Friday, September 30, 2011

Terry Francona

Friday was a sad day, as the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona parted ways.

Francona was the best Red Sox manager of my lifetime. He led the Sox to two World Series sweeps over the Cardinals and Rockies in 2004 and 2007, respectively. He helped break a 86-year World Series championship drought. In the years they didn't win, he got the most out of the team.

Until this September, when the team limped home with a 7-20 record and squandered a 9-game lead in the American League wild-card. He clearly lost the team by season's end, and you can't let that happen and still expect to stay on as manager, though that's not to excuse the team for playing without any heart or sense of urgency, because that's inexcusable. It would also be nice if Theo Epstein would develop better talent and sign better free agents.

No doubt it would be difficult for Francona to continue managing spoiled players and unsupportive management. But it's sad it had to come to this. I wish Francona could stay. It feels like the end of an era.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Settling In

So far, so good. The new place has been good to me for the first few days.

There is ample closet space.

There is ample room. The bedroom is kinda small and has no closet space, but the living room and kitchen are both huge. We're talking ginormous. I've discovered that all my extra books fit nicely in the kitchen pantry.

This may actually be the largest apartment I've ever lived in.

It's ridiculously quiet in here. I live in a building with nine apartments, yet I feel like I'm the only person in the building. Living on the third floor probably helps. And I'm somewhat camouflaged from the rest of the building. If you weren't specifically looking for it, you would never know my apartment exists

Of course, now tat I'm back on my own I could use a sofa. But whatevs. Knock on wood. A lot could go wrong. The place could burn down tonight.

But the first week has been good. I'm happy here.

Sox Collapse

One of the things I largely missed thanks to my recent moving predicaments was the Red Sox' collapse. I knew they were losing games and their wild-card lead shrank but I wasn't in a position to watch the games.

Now that I'm moved in, though, the cable guy arrived just in time for the collapse to be complete.

I'm bad with timing, huh?

Last night I was IMing with my friend and fellow Boston fan Trueblood, who has now been transplanted to just outside New York. As the rain delay came in the Red Sox-Orioles game and the Rays scratched out some runs in the 8th inning to pull to within 7-3 of the Yankees, I had an eerie GChat premonition.

10:25 PM me: watch, sox will lose 4-3, rays come back and win 8-7
                trueblood: pretty much

Of course, about 90 minutes later both the results and the exact scores came to fruition. The combination eliminated the Sox from the playoffs. Four weeks ago today, the Sox were 9 games up on the Rays.

(It could be worse. Imagine if the Braves still played in Boston? The Braves had an 8 1/2 game lead on the wild-card on Sept. 5, and also were eliminated from the playoffs last night.)

Everyone's deciding who to blame now. The blame should be spread evenly. I blame Theo Epstein for putting together a team that looks more like a fantasy league team than a real team. I blame Terry Francona for not adjusting to a younger team that may have needed more prodding. And I blame the players for sucking when it mattered most.

But there was a good story in today that basically echoes my thoughts. I'm disappointed at everyone in the organization, but blowing the whole thing up won't be the answer either.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wireless Printer

I bought a wireless printer a couple of weeks ago, and now that I've moved I tried to hook it up in my new place.

I had some issues but I seem to have successfully connected it. I tested two prints and they both came out perfect.

If this keeps up I may call myself a pseudo-techie.

All the Best Deals

Yesterday I swung by the Comcast office on the Fitchburg/Leominster city line and complained that nobody's called me back to schedule an appointment.

Apparently nobody has ever had Comcast in my new apartment. So they had to do some sort of serviceability check. But it shouldn't take five days.

Got a call back in the afternoon. Some super-secret Comcast guy who has all the best deals scheduled an appointment for this afternoon. I'm paying less for cable (all movie channels included), wireless internet and landline than I did for the basic package at Charter, the bastard child of cable companies.

The technician just left. Now I'm all hooked up at the new place.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cable Blackout

I'm trying to schedule an appointment to have the cable guy show up at my new place.

I called them Thursday. They told me they would call back with a timeblock.

They have not called yet.

