Thursday, August 27, 2009

a paradise built in hell

the most mundane is always the most existential. what we do each day/what we are doing with our lives. a lyric from a song is scribbled in sharpie on the bathroom wall: "daily life is shit." we are forced to read that over and over again as we, well, shit. hmmm...where is this going?

where are we going? what are we doing?

it's always in the most desperate, seemingly hopeless moments that we reach our most brilliant and life-affirming revelations. disaster brings out the very best in human nature. crisis as a glimpse of utopia...i can't do this anymore. let's pursue what truly matters with reckless abandon, together.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(re)visiting northampton

by the time sunday afternoon arrived i was practically crawling out of my skin, beyond ready to leave. i had seen everyone that i wanted to see. done everything i wanted to do. but i had a couple more hours before meeting my ride. i went under cover at the cafe where nobody else would be. at least nobody that would recognize me, or vice versa. i sipped coffee and hid behind the gorgeous words of valencia, michelle tea's memoir about her early years in san francisco's 1990's dyke underground--generously lent to me by liz diamond, my fabulous weekend host.

so, once we were on 91 heading south toward philly with the windows down and classic rock blaring on the speakers i felt relieved. but also full and content after a mostly lovely weekend in the town i called home for 3 and 1/2 years. every moment between thursday evening and that late afternoon sunday departure was a reminder of either why i stayed as long as i did, or why i'm glad i left. each one a manifestation of this ongoing love/hate relationship. with its culture, streets, buildings, and residents; this complex personal history with a town that's population has consistently remained 30,000 over the past 100 years.

the good and the bad. the paralyzing beauty and alluring ugliness. so much promise and potential. so many limitations and disappointments. i took it all in with a sweaty hug that lasted 3 days. all of it. in those final moments i realized that i had overstayed my welcome and relieved the awkwardness with a bike ride past the medows and the county fairground. i will keep returning, but maybe next time for just 2 days...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

grad school revisited/returning to new england

so i've been thinking about grad school a lot lately. it's an idea i have played around with off and on the past 5 years, but i think this time is a little different. being back in school is a lot more appealing right now that working a shitty, just-barely-above-minimum wage job. it's been one week since i got fired from last one of those i had and the timing couldn't have been better. i basically have 4 months to research programs, study for and take standardized tests and apply. it would probably living in philly for the next year (in the apartment that lv and i are about to move into) and then relocate this time next year, probably to nyc. but we'll see!

i've also been thinking about, in the mean time, finding a new shitty (or maybe not so shitty) job and also about visiting northampton...which i'm doing this weekend! looking forward to seeing the good people that still live there and to be back in new england again before the end of the summer. who wants to go swimming?

Monday, August 10, 2009

take me back to the summertime...

growing up, i never wanted summer to end. it was always a magical season of infinite possibility and wonder. back then i didn't have to worry about mundane concerns like securing a wage job, navigating bureaucracies to access basic human needs, or the weight of losing everything. but that part of us never dies. it's what keeps us going; persevering through all the shit that the world offers up now and then.

many years later, there's part of me wants to just wake up on the last day of summer. all of my worries figured out. nothing but promise and potential ahead of me. but there is beauty in struggle. it makes us who we are and gives us appreciation for the good times.

i'm still a little kid. enjoying the summer.

Friday, August 07, 2009

the one thing that i couldn't live without

on the other hand, if i'm not on the lease, have no protection under the law, and the landlord responds to my propsal in a greedy, soul-less, um...oh, like a landlord, then this could end up being one of the worst weeks of my life.

one small victory did occur this morning when i tried to turn my stereo totally works! i will now proceed to turn up the volume, lay on my floor staring at the damaged ceiling, and sing my lungs out to "this year" by the mountain goats.

but you're right. it won't kill me.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

rent-free summer rainstorms

in addition to getting fired from my job, another significant event occurred this past week. early friday evening, the final day of july, a violent rainstorm pummeled philadephia while i was at work. by the time i was biking home the sky had cleared, the humidity disappearing into the sunset and puddles along my route home the only evidence of the monsoonesque explosion of just a few hours before.

arriving in my bedroom i was greeted with puddles of water around the open windows, but the windowsills themselves were mysteriously dry. i discovered that my ceiling had leaked directly above my stereo. over a dozen cd's were destroyed. the 5 disc changer that i had possessed since my senior year of college had been murdered by the house's structural damage. the meaning of this incident soon turned itself on its head when i realized the opportunity it presented me. the value of these personal items lost in the storm was about equal to the check i would have soon written towards rent.

instead i wrote a letter to the landlord explaining the situation and, interestingly enough, the day i lost my job he stopped by the house to pick up one less rent check and my letter which he scanned and left on the dining room table. today i plan on mailing it to him. now that i have returned to the financial insecurity of unemployment i feel weirdly grateful for the summer rainstorm and the improperly repaired ceiling for helping to keep me afloat an extra month.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

rejoining the unemployed masses, a tragedy in 3 parts

i should be at work right now. instead, i'm at the neighborhood coffeeshop sipping ice coffee. shorts, flip flops, air conditioning, seat by the window. i did bike the 5 miles to my job earlier this afternoon. after clocking in at 12:59 i found myself sitting down next to my boss as he explained to me that he would have to "let me go." what?! fuck.

last week he mentioned that the owner of the store would be coming back to town soon and that i needed to increase the production level of the sandwiches since they're the "pet project" of the big bossman. over the next 3 days i did so, "producing" more sandwiches than i previously had been. when i left sunday, before my 2 days off, the sandwich case was filled to the brim, overflowing.

something else happened sunday that contributed to my i was wrapping up the sandwiches that afternoon my boss was getting ready to leave, complaining to the other kitchen manager about how stressed out he was. i decided it was clearly a bad time to ask him about taking a few days off at the end of the summer. i left an hour later and just went ahead and wrote in the days i would be out of town on the kitchen staff's calendar. apparently this was a big mistake: "you've already taken time off and the way it works here is that after you've worked for a year you're eligible for a week off." wow. i wish i knew that before i got hired.

oh, and he mentioned the recession a few times.

so obviously there's a lot more to say, but that's what happened today. ironically, i just started working on an article for wiretap about my experiences job-hunting (and eventually getting hired for a low-wage job) in the context of the economic crisis. now i have another chapter to add. hopefully something positive will come out of this.