Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Goodly Weekend

Me, my sweet beard, and that awesome freeway bridge.


Friday was pretty cool.  I went in to the creative writing office to help Caroline for a few hours.  She sent me to the alumni site and I just took the names from it and Googled them to see what they were up to.  I'm working opposite Lisa, so I started at Z.  I found one guy (name I don't remember) who studied poetry here in the 80s and then got famous writing between-movie Star Wars books.  Talk about a hilarious job.  As I was leaving to go downstairs to AGNI, I got an email from Bill telling me that his conference had been moved from 7pm to 3pm and so I didn't need to come in.  So I'll start next week.  I went to the library, sent off my poems for workshop, and tried finding a place to watch the BSU game.  At 5pm I left and headed to Elizabeths' for our poetry mates BBQ.  Everybody brought stuff and all ten of us were there.  I got to do the grilling.  I was wearing my BSU hat and had my sweet beard, so TJ made the comment that I looked like I was supposed to be grilling.  I love that idea.  Almost as much as I love hamburgers.  We had a good time hanging out and once everybody had a few drinks in them (everybody except me, and Ashley, who had left) then we told stupid jokes (I love stupid jokes) and then cleaned up and I took my leave.  I like that we're all tight and I like everybody in our group so much it's ridiculous.  It has been and will be a wicked sweet year.

Saturday morning my awesome friend Brad Meehan came to visit.  He's up from DC for the weekend and needed a place to crash.  So we're hangin' out.  He had stuff planned for the afternoon and so did I so I sent him on his way after we chatted for a bit.  He went on a tour with his other friend and I went out to lunch with some Portuguese speakers.  The other day I got a mass ward email announcing lunch for anybody that spoke Portuguese (or didn't) at a Brazilian restaurant called Muqueca.  I told them I'd come so off I went.  It turned out to be just four of us.  Three Americans (myself, Michelle, and Tyler) and one Brazilian (Idario).  Idario just got baptized earlier this year and he was way cool.  He told me that my Portuguese was very good (as if my head wasn't big enough already, but it's a good compliment to receive) and we all had a tasty lunch.  Since I was landlocked (among other adventures) in Goiania I never had much seafood, so we all ordered something different and just shared.  It was all extremely good.  My favorite was the marisca, which was a rice dish with yellow sauce, shrimp, pasta, and small clams.  Very tasty.  We also got to speak Portuguese, our Brazilian waitress was really funny (not to mention easy on the eyes), and drink Guarana.  It was a good time and I was happy to have some new friends.  It'll happen again soon, I'm sure.

Afterwards I ran some errands, checked again for places to watch the BSU game, and then met Brad and a few of his friends at Cheers.  I'm not really familiar with the show (at all) but it's the real Cheers that they based the set off of.  It was a pretty cool setup (all downstairs).  I got a Cheers cheeseburger and Brad got some Boston Creme pie (I like his style).

Captain Morgan pose at Cheers?  Check.

After that we ran around desperately trying to find a place to watch the game.  I checked bars that we walked by and we even went to the George Sherman Union building to see if it was on at the food court.  Nothing.  I had sent a mass email out to the ward trying to find a place to watch it (even mentioned it may be abusing the system, which it was not), but the moderator told me that it was abusing the system and didn't send it.  Don't worry, I sent him/her a scalding email telling them that I have no Mormon friends in town and thanked him/her for forcing me to compromise my morals by frequenting an unholy locale dedicated to alcohol consumption (a bar, guys) in order to watch the game.  It was mostly true, since I stood outside a bar on Beacon Street for a few minutes on our walk home, but it was getting late.  So I watched the fourth quarter on GameCast (which sucks but is better than nothing) and went to bed cursing the moderator.

Today was pretty cool.  First, we slept in.  Then, we went to church.  Then we went home and changed.  Then we went to the USS Constitution. 

USS Constitution

Then we climbed all 294 steps in the Bunker Hill monument.
Inside Bunker Hill Monument (with a cannon from the Revolutionary War)

Then we went back to the church to get a ride to the Longfellow Park 1 Ward New Member Dinner.  It was geared towards those of us that are new, but everybody was invited.  Brad and I rode with Bishop Walker.  He knew exactly how to get to his house.  It was out in...Framington?  (Nice, quiet place where turkeys crossed the road when we were trying to turn.)  We met some cool people.  I remember Libby the most.  We ate some good food, went back for lots of dessert, and mingled a bit.  Then we rode home with Andrea (who Brad knows from DC), Jan (who is getting her PhD in some type of astronomy at BU), and Stefanie (who really likes Disneyland).

Now we're home, chillin.  I'ma read some poetry, read some scriptures, and take some nap.  Oh, and those of you reading this can see how fun it is to visit Calvin in Boston.  So come visit Calvin in Boston and it'll be never ending happiness.  Especially at Cheers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Meeting Famous People You've Never Heard About

Great Hall - Boston University Castle - http://www.bu.edu/castle/

Hi kids.

