Saturday, February 25, 2012

Displaced People, Misplaced Towels

On the Friday prior to my departure for God's Country, my sister and friends banded together to throw me a surprise party proving to be a final and fitting send off and a night worthy of great great memories. I was, indeed, surprised to the full extent shock and awe, but the previous day, in hindsight consisted of a couple of moments that should have tipped off that something was amiss in Dublin (a "Ulysses" reference for my boy, Denny Basens).

The previous evening, Thursday for those keeping track, I had had a long day trying to get my feet wet in the car buying game. The day was so rough that I even got a little snippy with a disguised Sean Taylor as he ventured to bait me into a good-natured prank call. I was wise enough to realize that I needed a respite from all things real world for an hour or so and my friends were happy to oblige.

I met up with a few friends at a bar and all seemed eerily status quo. As was usually the case, we had casual plans to go out on the town to allow me to bid fond farewells through the appropriate amount of alcohol-induced haze, but nothing too special was planned, nor would I have it any other way. The peace, also as per usual, was nearly shattered by the one and only, Sean Taylor, as he arrived fashionably late. (Everything he does in those glasses is fashionable, by the way.) I kid you not, the first words out of his mouth were "so what time do the festivities start again tomorrow?" Honestly, maybe due to the disreputable source, the comment went right over my head and I considered the question pretty reasonable at the time. Jay was quick to jump in and say that what he meant by that was, "what time do you want to go out tomorrow?" What did momentarily make me feel funny was how quickly Sean agreed with Jay that he meant exactly what Jay said. Nonetheless, my suspicion was fleeting and I soon excused myself for a beat or two. Obviously I wasn't there to see it, but according to reenactments, the looks Jay and Roo gave Sean Taylor were lethal and Sean admitted freely that he "blew it." Truthfully, these recounts of what went down may have afforded more pleasure than the party itself.

Later on that night, I had the chance to jam with Sean Gallagher of our former "Skinny Scrawny Sexy" semi-fame and the Beard who used to make up "The Umbrellas" with me. It was an absolute pleasure to perform with these musicians again. We've always connected musically on a lot of different levels and it was incredible to recapture that magic again for a spell. A great time that I'll surely miss.

The next day, we played basketball at Jay's. I noticed that Coop (a fifty-year-old drunk worthy of a post himself) was even more vociferous and cryptic than usual. As we played ball, he kept telling Jay, in so many words, to hook him up later and let him know the details. Comically enough, I assumed Coop was just kind of looking for a ride later, or a place to grab some weed. I feel bad for thinking this in hindsight, but it was more of a generalization of Coop's character than Jay's. Apparently, Roo had let slip to Coop that a party was going down that night. While Roo succeeded in vowing Coop to secrecy, Coop wanted to attend the bash himself. That would have been a surprise indeed if Coop were amongst the young and semi-sober. Fortunately, Coop never made it to my home and after a laid back dinner with my father, I returned home to find the foyer flooded with with my friends shouting a jarring, but warming, "surprise" as I walked in the door. I was told my face was quite memorable and I don't doubt it. It was beyond awesome to have so many people gathered to say goodbye and I'm grateful to everyone who attended, especially my sister Noelle and Jay, who were instrumental in making it happen.

The party was largely a great time and as the midnight hour approached we made for Downport to draw unsuspecting, yet willing, others into our celebration. I feel like "tales of buzzed" is a little trite, so I'll skip over a lot of that jazz and just mention that Matty and I hit the dance floor as only we can (even a Frank sighting), Sean Taylor gave me open access to his tab, which I only added a lone beer to, because I wanted to make sure I remained cognisant enough for people to remember me fondly. I chuckle at how I kind of minimized such a grand gesture, but it's the thought that counts and I thank him tremendously.

After we left the final bar, a slightly worse for wear (is that the right "wear"?) Sean Taylor wanted to grab some pizza. We went into a pizza place where basketball was being discussed. Believe it or not, I kept my mouth shut having learned my lesson from the subway "What constitutes a sport?" debate. However, after about two minutes of loitering, suddenly a roar of boos erupts in the place in an apparent appeal for a mass exodus of some kind. Lo and behold, Sean Taylor is the target of these misgivings. I admit, I have no idea what he said to excite the mob so, but at least from his body language, it seemed rather uncalled for. We all left (Sean fashionably) in a fit of laughter leaving the hecklers to savor their victory. It was a good-natured exchange, but nonetheless, I'll always wonder what Sean said that night.

