Medford Village Currents
– The New England Slack
Revision 2.0 for Submission and Publication
By Christopher J. Bradley
Monday, August 29, 2005
We stopped after long travels in a black Ford LTD through the winding roads from New York to Massachusetts. When we finally got to Boston, Scott and I had the hardest time finding a parking space.
When we finally did find a parking space, we almost passed out in the car in the parking lot because the weather was so hot. Strangely enough, it was windy with a sort of ocean breeze.
I had left work as an agent for Disney, Sony, and Compton’s new Media with a company called Upgrade Corporation of America without plans to ever return to small town Niagara Falls. It was ultimately important that we find housing as soon as possible, and work to follow. Our journey would lead us into the true unknown.
After glancing around the marketplace for a good few minutes, we made up our minds to get to find our place in things.
We walked up and down Mass Ave for a while, looking to cafés for our answers. The first one we came across was Starbucks. Starbucks, while bringing strong coffee to our palates, didn’t have much in the way of answers.
Defeated by the heat, we walked back toward the parking lot. What we found, just North of the parking lot, was a café, much like the café called Topic, that resided dead center in Allentown Buffalo, and had become our hangout over the years.
This new place was called The Someday Café’ and had a specialty coffee called the Dancing Goat. You can probably imagine that it was extremely strong coffee.
The customers were slightly more upscale than the bohemians we’d run into in Buffalo. Where UB T-Shirts and acoustic guitars were prevalent in Buffalo, in Medford we found a spikey haired MIT girl and a cellist, who was not at all unattractive herself.
The cellist was a magnificent specimen. I really hated to leave her there alone. She was wonderful to share coffee with. She seemed very much like she belonged down the road away in Cambridge, where she probably had come from.
We really needed to make headway. While I was speaking with her, Scott discovered a book with a list of renters in the area in it. It was thankfully up to date.
Without a cell phone, we called a musical sub-letter seeking two roommates. We got the impression that this was an ideal situation, since neither of us minded noise.
The older gentleman came right over and met us. He was a stout man with a beard. If I had met him on the street, I might have mistaken him for Jerry Garcia. He was very amicable, and we had no trouble discussing the rental with him.
He looked like a peaceful and wise individual. The
truth was, that he was just too lazy and stubborn to shave. We would not discover this until later.
We went with our new friend Wayne, to a bar downtown near MIT, and enjoyed his entertaining depictions of life in Boston, while we watched two younger men drink yards of stout dressed in shorts and polo shirts.
It was something I'd never witnessed before, and I
think it was distinctive of the region. At 22, I’d never seen people drink yards in Western New York, or even when I was in Chicago.
To catch everyone up, I spent my first semester of college in Chicago at Illinois Institute of Technology. At IIT I pledged a fraternity, and ended up in the very unfortunate circumstance, of being to ill to continue.
The alcohol, in the form of beer, whisky sours, and vodka, caught up with me, and in December I was too sick to leave my room.
I also, in 1991 I had become engaged to be married to a girl. She was as important to me then as she is now. However people’s lives for some reason do not always merge as we would hope. I am learning to live with this loss as time pursues me with another relationship.
The trip to the Kendall Square bar, with Wayne and Scott, was my first experience riding the subway in Boston. It was remarkably clean and organized in comparison with Chicago's El.
The routes come out from Central Station in flower petal organizations. The odds of getting on the wrong train are remarkably slim. A passenger would be more likely to get lost in a city like New York or Chicago because there are so many more paralleling routes splintering off.
Thinking back on the Yards, in the subway, I wished I had that kind of stamina. It was almost a chore to drink what I had let alone a Yard.
We got to know Wayne a little bit and he informed us that there was one spare mattress. Things worked out when we got there, and Scott agreed that since he wasn’t paying the largest share of the rent, he would sleep on the floor.
We used between the three of us, all three rooms in the lower apartment. We had a shared kitchen and shared living room. I had brought my stereo and CD player. Which was a nice addition to the bare room. Wayne had plenty of CD’s but no electronics to speak of.
I had seen street performers down near the Topic in Allentown, but I had forgotten over the 3 years I’d been back that they took to the subways as well. There was a folk singer in the subway. On the trip back from Kendall Square.
