Home > Life or something like it > As 2014 Comes to a Close

As 2014 Comes to a Close


Entry 12/31/2014 08:00:39 AM – Mentat 835

 At about this time in the year, I usually head over to my Resolutions Tab within OneNote and take a look at what New Year’s Resolutions I have been able to complete and which ones I still have work to do on. But this year, I realized early on that this was a break year. The kind of year where working on New Year’s Resolutions were either too menial or simply not what I wanted to focus on for personal self-improvement. At the beginning of the year I had too much shit to wade through — mostly having to deal with a douchebag, slum lord — but I also had some other issues to work through as well. Anger issues associated to the feelings of being used and betrayal both from the douchebag (now ex-) slum lord as well as the ex-roommate that dicked me over for more than a year. And with these I knew when I moved that it was going to be a slow process and not something that will correct itself in a year or less.

Moving up the Hill from the Valley definitely helped. On the one side, I no longer had to deal with the proximity to the area that would trigger intense amounts of anger (and rage) just by looking at the area (and even the people) associated with that anger… On the other though, I found myself often obsessing about the crap that had been shoveled on me by these two people. Through time, I had come to learn that it would take me another six months before I could walk through the neighborhood without the overwhelming rage kicking in when I neared to the building I used to live in. I had come to learn that even at the end of the year, the triggers for my obsessing about wrong-doings inflicted by these two scumbags are still hanging on.

Moving to a different area (and one I had been vaguely familiar with having lived here 20 years ago) came with its own “special” issues; though admittedly they weren’t as anger-inducing as living in the Valley. Irritating, yes. Anger/Rage-Inducing, no. While the noise from the 24/7 car wash had long been history when I first moved to my own apartment in the Valley (the owner of the lot began the long and arduous process of changing the gas station and car wash into what I’d like to call a yuppie-turned-into-a-hipster refueling plaza) , in its place on this side of Federal Hill is Tammany Hall… The sort of bar to attract an odd assortment of rednecks, yuppie-wannabes, the occasional hipster wanting to “slum it” and the sort of riff-raff that don’t understand the bar is located in a mixed commercial/residential area and would make as much noise as humanly (and inhumanly) possible come closing time. After all, seeing beyond the end of one’s nose requires a sort of mindset that includes politeness and/or consideration. A human quality the drunk don’t seem to possess after getting themselves shit-faced during the weekend. So from Spring until Autumn I get to hear them screaming at each other, the moon, their cars and whoever’s driving by because I normally sleep with my windows open and the sound happily bounces in as it echoes off the surrounding buildings.

My personal favorite had to have been the drag racing in the middle of the night on Atwells Avenue during the summer that used to start up the road at the Ice Lounge (now closed because the owner couldn’t get his liquor license renewed) racing down to Eagle Street with the drivers completely oblivious to the road hump at the bottom of my street (and cutting across Atwells Avenue)… Police of course are nowhere in sight or within earshot while this was going on because the current (soon to be leaving office) mayor (or the ever so oblivious Police Chief of the area) had positively no idea of the problems on the Hill or seemed to have ignored the complaints of the neighbors favoring his Latin constituents farther up Atwells at and beyond Valley St… There’s no way of telling given the political structure of the city currently in play. But I digress.

In the (near) year I’ve been here — returning to the Hill after being gone just over 20 years — I’ve seen the changes and continue to observe the oddities of those changes. I was here when the Three Dollar Bar had its bouts of violence and how the local commissions board have closed it and the Hookah Lounge — Skarr — owned by the same owner/company having their business licenses suspended/revoked because the local commissions board thought they attracted too much negativity to Federal Hill. While I haven’t monitored the news as much as I should (let’s face it, the news for this state is positively depressing), I believe that Ice Lounge suffered the same fate.

I’ve watched the old landlord for 302 Atwells that had a children’s clothing store on the ground floor when I moved in 1990 slowly change from a condo office (for the condos where Walgreen’s currently is) to a bistro that closed and now is some sort of hipster burger joint. I’ve also seen the old chicken-butcher behind it on Acorn Street (something I remember loathing being opened when I lived at 302 Atwells because when it was open the smell of dying chicken, blood and entrails wafted up into the house) slowly transforming into yet another bistro/restaurant/bar-lounge called Da Vinci’s. As of the end of the year, it still looks as though they’re working on it, but it’s only a matter of time before it finally does open. When it does, I’m sure it’ll make De Pasquale Square bloat up more than usual with all the people flittering between it, the other bars and lounges and the boutique stores of the area. It’s not as though people can actually park near to the place — parking even for the residents is a precious commodity. So it’s going to be interesting how the local businesses are going to warm up to another piece of competition that’s going to take away from their already precious valet parking.

