Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bye Bye Worcester

Today is my last day in Worcester. By tonight I will be fully moved into my new place in Whitinsville.

It's bittersweet. Worcester has been a convenient place for me to live. But I have to move on, and my new place is convenient in other ways (right off the highway, about 20 minutes closer to my residency, right up the street from a Wal-Mart supercenter).

I'll need some time to hook up the Internet and my printer and all that happy horseshit. Hopefully it'll only be a day or two, but if you don't hear from me for a couple of days (hopefully no more than that), that's why.

Now I will go back to putting the final things in my car. I will still have occasion to be in Worcester (for one, my gym is still here), but in a few hours I will no longer be a resident

Thanks, Worcester.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Last week I blogged about picking a Canadian Football League team to root for, in case the NFL stays locked out all season. I narrowed the choices down between the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

After further contemplation, I've decided to adopt Saskatchewan as my CFL team, mainly because it's fun to say "Saskatchewan."  

Go Roughriders!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rejecting the Rejector

The day I looked at the place I'm moving into now I also looked at other places. One was in Worcester, not far from where I live now.

I met the young woman (a med school student) who lived there that evening. Let's just call her "Simone." Simone showed me the place. It was nice. She told me that one other person would be looking at the place the following evening and that if I wanted the place I would need first months' rent and security deposit. I told her I was looking at one other place (my new place in Whitinsville) and would get back to her later that evening.

Ultimately, what tipped the scales toward Whitinsville for me was that the Worcester place had on-street parking, which is a pain in the ass. So that night I got home and sent an email to Simone, telling her that I really liked the place but that I'd put down a deposit elsewhere, and wished her the best in her search.

The next morning I got this response from Simone:

"Hi Phil, The room has already been taken, but thanks for keeping me informed about your situation."


So, Simone, you had an appointment to see another person later than night but you've already rented out the place.

This leads me to several conclusions.

1) Simone didn't like me. Which is fine. I'm not great at first impressions, and I long ago accepted the fact that I'm not the most likable person in the world. But if you don't think I'd be a good match for the place, why not just be honest and say so? You could say "I'm not sure you'd be a good fit here," or be more subtle and say something like "We're leaning towards choosing a female roommate." 

This leads me to my second conclusion....

2) Simone was pissed that I rejected her first. If you're not interested in me, and I've already told you I'm not interested in you, why bother responding at all? If you had emailed me first and said, "We're going in a different direction," I never would've responded, since I already knew it was a non-issue. (And as such, I didn't respond to her email.) How passive-aggressive are you that you feel that need to say, "Oh yeah, well you're not rejecting me. I'm rejecting you."

This leads me to my final conclusion....

3) I think I made a smart choice moving somewhere else.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Guest Blog For Brooke

Friends! I was assigned to write a second guest blog, this time for my MFA buddy Brooke's blog Books Distilled. And it runs today!

If you like books, you should be reading Books Distilled on a regular basis. Brooke does a great job.

Maybe I can get Brooke to write a guest blog for me one of these days. Until then, enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Saturday afternoon, on the strength of a cargo van, I began my move. I'm moving to Whitinsville, which actually is part of the town of Northbridge, but nobody ever says they're from Northbridge, they always say they're from Whitinsville.

The big and painful part of the move went surprisingly well. Thanks to a huge assist from my mom, who has great organizational skills, and someone in my current apartment complex who was a mover for 13 years, and my two new roommates, we got the big furniture I have left (TV stand/chest of drawers, bed and box spring, computer table and big-honkin'-ass printer) from Worcester to Whitinsville in 2 1/2 hours.

I was home by 2:30 to watch SyFy Original movies "Dinoshark" and "Swamp Shark" (apparently there was a theme Saturday), and got to see former Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs have a cameo as a clueless sheriff in the latter movie.

The move will continue over the next five days and hopefully will continue to go smoothly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Best Blog Viewers Ever

You're the best audience ever. Last month was my best month ever when it came to number of page views.

Until this month.

In only 23 days, you guys have already topped last month's record for most blog hits.

Now, I'm pretty sure the streak will end at two. Next month I'll be going to summer residency for my MFA program and probably won't have time to blog every day.

But, you folks rock. Thanks. You're the best blog viewers ever.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Landlord, The Sequel

After my recent battle with my landlord, I wasn't sure if I'd have a working front doorknob in my final week here in Worcester.

But yesterday, once again, I left to run an errand, and when I returned the doorknob was installed in the door. And it was even working too.

Maybe my landlord read yesterday's blog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Three weeks ago (about the same time I gave my 30-days' notice that I'm moving), my front doorknob jammed and I could no longer open the door. I brought this to the attention of my landlord immediately.

I've had almost no contact with my landlord in my 18 months here. Here's the extent of it -- once, when my landlord complained in a flier on our complex's front door about the city council possibly reclassifying apartment complexes as commercial property, which would double his property tax rate, I attended a city council meeting to argue against the reclassification. I thought that would help him out.

When I called the landlord, a woman (not sure if it's his wife or secretary or whatever) asked me to use the kitchen door and the landlord would fix the front door. This was three weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, I again asked when the front door would be fixed. The woman, who was a little more agitated this time, said my landlord was away for a couple of days and he'd fix it when he came back.

Which would be fine -- except that it's a code violation not to have two functional exits. I'm still here for another week and a half. I live on the third floor. If a fire breaks out in the kitchen between now and then, I'm going to die. When I called last week and had to leave a message, and never got a callback, it was obvious to me that my landlord was just waiting for me to move out to fix it.

So on Friday I called the Worcester building inspector, who, in a rare and shocking display of government efficiency, actually showed up at my apartment Monday, the next business morning. He confirmed that, yes, this was a code violation and told me he would contact my landlord with a demand to fix the doorknob within 24 hours.

Yesterday I came home from an errand and found a new doorknob -- sitting on the floor of my living room, unscrewed, some assembly required. And a big hole where the doorknob should go. (I'm not a carpenter by trade, and my lease forbids me from doing any repair work on the apartment.) At least the broken doorknob is gone. But you'd think my landlord would take the extra step and actually install the doorknob. Looks like someone's a little pissed that they got a visit from the building inspector.

I've never clashed with my landlord about anything, and he's never complained about anything I've done.

I can't get out of here quickly enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Liquidation, Part Two

I hate to give Sebastian credit. He still refers to the United States as "The Colonies." On Super Bowl Sunday, he'd rather watch pub league soccer.

But after both Sebastian and A.J. suggested that I post my furniture on Craig's List, I finally got around to doing it a couple days ago.

And I got results.

If you remember, it was a long list of stuff. Less than 18 hours after posting about all the furniture I wanted to give away, everything was gone except for two one-cushion armchair sofas (still available), thanks to Craig's List. And I didn't even have to participate in any "casual encounters."

I feel much more relieved now.     

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Decision: Adopting a Canadian Football League Team

Since pro football is still in lockout, I'm preparing myself for the possibility of no NFL this season. Luckily, lockout or no, the Canadian Football League begins in a couple of weeks, with its three downs and one-point scoring plays.

Now would be a good time for me to pick a CFL team to root for. Thus, I will analyze each team on its merits, from west to east, in an attempt to pick one.

British Columbia Lions
·         Doug Flutie played a couple of years here.
·         I’d be aligning myself with Vancouver Canucks fans, who are less than enamored with folks of my ilk (a Bruins fan) right now. If the Lions win the Grey Cup and discover my hockey allegiances, I may not have to go to Vancouver to riot – the riot will probably come to me.

Calgary Stampeders
·         Doug Flutie played a couple of years and won a Grey Cup here.
·         The Stamps' bright red uniforms are pretty cool.
·         The 1948 Stampeders are the only team to go undefeated in Canadian pro football history, the CFL equivalent of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Thus, I’ll be subjected to old Calgary Stampeder geezers in their nursing homes, a la Don Shula & Co., bitching and moaning about how nobody else did it like they did until every CFL team loses a game in 2011, at which time following through with the ridiculous champagne-popping ritual. 

