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Happy Allston Christmas, aka Don’t Come to Boston Today

By Julie, sweltering in Somerville (but holding fast to summer)

For the first time in 24 years, I will not be working at a college this fall. I took the semester off from teaching to focus on the launch of Just Killing Time, the editing of Clock and Dagger (working title for Book #2) and the plotting of Book #3. While my plate is full, it feels odd not to be editing a syllabus, planning a lecture, putting aside blocks of time twice a week for class, and not worrying about finding class coverage for Bouchercon or the New England Crime Bake.

That said, I live right outside Boston, so there is no avoiding the change that takes place here every September 1. Most colleges (and there are dozens in the city) have already had freshmen orientation, or are in the middle of it. Many are starting classes this week. Late Labor Day means classes start a little early, which throws everyone off. Add to that the real changing of the guard comes today, when a ridiculous number of apartments turn over. We’re talking thousands of apartments, one day, people moving in and moving out. I was on that schedule for years, and still have nightmares about the upteenth trip in a friend’s brother’s pickup truck during a rainstorm. Don’t ask.

There are two “this will happen for sure” things about September 1. First, a rental truck will get stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive. This will tie up traffic for hours. It hasn’t happened yet (as of this writing), but it will, despite the warnings, and the signage. Hopefully only once.

Second, some people will score great finds during Allston Christmas. Allston is a neighborhood in Boston with a large student population. Every year, huge piles of stuff are left out on the curb by folks who couldn’t fit it into a van, car, cab, or grocery cart. Sure, some of it is garbage. But a lot of it can be recycled for another home. Hence the name–the days when folks go picking trash for presents. (There is a great article, and poem, at this link.) I know someone who got a piano on September 1–the renter couldn’t get it up the stairs of his new apartment.

[Note, Allston Christmas would make a great Sarah Winston novel–what do you think Sherry?]

Here’s the other thing about September 1. It is my new year’s day. Living here, you can;t help but be influenced by academic calendars, so I gave in a long time ago. My planner is an academic year. I set new goals and they kick in September 1. Much as I hate to see summer go, September 1 is a reboot. But the one thing I don’t do on September 1?

I don’t try to drive anywhere in Boston, Cambridge, or Somerville.

Happy New Year! Does anyone else consider September 1 their new year, or is it just me?

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