Oh, Worcester

So instead of shutting myself in my room and continuously jerking off until a response to a reddit writing prompt came together in my head, I was on assignment for Worcester Magazine. The story: What is to become of the Notre Dame church in Worcester. 

Worcester… is… an interesting place. City hall and especially this planning committee meeting were the distillation of that. Young and old, black but mostly white, and I’ll be honest– mostly old too. So over 70 mostly old, mostly white people were there to voice concerns about an upcoming development project slated for 5 Salem Sq.

Most in attendance were part of Preservation Worcester– a group dedicated to older architecture in the city.

Hoo Boy– there were some eloquent folks in that crowd. Among them Councilor at large Konstantina Lukes. I guess it’s understandable. Part of her job is public speaking.

But, for every rational person speaking– there were those that went off message.

Many spoke about the church after being warned not to.

Socialist Alternative then showed up and talked about wage theft and taking advantage of workers– something that the PLANNING COMMITTEE has nothing to do with. Yet, I suppose it was a forum to get the message out.

Then (I still chuckle thinking of it) One older woman compared the local Worcester city government to the totalitarian regime in Worcester. AND THEN called the apartment complexes springing up over the city concentration camps.

Over the two hours of testimony I just kept looking at the lawyers for the Development company. Ivan M. Baron (GET IT? I. BARON. AND HE WORKS FOR A REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER) was chief among them, delivering the presentation to the committee. (I should just point out that this guy’s suit was on fucking point and he looked like what the Fonz might if he went to Harvard or Whartons.) These guys sat stone faced for two hours, allowing only faint flickers of annoyance to pass over their faces.

All in all the whole night felt more like theater than an actual hearing. Still– made some money writing– so that was cool.

 

 

July 26, 2017

I think that I’m mentally in a weird place right now– well, weirder than normal I should say.

I posted this up on facebook earlier today: last night I had a really vivid dream about parasites exiting face. I remember standing in the bathroom and popping a pimple and then a few off-white worms were hanging from my cheeks and brows, squirming. There were more biting bugs involved, but really I just remember the worms. My grandmother was there too– she seemed mildly alarmed by the parasites.

Then my alarm went off.

Normally I don’t remember any of my dreams, so the fact that I was able to remember this one in the slightest was…curious.

My very helpful friends suggested a few explanations.

  • I was being consumed by my own ideas.
  • I was ugly on the inside– but let’s be honest I’m pretty damn ugly on the outside too.
  • I was shedding a part of me that I didn’t want.
  • I was losing a certain aspect of my 20’s
  • I missed my friend Tom. (Thanks Tom for that insight)

I think, after some consideration, that stress is the culprit. Oh sure STRESS is blamed for most things in life, gaining weight, losing weight, smoking cigarettes, nervous breakdowns, acute gastrointestinal stress etc. etc. But, some stress is good.

Some stress is a kick in the ass to make us do shit that we don’t want to do. Hell, if I wasn’t stressed about where my next meal is coming from, I wouldn’t feel the need to go to work. If I wasn’t stressed about my thinning hair, I wouldn’t be #baldandbeautiful now. STRESS can be good in moderation.

Parasites coming out of your face, maybe, might be too much STRESS. Why am I stressed? I just bought a car. Not outright with cash like my other car, but signing papers, contracts, and dreaded LOANS.

A quick sidebar: Only my sophomore-year roommates know this, but at the beginning of the year, Clark informed me on move in day that I wouldn’t be coming back to school because I didn’t have enough $$$. Luckily, family came to my rescue. The next day I threw up a dozen times, anxious that I wouldn’t be able to afford the next semester or the next or the next or the next or the next. Between heaving I laid on my bed and held on for dear life– I felt like I was going to rocket through the four stories above me in the Maywood dorms. Financial stress is not a new concept.

On top of rent, food, electricity, student loans, I’ve now piled on a car payment every month. Yay. gag

Rationally, I know that I can handle the payment and that a car will help in the future job hunt. Irrationally though, parasites, vomit, and oddly enough the color scarlet.

That’s largely been my week. Very relaxing. Wouldn’t have my vacation any other way. Oh, and I’ve been listening to Flower Boy a lot. It’s good. Check it out. The first chords of the second track are like audible nostalgia.

