Friday, December 24, 2010

Christopher Hedges David Foster Wallace

David Hedges Foster Christopher Wallace. no, not my new law firm. Wallace's voluminous essays make my mind race make me read with a dictionary at hand put my brain to work. the man speaks volumes of truth dissecting everything, he articulates some of my greatest fears and fascination with exquisite exhaustive extradetails


Chris Hedges shouted at me when I walked in the French doors. squawked from the ibm really, and the man was talking sense. He was talking all about our occupation of Iraq, how the sanctions were working and Saddam was crumbling, how much the war coverage emphasized our weapons and high technology, how much propaganda media tried to build public favor, etc. He paints a bleak landscape that eerily reflects a lot of America today;


this gentleman talks of the impending falloftheAmericanempire
which is also the name of a State Radio song.

There is so much I find problematic with things I see around me, I can't help. An illusion is something different from a dream. bread and circus, poor Cicero. Oh yes I forgot, Hedges talks about how absent a revolution our current trajectory breeds facism. Some would say we are already there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cold Winter Evenings

As a consequence of staying up late last night and celebrating the end of the semester, I find myself sitting on the computer at 12:33 in the am without a lick of tiredness on my airwaves. Sitting in front of the computer I mean, it is in fact young Birdy who has tried several times to sit on the computer. The living room/kitchen stretches out in front of me on three sides, the space a product of two lives joined together for the past several years. Lights festoon the dying evergreen erected near the deck doors and glow with the bright pointy blur that tells me my glasses are lying folded on some end table. One cat snoozes prone on a red armchair, one cat is out of sight, two cats with long hair lie together curled like furry presents on the Christmas tree's skirt. I thought pets were bad, but now we're dressing up trees?

I am being critical, but really I love the minor transformations of living space that accompany the holiday season in my dear Mommy's house. I feel blessed to have somewhere I can retreat to during the winter break between semesters, this being the last of my undergraduate studies. cookie dough sits in the fridge, the santa placemats are on the table (used for approximately 3 weeks of the year), the impressive array of nutcrackers stoically gaze ahead into nothing from their perch on the wood hutch, a motley cast of frozen figurines stand arranged on the mantelpiece around a baby figurine in a crib, 5 stockings of different green red and white designs hang on hooks besides the fireplace.

the traditions of this time of the year seem untouchable, and the fun comes from their enduring presence. before i go to bed, I will go around and turn off each window candle. even though people gripe about christmas shopping, and spending time with family, and cooking all sorts of delicious food, we clearly still go through the motions. there is some value that these traditions provide for us, otherwise we would cease to uphold them. whatever the value you get, it is still fun to examine critically these certain annual behaviors that we engage in.

for some people the only value might be the presents they receive. It is unfortunate that for some christmas has become nothing more than a time to get new stuff (that you may or may not need/like), though I would be lying if I said I don't look forward to that part of the holidays. If not, what kind of American would I be? Christmas is the biggest time of the year for most retailers, probably the biggest and most successful shopping campaign of manufactured demand ever created. our economy is fueled by the volume of stuff we consume, and we have to go through a lot of it to keep the machine satisfied. I spent probably two hundred dollars in the past 2 weeks on christmas gifts. how much of that stuff will be used and appreciated by the people I love? there are all sorts of economic studies that conclude that Christmas represents a deadweight loss of some several billion dollars, maybe 10, maybe more, because so much of what is purchased does not end up being used or valued commensurate to its cost. probably half the shit is lost, broken, or discarded before the new year, or we relegate it to that pile in the corner of the room to collect dust. the perfect gift is a rare thing, especially for people who have alreayd satisfied all of their basic needs. if we really want to be efficient, we should take the money we were going to spend on someone's gifts and hand it to them in an envelope with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. BUT, all of the money that is spent goes to sustain the economy, and we must do our patriotic duty as Americans to buy things, amass, consume, discard, repeat.

I am not saying that all christmas gifts are worthless, or that we should stop giving gifts, or that I don't love christmas. I am proposing an invigoration of common sense during the holiday season, maybe a suggested limit on the # of gifts, and a re-affirmation of the season's value and purpose, which is not to fill out corporations' 4th quarter profit margins: a celebration of light and joy to carry people through the long cold winter, to look forward to the coming warmth and change of seasons, to reflect on the changing year and the passing of time, to spend time with family and friends and share with them food, drink, and gifts, all of these things and more are part of what value I find in Christmas.

To me it is about making sushi with Mommy, a tradition we probably started when I was in 8th grade, and waking up early to peek at the wonderous packages that had miraculously assembled themselves around the tree during the night and opening stockings with Allan, a tradition we probably started when we were old enough to walk. It is about the christmas morning breakfast of whole wheat cinnamon rolls topped with buttery brown sugar, the scrambled eggs, the bacon, the sliced rounds of orange. It is about spending Christmas eve with Anna, Jennifer, and Eugene.

It is about family, first and foremost for me, and I dont plan on changing that any time soon. It makes me sad that my Papa is away for this whole break, and he will be sorely missed. We did get to hold a little goodbye evening for him, me, Allan, and Lois, last friday, to see him off for three and a half weeks working on Hausa teaching materials in Niamey, Niger. It was a lovely time, eating chiebou thienn (Senegalese fish and rice dish) with fried plantains, drinking adult egg nog, and sharing gifts and music in the living room of 511 Main street. It felt like an alternative condensed christmas, a fun change. It goes to show that the exact recipe for christmas at home will change, but it doesn't matter as long as the formula of family, food, (gifts) and fun remains. like I said, I am a sucker for the gift part; its only the buying part that I hate. [it is hard to beat the thoughtfulness of a good gift.] but that is more of an aversion to spending money, something I will never get over. I never developed my consumer genes, must be some weird mutation. I get physically uncomfortable after spending too long in a walmart/kmart/similar shopping experience, and a mall is the last place I want to go hang out in.

I still buy stuff, of course, it is just that I don't like to. No matter, I have come to recognize that it is a sticky situation that I will be dealing with for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Gumbo

The murky depths of a steaming pot of stew universally entice the hungry diner. Part of the allure for is the mystery of the pot, a riddle of ingredients that neither sight nor smell can solve. The path to understanding requires a spoon, for only taste can begin to unravel this tale. Perhaps gumbo best exemplifies this mystery of the pot, for it is a dish with impenetrable complexity and hearty strength. It pulls the willing diner somewhere past the exotic to a sublime balance of nature combining elements of land, sea, and spice. Ingredients work in unidentifiable harmony; a second spoonful is required.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Schindler's List

Just finished reading a review of Spielberg's 1993 movie written by Robert Leventhal of the University of Virginia. With the final credits of the movie and its violins still rolling over me, I found myself questioning everything I had just seen. Leventhal precisely deconstructs Spielberg's widely-acclaimed work into the sensationalist hollywood movie that it is. He concludes with this cool indictment, saying the film "colludes with the logic of reduction, condensation, compression, concentration and 'leveling' that are the trademarks of Fascism itself."

Leventhal raises big questions, and he found me right when I was reeling from the enormity of what I had just finished watching. After perusing the Wikipedia page, I found this review when searching google for more information about Spielberg's initial involvement in the project.

The cinematic quality of the movie and its acting is unquestionable, or hard to dispute, and I know it is near the top on many all-time best movie lists. I admit, that is why I wanted to see it in the first place. Now I realize that I, along with many others, was drawn into a narrative portrayal that distorts the truth and detracts from history by manipulating the legacy of the Holocaust for profit. Spielberg and others won fabulous awards for this work; it is Holocaust in the Hollywood mainstream. Though, as Leventhal says, it is valuable as an educational tool in this age, there is a cost to the design and success of this movie as a work of entertainment media. I do not mean to detract from the legacy of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Rather, I caution others not to take Schindler's List at face value, as I initially did.

Let us not forget the victims and survivors of any other genocide past or present, and let us work against future manifestations of such tragedies. The late Howard Zinn wrote eloquently of this in a piece titled, "Respecting the Holocaust;" I will leave you with his lasting words:

"If the Holocaust is to have any meaning, we must transfer our anger to today's brutalities. We must respect the memory of the Jewish Holocaust by refusing to allow atrocities to take place now...My point is not to diminish the experience of the Jewish Holocaust, but to enlarge upon it."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

goings on

I spent the morning working at the Greenside Out Garden, the physical home of my umbrella organization Bountiful Brookline. I love organizing things, taking stock of what is present, and cleaning as I go, so that is what I did to the shed there. Its like loading a dishwasher to maximize the use of the space and also ensure everything gets clean. Along with Laurie, a volunteer with BB, I harvested the last of the garden's bounty for this season. This included over 5lbs of kale, 1 lb of salad greens, 1 pound of assorted collards and chard, a few stubby carrots, and big bunches of parsley and chives. I planted garlic in 2 of our beds, and then I covered all of the beds with a nice blanket of leaves. I composted the stalks and roots that we pulled out with some leaves. This kind of work is really enjoyable, especially because it is such a refreshing break from my normal school work and reading assignments. Being outside in the crisp fall morning sun, rooting around in the dirt, whistling and thinking about everything and nothing. It feels really great, it just feels good to me. It feels right.

(It feels so much better than sitting here and finishing my resource economics problem set on fisheries, equilibrium harvest levels, marginal cost of effort, total revenue, comparative statistics, blah blagh. That is why I am writing to you!)

Tomorrow night the Hive is hosting a Shabbat dinner and get this: its free. An organization actually pays college students to host shabbat dinners for their friends and family, so that is what we are doing. Isn't it great? I don't even know what Shabbat is! This meal, which I am sure will be as lovely as our house meals always are, is happening after the first meeting for the Warren Towers Green the Patio project. I am excited for this to finally get started and to hear everyone's vision for this space. I hope to see a productive container garden with beds and pots that shows how easy it is to grow food in the city. And I hope that it will also become a lasting pleasant place that people can sit and enjoy themselves in for years to come, a little outdoor green haven away from the clutter of Warren Towers and the rest of dreary BU campus (its pretty drab, you must admit, and no amount of brick will change that) where birds and insects and people can interact in harmony. Sounds a bit cheesy, but oh well.

