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Free writing September 23, 2010

Posted by Conventioneering in Armchair philosophy.

I seem to have done a little free-writing.

It happens.

Reflections on Boston.

The light slants in through the windows of the Boston Public Library.

The sun here is a little less than it is at home. I miss my Maryland sun, liquid gold across the floor.

The light comes in through the windows and it’s the first sun I’ve seen in two weeks; there’s no sun when you work in IT.

The light comes in.

I stand in a pool.

I smell old books.

I am…


Learn to breathe.

Harvard Square to Boston University past Allston, little run-down shops which you can either say have character or are dingy; a swirl of Koreans and college students, hipsters and hippies, the poor and the false-poor (ie – students and grads, those who have money but whose money is tangled and tied and whose lives are not their own, sold to history). I stand sandwiched between a businessman and some dumb broad, because it’s never not rush hour on the Green line. The trolley shakes and jolts and shudders and screeches and I swear after three years of this I’m going to lose the ability to hear that particular tone, my god don’t you idiots grease these tracks or your brakes? But it’s not the Washington DC Red line, so I guess I can live.

Boston University passes by, tall buildings full of students, more students than I can deal with and we plunge into the tunnels underground.

The sun is not my sun.

I breathe.

I need to get out into this city. Kendall and the Red Line on the edge of the sketchy part of town to MIT where My People are. The people at Emerson aren’t My People – My People’ve always been the programmers and engineers; the scientists and cyborgs. People at Emerson are Professional and have some perception that the world is real.

The world isn’t real.

I just have to figure out how to live in it. Play by these silly rules we’ve made with a wink and a grin instead of a cringe and a fear.

I’m learning.

It’s interesting. They say that when you have a young child in a social situation that if they laugh and they’re talkative they’ll always be that way.

I was silent for years.

But it’s like something old has re-awakened in me. I remember, once, when I was very young being the life of the party. Always having a story. Making people mad sometimes. Charming adults and peers alike. And then I fell into a group that didn’t give a fuck and told me to shut up.

I was silent.

I think it started when I came back from the East.

I’ve always had words on paper – no, not paper, that’s not the right metaphor these days. I’ve always had words painted in light.

But I’m learning to paint in sound. I’m learning to capture with a smile, with image and with stance. I’m learning how to charm. When do I wear a suit and blouse and makeup and comb my hair and when do I wear my leather jacket and my hat (people at school say I am Neal Stephenson because of this; I think of myself as more a Gaiman than a Stephenson, really; but the joke is that I am the Neal Stephenson to my friend Mercer’s Hunter S. Thompson), that’s a delicate thing. When do I take off the masks and give that crooked grin and a throwaway reference to a meme and when do I act prim and proper and talk about how I have excellent networking skills and my research…

I’m learning the proper dances. Here’s hoping they actually help me sometime.

But I don’t want an intense job. This is another thing: I know now.

I just want a fun job.

A lazy job, preferably.

Fuck, doesn’t everybody? But man I don’t think I care about being rich, I care about being comfortable.

Well, and enough to travel would be nice.

But you gotta think, I’m willing to sleep in a tent or a shoddy motel and eat in a sidewalk cafe and fuck the high style tourism. I’ll see your temples and your monuments sure but you can take your five star restaurants and your boulevards and your overpriced hotels.

Not that I don’t like a little luxury. I just don’t need it.

Good thing, too, ’cause I’m pretty fucking sure I’m too lazy for that shit.

The sunlight here isn’t bright enough.

City’s old. I like that. Boston feels layered, feels real. DC has this peculiarity in that it all feels so new. Even the old bits. I know for a fact that the Smithsonian castle’s been there since forever but it looks like it was built yesterday. In Boston you can tell that things have been there since forever.

It doesn’t change the sunlight. Boston sunlight is watery. It’s clear and tinny. I think of it like glass bells, or flute music. Tinny. Beautiful, sure.

But it’s not the deep brass notes of Washington.

Boston’s more sure of itself. People really are fucking crazy here. It’s so weird for me not to have to constantly dance the dance, and I’m getting these looks, too, when I try. People notice. You either are or you aren’t, here. There’s less of the game, you see. Or maybe there is, and I haven’t seen it yet. Point being that there’s enough undergrads who can still be what they are that you don’t have that business suit thing going on, where everyone dresses so staid and then goes out to bars that look like coral reefs.

I dunno. It’s interesting. I need to think on this more. I still hate that I never learned my old city. I fear I’ll never gain the heart of this one. I live too far in dreams.


The sun just isn’t the same.



1. Elizabeth van den Berg - September 23, 2010

nope. not the same. but it will light you up in ways, evidenced by your blog, that are illuminating, and poetic, as this is.

2. Jensen - September 23, 2010

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