Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Goodbye

Today was my last day of work in Boston and tonight is my second to last night in Westford, my home you could call it. I could write this tomorrow night but I feel as though I will be too busy packing away. It's funny to think that I am now upon the second half of my college career and have lived 20 summers here in Westford. Will I be here next summer? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. That's partially why I am writing this.

I think Colin and I started this blog to document our lives in this small town. Not necessarily the town itself but what we as kids who had grown up here are doing now, what interests us, what makes us laugh, what pisses us the fuck off. The blog itself is aptly titled "Small Town Outside of Boston," the title of a song by the now defunct local band, Piebald, a past favorite of Colin and mine who are ironically not from Westford but from the small town of Andover, just east of here.

Now, 9 years after having met Colin on the tetherball courts when we knew nothing more than Westford, we write in this blog currently 4,000 miles apart from one another taking on the rest of the world.

This town isn't anything out of the ordinary. It's just a suburb. Yet, for me, it has sentimental value. I grew up here. I have met some interesting people, done exciting things, and have been bored as shit. But after having left to go to college, meet new people, travel to new places, I find myself at peace here, at ease. It now acts a place for me to collect my thoughts, serving a purpose as a place of comfort. I get a sense of nostalgia. But it's bittersweet. Do I want to come back here? No, not really. But I can never forget it. Coming back, I see the way things have changed, but in the end, I see the ways I have changed, the ways I have grown old being in Westford, have gotten wiser (I'd like to think so.) But I'll always be young at heart and there will always be elements of Westford that will never change, they too will always remain young.

Come Sunday, I have to get going. Do I want to? Yeah. This town can't offer me what it used to, though it's not its fault. Maybe it's just me. I'll never know. Yet, in some peculiar, inexplicable way, Westford, you will always remain a beautiful place to me.

photo by Frank Winters

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Italian Job

I've been in Italy a week and it's been good. I've only found the time to write this as it is 3 AM and, having just gotten back from a 6th straight night at the bars, I have found it is the only spare time to recount one of the funnier stories of this past week.

After a sleepless 13-hour journey to Rome and a shuttle ride to my university, I was left with a John Cabot University rep to take me to my apartment and get helped get myself acclimated to the Roman lifestyle. Unfortunately, after taking me to the 8th floor of my apartment building, the chick had no idea how to open my door. To call the key to my apartment medieval is to call Leslie Neilson the future of Hollywood. The picture above reallly doesn't do justice to its 6-inch length. The door would not open. After about twenty minutes of futile twisting, we went back to the shuttle van. The driver, realizing that we couldn't open the apartment door, insisted that he give it a go. He opened the fucker within 20 seconds. After brief translingual lesson, explaining how I need to more or less jimmy my apartment door with my own fucking key, I was left alone with an empty apartment and no idea what I was going to do for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, that question answered itself rather quickly. Having scoped out all the rooms and deciding on the nicest single room (the one upstairs with the desk and closet), I lugged my bags upstairs and got ready too unpack. Before unpacking anything, however, I needed to take my first look out of my apartment window to the beautiful city streets of Rome. I set down my suitcase, shuffled to the nearby window, and lowered my head to the pane in a brisk, overexhausted motion. CRASH. Before I noticed that the sheet of glass from my window jutted out I had already shattered the damn thing. Glass exploded on and around my face. Fuckinghell.

Fortunately for me, I had been given John Cabot's emergency maintenance number in a packet less than an hour ago. Unfortunately for me, I began to notice a steady flow of blood dripping from face to hand. I looked in the mirror of my bathroom for the first time. Blood streamed down from my nose, through my fingers, into the sink. I called the maintenance number, explaining my ridiculous situation. They called a taxi for me to take from the apartment to the hospital, suggesting that I not look overly conspicuous and have a "big smile for the cab driver". As I dribble blood into a stained maroon t-shirt with a gash the size of a small canal. Sound advice.