As if there wasn't enough excitement already, Saturday I will be biking to Salem to Roll Against Coal. It is a ride-to-rally put on by Greenpeace, Students for a Just and Stable Future, and Bikes not Bombs. We will be meeting Salem-based environmental groups for a rally at a church there, where the goal is to show our support for renewable energy and our distaste for the coal power plant there. It is an obsolete sixty year old behemoth, and there are many clamboring for it to close. Should be a nice little Saturday...

Also, my stupid glasses broke again. This is the second time in a year, and I swear it is not my fault. Luckily they are still (barely) under warranty, and I should be getting a replacement pair soon. For the mean time its nerdy taped up glasses for this guy.

Oh, and one more thing. There is a master urban gardener course offered by Boston Natural Areas Network that I am considering for next year. It is offered on 2 months of Saturdays from January-March, and it is free-suggested donation of 40 bucks. I think it would be a great supplement/contribution to my work with Bountiful Brookline, and it should provide valuable lifelong skills that I can more fully put to use after college. This year is great! Relinquishing my Saturdays is of course a bit of a daunting prospect, though when do I ever do much in the way of productive things on that day anyways. And it runs from 10-3:30pm, so the schedule is not too intense. We will see, eh?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a fresh start

November is a fresh start month.

It is really easy to succumb to my worries and fears, my nagging undertoads, to sad feelings sparked by all of the bad things that are happening all over the world. It is too easy to sit back and let anxiety about the future paralyze the present. No good will come of it.

There are so many situations in the world that I have no control over. There are a few that I do, and those are what I need to focus on now. Everything I am doing now is preparation for the future, when I can then apply myself more fully to different situations and contexts. A cursory knowledge of every problem in the world will not do any good. There is awareness, when a person has absorbed information and it contributes to the development of a new perspective, that develops after reading an article or watching a documentary perhaps. But what comes of it? Knowledge for knowledge's sake is important, of course. And awareness is the necessary first step. You don't know what you don't know. Being aware of a problem can inform a person's decisions down the road. Awareness tends to spread by word of mouth. Awareness can compel someone to take actions, to organize, to dedicate themselves to a cause.

I would posit a difference between awareness and being informed. It is easy to be informed about a whole slew of issues and situations. Today was a perfect example, for I watched two documentary films. I am now more informed about coal mining in West Virginia, and I am also more informed about the Nile Perch fisheries in Tanzania on the shore of Lake Victoria. Coal Country showed the effects of different kinds of coal mining, including mountaintop removal and strip mining, on the people and environment of this region of Appalachia. As they point out in the film, the industry's dirty practices, and the resulting effects on the health of communities, ecosystems, streams and lakes, and the air, would never be allowed in the Rockies or the Berkshires. The economic development of many places in the region is so limited that coal mining is the only way to earn a living (unless you want to be flipping burgers), and there is also a relative paucity of jobs in such a capital-intensive industry. Darwin's Nightmare is a very dark and disturbing snapshot of life in Mwanza, Tanzania, and the social, economic, and environmental effects of the booming export fisheries there. Rather than me trying to describe the power of this movie, it is better for you to see it for yourself. I wonder if any of the Europeans buying Victorian perch think about the street children fighting over food or huffing glue so they can sleep at night, many of them orphans of fishermen or HIV/AIDS victims...I wonder how many people are exploited in order to get my food to my table, or how many unseen and unknown consequences my actions and lifestyle create...I wonder why it is possible to mine the minerals or extract the biodiversity of a place, be it communities in Appalachia or Tanzania, and line the pockets of a few with the sweat and blood of others who are inadequately compensated for their labor. The workings, and continued existence, of the resource curse, this being one example, still mystifies me. No one is eating nile perch in Mwanza, and there was a famine in Tanzania when the movie was filmed (it came out in 2004) even as hundreds of tons of fish were exported daily. The resources of Western Virginia are trucked out, and the people who live there, who should be the true owners of these minerals and the ones to profit from their extraction, are the ones least likely to benefit from them and most likely to be hurt by them.

I don't know if this is awareness, or how long these movies will stick with me. I don't know if anyone will be motivated by my words to view these movies, or to poke further. I don't know if anyone reads this anyways.

But there are plenty of things I do know. I know that in this year, the culmination of three very transformative and wonderful and paradoxical college years, I will continue to learn and grow. I will continue to develop my 'worldview,' my interests, my skills as a scholar, a citizen, a gardener, a friend, a community participant, a son and a brother. I will contribute to my community, on the house and town level, because I believe in it and its power to nurture and guide and shelter (even if our living arrangement is technically illegal in Brookline-though I think a rousing family dinner would sway any inspector). I will slog through vague assignments and dry pages of reading and sleep-inducing lectures because I believe in the value of an education and I am shamelessly in love with getting good grades. Guilty. I will work to quantify and qualify the benefits of eating local and organic food which I already know to be true. I will ride my bike and take my hands off of the handlebars sometimes, and I will do my best to avoid the geese (sorry little fella). I will reduce and reuse as much as possible, so that there is less to recycle. It is not by chance that recycle is the third R, it is really just an intermediate stage until society figures out that we made a wrong turn down consumer culture road. How about "reduce, reuse, RE-PURPOSE, and recycle"?

I know that I will feel down sometimes, and that my undertoads will always be there pulling and nagging and croaking at my toes. And I know that this is ok. I am in a transition period, and it will be some time yet until I am over her. It is a gradual process, most things are. The long term benefits take time to materialize. Change will come whether we like it or not, and it is the ability to find the beauty in the process that is perhaps most important. I find solace in the prospects of the future, of the next great feast, of achieving that perfect ecstatic exhaustion, of being me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More adventurous, more safe

I am happy to announce that I am coming to you live as the new program/garden intern of Bountiful Brookline, a non-profit organization working to promote local food production, community access to fresh sustainable produce, and strengthen the local food system. As it is a small and fairly young organization, my role will be multi-faceted and dynamic and I will be working in different capacities. I am most excited about the summer when I will be leading the Teen Grow program of a handful of youth volunteers from the community! This past summer was the pilot year with only 4 kids and a month-long experience, but I believe it will be bigger and more involved this time around. As I envision it, this is Camp Rotary meets my academic interests, or helping kids learn about the value and rewards (and trials) of getting to know your food, its source, and how to produce it. Freaking awesome, right?

I think so. Also, I would be lying if I said that a small part of me is not excited about being able to put something on my resume besides food service jobs. Mostly I am excited because this is stuff that I am good at, and interested in, and passionate about. I feel a renewed sense of vigor, and purpose, and a bit less anxious about the future. Of course, this opportunity, assuming everything works out, will conclude at the end of the summer. But there will be plenty of time to worry about the future then, eh?

When I got home from my "interview" (aka coffee date with Jenny, the head gardener for BB), perhaps in celebration, I potted up some herb seedlings to liven up our windowsills. I don't know if they will all survive because they had been suffering for a while in their little seed pod-lets, but at least now they have a chance.

ps- you can check out my organization here

Sunday, October 17, 2010

You are what you Love

Olive trees and windmills in the town.
Strange powerful wind with names and faces too many to count.
Smelly ride north (El Jadida) 60dh. Please keep light and air flowing to keep clarity growing, give thanks for bus rides and vacations;
grilled fish moments usually only alive in wish given depth and weight free of time constraint.
Rather it is granted to contemplate, working thought into filament splice with heartstringlined motion of feelings that overwhelm the ways of men.
broken magnifying glasses, life refuse of the night bus high and driving, line the pavement.

Mm hmm I want to linger (on), mm hmm a little longer. Make me fried eggs though the day and let the humdrum cradle my mind into the dark for tonight will be the night that we begin to ease the plugs out of the dam. Precious souls are comforted to sleep; others find clarity in its absence ̶ the drug of the screen’s fakesenseofillingconnection;
some find comfort in themselves with back scraped by rocks shelves.
Just sail belly up to the clouds breath and pulse and seethe and loosen the flood gate and be, the vessel. The sand and wind and fog buffet, they infiltrate between thought and expression to the most dear scale space and plate.

Clear the scraps palm the rudder ̶ we can find the way back under behind maps a place built by thoughts at work cemented with power potential and poise of deepfeel.

(Can you tell me the way home?)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Through the Window

I can smell fall through the window. It is creeping in to revive my sniffly nostrils. It comes and goes in waves, like my anxiety about the future.

As much as we bitched about the foliage tourists, we were just as guilty as them. The brash self-confidence of youth removes itself from the range of its own criticism. The weekend whirls in my mind, an extemporaneous exercise in escape from 'the city.' Returning to Russell Pond, where my family camped when I was a wee lad, brought memories of tang and Salamander hunts, leaking tents and water-tight spirits, coleman stoves and long drives, family, fun, and the idyllic natural getaway of the New Hampshire woods. Hiking most of Mount Lafayette just to escape the tree line, feel the icy rime of the Alpine zone, and see the view, was as taxing as it was rewarding. Leaving on Sunday night was a good idea, for we all had "lots of stuff" to do today. Also, the desire to avoid more leave-hunters was mutual.

I slept until noon:20 today, very soundly and restfully. One single night in a tent will make you fall in love with your bed again. One night in the woods will make your mind wander,make you question the importance of your cell phone, and make it hard to focus on your computer screen. One trek in the company of Brendan will help you identify Moose tracks and excrement, the difference between a Balsam Fir and an Eastern Hemlock, and the many forest microclimates that your feet take you through in a surprisingly short time. One whiff of the mountain stream that ambled along besides our trail will leave you wanting more. Or rather, how fortunate we were that our path wove through the trees alongside this majestic babbling brook, whose allure attracted the trail and who will outlive the trail, and ourselves.

