Monday, July 28, 2008

Things I Found In My Car

Some of you know very well that I am a MESS. My room, my car, my personal life... its all one big hot mess. This is not news to most of you, nor is this new and reflective of something going on in my life. I've always been a mess. I would get yelled at in elementary school for having an unorganized desk. In fact, my mother once threw everything on the floor of my room out the window while I was at work, so when I drove up I saw piles of my clothes IN THE BUSHES. One day, I'll write a post titled "I am white trash", and this will be the first damning piece of evidence.

So, I'm selling the car. Or, at least having my parents hold onto it until I am back from Boston. That being said, its necessary for me to start cleaning out the absolute mess of things in that car-- its disgraceful. Below is a list of things I found in the car, which I'm sure will surprise some, but not all of you:

-two clementine peels
-about 30 Starbucks hot and cold cups
-$20.18 in change
-lots of broken glass
-CD cases for CDs I bought in junior year of highschool
-flashcards from "Classical Myth in Greek Art" from freshman year
-Hannukah wrapping paper
-A heartfelt letter from one of my best friends
-An ice scraper I wish I knew I had when I was using a clipboard to scrape ice off my windshield earlier this year.
-OJ's other glove
-A parking ticket from Junior year when I parked for like, 20 minutes to grab breakfast and OMG really? No one even uses that part of the street.
-Part of a chocolate chip cookie that I don't remember ever eating or having the opportunity to eat.
-Driving directions to Ithaca NY, Andover MA, and Cape Cod.
-Play Doh
-A full pack of American Spirits
-4 lighters
-Synergy from 2006-2007
-McDonalds bags-- I last had that in my car in March, and I'm sure these are from before then.
-What might have been an independent genesis of life.
-My NACURH stadium cup and certificate of recognition for being the NEACURH ADPR.
-Black shoes
-Seriously, where did all this broken glass come from?
-A bowl made out of an old record
-My Bonnaroo ticket from 2006.

And that was only the front of the car. I wonder what mysteries my trunk holds!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Time, 4 Years Ago...

As I unlocked my bike this morning, a funny thought popped into my head. Would the Michael 4 years ago have recognized the Michael of today? Certainly, I don't know what triggered this thought. Maybe it was the bike, which we've had for years. Maybe it was the conversation about the dog park and paying rent. Maybe it was the social obligations. When I was doing this, I had come from the dog park and was heading to Sara's for her birthday brunch which was DELICIOUS.

So, tonight, I figured it might be fun to take a look back at where I was 4 years ago at this time in the year-- just graduated from high school and onward to Clark. In that weird in between with no lingering responsibilities and the specter of something larger than your past looming ahead of you. Like a freshman year roommate or a view of Boston Common.

As I am writing this in my new blog, I thought it would be appropriate to use my livejournal as a tool for this retrospective. Certainly, my memory alone is not good enough to handle the task, which is part of the reason why I've always kept a blog of sorts. Looking at the summer of 2004, I found out the following about the old Michael:

-I used the word "woot" repeatedly. In text and probably in real life. My apologies to everyone involved.

-Everything in my world view was pretty black and white. Judging from the posts, I had a hard time reconciling what my perception of gay culture was with my own identity. The question "can activism and body glitter go hand in hand" was actually asked. At the time, I was going to change the world and be the great gay liberator-- I had aspirations to run the HRC, and had volunteered for the organization. Granted, I was also a raging homophobe, so I don't know how I was supposed to reconcile that. There is something so delightful in the broad brush approach I took at the time to "gay rights", and how I thought I could solve everything by integration into mainstream culture.

-I spent an inordinate amount of my time thinking about standardized tests, and how awesome it was that I was an AP Scholar. How rad was I?!? OMG LYK AP EURO!!!1!

-Much as I am currently obsessed with residence life, I was obsessed with honors society (of which i was the president) and being a PA (peer advocate). This is probably one of the more relevant things I discovered. Did it socialize me towards taking on activities and responsibilities in college, or did it instill in me a need to be active in my community? Could the Michael of West Haven High School looked at me entering the M.Ed program at Suffolk and think "This is a logical progression of my interests"? My thought is no-- I wanted to be the gay Martin Luther King Jr.