In Chicago, on my way home for Thanksgiving, in 1991, I had encountered a violinist with an open case, but he was nowhere near as packaged as the Granola folk singer.
The city of Chicago is all about Jazz and Blues, so there is the marked difference in types of style. He was dressed in Chicago in a black blues suit with a red shirt and a black tie, and scuffed shoes.
In contrast, the girl singing in Boston was wearing a skirt to the ankles with miniscule flowers and paisleys. Her voice pitched up and down gently but clearly like her hands on the acoustic guitar. Change rattled into her case, next to the mini-amplifier that brought her sound up above the sound of the moving feet on the platform.
Back at the apartment, moving in was similar to moving in in college. But it struck me as something different. It was like abandoning all things before to embrace something new.
It was a chance to truly plant my feet on ground where I could stand on my own. I could make the best of things and what would be would be. My perspective on the World was getting larger, and it made me feel larger than life in a sense. It gave me an innate feeling of invincibility and faith in my own motions as I stepped forward into a new consciousness.
The contrast of life was exaggerated in my mind. At home (Niagara Falls) I had worked at a small company in the separate but larger metropolitan city of Buffalo New York.
When I had come back from school in Chicago I had immediately enrolled in Michelle’s school. Michelle, who I'd planned to marry, had taken this very well. After parting ways with her, due to an interest in Toronto’s night life that could not be easily quelled, I ended my time there working in Buffalo, the territory I knew best.
When I wasn’t working in Buffalo, I was living in Buffalo, pretty much from the trunk of the car my parents had given me to use. I made a wide array of friends, some good, some bad, but all pretty much disappearing when times got difficult.
Somehow in the midst of all of the changes going on, I stayed with my head held just high enough to stay above water. The prostitutes, tax collectors, drug dealers, and other troublemakers of the city of Buffalo only had their way with me marginally. Things were looking up rather than down when I moved to Boston, and I was glad to have a friend from high school to move with.
I thought one of the most important factors in establishing credit in Boston was to have an open bank account to pay the rent with. Looking back, I’m glad I had the account and could track where some of the money was spent.
Baybank was the major bank in the neighborhood we moved into in Medford. It was just across the street from the Someday Cafe' and it seemed the most likely bank to work with. The tellers were courteous and understanding of our situation. They were very different from New York bankers who keep very precise time and are more than willing to put up a "next teller" sign, if they don’t like your looks.
I spent my first rested afternoon in Boston in the air conditioned offices of Baybank, while the wind and sunburned walkers in the streets moved by.
Opening a checking account, is more of a chore than is often thought. You have to provide several forms of identification, and then listen to all of the various options. These options ultimately lead you to what you think might be the least expensive one. Then you have to wait for the official documents, which have to be approved by the bank manager in most circumstances.
All in all, from my dealings with banks in the past, I’ve found that you can’t get away with any less than an hour’s investment in opening an account.
There's nothing better than a slice of bakery pizza. Scott came up with the idea before I did. Bakery pizza far outstrips pizzeria pizza when you want to have a nice relaxing morning in the summer sun.
Bakery pizza is the kind of thing that can make a broken day something to live for again.
I strongly recommend Sunday Morning bakery pizza too. I think they put a little something extra into it. My grandmother used to buy us Pizza of every kind.
As far as pizza is concerned, between my aunt and my grandmother, I’ve been spoiled.
There were other times when bakery pizza was a blessing. On the return trip from Raves in Toronto, we would often stop in the city at Pizza Pizza. Or if we didn’t stop prior to the drive home, we would stop in Niagara Falls.
In the early 90’s, arguably the two best bakeries in Niagara Falls were on Elmwood avenue and 18th and Pine Avenue.
The one on Pine Avenue remains to this day and is called DiCamillos. It is family owned and operated, and has been there since before I was born in 1973.
Iced Cappuccino on a hot summer day was definitely nice. What was even nicer was the opportunity to watch an all star little league baseball game. The baseball diamond was just up the hill from the Dunkin’ Donuts, where we’d found the evening edition of the Boston Globe.