The tree I see through my window rides the wind with style and grace, its green leaves rustle alongside the maple leaves that extend from the other tree, in the corner of the yard. Some of the maple leaves are tinged red or yellow, preparing to shed themselves in preparation for the winter. They are preparing for a great graceful fall down to the rectangle of fenced-in ground that we call the backyard. Such a great sacrifice deciduous leaves make for their trees. Perhaps that is part of the appeal of New England's fall foliage, some appreciation of such a brazen calculated strategy crucial for winter survival. The cycle of life turns on, and removed in the comfort of my elaborate shelter, I watch it through my window.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


How long will it take me to walk across the United States all alone?

When the world caves in whatcha gonna do?

and how long would it take you to forget me? what about all of the pictures, where do they get filed?

How many times can the same idea be conveyed with words rearranged, thesaurus consulted, lick stamp stick send, repeat?

Live in the present? instant gratification?

Where does everything we learn go? What shelves do memories and words dwell on? does dewey have enough decimals for all of the times passed?

Books are a poor substitute for the human touch; can't we all have both?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Today is Saturday, September 25th, the year 2010, and I can't remember the last time I won a raffle. Before sunday, that is, when I won a basket of goodies from the Meat House and a book about gardening anywhere! Winning the raffle was great, and the tour of Brookline's Edible Gardens was even better.

Bountiful Brookline, a one and a half year old non-profit organization working to create/improve a sustainable local food system in Brookline, put on this tour of 8 private and community gardens around town. It was incredible and inspiring to see the ways that people are growing food, especially so much of it in such small areas. For example one gentleman has, over the course of many years and with the help of jerry-rigged poles, ladders, and frames, coaxed grape vines up the outside front two stories of his house! Another lady used the shafts from her daughter's old crew oars to make 10 foot tall bean trellises. There is also a 200 foot commuter garden along a strip of fence (around 99 Kent Street, Brookline, Ma), which started as an art installation/beautification project last year. It is tended and watered by rotating volunteers, and signs encourage anyone passing by to take a tomato or a cucumber, as long as you leave some for the rest of us.

All these examples show how you can grow food pretty much anywhere with some love and dedication. Intensive cultivation, in terms of labor and natural inputs required, produces much bounty per unit of land (or porch, fence, house, etc.). Polyculture and polycropping of complementary species, basically mimicking nature in the diverse variety of her landscapes, is where it is at.

I just returned from a fundraiser for the very same organization that I mentioned above. As part of the 30th birthday of Whole Foods, we were collecting 5 bucks a head for a tasty lunch and recruiting support for BB. Also, if anyone can get to Whole Foods Brighton on October 13 5 percent of the store's total sales will go to Bountiful Brookline. Spread the word and shop for a good cause!

Life here at 12 Verndale Street is going well. The community we have created here is something very special, in my opinion, especially considering our collective lack of cooperative living experience (only one girl had previously lived in a coop house). There is always something going on, someone to share your daily highs and lows with, and something delicious on the stove or the countertop. I have said it before and I will say it again: I am happy here. It is an upgrade from my last living situation in so many ways, and I am so glad that we went through with this grand experiment. I will also remind any readers that they are welcome to visit us anytime, especially for a family dinner sunday-thursday.

sunday: 50 mile bike ride through Boston!

The free beer tasting at the Harpoon Brewery last friday was quite enjoyable, but getting there and back with Matty P was even more so. The beauty is in the process, the journey, and sometimes the event itself is just a room full of strangers scrobbling for free beer (myself included, of course).

On tuesday I had to report to the Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston. I was there to pay a fine from last fall when I was cited for trespassing on the Boston Commons. We were sleeping out in tents to protest the fact that our homes and dorms were powered by dirty (coal-fired) electricity, but apparently the Police weren't sypmathetic to our cause. But the citation is now magically off my record! The magistrate who handled us informed us that we were lucky because homeless people get arrested for this sort of thing. Hooray for being a priviledged white kid!

Court is a somewhat scary place, though I must say my overall experience was expeditious. This was all I could ask for, especially after hearing stories of long days spent twidling thumbs on uncomfortable benches. Or maybe that is just how I picture court. It was very easy to tell the people who were at work from those who would have probably much rather spent their tuesday morning doing other things. Not to imply that all lawyers love going court; I'm pretty sure some of them do, but I really have no idea. I imagine it is a job like any other with good days and bad, eager and enthusiastic lawyers as well as feet-dragging apathetic lawyers.

I will leave you all with a passage, from Ecclesiastes 3, that my dear Mommy shared with me recently:

"To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing..."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stop Me if I Say Too Much

Tonight late I've been alone, and it's been going. Collaging on the scale of meters with thumbtacks. Representations, images, symbols, all past events, plenty memories,suspension indefinite.

Lights abound, the little fountain of rocks trying to keep pace. Do I need my fan tonight? The sideways deafening treescape ravenously illuminated two slumberfaces, thunderous call to rise and swing.

5 classes become four, one feels like more, hang the postcards outside your door.

Ease your mind, have a banana or two. Think through things, because you want to, always. Find a place where you can speak your mind, a community where you can live as one with yourself. Find the Fine Balance. Trust others, treat them kindly, for you will win more bees over with honey than vinegar.

Cooperate: learn from each other, and learn to work with each other. Exchange skills, recipes, tools, stories, lessons. scraps of life shared weave deep connections. Learn how to do more with less, how to save and invest, how to enjoy time away from screens.

Spend an hour looking at the faces of others, everyday. Discover the people around you and the world around you. Cherish it all, and guard it for all to come.

Nature's Repast: Histories of Food, Environment, and Society...HI 589. After the first day, it is already potential material for my 'best class at BU' award. The current leader is GE250 The Fate of Nations: Why Societies Succeed or Fail, from last fall...(if your class has a really cool name, it will be cool. It is BU law... But really, these two fit the formula.)

589 is an 11 or 12 person graduate seminar held weekly on Wednesday afternoons. We will first discuss and read environmental history, including the most excellent "Changes in the Land." This is Cronon's book, which, incidentally, I read in GE250, about the ecology of New England under the management of first Native Americans and then European colonists. Eventually we will talking about food as the apex of human and natural interactions, along with art and culture (and everything else?). It will be lots of reading and writing, but none of it will be busy work. Challenging, perhaps very challenging, it will indeed be.

-This is an excerpt from the song 'Jesus Christ' by Brand New:

"Jesus Christ, I'm not scared to die
But I'm a little bit scared of what comes after
Do I get the gold chariot
Or do I float through the ceiling

Or do I divide and pull apart
Because my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark
This ship went down in sight of land
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands?

I know you're coming in the night like a thief
But I've had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique
I know you think that I'm someone you can trust
But I'm scared I'll get scared and I swear I'll try to nail you back up
So do you think that we could work out a sign
So I'll know it's you and that it's over so I won't even try
I know you're coming for the people like me
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine."

ps-I am in a great mood because I found out the last important class for my major, which I have managed to save until this coming semester, will indeed be taught...there were a couple of panic days there!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Home feels right, and this place feels like home. Community, love, safety, caring, judgement-free, open, aware, understanding, fun, communication, beauty as truth, truthful beauty, nurturing, cooperative. People working together to build a more meaningful place to live and work and enjoy ourselves. Bikes crawling up the front stairs, dashing metal valets ready and waiting to take you anywhere. Dancing dappled leaves of light play softly across my curtain, ushering me to restful sleep. Treasures awaiting discovery around every corner, conversations unwillingly cut short by life outside our bubble. Not just a place to escape to, but one that offers refuge and mediation for dealing with the world at large. Friday night games, saturday stuffed shells, sunday work on old bikes. Sharing is caring, and we can all help carry the load. Our own societal niche, like termites building a better hill.

Let me bold or I'm gonna be bold. Social experiment? Intentional community? Hippie commune? Maybe... call it what you will, but it has begun.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I can feel my time in this apartment winding down in the way that a deadline bears down. There is work to be done that will not be much fun, but it will feel good to reach the end and move on. Ok, it won't feel good, because it would be an understatement to say that glenville has been an important part of my formative years. It will feel complete, finished, like when you close the cover of a long and arduous and great book.

I love my brother very much, and I realize more and more how much I want our lives to stay in close proximity, geographically and more importantly emotionally. He is Ore-gone tomorrow, and I am jealous of him, and of Papa who is already out there. I am missing the annual pilgrimage once again, as I have done several times in the past. It is not cliche to say that family is terribly important in so many ways, something that cannot be expressed enough.

The cooperative life starts for me in less than two weeeks, and it is something that I have been thinking about a lot. Talking with Mommy's colleague at her Editshare party last weekend about his experiences as a member of cooperative houses made me excited and more aware of the potential benefits and challenges. Delivering compost fodder every now and then to the compost orb in the backyard of my future home makes me excited. A backyard!!! I want a hammock, and a lounge chair to read in, and to have grill potlucks with friends. In my mind this next year will be an upgrade in many ways. It will take some work and communication and love and elbow grease to keep things running smoothly, but I have faith in the crew of BU students that we have assembled. Just think, in the coming spring we can plant a garden fertilized with the food waste that is in the process of breaking down now! The cycle will turn and turn full circle, the loop will finally be closed in some small way. We must start with small steps, and my ambitions of self-reliance must start somewhere, right!?

Self-reliance. What an interesting and appealing concept! I want to learn how to repair my bike, and can and pickle vegetables that I have harvested from my garden, and cut my hair, and repair appliances and machines and I could go on...I feel that I have already achieved some proficiency in the preparation of my food, so the next step will be to master its production. It's like the business model of vertical integration, except I am not a robber baron oil tycoon who gobbles up every step of the production of oil from extraction to refinement to distribution. No, no, I don't have such grand and greedy aspirations. I am one person who wants control over his life, and I think that the source of my nourishment is a good place to start.