I get into the cab and fumble through my own shit Italian to let the driver know that I basically need to get somewhere before his seats turn crimson. He looks pissed but understands and drives me to the hospital. After excessively tipping him for having to transport someone bleeding steadily into a rag, I exit the taxi and enter the hospital. Before reaching the front desk I check my pockets. Motheroftits. I left my phone in the cab. I earn myself an English-speaking doctor by confusing the women at the front desk. She washes off my face, periodically accidentally spilling unknown chemicals in my eyes and nervously asking her assistant for confirmation that these aren't damaging chemicals. She appplies gauze to the suture and bandages my nose like something out of Revenge of the Geeks.

After getting a ride back to my university and having them call the cab, whose number I miraculously remembered, things began to look up. Since then I've only washed my phone in the laundry and had to spend $40 on a replacement. But besides having a stupidly memorable introductory story to tell people I've met here and and hefty early repairs tab (both reparational and medical), it's been one hell of a first week and I'll have more stories to come as more time to reflect represents itself. Seacrest out.

It's Showtime!

"Two sexy young black men from New York City." I ride the T (Boston's subway system) three days out of the week. It is slow, cramped, never on time, and boring as hell. The T sucks. A couple days ago I get on the red line coming home from work and these two kids get on and put a boombox in the middle of the aisle. One kid, sporting a New Era Yankees cap and an I "Heart" Boston t-shirt says, "It's showtime people! Two sexy young black men from New York City." The same kid proceeds to do a backflip in the aisle, lands flawlessly, then grabs onto the railings and does a front flip into the worm, again flawlessly, never hitting or bumping into anyone. The other kid steps up to do a one-handed handstand followed by some other crazy shit.

This sort of thing went on for about 20 minutes at which point the two kids stopped and asked for donations and I was surprisingly almost home in what felt like no time. Yeah, I made a donation. This was the coolest T ride I have ever been on. If the subway was smart, they would start hiring these kids. I had never seen a whole T car full of smiling faces until that day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You're Not Dying Yet, Bitch

There was a sense of foreboding leaving work yesterday, even though I knew I was headed to BC to drink with my friends from school for one last time before I leave for a semester in Italy next Friday. Well that's a pretty gay way to start a story, let me re-phrase that: I was mentally committed to grab a sub from Quizno's in Newton on the way to BC (I'm trying to eat at all my favorite American staples before my 4-month hiatus) but I forgot to print out Google Map directions on how to get there from work. I knew the it was on, however, and didn't want to look like a douche and go back into my office after leaving for the day, so on I went to my car.

I got off the highway at the Newton exit and onto the rotary and then drove into this kind of crazy part of Newton I'd never been to. One of those semi-urban neighborhoods with a lot of traffic, shops, and clutter. I frantically looked around for the Quizno's but after going through 3 sets of lights I realized that I'd missed it. At the next light, I banged a U-turn and started to head back towards the rotary.

My iPod shut off after I made the U-turn. I tried to turn it back on a made sure it was plugged in but I noticed the radio had turned off and wouldn't turn back on. The car was eerily quite. All of a sudden, the radio turned back on and my iPod started played again. I rolled to the next intersect and was the first in line at the red light. The radio turned off again. This time, I realized that the engine had turned off too. Removing the key and trying to start the car again, the engine choked with a grinding hiss-like noise. After freaking out for a few seconds while cars behind me honked angrily while they missed their green light chance, I got out of the car.

Conveniently, there guys on the median next to me holding signs to promote a local political candidate, so I got them to push my dead, shitty ass '99 Ford Windstar while it was in neutral. They gave me a good thirty-yard boost and started to walk back. I waved and thanked them and turned to pull into a Staples parking lot, the only lot I'd be able to reach with my car's quickly fading kinetic energy. Unfortunately for me, getting into this parking lot required going up a slight hill. My pathetic van lost all its momentum about ten feet up this small incline and started to drift backwards. Fuck.