Baseball is an American institution. Little League Baseball is the most American of Institutions. It is the most American of Institutions because it teaches children complex rules, and most importantly, something that is life altering. The concepts of Sportsmanship and Fair Play are vital to the inherent nature of people who will grow to be Americans and people who will represent America abroad.
Outdoor activities are good for many spectators interested in going about their discussions and theories on who might win. We smoked a few cigarettes and watched the game play on while discussing our plans for the week ahead.
I believe to this day that I was more goal oriented than Scott, but he was not without suggestions. After all, I had him to thank for the current situation, for the very fact that he brought the car to the table when the need arose.
Our first trip to the grocery store, would have been uneventful had we not had to go through the only available checkout.
Among the purchases were ham, bologna, tomatoes, pasta sauce, spaghetti, bread, milk, and cereal, and eggs. There are always incidentals that are impossible to remember, like licorice, and that sort of thing. One thing that I do know is that we were unable to buy beer in the supermarket.
The check out girl was Mexican, but that was not her most notable quality. She had the long Dark Hair and Dark Eyes of my first serious high school girlfriend. She made me think very impure thoughts while standing there in the Purity market pushing my purchases along.
7 years prior, the girlfriend from high school and I had met. We met over Ice Cream at a Creative Arts camp, and in the course of a week, things progressed rather quickly.
Underneath a wishing well’s awnings, we made the promise to date each other. As we kissed, we experienced a sun shower over Silver Lake. The sky was all refracted rainbows and mist.
Later we found ourselves sneaking around the stone manor, at the lowest outcropping above the water. And over the next few days, she wrote Christian lyrics to a remake of the Rose, which I played on my Yamaha keyboard. At the end of the week, I performed the music with a vocalist.
That summer we watched a vampire movie called The Lost Boys while enjoying each other’s close company under blankets on the floor of her mother’s house.
I don’t believe I need to detail any further the thoughts that might have been going through my head while looking into the deep brown eyes of this checkout girl. Both Scott and I made it known that we’d like to get to know her better. But it was clear that we were new in town, and without the best of possible intentions.
She did flirt with us though, and that led us to return to Purity for our grocery many times in the future. It was just as good that neither of us ended up with her, with one mattress between us and a VCR that was far from sterile.
We played a lot of Scrabble when we were in Boston. Wayne had one of the big professional grid boards. It was entertaining to drown out the days struggles while listening to Pink Floyd. Two of our favorite albums were and still are Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall.
We had some monumental Scrabble matches in that pink house. We still talk about them when we run into each other. I would like to say that I’ve been able to stay in touch with Scott. The truth is he’s really very random in my life now. He works at a local retailer, and I spend my time writing. He writes and draws cartoons as well.
There are certain words though, that to any Scrabble player will raise an ear. Mentioning the 8 letter word Calzones along with two Triple Word Scores, in certain company can create a frenzy. I know, because regardless of the ninety to one hundred points I got for the word, it will astound, that I was still defeated in the match.
On our way to Harvard Square during our first week in Boston we stopped in back in at Starbucks. The coffee was very strong and it kept us in good spirits even though we had walked miles that day. At the time we were still not entirely familiar with the Red Line of the T (the subway in Boston).
Walking was good exercise. It was good to get to know our surroundings before venturing out into the larger metro areas. We had our hearts set on Harvard Square for the legendary chess battles that were rumored to go on there.
When we got to Harvard Square, Scott brazenly sat down at the very first chess match he saw. I went for more coffee.
The Au Bon Pain was expensive. It was the primary vendor in the immediate vicinity of the square. I bought two Iced Cappuccinos for about nine dollars. My drink was delicious, but arguably there were better ways to spend nine dollars.
When I brought Scott his drink, he was sitting with across from a grizzled old man, playing chess while a very Harvard appearing observer named David looked on. He seemed like a very gifted individual. I would have liked to have had more time to get to know him.
David seemed extraordinarily well read. And he was mild mannered, a sort of Clark Kent type individual. He was very unlike so many of the people I would meet on the street in Buffalo.
If I think back on David now, he reminds me a lot of my current friend Andy, who is currently pursuing a PhD in another city.