Edmonton Eskimos
·         Green-and-yellow uniforms vaguely resemble those so-ugly-they’re-awesome Oregon Ducks uniforms.
·         I’d be aligning myself with Edmonton Oilers fans.

Saskatchewan Roughriders
·         It’s fun to say “Saskatchewan.”
·         Rider fans travel better than any other team in the league. Reminds me of Red Sox and Patriot Nations.
·         The Riders were the last of the current CFL teams to win a championship, winning their first Grey Cup in 1966, but are now perennial contenders. Reminds me of the Red Sox and Patriots.
·         Making “Roughriders” one word is a pretty lame attempt to hide the fact that the team essentially plagiarized the nickname of the Ottawa Rough Riders, a former CFL team that folded a few years ago.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
·         The Blue Bombers have the league’s longest current championship drought, last hoisting the Grey Cup in 1990. For someone like me, who spent the 1980s and 1990s as a long-suffering Boston sports fan, this has appeal.
·         The Blue Bombers have the league’s longest current championship drought, last hoisting the Grey Cup in 1990. For someone like me, who’s spent the 2000s as a Boston sports fan whose teams win championships every year or two, this has no appeal. 

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
·         By far the coolest team nickname in the league.
·         Ninety-nine percent of North America doesn’t know where Hamilton is.

Toronto Argonauts
·         Doug Flutie played here and won a couple of Grey Cups.
·         I can speak from experience that Toronto is a great party town.
·         I’d be aligning myself with Toronto Blue Jay fans
·         They play in the same stadium that hosts a Buffalo Bills game every year.

Montreal Alouettes
·         Geographically, Montreal is the closest CFL city to New England.
·         I can speak from experience that Montreal is a great party town.
·         I’d be aligning myself with Montreal Canadiens fans.
·         Adopting the two-time defending Grey Cup champs smacks of bandwagonism.
·         Football and French just don't mix. 

Based on the evidence at hand, I've narrowed it down to two teams -- Calgary and Saskatchewan.
I'll make a final decision shortly. If you want to make your case for one team or the other, let me know. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

These Championships Are All My Children

Over the past few days, the call banks on sports talk radio here in Boston have lit up with a new topic -- which Boston team's championship run was the greatest.

Some say the Bruins' Stanley Cup victory over Vancouver this past week  trumps them all. Others point to the 2004 Red Sox or the 2001-02 Patriots or the 2007-08 Celtics. Then the callers argue with each other and swap insults.

This truly is a thought-provoking question, and I have the definitive answer:

Who the fuck cares?

We've been incredibly blessed the past decade here in Boston. Since February 2005, each of Boston's four major pro sports teams -- Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins -- have won a championship. No other city has won titles in all four sports in such a short period of time. In the 9 1/2 years since February 2002, the four teams have combined for seven championships.

Why pick? They were all great.

Why should I have to choose between the Patriots run to Super Bowl 36, when an unknown sixth-round pick named Tom Brady took over at quarterback when Drew Bledsoe suffered what could have been a life-threatening injury, Bill Belichick had to suspend his best wide receiver, and coached a 19th-ranked offense and 24th-ranked defense to victory in three playoff games over prohibitive favorites; or a team that won Super Bowl 38 despite leading the league in man-games lost to injury and an anemic running game; or a team that won Super Bowl 39 despite being so banged up defensively that for a couple of games they started wide receiver Troy Brown and a guy named Earthwind Moreland at cornerback, and played the playoffs without Ty Law and Richard Seymour.

Why should I have to choose between the 2004 Red Sox, who traded Nomar in July and went on a tear, rallying from three games to none against the hated Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, to break an 86-year title drought; and a 2007 Red Sox team that was in first place in the AL East wire-to-wire, and rallied from three games to one against Cleveland before beating Colorado in the World Series?