I love weaving through traffic on my dear Maeve, sailing past cars stuck in traffic on the wind provided by two legs and a simple two-wheeled machine. That is self-reliance, right? Making cole slaw on my day off (this past wednesday) better than I have ever tasted, or even just bringing food to work every day. No, I don't want to order takeout, thank you very much!

Some quotes from Emerson's essay 'Self-Reliance,' as noted here.
"Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other."
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

ps- the New Yorker is great! I know many people have already come to this conclusion, but it has taken me a while to reach it. Two very note-able articles in the May 17, 2010 issue that I very much enjoyed today were:
"The Inventor's Dilemma," by David Owen
"The Poverty Lab," by Ian Parker
The first is a profile of an 'eco-minded engineer'/inventor, Saul Griffith, his work and many projects and ideas. The second is a piece on Esther Duflo, a young french development economist who focuses on randomized statistical trials and experiments designed to alleviate poverty. check them out!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Le dimanche matin tombe

"Did you see the words?...
You dress yourself out tonight
Getting tangled up in arms and legs
It's comfortable
Someone grabs ahold of you go "Ooo-oo-oooh!"
Should you go ho-o-ome?
There's something starting don't know why
In a house so cozy
Few words are spoken
Let's take our shoes off
And unwind
And there's minuets off in the background drownin' out
Eyes off ears off test the kiss goodnight.goodni-i-ight
Don't keep my loving on my mind
'Cause it's messy yes this mess is mine
Well mine is mess yours is maybe nine
Look we have similar stitches
Look we have similar frowns
Do the eldery couples still
Kiss and hug and grab their big wrinkly skin so tough wrinkly wrink-wrink-wrinkly rough?"

Perusing the blog of a family friend, Sylvia, I became aware of a recent tragedy in Afghanistan. Sylvia, living and working with her husband Axel in Kabul, is fine, but shaken. I don't blame her, and I am sending them both safe and positive energy.

Of course, Kabul is a much safer place than the border provinces where the killings took place. Without discounting the tragedy of this individual event, it is merely one violent incident among many others, too many to count or comprehend, perpetrated by those on every side of this conflict. After the details at the beginning of the article, these bits near the end caught my attention:

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since US-led and Afghan armed groups overthrew the Taliban in 2001. June was the bloodiest month for foreign forces in Afghanistan since then, with more than 100 killed...
Despite a record number of foreign forces in Afghanistan, standing at some 140,000 backed by tens of thousands of Afghan forces, the Taliban have extended their campaign out of traditional power bases in the south and east into the north and elsewhere in recent years.

The endless cycle of violence grinds on throughout the world, in some places more than others. With no end of the foreign invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in sight, we now have the highest number of foreign boots on the ground in 9 years. June was the bloodiest month in terms of foreign casualties, and July was the bloodiest for civilians.

Our 'mission' aside, lets just consider those statistics. Contemplate, if you will for just a moment, the death of one of your closest friends. Let that sink in for a second.

Now, think about the death of two thousand people, the number of U.S.-led foreign troops who have died in Afghanistan over the past 9 years....What if one by one every person you have ever met, in your entire life, dropped dead over the course of the next nine years?

The story of the civilian casualties of the war in Afghanistan is also grim. What if 830 of your acquaintances and classmates were killed or injured over the next month? That is how many Afghani civilians our war on terror claimed during July, 2010.

What if our 'mission' in the Middle East and elsewhere cannot be accomplished? What victory does the war on terror claim to pursue? The eradication of terror on this earth? The absurdity of such a goal would be laughable if it hadn't already claimed thousands and thousands of lives, and counting.

I am no political or military strategist, but I do like to think I am possessed of some logic and common sense. It seems to me that the more men with guns we send over to Afghanistan and Iraq the more graves, both there and at home, we will have to dig. Violence and hatred breed more roadside bombs, more attacks in the night, more death and destruction, no matter how much that violence is gussied up with the rags of democratizing press releases about order and nation-building. I want my country to face the truth, to acknowledge their failures past and present, and to get the fuck out. Plain and simple, we don't belong, at least not in our current capacity armed with bullets, bombs, and flags. The US of A is the biggest perpetrator of war, the grandest purveyor of terror, in the world today. We sell terror, in the form of weapons and tactics, to the highest bidders. We spread ideas about the ability of violence to solve problems with every deployment of peace keeping missions armed with rifles and camouflage.

Temporary solutions to complex situations do not last. "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold," mere democracy is loosed upon the world. I hope you feel safer when you sleep at night. Would you feel safe in your bed in Afghanistan or Iraq? Think about that the next time you wave your flag and toast your ideals.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"You're just as guilty as them"

Who is anthony green talking to? In the original song, I am not sure, but he could be talking about The Giving Pledge.

40 billionaires giving at least half of their fortunes, that's a lot of money. hip, hip, hooray! I guess I should be appreciative of this pledge deal and the philanthropic efforts of Bill Buffet. I mean Warren Gates. Wait, uhh...nevermind.

I am just hesitant to get excited about it because I am not sure how all those billions will be put to use. Throwing money at a problem behind your 800-thread-count-egyptian-cotton-blindfold is, in addition to being an inefficient use of said cash, a good way to breed corruption and turn good things sour. The funneling of western aid money into Africa over the past 50 years, as explored by Dambisa Moyo, is a prime example of the destructive corrosive power of too much free money.

Hopefully the giving pledge is more than just a publicity stunt. I don't know, can we really even pretend to know or trust or understand these people? We will see eventually whether the intentions of Warren n' Bill are as good as they seem from the press releases and photo shoots. My reality is just so far removed from theirs that it makes me very skeptical. For an example of the relative proximity of Me versus Bill Buffet: Every cent of the ten dollars I spent on a delicious and much needed breakfast, for two, was begrudingly relinquished!

Ok not quite. So I paid a visit to Mike and Patty's (still up there on Yelp!) today on a whim, and I spent ten whole dollars cash. I had not been since last fall, almost a year ago, when I visited in September with a broken collarbone. In the end it was very much worth it. Good to see the old faces of Mike and Heather, still sweating and smiling and making amazing food in that tiny bacon-perfumed box, plus two new employees (mine and Patty's replacements you could say). Patty is taking a more backseat administrative role in the operation and thus works less in-store. One of the new girls (not very new, both have long outlasted me) only charged me for one 5 dollar sandich. My bill should have been 10.50; 5 plus 3.50 for the other, plus 2 for coffee. But I stuffed the whole 5 into the corn meal tip box without a second thought.

My north south classic was a hot creamy crunchy salty chewy mess of joy. Toasted english muffin with over medium egg, cheddar cheese, peameal bacon (cured, unsmoked, pork loin rolled in cornmeal, the "real" Canadian bacon), bacon, and garlic sauteed greens (collards n' spinach), mmm I want another. And the coffee is as good as it ever was, meaning it's still better than the coffee at Licks-I'm sorry guys, but check out M & P's.

This breakfast, mind you, was the perfect start to an otherwise beautiful day only slightly tainted by the effects of last night's Peabody party on my body. Just need to rehydrate, ok...And I was able to deliver an egg, cheese, n' tomato muffin, plus coffee, to Jill as she started her shift at Emack n' Bolio's on Newbury Street. I think it will help her get through the day. Me, I have the day off. Tomorrow too! I am thinking about poking around JP tomorrow, including stops at JP licks and BNB. Anyone have other recommendations?

Back to the billion-heirs for one moment. The most interesting part of the article I referred to above, for me, was this bit near the end:

"If the individuals on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans pledged half their net worth to charity, that would amount to $600 billion, according to Fortune magazine.
The United States has roughly 400 billionaires, about 40 percent of the world's total, according to Forbes."

Maybe we should call it the Billionaire List, because thats what it sounds exactly like. 400 people in this country hold sway over at least one billion dollars, and their total worth is approximately 1.2 trillion dollars, probably give or take a few billion. By comparison, the total GDP of the US in 2009 was 14.26 trillion according to the CIA World Factbook. That's a lot of money for 800 hands.

How about the fact that 40 percent of the world's billionaires are from the US of A? Does that strike you in any way? It makes sense, for we are clearly the best at amassing great amounts of wealth into as few hands as possible. And if we consume about 25 percent of the world's resources, we better have a long Forb-illion-heir list to show for it! These people have so much filthy stinking money they don't know what to do with it, and now they are trying to make up for the devious destructive means with which they amassed said wealth by giving it all away.

Well let me tell you this guys, the damage is done. In the end, you're just as guilty as them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


“Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

-Susan Ertz

Lazy sunday, wake up in the hour of 11 snooze. Fry eggs, coffee percolates, Lou Reed transforms. Fingertips stained blue from frozen midnight snacking. Fruit flies settle on dirty dish perches. To wash, or not to wash?

Delta flight number 141, arrives 4:44. "Is she red, is she white?" Today begins the month of August 2010, the last month of Glenville Manor...

or is it glenvile?
The roaches, the rent,
disgusting habits formed finished forgotten, Eugene Finkelstein and
Gateway Realty visits,
think freezing and frying, living and dying, loving and trying
inside the beautiful walls of this shitty apartment.