David recommended a coffee shop before wandering off into the square. I’d been complaining of the cost of the drinks from Au Bon Pain.
Unfortunately, the place he recommended was difficult to find. The coffee was served in Styrofoam cups. And the prices were far too high for plain coffee.
The other patrons did not impress us either. There were a bunch of people wearing black berets in there that I doubt knew the first thing about the Beat generation. And more disturbing were the urban dressed police that checked the place out and had their free Java while we were there.
Looking into the Harvard bookstore window I was forced to ask myself a question that I’ve asked myself so many times. It is always about image isn't it?
I would have killed for one of those Harvard sweatshirts. But I didn't get one. To this day I am jealous of anyone who wears one in my presence because I know they have received the full tour. Or at least had a relative that has.
I realize in my own contorted thinking on that Bookstore window, that It's not really about money, it's more about status.
I would have loved to have gone to Harvard or MIT for college, but I never did look into the requirements. I just assumed a technical college would have a more progressive education as far as computers were concerned.
Looking back, I was probably right. If I had it to live over again, I think I might take the opportunity to commit myself more to my first semester of college.
To this day, I remain with only an Associate’s degree. But if I amount the life experience involved in traveling to New York, Chicago, Boston, Huntsville, Daytona, Montreal, Toronto, Lexington, Nashville, and Detroit; I think I might have something worthwhile when I add it all up.
The Arrow Pub was great. It wasn't really much of a place for lively conversation. And Scott was very intent on drinking. I was trying to get over how daunting taking on Boston for work would be.
I decided that night that I would go back to Niagara Falls and trade my keyboards for the car. I’m going to skip ahead a bit to state that it was very easy to find a job in Boston in 1995 with a car and a computer.
Three days from the evening at the arrow pub, I had a job. What I ended up finding out in the long run, is that in a big city, even the work is all on the public transit lines.
While sinking in the beer at the Arrow pub, I let myself be dragged down a bit. I began to realize the degree of damage I’d done to my mind with the LSD in 1992, and 1993. My motive in acting was based on the fact that I was trying to reverse this entirely and work toward completely changing my condition in the world.
My entire focus was settling down and learning to live on my own. And I had not much time for thinking about sports or recreation. And these were exactly the things going on at the Arrow Pub. Baseball was on TV and recreational drinking was the mode of operation.
At the same time as I sat there drowning in beer, those gates of Harvard loomed over me like headstones. They were a marker for the past that could have been.
I hate it when I get a parking ticket. I dislike even more having my car towed. It’s like getting a ticket for dropping a cigarette butt or forgetting to put on a seatbelt.
In Western New York, the meters are not charged at night. I made the unreasonable assumption that the rules might be the same in Boston. I should have been aware the moment they refused to sell beer in the grocery store, that things were different legally.
We were in the International House of Pancakes for about thirty minutes waiting for a seat. The restaurant was located on the edge of China Town. We never ended up seated and the car was ticketed within that half-hour.
Once I learned to use the subway, it became easier to use that to get to any point in downtown than to actually use the car. It remained parked most of the time, in front of our Pink House in Medford.
Nights in Haymarket Square are something to remember. There is always something new to see there. There is always some kind of sight, sound, or smell. There is always a feeling of loose tension in the air.
In the Market, the people sift among each other like Mammalians. The wind funnels down the aisle.
I remember buying a coffee mug to bring back to my father and mother in the gift shop there. It was a Tea Party mug with thin aqua blue stenciling of Boston Harbor’s pier.
There were things to read about the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson being the composer of the Declaration of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin, one of its signors.
Scott and I enjoyed beverages as we walked and took in the sights sounds. And carted our bags of souvenirs among the crowd.
Abbott staffing was downtown in Haymarket Square. This turned out to be convenient when the call for work came. Because of our trip, I already knew the subway route there.
It was a quick stop off in Federal Plaza and jog down some nicely tiered steps. Then, just a bit to the right into an office complex paralleling the market.
The girl that assisted me was from Buffalo. To this day, I think she passed me on the typing test simply because she admired me for trying to relocate as she had.