Why should I have to choose between any of those teams and a Celtics team that went from 24 wins (the second-worst record in the league) and got screwed in the draft lottery to a 67-win team that beat the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals; or a Bruins team that broke a 39-year Stanley Cup drought, rallying twice from two-game-to-none deficits against Montreal and Vancouver and in the process becoming the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in the playoffs?

Any time a Boston team wins a championship, it's a happy day in my life. I refuse to choose between any of them. They were all great, and these championships are all my children.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Who Wants to Write a Guest Blog?

In my short life in the blogosphere, I've written a couple of guest blogs, one for my MFA Little Sister Erin that ran a few weeks ago,  another that will be running in a couple of weeks.

A few folks have asked if they can write a guest blog for me, seemingly in jest. And then they seem surprised that I say, "OK."

I'm serious. I'd be open to people guest blogging for me. It takes some of the pressure off me and builds rapport with my blogging friends. My blog is pretty free-form. Write about what you want to write about. Books, interrobangs,  whatever floats your boat.

Any time. Just give me some advanced notice so I can figure out when to fit you in.

Behind Enemy Lines

Because I'm kind of an a-hole, one of the things I like to do after a championship is scope out the opposing city's media Web sites and see what the reaction is.

Interestingly, the Vancouver Province newspaper ran an article proclaiming Boston as the best sports town. Period. 

Which is totally cool. Certainly there are other cities that could be in contention for that title, and we could argue about it all night. But for Boston just to be in the conversation is high praise.

I love it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Keeping Up With the Kardashians

The other night, Kim Kardashian was on The Tonight Show while I was getting ready for bed. I think it was Kim. It might've been Khloe or Kourtney, but I'm pretty sure it was Kim.

Suddenly, my cable went out.

A few minutes later, the cable came back on, with a new guest for Jay Leno and some new graphics and bells and whistles.

One might think the funky graphics necessitated the change, which would make sense, as the cable company would be better served to do that late at night.


Maybe my cable box simply didn't want to listen to what Kim Kardashian had to say.

Maybe my cable box has good taste.


Last night, I had the pleasure of watching the Boston Bruins clinch the Stanley Cup at Game On!, the sports bar below Fenway Park. I walked out of Game On! and someone with a notebook jammed a microphone in front of my face:

"Sir," he said, "you look much more calm than some of the other people out here." (One drunk guy in a Brad Marchand jersey was climbing a tree nearby, and police were waiting for him to come down.) "How do you feel right now?"

I was exhausted, and I had no idea what media outlet, if any, this guy was from. For all I know he could've been a stalker.

I put my hands on my hips and said, "I'm a little shellshocked right now. I had faith in the Bruins but it's all a little surreal right now. It's a great feeling, though. The Bruins were the last team I was waiting on."

The Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all won championships in my lifetime. Prior to last night, the Bruins' last Stanley Cup was in 1972, before I was born.

The guy continued with his line of questioning. "So does this rank as the greatest championship of all?"

This was a long, hard-fought, seven-game series against a very good Vancouver Canucks team. And I was still exhausted, and still had my hnds on my hips, trying to suck in the fresh air.

"It's not that it's better," I said. "It's a fulfillment. Now I can die in peace."

Finally, the guy left me alone and headed toward Comm Ave., where a mosh pit of Bruins fans chanting "Tim-my Tho-mas" was developing in the street.

I was amazed that I was able to get any words out at all, let alone speak from the heart the way I did. I couldn't have said it any better if I had rehearsed it for weeks.

I hope to be around for a long time. But I've finished a novel, albeit a rough draft. And now all four of Boston's major pro sports teams have won a championship in my lifetime.

The Bruins have completed the cycle for me. If I die now, I can be at peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Registration for my grad school residency is always a pain in the ass.

The first time I tried it, I was in the midst of signing a promissory note and mailing it back to Fairfield when they called me and told me they tried to take the semester tuition out of my debit card, which started a near-riot. Since then I've decided it's best to register in person, even though I'm a two-hour drive to Fairfield.

So I just registered for summer residency and, as usual, the registration and financial aid offices sent me back and forth between them five times. The two offices are 20 feet from each other. They could easily talk to themselves and get everything taken care of, but whatever. Everything appears to be done now.