 

Edit 1: Also one friend offered that I’ve started the process of losing my mind. But, I will have some professional success soon. I think this one sounds the most likely. I’ve always known somewhere deep down that I was destined to be insane

Skinhead

All joking aside, I don’t really appreciate being likened to a skinhead.  

 

As I’ve already written, I recently shaved my head. And, as we know from high school physics class: every action has a reaction. Being a white man with a bald head, one of those reactions is being likened to a neo nazi. This is…unfortunate.

 

I understand that, yes, skinheads do shave their heads. But no, shaving your head does not align you with any political or social beliefs.

 

Someone asked me the other day what I was thinking when I decided to look like a skinhead. They then went on to say that I, as someone who lives with two black roommates, must be out of their mind. Then on top of that, this person said that as a member of the “radical left” they would “kick my ass” if they ever saw me wearing boots.

 

A few thoughts about that.

 

  1. One’s living situation should not dictate the way that person chooses to look, wear their hair, or have anything to do with physical appearance. That’s antiquated thinking.
  2. I’m not crazy for going bald. I had reasons– which I’ve laid out at length.
  3. Don’t attribute your capacity to commit violence to your political ideology. Being far to the left has nothing to do with it– you’re just an asshole. (Psst. You know who did commit violence in the name of their political beliefs? It has four letters, rhymes with Yahtzee, and it’s very much the SAME FUCKING THING YOU’RE CALLING ME.)
  4. I’m going to wear boots in the winter. That’s just how it’s going to be. Please don’t hit me.

 

This runs in the same vein as my long ago rant on why it’s not okay to say that having a mustache makes you a pedophile.

 

Let’s reverse the roles here Mr. Radical Left to illustrate my point: Would it be okay to call someone wearing a lot of eyeliner a “whore”? No. Or, would it be okay to say that someone letting their armpit hair grow is gross? Still no.

 

Being called a skinhead isn’t fun. So fuck off.

Embrace the Inevitable

Bald

Is this….bat country?

 

I shaved my head yesterday. I mean really shaved it–down to the skin bald. I’ve said to a few friends that my decision was one made on impulse, but that’s not the truth.

 

I’ve known for some time that I needed to embrace the bald. Watching the hairs atop my head grow thinner with each passing week, was, frankly, disheartening. For a long time my hair meant the world to me– it was one of the first things that I was given control of. When I decided just a few years ago to grow it out for my graduation photo’s, my relatives weren’t pleased, but damnit, they couldn’t make me change.

 

More recently though, I’d been hiding my hair underneath hats. Whenever I would take it off, the first thing that I chose to see was a hairline under thin blonde wisps. The sides were full, so to me it seemed that 30 extra years were staring back at me. It was tough.

 

Those closest to me knew how sensitive I was about my hair. Normally I can take a joke, but anytime my thinning hair was brought up I’d get quiet and shut down, or inject my own digs with real malice.

 

I’d tried vitamins, conditioners, oils, special thickening shampoos, everything (except for Rogaine) and nothing worked. It would grow longer with the passing days and when it was wet, the light blonde hair would turn nearly translucent. It was truly a sisyphean battle against genetics.

 

So, I pulled the trigger. I had a roommate, shoutout Akiba, use a one on my electric clippers gifted to me, shoutout Ethan, to get rid of the bulk. Then I loaded up my safety razor, put on the Chicago soundtrack and attacked the top of my dome. Oh, what a bloody affair– that razor bit. The alum block follow up doesn’t feel great either. A few passes and the “Cell Block Tango” later it was done.

 

After the deed was done, I felt a strange sense of self confidence. My hair was finally nothing to be conscience about– I’d reclaimed it.

 

This isn’t an anecdote about body positivity– very much the opposite, in fact. And, while I appreciate the movement as unrealistic beauty standards and genetics set impossibly high bars for nearly everyone, this is a story about change. There was something about myself that I didn’t like, didn’t find attractive, knew was inevitable, and decided to do something about it. I literally poured sweat and blood down my hair-littered drain until my head looked the way I wanted. I think it looks cool and I’m glad I found the motivation to change myself instead of being complacent.

 

Fuck flaccidly-thin hair. Embrace the bald.

Dear T. July 7

Dear T.