Been a good week so far.  Went to my workshop classes, visited Dr. Carroll (my Shakespearian tragedy in film professor), ate some food, did some sleeping, put off laundry and dishes, etc, etc, etc.

Tonight the Poetry Society of America held the Poets of New England 1910-2010 reading in the Tsai Performance Center here at BU.  The line-up was a bunch of famous people:  Frank Bidart, David Ferry, Major Jackson, X.J. Kennedy, Gail Mazur, Mary Oliver, James Tate, Rosanna Warren, and Franz Wright.  Each of them read a couple of their own poems and at least one poem from a dead New England poet.

Maggie sent out an email asking us to come and help out if we could.  So I went in right after Shakespeare.  I got the honor of watching the back door and showing anybody that came through it where the Green Room was (it was mostly red, but I just work here).  I figured I'd just sit around and play chess against my iPod (which kicks my trash most games) and nobody would show up, but David came through the door.  Then Major Jackson made an entrance.  I didn't know who he was, but I figured he's be some cool black dude.  I was right.  I'll admit right now that I think I have a sucky poet name.  And then finally James Tate came through (with the help of an assistant...he's old and getting pretty frail).

The reading was fantastic.  I didn't see Mary Oliver's name on the email they sent out, so it was sweet to have her there.  All of the poets' readings were fantastic, but two in particular were just my style.  The first was X.J. Kennedy, whose final poem was a song that he wrote.  Did he sing it?  Oh, he sang it.  And he even drummed on the podium and made trumpet sounds.  So funny.  James Tate got up and I thought he'd be really serious.  But he decided to read us "The Neighborhood Dog" by Russell Edson (here's a link: http://www.bu.edu/agni/poetry/print/1975/5-edson-neighbor.html).  Needless to say, I liked this poem.  Then he read his own work, the best of which was "Where the Money Is" ["Llamas" was funny too]).  Since we helped (morebecause we're MFA students here) we all got to go to the PSA benefit reception at the Castle (that's right, BU has a castle.  It's pretty rad, and the pub in the basement makes a mean sandwich). Before going to the Castle I bought his book, but he, for obvious reasons, didn't stay long enough for me to corner him for a signature.  But I got to meet and chat with Frank Bidart and the little tea sandwiches were really good (I ate like seventeen...they're tiny).  Yay for not having to pay $50 to meet old writers.

Oh, and that link up there sends you to AGNI magazine, which I start working for tomorrow.  Can you say "BOO YA!"?  When he called me in London, Robert mentioned getting an internship as part of the program.  I talked with T.J. and Lisa who had gotten a hold of AGNI's editor, Bill Pierce.  So I emailed him and he told me to come in so I came in and we decided that Fridays from 12-5pm I'll be interning for him.  I'm pretty freaking stoked.  AGNI (pronounced 'agg-knee' according to everyone here) is one of the best literary journals in the country, so it's a pretty sweet deal to say the least.  If it's paid I'll be in heaven, but I doubt it.

So yeah, that's what's been going on.  I wrote a poem about a lobster the other day and one about cookies today, so the soul-searching existential-quandary that is my poetry continues coming.  Welp, bed time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Holy Time Passing, Batman

I just realized I haven't written on this thing in a week and a half.
Been busy.
Um...picture first:

This is me (and a well-placed hand rail)

Ok, so.  I'll try to hit the highlights and not force you to read pages and pages.  No promises though.

So the Saturday after I wrote last I spent the day exploring part of the Emerald Necklace, which is a string of parks throughout the city that were designed by Olmstead (?), who also did Central Park in NYC (that was a good run-on sentence).  I got to two of the parks since I go camera/exploring happy.  I walked till my feet bled (ok...till I got a blister and then it popped) but I got to see all of Franklin Park and hit up the Harvard Arboretum (which I learned later is pronounced Arbor-EE-tum, rather than Ar-BOR-etum).  The arboretum is basically a botanist-dork's paradise.  Bunch of trees, lots of grass, pretty flowers, etc.  It was a good place to walk and had lots of trails and sweet trees.  My favorite was the Japanese Red Elm.  Looked something (exactly) like this:



I like it's crappy arm thing.  Gives it character.  And it looked like it was trying to pick me up.
Here is the view from St. Peter's hill (he wasn't there) at the Arboretum:
Pretty.  Can't wait for all these trees to change color.

Sunday I had church.  The end.

Monday I had my second workshop with Robert Pinsky.  He decided to add a little time to class, so we now meet Mondays from 9:30am-12:00pm.  That way half of us (5) can workshop a poem every week, with roughly half an hour each (yay math).  I went third or fourth and presented my newest poem "Gun Show Samurai."  It's about me and Chad cutting up snowmen with our awesome fake samurai swords.  Most people got it, some didn't, and it basically got ripped to shreds.  Best quote of the day was Pinsky addressing a stanza that I put a little too much BS into (I always put in a little; it's a given).  He said, "I hereby accuse you of writing too poetically."  Good times.  Next time I go it'll be better.  In fact, today I wrote two poems:  "Time Machine" and "God vs. Stephen Hawking."  Boo ya.