With my van parked at an angle to completely block the entrance/exit to this parking lot, I asked a Staples copy kid who was taking a smoke break if he could help push my van into the lot. He got a couple other copy kid who generously obliged, but seemed to be in a tremendous amount of pain pushing me about 50 feet to a parking spot. After thanking them I called my dad, who works in the area, and AAA. They both said they'd be there in 45 minutes, so I hung out for a bit until AAA won the race.

Some weirdly-accented guy with a tow truck from a nearby auto joint suggested trying to jumpstart the battery. He attached a power source to my battery and told me to turn the ignition. The car turned on and stayed on as he immediately removed his power source. He told me that my battery would be fine to drive on, even as far as 45 miles back to Westford, as long as I didn't stop my car. I questioned him, saying that my car had stopped in the middle of a road with the engine running. He said he didn't know why it would do that (oh that's just super) but that he was confident that I'd be alright. I called and told my dad, who was almost at the Staples, about this, after which tow guy asked if he could leave. I thanked him and said that he could. Thirty seconds after he left the parking lot, the engine cut out and the battery died.

I should mention that this van has got about 145,000 miles on it and has been on the verge of death for roughly 2 years. I was amazed it didn't die on me earlier, having put about 4,500 miles on it this summer, but for it to go on my second-to-last is just being a prissy bitch.

Once my dad showed up, we went a bought a new battery and some wrenches. After about twenty minutes of tedious loosening due to the fact that one of the bolts needed a ratchet wrench to loosen it easily, some Staples guy came out with a toolbox for us to use. We got the new battery in and my dad and I went separate ways. Three hours had passed since my breakdown.

Heading back to the rotary, I saw the Quizno's. I pulled into the parking lot, ordered a large Chicken Carbonara combo, and got the fuck out of Newton.

The Malibu Knight

The Malibu Knight (in order to protect his identity), a good friend of mine and Colin's and a good man, posted an entry in his livejournal today. This may seem very insignificant. However, I will have you know that Malibu was known to have one of the most entertaining/witty/funny/offensive Livejournals of the Livejournal era/area here in our small town outside of Boston. This is probably his first post in three years. Why I know this and why I still check my Livejournal friends page from time to time, I do not know. But today, it paid off just to see that. Nostalgia rules.

A link to The Malibu Knight's Livejournal: Apples, Guitars, and Monsters From Mars

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beach Bummin'

I've been in New Jersey two of the past three weekends. The combined powers of Jesus, Mother Teresa, and Morgan Freeman wouldn't be able to save my soul from this fact.

The first of these two trips was to Wildwood Beach in South Jersey for a beach frisbee tournament. Me and a few of my buddies from school rode down that night stopping in Atlantic City at 1 AM to gamble. Well, two of the guys played 21 while me and another looked on. All of the the people in the casino looked like the kind of people who buy Teenies for their pre-schoolers lunch boxes instead of 100% fruit juice. I understand that many of the people who work at these casinos are Native American, but they all looked like awkwardly-shaped, inbred Asians. This sounds extremely offensive (in fact, it is) but I can think of no better way to describe it. The whole thing depressed me.

At this point I was getting tired and bored (blackjack is probably the most boring game ever invented besides NFL Quarterback Club '98) so I went to the parking garage to sleep. The car being about 90 degrees, I rolled down the windows and got maybe half an hour of ungratifying sleep while drunken thugs and trisomy-inflicted pseudo-Asians howled through the halls of late-night garage. Not my life's brightest moment.

After getting in the motel (this is Jersey, people) at about 4:30 that morning, I crashed on the floor and pass out quick for a refreshing and deserved rest. It was also short-lived because just hours later I was woken up to a rousing rendition of "B-Double E-Double R-U-N" by a few fellow BC chums who had arrived earlier that night. The two had woken up ready to start drinking. I covered my ears and tried to get back to sleep, only to have my nutsack trampled in a loutish attempt to reach the kitchen by the main culprit, who I will refer to as Jay. This is the one who had been blackout drunk, offending every women in his site the night before, and was passed out beyond revival by the time we rolled in earlier that morning. A typical night for Jay.

