Required Reading

Today’s post is a Required Reading, written by David Ortiz to the city of New York. The past few days were the legend’s last playing at Yankee Stadium. Ortiz wrote a beautiful letter to the city and its fans.

Thanks for the Memories, New York
by David Ortiz 

Some players are born to be Yankees, you know what I’m saying? I was born to play against the Yankees.


Thoughts from Thoughts from Places

A few weeks ago I wrote about now having a house, a home, anymore. About my dad losing his job.

He’s since taken off on a cross country road trip where he’s sort of living out of his car, visiting museums, and avoiding crowds. It’s the kind of adventure that if he were the type to have a blog, his would put mine to shame.

There’s something very Into the Wild about it, although I don’t think my dad’s going to drive to Alaska in his mom’s 2001 Cadillac Deville with only a bag of rice and a book on plants.

This is a very difficult thing to explain to other people. I try to flippant when it comes up. “Oh,” I say, “he’s the vagabond type.”

He does update fairly frequently on Facebook about his comings and goings, because he’s finally realized his friends and family care and worry about him. I try to text him more and occasionally I get something from him out of the blue.

The last thing? “Driving across Iowa. Lots of corn & soybeans”

Still, I try not to think about how at any given moment, I have no idea where in the country he is. Fortunately he doesn’t have a passport, so he’s American bound for now.

As he drives around the country and takes pictures and thinks of things, I think about him, and me. About how alike and very different we are, about how he more than anyone alive has shaped me into the person I am.

It beats thinking about home.

I think it’s the him in me that is the tiniest bit jealous that he gets to go off on his own— gets to go wherever he wants. Because there’s always been part of me that’s wanted to find the secret little caverns of the world, to breathe in strange air and maybe find myself in someplace else.

Just daughters of fathers, I guess.

Surrealism at Lobster Night


Wednesday, September 14th, was Lobster Night.

The event, a heavily marketed tradition on campus, was held across the three dining halls on campus. In the lead up days, a video was published on how to dissemble and eat a lobster. When the night came, the line stretched through the building, even threatening to go out the door.

Somewhere between 7,000 to 8,000 lobsters, supposedly.

I sent my mom the following text message: “I’m just wondering how much lobster they’re wasting by giving kids who’ve never eaten one a whole fucking lobster.”

The whole fucking lobster was served with the classic side of corn on the cob (not a whole cob) and apple crisp for desert.

Inside the dining hall, it was chaos at around 6:30, when I stumbled home from work. There was absolutely nowhere to sit, and some groups collected in comfy alcoves. The stench was overwhelming and eventually became unbearable. It was filthy with discarded napkins, forks, plates, everything covering the floor and tables.

I ate my macaroni and apple crips and fled.

Now, being from Maine, I have specific thoughts about lobster. First, I don’t like it. I never have and despite the occasional taste, I probably never will. Second, the classic Maine Lobster Dinner is a specific thing. It’s sitting out on the porch in the summer evening, seven, maybe even eight at night. The plastic table cloth (to be thrown out after suffering through the night) is held down with either rocks or stable to the underside of the picnic table. There’s friends and family, corn (another thing I do not like), potato salad, and probably some other type of seafood to match. The lobsters probably came from Market Basket, where they sell live ones for $5 a pound.

You sit around with people you love and drink beer and laugh until the mosquitos chase you inside.

Eating lobster is a big deal for people not from the coast. But a kid from Chicago will probably never get the real deal, because eating lobster is about a hell of a lot more than eating lobster.

Fenway, a Love Letter

When I was younger, before I lived in Boston, the neighborhood I would visit the most was Fenway (technically Fenway/Kenmore). It’s a big neighborhood, cradled by the Charles River and the city of Brookline. It’s where the Museum of Fine Arts is as well as, yeah, Fenway Park.

Now I get to live there, on a quiet tree lined street right next to the best Boston has to offer.

Last week I was getting off the T on my way back from work with the plans on getting food and heading back to my dorm. It was early enough in the year that I didn’t have much homework, so my nighttime plans consisted mostly of showering and Netflix.

Instead, I went to a Red Sox game.

