Day 2: Yankee Stadium

Today, we found ourselves sitting in the grandstands of Yankee Stadium hoping that the Red Sox would get a hit as Cano effortlessly knocked two of Schilling's pitches out of the yard. It was not what we had hoped for, but thankfully, I brought my broom along with my Ortiz jersey to the game.

After several inning of unexciting ball, the fans were finally brought to their feet in the 7th inning as Fracona argued an overturned tag out of Jew-koulis at third. As 50,000 fans taunted everything Red Sox, Fracona was thrownout of the game and the Red Sox admitted defeat.

As we quickly swept out of the stadium in the 8th inning prior to the Chamberlain ejection, I was mercilessly taunted by everyone I passed for my Red Sox apparel. All in all, I enjoyed my first experience at Yankee Stadium, but that was mostly because of the mid-afternoon beers and hot dogs. Let's hope that the evening festivities will hold more of the same minus the dogs!


Day 1: Should I Shave or Should I Grow

In college, I was unable to grow a full, thick beard. When I let myself go on some weekends, I looked scruffy and unkempt. Being an Ultimate Frisbee player at the time, I was already considered a hippy and I feared that a beard would give me the reputation of long-haired dirty hippy.

After graduating, I quickly found myself working in the hospitality industry at The Colonnade Hotel. Unlike most industries, where you can occasionally come to work with a shadow on your face, the hospitality industry has very strict rules. I would always abide by the maxim that I needed to shave within 4 hours of my scheduled shift. This meant that even by the end of a 14 hour day, I would still look reasonably shaven. At times, it was difficult and my face would be angry with me. After all, shaving twice in 16 hours is brutal on the skin, but, occasionally, it would have to happen.

So, now, having left The Colonnade Hotel for parts unknown, I have decided to let myself go. And although this has not resulted in any wild naked fire rituals or inhumane acts of tactless aggression, it does mean that for the first time in my life, I can finally be called: A Bearded Jew.

Growing up, I used to watch the transformation that Charlton Heston made in the Ten Commandments after seeing the burning bush and speaking to God. I was always mystified by the older, bearded man that he had become. His facial hair was meant to symbolize the passage of time as well as wisdom and elevated stature. Because of this, for some unknown reason, bearded men were always shrouded in a veil of intellectual mystery.

Pharaoh, Let My People Grow!

Did I mention that I was enamored by Charles Manson’s beard as well?

So, anyway, the question posed originally was: Should I Shave or Should I Grow? And you are more than welcome to sing along if you’d like:

Darling you gotta let me know
Should I shave or should I grow?
If you say that you are fine
My hair’ll grow til the end of time
So you got to let know
Should I shave or should I grow?

Always cut trim cut
You’re happy when I’m soft as a baby’s butt
One day stubble is fine, next day no way
So if you want me to shave today
Well come on and let me know
Should I shave or should I grow?

Should I shave or should I grow now?
Should I shave or should I grow now?
If I go there’ll be a beard
An’ if I stay I’ll feel weird
So come on and let me know!

Now you know why I chose the hospitality industry instead of working as a lyricist for the next great pop star. I temporarily managed a rap group in 2004, but as you can see my career was cut short and did not lead to superstardom as I kempt my day job. Clearly, I should not have picked up a second career following in the footsteps of Billy Shears. Although I was a killer clarinetist and a mean pianist, I was never groomed for choral singing. I needed to brush up on my harmonies and pitch rather than simply altering the words to make ridiculous and sometimes hair-raising rhymes. It certainly led to a lot of laughs in the back of the room as we trimmed down some of the great songs of our generation. Perhaps I should go to graduate school for smug arrogance with a concentration in sarcasm and a minor in punnery instead of business school...

Or on second thought, I should simply come up with a few good comebacks for the dirty hippie, scruffy redneck, disheveled sea captain, and hirsute circus freak jokes that I will encounter on the road.

Well, I have to finish packing the car and head to New York City this afternoon. I will try to give at least brief updates on a daily basis as well as pictures from the road.