Inquisitive animals we are, these cats, mice, and men seeking shelter.
Some lodge for nights and weekends, others months and years we stay.
A place to ball home after life; I, one of 9, called it home.
My little box, attached to a box, one of 6 little boxes behind airlock glass doors.
Four windows open me to the world, four curtains cloister my world against yours.

the poetic nostalgia is already setting in. wait, we still have August! right?
but it is inevitably winding down, as summer does every summer. all we can do is listen to say anything, putz, go for a bike ride, cook, read, maybe wash myself or some dishes. the point is that summer will be back around in no time, and in the mean time we have 3 whole seasons to enjoy. I thought you should be warned, or rather reminded.

something to do on a sunday afternoon? how about building a bamboo bike?

going to pick up my father and his sweetie Lois from the airport in a couple of hours. Inchallah they will arrive at 4:44 in the pm, and then will call me from the cell phone lot where I will be waiting, snoozing or reading. I am excited to spend some time with Papa again, as in tonight! They are coming from Conakry, by way of a flight to Dakar, a flight to NYC, and finally a flight to Boston. He has been working and travelling since early June, and Lois joined him in Dakar for the last two weeks of said trip. Here's to safe travels on their final leg.

sometimes all we need are plans for sleeping in on a lazy sunday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

sunday morning coming down

I have 6 songs in my digital music library with 'sunday' in their titles and 24 with 'god,' plus 5 with 'jesus' in them. Also 12 with 'soul,' 3 with 'brain,' 7 with 'money/cash,' and 9 with 'dog.' But st. valentine takes the cake in this song title battle, with 87 mentions for 'love' and 19 for 'heart.' As they say, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me," but "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love" (they being Wu Tang Clan and Albert Einstein, respectively).

Thursday, plus wednesday evening, was passed most pleasantly in superior company. It is quite nice to reconnect with a community of Friends, most of whom I have not seen in several years. It has also been too long since I have done any kind of community service. I helped to cook and serve food at a Salvation Army dinner in Newburyport, sponsored by Mommy's Quaker Meeting. It was a kind of short order fast paced service that I have grown very comfortable with over the past two months at both of my jobs.

The food service business is one that I have grown accustomed to. I have worked almost every kind of job, except for fine dining service. Line cook, fry cook, prep cook, delivery driver, short order counter help, retirement home serving and bussing, much dishwashing along the way, catering, ice cream scooping, and customer service up to my ears! The only thing I am missing is the chance to grow the food that I cook and serve, something I hope to do soon. Dream job? Have a self-sufficient or mostly sufficient semi-urban homestead with attached private dining room/small restaurant/bike shop/education center....

Okay its not one job, but I am a man of many hats. I need something to do, I don't do very well with free time. I believe in the optimistic productive potential of my hands, and in turn they like to stay busy. Read a book, cook a meal, carve a spoon, wash dishes, sweep the floor, fix your bike, shower, write, love, bike!

terribly excited about wednesday, big plans are in the works.

Katrina is back from Prague! The glenville manor is once again complete, almost; we are only missing mr. O'Gara.

I have witnessed, on numerous occasions, my cat Artemis fishing pieces of food out of her water dish. I have also seen her, albeit fewer times, scooping food into her water bowl with one flat palm. Be it playful kitty games, an anthropomorphized artemis, or super intelligent cat behavior, I know at least that I have never seen this behavior with any of the (more than 10) cats I have lived with.

I am tired, or as one might say on the streets of the Rabat Medina, "ana mdig-adig." But don't let Farida hear you say that, especially not in front of Riham, because she doesn't like that phrase. I suspect it is some kind of slang, perhaps somewhat profane. Gosh, I should write to my Moroccan host family. I miss them a lot. What I miss the most is when I would take over the kitchen to do homework (on the house's sole table) after Farida and Riham went to bed. When Rachid came home from Best Wishes one of us would heat up some leftovers and set out the bread and beverages. Nothing like breaking bread with your Moroccan host father at 1030pm, talking about anything everything and nothing. What a sight I must have been, tapping away at my silver machine into the night (as I do now).

Will there be a new student to replace me come September? Likely, yes, but I like to think that I made some kind of lasting impression on the El Bounti family. They are probably waiting for a wedding invitation (Jill and I were engaged in their eyes, ha. why else would she fly thousands of miles to visit me for 2 weeks?) No, I am kidding. But hopefully they are waiting for a letter. Maybe they are used to foreigners coming and going, brief flashes of family invaded, stranger incorporated, routine developed, void created (or annoyance removed). But I could have been different, or at least it is comforting to think that. I know that I will fast fade from Riham's memory, but maybe the pictures I left will keep her reminded of my brief presence in her early life. Why is it so comforting to think about our posterity as something that endures, and being forgotten as something to fear? sometimes it is good to forget, and forgive. But I admit that I love the idea that people beyond my immediate circle will remember me after I am gone. Think about what kind of impression you make upon the world around you, and whether or not it is a lasting one. Not everyone will make a famous lasting impression in this world, but we can all take part in a daily effort to mold the impression we make into a positive one. What is the point of recycling one can or bottle...Why should I vote, I am only one person...why should I care??? you should care because the cumulative impact of our actions as a society and a species wields great power for good and evil. Together we all share a power that the governments cannot suppress, that the natural world can't hardly handle, and it is up to each individual to decide what to do with such awesome responsibility.

goodnight, good luck, and love.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

the end of the week

sunday night thoughts need to be recorded:

-ice cream is really tasty.

-I have trouble formulating into words all the things that I know in my head to be true.

-sometimes I have trouble going to bed because I feel like I need to do more in order to make the night 'productive' or worthy in some respect. But at the same time I know that sometimes the most productive thing I can do is go to bed.

-I worked for approximately 23 hours in a 48 hour span, between friday at 5:30pm until sunday at 5pm. next weekend is looking to be much of the same...

-Thursday is going to be spent with my dear Mommy

-in 10 days I will have spent 3 years with one person as my romantic companion.

-I have not read, watched, or listened to the news in almost a week. there is just no time

-'Chaz Vest' is a real person, as is 'Sean McCool'

-a nice lady gave me a coffee mug full of arnie today after I delivered her a pita.

-Living alone would be a good thing for me because I could keep everything exactly as I wanted to. Sometimes people fail to meet my expectations through no fault of their own. Sometimes I tell people what to do when it is not my place to do so, both at work and in everyday social situations. Call me bossy if you will, but sometimes I can't hold back my opinion.

-between thought and expression there lies a lifetime

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Just stop talkin' trash
or whatever they say
Just stop talking trash, or whatever they say
Vomv zee moose-ick Indus treeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Got a lot of shit in my head. you know we got to pull together cuz it’s not gonna stop till we’re dead.
You know we got to pull it together. No its not gonna stop, not gonna stop, never, ever, gonna stop.

Semi-permanent Temporary solutions to problems abound.
Sometimes they are the best and most welcome kinds of solutions though, because they provide immediate cool instant gratification. Like the ole ice pack to a head-ACHE.

Plans for bike.
I made a to do list of long term bike projects and ideas, dreamgasms, etc. A bell, squeaky dog toy, or whistle (perhaps attached to one of my gloves that I don’t use) for alerting aggressive and crazy people of all kinds in all vehicle types…mud flaps or fenders..front or back rack/basket (ideally front basket, perhaps removeable for shopping, plus back rack for strapping down town china town)…..fix some parts and tighten stuff…replace screw too who you have lost…?? Also handlebars right side could be rewrapped/patched.structural change of some kind for handlebar being contemplated in order to facilitate a more comfortable and powerful biking ability and stroke. I will make a drawing, and then I think one can bend a pole to any shape, being of course of the properest of widths, or certainly one can pay someone else to do that for them. Some custom handlebars would be cool! With black shiny leather grips/wrap mm so sweet and tasty.

Btmi the show was tonight [Sunday night] and it was absolutely fabulous! We boogied with the punks hipsters show rats old friends brothers and sisters from all around, from precisely 11pm until approximately 12:10 am (is that a real time?). the setlist was almost everything that I wanted, certainly everything I needed to hear besides the major omission of Future 86. Allan chauffeureddd me over to central square, we scoped out the place, I realized I forgot my money for the show (though remembered 5 for a beer, of course)

I was disappointed, especially because I make a good amount of cash tips these days. But the tips tend to disappear even as I spend a small amount of money on essential items, mostly all I buy is food these days. And gas, some times. I brought Hugh’s truck back home practically on E….and that was after Jill and I had contemplated whether or not I should buy him gas. I also need to pay Allan for my ticket, for he was a good dear Brother and covered me. It was cash only, 10, first ever all ages night show at Middle East Upstairs I do believe.

It was a great night overall…I saw two people from Camp Rotary, two random old friendly faces, both looking very different from how I rememberpicture them. Jon Gingham (not real name), who I remember from several years ago (when he was a more experienced senior boy camper and I a lowly CIT or greenhorn junior counselor) as a thoughtful, very intelligent, camp kid who truly loved and loves the place to this day (says the guy who rocks rotary meshorts almost everyday, and was that night) and who was not well liked or respected by all of the other kids and maybe not well liked by all of the staff either. Generally not everyone gets along with everyone else, especially not when one is crammed into a camp for a week or more with same-ish people for the hole summer. It is like being in a ball pit or a science experiment bouncing atom ray guns off the walls, endlessly ricocheting off of the same select group of particles you are a member of. Each indivifual ball is its own size, shape, color, etc. like people. And you get these things bouncing around, you throw in some super fun singing and traditions and games and sugary foods, a few field trips, ipods a nd game boys, some priviledged kids etc, you get the point. It’s a strange brew, and I call it Camp Rotary. the point is that not everyone gets along, but almost everybody respects everyone else. At least they are supposed to. its a place where someone can truly be their own individual self.

“Oh hey hey look that guy with the green hair is a punk rocker, he’s even telling everybody. Fuckin’ hippie…”

"Xaviers mom was a real hippie. You can tell a real hippie because they always tell the truth."

Camp is great, for a lot of reasons, and that was a long and overwrought metaphor about it/for it. Its not conformity it looks like infirmity, why should anyone believe in a community? Got a lot of shit in my head….a lot. I write in about 4-6 locations, sometimes several a day, notebooks and computer notes, etc. Sometimes I feel my brain is frazzled and running too fast a mile a linute a peanut and I end up overthinking stuff. I have come to realize I always want to be a writer in some capacity, and that I am a more detailed person than I thought. Very meticulouse when I need to be. I am the guy whose manager tells him to sweep less thoroughly.

