Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Pleasant, Unremarkable Day

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. I woke up and reheated coffee from the day before in the microwave. At 9:30, I took the dog to the groomer's to have a haircut and then I ran errands. I deposited some checks at the bank, paid my internet bill, and then went in for an oil change. I went back home and sanded and painted a section of the wall in which I had put my fist through two weeks prior in a fit of rum-blame rage. Then I went into the basement and loaded up every broken, unused, rotting, and useless piece of subterranean flotsam into my car and took the whole mess to a swap shop located next to a landfill, for the trash-treasurers, like me, to have free range at.

I grabbed two paperbacks, went to have some lunch, and pick up the dog. We then came back to the house, and I put another coat of paint on the wall, and then we took a nap. After waking up, I had some ice coffee and reheated some mac-n-cheese for dinner. Then I grabbed a book I've been meaning to read, poured myself a glass of wine, and lounged on the couch. For a brief moment in the course of the evening, I considered going out. I wondered if I could find a slice of rum cake anywhere. I gave up on starting a new book, and watched a movie and a half instead. At 12:03 this morning, I went to bed.

By all accounts, it was not a blog-worthy day. I'm 33, overweight, and soon to be unemployed. I'm suffering from writer's block, ennui, and an exposed root in one of my lower teeth. My dreams have been deferred by other dreams and, although I remain stationary, I'm lost. I've got too much stuff and not enough money. I have holes in my shoes and in my teeth. And, sadly, the only thing I've had published is this blog. And too infrequently at that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Drink It Black

It has been over a year since I have updated this blog.

How do you measure a year? In *'Rent,' the chorus suggests answers to this question: "In daylights, in sunsets/In midnights, in cups of coffee [...]" And I will try to do the same.

 September (2010)

Casey and I moved to Cape Cod, into a townhouse on a quiet residential street in South Yarmouth. Casey started work as a counselor at a residential care facility for children with trauma histories, genetic disorders, behavioral issues, and psychiatric diagnoses, and I took a job teaching rock climbing and belaying at a gym on the outer cape. We didn't see each other much for the next two months, due to our conflicting schedules, but when we did see each other it was to begin unpacking boxes and exploring our new home.


My mother came up to visit us about halfway through the month, bringing with her Cobie, the miniature Schnauzer/miniature poodle mix she adopted from a shelter two years prior. Over the course of a long weekend, Mom transformed our house into a home. She replaced our plastic tub with a coffee table; put a wooden television stand under our TV (replacing the milk crates); hung pictures; set down plants; and made sure that our kitchen was stocked. When she left, she left alone: Casey and I adopted Cobie. Near the end of the month, I got a second job working at a community college, in a program that assists high school seniors in their transition to college.


Cobie and I spend long Sundays hiking the vast trail system within the conservation land at the end of our cul-de-sac. The trails skirt around cranberry bogs and sand and gravel pits, ponds and tidal rivers. Just before Thanksgiving, I submitted my first application for graduate school, pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing. We spent Thanksgiving down in Maryland, with my mom and sister.


I haven't been big on Christmas since I was 18 or 19, but I decided last year that I would reevaluate my feelings again, because Casey loves the season so much. It was a successful experiment: Casey and I were able to create our own traditions and our own memories. Above our TV, Casey hung stockings with our pet names embroidered on them: Schmoogle and Pookie. Cobie even had his own stocking. My mom came up again for Christmas and we spent one of the best weeks of last year together, watching Christmas movies and eating well. It was a happy end to the year.

January 2011

I submitted my fifth and final graduate school application and knew that I would have to busy myself so that I didn't spend every waking minute wondering whether I would be accepted into a program. Winters on Cape Cod are long enough. When I wasn't working both jobs, I was usually at home, with Casey, playing Rock Band on the Nintendo Wii we received as a Christmas gift. At the end of the month, I began two classes at the community college: Existentialism and Conversation Spanish. Consequently, I left my job at the gym.

February, March, April

The winter stretched on. I started receiving my rejection notices from grad programs in February, receiving my last one in April: 0-5. I put on some weight.


The semester winded down and I did well in both of my classes. The academic year was also winding down, and we wrapped up our sessions in the schools as seniors approached graduation. I also began working at the same place where Casey works, at the residential care program, as a substitute Life-Skills Counselor, working mainly in the children's program.  After Memorial Day, Casey went back for another summer at Camp, and we kicked off the Summer of the Cobie and Bryan Show.

