Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Life of a Story in Progress 13: Things Change

What you experience is a result of what your brain tells you is real. If your brain is a truthful one, it will give you good advice. If not, you may experience confusion, disappointment and uncertainty.

Most brains are taught from birth to be kind and magnanimous to their host bodies. But now and then, a miscreant can be found. Woe is the person with a unprincipled mentality. 

 
Places I’ve lived:
(in chronological order)

Whitinsville, Massachusetts
S. Grafton, Massachusetts
     Ferry St.
Manchester, New Hampshire
Provincetown, Massachusetts
     Bradford St.
North Truo, Massachusetts
     on base
S. Grafton, Massachusetts
     Ferry St.
San Angelo, Texas
     on base
     Linda Lee Dr.
S. Grafton, Massachusetts
     Veteran’s Circle
San Angelo, Texas
     Maryland St.
Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Philippines
     Emanuel St.
Monterey, California
     Hachiya Way
Millbury, Massachusetts
     Carousel Dr.
Wilkinsonville, Massachusetts
     Orchard Apartments
Iraklion, Crete, Greece
     on base
Karamursel, Turkey
     on base
S. Grafton, Massachusetts
     N. Main St. 
Worcester, Massachusetts
     Mott St.
     Dorchester St
     Euclid Ave.
 Milford, Massachusetts
     (street unknown)
San Clemente, California
     150 Los Obreros
Northboro, Massachusetts 
     Hudson St.
Marlboro, Massachusetts
     Tremont St.
S. Grafton, Massachusetts
     Cross St.
     Main St.
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
     Grove Ridge Path
Barre, Massachusetts
     Pleasant St.
     Old Dana Rd.
     Old Petersham Rd.


What good is moving around if your brain is stuck in the mud? You need your brain to be on your side. A loyal brain is paramount to success in life and happiness within. Feed your head.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Did you change schools while in grade school? 
So did I.
17 times:

1st  grade             Harding Street Elementary, S. Grafton, MA
2nd grade             Belaire Elementary, San Angelo, Texas
3rd grade              Sacred Heart Catholic School, San Angelo, Texas
4th grade                South Grafton Elementary, S. Grafton, MA
4th partial             Belaire Elementary, San Angelo, Texas
5th partial             Belaire Elementary, San Angelo, Texas
6th partial            South Grafton Elementary, S. Grafton, MA
7th grade              Edison Junior High, San Angelo, Texas
8th grade              Sacred Heart Catholic School, San Angelo, Texas
9th grade              Wagner High School, Clark Air Base, Philippines
9th partial             Colton High School, Monterey, CA
10th partial           Monterey High School, Monterey, CA
10th partial           Sutton High School, Sutton, MA
11th grade            Karamursel High School, Karamursel, Turkey
12th partial           Karamursel High School, Karamursel, Turkey
12th partial           Millbury High School, Millbury, MA
12th partial           Grafton High School, N. Grafton, MA
 
Harding Street Elementary, S. Grafton, MA

Belaire Elementary, San Angelo, Texas
 
 

 Sacred Heart Catholic School, San Angelo, Texas





 South Grafton Elementary, S. Grafton, MA





Edison Junior High, San Angelo, Texas

Colton High School, Monterey, CA
  


Monterey High School, Monterey, CA






Sutton High School, Sutton, MA
Karamursel High School, Karamursel, Turkey






Millbury High School, Millbury, MA






Grafton High School, N. Grafton, MA




The Life of a Story in Progress 012: More on the Philippines…


When I was 14 years old, my father came home from the base one day and announced that we were moving to the Philippines. This wasn’t shocking news, we’d moved several times before, although it would be the first time we moved out of the country.

 My father was “going ahead” to set things up for us. I didn’t know what that meant but he left and we joined him 4 months later.