I can't go without TV much longer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Top Ten

I'm pretty much all moved in. So now I have to figure out how this new living situation will disintegrate.

My top ten ideas:

10) The house explodes
9) Kim Jong Il makes good on his promise to invade Fitchburg
8) Locusts!
7) Chad Ochocinco moves into the building.
6) I sprain my ankle again falling down another flight of stairs
5) Fitchburg city council bans cable TV.
4) The September Blizzard of 2011
3) New Fitchburg $1,000 novel-writing license fee
2) The house becomes a shrine to Britney Spears
1) Rioting at Market Basket spills over into my neighborhood

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moving Day

My day:

8:41 -- Wake up.

8:43 -- Piss break.

9:00 -- Head over to New Braintree post office, which opens at 9, to fill out change-of-address form. It's a sunny day, unusual of late.

9:09 -- Arrive at post office, which is still closed. Someone peeks out the window and has a "Shit. We got busted" look on her face.

9:10 -- Post office opens.

9:24 -- Return to the farm to start packing my car. Tell myself to be careful on the stairs.

9:27 -- While carrying the first box down from the attic, I trip and fall down the stairs, spraining my left ankle. I throw f-bombs about how this is the last thing I need right now and it takes my mind off the pain. I try to walk around, and after limping for 30 seconds, my ankle seems to recover and I can walk normally again. Continue packing.

10:19 -- With the first carful loaded, head to new apartment in Fitchburg.

12:12 -- The adrenalin is beginning to wane and my ankle starts to become sore.

12:23 -- With the first carful unpacked, I head back to New Braintree for second go-around. It's beginning to cloud up.

1:00 -- The sky opens up and it begins to pour. Perfectly bad timing.

1:01 -- My ankle is becoming more and more uncomfortable.

1:30 -- I can barely walk in the door in New Braintree because my ankle is in such pain. I crawl upstairs and reach for aspirin.

1:41 -- While trying to get the second load in the car, the pain in my ankle gradually dissipates.

3:30 -- The second carload is in, I've pulled out of the driveway and headed back to Fitchburg. Better yet, my ankle feels great. In fact, I'm barely aware that I even have a left ankle. Holy shit, aspirin really is a miracle drug. Does cocaine work like this?

3:31 -- It's raining harder than ever.

5:00 -- After getting stuck behind a school bus and fighting rush-hour traffic, I'm back in Fitchburg to unload the second car, all the while mindful that I have a writer's group meeting at 7 in Cambridge. Trying to rush.

5:30 -- I've successfully unpacked the second load. I jump in the shower, mindful that the second I take my left shoe off the ankle will swell up like a watermelon.

5:46 -- Miraculously, my rain boots still fit around my ankle, though it's definitely a tighter fit than normal. Prepare to head for writer's group meeting.

5:50 -- Seconds after I pull out of the driveway, low-fuel light goes on. Pull into gas station.

6:00 -- Hit the road for Cambridge, Still pouring.

7:00 -- Pull into Alewife T Station to catch Red Line to Porter Square.

7:27 -- Get to writer's group.

9:22 -- Writer's group ends. We walk outside and torrential downpours like nothing all day are pelting us.

9:51 -- Back to Alewife to pick up car.

11:37 -- Pull in for what will hopefully be only one final night on the farm. Prepare to do it all again Saturday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leaving the Sandbox

I don't play well in the sandbox.

I'm an only child, so I'm not good at sharing. Growing up, every present under the Christmas tree was mine. At times it can make me come across as selfish and self-centered, but I like things my way when possible.

I bring this up because over the past three months I've lived with roommates, first in one place, then over the past couple of weeks on a farm. After five years of living by myself, in June my lease was up at my old place in Worcester and so I thought I'd give the roommate thing a shot again in an effort to live a little more frugally.

After three months, I've decided I can't do it.

Thursday afternoon I signed a month-to-month lease to live in a one-bedroom apartment in a historic Victorian house in Fitchburg. I'll begin moving as soon as I wake up Friday morning -- my third move in as many months, and second move in as many weeks. Moving sucks. But I've come to the realization that I'm happier and more productive when I live alone.