Tuesday was mostly my lit classes.  I spaced out during Contemporary American Poetry till we finally got to Frank O'Hara (one of my influences) and then in Shakespeare and Film we watched Lawrence Olivier's "Hamlet" (recommended).  Then it was finally time for BASKETBALL.  And you all know how I live for basketball.  The stake center is ages away (an hour by train plus walking) but that's nothing when compared to my will to play.  The group was decent.  Had one or two really good guys, a couple of averages (like me), and only one or two sucky guys (not bad for Mormon ball).  I rolled my ankle in the second game.  Did that stop me?  Not a chance.  Did it balloon later?  It might have.  But it's all better for tomorrow.

Wednesday was our workshop with David Ferry.  David is one of those people that you automatically love the second you meet him.  Some interesting facts about David:  he's 80 years old, and he's a nationally acclaimed translator.  He translates Horace's odes and lyrics, as well as Gilgamesh.  I know, right?  The dude translates Roman poetry and Mesopotamian epics.  How can you not love this dude.  He's extremely personable, and he leans forward in his chair the entire time because he's just so excited to be reading our stuff and passing some of his thoughts on.  I don't workshop till next week, but it's two hours of awesomeness.

Wednesday night there was a reading by Adam Zagajewski.  He's a polish poet who is pretty famous here.  He teaches half the year teaching in Chicago and half in Krakow.  He had a wicked awesome accent and was so funny in between poems.  I should have bought a book and had him sign it, but in all honesty I'll live.  Best part of the night was when Maggie (an alumnus of the program) had forgotten to turn off her phone.  It went off right as Zagajewski was gonna start a poem.  He just looks up and says, "This is not my mobile" and then keeps reading.  Golden.  Afterwards we did the whole mingle thing (short lived since I'm not a mingler) and then I split.

Random Boston picture taken from a bridge over the Charles. (In case you're getting bored).

Thursday afternoon I had a good experience.  I was sitting on a bench near the BU chapel between classes and Sophie came up behind me and tried to scare me.  Lucky for me I'm not jumpy, but she sat and we talked for a while.  We got onto the subject of me being a Mormon (it happens) and I answered a couple questions she had.  Pretty legit questions I suppose.  She had told her brother we had a Mormon in our poetry group and he texted her some questions.  She had more when we hung out Saturday (account coming later) but it was fun to throw down some real-life information for her.  Anyways.

Thursday and Friday nights were readings.  Thursday's was in the coolest place EVER.  It's called the Liberty Hotel.  It's a five-star hotel in Boston, blah blah blah.  But get this: it used to be a prison.  Now it's a super nice hotel and they keep it really dark in the lobby.  The effect was even sweeter because it was overcast and just starting to rain when I got there.  David Ferry was reading along with Gail Mazur, who teaches at Emerson College, I believe.  Anyways, David read some of his own stuff and a few of the odes and Gail read from her up and coming poetry collection.  They're both such good writers.  Given, they've been doing this for ages, but you can definitely see how masterful they are at writing poems.  The Liberty Hotel hosts a reading once a month, so I'll be back.

Friday night's reading was here in my neighborhood (Brookline) at the aptly-named Brookline Booksmith.  In the basement, with the mystery section as a backdrop, there's an open room.  I liked this reading because it's much less formal than the others.  This would be because it's readings of the MFA students at other universities around where we're at.  Generally it's only UMass and Emerson, but we got the invite and we'll be in touch, so BU is here to stay.  There were three fiction writers and one poet.  The fiction writers were alright, but the poet, Molly McGuire, was hilarious.  She had written a series of poems based on "facts" that she had learned from beauty magazines.  They sounded a lot like poems that I would write, especially my personal favorite, "Taylor Swift in Hades."  One of the poems also had one of the funniest, most inappropriate verbs I have ever heard.  I won't put it on here, but if you ask me about it I may feel comfortable enough telling you.  When you're older.  Looking forward to the Brookline Booksmith reading series.

Saturday was pretty legit.  Slept in, didn't clean the apartment, got a little writing done, played Solitaire for a solid 90 mintes, and crunched numbers to re-remember how strapped I am for cash (yay college).  Anyways, afterward I texted Sophie to tell her I had sent her a poem (we write the most alike and therefore bounce ideas off of each other).  I informed her that I was being a vegetable but planning to go explore and invited her to come along.  So we did.  In case you didn't know, Saturday was National Cheeseburger Day (not to be confused for National Hamburger Day, which is in May).  I had found this place on the web called Mr. Bartley's.  It's been around since 1960 and they have a burger called The Viagra.  Being the world's foremost cheeseburger connoisseur, I had to try it, even if it did have bleu cheese dressing on it.  It was no Monster Burger from Red Robin (which, to my eternal bewilderment, they don't technically make anymore), but it was definitely a good burger.  And the atmosphere was way cool--too much wall decor, packed (line out the door), and good-sized fry helpings.

