Friday, January 30, 2009

the chonology of a wageslave trage-comedy

a month after my last day of work, i finally got paid today. the following is me trying to make sense of it all...

monday, dec. 29th: my last day of work at the cafe.

wednesday, dec. 31st: leave northampton for philly.

friday, jan. 2nd: paychecks are issued. my address in philly hangs on the cafe's bulletin board.

thursday, jan. 8th: check has not arrived. i call the cafe and the owner explains that there was a mix up between him and the manager about who was going to mail it to me and, oh, sure enough, it was just sitting there as i anticipated the mail delivery each day. he promised to mail it before the end of the day.

monday, jan. 12th: the check has still not arrived.

tuesday, jan. 13th: i call the cafe again to inform them that i still have not received my check and acquire the owner's cell phone number. i leave a brief, stern message on the voicemail of said cell phone.

friday, jan. 16th: are you fucking kidding me? my former boss receives a more caustic, blunt message on his voicemail. he calls back like everything is cool: "oh, i mailed it a few days ago. and yesterday i mailed the check for your tip money. so you should be getting them soon." i call the cafe to give them the update.

saturday, jan. 17th: the absence of this money begins to affect every aspect of my life and complicate this transition in a new city. psychologically distracted from other projects, i begin to check craigslist for jobs. getting home late after my first volunteer shift at the wooden shoe anarchist bookstore, i find the check that he sent for my tips. it was sent the day after my paycheck, which still has not arrived.

tuesday, jan. 20th: i call the cafe to ask about w-2 forms. one of my former co-workers leaves the owner a note about the persistant non-arrival of my paycheck.

wednesday, jan. 21st: he calls me back after seeing the note. we agree that it was most likely lost in the mail and if does not arrive by the end of the week then he send me a new one.

friday, jan. 23rd: i leave him yet another message informing him that i still have not received the check and that it is his responsibilty, especially since he did not get it in the mail when originally promised (x2), to get me my money as soon as humanly possible. he is instructed to return my call with a plan of action. an hour later he leaves me a message about the payroll company cancelling the first check and mailing him a new one. he will then send me the new check via priority mail, probably monday or tuesday. the message ends with the word, "peace." it is later replayed for lv on speakerphone.

wednesday, jan. 28th: message left while i am doing work informs me that the new paycheck has arrived and that he had it sent to "overnight." i have to be present to sign for it when it gets here around noon.

thursday, jan. 29th: at 10:15 am the dog barks. looking out the window i see the postal truck drive away and subsequently discover a slip in the mailbox informing that i would have to wait until tomorrow to pick it up at a local post office. fucking unreal.

friday, jan. 30th (today): i walk the treacherously icy sidewalks toward the post office at 53rd and florence. it's sunny today but i am hating on philly in all kinds of ways. i eventually figure out how to get around (or over, to be more accurate) the train tracks that split the neighborhood like a spinal chord. at 4:00 pm i sign for my express mail and am delighted to see the cost to ship it overnight: $15.20

maybe there is some justice after all? next week i will be returning to visit western mass and will simply deposit this check into my account there. ridiculous. it's over...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the sidewalks are watching me think about you (part III)

i think things are beginning to look up. next month i will be moving into a beautiful house with friends, mere blocks from lv, called international waters. this weekend we will try to forget all our worries and retreat to the post-bush district of columbia. it's warmer today and people are smiling a little more. money continues to be a paralyzing force in the lives of nearly everyone i know, but collectively we can help discover temporary band aids to get through the tough spots. all the while holding those accountable for fucking us over. i miss my friends in northampton and look forward to visiting soon. here's a kiss, a postcard, and box of cupcakes for all of you! ;-*

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the extended re-mix of history on repeat

as i write this, a new president is being inaugurated. my toes are cold and looking out the window i see two small dogs shivering, waiting patiently for their guardians to finish their lunch indoors. the local football team lost. my final paycheck still hasn't arrived. the political is intimately personal this winter, and on a local and global-scale i see history on repeat like a skipping record. please don't hold the door open. it's a walk-in freezer out there filled with frost-covered concrete and nude tree branches blowing in the frigid breeze. i'm choking on pennies. five dollar bills are not a reliable method of birth control in this new millenium. close the fucking door. breathe. as i finish writing this dick cheney is exiting the slave-built white house in a wheel chair. clenching his cane light a rifle, 2 million people wave good bye...