The apartment is on the third (i.e., top) floor of the house, and because of that the ceilings are kinda low and the windows are situated on the floor. It's oddly quaint and cute, unlike a lot of Fitchburg. (But hey, I survived Worcester, right?) Going forward I'm calling it Fitchburg Gothic, an homage to a line in a friend's novel-in-progress. The house is surrounded by lawyers' and doctors' offices. It's the only residential building on the block. It's only $100 more per month than what I'm paying now, and I've decided I'm willing to make that trade-off.

I've been hinting of late that this blog was coming. Many of you have noticed that my blog and myself have been a little darker of late. Not a coincidence. (This is a suck thing to have to go through, but also all this is  happening during my thesis semester, which sucks even more.) Many of you know that there's more to this story than what I've discussed here. Many of you have also reached out with words of support, often unsolicited, and I can't tell you how much it means to me to realize that I had more friends than I thought. I feel like I alarmed a lot of people, who sent me emails and called me and told me that they were terrified that my life was in danger. I apologize. I never meant to imply that. I was in a dark place and I felt trapped. And when you're in a dark place, sometimes you have to say something but you talk in cryptic code because it's just too painful to say what you really want or need to say.

So we'll see what happens at this new place. Of course, I've said "quaint and cute" to describe places in the past and it hasn't quite worked out. Maybe this place won't work out either. Maybe I'll be moving again in another couple of weeks.

But for now, I've left the sandbox. I get to live by myself again. And I've realized how important that is to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Riv

Last night I hung out in Fall River with a few of my closest friends. Fall River is a city like any other city in America, with its nice and its problem areas, but as a general rule I like hanging out in southeastern Massachusetts. It's my kind of place.

It's been a tough week or so and it was really good to take my mind off of things. We talked about many things:

*Casual encounters
*Cheesy curly bacon fries
*Gas stations
*Magic: The Gathering

I feel like they helped me take my mind off of things. I appreciate having friends like this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I had a really good weekend. Cookout on Friday night, birthday party Saturday, hangin' with writers followed by Patriots game Sunday.

Things are starting to look up. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Just so people know (since I've gotten lot of responses of late), I'm not in any danger. I'm generally fine. I've done some soul-searching over the past week and things will sort themselves out soon.

I don't want to get into details until the time is right. Some of you know what's up and I thank you for the support, etc.

More soon. Be patient, and thanks for your support.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad Week

This has been a horrible week and I have a lot on my plate right now.

I will try to continue to blog daily or as often as I can but this is notice that if you don't see a blog from me it's because I'm busy putting out fires.

I hope to be back at normal blogging speed soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RIP MIKE-FM: 2006-2011

On Monday, 93.7 MIKE FM went to that studio in the sky. Now 93.7 simulcasts WEEI sports radio's AM feed.

It's a smart move for WEEI, which sorely needs to do something to re-energize itself after spending the past six months getting its ass kicked by 98.5 The Sports Hub in the Arbitron ratings.

However, two things:

1)  I'll miss MIKE FM. It came on the air five years ago as part of the trend of stations that "play everything." And, as someone who likes a little bit of every music genre myself, I like the unpredictability of hearing Duran Duran followed by Jay-Z followed by The Band Perry. It's too bad that WEEI's FM presence comes at the expense of that.

2) For WEEI, though this is a smart move it's only one small step in the battle to regain lost footing. It was only a few years ago that WEEI was the highest-rated sports talk radio station in America. But, in keeping with Glenn Ordway's rotund build, WEEI got fat and lazy and complacent. It was like the station never thought anyone else would try to challenge them, and got caught flat-footed when 98.5 The Sports Hub mounted a serious challenge.

(Shameless "I-told-you-so" plug: Back in March, I predicted that WEEI was about to lose the ratings battle to 98.5. And sure enough, in the six months since 98.5 has clobbered WEEI.)

It certainly hasn't helped that 98.5 is the flagship station for the Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins, since WEEI has largely ignored the Bruins throughout its history. That was justified from the late 1990s through 2007, when the Bruins sucked. But for the past three years it's been pretty obvious that the Bruins were building themselves into a championship contender and WEEI was in denial that it was happening.