I should mention that Jay is a great, genuinely good guy and a legend on my frisbee team for the standard he set on the team in terms of drinking and throwing parties. But that weekend, he wasn't just off the wagon. He fell off the wagon, got hit by Kia Sedona and knocked onto some train tracks where the 6:50 to Newark hit him and derailed killing a family of woodland critters.

Jay, though still drunk from the night before, started drinking by the time we got to the beach at 10 that morning and by 2 PM was chugging vodka from a bottle. He was seen shotgunning at random times throughout that afternoon, which he still did impressively (he is a world-class shotgunner). By the time we left the fields at 5, he was so far gone, you couldn't find him with a Hubble telescope. He was passed out in a chair, not moving hardly breathing. I've seen a lot of passed out, belligerent kids in my life, but never had I seen anyone with such blatant disregard for his own body through such a prodigious amount of drinking.

Being a big dude, no one could move him, so a few good men stayed with him to wait it out. At one point, a police officer approach the group. Noticing that the kid passed out was hopelessly obliterated, the officer asked if he wanted medical help. After being woken up by one of his friends, Jay saw the cop and immediately called the man in blue a faggot. Ignoring the insult, the officer offered Jay a ride to the hospital, which he angrily refused and even signed a medical release waiving the officer's liability in the case of serious harm done by the drinking. Telling them that they needed to get off the beach, the cop helped drive the group back to the motel.

I've witnessed and heard of some terrible things related to drinking, but never had I seen anyone as drunk as this sad fellow.
At one point he started peeing his pants and needed the help of a friend to bring him to a toilet and undo his pants. He crashed hard in one of the rooms and slept for the next 14 hours. He slept on the floor during all of this because whenever he tried to get on the bed, he kept rolling off and onto the floor. The manager of the motel kept a vigil on the room, coming in hourly to make sure that his surly tenant was alive. I think Jay had a headache that morning.

Two other quick things:

1. Seeing Radiohead and Animal Collective play at the All Points West Festival last weekend may have been the single best live musical experience of my life. I came into the concert thinking that Radiohead was the best band in the world, and left in awe of the fact that they sound better live than on their records. Animal Collective's new songs sound incredible, their next record is gonna be huge.

2. I posted my own Muxtape. If you haven't heard of Muxtape, you can set up an account to post a playlist of mp3's from your computer to this website. The playlist is open for streaming to the public. I'll probably update it periodically.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Direction...Perhaps

I enjoy a good story more than I enjoy people telling me what music to listen to, so here's a good one from earlier this summer:

Me and some of my friends from back home have been having this summer series called the Man Games on Saturday afternoons where there's some sort of ridiculous challenge. This past week was the Gallon Challenge. Terrible idea. One quiet dude (who I think was in my class but I hadn't talked to since middle school) showed up randomly and did the whole damn gallon without ralphing. He couldn't have weighed more than 225...he didn't even puke afterwards and drank half a 30 that night. Fucking impressive. I digress.

Anyways, there was this one shifty kid in this challenge, who I'll call Chuck to protect his identity, who did not fair so well. Dude puked at like the 45 minute mark, he's a little tyke so he didn't really have a chance. Anyways, he's driving home afterwards on the phone with his buddy who was away in California. As he's driving through the middle of town, he knows he needs to hit the can in the worst way. He pulls over into the library parking lot and just starts booking it. In the words of Glenn Frye, the H is O and he needs to find porcelain fast. Still on the phone, the business starts pouring out his anus and down his leg. He swears into the phone and tells Mikey, the kid on the other line, that he just shot Cosbys to his calves. Mikey loses his shit laughing and calls everyone in the tri-county area. I find out, chuckle, and continue to live life.

I mean, this dude was like 21 years old, too. He's had a long time to figure out how his ass works. I guess all is well though, he made it to a shower and everyone who knows him now has enough material to make fun of him with for a lifetime.