I love seeing to everything. The details are everything in life. I love setting up something, from the plan to the execution just do everything myself, delegating tasks if I need to, helping everyone move to a better place if possible. I thing I could be a good caterer. Does you guys ever contemplate a job and think about how good you might in such a position. Like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm (creator of Seinfeld's newer show, starring himself), who thought he would be a great car salesman until he failed the second day of his tryouts of sorts.

Buy some flowers for the women in your life every now and then, and I am speaking to everyone here.

Don’t allow basement apartments on a street where the storm drain capacity sucks. Good thing we are on the first floor and all my windows were closed during the weekend’s monsoon. Others nearby were not so lucky. No danger of bodily harm, just shitty property damage that is being gradually cleaned up.

Listen to more bomb the music industry! albums start to finish. Ride and love Maeve and clean her check her top to bottom…You all should go to the google sitesearch type btmi discography free download...They post all their albums on the website for free so you are encouraged to spread their music, love their music, pass it along on a flash drive during classs maybe….very shareable heartfelt merlinodic DIY punk rock emo ska horns band music genre defense word quack.

and heres my little rant about "the system," something that you frequently hear in BtMI!'s music:

New York City or Tokyo would vastly shrink in size very soon if all the trucks and planes stopped bringing in everything they need to survive. because all/most people there and elsewhere in the world live on imported resources and food their actual impact in terms of the physical footprint of the resources, land, water, what is consumed by what they consume and on down the line, etc.

there is also a much smaller percentage of people who are producing food than before 1950, for example. (there is an even smaller number who are doing it well, Nature's Harmony Farm (google them!) and my Mother being prime examples of my definition of 'well'). furthermore, the advances that allowed us to concentrate that many people in cities, with so few on farms, are the same ones that are slowly steadily depleting our resources, land and water, souls, etc. these advances in agricultural productivity, factory farming, hybrid and GM breeds/seeds, etc. are what we have come to rely on in our current system, and they are what allows a place like McDonald's to consistently serve up your quarter pounder (same patty, wonder bread bun, cardboard tomatoes, "lettuce," y'all know the drill) at 3am, or a place like Pita Pit (where I work) where every chicken breast (they arrive frozen, precooked) looks exactly the same!

that said, there are a lot of people growing food in places like NYC and Toyku, and there are a lot more that could be. there is always land to be found (rural, peri-urban, and urban) and always more work to do. A system requires energy to maintain itself, and it requires people to stick to a certain straight and narrow. but think about how people used to live in different ways, more connected and in tune with nature and where their food came from....they had their system and we have ours. I guess what I am getting at is that systems can always change, and sometimes they should! so lets hear it for those who have started to go about changing things, and those who will in the future. dont be afraid to push boundaries and stray from the beaten path, or to figure out where your food comes from. you might be surprised...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(Antichrist Television Blues)

"I don't wanna work in a building downtown,
no I don't wanna work in a building downtown
I don't know what I'm gonna do,
'cause the planes keep crashing,
always two by two.
I don't wanna work in a building downtown,
No I don't wanna see when the planes hit the ground.

I don't wanna work in a building downtown,
I don't wanna work in a building downtown,
Parking their cars in the underground,
Their voices when they scream, they make no sound.
I wanna see the cities rust
and the trouble makers riding on the back of the bus..."

Lyrics and song title courtesy of the The Arcade Fire.

Ps for the previous entry-
In my haste to recount the tale of the free yuppie party, I forgot to detail the morning of June 15th, 2010, which was in fact the very same day. It was one of the most pleasant sublime mornings I have enjoyed in a long time. Like when Jill pushes me to get to the movie before the previews start, taking the early train home for my dermatologist appointment early that afternoon was a very good idea.

After starting a load of laundry (I have yet to pay for doing laundry this summer, besides in love and affection to my parents) and hanging out to dry on the line a load that was already washed, I spent several minutes inspecting the compost heap that was cooking away in the delicate warmth of the morning. I greeted the worms and the bugs and thanked them for all the work they do. I sifted the dark decomposing dankness of the mix through my fingers, noting each component as it fell back into the pile. Besides being such a useful and productive substance, compost is richly symbolic for what it represents. The idea of harnessing and directing the power of nature to work for us in order to make a rich soil replenishing darkness, basically food for the soil (in one sense food for our food) is an efficient and ethical mindset that can be applied to all pursuits and walks of life. Compost is also spiritually appealing and nourishing for me, probably a result of my upbringing and personal philosophy and values.

Then I planted beans! Two rows of pole beans have now (observed yesterday, a week after planting) sprouted their dual green leaves, pushing a few inches above the soil, the next stage in the life cycle of these guys, the entire contents of one 18 gram paper package. Kentuckey Wonder pole peans, or Habichuelas Fagioli to be exact. It was a very easy process, this planting event, lasting not more than 10 or 15 minutes, but it is a brief period of time that I cherish as my symbolic inauguration into the world of gardening. I have planted seeds before, some literal and some figurative, but never before with such intent, focus, and interest. I know it's a lot of symbolism for one day, but I mean it. Symbols and ideas are important, often times more important than we acknowledge or like to admit.

That morning I also took a small harvest from my Mom's backyard plot consisting of garlic scapes, rosemary, mint, oregano, and a bit of sage. It wasn't much, but this little bounty has been contributing color and bursts of flavor to my cooking for the past week and more; rosemary went in to the red bean chili I made this afternoon and evening.

The morning at 15 Summer Street was nourished with a tasty omlette and potato-and- scape fryup and polished off with a quality beer, what some would say is "the best beer in the world." Then it was off to West Newbury to check on 511 Main Street in my Papa's absence. He is in West Africa for the next month and a half, doing work in several different countries collecting the work of and interviews with different authors, writers, poets, musicians maybe, I think anyone who might be interested.

I was so heavy-eyed when I arrived (the only downside of taking the early train) that I took a 20 minute nap in the front seat of Mommy's Prius. It was exactly what I needed. I went to the dermatologist’s office feeling refreshed and ready for anything, including the discomfort of having a small scoop of my flesh removed. Dr. Goldberg is notorious for taking samples here and there for biopsy. To my delight, no such work needed to be done! I have retained all of my skin, at least for the time being.

After my appointment I headed back to West Newbury, for I had a date with a pile of wood. Stacking wood for about an hour provided me with more than just physical exercise; it was a mentally relaxing time when I could focus intently even as I let my mind wander to everything and nothing. When I returned to Ipswich I felt downright great! Also, driving back into Boston with Allan in Rhonda is a good time, always good conversation and music. Like yesterday after the beach, and after dropping off Jill, Allan and I dissected and discussed the lyrics and meaning of ‘Banned from the Back Porch,’ by Saves the Day, all the way to route 93. What more can I ask for, really? Here's to transcendent mornings and holy dusky evenings.

Jesuschrist was an only child

"I know now what I knew then, but I didn't know then what I know now." This is a line from the Modest Mouse song whose title I borrowed for this entry. Think about all that you know at this moment in time; did you know it all last year? Unless you are taking a class or studying a language, odds are you haven't learned much (in the formal sense of the word). There are of course many types of learning, and in this crazy world we are all teachers and students together.

So what have you learned in the past year? What have I learned? I am talking about all kinds of learning, both a personal type of selfknowing as well as the formal kind of study. A year is a long time, and I think with a bit of effort I could come up with a large list of things I did not know on June 23rd, 2009.

For example, I know that I am not someone who feels fully comfortable at parties like the one I went to last week. It was a free event for Stuff Magazine's food issue sponsored by DonQ rum. The yuppies were flopping and smiling all around; I saw perhaps a handful of people that I might enjoy talking to. I won't pretend I had much fun or that I was there for any reason other than to get free food and drink (as you can see from the picture below, courtesy of stuff's website).

The rum drinks were fruity, strong, and not very good, though they did have some tasty cheeses and good appetizers. Short ribs and mashed potatoes in a savory ice cream cone, tasty but trying a bit too hard with the presentation. Little cheese and olive flatbread pizza-ish bites, with dressed greens on top, were also good.

It just seemed like a party where people pretend to have fun so that other people who are also pretending to have fun can see them doing the same. Maybe some people were having fun, and maybe I am being a bit harsh. But I know that it was not my scene, and I don't know if it ever will be. On a similar note, the VIP tent at concerts, at least at the Bank of America Pavillion, is over rated and kind of lame. The best part of the vip access that Jill and I enjoyed at the State Radio/John Butler Trio concert, besides the amazing 6th row seats, was the vip bathrooms. Seriously, no free stuff, no meeting of the bands, and the bartender at the vip bar wouldnt even give me a cup to get water from the bathroom with. but it's all good, because the reason that most people came, not the vip tent or the drinking, but the music, kicked some serious arse.

So, besides that fact that I don't want to be a yuppie, what else have I learned in the past year? I learned how to read, write, and most importantly speak some Arabic. I know that walking on the beach with two women I love makes time slow down. I learned how to change a tube on my bike and how to prolong a torn bike tire's life (put a dollar bill on the inside of the tear, between the tire wall and the tube). I learned how to appreciate the smell, its clean earthy aromas, of my Mommy's compost, and how much that differs from the stinky and chemically smelling mulch that was spread in front of the buildings the length of my block. The difference? The source, of course.

That mulch came from a big company that mass produces a uniform finished product. The only company that made my Mommy's compost was that of the worms, bugs, and other critters in her back yard. Small and local is the way to go. It is the same thing with food.

After almost three years of living in Boston, in September I hope to finally find my niche as a member of the Verndale cooperative. The idea? Low impact, low cost, friendly communal living with like-minded folks. A compost bin is in the works too, with approval from the landlord secured. Things are looking up. They always should be, really, because there is always something good to look forward to. It is waiting for you, just around the bend and over the brook. It could be a potluck dinner party, a bike ride in the cool of a summer's dusk, a good boook waiting on your bedside table, a cold beer to refresh the body after a long day of hard work, or a beach picnic of local strawberries, cold curried rice salad, and cheese humus and tomato sandwiches. Whatever it is, remember to take pleasure in the simple things in life and don't cry over spilled milk. Or spoiled milk.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baby, We're Scramblin'

Friday afternoon is quickly coming to a close. When does the afternoon end? This is still a subject of debate for some, but we can all agree that 6:30pm is settled comfortably in the evening. It's been a good day so far, and things are only looking up from here. Jill is settled into her new dorm room at Simmons, the apartment is getting into shape for tonight's shindig, and my tummy is rumbling.