I walked up to the Ace Ticket stand set up in front of their office in Kenmore Square, mostly just curious to sniff something out. A few says prior I’d tried to get cheap student tickets to no avail. With only a dozen or so home games left, I was pressing my luck.

I put my name in to win tickets to Big Papi’s last home game (because Big Papi) and asked the girl working how much tickets to the night’s game were, mostly out of curiosity. She said $30 and I figured, yeah, I could swing that.

I proceed to walk home, replace my backpack with my Sox cap, and returned to the park in around ten minutes. I was flying solo.

Now, if you’re not from Boston or New England, you might not know that Red Sox home games are something of a religious experience. Or maybe you do. One of the most tangible moments of the night

To me, the park is perfect. I don’t care that it’s small, old, and kind of wonky. On game day it seems like the whole city shows up to the game, if not to go in then just hang around.

I love baseball. I remember my parents watching it, first, because my mom is a huge fan. My dad had this blanket he’d put over his head when things got really tense. I’m pretty sure my mom considers beating the Yankees in 2004 one of the best things to ever happen to her.

That night I sat in the bleacher seats, which is probably the most fun place to sit anyways. Sure, not the best for views but really not that bad. I sat next to a couple perfect strangers and together we heckled the Orioles fans sitting a few rows down.

“Fuck you’s” flew. It was great.

One of the most tangible moments of the night was watching a visiting Brit cry during the traditional singing of “Sweet Caroline”

That’s magic right there.

The Brand New Place

I live here, now, in this tiny room I share with another person. Here in this brownstone on a tree-lined street, tight-roping between Boston and Brookline. I live here on the third floor of this old and narrow place, stocked only with a mini-fridge and a microwave.

I live here and not just in the “I sleep here” way. Quite literally, this is my address, too shaky to be called permanent but where I reside. The school thinks I live with my mother, but the truth is I haven’t lived with her since I was twelve. Over the past few months what I thought of as home dissolved between my fingers. I’ve come to reside only within myself. Home is now a concept I can fold up and put in my suitcase.

There is really only one event leading up to this: in June, my dad lost his job. It happens to a lot of people, but I never once considered the possibility it would happen to me, to my family. I figured being a teacher, not a factory worker, had pretty good job security. But the district he worked in folded social studies— his lifelong career— into language arts and that was that.

So instigated the Move. We— my dad and I— just couldn’t afford to remain in the house I grew up in. And although he’s a great teacher, it’s very difficult for a person in their 50s to get a competitive teaching job when going up against cheap recent graduates. He’s always been a teacher to me, and now that he’s not, it creates a strange feeling that sits in the pit of my stomach.

We cleared out all of our things. We painted and sanded the evidence of out long tenure there away. Reformed it into something someone else could live in and create memories in. Realistically I knew that my home would not always be there for me, but it still feels as though the rug has been torn out from under me.

We as a society romanticize the idea of home. From Dorothy to My Antonia. Unconsciously, throughout my less-than stable life, I grasped onto this ideal. Not to mention that I already have trouble processing sudden, expectation shifting change.

On one level, it’s silly. I have a great school to go to, a job to do, and a family that loves me. Plenty of people have it worse. It doesn’t make it an easier pill to swallow.

Is it 10:30 on Monday? Yes, absolutely. But I got it done in time. Cheers!

Harry Potter and the Veil of Adulthood

Hello pals! So today is not a review of the Cursed Child, rather an essay! I might do a review in the future, maybe not. Enjoy.

A lot of people didn’t like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A lot of people did, of course, like that glowing New York Times review. I personally did enjoy it, but here in this space I want to explore why I think many people did not.

The problem with Harry Potter is that people love it and grew up with it. Not typically something think would be problematic, but this is internet generation. The core series means a lot to a lot of different people and changing any of the expectations or preconceived notions is asking for trouble. This idea is strongest, and most prevalent, on the internet and in fandom.

In the gap between canon material (Pottermore notwithstanding) a strong community of “fanon” has grown to fill the vacuum. Here, people begin to head off on their own into the land of speculation— and that’s not a bad thing! Fandom is an incredible place that does an amazing job of fostering creativity and community building. But it can also color one’s view on the real facts of the canon. It’s possible to go so far that one forgets where they cam from at all.

