Categories for biographic

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Maybe I Could Write More?

Mon 03.07.16

Life is hectic. One day you’re getting married and the next day is actually 2 years later and you have barely updated your website. Maybe I could stand to draw more? I could upload all the sketches I never show anyone. Perhaps I could get myself to write more? I use to write on the internet on a weekly basis. Now, I write once every few years. Maybe I could start uploading photos again? I’ve taken a few photos in the last 5 years that aren’t of gravestones or cats. Perhaps I could just delete this whole paragraph and never speak of it again. No, it’s too late for that, I guess I’ll press on.

Until I begin to write more, I’m just going to leave this on my website. It will stand as a constant reminder to myself that I said I was going to do something and then I did not do that thing. The shame should help motivate me to write more or to ignore this website until the heat death of the universe removes all of the work we have ever done.

But until the universe collapses in on itself, why don’t you follow me on Twitter: HyphenateMe

 

3

That Time It Rained In My Apartment

Wed 11.21.12

Thanksgiving is this week and this brings us one very particular thing that I am thankful for: this year I did not come home to water pouring down through the ceiling of my apartment.

The year was two thousand and eight. I was living in a spacious 4 bedroom apartment, with 2 friends from high school – Tom and Erica – and an acquaintance – Dominic. We were on the second floor of a 4 story building, living well in Brighton. I was working for Harvard, which meant that I got perks. One such perk is that the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, every employee got a pie. I arrived home around 5:45pm, apple pie in hand, feeling exuberant. Tom worked until late in the evening, Erica disappeared for weeks at a time, and Dominic was in New Jersey. I was looking forward to a little quiet time. Just me and the pie.

Opening the door to my apartment, I noticed that something was amiss. I didn’t remember leaving a waterfall on in my bedroom when I left for work in the morning! I grabbed a nearby umbrella and passed through the threshold to my bedroom, like bursting through a wall of water. I checked all the important things first, my computer and comic books. Both were dry. Sadly, I could not say the same thing for all of my work shirts hanging in the closet, which were covered in damp plaster and also what I can only assume was water.

I placed our only bucket under my newly implemented waterfall and threw a few towels about. I sat on the couch, eyeing my pie, when I heard a commotion in the hallway. I stepped outside to find the girls in apartment 3 and the girl in apartment 1 having a powwow. It seems my apartment wasn’t the only one filling with water. Using the combined brain power of 3 apartments, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t know what the Hell was going on, but whoever lived on the 4th floor was going to have a very damp evening. Someone also called 911.

A tenant of apartment 4 arrived before the police did. He looked like he had just come from an internship at a law office, his tie undone only just barely. Apartment 4 lead us up the stairs like Fred of Mystery Incorporated, I brought up the rear like Scooby. Apartment 4 was hardly phased by the water pouring from the ceiling. This was such a frequent occurrence for him that he already had a 10 gallon trash can in place. What wasn’t a frequent occurrence (I assume) is that Apartment 4’s mattress was soaked.

A hour passed. My bedroom was only dripping water now. I had called my landlord and all my roommates. Erica made an appearance long enough to unlock her bedroom, which she dead bolted shut whether she was home or not, because no burglar would ever break into a locked room. This was the first time in the 1.5 years I lived with her that I had seen the inside of her room. It was like looking into her very psyche,  full of clothing and clutter. The fire department was doing a check of all the rooms, looking for water damage in the walls.  The power was cut to prevent any circuits from shorting out. I sat alone on our couch, eating a moist apple pie by candlelight, listening to firefighters run up and down the apartment stairs. At 8:30pm, a state representative appeared in my doorway. She told me that we needed to be evacuated by 10pm, and that our building was now considered “uninhabitable”.

A few hours later, I was at Back Bay station, waiting the the midnight train to my mom’s in Rhode Island. I had abandoned half a pie in my uninhabitable kitchen. I had enough clothes for a week in my bag. There was no way to know when we would be allowed to go back into our apartment or if we’d be homeless by Monday. After calling my landlord a dozen times, I, thankfully (a little holiday humor for you guys), got some news about the place I kept all of my things. We would not be homeless! Best Thanksgiving ever.

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The Farm: Adolescents

Mon 04.02.12

Almost six years ago, I proudly stepped away from college with a crisp, fresh college degree. I was certified educated, ready to take on the world. Almost six years ago, I ended up working on a community farm, growing squash, killing bugs, and watching over the community service volunteers. Great use of my fine arts degree.

The farm was fairly small, about 150 by 250 feet. It had sections of squash, plots of peppers, innumerable baby tomatoes, even a row of grapes that never, ever grew.  My partners in crime and grime were Lou, Geoff, and my brother, Sam. To help us tend to the crops we had a league of volunteers. They came in all shapes and sizes; high school students trying to earn summer credits, juvies doing community service in lieu of jail time, and recovering cokeheads from halfway houses. Our worst volunteers were teenagers.