Obviously, for the time being, I have chosen to go instead of stay, so why not let it grow instead of shave!


Time for East Ocean City

I have been trying to explain to my parents the value of a DVR and TXT messaging. For some unknown reason, they fail to understand the true magnitude of this upgrade in your entertainment and communications worlds. As you step into a new genre of information transfer that allows you to choose exactly when you can watch a program and how long that program will last while also controlling the pace of the program. And during that program you can send messages without interrupting the flow of life. You are in complete command of the essence of the moment. Time is of the essence and you are living in that flickering moment. You must use your time wisely and most efficiently as you navigate through her fleeting glory. Time moves both as slow and as fast as you desire unfortunately not always as you desire it. So as I sit waiting for my friend to get off the phone (as he delves into a deep emotional argument with his girlfriend. They have been on a break for 24 hours and the emotional turmoil has yet to set in for either of them. They have been dating for so long that although they were able to agree to shirk their emotional ties, the spiritual connection between the two is overpowering. They began what he thought was a 5 minute conversation and turned it into an emotional deluge of tears and sorrow as they both realized what they have done. And if they decide to continue on this course than they will affirm the previous assessment or more likely they choose to be resigned about the whole matter. We’ll talk soon, I gotta go. And don’t you hang up that phone. After moments of awkward uncoordinated silence. Frustration and confusion. Love mixed with tension. Fear of not having that someone to rely on, no matter how difficult things were. She meant a lot to him and he meant a lot to her. They spent many long evenings and afternoons chatting and flirting and kissing. And it was a pleasant change for both from their otherwise distinct work and school lives. It was a paradise of sorts where you could joke and laugh and smile and nod. Because you loved her and she loved you. It was magical and something to look forward to. Until someone decided that the life that they led the majority of the time was making them realize the reality of the situation. You were living a duality. Two existences. One in the relationship and one in the non-relationship. And this is a difficult thing, a miserable existence, and an absolutely phenomenal set up. Until of course someone no longer agrees. The reason doesn’t matter. Just simply, the agreement does not hold. Hence once it does not hold it becomes only the first two and the third is untrue. So where was I? Time to get off the phone, I yelled, this is my going away party! I hear the Land Crab is very good), I can be thankful that my Bluetooth is in place, the DVR is paused, and whilst typing away at this post, I have been firing off text messages to my friends with nary a break in the action. And then, Dexter, a Showtime Original, will become my life as I gently pass the time before the dinner bell rings. And there she is in the distance. A faint cry through the cool summer breeze. She calls to me. Sings to me. The dinner bell has tolled and we are off into the Chinatown mist headed for East Ocean City. I hear the goon is a delight, the cake is of her Majesty, and the Land Crab is exquisite! ‘Til Tomorrow. BBW.


300 Summit Ave #3: Home of the Summit Ave Ballers

I spent the better part of the day filling bags with trash and organizing the seemingly infinite possessions in my small apartment. When you’re a member of the last group of roommates in a three year stint, there are a lot of unclaimed, useless items have remained hidden in cupboards and drawers. New roommates have filled the void as old roommates have departed in a wake of semi-useless items that carried no real value except a memory long forgotten. There were rental applications and receipts from Spring of 2005; Jagermeister necklaces, shamrock Mardi Gras beads, and Frozen Hangover Helper Eye Covers; cookie tins, coffee containers, and kitchen appliances that have collected so much dust the brands were hard to read; pieces of furniture too heavy to lift that defy the odds of a third floor apartment; and of course menus from restaurants that have gone under, soup that expired over a year ago, and a bucket of all-in-one Margarita Mix that should never have been purchased. Thankfully, there was very little emotional attachment, mostly dust, decay, and laughter as I wondered, "Who purchased this, why on Earth did they purchase this, and furthermore, why is it still here?"