As stated, Sean had suckled all he could from the night and wound up snoozing at my place. In a final mystery, I awoke to find Sean Taylor snuggling with my bath towel as the morning sun's rays crept into the window. Sean could not account for why he had the towel and as for me, I realize that somethings are better left unanswered and ran through the laundry.

More to come as I start work on Monday.

Song of the Day: Bird Song-Grateful Dead
Jazz Song of the Day: Bird Gets The Worm-Charlie Parker

Clearly, I'm subconciously in a very avian mood.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dolls, Dogs, Dutch

I type this post from the confines of a York College writing lab which, due to its lack of windows, causes me to lose track of most any concept of time. With that said, I can say with confidence that my presence here is a much welcomed dose of nostalgia rather than the symbol of fast approaching deadlines of all kinds it was when I was a student here. I took the ride down to do some visiting, only to find that break started today. The day was a solid one nonetheless, as I caught friends intermittently throughout the day, but it has left me with pockets of downtime like this as I wait to meet up with some friends from the wrestling team. We workout together, no big deal.

The move to Pennsylvania is at last complete. With the exception of having to find a local Wal-Mart equivalent and start the actual job that bid me to leave to beach combed land of Long Island's north shore, things have pretty well settled down and I may even find some time to scribe a long overdue opinion piece on Jeremy Lin's rise to superstrardom, which excites me enough for both of us, so don't worry if you're underwhelmed by that news.

As I said, the move is complete, but a great deal of things went down in short succession that led up to this point. I'll do my best to cover the ins and outs without over doing it on the word count front.

I'm living in the historic district of Lancaster, a stone's throw from a lot of things, but most notably, I guess, at this point, the stadium for the Lancaster Barnstormers of Atlantic League fame. I find it incredibly interesting that for a guy who, no offense, never cared very much for baseball (especially after the Chi-Sox won the series) can have a lot of the eras of his life kind of defined by this minor league baseball program. My family used to have season tickets for the Long Island Ducks when I was high school-ish age, Rhapsody was heavily involved with the York Revolution, and now I live close enough to the Barnstormers to have to keep my head on a swivel should a ball ever leave the park.

Anyway, the speed of life has definitely picked up in a positive way. A couple of weeks ago, I took the drive out to PA to check out some perspective domiciles and really did get lucky since the second place I checked out wound up being the place I settled on. However, the day did not start out on such a positive note. I initially checked out a place in Centerville in a more rural area of Lancaster and my hopes were pretty high for the place, initially. The woman had four dogs that she admitted were rambunctious, but small. I admit I'm not exactly a pet person, but I also don't really mind them too much either. I figured even if the dogs bark a bit and crowd your knees some, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. For awhile, I sat inside and spoke with the owner as the dogs played outside. I was a little relieved because she wasn't lying about the dogs being small and they weren't going wild or anything outside. I figured I was, more or less, in the clear and the woman was just being cautious in warning me about the animals. She then opened the door and everything changed. Now, I expected these dogs to bark and jump at my legs until they got to know me and get settled, but I was literally fending off projectile dogs as they launched themselves at my chest. I'm trying to play it cool, but it gets to a point where I'm literally throwing these dogs off me and fighting my natural instincts and clench my fists. I know that a few animal lover friends likely disapprove, but I swear I was under attack.

The woman eventually corrals the beasts and locks them away in another room, where they continue to throw themselves at the door, making a terrible thud-noise. Now, at that point, I'm rattled, I admit. However, this woman's rent was the cheapest to be found and while I had already concluded that my time in this place was going to be MUCH more short-term than I had anticipated, I still didn't want unequivocally rule the place out just yet. Plus, I came all this way so why not at least see the room? The room itself is furnished, has an independent bathroom, nice tile flooring, and even a variety of books to peruse. Sounds pretty solid, right? I neglected to mention that the room is filled with at least 30 different baby dolls of all kinds, surrounding the room. At this point I'm briefly considering that this is an elaborate hoax set up by Sean Taylor to make up for the cash register incident. It was not. At that point my gut feeling was confirmed and I thanked the woman for her time and moved on.