Teenagers are the Worst

I could write an entire doctoral thesis about why being a teenager is the worst and what sort of island we should build to house every teen in America, but I’ll leave that for another time. While Emir was our honor roll student at the Farm, we had our share of delinquents. One such example was a high school sophomore, who would make an appearance from time to time, “Julie.” She was short, she was white, she was a brunette, she thought “booty shorts” were appropriate garden wear, and she was whiny.  Julie would often refuse to pick any of the “dirtier” vegetables, for fear of a dirt getting on her fingers. She would refuse to work with other volunteers if they were pungent (meaning, anyone). The only lasting impression Julie made was on a picnic table, where someone wrote Julie is a bitch in sunscreen, which burned into the wood. However, she acted as a catalyst for our next story.

While Julie was a no-wage slave on the Farm for school credit, “Rob” was with us because he was a troubled teen. His options were working with idiots like us or going to juvenile hall. He chose the idiots. Rob was just your standard skinny white boy, trying to look tough. He spoke with a thick “Row dyland” accent, which punctuated his many, many tall tales.

It seems that when you combine an adolescent male and an adolescent female, they both begin to suffer from a case of “stupid brain.” In order to impress Julie, young Rob would spin tales while stuffing cardboard boxes with malnourished squash. He claimed to be a smooth criminal, until he slipped up. Rob regaled us with the time he snagged 10lbs of marijuana from Amsterdam. When he arrived back in these United States, our post-9/11 TSA just laughed him off, even as they pulled brick after brick of pot out of his bag in front of the entire airport.

“Yo dawg, put that back,” Rob demanded of the TSA agent, with swagger literally pouring out of his ears. Naturally – because a TSA agent would listen to a 16 year old – they put all the pot back and sent Rob on his way.

The crime that resulted in Rob’s 240 hours of community service was one of passion and tragedy. Rob had discovered that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer, which is always terrible. People react to the news of a terminal illness in a number of different ways. Some cry. Some begin drinking. Some turn to God. Rob took things in stride. As in he walked a stride or two down to a local gas station, waited for a car to stop at a red light, and shot the driver in the face with a .22.

Rob told enough stories to fertilize the farm for a week. Sadly, there are many details that have been lost to the ether of my memory. He was the 16 year old equivalent of that barfly who spins a new pub lore after his 10th beer of the evening. Why Rob felt the need to transparently lie in order to impress a few strangers and some idiot girl, I will never understand.

Wait, no. I just got it.

 

2

The Farm: Meet Emir

Sat 03.24.12

Almost six years ago, I proudly stepped away from college with a crisp, fresh college degree. I was certified educated, ready to take on the world. Almost six years ago, I ended up working on a community farm, growing squash, killing bugs, and watching over the community service volunteers. Great use of my fine arts degree.

The farm was fairly small, about 150 by 250 feet.  It had sections of squash, plots of peppers, innumerable baby tomatoes, even a row of grapes that never, ever grew. My partners in crime and grime were, Lou, Geoff, and my brother, Sam. To help us tend to the crops we had a league of volunteers. They came in all shapes and sizes; high school students trying to earn summer credits, juvies doing community service in lieu of jail time, and recovering cokeheads from halfway houses. Our finest student volunteer was “Emir”.

Meet Emir

Emir was our star volunteer. He was a symbol of everything good and right in the world. He was our little, brown beacon of hope. Emir was a high school sophomore of Middle Eastern descent, skinny as a rail, with dark black hair. He was soft spoken, which lead us to believe he must be the strong, silent type. Emir was an invaluable asset in the war on hunger. As our Food Bank boss noted, “[we] were in direct competition with migrant workers!” Despite that we were a nonprofit and also not competing with anyone, as the volunteer supervisors, we were under a lot of pressure to pick our veggies as quickly as possible. When we asked Emir to go pick green beans, he would silently saunter over to the rows and wouldn’t quit until his hands were thick with beetle blood and dirt.

This was fairly typical.

Unlike most of our “volunteers,” Emir was working at the Farm for high school credits. He was a good kid, but one day, he didn’t show up for work. We didn’t think much of it. Actually, we didn’t think much about anything, except for lunch. Sick of eating dirt or 7/11-brand chips and cola, Lou, Geoff, Sam, and myself piled into the Food Bank’s ’82 Mazda Deathtrap pick-up. We were on the hunt for a decent meal. I can’t even recall if we ever found any grub, but I do recall that we ended up by the airport. We were lost, belligerent, and each screaming different directions at Lou, who responded by jerking the wheel left and right, slamming Geoff and Sam into the headrests on the front seats.

Lou had driven across Rhode Island and back. We knew we were in the same town as our Farm, but we weren’t sure how to get back. Slowly crawling past a park in our Mazda, we look out the window to see none other than Emir, equipped with a fresh cast on his arm. We pulled up alongside Emir and friends, with the windows rolled down.

“Hey Emir!” I yelled.

He was visibly shaken – as any little, brown fellow might be when a beat up, pick-up truck full of pungent, dirty, white boys rolls up to you. He lifted his cast, and quickly blurted out “IBrokeMyArmPlayingHockey, that’s why I wasn’t at the Farm today!” We assured Emir that we only wanted directions back to the Farm, we weren’t going to drag him across Rhode Island behind the Mazda.

Unfortunately, Emir was not nearly as skilled with directions as he was at picking tomatoes. However, the following week, Emir was back at it again, picking vegetables one handed. If only all of our workers were as silent and diligent as he.

Next Week: Adolescents.