 

Thanks for the letter T. It’s not that bad here in MA. The humidity has held off for now (though I dread the approach of the dog days of August)

 

I know the feeling exactly. Existentially dreading falling into a robotic lifestyle? Wake up. Eat. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Add some kids to the mix, maybe. And, keep on repeating.

 

Realize though, that you may have to conform to some sort of “office-job” lifestyle. It’s just part of being an adult. You can still pursue your passions, but you’ve got to support yourself somehow– it’s just the way it is.

 

Repeat.

 

(Also, don’t you hate that: it’s just the way it is. Like fuck, who decided that AND then gave that schmuck authority to decide shit like that for everyone?)

 

But, back to my point. Realize that everyone has this fear at some point. You come to terms with your age, opportunities, and realistic futures– and that dream of becoming an astronaut withers within you, leaving you feeling emptier than before. What’s the normal human response? In America we just buy shit to fill that astronaut-sized hole. Pretty unhealthy, eh? You don’t have to do that. Fill that void with your creativity. Fill it with characters, foreign worlds, and endless ideas. Pursue that passion. Pursue it fucking relentlessly.

 

Repeat

 

If you follow this advice, realize that unlike buying shit, your passion won’t give you instant gratification. It will, however, pay off in the long term. Perhaps it’s not the way you’d wish, but it will pay off.

 

Until next time T. Don’t get too down. Life is a struggle that no one asked for, and attitude is everything.

 

Repeat.

Dear Chad. July 2, 2017

Dear Chad,

 

I hope this letter finds you well. Last I’d heard, you were melting away in that muggy Massachusetts summer. I’ve had quite a revelation today, and thought to tell you first. It happened in the most mundane place: the supermarket. Specifically, I was waiting by the automatic doors, bags in hand, staring at the wall of managers, and district managers, and employees of the month, and of the year, and so on. They all looked dashing– wearing button ups and suit jackets, smiling. I zeroed in on this one picture of Rachel, the store’s manager. It dawned on me that she looked happy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she is or was happy during the time of the picture, but in my mind the idea of Rachel was a happy human being– if that makes any sense.

 

Then I zoned out; the faces blurred and I stood there for a while. These were all happy people it seemed. It struck me as odd. How could a person, who does the same thing every day, day in and day out, find happiness? Now, forgive me, I know that that sounds incredibly pretentious, but the notion of happiness and monotonous routine seem mutually exclusive. But, that’s not the revelation.

 

The revelation was, to put it simply: that I’m scared; terrified of the 9 to 5 life.

 

Day in, day out. Over, and over. And, over. Again.  

 

Getting up at quarter to eight, showering, eating a modest breakfast– maybe toast with peanut butter and banana. Driving to work in a leased car while I listen to classic rock. Greeting co workers who may or may not like me, but still have to be cordial to me because we’re in a professional setting. Going to the occasional meeting to discuss company goals and how to reach them, ultimately not solving anything, yet feeling the vague sensation of progress. Then lunch, that I’ve packed. Probably a sandwich and some chips. On fridays I’ll splurge and go out on my half hour, getting fifteen minutes to eat my semi-fast food. Then it’s back to the “grind” as I’ll call it, which will consist of playing on my phone for long periods of time. (Did you know that on average, an American worker is productive for like a quarter of the time he’s actually at work?) At five I’ll leave to go back to the apartment, and maybe eventually the house. I’ll be too tired from not actually working all day that I’ll want to sit on the couch, eat pringles, and binge Netflix series. It’s dark in an instant. It’s already ten? Better be off to bed so that I can repeat the process tomorrow, next month, next year, next ten…

 

Day in, day out. Over, and over. And, over. Again.

 

I’m scared that I’ll fall into that hole, Chad. Perhaps that’s why I’ve cancelled the few interviews in Boston that I’ve had, and sabotaged the one’s I’ve had in Worcester. (I’m about to cancel another in Boston and take an internship instead.) Perhaps that’s why I’m hesitant to apply for jobs in the first place. Perhaps that’s why I’ve tried to stay away from home and struggle to stay afloat amidst my financial troubles. Perhaps.

