Archive | Past Matters

Menino and Magliozzi, I Hardly Knew Ye

Although I recognize Tom Menino’s salt-of-the-earth goodness (he wasn’t called the “urban mechanic” for nothing), his death marks the first landmark Boston moment I’ve not emotionally responded to in my lifetime. I realize it’s because his entire mayoral reign (1993-2014) dovetails with my time in NYC. Have I finally become more of a New Yorker than a Bostonian? My new license plates would suggest so but–as I type this–I learn of the death of Car Talk’s Tom Magliozzi, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. He was the best wiseass (and, ironically, crucial in keeping my car Sadie alive). It’s such a Mass cocktail of tragedy and oddity: two Italian-Boston working-class heroes with startlingly similar names dying within days of each other. I can’t help admiring the confluence even as I realize no one here will care. Oh, I miss my people. Maybe you really can’t take the Masshole out of the girl.

Listful and Asea

I’m sitting up in bed—an unmade bed, even, which is so unlike me these days. It’s a big, soft tousle of linens and pillows and books, and I’m leaning against a velvet headboard, drinking a latte—extra-hot, extra shot—while eyeballing the grey, cool morning right outside my window. I like the idea of it all but, frankly, I’m exhausted.

Part of my exhaustion is just another day at the races: I did my laundry, fetched my groceries, picnicked by the water before it was even 10 am. But partly I’m exhausted because this was a huge week for me. It marked the real end of my Summer of Reckoning.

I fear bureaucracies—the IRS, the DMV, health insurance companies, housing agencies, patriarchy—the way others fear public speaking or being alone. In June my fears came home to roost or, rather, the rotten fruits of my avoidance became unavoidable. In the months since, every day I’ve had to do something that scares me. Which, of course, has not been the worst thing in the world. But a fun summer it did not make.

I crossed the last onerous item off my SOR to-do list yesterday morning, and immediately took off for the beach to celebrate the occasion. It was my first trip to the Rockaways this summer, never mind that to most summer had already ended. Continue Reading →

September 11 in Parentheses

Every year September 11 takes me by surprise. I forget that the day after September 10 isn’t just a day when an article is due, when my this-or-that class is scheduled, when I’m supposed to meet up with so-and-so for coffee. I don’t remember the import of the day until it arrives, when comments start flooding the social media you can’t escape anymore. That’s when I realize what my body has already been registering for days–in the generalized depression I’ve been feeling, in the uncharacteristic anxiety that has been seizing my limbs and messing with my attention span, in my suddenly sour stomach (gut instincts being almost mundanely literal). What I recognize is I can’t run away from the losses of that day. For me, the events of 9/11 will always be profoundly personal—someone I loved died, a future I’d envisioned for my city and myself (one that included a marriage and a child) died as well. But it’s a date that everyone in the world quickly seized as their own. Now it’s the worst kind of personal-is-political—a day upon which everyone projects (institutionalizes, even enforces) their particular brand of fear and fury. If only we could make it National Shut Up and Think Day instead.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy