturday however, we went out.  I came home from some spring self care in the form of a pedicure and Owen had laid out an outfit for me on the bed with a note that said “Dinner at 7?”  We had discussed this before, because I guess he had seen someone else do it and someone commented that it was controlling and creepy. WELL.  I still believe in chivalry and being treated like a princess if someone desires, so I found it super romantic, and I was SO excited that he asked me out! Hooray!

We went out to Shang Hai Social Club, which is across the street from our apartment, and reminisced because it was 3 years ago today that we met.  I can’t believe it has already been that long.

For those that may not have been following us since the “beginning,” I thought it might be fun to recap and tell the story of how we met, and ultimately ended up together.  Again, I think it’s pretty romantic.  

First of all.  We did NOT meet online.  I get asked that so much, and although kudos to those people who can find love on the interwebz, we met in person.  I was a keynote speaker at a health care transition conference in Las Vegas that Owen was helping to plan.  This is WHY it is important to fund youth to go to conferences, just saying!

However, right before the conference, I ended up in the hospital. I was terrified to even tell the people organizing the conference, because the year before, I was supposed to present when it was in Reno but there was that horrible storm in DC and I had to present on Skype. All day.

so technically, Owen met me on a JUMBOTRON (ok, an overhead projector… but similar), before I met him.  Never again.

Luckily, I was sprung from the hospital, on 2 antibiotics, and destined for St. Patrick’s day in Vegas.  Woo.  Hoo.

The conference ended up being one of the best ones I’ve spoken at to date. I won’t bore you with all the details, because I already wrote about it here:

But it’s interesting how I totally left out the entire first night!!  I had gone to this conference for the first time with the attitude of “I don’t care if I meet someone, I’m doing this for me!”  And you know how it is said as SOON as you adopt that, BAM, love.

Truthfully, and as Owen will tell you, I wasn’t super nice when I met him.  It was like 7 a.m. in the room with the continental breakfast and I was just trying to find coffee… which of course I couldn’t reach when it’s DIY (FYI, DIY coffee in hotels is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Just let me sit down and order a latte.  Yup)

My mom was traveling with me, to help me.  So I kept trying to find her to attempt to string together the words “I need coffee,” but she was preoccupied with me meeting some guy.  so I did.
“Mal!! This is Owen!”
“Oh.  Hey.  Can you help me get coffee?”

Over the course of the day, I just had a blast.  I kept my eye on Owen for some reason, as he clearly had a ton of friends here, and oddly they all kept trying to get us to interact.  

Truthfully, I don’t even remember much of the first day except that I was just comfortable, had a great time and made some friends.   Then we went back to the hotel.    

I did my IV antibiotics, woke up from my Benadryl nap and my mom and I began discussing the plans for the night, as it was St. Patrick’s day, and we were in Las Vegas.

I had seen it was Karaoke and “Lady’s night”  across from our hotel, and since we weren’t actually on the strip and still needed to get up early for the conference the next day, I wasn’t up for too much of an adventure.  

“You should call that Owen kid and see if he wants to go with us.”  My mom suggested.

Um, what?  There was not so much any problem with inviting our new friend, as I wouldn’t mind having someone in my own demographic to revel in the St. patrick’s day craziness with, but she wanted me to CALL him.  Lke pick up a phone and speak to?  With words?!!?!!

Another thing people don’t often know about me, is that I have significant phone anxiety.  I have actually memorized peoples’ numbers before because I just stare at it for so long trying to psych myself up to make a call.
“Yea, sure, he’s alone here.  Don’t be rude.”  

Ugh.  Ok fine.  

“Hi, um, we’re going to Scooter’s pub for dinner, and it’s lady’s night [which obviously he cared about!?!?!]  and karaoke… so um, you should come.  Cool, see you in 5.”
Which really meant 10, because now I had to put eyeliner on.  Thanks mom.

For some reason, I remember feeling nervous, and I had no idea why.  Perhaps because as I was trying to enjoy my grilled cheese and pile curly fries (the ultimate “I don’t care what you think of me” meal)   My mother was grilling this poor boy about his future plans, interests, and family history.