With Harry Potter, things are amplified because of the strong emotional attachment to the source material. The characters that exist in fanon are different than the author’s creation, and everything that happens in fandom is inherently separate from canon even if it closely follows the original. An alternative to the expectations created through deep exploration is asking for conflict.

I would like to make this very clear: I’m not here to rag on fandom, or the internet, or whatever. I’m a big proponent of these things but it’s important to note that they do have their downsides.

Now, we live in the age of remakes, so this isn’t exactly new territory. The best recent example I can think of is Star Wars: the Force Awakens. This is a late addition to a property that is very near and dear to everyone’s hearts. They went the easy route: the basic plot was recycled from Star Wars: a New Hope with only some new elements.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a bit more ambitious. It sets off with the same characters but in a stage we’ve never seen them in before, and a plot that circles around elements we know but never becomes repetitive. Although it does this, I actually found it to be one of the most thematically consistent Harry Potter books. Like most of the series, family— born or chosen— plays a pivotal role in the plot. Certainly in terms of maturity it’s more at home with the first and second books, but instead of the darkness of evil the play gets its substance from somewhere else entirely.

One of my favorite parts of the play was that it treater our heroes as humans. Too often we fall into the trap of thinking our parents are superhuman, know everything, and are perfect. Again, this feeling is amplified because of fandom. We want Harry to be a great father, perhaps because of his own tortured upbringing. Yet this is utterly at odds with almost the entire series. Harry has always acted on his emotions, often to poor results, and has always had trouble communicating. This is the same person who brewed and advanced potion to spy on Draco Malfoy on a hunch. The same person who broke into the government with his friends based off a vision!

Finally, I must remind everyone that the Cursed Child is a play before it’s anything. Elements are inherently bare, just like any Shakespeare play. It’s meant to be performed; the world building is supposed to take place on the stage with actors to make real the words and “stage magic” to paint the world.

It’s not easy to see our fairytales grow up. We’re the ones who are supposed to do that, not the other way around. But it’s critical to see Harry and company as adults with real flaws and shortcomings. Maybe take this chance to see your own parents in this light— I know that as I’ve gotten older it’s been easier for me to do so. Remember, magic can’t help us communicate better.

What Do I Want? (A Frequent Evaluation)

whatdoiwantOk. Hello.

It’s no secret I’ve been really, really bad with posting over the summer. No, not even summer, since April. There are reasons, like family events and mental exhaustions, but truthfully I always thought this would happen. I’m not great at consistency, but the intense structure of college provided me with a schedule which kept me mostly true to what I planned out.

In the summer… not so much.

Why do I function better during the school year? Why am I better at eating right, productivity, and exercise? Too preoccupied by lying on the beach, perhaps.

With a new semester stretched out in front of me, it’s time to do the frequent evaluation I like to do here: What Do I Want (in my life and for the blog).

First, for my life: do well in school, get a job, be proactive in making friends, help pay off student loans, eat well and exercise. So far, all this is going quite well, as it should, because it’s one of the only things really thought about over the break. And those months were long and arduous.

Now, for the blog. It’s no secret here that I love critical thinking. During the spring semester, when I absolutely had it with the Presidential primary, I shifted the blog’s focus almost entirely to it. For better or worse. However, because Donald Trump makes my brain mushy, I will likely be staying away from politics for the time being. I want to delve into the things I love further— meaning art and literature. Of course, I will still have the occasional personal meditation thrown in.

All creators go through completely uninspiring periods. The best thing to do is work through them… which I failed at. But I’ve been watching a lot of video essays lately (recommendation post to come) and it’s revived my love and interest in the essay structure. I want to get back into writing.

Also, I have to get back to utilizing Photoshop and Illustrator. I don’t want to let my efforts in last semester’s class go to waste. So you can expect integration of those elements in future posts.

Finally, the schedule. Something I’ve put more thought into than anything else. Last year I started this blog with a basic idea: write more. And the MWF schedule reflected that. I didn’t care if it was good, I cared that I was writing. One year later, I’m older, and my priorities have changed. This blog is on my resume— I need to put my best foot forward. Therefore, I’ve decided to shift to Monday-Friday with a bonus Wednesday post when I have to get something off my chest.

Thank you to everyone who’s stuck around through this period of radio-silence. I’m excited to be back (really).