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Frequent Contributor
Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007

OK. I'm want to see more from just me on this board!!! Come on! Post an essay!

(This is tongue and cheek. It's a warning because it seemed to piss off a lot of people!)

DOING MASS

By J. Cafesin

 

I hated the idea of moving to Massachusetts. I am California born and raised, and the idea of being sundered from my home was inconceivable. When people ask me my religion, I say Californian. We are a culture all our own out here, fast, fluid, wildly creative- separate to anywhere in the world.

 

I was married only a year when my husband sold some software [he’d almost made us broke developing] to a company in Concord, Mass. A three year, onsite contract was part of the purchase deal, so after all the screaming for putting us into our financial straights was through, I agreed to leave my homeland and move to one of the oldest towns in the United States.

 

I’ve never been a fan of the east coast. Most of my relatives are from Manhattan and the surrounding burbs, and like the places they inhabit I find them addled, slow and antiquated. I had visited Mass. just once, many years earlier and seen only Boston. Dirty, crowded, crumbling, aged, I don’t remember seeing anything I actually liked about it.

 

My distaste for the place flared as I landed at LoganAirport and felt the sweltering summer heat through the crack where the gangway meets the plane. I hesitated as I stepped onto the walkway, fighting the urge to run back on the plane and beg them to fly me home to my beautiful Bay. 

 

My husband was waiting for me at the end of the walkway, all smiles. I wanted to slug him. He’d come to Mass. a week before me and found us a rental in Concord, and the entire drive there he chatted it up- how beautiful the historic area was; the nice two bedroom house he’d found with its great location just blocks from town center.

 

What I saw out the passenger window after passing through congested Boston and manicured Cambridge was swampland. Rivulets lined with oak, birch, and pine was all that broke up the tangled shrubs and thorny vines that covered the ground and wrapped the fallen trees. I kept expecting to catch a glimpse of the Creature from the Black Lagoon moving through the dark mass of forested, rolling hills.

 

My mood went from bad to black as we came into the tiny town center. Culture shock wouldn’t touch what I was feeling. Graveyards were the front lawns of the churches that stood next to old stone buildings which had been renovated into antique shops and art galleries for tourists. Quaint (original meaning of small and strange) sweet shops dotted the narrow streets that met at the center circle of town.

 

The thick smell of mold and the cloying scent of decay hit me as I got out of the car in front of the dilapidated Concord Hotel, which was used as a hospital during the Revolutionary War, according to the bronze plaque. The air was stifling and still. I could barely breathe. People on the streets milled about as if in slow motion. This was the town I was to sacrifice the next three years of my life in.

 

My husband was on a diatribe about how much he loved Concord. He’d gone to college in Waltham, a neighboring burb, and used to dream about getting a home in Concord or Weston which are considered two of the nicest areas in all of Mass. I could only ascertain that being raised on the east coast as he was gave one low expectations.

 

He took me into a small café with nautical décor (complete with a marlin mounted on the wall behind the cash register) even though the Atlantic was 40 miles away. They served standard “American” fare- greasy burgers and fried chicken strips. I opted for a watercress salad because the waitress insisted it was the closest thing they had to California cuisine. I picked at my food while my husband filled the void I was falling into with idle chatter of his idyllic times there.

 

Back outside the oppressive heat was suffocating. I had to find air. My husband suggested we go to the ConcordRiver where he assured me there was always a breeze blowing. We drove to MinutemanPark, walked to the end of a creaky wooden pier and looked out across the river to the old stone bridge where the first battle of our War for Independence was waged. I was immersed in the past and felt the weight of it upon me, but I didn’t feel any breeze.

 

Summer passed to fall and the brilliant colors of the foliage was only marred by the attack of the insect population as it moved indoors in search of food and shelter. Autumn lasted about three weeks until the first frost when everything died and became flat gray. Back in California, the only season in Massachusetts I looked forward to was winter, anticipating the pristine beauty of snow. But shoveling the drive, managing the icy roads, and freezing my ass off from early November until mid-April was harsh at best, and within hours of falling the clean white blanket was speckled brown with road grit from the plows and street traffic.