At one point she said, “How many Broadway shows have you seen?”
Owen paused for a second, apparently counting in his head, at which point my mother turned to me and not so silently mouthed, “HE’S COUNTING.  THAT’S A GOOD SIGN!”

but secretly, I was intrigued as well.

After dinner, we moved into the bar area where the festivities were occurring.  I remember, they had only really high pub tables, which simply weren’t going to work for us.  But we were not about to hang our head and go watch Spanish cable in our hotel room.  The bar was amazing and actually brought us a table from the dining room so we could hang out.  Looking back, maybe all of Vegas was in on this little plan.  I have no idea.

At one point, my mom said she just needed to take a picture of Owen and I together.  We leaned in for her multiple cell phone photo attempts, and once she was done, I realized Owen still had his arm around me.

What do I do?   Well… duh…. I got up and sang my girl Britney’s “Oops I Did it Again.”  There was no doubt I had.   Now I was just having fun.

The night progressed, the drinks flowed, the bad karaoke filled the bar.  Owen was quiet, as he is, but we bonded quietly, mostly judging the antics of others and analyzing our drink choices, but there were times during the night I remember just thinking, “there is something about this kid… I just don’t know, but I feel like he is significant…”  It was unspoken.

Then, as if on a perfect episode of the OC,  a song came on in the bar.  An epic throw back to Oasis, Wonderwall.

There are many things that I would
Like to say to you
But I don't know how

Because maybe
You're gonna be the one that saves me.

We both glanced at each other, knowing this night would not be the last for us.

The next day was the last day of the conference,  and one I spent basically teasing Owen.  I tried my signature move of putting my number in his phone, but he had a phone I had no idea how to use and failed miserably.

Throughout the day, people who knew Owen and who I had befriended, cornered us separately and asked us about the other person.
We lived across the country from each other, I had no idea what I wanted in life and couldn’t understand how this would possibly work out, or why people were pushing it so much.

At the end of the day, somehow Owen and I ended up together, alone, trying to find our way out of the conference center. Random people kept stopping and asking if we needed help.  One person even asked us if we wanted tea.  I just remember laughing so hard, and Owen and his quiet one liners, made me start to wish we weren’t leaving.

I was staying on the strip for a couple more days after the conference, and Owen had to leave.  My mother had come down with a horrible stomach virus and had to check into the hotel early, so I got a ride with one of the conference staff who was also bringing Owen where he  was going.

With work behind us, we drove with the windows open, Kesha on the radio.  Soon we pulled up to the valet parking of Planet Hollywood.

“Well… it’s been fun.  You have my number, use it or don’t.”

and I went into the hotel.

A few hours later, as I was getting ready for a night on the strip, Owen texted me.  “It was great to meet you. I hope we get to see each other again.  You’re amazing.”

Truth be told, the first thing that made me raise my eyebrow was the PERFECT use of grammar! Who does that?  No “u” or “l8r”... again.  I was intrigued.   I smiled to myself, replied, and put my phone away for the evening.

It wasn’t until 2 months later that we saw each other again, but Owen and I had talked a lot after that.  We talked online, and texted, to the point where we knew something was there, but we didn't want to confirm anything over a text message that couldn’t be taken back. After all, we had only met each other once.

Memorial Day weekend, I was going back to Vegas for my birthday, and for anyone who is not from Nevada, you know that basically, Nevada is Las Vegas.  Duh.
Having this belief, I told Owen I would be going, and if he wanted to come hang out, it would be great to see him again.

This was the clincher.  Not knowing if he would ever have another chance to see me, he booked a room, a flight, and flew to Vegas, just to see me again.

I was staying with a friend in our hotel, and Owen and I got there first.

Within moments, and cracking our first Corona, it was like we had never been apart.

I can’t explain those 3 days except to say, I had never felt that way before.  I had never felt such happiness, such confidence.  Sitting by the pool in Vegas, I didn’t care what was going on around us, or what other people looked like. I felt beautiful, I felt unstoppable.