After burgers we went around the corner to Grolier's.  Grolier's is the oldest (and one of the only) poetry-only bookstores in the country.  It's tiny, but it's awesome.  The owner, Ifeany, was just chillin inside.  He's a soft spoken, well-established poet (from Kenya if I'm not mistaken) that has taught at Wellsley for like 30 years.  We got to talking and told him that we were in the BU MFA program (he obviously knows David and Robert).  We didn't stay long, so I didn't find anything worth buying, but we made a friend and I'll for sure be going back.  After that we had a little time before Sophie had to peace out, so we went exploring.  We found lots of cool buildings.  My favorite was Memorial Hall (first picture in this post).  It's huge and awesome and the roof tiles are all colorful (it's striped).  I dunno what it is, but I'll Google it or something. 

We also walked around Harvard and found a little art gallery in the Carpenter Center.  There was a ten minute movie about the Russians in space.  It talked about how astronauts went up when their country was the USSR and then came down when it was Russia.  (Most intriguing line:  "The city where you were born is no longer called Leningrad; it is now St. Petersburg).  There was sweet footage of a baby bird that they had taken into space with them.  One of the astronauts pulled him out of his cage and spun him a little.  The little guy tried to flap his wings but nothing happened.  I'm sure it sounds stupid, but it was so trippy.  But my favorite piece was a dangling projector that had all the covers of Time magazine flashing insanely fast individually and (I assume) chronologically.  I took a moment (pun intended) and pulled out my iPod so I could play "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish while I watched time.  Personally, I think I added a dimension that would have blown the artist's mind.

Sophie staring at Time

Afterwards, Sophie had to go wait for the gas guy to come fix her house, so she split.  I went back to the Carpenter Center, where I got to do what I had been waiting to do all day.  Every semester at BYU there is a series of International Cinema where they show a few films every week.  Here in Cambridge I found the Harvard Film Archive (so offical sounding).  The difference between the two is that I have to pay for the Harvard one.  However, Harvard also tries their best to bring in the directors for the films they are showing.  The reason that I wanted to go was because they had a Portuguese director named Miguel Gomes.  He showed us two shorts and a film that he had made.  I loved the first short.  It was about St. Francis.  All the animals, for whom St. Francis obviously was the saint, want to be loved the most so they multiply as fast as possible.  The best shots were of a chicken farm, some fluorescent beetle having baby beetles, and sea turtles (my favorite animal) being hatched.  The film was done in two parts.  The first part is about a guy who can't grow up (you can already see why I liked this film).  Basically he's a teacher going to a party for the kids and he's dressed up like a cowboy.  A bunch of bad stuff happens and his surprise birthday party gets cancelled, etc.  So he decides to move away to a cabin.  Second half of the film this guy is only assumed to be there.  Instead, there are seven guys who also can't grow up.  Essentially they're the seven dwarves--each one has a specific thing that he does the most (one eats, one is young, one is angry, etc).  It was super funny, and most of the actors were friends of Gomes (a few directors, a screen writer, etc).  The funniest conversations were when two were stuck in a huge tree and one jumps telling the other if he doesn't move around not to jump, and then when the angry guy leaves and gives the youngest guy a coin that will make him invisible.  Eventually they all fight over the rules and end up going in to the forbidden room (basically, they're the parts of the cowboy that finally grow up).  The angry guy gets locked out of the house by the guy that eats a lot, who then leaves and never goes into the dark room.

More than you wanted to know about Portuguese cinema, I'm sure.  But I like it, so there.
Yesterday was church.  Today was Robert's class.  Tomorrow is literature classes and basketball.
I think I'm starting to get the hang of this Boston idea.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Untitled. (Well, technically, I named it 'untitled' so it's titled 'untitled' and therefore not really untitled. Just read.)

Hi kids.



In news this week, my hero Ron Artest got pulled over driving his friend's racecar through the streets of Los Angeles.  (Picture from TMZ, whatever that is.)  I freaking love that man.

Been a good couple of days.  Wednesday (yesterday?) we had our first workshop with David Ferry.  The man is great and very old (over 85 if I'm not mistaken).  But he loves poetry.  Our first workshop he read "The House That Jack Built..." to us and then we shredded it to pieces.  It was so much fun and I was actually surprised that we came up with so much.  Yep, I'm in the land of poetry dorks.  And I love it.  After that he had a packet with excerpts from all of our application portfolios.  So we got a taste of each other's poetry for the first time.  It's funny how you can kind of see how someone writes based on their personality.  I wasn't too surprised by anybody.  Langston's poetry was a bit more calm than I thought it would be, and Dan's stuff was pretty heavy, but other than that it was pretty obvious how everybody would write.  I think Sophie writes the most like me.  I think this because one of her poems she shared in Pinsky's class was about an alien attaching itself to your face.  And she's one of the few girls I've ever met who doesn't look disgusting with boy-short hair.  Good stuff.