In the wake of graduate school denials and the winter blues, I spurred myself into action again, joining a writing group, becoming a member of the Cape Cod Writers Center , and establishing myself with a writing partner.


When I wasn't working, I was reading the final three books of the Harry Potter series, in order to have read them all before the debut of the 8th and final movie in July ... but that really wasn't the big news of the month.

The bigger news of June was that I co-founded and co-created The Chuckwagon Revival with two friends of mine. It is a podcast about bad movies, the current state of the world, and whatever else we want to talk about. NOTE: THIS IS NOT A PODCAST FOR CHILDREN OR OVERLY-SENSITIVE PEOPLE--IT CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AND CONTENT. Even so, tens of people each week download the show. We are on itunes (The Chuckwagon Revival); we have a Facebook page, and an email address ( ), where you can send us your questions, thoughts, and feedback.


I worked a lot in July, but took time in the middle of the month to drive down to Wilmington, NC, to attend the wedding of a good friend of mine from my AmeriCorps *NCCC days. I stopped in Brooklyn along the way to pick up my buddy Stabone, and we drove down for a weekend of drinks, laughter, ocean, and Frisbee golf.


There were only about 7 days in the entire month of August that I was home. I spent two weeks volunteering as a counselor at Camp, and a long weekend on the North Fork of Long Island for another wedding weekend. Mom was watching Cobie for the duration of this month, so at the end of the month, when Camp wrapped up the end of the summer, Casey and I drove down to Maryland, beating Hurricane Irene there with a couple of hours to spare. After the storm passed, there was some water in my mom's basement, and a few limbs to pick up in the yard, but that was about it.


And here we are in September: my New Year, each and every year. I am applying for graduate school again, for starters. Rugby season has started, and we began the season with a "W." I'm also trying to lose that weight I put on in the beginning of the year, which means exercise and diet. I'm cutting everything extraneous and useless out of my diet, including the half-and-half I usually put in my coffee. I'm learning to drink it black.

*words and lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Close This Summer Like a Music Box Clicking Shut

What January seems to be to everyone else (besides the Chinese), September is to me: the beginning of a new year. It's the time of year I move someplace new, begin the next great job hunt, and make resolutions.

My fourth summer at Camp has ended, and I'm spending the majority of this week closing the summer like a music box clicking shut. I'm house sitting, spending the majority of my days in my underwear, eating out of a tub of Edy's Smores ice cream (with great helpings of peanut butter and caramel sauce thrown in for good measure), watching marathons of Project Runway. When I sugar crash, I take naps. When I leave the house, it's usually to walk the dog in a nearby park. But that's about all the exercise I'm getting this week.

I'm also applying for jobs. (For those that don't already know, Casey and I moved to Cape Cod last week.) In the last couple of weeks, I've applied to wrestle alligators at a used car lot, be a private investigator, as well as applying to be a life coach. I'm still waiting to hear back from all of them.

As far as September resolutions, top among them are to learn Spanish, become more involved in the community, and to become more politically aware. I also need to get back to writing that book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zen & the Art of Freeland Maintenance

I started sputtering yesterday. Something was wrong. Off. And, instead of figuring out what that thing was, I ignored it. Went to bed with it. And it was worse this morning.

While I still don't know exactly what it is, I'm sitting down. Meditating. Pulling out the plugs, the sprockets, everything. I'm going to blow dust off everything. Grease what needs to be greased. Make sure every piece is in it's perfect form, before reassembling it.

What exactly does that mean?, you may be asking. Well, it will take various forms: fasting, then a vast change of diet for a while, starting with citrus fruits and then foods with more caloric complexity, until I know what's working for me and what isn't; a return to a spiritual center; taking time to be alone with myself without feeling the need to hide or fix something; maybe a long walk; writing again; reading again; tea instead of coffee ... Well, not too much too soon.

What do I know now? I know that, although I never really liked it before, I've developed a taste for ginger. And, I only told one lie today. And it was a small, correctable, one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Traveling Too Rare

This past Saturday, on my way to my university alumni rugby game against the youngin's, I was pulled over for my first time in a while. True, I may have been going a little quickly, and it was true that I had sped up to make two yellow lights through an s-like intersection, but I've been pulled over for a lot more. At least I was in my own car.