Still, Bruins aside, WEEI has made some bad management and personnel decisions the past couple of years that have given 98.5 a huge opening to take over as the king of sports talk radio in Boston. The station needs to do better, because, by itself, gaining an FM presence only means more people will hear why 98.5 is better than WEEI right now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On the Farm

I've moved again.

I've moved to a farm in the little town of New Braintree (2010 census population: 999 -- perhaps I am the 1,000th resident and as such will win a prize). In terms of population, this is by far the smallest town I've lived in at any time in my life -- a few years back I lived in Holliston, which clocks in at about 13,000 and was the previous smallest town. I've been moving over the past five days and tonight is my first night sleeping here.

There are goats and chickens and ducks and geese and cats on the farm. There are wild turkeys. There are apple and pear and peach trees. I see evidence of grapes, too.

There's a gravel driveway and a hammock in the front yard.

A cool breeze is blowing  through the window as I type this. I can see what looks like a nearly full moon out the window, brighter than I've ever seen the moon.

This could be one of the more interesting experiences of my life..

Monday, September 12, 2011

Philloverse: Age 1

One year ago today, I wrote my first blog.

I didn't think too much of it at the time. I figured I'd write an occasional blog. But the bug hit me. I kept writing and writing. It felt like a therapeutic thing to do right before bed. Freewriting. Fooling around with creative nonfiction (though some of my blogs have been pure fiction).

Some of the blogs have been silly. Some have been serious. A lot of them are stupid. Some have been controversial.  Sometimes I freak people out when I don't post one over the course of a day, or not at the usual time I post. But it's been an interesting experience.

As my friend Ioanna said in response to my first blog, thus began the Philloverse. I appreciate everybody's support.


Last weekend, I ran over some weird cryptid creature on my way home from a cookout.

Today I did not do the killing, but I was behind an SUV, and couldn't help but notice some small creature -- it could've been anything from a lizard to a squirrel -- bound into the road. Why did it cross the road? I don't know, but it seemed as if it really had to get somewhere fast.

I'll never know.

It successfully dodged the traffic on the opposite lane but once it came into my lane it crossed the path of the SUV in front of me, wasn't a pretty sight.

To the animals, I'm quickly becoming the Grim Reaper.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001

It started as a normal day.

I woke up at 8. At the time I lived in New Britain, Conn. I was working the night cops shift that night for The Hartford Courant., so I wasn't scheduled to be at work until 2. I was beginning to be disillusioned with newspaper employment, and that morning I was scheduled to have a phone interview with someone from American Express Financial Advisors about becoming a stockbroker.

I ate breakfast and showered. Then I went into my room and checked the Internet shortly before 9 and saw a headline.

"Plane Crashes into World Trade Center."

And I remember thinking, Wow, what a horrible, tragic story. And then I thought, That's awfully low for a plane to be flying.

About 15 minuets later, the second plane hit. And then I figured out what was happening.

I got a call informing me that my AmEx interview was canceled. I watched the news for an hour and then called into my bureau chief. I didn't work in Hartford but in the satellite bureau in Avon, smack dab in the middle of the Farmington Valley, a high-net-worth area where there's hardly any crime. There were notable exceptions, but night cops for me usually meant a night off.

I called my bureau chief.

"Do you want me to come in early or do anything special tonight?" I asked.

"Don't you now what's going on?!" he said.

"Of course I know what's going on. Do you want me to come in early or not?"

"No. Come in at the usual time. Just look for a local angle when you get in."

I went to the gym. I needed to do something to take my mind off of it. Nobody was there. When I got home my dad called, thinking that New Britain was close enough that I might have had reason to be in New York that day and praying I wasn't. Then I tried calling a few friends who lived in New York to see if they were
OK. The phone lines were dead. Then I called my ex-girlfriend. We both needed someone to talk to.

I showed up for work and around dinner time that angle came in. An Avon school board member's daughter had been in one of the towers that day for a job interview. They were waiting to hear from her. They had heard nothing.