I think I laughed and smiled more that week than I had in years previously.

Our last night in Vegas, Owen and I “walked” the strip.  Then he took me out to dinner and gave me a necklace.   Finally, as the night turned to day, we asked the question, “What are we doing?”

One thing that brought us together, was our belief in not playing games.  We both believed that life is too short to not know what you want, and we didn’t want to be a “thing.”  An unspoken, gray area of feelings and confusion.

3,000 miles is room for a lot of gray area.

So I closed my eyes and jumped.   And that was 3 years ago.

And you know what?  I still feel that way.  We are not always by a pool in Vegas, but I still laugh, and I still beautiful, even if it’s just a Saturday morning and I’m in my BU sweats.

We decided that we probably don’t need to document, every single year anniversary that we met, except for like… 5 years and 10…. but I thought it would be fun to relive the story of how we actually met and fill in some gaps as to how we got where we are now!  

Maybe Owen will tell his version one of these days :)

3 years, and going strong.  No regrets.   

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New Bloggitude and True Confessions:

I started this blog in 2005.  I can't believe it turns 9 in a few months! 

Needless to say, I was a completely different person back then. I feel like I'm a completely different person every time I take a long hiatus from writing.  After my last entry my mom asked me, "Aren't you going to do a catch up post?"

Well. The truth is... It has almost been A YEAR. I can't effectively "catch up" on everything that has happened.  But what I can do, is write about what I (and we) have learned and what I want to do with this blog moving forward!

What I will say, is, it has been an AMAZING year. We have come SO far, learned so much, and I really feel like we are living life here- not just figured out how to safely exist and how to not fail school. 

Over the last year, and specifically since the fall, I have had some serious realizations.  Safe to say some huge, possibly terrifying realizations that feel almost like confessions. Some of which may change people's perspectives of me. If that's the case, I probably have already unfriended you anyway.  I also believe the key to anything- policy change, program success, any healthy relationship, is honesty and transparency.  I can no longer maintain this blog if I don't acknowledge my whole self and how I feel about things

In September I began what's called a LEND fellowship.  It stands for Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.  It is an intense 9 month program in which we learn about policy, leadership, genetics, law, etc all having to do with disabilities. It is Super intense but also wonderful, and it has brought me some incredible friends, colleagues and opportunities to make these self discoveries.  

So let's just get to the nitty gritty.

True Confessions of 2014:

1. I had no idea what "public health" was when I applied, got accepted, or began attending school. 
I suppose I should have taken a hint from myself when my grad school essay was about how I am not entirely sure how I ended up here and I was never one of those people who grew up with the goal of wanting to "help people."

Beyond children with special health needs, I had no idea what public health was. I truly wonder at this point if I were not at BUSPH with some amazing mentors, if I would still be in the program.  I have no interest in babies, and I often struggle with the idea that it somehow became my job to "change the world". Simply because of the path I followed to get where I am.

I have had conversations with some of my peers who have disabilities who have asked the same thing. How did we get in roles working with other people with severe disabilities (with little to NO training) simply because of what we have accomplished in our own life?  Does it make us bad people to say "um, white flag! This is not what I want to do!"  How is it different from a non-disabled person saying "I want to go into finance, not be a doctor?"

I think there is a certain snowball effect of advocacy in which people speak at one conference or show competence in one area (even just advocating for themselves) and others rely on them to be the voice of a generation.  No pressure or anything.

Are there different expectations for people with disabilities to "change the world?"

Recently I have been asked in a lot of my classes "what are your values?  What do you stand for?"  

And yet there is also an unspoken expectation that these values must be similar to everyone else who is here to "change the world"....

2.  Sometimes it is just too much. 
This is MY LIFE.  To quote someone I learned a whole lot from this past winter when we were discussing advocacy and looking for accessible housing, she had told her real estate broker, "this isn't fun for me.  I just want to be able to get in the door"

And I realized that sort of summed up my career. I am not in health care/ advocacy because I think it's fun or interesting. I am here because I have HAD TO BE. I am coming at this from a whole different perspective than my classmates. I didn't pick up a grad school brochure and decided I wanted to go to food banks or join the peace corps. I am here because of the work I have had to do FOR ME.  And when I am done my jobs of changing the system and my classes of learning about health disparities, I can't PUT IT AWAY. I then have to manage my own health care.