Weekend promises to be busy, but that's fine because there is always more to do. Work tomorrow will probably be a bit rough, but Allan's birthday celebration in Ipswich is sure to smooth things out. After a night in my blessed Ipswich bed it's back to Boston early on Sunday for more Pita pit on call and then a night closing at JP licks. gadzooks! I would complain except that I need to keep making them dollars. I don't really enjoy being on call at Pita Pit, which is unfortunate because it seems like I will be 'on call' a lot. There is something about being ready for work, mentally preparing and planning your day and all, and then waiting around for a call and not receiving one that is quite annoying.

work is work, jobs schmobz, let's live life! I'm not going to let shit get me down, because some stuff is not worth losing sweat over. all right, now its pushing 7pm, my tummy is still rumbling, and bw is pulling up outside. here's to a good friday night.

"The city subway stations never glisten.
The gates rise up like they belong in prison.
And my balance is low. I better pick a good place, I got one ride to go.
Your fucking cocaine party fucking freaks me out.
When did Scott Weiland show up? How long’s he stickin’ around?
I guess this new fare hike means that I’ll ride my bike,
play video games and do other stuff that I like."

-Stuff that I like, by Bomb the Music Industry!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dear Science

shuffling thoughts like a deck of cards.

don't you ever feel like there is too much going on up there?

I have slowly come to realize that things I do to pass the time, the things I really enjoy, like cooking, biking, and playing frisbee, I do them because they don't require thinkiing. They require focus, sure, and some effort, but they are sort of unconscious by now. If a ball comes whizzing towards your face your hand will come up to attempt to divert its path. In the same way, I zoom down Cambridge st my destination, 260 columbia street, Cambridge, looming close ahead. ten minutes, at most, and I arrive. Unconscious. Mind at rest, yet entirely on edge. Like TV on the Radio.

Engagement in some kind of semi-unconscious activity will facilitate this escape from thought. Running, gardening, riding, chopping wood, mowing the lawn, something where you know exactly what to do because there is only really one way to do it, the best way. or the shortest way, the most efficient, the fastest way, the safest way, whatever it may be.

The point is that there are plenty of ways to escape, to ease your mind, to keep things in perspective. Doing dishes is another good one, something that I end up doing more than I should, something I still do regardless because of the sense of satisfaction that I feel upon completion of all the dishes in the sink, or better yet the whole kitchen. And I make a game out of it, trying to wash all the dishes using as little water as possible. I recommend you try it too!

You don't realize how useful your hands are until you hurt one of them. I am just happy it is a strain and not a break. Be grateful for what you have, because if might be gone before you know it.

Anyone know of any farm internships in the Boston area for this summer? Aww, that's right, work goes on here on Harvard Street in Brookline, MA. JP licks 11-4 friday, 7-close saturday, 5-close sunday, pita pit 6-close friday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Can we please ride bikes not just sit inside all day...

letting fresh Georgia air go to waste.

It's that time of the year when moving your body makes you want to sweat, when shirts and shoes seem entirely superfluous, when I want to dive into the water of a cool lake reminiscent of stiles.

Instead I am working, and things are falling into place pretty much how I knew they would but will have a bit of trouble getting used to. Starting at JP licks in the coolidgest of corners tomorrow morning will be an interesting new experience that I think I will enjoy. Trying to juggle two jobs and a life in the allston heat and haze will be manageable and hopefully not stressful. I have to approach each new day with a purpose, and keep busy. I also have to find time for myself and keep the creative juices flowing.

I can already feel Morocco slipping away in a sense, not just in time either. It is natural I suppose, especially considering the circumstances surrounding the trip and how I ended up in Rabat living with Farida, Rachid, and Riham. But I think that some things have remained, and I know that I am a different person. I just have a little trouble nailing down exactly how.

I guess this is where I am supposed to write about the legacy of Morocco in my mind, how it is forming, how I frame that semester, how much I miss it, and all of the things that I miss. I don't feel too inspired to wax further about el maghrib, and frankly I can not say that I wake up everyday thinking about Morocco or how much I miss it.

Do I miss it? yes of course, sure, and if I pine for anything it is the visceral tastes and sights and sounds. These are the most obvious differences, things like fresh oj and olives of every type and preparation and how damn exciting it is to just walk down the street, the way you succumb to the medina as you push by dvd baskets, sizzling and tempting treats, djellabas and juicy couture, the up close and personal humanity and smells of everyone and everything. The Medina is not bland. Farida's fava beans were sometimes bland, but it is impossible to describe the old part of a Moroccan city as being bland.

There are plenty of things I don't miss, too many to elaborate on right now, but you will never hear me say that I regret going abroad. That would be false, and one thing that I will always strive to do is eliminate any gap between theory and practice, between discourse and action. That goes for my own life and the world I interact with. Of course I am not always successful at all my pursuits, like maintaining patience and calm, keeping in mind the importance of context to any situation, or keeping up my arabic. Just because the assurance of success is not present, that will not stop me from trying. I must admit that I have not been keeping up my arabic, although I have not been trying to, so there's no problem.

That won't change the fact that I studied Arabic for 4 months, I am literate (in the bare bones 3rd grader sense of the word), and I have a very basic understanding of the language. I stress the basicity of that understanding.

all things considered, the fact that I won't be taking arabic in the fall, or that I didn't have a crazy life changing time in Morocco and now skype with my Moroccan family everyday, does not in any way diminish the experience I had there and the memories I cherish. I am confident that nothing can take that away from me. Unless I lose my pictures, in which case somethings will probably become lost in the shuffle f time and the cavernous folds of memory.

I take pictures to remember the times I don't. It is that simple. Visual stimuli, cues, pictures, colors, drawings, words, notes, lists, doodling, all great. I love them. I want pursue more creative outlets, more writing and drawing. What if I draw for half an hour everyday? Is that forcing creativity, trying to manufacture something that is not there, and if so, is it a bad thing? I don't think it can hurt, and in fact it can only really help. Maybe I will try it, or a forced write, I haven't decided.

I know I should be resting my head down on these two lovely pillows of mine, for all too soon I will be forced to lift my head from those very same soft bundles of joy and comfort. I want to continue writing, but it will happen another time. There is always more to read, more to write. That simple thought alone makes happy. in me. it makes me happy. you get the point.

A few closing notes, presented in bullet form:

-I hate thinking about how, right now, oil is spilling out of a man made well into the sea. Isn't it someones responsibility to deal with such a catastrophe, both the causes and the effects?

-The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved is a great book complete with scary facts and analysis, inspiring stories, deep natural though-provoking philosophy, and even recipes. Read it.

-Turn off your TV and read a book in the grass.

-I think I could be a bike delivery guy for a while.

-My brother is a good writer, and I admmmire his succinct pensiveness.

-I turned down a free vacation the other day. What is wrong with me!?

-I made kick ass open faced egg sandwiches today in the comfort of my home. I also made a breakfast burrito with pre-cooked, then frozen, then reheated, scrambled eggs. Pita Pit uses sysco, I said it. I know almost all institutions and many food service places use the big companies like sysco and aramark, but I also know how much better freshly scrambled, never frozen, eggs are, even if they came from Jack's Egg Farm in Brooklyn via the Russian Bazaar on Cambridge street in Allston. Jillian Mary, can I get a witness?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ich war in einer Leverkusenergartenpartei

I like pretending I can speak German really well and making up new words. The languge does lend itself to word combinations like geschirrspule or geschirrspulemaschine washing machine. anyway much linguisticty has been going on here and I have been having some fast times in Germany. The week has gone and almost done its course and I will be on the train to Paris on Monday in no time. It has been fast in many ways, and i mean that in the sense of Fast times at Ridgemont High with the ever so dashing Sean Penn. not fast like vinn diesel, ich bin kein XXX. I was explaining phoenetical spelling to Kevin at the party earlier, a garden party grill and chill, leverkusen style, but I think I actually meant to say transliteration. Are those things the same?

I am ready to come home to the glorious United States of America to see everyone and talk about everything that must be discussed. There is always something to be discussed belnissbatlee in my opinion, Transliterated von Arabisch. However, I am having a great time here, my german has resurfaced well, I have been getting compliments on it I must say. I hope to keep it up for a long time, maybe my kids can be raised with 2 or 3 languages. Regular visits with Christoph, Dominik, Kevin, Tymo, Jens, the rest of the Altenbachs, and everyone else will help to keep up language practice. Languages and words and ideas are so important, that is something that has been reinforced by this semester. The classes and the experience and all the other circumstances involved mit alles war so viel thought-provoking. I have gained a newfound critical and analytical perspective on ideas and their power and implications. Fur ideen und sienen implikations und macht habe ich ein neues critischen und analytischen perspektiv. I love german.

The real world is creeping in on my holiday, but I am excited for all that the next week, month, several months and more holds in store. I have only hope and anticipation for the near future, and beyond that we will see. Many changes, many things probably stay the same, as I like. I am a creature of habits who loves anticipating the future. I am able to tell you that I use writing and taking pictures to help remeber the times I dont or the details I miss. I will always be a writer and a photography man in that respect. I also hope to always be a writer, I think it should be a part of how I make my living. Maybe a food writer, maybe a researcher, teacher, politician, Im not ruling anything out. Though I dont really want to be a politician.