It's always a struggle adapting to a new city. I could see that she was struggling also. It was possible that she was only temporary help herself.
She helped me find work where several other places that interviewed me were much less than helpful. There will always be a place in my heart for administrative assistants. I am glad that there is a day to celebrate their achievements.
My first day at work was very exciting. I was commissioned to take a taxi with a prepaid voucher to collect mail for Advent from the main postal depot. It was on the harbor.
The post office from my vantage point, did not seem very professional. They kind of shoved the mail back and forth in bins. I consider myself fortunate to have come back with the correct bin.
My friend Mike worked for the Post office before becoming an assistant in the local high school’s guidance department. He could probably speak more coherently on mail than I could.
The mail room position I had received was suited well to me at the time. Their requirements were standard business dress, no jacket. I was to sort the mail and deliver it to the secretaries. I was also required to log the faxes and sort them in with the mail, when they weren’t junk faxes.
It was rather complex actually. I had to do a lot of work with the alphabet. It was something I hadn't given much thought to since elementary school. Even so, at times matching up the mail was quite challenging.
Once it was broken into boxes, it was placed in folders in a rolling cart for delivery to secretaries. In the early morning virtually every member of the office got a copy of the Wall St. Journal. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except for sorting past the odd VP who didn’t receive a copy.
The mail machine for weighing outgoing packages was a real experience. I had to keep getting the front desk secretary for help with it.
On a couple of afternoons after they finished business meetings they had me rinse and wash plates in a dishwasher. And on one occasion, I was invited to go across the park and pay one of the VP’s parking expenses at the parking ramp.
It was exciting for one week’s work. And the pay wasn’t bad, eight dollars and fifty nine cents an hour in nineteen ninety five was actually pretty good, if the rent hadn’t been so expensive.
People moved like animals in Central Station. They walked in every which direction in the big open dome and confused you. You had to be careful to step ahead to avoid pin ball like collisions.
In actuality, they were more like fish than animals, veering in schools toward their appropriate trains. All I needed was a bus ticket at Greyhound.
I don't even think I stopped at McDonalds for lunch because the place was so horrendously full of people. I think though that part of what contributed to the collision factor was that I was in the station at noon, the busiest time of day.
I made a mental note when I was there, to come later in the day when purchasing tickets at the booth.
The summer was full of the evening reds and oranges of maple trees and oaks as the trip proceeded. I found myself lost in all of the nature at the edges of the highway.
I remember focusing on my own belief in myself that if I did not at least succeed, I would come back some day.
Maybe to make it the place of my retirement.
But then the more I saw there, the less I thought there was a need for any particular retirement. When you learn to make yourself literate, you are literate for life.
Your words and spirit flow through the people that receive them as if it was God himself speaking through you, just as he speaks through the waving of the trees.
That can only happen of course if you've made a conscious effort to come to terms with that philosophic and religious position as I did about a year ago. No one says I am perfect. No one said Paul was infallible as
they so kindly pointed out on television last night.
But when thinking of enjoying nature, now I will always have to thank the Holy Spirit for making the beauty of nature come to light.
Mom didn't realize what I had to do. I had to be the stable party in a situation that could have turned out worse for both Scott and I.
He might never have found that Someday Cafe' without me, and he may have ended up stranded over night with no way home.
Our decision to stay could only be based on his responsibility to find work so that we both could maintain a successful housing arrangement.
Wayne doubled the rent, demanded money for the telephone bill, that we more than paid for, and then invited two pot smoking conventioneers into the apartment at the wrong time.
It was neither in my interest or Scott’s interest to stay when everything came down to the floor. So ultimately we ended up at home. Yet this is only the beginning of the conclusion.
This is still the part where I’m returning with the car, and even just before I started working in the mail room. This is the part where I said goodbye to Mom and made certain that I would never return to Niagara Falls, at least not as the same person I was when I left.
Travel is fun. The open road is a thing to be marveled at. When you get behind the wheel of your first car, you feel a twinge in your backbone that screams all the way up your spine Freedom!
At last, you have the same opportunity and possibility that is granted the middle class in America to live the wild and transient life that is a ramble forward with no looking back.