Recently we were told an assignment was supposed to be "fun."  It was something I already do for a career and often get compensated for.  Pretending to help an agency is not fun for me. It's a way of life. 
And it gets exhausting. And it's consuming. And it's depressing.

It makes you forget who you are. I know many people in the disability community who cannot answer "well, what do you LIKE to do?"  Because we are not asked that anymore. 

I also know people who cannot have a conversation or a Facebook post that is not about civil rights, access or how everyone is ignorant about disabilities.  And frankly, I'm just over it. 

3.  Now that this blog has begun to resemble a total off the hook rant, I want to tell you my purpose moving forward. 

And so everyone doesn't now think I'm a heartless bitch, ice queen (if you do... Again, I respect your opinion) 

What do I believe in?
  • I believe that all young people should be able to do whatever they want for their future.
  • I believe in self care for all the people changing the world, not just the execs who can afford "work retreats"
  • I want all young divas and gentlemen to feel loved and attractive no matter if they are in a wheelchair or not.
  • I believe people should have access adequate healthcare and insurance without being completely broken by the process of trying to obtain it.
  • I want to be able to pick up an issue of Glamour or The New Yorker without being judged for my decision. 

I want to recreate this blog. I want to tell you what I believe in, and I want you to know ME.  I want to celebrate and enjoy how far I have come instead of burning myself out on far we have to go. (Because trust me... I know)

Owen and I have made a goal that this summer will be about pursuing our interests, discovering what we "like to do" and who we are outside the "advocacy world."  And I want to take all of you along for the ride.

Hi. My name is Mallory.  I am getting my masters in Public Health at Boston University.  

I live with my amazing boyfriend of almost 3 years.  I love shopping, fashion, sushi, traveling or having a good staycation in our incredible city.  My family lives in Maine, and I now am in a long distance relationship with my diva cat Muffy. 

Summer is my favorite season, and I have been told I seem happier when I'm blonde.

We like going to movies, drinking beer, and making the most of every moment. 

Oh.... And sometimes we need to find an elevator.

.... I present to you.

Curb Cuts & Cocktails.


Friday, March 07, 2014

What a Trip- The Ride vs. Uber

In the past year, a lot has changed- and we’ll get to that, but for now I want to take a moment and write about transportation a bit.  

Many people when we first moved to Boston had the auto-solution of using “The Ride.”  While of course, people who actually used the services, weren’t such fans of it.  With my new job, my office is not really close to a T stop that would be safe for me to use safely, and as many of you know, Scootie is not in the best shape for commuting.

This leaves me with 2 alternatives.  The Ride, and Uber.  For those who don’t know, Uber is an app that has changed our lives entirely.  With a few taps of your phone, a professional driver will arrive at wherever you are and take you wherever you want to go.  You store your credit card info, and there is no tipping required, financial exchange, and you are able to review your drivers, and store your trips for review if you feel you got the “run around.”  It is a blessing.

The Ride is the city’s paratransit service for people with disability.  It is NOT income based.  People are found eligible based on an in person evaluation during which their mobility is assessed.  You have to schedule rides in advance (you can do it online, but the system is VERY primitive and often not efficient), and when you “request” a time to be picked up or dropped off, they basically take creative liberties depending on what other pick ups or drop offs might be on the schedule as well.  I have been an hour early for job interviews before and so late for meetings, I just didn’t bother. And we wonder why people with disabilities have difficulties maintaining employment.

The other day, when I was wedged in the backseat of a Ride sedan I decided this blog needed to happen.  I want to go much more in depth into these issues later, but I thought this would be an example of a play by play of the two scenarios that could potentially be my ride home. 

Here we go…

The Ride:
One way trip $3

Requested pick up time: 3:45.  I received half of a voicemail the night before that my pickup time would be 4:16.  Already a half an hour after my requested time.