-I posted what I then called "an emotional enema", wherein I basically whined for two pages about how I was in LOVE with Ian, how I never knew my mother, how I felt disconnected from my friends, and how I should recognize the beauty of the world around me but I just couldn't. Much of it was valid or driven by hormones, but it still just sounds like I should have a striped sweater and brushed over bangs. Although, at the time I would have said "black fingernails".

-Around this time of year was the last time my mother and I had a significant fight, which lasted for all of 11 days, wherein we did not speak. This is also interesting, since we haven't spoken in close to three weeks after a stupid argument over my graduation party. Certainly, I do not remember the reason for the fight. Back then, as it was now, it was all about control. You'd think that I'd learn from myself.

I encourage anyone who has a diary, journal, livejournal, etc, to go through and try this same thing. It is nice to put into perspective how much or how little you appear to have grown.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lazy Sunday

I love lazy Sundays! The humidity is hovering somewhere between "dish sponge" and "underwater", the dog is under the table splayed out on the cool tiles, and even the fan and iced tea can only do so much. Still though, today is exactly what I like about days off!

We were supposed to go to the bar and Spiritual Haze last night, but I was getting my man period, which usually means an impending migraine and general queasiness, sometimes grumpiness and other general displeasures. So, after Taryn's birthday dinner and a little cool down period at Maria and Dom's, I made way to the Blarney Stone, but knew that alcohol was only going to make me feel worse. Coupled with the loud music and attractive straight men, I knew I was only doing myself in. So I walked home, took two Tylenol Migraine pills and passed out. I'm great at being exciting.

I had also made plans with Jenn to go to Annie's this morning and then to the dog park. However, I have been living under a rock for 4 years and didn't realize that Annie's is not open on Sundays. Go figure. So when Jenn woke me up, I offered to make pancakes! I'm so generous when I'm half asleep!

Last time I tried to make pancakes I sort of forgot how to cook. Meaning, I tried to make one large, dense pancake the size of my frying pan. As you may have inferred, it did not work out as I planned. As an interesting aside, something that large is difficult to flip without spilling gooey hot batter all over your range top. It is subsequently harder to clean off when it starts to burn onto the stove. A hot range will also cook your sponge as you attempt to clean up the mess. Again, things I probably DO know, but forgot in the storm of "fuck fuck fuck" I was chanting.

This time, they came out pretty fine, except for the ones that accidentally came out wrinkly. So Jesse, Jenn, and I had delicious pancakes for breakfast. Afterwards, Jenn and I took Bean out to the dog park for the afternoon.

The dog park was probably the cutest place I've ever been. Its out in Boynton park, which is basically in Paxton. You walk down a little bit of a forest path, and then a big baseball field opens up, and there are 25 or so people out with their dogs. Bean, having recently earned the nickname "Paris Hilton", took a little while to warm up to the other dogs. Then she was off, running around, sniffing butts left and right. There were a million cute moments, but the cutest (aside from Oscar's owner, who was gorgeous and a little awkward) was this other Boston Terrier who was JUMPING up and down to lick the saliva and genitals of this giant Mastiff. I mean, really dog? Have some class and wait for the third date.

Now its time for some iced tea and a little more relaxation before smoothies and laundry. Such a well spent Sunday!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Men I'd Like To Be: Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman writes about food. Okay, I feel like thats a gross misrepresentation of what he does, although, in a nutshell, that is his job. Check out any of the "Minimalist" articles in the New York Times, and that is what you will find. He writes about food, and its simple.

I could leave it there, but there is more going on.

Mark Bittman embodies an aesthetic. Writing for the New York Times, you sort of know that you're getting a certain crowd of readers. I think of lots of Columbia educated Brads and Buffys in white sneakers, or older gentlemen in tweed jackets. Obviously, that is not the entire readership (and this is not going to be a diatribe on class), but I feel like its the readership to which the Times is geared.

What is so incredibly appealing about him in this environment is that he keeps everything simple. Its not about long lists of ingredients, its not about being fancy (or is it?... I'll get to all this later), its not about the pretense of fine foods. Rather, it is about simple elegance. Its about a certain lack of pretense.