In so many ways I was not looking back. I was looking forward with my eyes on the brass ring of success. Had things worked out differently, I might not have the opportunities I have today.
I would have missed all of those debates with Scott over why Sartre was only going to make him more depressed. What I didn't realize at the time was that there is some enlightenment to be had by opening the eyes to philosophy.
Even Kerouac and his cast of characters knew that. They were all over the road with the wheel spinning and they came up historically smelling like roses.
Even if they were occasionally taken advantage of by the dogs. The open road, a metaphor for everything good and soul searching in the four corners of America, a place to hang your hat low over your eyes under a starry night while watching the trucks pull down.
The road is not flat. It moves up and down and it twists and it turns until you can relentlessly say you've gained experience that no other single individual can share. The open road is a vestige of American life, ever since Henry Ford developed the Model T in every color you wanted it as long as it was black.
The open road was meant for you and me friends. I
strongly urge you to take it up sometime, and push the needle into the red. There is no other place to go, under these stars. Except maybe a rave on the moon.
When I returned to Boston from New York, I stopped on the way at a beer store and bought a twelve pack of Grolsh beer. The Grolsh was supposed to be a bribe to get Scott and Wayne to help me move my car full of stuff into the tiny house.
It didn't work. They were not impressed with the Grolsh as they'd been drinking the homemade beer. I was really disappointed with them but I didn't let on.
I carefully carried my keyboard, stereo, and computer into the house and set up for business. I knew by then that Scott's apparent lethargy was not going to help things at all.
I kept quiet and went about the business of work and self establishment. I showed them how to fax documents later that evening on the computer.
Scott liked to play a game of chess I had obtained from our friend Larry the "Chess Terminator" in Buffalo. It was called Fritz.
Fritz’s accuracy and acuity were maddening. It was such a tough game that I wouldn't play it. Scott spent ages staring at it like a mantis and eventually beat the thing, once.
That evening we played a couple of games of Scrabble. We listened to Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel and a couple of the many CD's I'd brought from New York.
Wayne was not fond of my collection so they didn't get played much around the house. He hated anything with electronics or hip-hop beats. That was all I really had.
We had a few seven-letter words as that night. Scott remembered that I placed the word Bunions for several points. He also challenged it and lost crippling his score for that round, but it is possible I think that he may have won the game.
I never paid too much attention to who won or lost. It was the playing of the game that was most intriguing to me. It was a real chore to tabulate final scores anyway. Even though I've accomplished the task of completing Calculus III I've never particularly cared for adding and subtracting if it's not absolutely necessary.
I guess I was lucky when I was a cashier at the computer store in Buffalo that the machines automated all of that. Wouldn't it be a fun joke if someone got a couple thousand dollars worth of discounts.
Before I had the car, I took this ridiculous bus trip out to the Retail Computer City out in Saugus. The trip never paid off because they never called me back. Even though I'd had years of prior experience in Sales and Customer Service at the one in Buffalo, they flat out thew my application in the garbage because they thought it was unsound to move out to Boston without a plan.
In order to get back home that night I had to share a Taxi to get to the subway. I didn't mind sharing though. The Puerto Rican lady and her child were beautiful people and they were dropped off before I could even figure out how far we'd traveled. I tried to estimate the costs.
It ended up costing me ten dollars I didn't want to spend. All in all though, I got back to the pink house in Medford where I needed to be.
I have elected since, not to work for a retail store again. I have also elected not to work for a fast food restaurant again. I will refer you to the Jungle by Upton Sinclair if you wish to discuss meat. I haven’t read it, but I could sum up the Fast Food industry with a few choice words.
At this point, I’d like to share some truth. The truth is, I've done everything you can possibly do wrong in your life. I am an alcoholic, nearly one year dry, I have tendencies toward gambling, I smoke, I have a history of drug addiction. Since nineteen ninety six I have had the institutions of psychiatry involved in my life.
I've never been arrested but I've been in the back of a police car more than once. And I will never agree that the vantage point is worthwhile.
I've nearly dropped my grandfather's casket, and pretty much sworn off visiting tombstones since then.