Last night I decided I would bite the bullet and go to institute.  I didn't know anybody in the class I chose, but our teacher, Brother Austin, was pretty awesome.  I touched base with him afterwards and told him that I would miss some classes but promised to keep up on the reading.  When he emailed me today he told me that it was fun meeting me and that I'm one of the few people that made him laugh right from the get-go.  Glad I still got it.  It's at the chapel, which is crazy far away, every Wednesday and it'll be a good experience.  Afterwards there were burritos and a mingle.  I met a few people, talked with Casey (one of the BSU game guys), and then split.

Today I had class till 6.  Bonnie Costello's contemporary American poetry class is SO BORING!  The material is phenomenal and we all love it, but she just kinda sucks it dry.  I realize that it's a survey class and that there's no way to cover everything, but the woman just kind of rambles on about what the poem means and what's going on.  For those of us in the MFA program basically she's taking an hour and a half to describe what I get after the first reading of the poem.  But whatever; I get lots of writing done and (hopefully) she thinks I'm taking notes.  At 3:30 I headed to Shakespeare in Film.  It is the greatest class known to man.  Professor Carroll is awesome and we get through so much good stuff in the two and a half hours we're together.  Today we went through the Taymor version of Titus Andronicus (definitely not G-rated Shakespeare) and there was so much to talk and think about.  Everybody seems to know their stuff in the class and I just sit back and enjoy the conversation while I write down ideas for my term papers (and don't share them so I get non-shared insight in them, a practice I learned from my BYU schoolmate Amelia).  I just love it; end of story.

I got an email this morning that was sent on the Longfellow Park 1st (LP1) listserve.  It was an apartment of girls offering free cookies.  I couldn't not go, so I went.  Place was small and a bit packed, but I made a few new friends.  I met two girls named Angela.  One of them I recognized from church.  Turns out she's half Brazilian, studied in London this past summer, and goes to BU.  She also seems to know the whole world and was kinda in-your-face nice.  I also met two girls whose names I don't remember.  They're both undergrads at MIT.  One is majoring in physics and wants to do research, the other is doing computer science and wants to be the one majoring in physics when she grows up.  More power to them; not my scene.

I have a small appetite for meeting new people, so after a little bit I split.  Spent a few hours working on my anthology project for Pinsky's class.  Basically, we've been told to make a 35+ page collection of what we consider to be poetry.  It can include anything (I'll probably stick to poetry and lyrics) as long as we consider it to be poetry.  Robert doesn't really care how we do it, he just wants us in the material.  Man I love my homework.

Welp, that's the update.  Nothing planned for tomorrow so I'ma sleep in, wake up, sleep some more, do homework, take a nap, and go to bed early or something.  The world is my oyster.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nothing to See Here, People

Good evening.

I don't have much to say, but I'm super bored and don't want to start homework yet.  Maybe I'll see if I can go a whole semester without ever reading a thing.  Not a bad idea.

In order to waste time, I'm going to write you a small list of things that I have learned since getting to Boston.

Here goes:

1 - Ciabatta bread (including rolls) gets stale SUPER fast.
2 - Van Morrison's song Allow Me is phenomenal music for long walks.
3 - I'ma be alright without a car.  In fact, I'm kinda glad I don't have one.
4 - I miss London.
5 - There is no Little Caesar's here.  Kill me.
6 - I have pieced together too much build-it-yourself furniture in my life.  I didn't even look for directions.
7 - Richard Wilbur's "Boy at the Window" is my newest 'favorite' poem.
8 - I can eat two pounds of animal crackers in one sitting.  (Probly more--I only had two pounds)
9 - Boston is full of interesting people.  Even my furniture delivery guys were way cool.
10 - When sleeping multiple nights on a wood floor, a towel can make it a bit more comfortable.
11 - Banks close early in MA.
12 - I had been living a Bob Dylan quote and had no idea (see quote at top of blog).
13 - Any time you feel far away from home you can always buy a Big Mac.

Anyways, I'm rambling.
First poetry workshop with David Ferry is tomorrow morning.  Stoked.
Then I have to figure out health insurance.  Less than stoked.
But then I'll probly take a nap.  Stoked again.

Sweet dreams, world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Beautiful Sunday

Whatups?

Been a full couple of days.  My last post says it was written on Saturday, but it really only dealt with what went down up until Friday.  Today is Sunday and I got a bit of time before I fall asleep, so here's an update.

In all honesty, I can't remember the difference between Friday and Saturday's errands, but I do know that Saturday was the Freedom Trail.  So I'll just write like I did all this saturday, which may actually be true.  Buckle up.

Saturday morning I finally decided that sleeping on a towel laid across a wood floor doesn't count as furniture (crazy, I know) so I spent a bit of time deciding on some furniture.  I also learned that furniture is bloody expensive,even at IKEA, so a $400 budget was not optimal.  But Mommy pointed me to a website for a store called Basic Carpet and Furniture.  Turns out they deliver for free on all online orders, and they also bring the stuff up to your apartment, which is rare.  So I ordered online.  I got a mattress (actual beds are overrated) a table with two chairs, a small desk, and a two-drawer nightstand.  I figured they'd be closed tomorrow (Labor Day) but they told me they can deliver.  So tomorrow I may have a bit more of a home-like setting.