I always feel like I need a drink after registering for classes.

Luckily, I had reinforcements in the form of two of my MFA friends, Hilts and AJ, who met me for Indian food post-registration. We chatted for two hours and then AJ and her husband made me dinner.

It was a great day. I registered for classes, so I have that off my chest. I was fed well. I had a good time.

Almost makes me want to register for classes more often.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Shit Always Happens To Me

Shit happens, but it sucks when it happens to me.

I saw a place over the weekend. It's excellent for what I need. I met the roommates and hit it off with them. I even wrote a check for the deposit (though I kept it until we could iron out the issue of when I could move in).

Therein lies the problem.

The place was initially available July 1, which was perfect for me, because I need to move by then. Then it became July 5, though they would make arrangements for me to stay on the couch.

Last night I got a call. The roommate who was supposed to be moving out won't be doing so until at least Aug. 1.

I have a few other leads, but nothing that's a lock. I'll have to keep searching.

This shit always happens to me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Liquidation!!! Everything Must Go!!!!!

I'm lousy at sales, but because of my pending move, I'm downsizing.

Thus, I'm offering up the following items for anyone who wants them:

* A two-cushion sofa/foldout bed.

* Three armchair sofas

* Three nightstands

* A small refigerator

* Two chests of drawers

* Three chairs

I'm not selling them. Just take them. Please. Anybody wants any of these, let me know what and I'll try to make it happen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ice Road Terror

SyFy Channel totally wins with its original movies. Classics such as Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and Battle of Los Angeles are among the great so-bad-their-good movies of all time.

I'm simultaneously pleased and disappointed that Ice Road Terror, the SyFy Original that premiered last night, was not horrible. First of all, the prehistoric monster that chases the main characters all across rural Alaska was pretty cool, based on (albeit with erroneous details) the recently discovered Predator X.

There was nice pacing and tension. Every time it was in danger of lagging with lame backstory a new obstacle was presented. The creature effects were still a little Commodore 64-ish, but not as bad as usual. Dare I say the creature was kinda cool.

I'm a little pissed. I expected worse.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I was hoping to have some news to report but I'm not quite ready to announce it yet. Oh well. Nobody reads blogs on the weekend anyway. 

That said, yesterday my blog was viewed for the 10,000th time. I have no idea who the lucky (or unlucky) viewer was.

That sounds like an awful lot of hits, and I certainly didn't expect to get that many this quickly. So thanks to everybody for the support. You're the best followers.

Power Outage

Thanks to a nasty thunderstorm, the power went out for 3 1/2 hours last night (5pm to 8:30).

Luckily I was kill about an hour of time looking for a new apartment. But when I got home, I had to sit around, with no fans and no air conditioning in 85-90 degree weather.

I tried to take a nap and it was too hot.

I went out for McDonald's (because I had no power to cook anything) and came back home and ate, and felt bloated afterwards, and I could not go to sleep because the power was still off.

Finally I took a series of drives around Worcester and Shrewsbury, and by the time I got home after the third one the power was back on. I could fire up the AC and my fans again.

It was a pain in the ass but I got through it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I've always enjoyed writing, not so much editing. But in the past day or so, I've received the following emails from folks whose stories will be running soon for Mason's Road.

1) "Attached is the revision of [my story]. You made my job quite easy. It's always enlightening to see what can go, to give the story more cohesion. I really appreciate your efforts and point-on editing."

2) "Phil,
I took a close look at your suggestions, and I have to say, you did a fabulous job.  They all make sense and improve the piece, which seemed to be your goal.  You're a very good editor.  Go for it with the changes, all of them.  And thank you for taking the time to do a close read, which is so foolishly rare these days."

Man, maybe if this novel things doesn't work out, I can find some gig in editing. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I'm known for my impatience. I mean, I'm not famous or anything, but those who know me know that I want everything done last week.

That said, I wish people would be more like me, maybe not necessarily for my impatience but for the purposes of following through.