 

I want, ultimately to be a creator– it’s fun. I realize that I’m no good at creating–writing, but that doesn’t stop me from pursuing it. It’s what I want. Something new and different every day. I want to create for the sake of creating. It excites me.

 

And, more importantly, I think Freud was right when he said that everyone wants to be remembered. I want to be remembered. I want to create things that are memorable. Even after I die and my bones blow away, I want to leave something behind. Something tangible. Exciting. Necessary. I want to create feeling and inflame emotions. Is that a stretch? Of course, but it’s what I want. This was part of the revelation– coming face to face with my ego. He knows that I’m bound to die even if I don’t walk around all day thinking about it– I don’t. He knows that I’m a petty person who desires love and affection, even when I convince myself that my motives are pure. He knows that I’m ashamed, but I know that too.  

 

And that was it. Staring at pictures of happy people. A dozen or so. I came face to face with my fears of routine, and how to live a fulfilling life. I think it’s safe to say that I learned a few things. For one, I’m quite a shallow person who needs to learn how to separate his happiness from his ideas of success. Secondly, my motives may not be as pure as I would wish, but as long as they work, then they’re fine by me. Kind of incompatible, eh? I can’t wait to hear from you.

 

Sincerely,

T.

Worst Feeling

You know what the worst feeling in the world is?

 

There are some pretty bad ones out there. Like someone you trusted betraying you, loss of someone figuratively or literally, stepping on tiny rocks or legos in the dead of night are all terrible experiences in their own right. But this feeling is more common than any of those. It happens to hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people everyday.

 

I’m talking about having perfect hindsight and being able to spot all of your spelling errors or what have you the moment you submit something. God it’s hideous. You’re transplanted to the front of a classroom of laughing children. They can see right through you. Point out all of your mistakes. Who are these kids. You don’t even recognize them. Are they just B roll footage your brain drags up from the cellars of your memories. Oh god now they’re laughing at your thinning hair. What is going on here?  God you’re such an idiot. Maybe you shouldn’t make so many typo’s. Ahem– thank’s self-conscious stream of consciousness.

 

It’s kind of crazy how sharp one’s eyes become the second that you look at something you submit something. No matter how many times you read it over, forward, backward, out loud to yourself– you almost always find something new. You think it has something to do with high stakes game of perfection that one’s brain plays? When the stakes are high and your cursor is flashing above the submit button, there are just some things you absolutely won’t catch some mistakes or missing words. Hitting that button flips a switch– and suddenly you’re a goddamn managing editor.

 

I don’t want to reread this so I’ll post it immediately and then find my errors.

 

EDIT: Don’t worry folks. I totally found a bunch. But for posterity’s sake, they’re staying up.

 

Moving Sucks.

“Hey has anyone see my towel in the last two days?”

 

Moving is a pain in the ass, no matter the distance. Obviously, different challenges arise when you uproot yourself a mile versus a thousand to be sure.

 

Each begin with what’s called the gradual stage. It starts a month out. Non-essentials are slowly, and meticulously packed up piece by piece until they are neatly stacked in the back of the spare room. If you’re really on top of your shit, every box will be labeled.

 

Then about a week out, comes the serious phase. Everything but the day-to-day necessities get boxed, tubbed, or toted up. You’ll probably run out of boxes in this phase. It’s a real pain. Luckily you know someone who works in retail and can score you some okay-sized cardboard boxes. Some may smell like old produce– that just comes with the territory. Some assembly may be required too, so you’ll need to get packing tape too. BEWARE THE DUST in the serious phase. It’s a sinus killer. You lose sleep because of things that ought not to have been fucked with will be. It’s like the scene in The Mummy when they open the sarcophagus. Malicious Arnold Vosloo whirlwinds will attack your house and choke you.  

 

The days tick by, and the serious phase bleeds into the frantic phase. Everything else in your room, the fridge, the bathroom, the living room, under the couches, on the porch, on the landing, in the cabinet under the sink, in your dresser, and the medicine cabinet must get rounded up. At this point, stress mounts and festers, and generally becomes a pesky cloud of thoughts and priorities that buzz around your face like nats on a muggy evening. How did you run out of boxes again? Shit. Okay, bags it is then. You need more city trash bags because, unbeknownst to everyone, your house is chock full of garbage.  