Boo ya.

After that I went to the bank.  Took a while to find a bank that gives you free checking and free savings.  And by a while I mean there's only one or two in the whole city.  Bank of America wants $9/month for my money to sit there.  I'm like 'yeah right retards' so I get online and eventually run across Brookline Bank.  I live in Brookline, MA so I figured that it's a good idear to try banking close to home (aka a block and a half away).  I had to sit for a few minutes because they were swamped, but after a bit the branch manager, Lisa Clark, came out and took me into her office to get me all set up.  She's a small, talkative Asian woman, born and bred here in Boston.  We shot the breeze for a while and she (like everybody else) was kinda blown away when I told her I'm from Idaho (best place on Earth).  I told her what I needed in a bank and she told me I was in the right place (which I knew).  It took quite some time with the whole deal, but we spent most of the time talking about food.  She asked me what all I like to do in a city.  I told her history, anything literary, and food.  Lisa is also a foodie.  She proceeded to tell me all about the good, hole-in-the-wall places.  It was funny because I had already found and tried a few of them (like Lucky Wah and Anna's taqueria.  Not Diego's, but nothing will ever be Diego's).  She asked if there was anything I didn't eat.  I told her about pig eyes (not my favorite) and chicken hearts (SO GOOD) in Brazil so she made me a list.  No, seriously, she got out one of her branch manager greeting cards and made me a list.  I told her to throw pizza and burgers on there (gotta have my staples) and then told her to go nuts.  She couldn't remember some names, but she gave me directions and areas.  But she did mention that one Russian place has ox tail soup once a week.  I'm totally there.  Now if only I can find a place to eat my beloved Kangaroo burgers.  Needless to say, I have a new friend.  I told her I was gonna go through her list and then email her for a new list.  She said she'll be ready for me.

After that I jumped on the T and headed to the Park Street T stop.  Once outside I knew I was at the Boston Common, which is where the Freedom Trail starts.  I will do another post on the Freedom Trail in its entirety.  Basically, it's a three-mile path that takes you to a good number of the famous American history sites here in Boston.  But I have nobody to wait for or keep up with, so I kinda went nuts and walked all over the place.  All in all I probably did about twelve miles of the stuff (equivalent to a slow day in Brazil) but it was a ton of fun.  I'll write a novel about it tomorrow while I wait for my furniture.

Today (Sunday) was pretty sweet.  First thing I did was sleep in as long as possible before getting ready for church.  Took the T to Lechmere and then walked down 2nd street till I found the chapel.  The original chapel (called the Longfellow Chapel, I believe) was burned down by an arsonist a year ago.  So the new place is pretty legit--multiple floors, more than one chapel, etc.  I didn't have time to look for a basketball court, but I'll pray and pray and pray that there is one.  Two of the three singles wards meet at the same time.  I went to where I could hear organ music and walked in.  Bingo.  Boston splits up their singles by age.  So the babies/undergrads are in the Longfellow 2nd ward.  Normal aged (25-30) awesome people (like me) attend the Longfellow 1st ward.  And the post-institute refuse of which I very well may be a part of eventually all meet in the Cambridge singles ward.

Sacrament meeting was really good.  Lots of good testimonies.  Lots of different backgrounds.  Same wonderful spirit.  After it was finished they had the new people come up and fill out forms/take pictures as is the norm in every singles ward.  My bishop's name is bishop Walker.  He seems pretty cool.  Off I went to Sunday School.  I sat next to this girl named April.  She was super funny and we had a good time making fun of Nat (the dude that sat next to the girl that she told me that I should ask out even though she knew nothing about her).  Turns out April was just visiting, so the first friend I made at church I will probably never see again.  But in Elders quorum they had everybody stand up and introduce themselves.  I stood up and said I was from Boise.  I had to fight off the urge to announce that I need (not want, need) a place to watch the BSU/VT football game tomorrow night (Go Broncos!).  However once I sat down the dude next to me asked me about the game.  I told him I'm stoked to say the least (on the verge of peeing my pants for anticipation) and told him if he had a tv and a way to watch it that I would buy him all the pizza he could eat, give him one of my kidneys, and name my first three children after him regardless of gender.  So Casey (that was his name) talked to Doug (which was what I think his friend's name was) and they decided we'd just make a BBQ out of it.  If we weren't at church I may have kissed Casey.  And it turns out that Casey is moving to Germany in a month to study.  So the second friend I made today will be gone before I know him.  But I got football so I'll cope.