To put it point blank, despite all the trials, I'm still
here. People still love me for who I am. And if I don't have myself, I have my two dogs.
Does it take that much talent to sell a TV or a camcorder when you've already got computer skills and verbal and communications skills seasoned by years of work in the fields?
I am not a thief, I don’t hang out on the warehouse floor looking to re-shift the latest shipment. I know better. There is a fine line between what you can do legally and what is illegal.
There is a thin line that is to be crossed and I've never made that little step that you have to make to cross it.
For the corporate middlemen out there, as far as I'm concerned I'm a disabled veteran. I could have predicted the war that is going on now.
Back in 1996 I was called crazy because I believed that the bombing on the World Trade Center was precipitous of a possible act against President Clinton. The people around me called me crazy for it, and ran me out of town. I spent three months thinking about it. And I am certain now, that I was correct. After all, wasn’t Clinton put through the impeachment process? Weren’t the towers attacked again?
I have chosen for the sake of being myself. I plan to recollect these diaries and journals for the benefit of others. And to work in opposition to middle managers who think they can buy the best of tomorrow’s minds with cheap ploys and fixations on technology. Sales is no match for mental development. I only wish I’d learned it earlier.
At one point, In Boston, I almost had a job with Gillette. A woman called on the phone and said that she had an opening for a skilled individual. There was a miscommunication.
I thought she was looking for assistance with computer tech support. It turned out ultimately that she was looking for an engineer. I went for a long drive out into Waltham to find their headhunter firm.
She showed me floor plans of an intricate network and I was unable to interpret the diagrams. With proper training, I might have been able to learn enough to work on a network. In hindsight however, they weren’t paying enough anyway for the job they were trying to fill.
I call the last good days I had in Boston, "The last days of the green tomato." Our time in Boston was running out. We ended up having a running gag about Yohhimbe root in our scrabble games because I think I actually tried some in Toronto once.
Looking back from nineteen ninety five to nineteen ninety two… I was at a rave, selling Smart Drinks, and tripping on acid. I was told by the Disc Jockey that gave me a root to chew that it was an African Root that had stimulating abilities.
That night I was so blitzed that I couldn't count the change for the customers, and had multiple instantaneous panic attacks when we ran out of 2 dollar bills. Which don't even exist in any real shape or form in the United States.
The Smart Drink company was called Mental Jackhammer. It was all under the table and I made enough money to bankrupt myself buying records, gas, and overextending my interests.
I discovered that the girlfriend that I had fallen into had a little bit of a chemical problem herself. To this day I contend that she was stealing from me. I can tell stories about our adventures together all day, but they are unrelated to this work as they happened largely in Toronto.
This is where the story about Medford Ends. Scott and I rapidly packed up our things and headed off in separate cars to get back to Niagara Falls as quickly and evasively as possible.
From what I understand he never did pay his share
of the rent but that was not important as I had paid a mammoth phone bill for long distance Scott had used and Wayne had said he'd be committed to sharing it.
I lost only about a thousand dollars on the adventure as I earned a weeks pay. And Scott only lost about three hundred. By nineties standards that was a lot of money, but when I compare it to what you can sink into a bad slot machine, its really not that much.
The moral of the story is, if the landlord has fleas, don't let him drink in the kitchen.
I dynamically fell back work and then school. I was able to find work because I read Windows 95 for dummies on the subway in Boston prior to its release. I read it mostly on the rides back and forth to work.
I still envy that Japanese guy’s Rolex I saw one day when looking up from the book into human traffic.
the tennis match
Early on Sunday morning, one week after we arrived in Boston, I dressed as best I could, and walked to the Methodist church between Davis Square and the
Pink House. I patiently signed my name into the guest book and sat down to listen to the sermon.
The minister was an African American woman. The service held was for both Unitarian and Methodist parishioners. I listened carefully as she talked about Agape and the unification of spiritual and philosophical forces bringing peoples lives together.
At the time I don’t think I really saw the impact of how this would impact me, but in retrospect, I can see that it was important. It is not just important to me, but to anyone who has a friend or relative. That covers just about everyone in the world. Or at least you would hope it does.