 

Spring brought bugs and allergies from hell. I felt like I had the flu for a straight month when everything was blooming, then summer set in and there was no air in the air again. For two and a half years I endured Concord. I never made any friends there. The people were as cold as the place, and prided themselves on their rudeness. By late fall of my third year there, after totaling my car on black ice while 9 months pregnant, I’d had enough. I told my husband I was leaving after I had the baby, with or without him (an idle threat and never played since he got a great job offer back in The Bay).

 

Two months after our son was born we packed up our house and followed the movers across the States in the dead of winter. Five days later we crossed the border into California. It was 70 degrees and sunny the February afternoon we drove onto the island of Alameda in the San FranciscoBay. And I was home, to stay.

 

It’s been eight years since I lived in Mass. I have no desire to ever see the place again. If it fell into the Atlantic tomorrow it wouldn’t faze me. I guess you can take a native Californian from our homeland, but you can never take the Californian out of us. 

Frequent Contributor
Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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I'm looking to read something interesting!

Please post an essay here! I'm looking to read something interesting, that will spark my imagination, or at least my indignation!
J. Cafesin
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Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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DON'T PRESS SEND!

I called my medical insurance to dispute some doctor bills I’d received that had been submitted to my carrier and denied. The recorded voice of a lovely woman led me through the maze of prompts telling me what to press on my phone to 'better serve me.' After getting through the first number sequence that vaguely applied to my needs, my 16-digit account number was requested. I managed to key it in right the third time and the charming voice directed me to their website for service, and then repeated that, along with a sales pitch while I waited on the line for another 10 minutes.

I wanted to hang up, but didn’t. I had several questions, and it would take too long to address my issues in writing clearly, so I had to talk with them to resolve to the problem. But left waiting on hold it occurred to me that they don't want problems. And questions answered directly are a liability. And issues? Well, we all have issues, honey.

I let fifteen more minutes pass before hanging up.

Two days later I called again, with the exact same results. I hung up twenty minutes into the call. I didn’t have the time to wait on the line while getting two kids ready for preschool before going to work that morning.

A few days later I called again. After running the gauntlet of numbers a third time I waiting on the line to connect with a Customer Service Rep and found myself getting more and more agitated with each passing moment. They were blowing my time and I knew they didn’t care. I guess to them, cutting staff for the minimal cost savings was worth part of my sanity.

I waited on hold for 15 minutes when the operator finally came on the line. The first thing she asked for was my account number, the same one I punched into the phone earlier. After a series of 'security questions,' twenty minutes into the call we at last get around to my issue, which I explained in great detail. The CSR put me on hold for several minutes before she came back on the line and informed me her records only went back 90 days, which did not address the bills in question. Her managers had access to my full records, but they were in meetings all day and I’d have to call back, or I could go to their website and file a dispute.

A half hour into the call and my blood was boiling. With a curt ‘Thank you,’ I hung up and logged onto their website.

In ten seconds I was on a webpage with a blank field for writing to Customer Care. It took me a good hour to construct a document that explained my problem clearly, and I sent it to them. The next day I got an email back from a service rep that told me he could not release my records without security information that he advised me not to give online, and then gave me an 800 number- the same one I had, to contact a manager to assist me.

I went back to their website. Anger poured off my fingers and into my words as I typed. I cursed them for making it as time consuming and difficult as possible to communicate. I indicted them for the billions they make annually from all the erroneous bills that get paid by customers who don't have the time or the will to run the maze to correct discrepancies. I threatened to exercise my right as an American and choose a different company, knowing it was futile since most corporations do the same thing, and even confessed to pondering if I’d get better service coming there with a gun, though I had no idea where my insurance company actually was. I purged because I could, because there was no one real on the other end.

It took me less than 10 minutes to exorcise my rant and I still on rails when I dismissed the idea of deleting it. Full of self-righteous indignation, I pressed send.

That was a mistake. Within an hour I got a call from my husband. He’d been called by the head of HR at the multi-national corporation he worked for to inform him his wife had threatened to shoot the employees of their insurance carrier. My passionate denial and explanation of events leading to my email outburst saved me from prosecution. And to say the least, no one was pleased with me. But I did finally get to talk to a customer service manager, who researched my claims, and in the end the insurance company paid the doctor bills in dispute.
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Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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How Men Are

Journal Entry to my Daughter 6/08/2008
 
So I have this lump in my throat as I start to write this. I want to cry, for the 'Thousand Slights' you'll suffer. I want to shield you from that pain. But I can't. And it makes me feel helpless and small, and scared. I love you, Jessie. You were in the playroom when I came in yesterday night after shopping. You were building with Magnatiles, this beautiful amphitheater structure. Dad and Ethan were playing Stratego on the kitchen table. At first I thought the scene was good and you were happy down there on your own. But as I put the food away, I noticed your face, I saw your sadness, and as I write this I can't stop my tears.