Like, when I'm in the market for a new place to live and you tell me, "Meet us at 5:30 to see our apartment," actually be at the apartment at 5:30.

And when you say in an email, "Let's set up a time to meet," and I respond minutes later and ask if such and such a time works, don't go days without responding to my email.

Maybe I'm just being unreasonable. But, to me, it seems like common sense.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear Bruins....

....while I appreciate the effort tonight, remember this was only one game. Please save some of the scoring for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Finals. Thank you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interstate 84, Exit 2

There's a short stretch of I-84 in Massachusetts, where it ends at the Mass Pike. When I go to and from Connecticut I drive it. I know the stretch of road well.

I took a road trip and something looked different. I'm a little slow so it took me a couple seconds to figure it out.

Then it hit me. The sign for Exit 2 was twisted and crumpled on the ground. Trees were cracked in half or had their tops blown off.

This is the stretch of highway that last week's tornadoes went through.

It gave me chills as I drove through. I couldn't get to the Connecticut state line fast enough.

Quickie Blog

I have a long day today, so this will be a quick blog.

It would be nice if the NHL wouldn't reward players for biting.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How Not To Land a New Tenant

Him: When can you move in?
Me: Well my lease is up at month's end but I'm flexible
Him: I need someone in for June 1
Me: Today is June 3
Him: I want someone in now
Me: I said i was flexible, but i can't give you a commitment for a move-in date when i haven't even seen the place yet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Western Mass. Tornadoes

We don't get a lot of extreme weather in New England. OK, we get a ton of snow. But snow melts eventually -- definitely by May 1 every year all the snow is gone. We get a handful of 90-degree days each summer. It hits 100 once every five years or so. By the time we get hurricanes they're referred to as "The Remnants of Hurricane ___" -- maybe once a decade we get one that still sports hurricane-force winds.

So it's really sad to see the damage caused by the tornadoes that hit Western and Central Massachusetts a couple days ago. Luckily, we were spared in Worcester and just got a lot of rain and a two-second power outage. Springfield and vicinity weren't so lucky. I always felt for the folks in Alabama and Missouri and Oklahoma and everywhere else that's had to deal with tornadoes this spring, but this makes it that much more poignant.

The story of the woman who died shielding her daughter in the bathtub is particularly heart-wrenching. Yet, and I feel awkward saying this since 4 people did die, but it's amazing that the number of casualties was that low.

I feel for everyone. There were a lot of amazing and heroic stories and I hope everyone affected has a speedy recovery.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm Moving

I moved to Worcester 18 months ago. At the time I was paying dirt-cheap rent, largely because I had a roommate. My roommate moved out six months later and I signed on for a year's lease. Obviously my rent went up; it actually more than doubled because my roommate had the larger bedroom. But I was also employed.

Since then the census ended and I was laid off. I'm collecting unemployment but obviously my income took a hit. Then, the Worcester city council discussed classifying apartment complexes as commercial property, which would've nearly doubled my landlord's property tax bill, and he said it would force him to raise my rent $100 a month. Paying that much more didn't sound like fun to me, so I decided it was in my best interest to attend the meeting. Ultimately the Worcester City Council took no action, but my landlord also attended and complained and sent some signals that he'd be raising the rent when the lease expired. My roommate had said he was here for three years and the landlord never raised the rent in his time here. The stars were aligned for a rent increase.

My lease expires June 30. Thus, I've made the decision to move on. I've given my notice and will be moving out at month's end.

Where to, I don't know yet. I'm looking at two places later this afternoon, one here in Worcester and one in Sterling, a quiet place a couple of towns to the north of Worcester, both with significantly lower rent than I pay here.

It's a prudent but difficult decision. My life has been a nomadic one. By my count, this will be the 35th time in my life that I've had to move. Before I moved here to Worcester, I lived in a condo in Milford for 3 1/2 years -- the longest I've ever lived in the same place in my life. You can imagine how much I despise moving. Someday I would like some stability of residence in my life, but it's not in the cards for me right now.

I will keep you updated on what happens. Wish me luck.