The sad thing is with all the restaurants, lounges and various boutique stores in that area alone, I’ve seen the old guard of Italian business owners, shop keepers, butchers and bakers transform into the sort of yuppie and hipster sort of Millennials that take little pride in the neighborhood they’re in and only seem to care for themselves and the money they make from their businesses. About the only exception to this is Scialo Brothers’ Bakery. Their family currently in the recent generation of shop owners maintain the sort of family pride traditional of what made Federal Hill what it was in days gone by. Yes, the family that owns Scialo’s still comes in early in the morning and sweeps the sidewalk and cleans the front area of the store. And is more prideful of the area than the rest of the stores currently in business who (at best) use leaf blowers to push the flotsam and garbage into the street and away from their stores (which almost always ends up blowing into the residential neighborhoods between Atwells Avenue and Broadway). Or at worst ignores the flotsam and garbage altogether because “it’s not their problem” hoping that in the summer the street sweepers that cruise Atwells at 3 in the morning will pick it up for them. Pity that service only runs during the months of summer Entry 12/29/2014 10:48:39 AM – Mentat 835vacation and not through the year.

Then there’s the debacle of the Graffiti Task Force that had been established by the soon to be exiting Mayor of Providence as a means of prettifying the streets of Providence and curbing back the graffiti and defacement of property within the city. Sure it looks good in PR… A team of people that go about the city cleaning up the graffiti on houses, abandoned buildings, bridge abutments, etc… But the real problem is that without an adequate policing force — particularly during the late night/early morning hours — it’s a Sisyphean Task come the daylights hours where once cleaned off one day has graffiti on it again the next. Not that this Task Force does an adequate job covering up and/or removing the paint. Looking at the house on the corner of Knight and Gessler Streets I can see the half-assed attempts at covering up the graffiti with plain white paint (same color of the house), going back to the beginning when the task force first started making appearances. And as of yesterday when I took my walk by the building to see once again the sides were covered by the tag marks of some amateur graffiti artist. As you can see here:


Perhaps in 2015 this will haunt the soon to be entering mayor (Jorge Elorza) in ways where he’ll lose some sleep over. Not that I think it will… This one has no experience in office and I suspect he’s not going to be doing quite a spectacular job at it as other have in the past. But I’ll give him a fair enough shake when I laundry list the problems I’ve seen on the Hill and in Olneyville (Elorza’s constituent area) and see how quickly those outstanding issues are repaired. And now it’s time to move onto the next subject…

In the (near) year I’ve been here, I’ve watched my cat Moe transform from the shy and quiet cat that often slinks away from me and other people into the scaredy cat that runs whenever there’s a knock at my door and yet with only me around he’s not only my best friend but also seems to talk to me more than Cricket ever did. And believe me Cricket being part Japanese Bobtail was a talker! Moe’s currently sitting in front of me, kicking at the wrist rest and keyboard as he leans against me and draped on my forearm. And like all male cats, the tail’s constantly swishing to and fro (whacking me in the side when he’s on my arm, or in my face when he’s up on my shoulder) purring like a broken motor. He seems to love his attention regardless of if I’m at my desk or meditating on my bed — perfectly happy against me or on me wherever I am. He might never be able to sleep under the covers like my other cats did, but at the same time I’m glad he doesn’t given that when he sprawls against me at 2 in the morning, I’ve learned that he’s far warmer than Tiger or Cricket ever were.

In that time I’ve also learned that he loves to play often chasing the toy mice (or the random golf ball) around the house or playing tag with me in the morning when I’m trying to get ready. It’s rather amusing how he’ll jump higher than the table in the kitchen (3½ feet/1¼ meter+) to intercept the mouse as it’s flying through the air.

Playing hand-to-hand with him is more of a challenge than any of my other cats that have shared some time in my life as he seems to rely a lot more on biting than bear hugging and holding while kicking with his back claws. So much so that I’ve come to learn the best game with him is to entice him up on the chairs for the table in the kitchen while I play tag with him either with my hand wrapped in something heavy or with one of the toy mice around the edges of the seat… Playing this game of “cat and mouse” there isn’t quite so much a ritualistic practice of blood-letting as play-wrestling with him on the floor. Well that and he seems to enjoy being “lord of all he surveys” while on those chairs.