I plan to sell most of the useful items of craigslist, although a moveable storage unit is not out of the question. I know the trash man will come to me with open arms in the eleventh hour on Wednesday morning, but I’d rather pass these items on to the new rightful owner. It is far more worthwhile to find a living room for a small end table that I found on the streets of Newburyport, than to send it to be splintered in a landfill. You would think that the information superhighway would allow me to effortlessly shrug these possessions off onto another, but finding a willing recipient is not as easy as it seems. Why search for an unfinished piece of hacked-together wood, when you can purchase the same piece of schlock at Target for fifteen bucks? (and they’ll take it back, if you don’t like it!) We live in an easy come, easy go consumer market. The cheap discount stores are chock-full of cheaply made, quasi-nice items that will be trendy for a few years. Why carry around your possessions, when you can purchase them brand new with minimal cost and effort?

So what are these ridiculous items, you ask? Anything that I might be interested in, Mr. Take My Crap Or I Will Throw It Away? Nice guilt trip, jerk! I appreciate your eco-preservationist-bullshit attitude and I prepared to make a donation that I will regret until I move out prematurely leaving my ex-roommates a present.

This "food processor" is not only heavy, awkward, and funny looking, but we don't cook.

What you can't see is that there are four pie servers, a cheese cutter, and bendy straws. First of all, who bakes. Secondly, who cuts cheese without a knife. Finally, are we in elementary school?

Do you have a hankering for some good Barley Grass with a side of Brewer's Yeast?

I couldn't justify the Spirulina and Soy Protein Powder without a true testament to the nature of the Summit Ave Ballers.

Aren't you curious about the half filled bottle of "Poland Springs" or the "Red Pucker's Bottle?" Don't be! There is nothing but misery in each of those containers.

So what did I learn from all this? Buy things, move out, leave them for someone else to deal with, and don't worry about it. Most of the crap in your life is just that. I have just as many memories from photographing these images (and a lot more that are in my personal collection) as I would if I had the tangible object in my possession.

Pack light for the journey because there are always more things to pick up along the way...

Also, on sale at 300 Summit Ave #3, The Summit Ave Ballers in all their splendor and glory!



You never really cry until you’re ready.

Last night at my goodbye party, I had a strong sense of emotional loss. I could feel the end of an era as time was winding down. I knew how much effort and care I had put into this community of my friends and at the end of the night it would be gone. I wanted to cry, but it hadn’t hit me. I was feeling the weight being slowly lifted off my shoulders and it was bittersweet. We had accomplished so much, forged so many great relationships, and spent so many hours together working for the same goal. And in the end, it hurts to leave. It always hurts. The tears are the embodiment of that sadness and relief as you cross that threshold. Because once you’ve crossed that threshold, things will never be the way they used to be. Our actions are temporal and it is only in the existence of time and age that we realize when it’s over.

And as I read the kind words of wisdom and good luck passed by my friends, I began to realize I was a memory: a fond memory of success, hopefully, but more importantly, a memory of someone who was really striving to do the best that he could given the circumstances. Not for himself, but for the love of company and of the company. When you’re passionate about what you do, and lead a purposeful existence, no matter what passion or purpose, you will always be able to live life fully. A man with a vision is a visionary. And we are all men and women with visions. Embrace that swagger and live at the edge!

But can you realize that these are the tenets to live by when you’re living, or is it only when you’re leaving? The beauty of the moment is that it is temporal just like our actions; time and age are but a myth. They matter not and they matter most, but it is in our perception of what matters that we are able to live life fully, live life satisfied, and to be honest, ball out of control!

So as the tears flow down my cheeks with my fingers flick away, I embrace the melancholy as I cross into the unknown. The support and the good wishes will sustain me on my journey, and the memories will provide me with fodder for the fire. I am excited for the opportunity and possibility in my life and I know the compassionate interdevelopmental relationships that I have created in this community will sustain me.

The melancholy is an inevitable result and an important step in the ladder on the way to the next threshold. It was an experience to be a part of in our corner of time, and the best part of it all, is that though the people come and go, the institution remains forever. So, thank you for the memories, thank you for the good times, thank you for being there, and thank you for this melancholy.