I meditated and prayed on it for a moment, and asked God to help me find the reason why I was in Boston. I thought mostly about finding a way to support myself and become part of a community other than the one I had dealt with back home.
At the time I did not realize that no matter where you go you can never really leave home. Either home comes with you, or it finds you, or it Spirits you away.
Today home is the Earth. Earth is where you come from and Earth is where you will stay. Even the cosmonauts that lost their lives in space return to the earth as ash.
Visions like theirs are eternal because they are made eternal through the motions of the papers that sift through the air of the seaside. On Earth.
I asked around at church to see if I could enlist in any help finding work in Boston. I was nudged aside by most people, except for one kind old woman who began asking others on my behalf. Many of them suggested reading the help wanted ads, or looking to temporary agencies. Some suggested the unemployment office.
It appears that most good God fearing people are not the ones that have the power to instantly employ just anyone.
They work for people too and have careers to uphold and must keep to a smart degree guarded from strangers or drifters who might upset their ability to care for their own. This is understandable.
So I took their suggestions and worked at it a while but that all came later. The important lesson is that drifting is something that you have to be careful about, because even your own affiliations may not recognize you when you journey to distant lands.
I will take you to the beginning of the tennis match. I spent a long time walking back up the hill thinking about the sermon and the old woman’s charitable speaking. I also thought on the coffee and cookies at church, and I was not particularly in wonderful spirits for sharing my thoughts of the people I had encountered because I did believe that they genuinely could have helped me if they had wanted to.
Perhaps in a way they did.
When I channeled my energy and wisdom into relaying a message of hopefulness in the last quarter mile, I found Scott waiting for me at the door, with two rackets in hand. He told me to go and put on some other clothes and come and play tennis.
At first I wanted to decline because I saw this as an energy sapping activity. After all, I had just walked four blocks up hill and had a mission to talk to him about motivation and overcoming obstacles. I thought he was just as depressed as I made him out to be.
And I thought that he had been reading things that were necessarily prescriptions for depression. He was always walking around with a book written by Jean Paul Sarte’ or Albert Camus. It isn’t until now that I realize that philosophy, reason, and metaphysics are all connected.
In a spiritual sense, he must have been working toward his own awakening of being. Just quietly, and in considerately. And so I put on jeans and a T-shirt, thinking that it wasn’t going to do me much good. After all, how can you give a sermon, if you are choking your
way after a green ball?
I played as well as I could, but I knew that I would never defeat him, at a game he had grown up playing. So I struck the ball when I could, and the energy flipped out of my hands and over the net into his court.
Every once in a while I would score a point, but it wasn’t often that I would achieve love on my side of the score sheet. I decided that if he was the better player, he should win. And that was all there was to playing.
He was never overly smug about his game play. He simply wanted me to remember that we played the game and had an opportunity to enjoy an almost resort like living.
Our house wasn’t even a block from the court. There was no charge to play. And the baseball games were always going on.
So there was something going on. But I couldn’t exactly see it at the time. I think that I can say it without fear and without enmity from anyone. The truth is, that agape and spirituality apply to everyone.
These places where common experience merge are not coincidence, but a part of the nature of God working through nature.
There can be love of a spiritual kind among men, without the necessity of abomination or contact.
Men don’t have to have sex to share in philosophical relationships based on friendship.
I say clearly that in the tennis match of life I found Love for Scott as a brother and fellow human. And I look toward him as a good man to obtain knowledge from or share knowledge with. Or even possibly find wisdom through.
Some might call this comradeship I cannot attest specifically to this because I believe that communism is steeped in hatreds too old to be viewed as plausible for a leading existence in modern social action. I will call it only what it is. Love.
Comradeship implies leadership in a cause. And there is no cause, greater than that of the Son of God who died for our sins, also named aptly, Love.
I find brotherhood through his suffering and know that I too suffer. I also know that everyone who has lived a day since Rome began to burn has suffered. And today, we are still in the fires of that fallen Empire.
We are also however in the light of God. Through Love, as I would share with my Father, or My Brothers, or my Sister, or my Mother, or any of my Aunts, Uncles, or Cousins, we may all be healed again.
May we all have awakenings similar to games as great as these.