 

In the next few days, you’ll have some questions due to the frantic phase. Like, why were your socks packed with your dry goods? Where did this lava lamp come from? And, how did the tape come off the gold bond powder bottle and dust all of your sneakers?  

 

Slowly but surely you’ll settle in into the new digs. Maybe alone. Maybe with friends– depending on where your are in life. You can rebury the horror and stress that packing induced for another year or two or five, while you struggle to make ends meet. Such is the way.  

Hey hey, Mother’s Day

Mom. A real bat that one is. Not like the creature with leathery wings, but a bat as in a loon. But not like the bird, but like a nut. Shit. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my mother is crazy.

 

But whose isn’t crazy, right? I mean mom’s have to raise human beings, and mine did it by herself. Imagine that, taking care of a completely ignorant tiny human so that they live long enough to become a (relatively) competent larger human– absurd. I don’t think I have the balls to pull that off, even if another person was helping me. So today, on this most special of days, I tip my hat to you Mom for taking on the insane undertaking of raising yours truly.

 

Honestly, I don’t know how you did it. And that goes for all you single mothers out there. From the mom’s living paycheck to paycheck to the mom’s in comfortable digs who’ve set up college funds for their kids. Bravo. You’re not only surviving for yourself, your surviving for two, or three, sometimes four and more– and that in a word is amazing.

 

(And shout out to all single dad’s out there. You’re being both parents day in and day out. Mother’s day belongs to you too.)

 

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I remember growing up so bitter with my mom’s decisions. There was never any justice, or so that’s how I perceived things. If I was thrown into her situation, escaping an abusive relationship, moving across the country with a baby, and making sure that there was always food on the table, I don’t know if I could do it. But she did. And, looking back I’m so proud of her and I understand the why she did the things she did– including depriving me of my justice. Life just hurls shit at you and doesn’t care how you handle it, you just have to and that means making hard decisions sometimes.

 

I remember when we moved before I started second grade. At the time I was pissed because that meant I had to start over again, making friends is your whole world when you’re seven. She just wanted me to be in one of the best school districts in the state though. We stayed in an alright apartment for years and she made it a home, even though, as mom put it: the landlord was a bitch. On top of that she put up with the stress of two, sometimes three jobs just so that I could have nice things and she could could save up for a place of our own. She wanted her own home and not answer to a landlord.

 

After four years of grinding she saved enough money to move us into a single floor, one bathroom, two bedroom house– and she was thrilled. I, on the other hand, was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. The only thing I wanted was a dog.  Looking back, just as like our odyssey to Vermont, getting that house was damn impressive.
So again: Happy Mother’s Day to you Connie and to all mom’s out there. You’re doing the impossible, and one day, and it may seem far off now, but your kids will appreciate the hell out of you and all you’ve accomplished (even if when it’s all said and done you’re crazy as hell.)

Quite possibly the best song for any and every occasion.

Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is the best song for literally any occasion. Through various semi-scientific techniques, I’ve discovered that listening to Blondie while doing anything increases productivity 15%, makes you 50% more fabulous while doing it.

 

I cooked up this theory yesterday while in the shower, where most of my daily deep thinking is done. About two songs into my old school punk playlist, “Heart of Glass” came on. Mental images of me doing a host of productive things like cleaning my apartment, doing the dishes, and getting a new job in an 80’s style montage exploded into my mind’s eye. It was incredible. I felt better about my day, without actually doing anything. A few songs later, when I left the shower, I did those things (less getting the job– Although I did make moves)

 

And I did it all, to “Heart of Glass” on repeat. Dancing may or may not have occurred.

 

But, as any good (social) scientist knows: one test does not necessarily prove a hypothesis. So I tried again and again. Walking to work, making muffins, showering (again). Each time I listened to “Heart of Glass,” and whatever I was doing, I did with more pizazz. It was like musical rose-tinted glasses.

 

That being said, I want to take this experiment even further. Blondie should be played on repeat in DMV’s around the country. Only then can we test the hypothesis on a large scale. And what better place than one of the most demoralizing places ever. If Debbie Harry can put a smile on the face of career DMV workers and put springs in their step– then we should consider deploying “Heart of Glass” into more delicate situations like family monopoly night or Israeli- Palestinian talks.

 

Picture credit: Skinned Minx via Flickr