Daughter of mine, I want to tell you about a billion things here, things I got along the way, and the world of things I'm still missing. But one thing I know for sure, men are not wired like women. There not. They're not connected outward, outside themselves most of the time. Most men anyway. And that is going to come back and bite you again and again. And hurt you. And I'm sorry. I wish it was different.

The thing is, throughout your life you're going to have to work really hard with most men to bring them outside themselves. I'm not indicting men. After knowing many in my 50 years, marrying one and raising another, I've come to see that the genetic differences that separate us also dictate a completely different life experience. Perhaps because women give birth, we are wired outside ourselves, naturally maternal. Genetically we are care givers, connected to the world around us, our senses plugged into the scene for the most part.

Dad and Ethan were plugged into themselves last night. And I'm sorry I wasn't there to make them more aware of what they were doing. I'm sorry they excluded you. And I know it doesn't really count to say they had no intention of hurting you, but this is the work to which I'm referring. You're going to have to bring men to you-- make them aware of your needs. You did that when you asked daddy to be on his team, but when he said no you should have told him how that made you feel. Don't just walk away and feel hurt. For one thing, they didn't even notice.

Men are wired inward, their senses connected to their body, and inside their own mind. Most must be taught to expand their awareness to you, the kids, the moment at hand. Again, this is not an indictment. Both sexes have many gifts for the other. Most women know how to process externally. Men need to learn this in our technology driven society that no longer requires brute strength to survive. Each of us needs to be aware of, and responsive to the other in our ever shrinking, volatile world.

Jessie you are my ray of sunshine, you're positively delightful by everyone's reckoning who has the privilege of knowing you. I fear the 'Thousand Slights' will rob you of your lightness. I hope you don't let them. Express what you need, how you feel, keep pushing the envelop of awareness, and know evolution takes millennium. We are all works in progress, and we must learn from one another to thrive.
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Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Do The Right Thing

[ Edited ]

My kid’s elementary school lets out as 2:35 in the afternoon. At 2:25 the moms start to queue up for pick up. Within a few minutes they form a quarter mile long line of Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes, SUVs, minivans, and even Hummers (4 so far). They sit in their cars with the engines running, burning all that fuel and spewing all that crap listening to the radio and running air conditioners even though it's 72 degrees out, with a nice westerly coming off the bay. They sit on their cell phones and chat away up to fifteen minutes and don’t have a clue, or don’t give a damn (or both) the cost of their comfort.

 

In many cases, these families live close to the school and can easily walk to pick up their kids by simply transitioning from the task at hand to pick-up five minutes earlier. For those who must drive, the least they can do is shut off their engines as soon as they are in line. Parking and walking to greet kids at their class is an even ‘greener’ option.

 

Some changes are simple, like the two above. Others, like solutions to alternate energy sources are a lot harder, and will require exceptional creative thinking. Luckily, creativity is possibly humanity’s greatest strength. Our ability to think abstractly, to project the future and learn from the past puts us at the top of the food chain and every other chain of command on the planet. We can preserve and nurture what is here, or we can destroy it, make the current environment unsustainable for most life forms virtually overnight now.

 

We have the power.

 

With great power, comes great responsibility.



Message Edited by Cafesin on 06-30-2008 04:21 PM

Message Edited by Cafesin on 06-30-2008 04:22 PM
Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Do The Right Thing

Sounds as though you, or maybe a high school club or class concerned about the environment, should prepare a little flyer making some of these points, asking them at least to turn off their cars while waiting because at the very least the pollution right next to the school is not good for the children, and go down the line handing them out to the waiting drivers. Of course the flyer will contain, in prominent lettering, a request to recycle the flyer.

Cafesin wrote:

My kid’s elementary school lets out as 2:35 in the afternoon. At 2:25 the moms start to queue up for pick up. Within a few minutes they form a quarter mile long line of Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes, SUVs, minivans, and even Hummers (4 so far). They sit in their cars with the engines running, burning all that fuel and spewing all that crap listening to the radio and running air conditioners even though it's 72 degrees out, with a nice westerly coming off the bay. They sit on their cell phones and chat away up to fifteen minutes and don’t have a clue, or don’t give a damn (or both) the cost of their comfort.