Leave my desk at 4:06

Wait outside.  Decide it's too cold.  Go back inside.
15 minutes later, Call the "where's my ride" hotline. 
"Information is not currently available. Your promised pick up time is 4:16 pm.  Please try back later" 

4:30- The car arrives.  I go back outside.

There are already 2 people in the sedan. 
"What’s your name???"


"You didn't tell me you had THOSE!"  The driver snaps as he looks at my wheeled briefcase and small lunchbox.  

Climb in the front seat.

Drive to another building nearby.  


There are now 3 people in the vehicle and we're picking up another one. 

The poor people in the back are a small old woman and a younger girl, possibly her PCA. 

The driver goes inside and looks for the next person we're picking up.  

Sigh. I know what I have to do....  "Want me to get in the middle?"

As I climb in the back between to the two women I'm greeted with, "OOOOH YOURE WEARING SUCH PRETTY COLORS!" 

An old man sits in the front seat. 

The old woman asks what the building is for.  She has old lady breath. 

I have no idea
"It's a very tall building."

Suuuure is.

Looks at her numberless watch. "Oh my it's 5:30!"  


tick tock....

What's that building?  I can't read the name of it?? 

Driver: I don't know if that person is a man or a woman but he walks like a man...

Old man in the front: "looks like a $3 bill."

"Is this your house!? Do you have a driveway?"

Old lady:  "WHAT??"

Driver: never mind.

Young girl: she has a hearing problem, you could be nice.

They exit vehicle.  The young girl looks at me and smiles, knowingly. "Have a good day...." 

Old man: “NEXT STOP- ALLSTON!!!!” 

It still smells like old lady breath. 

The driver checks to make sure I’m ok sitting on the hump still.  I don’t bother moving, since I just want to get home.


Sit in traffic on the BU bridge. 

My back starts to hurt from sitting on the hump in the middle of the back seat. 

Old man coughs like he has bronchitis. I wish I had germ x.  To bathe in. 

Old man: we're making good time!"

More traffic.


We reach my building and I open the door to get out of the car.  Usually it is a struggle to simply take my bags from the driver and get in my building without them following me like I’m incompetent.  They yank on the door of my building while I hold out my key fob they need to actually make the door open.

When I have my scooter, they have to put an orange belt around me, and my scooter (which I don’t actually understand the logistics of, since if I fell off the lift, that would just cause my scooter to land on top of me)  but then they are not allowed to take it off until I’m inside my “destination.”  So I sit in the lobby of my building waiting for a stranger to take this public health hazard of a set belt off of me.  Awkward.  A few drivers cut me some slack though, and understand how degrading the whole notion is.  One even joked sarcastically about how stylish the belt was, and how it was all the rage in Milan.  He got it.

I try to get my bags from the guy and mutter “thank you, I’m all set, have a nice day.”

Then for a moment, I’m stunned.  “No thank you!”

“What you did, getting in the middle, that was very helpful to me, very kind.  Not many people would have done that.”

I shrug. “Well… I take up a lot less space!  It wouldn’t have made sense.”

“Well thank you. You have a good day too.”

The ride took an unexpected twist, as such validation does not usually occur, but by this point, I am overwhelmed, over stimulated, exhausted and anxious, as a similar veture occurred before 9 a.m. just to get to work.

Can I go home now? 


Before getting in the elevator after leaving the office I hit about 3 buttons on my phone.

"Your driver will arrive in 3 minutes."

A blue Prius pulls directly up to my work building as promised.

I've had him before.

"Brighton right?"

Without a word he takes my bags and loads them into the trunks and opens and closes the door for me.

"Yep, Allston, right near there."  I tell him my address.

"Is the temperature all right?  Do you have a radio preference?"  

16 silent, new car scented minutes later, I arrive in front of my building. He opens the door for me and hands me my bags. 

"Thank you." 

"Have a good day!" 

And I'm home.  $16. 

Being treated with dignity, respect, and having autonomy over my own schedule.  PRICELESS. 

You tell me if there's a disparity.