Friday, January 16, 2009

when the tape slows down it means the battery's dead

the windows are covered in frost. is the world closed for the day? surprisingly, the door is not locked and the lights are not off. everyone is huddled inside, sipping coffee, listing to outkast and early 90's crust punk. our dreams begin to overlap and we can now make references to the ones that we've shared. i have to remind myself where i am. forget about the day of the week and time...what fucking year is it anyway? what is this alternate universe i'm surrounded by? sitting in a circle, going over the consensus decision-making process, i am 19 years old again listening attentively to the meeting's facilitator. hold my hand. melt my alienation in your sweaty palm. this is starting to feel more real.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

goodbye vfr, hello wooden shoe?

since i left northampton i have maintained contact with valley free radio, following up on some projects and responsibilites. realizing that this has distracted me from the work that i want to be working on here, i decided on monday to unsubscribe from the station's e-mail list and start to move on. approximately 15 minutes after my confirmation message that googlegroups had removed me from both the discussion and announcement lists i received another e-mail welcoming me to the wooden shoe books listserve.

i had recently submitted the form to volunteer at philly's formidable radical bookstore/infoshop and apparently they just added me to their email list to keep me up to date on events, meetings, and the global anarchist struggle. part of me is nervous about volunteering at wooden shoe. partially it stems from my past experience in madison where i was unemployed, floundering for months, while volunteering at rainbow bookstore cooperative after just missing out on getting hired as paid staff member when i first moved there. but i think i can balance some volunteer work with paid projects and hopefully my experience there will fuel and inspire the other work i'm doing.

still waiting for my final paycheck from evolution, by the way...

Monday, January 12, 2009

back "home" after a field trip to "the" city

returning "home" from a lovely field trip to nyc, i reflect on my first full week in philly. there were ups and downs, challenges and celebratory moments. i'm stressed about my checking account dipping into double digits with no source of income in sight. meanwhile my incompetent former-boss has yet to mail me my final paycheck. food not bombs dinner at the a-space, an inspiring performance by bread and puppet theater, and a vibrant discussion at the wooden shoe (local anarchist bookstore) about the recent insurrection in greece feed my passion and remind me of this city's infinite potential. amazing to spend quality time with my sweetheart without worries of imminent departures, bus schedules and craigslist rideshares looming over us. still not sure where i will be living in february or whether or not i will be able to afford to live period, but fairly optimistic that something will work out. it always seems to, right?

nyc. we took the city by storm friday night after deciding not to navigate the subway deep into the bowels of brooklyn to erik petersen's mischief brew set at a house show. instead, we walked around lower manhattan in disgust and awe of the spectacle that permeates the streets. we sought out pockets of resistance finding ourselves sipping coffee and reading the onion in the low-lit cafe that was once a record/bookstore; a show raging in the bar below. we were on a date. we meandered our way toward washington square park and had dinner at one of the neighboring vegetarian establishments before indulging in cupcakes. we eventually retreated to the subway toward park slope where we were staying for the weekend with lv's friend tal.

on saturday we walked all over brooklyn and ran into some familiar faces, while meeting some new ones. surly northampton baristas transplanted to this strange urban world, prince and pearl jam rotating on the stereo. a bizarre afternoon children's birthday party at a neighborhood bar. heart racing, i resisted the urge to steal all of their cupcakes. spicy mexican dinner and kindly discounted red velvet cake was followed by an incredible event to benefit make/shift magazine.

hosted in a ft. greene apartment of supporter's the rsvp benefit featured readings from contributors and a chance to meet the magazine's editors who were visiting from LA. after coincidences, surprise people, and networking the reading began. halfway through the first person's piece i felt my nose running which was strange since i did not have a cold. sure enough, my fingers appeared bloody after inspecting the situation, lv was horrified as we sat there silently. i felt like every eyeball in the crowded living room was focused on my nostrils as napkins were procured as i tilted my head back, or forward..."wait, which one is it?" this hasn't happened in 9 years! i retreated to the bathroom after the first reader was done deconstructing the movies of al pacino and diane keaton. every word was torture until it ended. the blood stopped flowing and i thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the event. so glad we made it, really.

after walking the snowy streets and flawlessly riding the controversial G train we made for the last song of khira's band behavior. it was their first show and cho's variety was packed wall to wall with a disturbing ratio of northampton bodies, which michelle pointed out when she eventually arrived. i had a great night and an overall fun time in "the" city.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

navigating the (un)comfort zone

this doesn't seem like winter. i don't know what it feels like; an androgynous season in this strange new city. i feel emotionally grounded but completely alienated from almost everything that surrounds me. taking out library books on the history of the city is my attempt to have some sort control, or at least greater understanding of this urban environment.

how is it so far? i don't even know how to answer this question honestly to myself. i'm alone most of the day but i don't feel lonely yet because i'm getting work done. i have friends here that i just haven't made the effort to reconnect with yet. i don't miss my old home too much yet, but i know i will. i'm focusing more on the impending visit to nyc with lv this weekend and reuniting with good friends there.

for now, i try to scrape together a routine, to sculpt together a comfort zone in this foreign complex land that's mostly intimidating as hell. and i continue to balance on the tight rope of excitement and fear...