He also seems to hate all sorts of bags (paper and plastic) and boxes. Bags because they make louder than usual noises and causes him to run about the house like a chicken with its head cut off. Boxes, I think, because they remind him of his cat carrier and that reminds him of moving to a new house or (worse) the vet’s office. He doesn’t fight when going into a cat carrier, but to pick him up is a bit of a chore as he’s often hiding in difficult to reach places or running about to get away from my proximity.

It’s said that every cat’s character is unique and with him I learned in the 10 months of his being here just how unique he is about it. Coming home and getting down on my hands and knees will make him fly off the bed, mewing at me (all excited like) until I give him a petting and a stomach rub. If I don’t know where he is, I’ll do the same thing and zoom, here he comes mewing and wanting to get a quick petting and stomach rub. He also doesn’t eat table scraps at all. While in recent months he’s shown a small interest in some of the things I’m preparing — when it comes to sharing something I’m eating with him — he plays with it and later leaves it on the floor where he stopped toying with it. Be it chicken, hamburger, pork, or pot roast… anything meat I’m eating he’ll play with it for five minutes and then ignore it. He only seems to like the juices from it if it’s shared with him… A tuna can, the cutting board I used to prepare chicken salad sandwiches, my plate when I’m through with what I’m eating. Yep, he’s there, gets a taste and then goes about his business as usual. He’s the same with canned cat food and prefers the gravy in the morning when it’s put down in front of him and later when I puree it for him adding a little water to it in the process. But other than that? It’s dry cat food and only dry. 

Then there’s the one habit I know of cats that Moe absolutely lives by: his bowl of water cannot be anywhere near his food bowl. For the longest time I tried to maintain the same habit as I did with my previous cats of keeping the bowls together for monitoring and simplicity’s sake, but doing that with Moe? Well, let’s just say the water bowl was never touched and I later learned how he was getting his daily allowances of water from either the faucet in the tub or from the sink in the bathroom when I turned it on for him. Moving his water bowl into the bathroom and near to where he perches to drink from the faucet in the tub and the water bowl’s drained in a couple of days. At least with this arrangement — I don’t have to worry about him getting a UTI like Tiger did once or twice in his life. Plus he doesn’t end up climbing on me wet half as much from his foray into the tub for the water there.

Moe still has the habit of licking his front legs to the point where the fur’s been taken clean off of certain spots (like hot spots), but I’ve come to learn that this is a signal that he wants to be picked up and held like an infant so he can see over my shoulder. Picking him up, walking about the house for a little bit (5 – 10 minutes) and petting him, he stops with the nervous licking and begins purring like a broken motor. Putting him down after those 5 – 10 minutes and he stops that nervous licking habit, lies down and goes to cat nap. Like he’s done after finishing this section of my entry…

In this year, I’ve changed my posting habits and general presence on the Internet. On the one side, I’ve continued posting fractals at least once a week and toward the end of this year I’ve started including Apophysis along with my weekly postings of Mandelbulb… As I sit here writing this last entry, I even created a sort of Fractal tchotchke scheduled for posting at the beginning of the year. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’m going to maintain this habit come 2015. I still am (and strongly suspect will always be) the Mad Scientist™ going off on amusing, whimsical or just plain weird tangents while producing fractals of all sorts. I find a certain enjoyment of giving the descriptions that I do to the work I’ve rendered based on personal impressions along with whatever seems to be going through my head at the time. It’s both fun and (briefly) therapeutic to the heart and soul to pursue the hobby that I do with both passion and fervor.

On the other hand, somewhere about the middle of the year I’ve pulled posting my daily/weekly diary/journal only posting on those “special occasions” when I can no longer hold something in. I’ve noticed that my personal journal that I continue to maintain offline has exploded from 15 pages in 2013 to 150+ pages that I’ve written this year in 2014. A personal best since keeping this journal since going digital in 1995. Sure many of the entries this year are superfluous, frivolous and even occasionally vapid; though the great (and most positive) thing is that I no longer fight the never ending writer’s block I had been suffering through in recent years.

While there’s a handful that did eventually get out to the world as my journal, I’ve noticed that many of those postings were strongly influenced by what I was witnessing, observing or reading online. During these dissertations from me, I have learned that while I might see myself as a problem solver I’ve come to accept that others might see my lobbing my opinions, my experience and my wisdom toward them as nothing more than a busy-body. So out of this I’ve come to learn and accept (finally and fully) that I should put it out there and let them decide whether there’s wisdom or whether it’s all just dross and then let it go. I don’t hang on or obsess like I might have in years gone by demanding that it be accepted as the words uttered by Moses coming down Mount Sinai.