This was not a school board member I got along with particularly well. A few weeks earlier I had written a story with quite a satirical bite to it about how he and the rest of the board spent an hour at their last meeting trying to write a mission statement for the school district. He wasn't happy. Now I was sent to go knock on his door. It was the last thing I wanted to do.

He told me to get the fuck off his property and slammed the door in my face.

I wrote that night that he was waiting to hear from his daughter and did not want to comment further. It was the extent of my contribution to the Courant's coverage.

A couple of days later his daughter's body was found. He called back a day after that and apologized to me, and I told him that I totally understood why he was upset at me and didn't take any of it personally.

After Sept. 11, I realized that I hated the newspaper business more than I thought. Five months later I left the Courant to take a job as a stockbroker, not for AmEx but for a different company that would allow me to move back to Massachusetts. After Sept. 11, I realized I wanted to be closer to home.

That's all I have. Obviously I'm not a New Yorker or a Washingtonian or a Pennsylvanian and don't have any stories from Ground Zero. I wasn't at Logan or Dulles or Newark airports when the planes took off.

But this was how I spent Sept. 11, 2001. It was deeply personal to me and still is, 10 years later.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Census Bureau -- One Year Later

One year ago today was my last day working for the U.S. Census Bureau.

It was a fun ride. I oversaw (OK, worked on) the Payroll Empire, a wide swath of about 50 square feet of the Worcester bureau -- three or four desks, us working frantically when there were 1,400 employees, in three shifts trying to make sure the enumerators and office personnel got paid. We worked  lot more leisurely toward the end, when the field people all got laid off. In my last week there were just five employees.

We interviewed and hired people, sometimes fired them, kept personnel files on all of them. We sometimes tried to fingerprint people.

It was not an easy job -- at its height I was working 55 hours a week. But it was a simple job in that I never took my work home with me. Once I left 67 Millbrook St., I was free to think about more pressing matters, like my novel.

I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of (for example, managing a couple dozen other people). I leaned how to deal with bureaucracy. It was 20 of the craziest months of my life.

I'm glad I've moved on, but it was a great experience.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Simply Put

Simply put, I have a lot of stuff going on right now.

Some of it is the usual (thesis, etc.). Some of it is extraordinary and I'll have to sit on it for awhile longer before discussing it publicly.

Luckily I do have some good ideas in the hopper for a few days. But if I write some short blogs in the coming week, now you'll know why. More soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mentor Meetup

I went down to Norwalk, Conn., on Wednesday to hear from my mentor about the first draft of my novel.

It's always an anxious experience. Combine that with crappy, rainy weather, Norwalk's limited parking and the fact that Nalini is a no-bullshit type of mentor and that makes it downright petrifying.

But it was a great experience. She had some creative suggestions to some of the problems I've been struggling with. And, she turned me onto the Fat Cat Pie Co., which has some great thin-crust pizza and some cola with cane sugar.

Good food, good advice, good drink. Well worth the trip.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Four hours ago, I had a really good idea for a blog.

I remember thinking to myself, "Hey that's a really good idea." I mean let's face it, sometimes as writers we just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks. But this was legit, I remember thinking.

Now it's close to midnight usually around the time I write my blog, and I can't for the life of me remember what this idea was that I had in my head.

Am I getting old? I'm trying to retrace my steps from Tuesday to see if I can jog my memory. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with writing. So at least I have a clue to guide myself.

Alas, I have a long day tomorrow, so I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Thus, I will have to hope that I remember this great idea for another day.

I'm so sorry, I feel like I've failed you. And now I'm left with more spaghetti.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Today I was trying to get a sample out to some of my fellow writing friends. It involved a lot of cutting and pasting and I pasted one last thing and it'd be ready to email.

And then it happened. Somehow I didn't paste part of my story but a section of some fiction that isn't even mine.

Eighteen pages of some fiction that isn't even mine.

That erased the entire rest of my sample.

Thankfully a few years back I remember someone telling me about Control-Z, which basically undoes the last thing you typed. I make a lot of mistakes typing but I've never done something so radically erroneous that I needed it.