After church I went back to my place to change into some less-churchlike clothes:  my 'girlfriend-getting jeans' as Katie Bruce calls them, my sweet David Beckham kicks, and a sweater over my church shirt.  Needless to say I looked smokin' hot.  Which was good because I was on my way to the picnic for the creative writing program.  It was at Robert Pinsky's house in Cambridge.  Nice place (understatement).  There was food, my poetry people, the fiction writers, the playwrights, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and lots and lots of alcohol.  I couldn't even find water, so I just ate a lot.  I finally got to meet the rest of my unfamiliar poetry mates--Langston, Dan, Elizabeth, and Nick.  Everybody seems really down to earth and we all get along really well.  Langston is a cool dude and I like him the most I think, Dan seems kinda nuts but genuinely nice, Elizabeth seems sweet but didn't say much, and Nick is one of those awesome almost-nerd cool people that you can't help but love.  I also got to know Ashley, Sophie, and Binh a little better.  Spoke with Robert a bit; met our other professor, David Ferry; talked with Leslie Epstein and one of the Deans for a few moments; and otherwise just pretended like I like socializing.  Sophie still seems like she'd be wicked cool to hang out with.  Ashley is a Baptist, and now knows I'm a Mormon, so I hope she's not one of those crazy Baptists (because I'm not one of those crazy Mormons.  well...) but I'm sure she's not.  Binh and I spoke the longest as people were starting to head out.  She's super nice and I love her accent.  She's Korean but spent a lot of the last few years in Seattle.  She's thinking about the Ph.D. route like I am and was in London over the summer so we've got lots in common.

Finally found some ginger ale (non-alcoholic) on my way out the door so I guzzled some and then headed back to the T.  Tomorrow morning we start class with Robert Pinsky.  I am more than excited.

Party's over.  It's crunch time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BOSTON!


Hi kids, remember me? Been a little while.


Since London I kind of felt like I didn’t have a whole lot to impress upon my Calvin vs. World blog. I tried going back to the old blog, but it’s decided to be a pile and label every day as the same day and so I don‘t know what dates I did what. This is not cool, so I‘m back here after a summer of sports camps and mooching off the parentals. Now this one’s background has been erased and I’m lost as to how to fix it. So bear with me as I continue being an occasional nuisance to the girls I know are blog queens (Anna and Elizabeth) until somebody saves me and this poorly-formed blog.

Anyways.

As a few of you already know, I decided to move to Boston to pursue my dream to become a professional goof-off. So far, so good. I am now enrolled and enthralled to be enrolled in an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) poetry program at Boston University (to be forever known hereafter as BU). BU has a few of the biggest (living) names in all of poetry-dom. Which is funny because that means that I’ve heard of most couple of them, and most of the world has no idea who they are. So if you’d like to look them up, my poetry professors this semester are Robert Pinsky and David Ferry. Next semester it’ll be Robert Pinsky and Louise Gl├╝ck (pronounced Glick). Rosanna Warren is on her sabbatical so I may or may not meet her. I’ve heard she teaches an amazing translation seminar, but we’re gonna miss out on it (her teaching, not the class itself).

SO, for the sake of nostalgia, let me run you through the process of getting to Boston. My flight left Sunday, August 29th at 5:40 am. Dad was good enough to wake up with me at 4 to get me there. I decided last minute that taking my guitar was going to be too much of a pain, which hurt my heart. But I’m sure there’s a Guitar Center here in Boston where I can spend a few (twelve) hours per Saturday “testing” guitars. If all else fails I’ll make one out of cardboard and shoelaces.

My first flight took me to Minneapolis, Minnesota (don’tcha know?). I had never been to Minnesota, but I can tell you right now it’s gorgeous. It was all green and there were lakes everywhere (they weren’t lying). If I liked any of their sports teams I’d probably move there just based on what I saw and who I know from MN (good people, all of them). I only had about twenty minutes to get to the next terminal, but as I walked out of the plane they announced a change to my flight. So I had twenty minutes to turn left and walk twenty feet to the next gate. Kinda nice. Chatted with some guy that saw my BYU shirt (he’d heard of the business program rather than, surprisingly, the English program) and slept (kinda) my way to Boston.

Minnesota was gorgeous, but Boston was phenomenal. We flew all the way over the city and out over the Cape before turning around and flying back into the airport. The water was beautiful and there were sailboats everywhere. I was grinning like an idiot and I’m sure I made the lady sitting in the window seat a bit uncomfortable as I stared over her shoulder the entire descent. Thrilled to be here from the get-go.

Outside the terminal I waited just a few minutes before Kiyomi showed up to save my life. Since my friend Rachel left for L.A. a few weeks ago I only know Kiyomi here in Boston. I am SO glad she’s here and she was gracious enough to let me crash at her place. I spent three nights on an air mattress in her living room. She works as a lifeguard all day, so we’d get up early and she’d drop me off at the Braintree T stop (the T is the subway in Boston. I’m gonna have the hardest time not calling it the Tube. Ah, London). Then I’d ride an hour and a half to BU to get things done. Around 10 I’d head back and she’d pick me up. Moving here would have been exponentially more difficult without her.