This was coupled with my fascination (and entertainment) of various podcasts and YouTubers that I stumbled across in the middle of this year. I’ve learned through watching/listening to them and commenting on what they’ve talked about (put out there, even when looking for advice from their watchers), to share my middle-aged experience and observations as to how I see the world works. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t. The same with their fans/followers. Well that and I always find it a sort of ego boost imagining these celebrities in the background at home as they cut through their comments on their channel (and do the occasional profile look up)… and realize when they stumble across mine exclaim, “holy shit, there’s someone as old (or older) than my parents watching/listening to the channel…”

In this year I’ve said my silent good-byes to the Negative Nancys, Contrarian Connies and just the sort of people that want to be miserable for the sake of being miserable. I’ve also said my silent good-byes to the people that had to go in one way or another for their own personal reasons. For the former, I learned earlier in the year that I couldn’t recover my sanity, my happiness or my balanced well-being with those sorts of negative people in my life. While they might not be emotional vampires as the popular media might label them, keeping them on was both frustrating and tiring and the sort of quality that detracts the healing I promised to be working toward once I moved onto Federal Hill. For the latter, well they had to go (for their own reasons) and I learned around the time of my epiphany that life is a long path and perhaps some time in the near future we’ll cross paths again, as well as enjoy each other’s company.

During the beginning portion of the year (I think late winter, early spring) I’ve actually thrown my hat into the ring (so to speak) for trying to get back into dating. And in spite of a couple of dismal dates that never got beyond the first. In spite that I find most gay men in the New England area to be rude, relentless, single-minded or crass (not to mention I would prefer something a bit more long-distant so as to take time to get to know them as I’m well past the want for body collisions in the bedroom and sex as handshakes) I’m not as bitter or as daunted as I have been in the past. Sure there’s more than a bit of vitriol when it comes to dealing with the locals, I’ve learned to curb it back to give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them to prove themselves.

After a couple of conversations that really didn’t pan out as I had hoped (or expected), I reinforced within myself that unlike my brother or my family — I had been extremely fortunate to have fallen in love (truly, madly, deeply) three times in my life. The first gave me loyalty; unwavering loyalty as well as the protection to allow me to come into my own in my own way. The second gave me faith without limitations or conditions. The third gave me understanding amidst the chaos of my own thoughts. With these three driving emotions that have shaped and guided me to being what I am, I began to remember something else that I promised myself of giving the world when I was older to being the sort of old man, that’s fun to be around… Or at least not the crotchety, “get off my lawn, you damn kids”, misanthropic, and generally the old person I recall seeing their pants held up to where their nipples used to be, wearing suspenders and waving their canes in the air at youngins being young. And though I often love boasting “when I was your age…” I often do so as a joke instead of the seriousness that was inflicted on me. Unless the youngins are seriously self-absorbed, then I’m often handing out the sort of respect that loosens them up to doing the same. When they are that self-absorbed then they get to see the full might of this middle-ager as he tears ’em down in ways that would make the drag queens of my youth damned proud.

And of course to help me along with this better (and sometimes more positive) outlook; I’ve revamped my meditational practices, exercise regularly and try to get in those 10,000 or so steps a day the program I’m using on my smartphone tells me I should be doing. Well that and sort of regular sleep (not that it’s actually a healthy pattern, but at least it’s more than I was getting during the summer). Oh yeah and all that water.. Jeez, there’s plenty of water going down my throat… But seriously the gazillion times to the bathroom really gets on my nerves on occasion. It makes me wonder how those nutritionists and health-addicts go through the day without eye-rolling as much as I do when I realize “I have to go again”. But it was explained to me by a friend their bodies are used to all that water consumption and handle it better. Maybe someday it’ll be the same for me. Until then, I’ll just keep running to the toilet.

But on the whole as I’ve been exercising for the last few months, I’ve been feeling really well. So it’ll continue for the next year also.

 And with this and the tons of other things I didn’t talk about or mention in this entry; I bid adieu to 2014 and look forward to seeing how many resolutions I make and keep through the next year. I also look forward to what’s in store for this sometimes contrarian, often argumentative and routinely over-opinionated old man that I am in 2015. Until the next time.

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