Actually, I'm going to split this time into a few posts to avoid writing a novel and over skimming the time. The next post will concern a surprise party that, thanks to Sean Taylor, almost wasn't.

Song of the Day: Out Of The Blue-George Harrison
Jazz Song of the Day: Orange Was The Color Of Her Dress-Charles Mingus

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dreams As Real As Anything

As much of a tremendous time it was making the trip to Cherry Hill with Sean Taylor and catching up with the illustrious Dennis "Gloves" Madden and his family, I really only have a couple of stories to tell. In short, it was great to meet a couple of Sean's friends and equally great to catch up with the Maddens, who are always very kind when I stroll into town.

At one point, Sean, his friends and I found ourselves in thrift store where I saw this absolutely wild blue blazer that I was moments away from purchasing. In the end, I decided to set it down because the more a thought about it, the less places came to mind where wearing the the thing, as cool as it was, would seem appropriate. This was perhaps a sign of my growing maturity. While we were waiting on line to check out, a television up front was playing the tail end of "The Little Mermaid." While the people with items to check out stood online, I excused myself and raptly watched the last 20 minutes of the movie. This was perhaps a sign of my growing lack of maturity. Also, at one point, Sean's friend asked him to go check the purses for any Vera Bradley bags. Rightfully so, Sean Taylor had no idea what to look for and started reading the tag of each bag, which was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Now, not that I'm proud of this, but due to my sister's appreciation of her style, I knew how Vera stuff looked so I walked over to Sean and essentially said, "don't worry, I got this" and set to work narrowing down the field of purses. This was perhaps a sign of something I'd rather not discuss.


As I said, it was great to see my radio cohort and his family and a couple of his friends I've come to call my own. In a cool collision of worlds, Sean Taylor joined us for a basketball session. After a night of wings and some brews, I headed back to the Madden home to sleep for the night. I was at rest for a couple of hours when I was suddenly being shaken awake by Mr. Madden.

"Tom, Tom, I can't sleep," was all he said for a beat or two.

Now, given the fact that I'd just been roused from my slumber, I was a little unclear as to how I fit into that equation. For a few seconds I genuinely thought he wanted me to read him a story or hum him a lullaby. I doubt the moment was that long, but time sure did seem to slow down as I wondered what the heck he wanted from me.

"I need to sleep on that couch. You can move downstairs," he added after what seemed like an eternity. I pretty much just nodded and gathered my stuff and moved downstairs without really opening my eyes. When I woke up the next morning, Mr. Madden thanked me for moving the night before and we commended ourselves on how quickly and easily we handled the transition. Quite an experience.

Ah, at last it is time for the finale of the post, yet another episode in the Odyssey of Sean Taylor. On our way to Jersey, Sean Taylor and I were deep in conversation and Sean accidentally hopped on the Turnpike heading north. It's a relatively easy mistake to make and we both picked up on it pretty quickly and got off the pike as soon as possible. That's where the fun began.

As we exited, Sean asked the booth operator how to turn around and get on the pike going south. The operator asked where we were headed. It was an innocent enough question and Sean Taylor answered "the Cherry Hill/Philly area" as he handed the woman the money for the toll. The woman then jumped into an elaborate analysis of what exit we should take off the pike and what signs to look for when we did. Sean politely interrupted, saying that we knew all that we just needed to know how to turn around. The woman interrupted Sean, insisting she knew what his question was and again began to, again, explain that we should get off at Exit 4 and look for the Philly pike. Sean, again, interrupted saying he knew all that and just needed to turn ar-- and before Sean could finish his sentence, the woman chimed in again.

Now, until this very experience, I never quite understood why people wrote. sentences. like. this. I mean, I know what the sentence structure is trying to convey, but I never saw the need to express emphasis like that. I don't find it annoying or anything, like the overuse of exclamation points and woorrrddsss typed outtt like thissss!!, but, like I said, I didn't ever have use for it. The lady in the booth changed my life forever.

"Sir! I. un.der.stand. what. it. is. you. are. asking. me."

