The Art in Settling


The year has started to settle.

I don’t mean 2014 (though, that, too). Rather, I’m referring to my year in Boston. I’m almost 5 months into it, just over 7 months until I make that auspicious final move to New York City, and the freshness of the new city has been supplanted by my familiarity with this temporary home. I know the landscape, I know the people, I have patterns and regular spots and memories of New Orleans are already fermenting into nostalgia.

There’s still so much that I haven’t done or seen in this city, so much that I’ll never get around to doing or seeing. There are the museums that I haven’t visited, and the bars in Southie that I’ve yet to venture into. I still want to go to a Celtics game, and a Red Sox game for that matter. I hope to take a day trip up to Maine and finally touch the one corner of the country I haven’t reached (not counting Alaska and Hawaii, which I’ll get to. Eventually). But I’d like to think I’ve made a pretty good go of it so far.

The 5 month mark in each year isn’t necessarily notable, though it was around this time in my year in San Francisco that I finally found a job after desperate, fruitless months of searching. It was also this time last year when I moved out of my first place in the St. Roch neighborhood of NOLA to a better apartment (and living situation) in Mid-City. Other than that, though, 5 months is just another arbitrary division of time, not quite halfway through, not even a clean divisor of a year.

And yet, 5 months does feel like an important junction in the year. The first couple months are full of exploration, which is then replaced by those frenzied, interminable weeks collective given the doublespeak designation, ‘The Holidays’. It’s only at the end of January that life begins to feel “normal.” It’s too early to start planning my move, but I’ve got enough time behind me that Boston doesn’t feel like a ‘new’ city, just my city. Generally, January and February are my least favorite months of the year, what with their bleak, gray weather and monotonous run of weeks with nothing to differentiate one day from another (Valentine’s Day doesn’t count; period). I wonder, though, if this settled feeling isn’t also a factor.

My entire life revolves around change, but right smack in the middle of my year is this period of stasis.

Of course, I could take a trip somewhere (well, another trip), but that would undermine the heart of this project. If I left my current city every time I got bored, I’d be missing out on real city habitation, the day-to-day that defines the way people actually live. If 10 Cities / 10 Years is a story about how people live in their cities (specifically, how they navigate their 20s in the city), I can’t very well hang around for the peaks and dip out during the troughs. Life can be spectacularly fun, but it also can be relentlessly dull, and while that might not sound like great fodder for art, the contrast provides depth to the story. All of our stories.

So, I’m settling in for the time being. February will feel like a slog, but then suddenly it’ll be springtime and NYC will be visible on the horizon (along with the existential crisis that will mark the end of this project). I’m here now, though, and on occasion it’s good to slow down. Idiot.

Winter Comes to Boston

33 Snow

After living the previous 3 years in cities that experience winter in name only, this year finds me in a city that just had its first notable snowstorm. Snow is piled up in ghost white mounds and car owners are digging their vehicles out with shovels and fits of frustration. Deep puddles fill my Sambas with icy water when I miss a step and my nose drips with the coercion of whipping winds. The last time I felt this type of weather, I was living in Chicago and I wasn’t even halfway through with this project.

Now I’m a year out from reaching the horizon.

It’s good to be cold. It’s good to be uncomfortable, to feel the pain of cracked skin and chapped lips. It’s good to feel the tears well in your eyes from the sheer force of nature’s chill. And it sucks all the same.

For, it has begun again. It didn’t come on as early as some years, and it hasn’t struck with the same debilitating sweep that it did last year, but it’s here all the same. Gray skies, bundled bodies and frosty air are a sharp knife for a person with seasonal affect disorder, all the more so when it’s part of the larger cycle of bipolar disorder.

I feel the desire to push people away, to get quiet, shut out and shut down, sitting like an audience member shouting at the screen, “Don’t go in there!” The mind is a sordid bitch.

Oh well.

I’m okay. You’re okay?

State House Snow

I know what this is. I know what this will be. I know that it’ll be here for a while, then it won’t, then it will again, then… ad nauseam. So it goes.

I don’t know what will come of it this year, what bridges I’ll burn, who will avert their gaze, who will shrug and bury it. It’s not always who you expect, it’s not always who you hope…

It’s winter in Boston. There’s snow on the ground, and though some days will be warmer than others, with occasional sunlit interludes, I know there will be more snow to come, more clouds, more days-like-night. We live in cycles.

So it goes.

Chester Snow

Awaiting the Winter

After an unexpectedly hot week in which Boston jumped up into the 80s, today is looking to be a a more traditional New England autumn day, with rain in the forecast and cooler temperatures already here. Which is nice. In my book, every season tends to wear out its welcome (other than spring), so while I’m no fan of being cold, I’m happy to see summer hang up its neon green tank top.

It’s an odd sensation to be anticipating the winter and the freezing weather that will accompany it, but after three straight years in cities that don’t have real winters (Nashville, Seattle and New Orleans, naturally), there’s an almost nostalgic – dare I say, romantic – aura around the idea of a snowstorm (and I fucking hate snow).

The first now is always kind of fun. The problem is when it sticks around for four more months.

Snow Fountain

I’ve already met a number of people here who are either new to this city from southern states and are dreading and anticipating (dreaticipating?) the winter, or they’re like me and know that their mental state is adversely affected by the lack of sun and warmth. In both cases, I feel like I’m surrounded by a group of people who are bracing for the cold, like we’re all in a rollercoaster and we’re gradually climbing to the top of the first big drop.

If another storm like Sandy comes bearing down on us this year, I’ll just invite everyone over to my place, stock up on Jameson and have a week-long marathon gaming session of Cards Against Humanity and Mille Bornes.

We’re gonna get through this, people.

Until then, it’s time to pull out my warmest jacket and drink the Freedom Trail. ¡Salud!

Jameson Insta

Seattle Snow Day

It snowed in Seattle last night, and some of today.  And this is apparently a rare bird for the folks up here, so the city almost completely shut down.  Being from the Midwest, the three inch blizzard that we had here amuses me.

But, whatever, do what you got to do.  The roommate and I took our respective cameras and shot pictures.

Here are mine.

And my personal favorite:

It looks like it’s going to ice and snow tonight, so I guess I should expect another day of dead Seattle.

And those of you east of here, cherish your unseasonably warm days while you have them, they aren’t going to last.

Winter In Chicago

Some photos I took today in the freezing cold.  (Seriously, it said it was suppose to be 41° today, but that wind was a bitch).

Ducks on the Lake Fighting Nature Swan on the Lake Broken Bench 2 Frozen Lake Pana Frozen Lake Pana 2 Dead Branches 2

I met a man taking photos with a mu-u-u-uch nicer camera than me, and he got quite a few photos of a couple of beautiful migrating swans.  You can see his stuff at Profiles of Nature (the photos on the site are oddly pixelated, not sure what’s up with that; he probably needs a better host, but you’ll be able to appreciate his work).