This 4 months was a significant time in my life, I was both feeling more mature and being treated more like a young adult, although 14 is probably a little young to be called a “young adult.” But I don’t know how else to describe the situation. My mother started to rely on me for more help. She actually had me drive the car because she was pretty much used to having my father drive. I remember one time I was stopped at a crossroad and waiting for a car to go by before pulling out. My mother told me to go, saying I had enough time to get across. I didn’t go; I didn’t think I had enough time. She seemed a little miffed over that. But hey, I was only 14! 
One night, I snuck out of the house and joined some friends to go out gallivanting in the middle of the night. We ended up swimming in the Concho River, which was perhaps 2 miles or so from my house. An interesting fact about swimming in the river is that its home to a few different types of poisonous snakes. I remember thinking about that fact as I was in the water. 
On the way home, the police found us walking down the middle of the street and asked what we were doing out in the middle of the night. For some reason, it must have been important to know what we doing became they separated us and asked us individually what we had been up to. I think everyone made up their own ridiculous and unbelievable story. In the end, the police brought me home and they knocked on the door. I think my mother must have been a little freaked out by the police coming to the door in the middle of the night. Of course, the reason for them being there became a little clearer when she saw me standing there with them. She never mentioned it the next day or ever after, at least not to me.
Those 4 months were called the time when my father “lost me.” This was his way of saying that while he was away, I had changed and not so easy to control. I think this “generation gap” was more pronounced when we left the Philippines in 1970 and moved to Monterey, California. But we’ll save Monterey for another blog entry.

Front gate to our house on Emmanuel St. in the Diamond Subdivision

During my time in the Philippines, I remember having a friend down the street that had a huge cage in her front yard in which she kept two monkeys. The cage was really big, something like 20 X 20 and very tall. I don’t know what kind of monkeys she had but they weren’t very big, perhaps about the size of a big cat. She was the only one who could go into the cage; the monkeys would attack anyone else who went inside. 
 The girl second from the left had the monkeys. Her name was Kim.
Another memory: my parents were going to spend some money (something they didn’t often do) and the choice they were contemplating was to either buy me a piano or my father a stereo system. Needless to say, my father got the stereo system. I think my mother made up the whole “choice” discussion. I remember thinking that a piano would be great.
No piano, but soon thereafter I was taking guitar lessons. The teaching method the “teacher” used was to ask me what song I wanted to play and then he’d show me the chords to play. I was pretty much just copying him and wasn’t really learning anything about music. I learned to play Proud Mary, Venus, and other songs of the day. I still remember how to play those songs today, some 44 years later.
 
While we were living in the Philippines, my family had a live-in maid, a regularly scheduled “yard boy,” and an occasional seamstress.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the maid was 14 years old. The maid did all the housework and my mother got her hair done.

I think this is the only time in her life she gave up control of running the house and not “doing her job,” as she described her role in the family.  

One day, the maid was having a bowl of rice in the kitchen as she put soy sauce on it. I’d never had soy sauce before. I got a bowl of rice and put soy sauce on it. I thought it was a very exotic dish and that the maid was very clever to have come up with such a fine meal.

Christmas 1969, with the maid pictured.

The “yard boy” came a couple of times a week and he mowed the lawn, trimmed the banana trees and other fruit trees: mango, papaya, avocado and some weird fruit that I never ate. I think it was breadfruit, whatever that is. He also washed the car and shined shoes. Maybe he did other things but I can’t think of anything right now.

Fruit trees, mostly bananas pictured.

In school, I heard that everyone in the ninth grade (my grade at the time) had to take IPS. It sounded scary. I found out later that IPS stood for Introduction to Physical Sciences. But it was too late, I was dreading the class and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to understand it at all. In the end, IPS mostly consisted of burning stuff in test tubes over Bunsen burners and other activities that involved weird shaped bottles and flasks. It was sort of a silly class, actually.

Wearing traditional Filipino garb. (which the seamstress made)

The last thing I can think of right now is being forced to attend evening Catholic Catechism class at the high school. I hated it. It was like going to school at night. Ugh. I hardly participated and didn’t care about anything discussed. These “classes” weren’t graded and there wasn’t any report made to parents as far as I know. So it seemed like a waste of time to have to sit there for however long it lasted. 

I do remember that during one of those Catechism classes, there was an earthquake. It was a strong one. The overhead lights in the classroom hung down from the ceiling and they were really rockin’ and rollin’ while stuff fell off of shelves and other things got moved around. It didn’t last long and the class resumed after it ended.

Earthquakes and tremors were somewhat common in the Philippines. Nobody seemed particularly concerned about them so I never thought they were dangerous. My mother, on the other hand, did NOT like them and we left the Philippines after being there for only 7 or 8 months. My mother would later say that the reason we left was because she didn’t want her baby to be born in the Philippines. She was pregnant with my brother Wayne at that time and was convinced that he would be a citizen of the Philippines if born there. I don’t think that’s the way it works when children are born to military personnel stationed overseas, but she couldn’t be swayed. I think my father got some sort of “I have to get stationed elsewhere for family reasons” reassignment. And as I mentioned earlier, we then moved to Monterey, California.  

This is a famous, or at least well known, inactive volcano as seen from down the street from my house. I can’t remember its name.

Update: I looked it up – this is Mount Arayat

The Life of a Story in Progress 011: A mover and a shaker on Wall St. (you’ll have to think about that title to get it…)

In 1972, I moved into my first apartment on Wall St. in Worcester, MA. It was only for a very short while. I think perhaps 2 months tops. In fact, when I mention “my first apartment,” I usually tell people it was the apartment on Mott St. in Worcester (only because I forget about the Wall St. apartment).

The apartment was quite small. It had three rooms: a kitchen and two other small rooms. It had no heat and my short stay there was, in fact, during the winter. When I moved in, I didn’t even notice there was no heat until the landlord said: “in the morning, you can turn on the burners on the stove (gas stove) to take the chill out of the air.” Yes, as you probably can guess, that doesn’t really work as evidenced by the frozen-solid glass of water found on the night stand in the mornings.

Wall street was the street on which the famous El Morocco restaurant was located. I was never inside, and years later, it moved. I don’t know if it still exists. I don’t even know why it was famous.

Also, during my sojourn on Wall street, Worcester had a significant ice storm. Nothing like the storm of 2008, but still a challenge. The driveway to my apartment was a fairly steep hill and I couldn’t drive up the driveway or even walk up to my place. I had to walk waaaaaaay around and come in from another angle, literally passing through vacant lots, other peoples yards and one really tall fence.

The only other associated memory I have about the Wall St. apartment is that it was on the same street as Chevalier Furniture (corner of Wall St. and Grafton, St.), which was a furniture store that employed me to deliver furniture. I remember that before any wooden furniture went out, it had to be rubbed down with a thin oily furniture polish. It made the wood look shiny and presumably more attractive. It was a silly practice as the polish was only cosmetic, made it difficult to carry (very slippery) and would rub off on anything it touched, including the other furniture in the customer’s home.

Oh look, I actually have a picture of the place!

Apparently, I had a cat.

Do we have too much choice?

A friend once visited me from England. We went to a supermarket, I can’t imagine why. Anyway, he was absolutely shocked at the number of choices we have for any particular food. The cereal isle made a big impression. He couldn’t believe there was an entire row the length of the supermarket devoted exclusively to cereal; same for soda and snacks. He said that when he goes to the store, there’s choice but maybe 10-12 choices of some things and even less of others.

I think we have too many choices to make. I know I do. There’s a ton of stores out there competing for our business. They all sell pretty much the same things, but they may carry different brands, different rebates, different guarantees, etc. But seriously, how many mattress stores do we need?

Is variety a luxury?  I think so. Can we afford the environmental costs? Probably not. Does an excess of everything create jobs? Good question but I don’t really know. It’s all very confusing to me. What happens to prices when there are fewer manufactures and services?