At that point I was useless and instantly lowered my hat and began giggling uncontrollably out the passenger-side window. from the corner of my eye I saw Sean Taylor raise his hands slightly from the wheel as if to say "what am I supposed to do?" Sean then realized that the woman still had his money and became a very strained form of apologetic. The woman jumped into her monologue for the third time and, at last, finished her 2 minute speech with a simple, "to turn around, follow that sign." A relieved Sean Taylor said thank you and we rolled along in silence for a couple seconds before recounting what had just happened and laughing heartily.

The fact that you knew that both of these people were thinking, "is this person a moron, or what?" at the same time while a line of cars sat restlessly behind them was too funny for me to bear and I won't forget the exchange for a very long time.

Song of the Day: Baby Britain-Elliott Smith

Jazz Song of the Day: Part VII of Keith Jarrett's Testament in Paris Concert.

Second Jazz Song of the Day for the sake of the holiday and my growing musical infatuation with Julian Lage: My Funny Valentine-The New Gary Burton Quartet

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Few Zip Codes To Choose From

There has indeed been a dearth in posts recently in this "Yesternow" medium, but I'm mighty hopeful that this weekend will signify the revitalization of "Yesternow" as it seems as though, at last, some new chapters of life are patiently waiting to be experienced and written down as an afterthought with commentary ripe with hit-or-miss witticisms and attempts at profundity. At long last, I've been employed by a company in Lancaster for which I'll be doing some writing centering around restaurant equipment. Genuinely, the job does seem more interesting than it sounds and I'm excited to get started. I really don't want to make the post about my employment necessarily, but I will say it's a tremendous relief to have some long term plans and to have a rather painstaking interview process payoff with a job offer.

The month-long process was a bit of a hang up because the company (justifiably) never came out and said I had the job until last week, but they were complimentary enough about my writing samples and stayed in touch with me often enough that pursuit of another position locally seemed a bit like a fool's errand seeing as how there was a chance I'd be PA bound what seemed like at the time to be any week now. The best way to describe it is to say that my life was at a yellow light and I didn't know whether to hit the brakes or run right through it.

I certainly stayed productive throughout that time, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't be more pleased that persistence, hard work, and patience has paid off for me. In a way, the time in limbo between the hustle and bustle of college and my current plans was a grind of odd jobs, questions, and self reflection that wasn't always positive.

By no means do I view this position as a finish line of any sort. If anything, I view the position as a starting line for hard work to begin, but it will be a brand of work that will have some direction; a direction that for a little while I was lacking.

Anyway, I start the job on the 27th and in the meantime will be making some sporadic trips to Lancaster to set up shop there, so to speak. Actually, as soon as this Monday (maybe even Sunday), I'll be making the trip to take a drug test. Now, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds some humor in the fact that I'll be driving four hours there and back to essentially pee in a cup, but obviously I can use the time to become more acclimated with the area.

Fortunately, I think I've already found a place to live for the not exactly short-term, but certainly not long term (medium term?) as a friend of my mother's is looking for a new tenant to take lodge in her garage that she's been renting out for some time. I admit the term "garage" is a little bit of a scare word, seeing as how I've never really seen a garage I'd want to live in, but it has its own finished bathroom and if she's rented it out before that probably means it's nicer than the term implies.

Regardless, I'm not too picky, the lease (if any) is not a long term commitment, and to have something so serendipitous fall into my lap is not something I should squander. Worst case scenario, I have the number of a couple apartment complexes and living there for a spell would be a much easier home base for continued apartment hunting in the area than Long Island. In short, Plan B kind of fell into my lap, and there's a chance Plan B is more of a Plan A than I'm giving it credit for. I suppose I'll know for sure early next week after I hit the bathroom, of course.

The job and living area are no more than a half hour out of York, granted I can't account for traffic, so maybe I'll drop by for a bit on Monday or Tuesday. If not, I'll certainly be around once I actually complete the move. Lancaster, with a train station nearby for NY LI access seems like the perfect place for me to set up camp for the time being. I look forward to being around more actively in PA and areas of NJ and really reconnecting with some of my best friends.

Like I said, the hard work is just beginning, but the green light to take those steps towards my future is as empowering as it is intimidating.

I guess the post kind of did wind up being about my employment...whoops. Look for a post tomorrow about a trip with Sean Taylor and reunion with the Maddens.

Song of the Day: Prince Caspian-Phish
Jazz Song of the Day: Scrapple From The Apple- Paul Motian