 

In many cases, these families live close to the school and can easily walk to pick up their kids by simply transitioning from the task at hand to pick-up five minutes earlier. For those who must drive, the least they can do is shut off their engines as soon as they are in line. Parking and walking to greet kids at their class is an even ‘greener’ option.

 

Some changes are simple, like the two above. Others, like solutions to alternate energy sources are a lot harder, and will require exceptional creative thinking. Luckily, creativity is possibly humanity’s greatest strength. Our ability to think abstractly, to project the future and learn from the past puts us at the top of the food chain and every other chain of command on the planet. We can preserve and nurture what is here, or we can destroy it, make the current environment unsustainable for most life forms virtually overnight now.

 

We have the power.

 

With great power, comes great responsibility.



Message Edited by Cafesin on 06-30-2008 04:21 PM

Message Edited by Cafesin on 06-30-2008 04:22 PM


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Do The Right Thing

I wish it were that easy. I mentioned it to a mom once and she went around telling all the other mothers what a bitch I was for giving her a 'hassle.' I live in Conta Costa county in California, one of the few devout republican communities in the state. They like their big trucks and SUV's, and feel proud to 'have the money' to get these things, to display their wealth, to live in comfort. It's very difficult to get them to see the larger picture when they have been living so long, generation to generation in the luxury of money with little to no concern for the cost of their lifestyles to others and the planet.
jc
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Chalie_B
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎12-31-2007
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Re: Do The Right Thing

Anybody notice the most common word in these essays is "I"? Says a lot about the culture. Or about the second main interest of present day writers. The phrase "Me Generation" was once a paradox, or worse (an old quip heard long ago: a self-made man must be a bastard) but now it's a directive.
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Timbuktu1
Posts: 1,572
Registered: ‎12-31-2007
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Re: How Men Are


Cafesin wrote:
Journal Entry to my Daughter 6/08/2008
 
So I have this lump in my throat as I start to write this. I want to cry, for the 'Thousand Slights' you'll suffer. I want to shield you from that pain. But I can't. And it makes me feel helpless and small, and scared. I love you, Jessie. You were in the playroom when I came in yesterday night after shopping. You were building with Magnatiles, this beautiful amphitheater structure. Dad and Ethan were playing Stratego on the kitchen table. At first I thought the scene was good and you were happy down there on your own. But as I put the food away, I noticed your face, I saw your sadness, and as I write this I can't stop my tears.

Daughter of mine, I want to tell you about a billion things here, things I got along the way, and the world of things I'm still missing. But one thing I know for sure, men are not wired like women. There not. They're not connected outward, outside themselves most of the time. Most men anyway. And that is going to come back and bite you again and again. And hurt you. And I'm sorry. I wish it was different.

The thing is, throughout your life you're going to have to work really hard with most men to bring them outside themselves. I'm not indicting men. After knowing many in my 50 years, marrying one and raising another, I've come to see that the genetic differences that separate us also dictate a completely different life experience. Perhaps because women give birth, we are wired outside ourselves, naturally maternal. Genetically we are care givers, connected to the world around us, our senses plugged into the scene for the most part.

Dad and Ethan were plugged into themselves last night. And I'm sorry I wasn't there to make them more aware of what they were doing. I'm sorry they excluded you. And I know it doesn't really count to say they had no intention of hurting you, but this is the work to which I'm referring. You're going to have to bring men to you-- make them aware of your needs. You did that when you asked daddy to be on his team, but when he said no you should have told him how that made you feel. Don't just walk away and feel hurt. For one thing, they didn't even notice.

Men are wired inward, their senses connected to their body, and inside their own mind. Most must be taught to expand their awareness to you, the kids, the moment at hand. Again, this is not an indictment. Both sexes have many gifts for the other. Most women know how to process externally. Men need to learn this in our technology driven society that no longer requires brute strength to survive. Each of us needs to be aware of, and responsive to the other in our ever shrinking, volatile world.