That being said, he's not saying "take a can of chili and nuke it for a minute". He's using edamame, eggplant, pecorino romano (yum!), and seaweed. But its not overwhelming. Its three steps and maybe five ingredients to make something simple and delicious. It says "cooking isn't hard". There isn't a blueprint for the dish, as there are in most cooking articles or cookbooks. Rather, there is a general guideline. Not a road map, but a local's oral directions to your destination.

What made him stick out in my mind as the kind of person I'd like to be is found in a video on He's making an "impromptu"(!) vinaigrette, and is squeezing lemon juice. He looks up and says, and I'm paraphrasing, 'you dont need a strainer or anything to catch the seeds. Just squeeze the juice right through your hands. Its simple, and it works'. To me this says don't waste your time, don't waste your money, take a simple approach to things. In a sense, it is a moment in which the entirety of the Minimalist aesthetic unfolds.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I spent three days in CT recently, and the drive back recharged my batteries for topics on which I'd like to write. I'm listing them here, because I have the long term memory of Dory from Finding Nemo.

You know, that one.

So here is a list of topics on which I'm considering writing! Feel free to contribute in the comments section if there are topics about which you would like me to write.

In no particular order:
5 Men I Want To Be
Noticing a distinct lack of male role models in my adult life, as well as part of my quest towards self improvement, I'm going to be looking out for people I'd want to 'grow up' to be. This may be a tag that I incorporate, or it may be one blog post.
Perception Vs. Reality
A concept that a close friend and I have discussed at length, presented here through politics,, and facebook.
Self Interest
Not because I am self interested (or is it just that I find myself interesting), but the ways in which we work against our self interest, and why. When does it serve us, when does it establish identity, and when is it just stupid?
Personal Updates and My Life
Lets face it-- my opinions are long. More interesting are the things that happen to me and then things that I make happen. This is why I like reading Mary's blog,, and if I can get my writing up to her level, then I'll feel good about myself. :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Worcester Nights

I've been having a great week.

Worcester held its Fourth of July festivities on the 3rd, so Dan, Bridget, and I took a cab down to the park on Shrewsbury Street to catch the half an hour long show. I have to say, I was really impressed with the fireworks. Back home, the fireworks are the biggest event of the year-- we get all 50,000 people down on 8 miles of beach for a fireworks spectacular. While Worcester certainly didn't capture the same feelings as the West Haven fireworks, which are such an integral part of my childhood and adolescence, the show was monumentally better. The Boston Symphony played us through the show like champs, and the children behind us in the crowd were an absolute riot. Each time a firework went off, they would scream "ooh yea! WOOH!"

After the show, and the obligatory acknowledgment that fireworks were invented in China (God bless China, land where my shit comes from), we headed out for a mini pub crawl. The night started at Mezcal with a pitcher of margaritas. The drinks were a little weak, but the company was stellar. The people watching was also incredible--playing the "those pants are so ugly" game is never so rewarding as when the contestants are in ear shot.

Post Mezcal, we wandered up to Funky Murphys, which is much like a smaller version of Nikita in New Haven. Same kind of "My New Haircut" crowd. After forcing our way through a crowd of dudes asking "Where are the hot chicks going", we found a place by the wall where we talked about Broadway and Jagerbombs.

We then took a turn down to Algos, which was a much quieter scene (thank god). For most people, the night was winding down. We, however, were not. It was also not a quieter scene once we got there. My apologies to the patrons. I considered serenading the table of girls behind us, but we all figured it was a terrible idea, despite the fact that we might have known them. Hmm.

At this point in the night, its either go home or do something ridiculous. And we've had a few drinks in our collective systems. So we decide to walk the three blocks to Water Street, through a former industrial area and past the train station. When we get there, I accidentally forced us to go to Blu. Thank god we went there.

There was a foam party
and we had no idea when we walked up there

The foam party was, in fact, a shit show. But incredible. We danced with people who were either vastly older or younger than they appeared at first. This was my first real experience with the phenomenon of someone looking MUCH cuter when you drink. The guys dancing next to us were in their 30s, for sure, but I definitely thought they were my age for a while.

The shot boy that night was also hilarious--he was clearly doped up on something, and tried to chat us up. However, I have a strict "you must be wearing pants to hit on me " policy. Tighty whiteys do not cut it. He also had a handshake like a wet fish, and god knows what a turn off THAT is.