Monday, January 05, 2009

northampton to philadelphia

if i ever fall sleep i'll remember my dream,
where everybody's there and nobody leaves
-mischief brew

i think back to last monday, the last monday of 2008. after doing my final radio show and completing my last shift at evolution cafe, emily picked me up at the apartment that i had been living in for over 3 years. when i got in her car she wanted to wish me happy birthday but she paused and realized that even though we were heading to my party it was to commemorate something bittersweet. my going away party was fun but emotionally exhausting with all of those hugs goodbye. i wanted to have it on monday so i would have all day tuesday to get all of my shit together and be ready to hit the road early wednesday morning.

i am the biggest procrastinator in the world. i'm always scheming ways to extend deadlines to put things off even longer until the absolute very latest moment they can get done. it's embarassing. i got off to a late start on tuesday and spent a leisurely morning/afternoon doing laundry and beginning to excavate my bedroom. emily lent me her car when she got out of work in the evening and, with some help from pauly, i packed it with an assortment of belongings to store at my grandmother's house in westfield. i didn't arrive at her house until quarter of 9:00 after a stressful drive alone on 91 and the masspike in which i left a number of frantic voicemail messages for people in my life that i wished were in the passenger seat providing moral support. that's waht the ride home looked like too, except i took the back way, and was a little sorer after carrying everything up to the third floor of her house.

emily and i agreed to leave northampton at 6:00 am to drive to avoid the impending snow storm. by the time 2:00 rolled around i was faced with the reality of staying up all fucking night as piles of material possessions and refuse surrounded me, closing in on my sanity. i was able to take an hour-long power nap at 3:30 which proved to be the difference between making it to philly before the new year. i made countless trips from my fourth floor apartment to the dumpster out back, in the eerie, cold silence of pre-dawn. i sent emily a desperate, apologetic text message at 5:45 explaining that even though i stay up most of the night packing i would not be ready at 6:00 but was aiming for 6:30. i picked her up at 7:00 just as the snow started to fall on this town i was leaving for good. we drove back to my house only to begin loading the car up together and to finish desposing of the last pile of weekly papers i had been hoarding since 2006. we finally got on the highway at 8:00 after brushing the snowing off her car. we hit the road and proceeded to plunge through the state of connecticut at a tortoise-like 30 mph.

we finally arrived in sunny, snowless philadelphia around 5:00 pm. driving over the delaware river we marvelled at the dramatic sunset and it's reflection off the city's triumphant skyline. i pointed out how weird it is that this will be my new home. so strange. we landed in west philly right before lv got home from work with a prime parking spot right in front of her apartment. i felt like half a human as we all carried in my stuff that filled up emily's massive trunk, before taking a much deserved nap. feeling more human, i got dressed up fancy with lv before we headed to a lovely dinner party in heath's bedroom. i managed to stay up until midnight and almost got kicked out of gojo's for wearing a "happy new year" plastic tierra instead of the more gender-conforming plastic top hat. 2009 had arrived and i was ready to crash. the longest day of my life had culminated with a kiss in this new city and a new year.

monday hearts

it's monday morning and i'm starting a new job, sort of. for the past 3 years, my usual monday would look something like this: wake up around 8:00, bike 3.5 miles to the florence community center to do my radio show from 9-10, do some work at the station or get coffee with tony before going to work at evolution at 11, work til 6ish.

this monday is a completely different beast despite waking up around the same time: i made coffee and oatmeal for sweetheart and then after she left for work i made my way down the street to the satellite cafe (sort of the haymarket of west philly) where i now find myself, struggling to be productive, to approach the projects i'm working on as a full-time job that my life is structured around. in 2 hours i will be checking out a room in a house in the neighborhood that i might move into before the end of the month. this is my new life in philly that i am slowly adjusting too. i miss the old mondays but am embracing this new one.

tony sent me an e-mail around 9:30 informing me that the last episode of passions and survival that i recorded last monday was being replayed this morning, just in case some listeners missed my final show. maybe next monday too. and even though i will be here in this strange new city each monday, my heart will be on the airwaves and in florence and in northampton with people that i miss so much.