Jessie you are my ray of sunshine, you're positively delightful by everyone's reckoning who has the privilege of knowing you. I fear the 'Thousand Slights' will rob you of your lightness. I hope you don't let them. Express what you need, how you feel, keep pushing the envelop of awareness, and know evolution takes millennium. We are all works in progress, and we must learn from one another to thrive.
This is the best, most insightful thing I've read on the subject in a long, long time.  Just wonderful!

 

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Cafesin
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Original Essays and Short Works

PARENTAL A.D.D.

 

My sister-in-law has two children. Her oldest, 15, has been on Ritalin since he was nine. He’s failing out of the private high school he attends in Manhattan. He lies, cheats, and steals when it suits him. He is volatile, and often violent with his mom and sister, way beyond normal teenage angst.

 

Her daughter, 11, also has trouble in her private school. According to her mother, she too has learning disabilities. She has very few friends, is often sharp and cutting and cruel. She too lies constantly to get what she wants, and does whatever she wants regardless of opposing direction from authority.

 

The three of them live on the 14th floor of a posh apartment complex, in a huge flat overlooking the Hudson River in Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty, holding the torch of truth stands boldly in the bay and can be seen from almost every room of their home. My sister-in-law and her ex-husband are very successful within their careers. She is a top executive at the New York Stock Exchange, broke the glass ceiling only a few years out of graduate school. He is an architect. His style is distinct, and sought after, and can be seen all around Manhattan.

 

I met them both the day before I married, thirteen years earlier. Throughout most of my wedding day I watched after her then two year old son, because they didn’t. She was on the phone talking to her secretary, or chatting it up with some executive about market trends, or sniping at her husband who stayed by the bar and drank. From then forward, every time we get together she virtually drops off her kids to my care. She’s with us, but not. She’s on her Blackberry, or cell phone, or laptop. She goes out for a two hour run, or off to the store for diet soda. The entire time we’re together she has little to no contact with her children.

 

My sister was a stay at home mom. Two kids, a boy and a girl, a couple of years apart. Her son took Ritalin from 12 until he was 20. Now 26, he smokes pot everyday, works as a low level sales clerk, has not gone to college and has little prospects for the future. Her daughter, 24, is still only a junior after six years in college. She’s had few friends over the years, even fewer dates, and only recently her first [very] short term relationship.

 

My brother-in-law is a successful real estate broker and made enough to provide his family a McMansion with all the trimmings in Agoura Hills, a desirable suburb north of L.A. Part of the frills included a live-in maid, to give my sister time to pursue her muses instead of cleaning house and handling the mundane aspects of child care. And pursue them she did. She played tennis several hours a day. She went out with friends; shopped, and shopped; redecorated her house every other year. She vacationed at resorts where she could leave her kids and go play with her husband all day. She went to night classes to study Judaism, and music camps back east for the summer, left her kids with her husband, or the maid of the month.

 

These two sets of parents chose to focus on their own needs before their kids. They left their children in the care of strangers, nanny after nanny have come and gone, most from far away countries with limited English, preventing any meaningful exchange. The children were mostly left to their own devices, without discipline through love. Restrictions on behavior were given from teachers and caretakers as commands. No one took the time to explain the significance of upholding morality or values, or give these kids reasons for the never-ending list of rules we all must adhere to for society to thrive.

 

The other day I was at the neighborhood pool watching my kids swim and play. All went well until a well known rowdy kid arrived with his mom. She stood with her back to the pool and chatted on about her job, the upcoming 100 mile marathon she was training 20 miles a day for, and the third Bruce Springsteen concert she’d been to that week. She did not notice her nine year old son shoving kids into the pool, holding them underwater, splashing in the face and generally causing havoc. Most everyone agrees her son, and six year old daughter, have severe ‘discipline’ problems. Though their mom labels them ‘passionate,’ she admitted she was seriously considering her pediatrician’s suggestion to put her kids on Ritalin to calm them down.

 

The Attention Deficit Disorder these kids ostensibly suffer from has been handed down to them from their parents. Rich or not, working or not, parenting is about being attentive, and present— being there when you’re with your kids. The endless list of rules mentioned above needs to be given with detailed explanations, reasons why it’s important to follow restrictions we may not want to for the greater good. Discipline needs to be consistently enforced, and discussed at length, not handed down as edicts from on high. Without clarification kids will have no context to adhere to morality, and society is not sustainable if we don’t get beyond self-interest. Children can not raise themselves above solipsism without example from those who have.