It worked.

Glad I was paying attention that day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Writer's Retreat

Saturday I got together with my friends Christine and Emily for a writer's retreat. We've been trying to schedule it for months and it finally happened.

These retreats are a good opportunity to get in some sorely needed revisions. I also learn some valuable life lessons.

In addition to revisions, they were also able to help me revise an email I needed to send out.

We learned that you have to ask for food if you want to be served food.

We learned that the trains don't run on certain commuter rail tracks on the weekends (or something like that).

And we learned that we definitely need to try to make this a regular occurrence.

Your Browser Is No Longer Supported By Blogger, Part Two

I have a way of fiddling with stuff that I don't fully understand, and somehow making it work.

It happened once with wireless Internet. And now it's happened with the browser for this blog.

The other night when I was blogging the folks at Blogger sent me a message saying they no longer support my browser and that I'd have to switch to Google Chrome. Nothing wrong with Chrome but it's a hassle unless I want to make it my default browser, which at this time I don't.

A few minutes of searching and I found a way to make my blog work again on Internet Explorer. Everything is back to normal

I would say, take that Blogger, except that I don't want to piss off the cyborgs.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Just Killed a Mysterious Creature on I-295 In Rhode Island

I'm coming back home from a cookout. I'm driving home on I-295 in Rhode Island. I'm cranking Led Zeppelin's The Battle of Evermore and it's shortly before 1 a.m.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch movement in my direction. I look and it's some creature, about the size of a raccoon, but looking nothing like one, heading straight for my car.

I swerve out of the lane but not fast enough. It tried to scurry under my car but I hear "THUMP!" I look in the rear-view mirror and see this thing tumbling across the roadway. It's lost the battle with force and momentum.

I have no idea what this thing was. It didn't look like anything I've ever seen before, like an opossum crossed with a cat crossed with an armadillo. Could it have been a small dinosaur? The Jersey Devil? I didn't stop and check, partially because I-295 is an interstate highway and not conducive to stopping, and partially because I've seen enough cheesy monster movies to know that stopping to check on a mysterious creature never ends well.

I wish cryptids would look both ways before crossing the street.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boston Cannons -- 2011 Major League Lacrosse Champions

BOSTON (AP) -- Chaos erupted once again along Comm Ave. as rabid Boston sports fans celebrated the Boston Cannons' first Major League Lacrosse championship.

The Cannons’ 10-9 victory over the Hamilton Nationals in the MLL championship game adds to Boston sports lore and further cements Beantown’s reputation as City of Champions, following in the footsteps of the Boston Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and New England Patriots. The victory ends an interminable 10-year drought which began when the franchise was founded in 2001.

A phalanx of Boston police officers spent a long and grueling night combating an unruly crowd of six people celebrating the Cannons’ championship in Kenmore Square. A Boston cable access television crew sent an intern with a camera to film the festivities.

The fans chanted, "WE GOT THE CUP," holding up makeshift replicas of the Steinfeld Cup, the MLL’s championship trophy, before switching things up in favor of the more familiar, “Yankees suck!” The group of hooligans then leaned against a parked SUV outside of Eastern Standard, before police threatened them with arrest if they didn’t get off the SUV.

“This is the greatest night of my life,” said 27-year-old Joe Sullivan, a lifelong fan dressed in a Boston Cannons #99 jersey, though he admitted he couldn’t name the player who wears 99 for the Cannons. “This is for my father and my grandfather, for the ghosts of….umm…well…I’m sure the Cannons have been close to winning the championship before.”

An irate Boston mayor Tom Menino lashed out at the height of the craziness.

"What? When did Boston get a pro lacrosse team?" Menino said. When informed that Boston actually has two professional lacrosse teams – the Cannons, who play outdoor lacrosse, and the Boston Blazers, who play in the indoor National Lacrosse League – Menino threw a punch at a reporter. “What a pain in the ass this is. Now we have to organize those damn Duck Boats again.”

The Duck Boat victory parade will be held tomorrow from 12 noon to 12:15 in the Boston Beer Works parking lot.