And religion. Oh My God! There’s no end to what flavor of woo woo you can buy into. Although to be fair, I suppose a lot of people take on the religion of their parents. No choice made there.

You can be a vegetarian (or not), believe in astrology (or not), go to college (or not), be a miser or a spendthrift, or make a thousand other choices about the way you see life, act in public, exercise your myriad of personal preferences; the list of choices seems endless. At least to me.

All those choices involve a lot of questions. I hate questions. I don’t like answering questions. I’m not too keen on a lot of choice. Just give me a couple of suggestions and I’ll take it from there. Why ask me if I want to do one of 10 different leisure activities or choose a restaurant out of 4 suggestions? Ugh.

I should get a decision making app for my iPhone. I’ll bet there IS one. When confronted with the previously mentioned choices listed above, I suppose I could just always pick the first choice and be done with it.

But I can’t make up my mind.

Ouch

I found an album of pictures and deleted some of them. It was the album containing all the pictures that appear on this blog! So now there are pictures missing. I won’t do that again.

I’m sick of the “hands off” status in regard to criticizing Islamic insanity

Muslims say that Islam is the Religion of Peace.
Give me a fucking break.

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

You want a “religion of peace?” Good luck finding one. I suppose the Jains are pretty close, they won’t even step on ants.

Here’s a run-down on the Jains:

Jainism, traditionally known as Jaina dharma, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasises spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe. Practitioners believe that non-violence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain liberation. Currently, Jainism is divided into two major sects– Digambara and Śvētāmbara.

Jains believe in the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view. This doctrine is formally called anekantavada. According to it, human beings are limited in their perception and knowledge about the reality. They can thus have only partial information. Philosophical and theological disputes arises only because of the partial knowledge of human beings. The Jain doctrine stresses on the existence of soul. According to Jainism, every living being is a soul and have separate existence from the body that houses it. This soul undergoes a cycle of reincarnations. Jainism postulates the existence of fine particles of matter called karma. These karmic particles sticks to the soul on account of the soul’s interaction with universe and it is through these karma the soul is reincarnated and feels pleasure and pain.

The word Jainism is derived from a Sanskrit verb Ji which means to conquer. It refers to a battle with the passions and bodily pleasures that the jaina ascetics undertake. Those who win this battle are termed as Jina (conqueror). The term Jaina is thus used to refer to laymen and ascetics of this tradition alike.

Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Jains traditionally trace their history through a succession of twenty-four propagators of their faith known as tirthankara with Ādinātha as the first tirthankara and Mahāvīra as the last. For long periods of time Jainism was the state religion of Indian kingdoms and widely adopted in the Indian subcontinent. The religion has been in decline since the 8th century CE due to the growth of, and oppression by, (wait for it…) Islam.

Jainism is a religious minority in India, with 4.2 million followers, and there are small but notable immigrant communities in Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. Jains have the highest degree of literacy of any religious community in India, and their manuscript libraries are the oldest in the country. Dr Praveen Jain Kochar is one of the top Jain scholars who has written many books on Jainism.

The Life of a Story in Progress 010: Starts and Stops. Allen.

This is the letter (really a note, I suppose) that Allen sent me after I answered his want ad in the Worcester Magazine in September 1992. I recently asked him (in 2013) what he meant by “be discreet,” but he had no idea why he wrote that in the note. You can see my notes on the directions he gave me over the phone. He actually had me go to two different places before finding his place. He postponed the time of the meeting the first time then had me go to a phone booth near his house to call and get further directions. it was all very bizarre. 

After that afternoon, I called him the next day to see if he wanted to get together again. He said that he did but that he already had a date with another guy named Paul. We did get together again the next day and then we saw each other everyday for the next two weeks. At that point, he said I should move in. So I agreed. 
Note, I had just left a long-term relationship a week or so before meeting him, people did comment that we couldn’t possibly last very long…me being fresh out of a relationship and all…  but it’s been about 21 years now so I think we’ve made a real go of it.