Last night was similar, but certainly less storied. I feel like, maybe, I've done the 4th of July correctly this year. Or at least, age appropriately.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Those Pesky Elites

Elite. Its nothing more than a dirty word. People sitting in a country club, cold drinks, big hats, talking stocks and conspiring to run the country. The senator from the great state of Taxachussetts, living off the hard work of the middle class.

The fuss people are getting into over the term elite during this presidential election is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion. I propose that there are 3 reasons why:

1) Everyone is middle class, so the "elite" are "not like you and me"
2) We equate "elite" with "elitist"
3) To gain any power and run for things like Senate seats or the Presidency, one must ascend to the echelons of the elite.

1) Everyone is Middle Class
This is a concept we discussed in my Feminist Theory course, although I dont remember which theorist or who we read. What I do remember is the concept, which must count for something. What it stated was that some incredible percentage of people believed themselves to be "middle class".... it was something like 70%. This is despite, after polling, their incomes varied incredibly-- from less than $25k/year to over $100k. To me, neither of those figures look particularly "middle class". That looks like a general spectrum of wages from "working class" to "particularly affluent".

There is an article in the Chicago Tribune here that corroborates what I remember specifically from the course. The poll you can take is particularly telling.

So then, if everyone is middle class, then the elite nomenclature is extremely problematic, even if its mostly unfounded. It implies a distinction between "us" and "them" (which I'll talk about more in #2). The 'elite' must be separate and uninterested in what suits 'our' needs. By creating these distinctions, which allows us to distance ourselves and not identify with other groups, we are only creating an unnecessary divide that is not wholly correct and almost entirely useless.

That being said, I think it is extremely important to mention that the whole concept of being "middle class" is based entirely on your surroundings. 'Middle class' for West Haven, CT is different than 'Middle Class' in Reading, MA is different than 'Middle Class' in Appleton, WI. This is important to note, because it means we create such a myopic world view of our own wealth or lack of, and what is normal and what is not.

2)All Elites Are Elitist
I don't know that I can write this post without defining "elite". I don't think I care to, though. The point is that we fear this nebulous, scary, influential specter of elitism. Defining it creates a definite boundary of what is and what is not elite, fencing in what is and is not. Aside from that being completely subjective and based on circumstances, it would enable this fear of an undefinable absolute.

That being said, there is a direct correlation in news reports about candidates being Elites, as though it is a slur. If they are elites, they must be elitist, and must not take the common man seriously. As though all beliefs and actions are predicated on a crazy system of delineation based on tax bracket. By most accounts, John Edwards has ascended to the strata of the elites (this is important later), but no one seems to think of him as such. How is he an elite without being an elite? How is a square not a rectangle? Its because the distinction is entirely baseless and founded on a perhaps contrived perception. And perception creates reality, as we all know.

3)You Have to Ascend to that level

The most striking thing about the whole "elite" brouhaha is that one really HAS to be a so called elite in order to run for office. This means Governors, Senators, high ranking members of the administration. People ascend through the ranks to these levels, circulate in these pools, and then run for office. Your association with this strata of governance makes you an elite, I guess, regardless of your background. Remember John Edwards? Son of a mill worker-- but he's an elite by virtue of his success.

That is perhaps the most frustrating part of this whole thing. People like Barack Obama (and even John McCain and Hillary Clinton, I would argue) legitimately rose through the ranks by virtue of their intellect and tenacity. Their success, regardless of their backgrounds, propelled them to this level. They are still from the kinds of families you and I are from, and one does not simply shed that when you have a title attached to your name.

What is (actually) the most frustrating part is that I would rather have someone who has risen through, who has the skills and qualifications, to be the person running my state/country. I don't want some guy 'just like me' to run the country. I'm not qualified to be president. I'm not even sure I could be mayor of my town. When we elect people who present an air of being the dude from down the street (and thats all presentation, bear this in mind), we get ongoing war, slumping economies, and an erosion of civil liberties. What I find most interesting is that he is the actual elite, in all the examples I have given. He is what the specter of elitism looks like!

My point is that we must look past pretense and presentation to the heart of the candidate and the concern. Who has the brains, who has the right answers, rather than "who presents themselves in a way I like". Arugula never killed anyone--bad choices over 8 years have.