After she picked me up she informed me that traffic into Boston on Sunday afternoon is insanity (she wasn’t kidding). So she drove me out to her dad’s place which is near the ocean. His name is Phil and he’s pretty cool. He works for himself as a carpenter and his shop is in the basement. He came with us to Humarock Beach where we went swimming in the Atlantic for a little bit just to cool off. It’s been so hot here and it’s way humid too, which my body never likes. A storm had changed the beach a few days before so there wasn’t much sand. I had no idea how rocky the beach would be but all the stones are smooth so it’s not too bad at all. The whole place was just beautiful and it would be wicked cool to live and/or vacation here. After swimming we played ping-pong in the basement. He’s way good, and Kiyomi isn’t bad at all, so I spent my night losing. Then he made lentil soup with sausage in it (so good) and I watched as they played a lightning round of backgammon.

After that we dropped stuff off and she took me downtown to show me around. I got to see the moonlit waterfront (loved it), the Irish district, the Italian district, Chinatown, the Common (sweet looking park), and a few other things. It’s an understatement to say that I love big cities. Boston reminded me a lot of London and I’m sure that this experience will mirror that in a lot of ways. However, it is going to be different in a lot of ways. For one, I’m kickin’ it with my bad self here. I haven’t gotten too lonely yet, but it’s definitely a transition (no 30+ pretty girls to hang out with 24/7, no Cameron to travel with, etc). School will be a lot more serious too, but Boston has been and will be amazing in its own right.

Monday I got my student card, got my financial aid rolling, got to know campus, walked all the way out to look at my new place, bought books, and just ran myself ragged getting errands done. Tuesday was training for Teaching Fellows. I won’t be teaching a course until Spring semester (Jan-May) but they wanted us all there anyways. The first three hours were just professors telling us how important we are and how much they rely on us (so they don’t have to pay Ph.D.s, etc) and how much fun/work this will be. After that everybody split up. Most people had to go learn about how to run labs and deal with difficult students, but the creative writing program had us go outside to eat lunch together and then meet with a recent graduate to go over teaching. Her name was Melissa (maybe) and basically she just gave us ideas. We have unrestrained freedom in how and what we teach in our writing classes. Nobody is going to look at my syllabus, nobody is going to observe me, I can not teach fiction or playwriting if I don’t want to. Basically, they gave me the green light to create the greatest creative writing class in existence. I can’t wait.

Not everybody in each program is teaching, so I met a few of the fiction writers. There are ten of them, ten of us, and five playwrights in the writing program. The guy I spent the most time talking to was Antonio Elefano. Don’t let his name fool you, this dude ain’t no Italian. He’s asian. He also is doing this as a year off since he’s been practicing corporate law in New York City for the last five years and “was getting too busy to write.” I was like “what!?” Oh yeah, and he went to Yale for law school. That’s only #1 in the country. But the dude was down to earth, a few years older than me at best, and told me if I had questions about law school or practice to let him know (it’s still plan C or D for me). Way cool. I also spent a bit of time talking to a fiction writer named Lana. I don’t remember where she’s from, but she’s pretty and very nice so we got along.

My poetry classmates seem really cool so far. There are five guys (me, T.J. McLemore, Langston Kerman, Dan Kraines, Nicholas Leonard) and five girls (Lisa Hiton, Ashley Chow, Binh Nguyen, Elisabeth Houston, and Sophie Grimes). At the training I met T.J., Lisa, Ashley, Sophie, and Binh. The other four are not teaching fellows because they’re the more established writers. Dan is working with Pinsky on Pinsky’s “Favorite Poem” project which he started as Poet Laureate, Langston, Nick, and Elisabeth got other endowments on top of the BU money so they’ve got other things to do. Sophie is quiet but seems way cool, Lisa is super nice and will be easy to get along with, and TJ is gonna be the chick magnet. He’s awesome and he and I got a lot in common, but he’s much better looking than I am. Hahaha, lucky for me I got practice living with Jordan Kilgore so being number two is fine with me. I got it all planned out: Sophie likes TJ all semester and then he does nothing so she tries having a crush on me and I’m like “forget that crap, I’m awesome.” Then it’s super awkward and I love it the whole time. I can’t wait.

Wednesday I slept in and Kiyomi went to work and then to dinner with a friend. So after that we went to Walmart and I bought everything but furniture. Then we drove to my new place. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty awesome. It’s not huge, but it’s definitely enough space for one. I’ve spent the last few night sleeping on a towel on the hardwood floor, so hopefully I have time to go furniture shopping sometime soon and get, like, a bed and a chair or something.

Yesterday I went to get my financial aid check (yay, more money I can’t spend!) and then headed to class. My first class was Contemporary American Poetry taught by Bonnie Costello. The subject matter should be good but Costello seems super dry. I guess we’ll see. Second class was Shakespeare and Film taught by William Carroll. That class is gonna rock. Tuesdays we watch the movie together, Thursdays we talk about it. Presentations can be on whatever we want, three papers and no tests, and I love my life.

Well, the towel I’ve been sleeping on is calling my name. I’m in Boston living one of my dreams. Can’t complain about that.