Resigned to Change

In the last two months, my life has truly been a whirlwind of change. I have made a series of decisions that have opened many new doors of possibility in my life. I have crossed a threshold that has loomed at the fringes of my box of possibilities, and I am ready to embrace the liminality of life. It is time for me to Live at the Edge!

I submitted my resignation as the Front Office Manager of The Colonnade Hotel effective August 8, 2007. In just four short days, I will not have a job, and in a few short weeks, I will be heading west on the open road. My plan is to drive from coast to coast stopping in cities and towns along the way in search of the answers to life’s questions. I am seeking to discover my own unique destiny both professionally and personally while spreading the belief that building interdependent compassionate relationships is they key to understanding each other.

During the past three and a half years at The Colonnade Hotel, I have learned a lot about people and the way they interact. I have gained a keen understanding not only of the guests that I have engaged with, but also the employees that I have worked with. I have learned the importance quick informed judgments about people and the need to be compassionate and empathetic in the face of it all. No matter how difficult and frustrating people can be, you must always stay calm, collected, and deferential.

It has taken a lot of patience, resilience, and hard work to maintain my sanity. It is very difficult to have an irate guest yelling at you, whether rationally or irrationally. You have to compassionately discover why they are actually upset in order to not only take care of them, but also encourage them to return. You have to understand all of the complications in their life and try to resolve any issues that they may have with a smile and genuine sympathy. You have to be able to absorb their irrational anger caused by the baggage claim, the taxi driver, their wife, their boss, the weather, and the work week, without letting it affect you personally. You have to be able to continue to provide compassionate service unhesitatingly. After all, it would be your pleasure to do so.

When you truly put your heart and soul into something it is very difficult to let it go. You have to be able to detach yourself both mentally and emotionally. You have to be able to remove yourself from something that you have kept so dear to your heart. I have always said that one of my biggest weaknesses is taking on too much responsibility and putting a personal stake in what I do. This is how I treat my job every single day. Not just because I have a passion for guest service and operational management, but also because I have a passion to help others succeed.

I have spent many long hours supporting and fostering a team of people to provide the highest level of guest service not because it is their job, but because it is something they love to do. When you’re working in the service industry, whether it is hospitality or otherwise, surprisingly enough you have a strong desire to serve others. In many cases, this can be an all-consuming process due to the nature of the beast. Because you are being paid to take care of others, you find yourself being genuine, sincere, and compassionate to their needs and desires.

I used to tell stories about work to my father. I used to share both the interesting and the outrageous things that happened at work. He found it fascinating. He would always tell me that he thought hospitality was my calling. As I moved up the ranks at work, I too wondered if this was something that I was meant to do. It always came easy to me because it just made so much sense. I have valued all that I have learned personally and professional and who knows perhaps I will find myself working in the industry again soon.

As I embark upon this journey, I do not know where I well end up. I do not know where my trip will take me. I do not know if I will return to Boston. I do not know what I will discover about myself or others. I do not have many answers right now, but that is the beauty of this experience. I have time to learn, to grow, and to live. I have the potential and possibility to do whatever I want to do. And that is exciting!

In the past few weeks, when I have told anyone that I am about to travel across the country with only a skeleton plan, their eyes light up. My trip creates an excitement inside them because of the limitless possibilities that I have ahead of me. They are able to live vicariously through their past or simply a theoretical voyage in their future. It is in these reactions that I know I have made the right decision no matter how difficult it has been for me.

This was a difficult decision for me on many levels. For the past three and a half years, I have lived in the Boston area and worked at The Colonnade Hotel. During this time, I have forged many relationships that I hold dear to my heart, I have had many experiences that have changed me as a person, and I have lived life fully by balling out of control on a regular basis. I will miss my job, my friends, and my home because these were the fundamental aspects of my life. But as I have always said, if you create the background, the foreground will create itself. I have a new canvass, a new set of brushes, and it is time to see what picture will be painted next…I’ll see you at The Edge!