I spoke with the officer, who was pleasant enough, who told me he hadn't liked the way I had come through the intersection. He stated this to me the same way one would state that they hadn't liked the olives in their Greek salad. I justified to him that I felt I had committed myself to the intersection and that hitting the breaks, especially on wet pavement, through a circuitous intersection seemed to me to be more dangerous than making the light. I apologized for the maneuvering in and out of traffic I had done to make the lights, and he gave me the impression that my answer was thoughtful and somewhat reasonable, given the situation.

He took my license and registration with him back to the car, and I waited in mine, listening to Van Morrison and nodding at the gentleman across the street who was half-working, half-checking out the scene in front of his business; the expression he wore was one of curiosity more than accusatory. The officer returned a few minutes later and handed me a written warning: traveling too rair. (It took me a few minutes to make out what the offense was, until I remembered the average intelligence for police officers is around 100.) For the first time since law enforcement officers have been writing me citations, fines, tickets, and court appearance dates, I smiled in light of my transgression.

Traveling too rare. I still like the sound of that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pickle Smoocher

Well, dear readers, subscribers (all 13 of you), and SmileyNDE (I know you're out there), it's been a long time since my last blog post, this is true. When last you read, I was picking up dog poo at and Animal School in Warren, Rhode Island, and that was about it. Well, my professional career has improved. I now work for a Fortune 500 company as an administrative assistant in the rehabilitation departments of three different nursing homes, as well as for the district as a whole. It's a lot of work, but it pays the bills and provides me plenty of time for my personal life.

But all of that news is just an update. I realize it's boring.

My Sunday mornings as of late provide the real entertainment in my life. I have been meeting on Federal Hill in Providence, the "Little Italy" of the city, to play afternoon street hockey with some colorful characters. For the most part, I would describe them as hard-working, hard-drinking, blue collar, hockey superfans. Several of them wear Boston or Providence Bruins jerseys over their hooded flannel sweatshirts. One guy always plays in a thin black leather jacket; another guy, Mikey Nails, is missing all of his top teeth from bicuspid to bicuspid. They affix soccer shin guards to the outside of their grey sweatpants with electrical tape. The goalies play with second base gloves.

We congregate behind an elementary school, and play for 2 - 3 hours on a portion of a back parking lot. I was invited my first week by a friend on the Providence Rugby Club, Meaty, and have been going back ever since. I'm known as, "the guy in the pink hat," for the Goorin pink knitted hat I wear each week. Street hockey is not at all like field hockey, or ice hockey; it is a sport entirely unto itself, especially in this company. I'm constantly being rotated between forward and defense--it seems I haven't found a position where either the team or myself is entirely comfortable.

We play, usually, with a hard yellow plastic ball, which is always sailing over one of the fences and into the houses or cars on the opposite side of the street. After temporarily losing the yellow ball last week, someone threw in a pink ball, which was almost immediately thrown back in disgust. "We don't play wit' no pink balls out here," one guy in a running suit adamantly shouted back at the sidelines. "We don't got no pickle smoochers on this team!" A few of the guys looked at me and then up at my knitted hat.

"Pickle smoocher." What an inventive term, I was thinking. There was a sense in the air that I should reply. The game play had temporarily stopped and everyone seemed to be looking back at me, as if this was my moment to stand and defend myself, to come back with something that would affirm my place on this parking lot, my right to be there. The moment was becoming too long. I shifted my stance, pushed up the brim of my hat with my ice hockey glove, tapped the ground with the end of my stick twice and shouted back, ... "YEah!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Filipino DemiGod in the Days of Friendster

There have been so many new social networking sites develop in the last few years that now many people have multiple accounts; I, myself, have one on Facebook and Myspace, although I rarely ever use the latter.

Does anyone remember Friendster? Does Friendster still exist, I don't know. The one thing I remember about Friendster--that's happened to me nowhere else--is that I was befriended by a large number of Filipinos, who I had never met, nor spoken with. I only have two Filipino friends, brothers, and neither of them knew any of the people who had befriended and were following me online. Their belief was that the name "Freeland" must be closely related, and therefore easily mistakable, to one of the demigods within the Filipino pantheon. I couldn't find a better explanation for it then, or since.

This phenomenon only happened on Friendster, failing to happen anywhere else. Maybe it was a system glitch. Maybe the world got too big and the amount of people online and logged in to social networking sites became too massive, too diluted with people. Maybe the world got worse, and demigods don't cut it anymore.