I prefer writing like this, just about one subject wihtout too much planning. Or maybe multiple subjects, free flowing, like a letter. Meshimushkeel bei mir, no problem with me. I like to have an audience in mind when I write, it makes things easier. Sometimes I try to write in a more terse and curt style. But I tend to be more long winded than that in reality. I am a big fan of reality, and I will qualify that by saying that discourse and practice must always match. That is a big component of realitz for me now. Practice what you preach, no gap between what you say and what you do. Its a simple concept with profound implications.

Even if I dont feel or see Morocco, I am still in a little way there. It is with me, that time that is already established in the past as I studied in Rabat for 4 months, Ich komme von vier monat in Morocco studieren, darastu fee medinat elRabat, J'ai etudier quattes mois dans Maroc.

I will be getting a valet chauffeured ride (thank you Papa) from Newark LIBERTY international airport to West Newbury in the afternoon of Monday, May 10th. I will be there in my bed receiving visitors for several hours a day...

But seriously I want to see anyone who wants to see me. Wednesday to Cambrige for lunch with my Cousin Tommy who I havenot see in a while even though he goes to Harvard U, yikes where is the love. Its there always, and I will be glad to see him. Thursday I head to Ipswich for a couple of days with Mommy Hugh and the cats. Maybe I will get a new phone there, ooh la la? Saturday I will be at 30 glenville ave
#1 hope to seee you all there. Sunday is BU graduation, hope to see Alex Curtis at the linguistics graduation ceremonz to cheer her on. After that I dont know.

oh yeah, also job seraching maybe in Cambridge on wednesday and certainlz saturday in Allston Boston etc. Anyone know who might be hiring?

Tomorrow is a Mothers day luncheon with the whole Altenbach family, Jurgen, Monika, Marina, Christoph, Torben, plus me and Florian, Marinas bf. Should be great, I love that I have 3 families in three very different and very great places in this wide world of ours. I am going Ich gehe nach shlafen ins bett, ya, weil Ich bin mude. I am tired and will sleep good here. Love to all, see you soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Spot on the Hammam

Featured contributer Edith Maxwell's perspective on the Moroccan public bath:

Farida, a mother with smooth skin and a big smile. My son's host mother for a college semester in Rabat, Morocco. She told John David she and her husband planned to treat him more as a brother than as a son, and since she's a scant 10 years older than his 21, it fits. We visit Morocco for 2 weeks, to see him, to tour the country, to understand his experience there. And, as it turns out, for me to accompany Farida to the public bath, the hammam.

Bath doesn't exactly describe it. More like a willing deep slide into into all the senses, no holding back. Daytime is women only at the hammam. When Farida says the word, she lingers on the double M, caresses the consonant like a hug. That fits, too.

Farida dons a black embroidered robe over her gray sweat pants and a white shirt, and covers her head with a black scarf. She takes her plastic basket of toiletries, a gym bag, and me down the alley to a half-empty storefront with dusty bare walls and large woven bags. A brown haze coats a metal scale. In Dirija, Moroccan Arabic, she asks for henna, and pays 10 dirham ($1.20) for a handful of powder twisted in a newspaper cone. We walk another block to the hamman. We give another 10 dirham each
to a man at a desk near the doorway, and then turn a corner to enter a large tiled chamber like the entryway to an American public pool. Sort of.

I, clueless, follow Farida's lead and take off all my clothes except underpants. Asking questions feels futile - our only mutual spoken language is French, not a first choice for either of us - so we follow the universal language of smiles, physical example, and goodwill.

We stash our bags behind the desk on a set of shelves. We grab a few blue plastic buckets and two small plastic mats, and move through a big door into a high-ceiling long room. It is dark and unpopulated. I follow Farida like a lamb into to the next room, a less dimly lit copy of the first. It lines up in parallel with the first and another beyond, three long chambers that the passageway bisects. The ceilings arch lengthways, perforated with dish-sized holes to the morning sky. The stone walls are dark with moisture and centuries of steamed human skin cells.

Farida sets the mats and her basket next to the wall near the doorway in the middle room. We carry buckets into the third chamber where a large trough steams full of hot water. We dip green buckets and pour them into our blue vessels, then shove them along the tiled floor to our claimed space.

Few spots are yet occupied. Two slim adolescent girls are already at work across from us, soaping and scrubbing, rubbing prim arms and legs over and over. Farida extracts a plastic baggie of the gooey black soap I have seen in the market and squeezes some into a plastic dish. She adds the powdered henna and a little water, mooshing it with one hand until the mix is combined. She scoops up a handful and rubs it on my back, gesturing to me to rub it all over my body. We still are garbed in underwear, as are the girls across the way. The soap mixture is dark, gloppy, smooth as it covers nearly every inch of my skin and hers, including my face. I massage it into her back, as well. We rub and rub, over and over, at a slow, relaxed pace. Farida rubs the mix into my hair and twists it up onto my head. I try to say the henna will turn my white hairs orange, but submitting to the treatment just seems right.

Farida signals to me that it's time to rinse. We dip warm water with a scoop from the buckets. For some reason I can't discern, it's now time for the underwear to come off. Mine, a dainty pair in white and pink, are now an unseemly shade of blotchy henna-brown.

A hearty woman in black bikini underwear greets Farida with Moroccan kisses: one on each side of the face, then repeat on the last cheek. The woman greets me the same way, smiling. I ask Farida her name. It's Baresha, and I tell her mine in the French pronunciation: 'ay-deet.' Baresha dons on a black abrasive mitt. Let the wild scrubbing start!

Baresha starts scrubbing me in a casual way at first that soon turns firm. She moves my body around in all dimensions. My arms and neck and back are scraped down, and then she manipulates me to lie on my back, all the while chatting in Dirija with Farida, who scrubs her own arms and legs. The treatment is both luxurious and painful. My head rests on Baresha's ample thigh as she sits splay legged. I close my eyes and submit to chest, breasts, stomach scrubbed and massaged over and over, wishing I had emptied my bladder more recently than I had. My legs are worked top to bottom and then my front torso again. She comes near to my crotch but always neatly avoids it.

She turns me on my side to face her and scrapes my pale skin over up and down. A large pendulous breast is in my face. I close my eyes again, loving it all. She turns me to the other side, extends my arm, scrubs my armpit, side, hip. Now I'm on my stomach, my chest resting on her warm leg, my arms resting on the tiles with heated water flowing over them. My neck, back, buttocks, and legs get the full treatment.

When I'm finally brought back to sitting, Farida laughs and shows me the multitude of particles rolled into tiny dark fibers all over me that have come from my skin. That ARE my skin.

All this time, women are talking. The place has filled up since we came in. Low voices, shrill voices. Greetings and negotiations. Children speaking to their mothers, friends catching up on neighborhood news. Not a word of it can I understand. The language echoes and merges. It washes over me as welcome as the bucket of warm water Baresha dumps over me, even as she still rubs and cleans.

I am sated as Baresha moves to another client. I sit back against the wall in a posture I seldom tolerate for long at home. The warm stone eases my back and my hip joints. Farida tells me she comes every Saturday. I wish I could, too.

Farida still rubs her own limbs. The two girls across are scrubbing each other, taking turns lying flat. They retain their modest underpants, now wet with henna glop and water, stretched across slim hips under beautiful beginning breasts. I wonder what they think about all the well-fleshed out mature bodies around them. Do they accept that they, too, will look the same in 10 or 20 years? Do they think they will break the mold and stay model-slender through childbearing and cooking for a family? Might they envision themselves as lawyers and doctors working out at a Moroccan Curves before they meet at the hamman to catch up on news? Perhaps that world already exists for local women.

Baresha comes to scrub Farida. She encourages me to go sit in the third room, the hottest of the three. I take my mat and walk in my new baby-skin nakedness around the corner. I am gazed upon - my skin is much paler than the rest in the facility - so I smile in my steamy daze and then sit. This room is warmer and steamier. I breathe it in as I press my back against the wall. A family consisting of a young-looking mother, her little sister, and a 4-year old boy in white jockey shorts sit on plastic stools, soaping and rinsing, the boy trying to wiggle away from the rough treatment. Two very dark-skinned old women scrub each other's backs. One arises to fetch more hot water on thick arthritic knees.

The steam overwhelms me and I return to Farida's side, who Baresha still scrubs. The girls are scrubbing on. I sit and watch. A woman across the room washes hair to her waist over and over. A pantsless old woman with long bright henna-orange curls and a big stomach walks around complaining in a high shrill tone that someone has stolen her stuff. She is indignant about it until her bag somehow appears from the changing room.

I see very little middle ground between the young, slim pre-childbirth women and those with well-padded hips, buttocks, stomachs. The older women are not active with the kinds of abdominal exercises that I have been working so hard to maintain at the Ipswich Family YMCA, and the younger ones apparently aren't concerned, either. Even beautiful Farida, 31 and having borne only one child, is amply padded and sports a hearty stomach area.

We have reached shampoo stage. I had rinsed out the henna earlier. Now Farida gives me her bottle of Prell, Maroc version, and I do my usual single application, rub, rinse, do not repeat. She offers me a round rubber object with spikes like a soap dish, but I decline. Turns out it is her hairbrush. She combs and brushes and shampoos at least three times.

Finally we have a bar-soap stage and a last rinse. The girls opposite are not finished. No adult is telling them to wash more, to clean better, to scrub harder. They have learned early how to luxuriate in women's company.

Baresha brings our towels into the steam room and we wrap up. In the changing area, Farida has us sit for a moment before dressing. We each give Baresha 30 dirhams, about $4, and as we leave I am sternly instructed to pull my shawl over my head so I won't be cold. We tip the desk woman about 25 cents and she tells Farida I am pretty.

We walk out into 75-degree sunshine, but I keep my head covered until we reach Farida's home, John David's home, 2 blocks away. My skin smells of henna until the next day, my toenails are tinged with orange, and my white hair is faintly colored a pale shade of hamman rust. I would gladly have this experience every week. Perhaps Ipswich is ready for a hammam? Or maybe not. Somehow Yankees naked scrubbing each other doesn't quite compute.